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15 Nov 2006

Every Team Counts

by Michael David Smith

Each week in Every Play Counts, I take a look at one particular aspect of a team throughout a single game. But I watch a lot of football during the season, making it my goal to see every team play a couple of times, and I notice a lot of little things that don't make it into Every Play Counts -- or any other column on the Web, for that matter. Little issues that don't get covered in the highlights but have an impact on wins and losses. So a couple of times during the season, Every Play Counts becomes Every Team Counts, my notebook of all the little things I've noticed throughout the past few weeks.

NFC East

New York Giants
I love the six-lineman formation the Giants have rolled out. I consider Jim Finn the NFL's best blocking fullback right now, and the combination of Finn and Rich Seubert as a tight end makes for a great running scheme. Unfortunately, the loss of left tackle Luke Petitgout will make the Giants less effective running the ball.

Philadelphia
My choice for most disappointing rookie is first-round defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley. He was a workout warrior at the combine, and the Eagles don't exactly have a great history drafting workout warriors to bolster their defense (see Mamula, Mike). Bunkley doesn't get many snaps in the defensive line rotation, and when he plays he gets pushed around too easily. Second-round offensive tackle Winston Justice hasn't even set foot on the field yet this year. It's not shaping up to be a very good draft for the Eagles.

Dallas
Nose tackle Jason Ferguson is amazing. Every Cowboys game I watch, I come away thinking he dominated the center across the line of scrimmage from him. He completely changes the opposing offense's plan of attack on running plays because guards who might otherwise pull or block a linebacker are forced to help the center with Ferguson.

Washington
Outside linebacker Marcus Washington is dropping into coverage more and blitzing less, and that doesn't make much sense to me. Washington was a good fit in Gregg Williams' defense because he's so relentless when he rushes the passer. Now they're asking him to stop doing what he's best at and start doing what he's worst at.

NFC North

Chicago
The biggest problem I have with the Bears is that the offensive line doesn't seem complete. Offensive tackles John Tait and Fred Miller are good pass blockers but not good run blockers. Center Olin Kreutz and guards Roberto Garza and Ruben Brown are good run blockers but not good pass blockers. If they play a good defensive line in the playoffs, I think the whole unit will struggle.

Green Bay
The fascinating thing about rookie guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz -- who have turned around the Packers' line -- is that neither one has great size or strength. They're not beating people by overpowering them, they're beating people with superior technique, the kind of technique that you usually see in 10-year veterans. Packers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski spent the last two years in Atlanta, working with offensive line consultant Alex Gibbs, who is famous for getting great production out of relatively small offensive linemen, and Jagodzinski has imported Gibbs' techniques to Green Bay. Some accuse Gibbs of teaching dirty tactics, but I haven't seen any of that with the young Packers, just seen fundamentally sound blocking.

Minnesota
It's hard to understand why the Vikings, who added guard Steve Hutchinson, fullback Tony Richardson, and running back Chester Taylor as free agents, and got center Matt Birk back after he missed all of 2005, aren't any better running this year than they were last year. I think a lot of it can be traced to Brad Childress's offense, which in my opinion doesn't use Richardson effectively enough. The Vikings' runs look too fancy, like they're designed to break big plays, rather than just pound Taylor in behind Richardson and pick up a few yards at a time.

Detroit
This is the black hole of the NFL, where no matter what they try, it fails. About the only positive thing to say is that Mike Martz does know how to design a passing game. It seems like no matter what the defense tries, Martz calls a few plays a game where Roy Williams finds himself isolated with a safety who can't handle him. The biggest problem on this team continues to be the offensive line. It's a mystery why they gave left tackle Jeff Backus such a big contract.

NFC South

New Orleans
Signing center Jeff Faine and drafting guard Jahri Evans bolstered the offensive line. Between Evans, the great Marques Colston, and the solid defensive back Roman Harper (who was playing very well before he tore his ACL last month) did any team have a better draft than the Saints?

Atlanta
His numbers are mediocre, but Ashley Lelie is exactly the type of receiver Michael Vick needs: A guy with the speed to get downfield. So why are his numbers mediocre? Because the Falcons still run the kind of offense that fails to take advantage of Vick's deep ball. How many years have we been saying this now?

Carolina
Guard Mike Wahle isn't as good a player as he was in Green Bay. He used to do lots of trapping and pulling and lead the way on runs to the outside, but now he just seems to stay in the middle and get overpowered by bigger defensive tackles.

Tampa Bay
Cadillac Williams is having a lackluster season, but the primary reason is the offensive line. The two rookies on the right side, guard Davin Joseph and tackle Jeremy Trueblood, have some promise, but the Bucs still need to make major changes in the off-season.

NFC West

Seattle
Losing defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs for the season is going to hurt, but I still think this defense is going to improve significantly down the stretch. There isn't a more talented group of linebackers in the league than Julian Peterson, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill.

San Francisco
In his 13th season, Bryant Young is still their best defensive player. At this point, that says more about the 49ers than it does about Young, but still, it's quite an accomplishment that Young is playing at just as high a level now as he did as an impact rookie in 1994, when his teammates included Deion Sanders, Steve Young, and Jerry Rice.

St. Louis
Most overlooked reason for the Rams' offensive resurgence? Center Richie Incognito. The Rams drafted him last year, but he never got on the field thanks to a knee injury he suffered at the Indianapolis scouting combine. Now that he's finally on the field, Incognito has shown that he's a very good blocker, both on running plays and on pass plays.

Arizona
I would strongly consider safety Adrian Wilson for the Defensive Player of the Year award. When he covers tight ends, they might as well not be on the field. When he blitzes he strikes fear in the hearts of every quarterback. When he plays the run he looks like a middle linebacker. Put him in Chicago and he'd win the award easily.

AFC East

New England
Against the run, no front seven is better than New England's. Against the pass, though, the Patriots struggle. All four linebackers can be beaten by good tight ends and running backs, and the defensive linemen don't seem to be rushing the passer as well this year as they have in years past.

New York Jets
The Jets' run defense is absolutely horrible. Dewayne Robertson should be thankful for Charles Rogers -- were it not for the Lions taking Rogers second overall in 2003, Robertson, who went to the Jets fourth, would be recognized as one of the biggest draft busts of recent years.

Buffalo
I've heard a lot about what a talented young tackle Jason Peters is, so I watched him closely as he went one-on-one against Dwight Freeney. I came away unimpressed. Freeney had what I thought was his best day of the year, beating Peters for a sack and generally creating havoc. Maybe it was just an off day, but Peters didn't look special on Sunday.

Miami
Nose tackle Keith Traylor is playing like a man possessed. He is absolutely shutting down opposing running games, and he already has a career-high four sacks this season. How is it possible that a 37-year-old who probably weighs closer to 400 than he does to 300 is this quick out of his stance?

AFC North

Baltimore
General manager Ozzie Newsome has hit another bull's-eye with first-round defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Ngata has started all nine games for the best run defense in the league, and he seems to be getting better each week. His presence makes Ray Lewis a better linebacker.

Cincinnati
The biggest story in Cincinnati isn't Carson Palmer or Chad Johnson. It's Marvin Lewis's inability to build a good defense. Lewis looked like a genius as the coordinator of a great defense in Baltimore and a very good one in Washington, but it just isn't working in Cincinnati. Rookie linebacker Ahmad Brooks has promise, but aside from him I don't see much talent here. Sam Adams was a good player for Lewis six years ago, but now he's 33 and just doesn't have any gas left in the tank.

Cleveland
I thought the one-two punch of Reuben Droughns and rookie Jerome Harrison would give Cleveland a good running game this year, but clearly I was wrong. Losing 107 different centers during the preseason isn't a prescription for a solid offensive line, apparently. And neither starting guard, Cosey Coleman or Joe Andruzzi, is playing well.

Pittsburgh
Defensive end Brett Keisel has, I think, exceeded everyone's expectations. Kimo von Oelhoffen was generally considered a big loss in free agency, but Keisel has played very well while von Oelhoffen has done next to nothing with the Jets. The Steelers' defense is as good as it was last year, but it got a lot more credit last year because Ben Roethlisberger wasn't throwing so many interceptions.

AFC South

Indianapolis
Opposing defenses must figure there's no way they can possibly stop all of the Colts' weapons, so they won't even try to stop the tight ends. Dallas Clark, Ben Utecht, and Bryan Fletcher aren't particularly talented, but they all get plenty of balls thrown their way because they're allowed to get open.

Jacksonville
They don't get any hype at all, but Rashean Mathis, Deon Grant, Donovin Darius, and Brian Williams comprise the best secondary in the NFL. We football fans should all be thankful that we get to see these guys take on Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Marvin Harrison twice a year.

Houston
When tight end Jeb Putzier followed new coach Gary Kubiak from Denver to Houston, people assumed he'd be a natural fit because he already knew the offense. But rookie tight end Owen Daniels is playing so well that Putzier can hardly get on the field. Daniels is the kind of tight end every quarterback loves to have in short yardage situations. He's a very good route runner and doesn't look like a rookie.

Tennessee
Late in Sunday's loss to the Ravens, the Titans, down one point, had forced Baltimore to punt. The TV announcers debated whether coach Jeff Fisher would put in Bobby Wade or Pac-Man Jones as the return man. When Fisher sent Wade on the field, the announcers agreed that it was a smart move because Wade, a veteran, won't make a mistake. Have these guys ever seen Bobby Wade return a punt? All he does is make mistakes. He had 10 fumbles last year. Last week he called for a fair catch on the 4-yard line. And on that punt against Baltimore he should have fair caught the ball but instead tried to return it, losing two yards.

AFC West

Denver
Javon Walker is the best receiver in the NFL right now. Learning a new offense and playing with a quarterback, Jake Plummer, who's having a horribly inaccurate year, Walker is on pace to have career highs in receiving yards and yards per catch.

San Diego
Is there a bigger drop-off imaginable than going from Shawne Merriman to Carlos Polk at outside linebacker? That's what the Chargers have had to do thanks to Merriman's four-game drug suspension. In Sunday's game against Cincinnati, Polk was a total non-factor as Cincinnati blocked him easily all day.

Kansas City
Yes, Kyle Turley is still in the league, but if you watch him play you'll wonder why. He can't block anymore. When is someone going to put him out of his misery?

Oakland
Buddy Ryan coached a Hall of Fame middle linebacker in Chicago, Mike Singletary, and Rex Ryan coaches a Hall of Fame middle linebacker in Baltimore, Ray Lewis. Only a fool would put second-year middle linebacker Kirk Morrison, who plays for Rob Ryan in Oakland, in that category. But I am very impressed with Morrison every time I see him play. He's not quite as ferocious a hitter as Singletary and Lewis were, but he's a good athlete and a smart player. He'd be getting a lot of attention if he played on a halfway decent team. That Raiders' defense has a lot of guys who are playing hard despite the ineptitude of their teammates on the other side of the ball. Morrison benefits from playing behind the rejuvenated Warren Sapp, who is playing his best football in years. Rookie strong safety Michael Huff is picking up Ryan's defense nicely. Maybe Al Davis would have been better off just giving the head job to Ryan.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 15 Nov 2006

80 comments, Last at 19 Nov 2006, 1:17am by RC

Comments

1
by BlackThunder (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 11:32am

re: Giants 6 O-Line formation.

The best part, and the Giants Stadium crowd has picked up on this, is that when they go to that formation, Seubert checks in with the referee, and the ref announces "Number 69 is eligible!"

2
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 11:40am

The Eagles have a history of not giving defensive rookies a lot of snaps. Trotter was a special teamer as a rookie exclusively and Brian Dawkins didn't start or play much. Bunkley also missed out on training camp which hurt him. I'm not prepared to call him a bust. With Winston Justice, he has the misfortune of playing behind Wlm. "don't call me Tra" Thomas and Runyan, one of the best Tackle combos in the league. He was viewed in the draft as a guys with tremendous upside, but who was a little raw and needed time to get his footwork and technique down. Justice played pretty well in the pre-season, too. I think you can't judge a draft for about 3 years, so let's give it time.

3
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 11:41am

Give the head coaching job of the Raiders to a defensive coach? Inconceivable!
Actually, how long has Rob Ryan been in there for the Raiders? Was he the one with the "Sticks" defense? The one with 5 defensive backs lined up at the first down marker?

This article makes more claims than the previous any team counts(s). Not that I disagree with you on many of the points, but you say "the best" referring to a lot of players or units.

RE: "Is there a bigger drop-off imaginable than going from Shawne Merriman to Carlos Polk at outside linebacker?"
Do you mean among outside linebackers only? Because at this point, Tom Brady to Vinny T at QB.

4
by Riceloft (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 11:54am

Re: Browns

Thank you. Andruzzi has been sucking all year long. Coleman has been better, but not much.

Also, the Browns haven't even activated Jerome Harrison for a few games this year. He got his only extensive playing time two weeks ago against San Diego. The whole "change of pace 3rd down back" thing has never happened. Droughns has been in almost exclusively except when he was hurt and then during the San Diego game.

Droughns is a strong runner, but that doesn't help when there are no holes to run in. He has no second gear, no breakaway speed. I think the Browns need to take a serious look at benching Andruzzi and/or Coleman in favor of Lennie Friedman or rookie Isaac Sowels.

5
by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 11:57am

The Saints also picked up a pretty good punt returner in the draft also.

6
by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:00pm

Agree 100% about the lack of talent on the Bengals D. Many Bengals fans think they should fire the D-coordinator, but the Bengals could do that and it's still not going to change the fundamental lack of talent (partly caused by a whole bunch of injuries to the LB ranks, along with Thurman's suspension).

Perhaps the coach over-estimated his ability to coach up less-than-superstar talent. In Baltimore, Lewis had six former first-rounders starting on that D, including likely Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Rod Woodson. Maybe that level of talent had as much to do with the Ravens success as Lewis's schemes did?

The Bengals starting LT, RT, C, RB, and both starting WRs were all on the roster when Lewis arrived, and he added Carson Palmer with his very first pick in 2003. So, Lewis and the team have had the rest of the 2003 draft plus three more years to build a defense and haven't gotten it done. Amazing, and disappointing.

7
by JonL (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:02pm

Washington was a good fit in Gregg Williams’ defense because he’s so relentless when he rushes the passer.

I heard/read somewhere that Gregg Williams doesn't like to blitz as much when his team is behind, which seems counterproductive to me. Can anyone else confirm/deny this?

8
by J.D. (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:03pm

Re: 3- Could there be a better fit for head coach of the Raiders, at least appearance-wise, than Ryan? He looks like he just was on tour with the Hells' Angels. I also think he's a good coach, but I can't imagine another team hiring him if only for PR reasons (similar to how there was a bias against fat head coaches for a while).

9
by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:20pm

"Dewayne Robertson should be thankful for Charles Rogers — were it not for the Lions taking Rogers second overall in 2003, Robertson, who went to the Jets fourth, would be recognized as one of the biggest draft busts of recent years."

What do Robert Gallery, Jonathan Sullivan, Joey Harrington, Mike Williams and David Terrell (as well as Charles Rogers) have in common? They are actual draft busts of recent years. Robertson (who just won the AFC defensive player of the week for the second time this year) is a solid contributor. Not a star and in hindsight not worth the 4th overall pick, but hardly a "bust."

10
by DrObviousSo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:20pm

"Most overlooked reason for the Rams’ offensive resurgence? Center Richie Incognito."

Heh.

11
by Paging Roger Cossack (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:38pm

Remember how every draft expert was touting the Eagles for picking up two players up really late? Yeahhhhh... Bunkley and Justice don't really look like steals anymore.

As a Packer fan, I love Javon Walker's talent and play, but I don't like his personality, obviously. Every time I see him make a big play, it's an internal struggle, usually with my awe of his abilities winning out.

I love Adrian Wilson.

12
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:41pm

Fisher said the reason he sent Wade out to catch the punt, rather than Pacman, is that he was concerned about the knuckleball kick and wanted to be sure the punt was caught. This year, Wade has been sure-handed on punts (less so on kickoffs, surprisingly), while Pacman has shown a disturbing propensity for failing to cleanly catch punts and/or fumbling while running with the punt. Ironic, given why Wade is with the Titans instead of the Bears, but there you go. Oh, and Jeff Fisher also doesn't trust young players.

13
by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:53pm

Nice to see Jason Ferguson getting some notice. He's been playing on the Casey Hampton / Jamal Williams level.

14
by Derek (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:57pm

#2,
I agree that it seems premature to judge the Eagles draft 9 games into the season, especially since we are talking about trying to break into 2 of the stronger positions on a good team. If Bunkley and Justice aren't contributing by this point next season, then we can start to draw some conclusions.

Also, I wouldn't put Dallas Clark in the same category as Utecht and Fletcher. Clark is a top-10 tight end by just about any measure.

15
by Andy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 12:58pm

Led, the Robertson is a straight-up BUST. He was supposed to be the next Sapp. He's got 10 sacks in 3-1/2 years. The jets are terrible stopping the run.

What does Mr. Robertson do well?

16
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 1:03pm

Roger:

Javon was a solid citizen in Green Bay until Favre got a bug up his *ss. To this day I have no idea why number 4 said what he said. Up to that point he had assiduously avoided any salary discussions.

I can't prove it but I think Favre was so concerned about NOT having Walker as his receiver he said these things in some bizarro world Mississippi only understood approach to get Javon into camp.

Sherman/Thompson should have stepped in to try and heal the rift. They didn't and now this really talented guy plays elsewhere.

Thompson has done some good work in GB but not telling his quarterback to STFU was dumb. Unless Thompson was determined to NOT pay Walker. Which with each passing day looks like a pretty foolish decision.

A lot of people goofed in this situation. But Walker isn't one of them. He was just looking to better his circumstances.

17
by Viva Pedro (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 1:06pm

Ashley Lelie is a quicksilver talent. Watching the last game against Cleveland it's clear he's got the speed and route running to get seperation, but he lacks the concentration needed to catch the damn ball. Reminds me of the great Dwight "Hands of" Stone. Lots of people pin that game on Vick, but Lelie had two critical drops, one of which was a perfectly thrown touchdown at the pylon.

18
by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 1:14pm

11:

I still blame the Pack for what happened to Walker. It's one of the few times I'll actually take the player's side when he whines about money and I'm also a huge Packers fan, but they really did screw him in that particular circumstance.

19
by Romosexual (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 1:16pm

ROMO!!!!

20
by Leo Wang (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 1:21pm

Is Seattle's group of LBs (who I agree are very good) better than Denver's? I feel like Denver has the best THREE LBs. I'd take Urlacher/Briggs over Tatupu/Peterson too - not by a whole lot though, Tatupu is really good.

21
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 1:23pm

Basilicus:

Amen.

22
by el plaga (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 1:33pm

javon walker is better than steve smith? okay whatever floats your boat.

23
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 1:44pm

A quick question: Does anyone have the details of the 3-yr contract that Marques Colston signed in July with the NO Saints.

Also, wondering loudly, if the saints will offer Colston a deal sometime later this year or early next year (inspired by Philly Eagles) and lock him to being in NO for a long time to come.

24
by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:19pm

Andy: Why are the choices limited to (a) meets absurdly high expectations ("the next Warren Sapp") and (b) is a straight up bust? The vast majority of early first round picks fit somewhere in between, as does Robertson. He's a four year starter, struggled as a rookie starter, played very well in 2004, was mediocre last year and has been the most consistent Jet DL this year playing out of his natural position. For more specifics about what he does well, go ask the folks that named him AFC defensive player of the week.

25
by paytonrules (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:27pm

You were kind to the Bears guard play - which in my opinion sucks and is hindering the run game (which is done best for the Bears between the tackles) and Olin Kreutz ( who seems to be picking up a lot of blockers that Garza and Brown miss ). In the pass game teams are overloading Kruetz than watching blitzers fly by the bewildered guards.

The line is old, and with the exception of Olin really worries me this season and into next. I hope the Bears window doesn't shrink fast because of this one weakness, but it could.

26
by Andy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:27pm

I'm not saying its either (a) or (b). I'm saying he's a bust.

Led, he's a four year starter because the jets have invested 2 #1 picks plus boatload of money into the guy. They gotta play the man.

He can't get to the quarterback (the very skill for which he was drafted #4 overall) and the jets can't stop the run. I'm not sure what else you want your DT to do?

What does Dewayne do well?

27
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:34pm

The Viking offensive line is underperforming. You don't expect much from Hicks or Johnson, but McKinnie has looked awful at times.

Another reason the Viking run game is not as effective: we've reached the point where teams have no reason to fear the deep pass. There are three reasons for this.
1. Brad Johnson has no arm
2. There are no scary WRs on the team
3. Childress' offense doesn't demand the deep ball as much as Tice's did.

28
by Andy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:36pm

Dewayne had 6 tackes and one sack to earn him the player of the week. I believe that sack occurred when Brady slipped in the mud and Dewayne happened to be there to register the sack.

Seriously though, what did he do that was so great to earn the player of the week honor?

29
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:50pm

#25

On the Bears line I am not worried about Tait, Kreutz or Garza and they have Metcalf to play if they decide not to offer Brown a year's extension. I would be happy going into a season with that cover for those 4 spots. I do think that they definitely need an upgrade for Miller probably through the draft as I don't think that they will have the cap room to sink it into a veteran when they have to try to resign guys like Briggs (who I would love to stay but may be too expensive), Berrian, Tillman, Vasher and Grossman - and at some point Tommie Harris. Ian Scott has played really well for the last two years but is going to walk as there just isn't the money for him.

Incidentally when the Jets traded up for Robertson they also gave up a fourth which the Bears used to take Ian Scott who has probably outplayed his more heralded draftmate for a lot less cap room.

30
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:53pm

Re 9: Absolutely. Robertson has generally been the best of the defensive linemen this year. He made a fantastic play down near the goal line this week, and he generally is the only interior lineman to get penetration. There have been lots of plays this year where Robertson got into the backfield but the play went to the other side so his good effort went unnoticed.

Re 11: I wouldn't be so quick to knock that Eagles draft. Winston Justice played very well in the preseason, and the Eagles have the luxury of keeping both their top picks off the field. When you have a good team, you're not likely to have major contributions from rookies. Check back on that draft next year and see how it looks.

31
by Michael David Smith :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:55pm

Who picks those player of the week awards? I often find that they're not a particularly reliable measure of how well a player has played that week.

32
by John P (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 2:58pm

23: There is no such thing as "lock"ing a player up in the NFL. Management can cut anyone regardless of contract, and a player can hold out regardless of contract. This obviously favors management, since cutting is an automatic termination of the contract, while holding out involves months of drama and no guarantee of escape. I agree that the Saints should pony up a better contract for Colston to short circuit any conflict next year, but he won't be locked up in any sense.

33
by calig23 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:02pm

Re:#17

A Dwight Stone reference. Cool.

34
by John P (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:05pm

Adrian Wilson would be overshadowed in Chicago by Urlacher. He would be more recognized there then in Arizona, only because of the overall quality of the D. If Wilson was the only star on a good D, he would become a perennial Pro Bowler.

35
by Soulless Merchant of Fear (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:17pm

As far as the Bills, Jason Peters is, from what I've heard, far and away the best o-lineman on the team. That is faint praise. On a good line, he'd probably be considered unremarkable.

I think should be cut slack for the Indy game, since it was his first or second game ever at left tackle, and he was up against Dwight Freeney. That's rough.

The Bills' o-line is miserable. In the Colts game, despite a very, very conservative passing game and lots of extra protection, Losman was sacked or forced to scramble on over a quarter of called passing plays. That's just sad. This season was supposed to be an evaluation of Losman, but given the hideous state of pass protection, it's hard to make that evaluation. Is he bad, or is it just that he has no time and keeps getting levelled? Argh.

36
by Jesus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:18pm

11/14 – New York Jets defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson has been named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week. Robertson, a 6’1�, 317-pound defensive lineman, collected six tackles and a sack in the club’s Week 10 win over New England. Robertson, now in his fourth season with the Green and White, leads all Jets defensive linemen with 38 tackles (26 solo stops).

You'll have a different perspective of Dwayne Robertson after he comes to your town, and the Jets beat your team. Until then, they are simply "masquerading as a playoff " contender, and Robertson stinks.

Yeah. Right.

And Gruden is an offensive genius, Parcells is the greatest coach that ever lived, amd Randy Moss is the greatest receiver in the league.

Yeah. Right.

Perception vs. reality.

Meanwhile, the Jets will probably win the division and win a play-off game like they did 2 years ago when they beat San Diego, everyone said they would lose then too. Of course, everyone said the Dolphins would be competing to win the AFC East this year.
Yeah, right.

37
by bmw1 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:26pm

Re: Javon Walker

Anytime a player starts referring to himself in the 3rd person, as Walker did in Green Bay, you have to start wondering about his ability to be a good teammate. Granted he's no TO, but the management in Green Bay weren't big fans of his attitude. They knew they were letting a talented player go, but at that point they didn't have much choice. He never would have been happy in Green Bay.

38
by Andy (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:28pm

Oh, Jesus. Saying that Dewayne Robertson has been the best player on the jets D Line is like saying Gallery has been the best player on the Oakland O Line. Who is the tallest midget?

And #30: This quote it a complete homer thing to say: "There have been lots of plays this year where Robertson got into the backfield but the play went to the other side so his good effort went unnoticed."

39
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:33pm

Re: 36#

That is the heady stuff that knocks logic once you are 1 game seperated from the current divison leaders.

There is a lot left in the season to play than make predictions, the same way people made a mistake with the Fins (at the start of the season)

BTW, tell me one good reason why the NYJ'06 are not the MIA'05? They will finish with a decent record this season thereby raising hopes for '07 and then go on to play badly in '07.

40
by Ray (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:41pm

I can see knocking Brodrik Bunkley a bit since he's had an opportunity to get on the field. He's had a chance to make an immediate impact, and since he hasn't it's possible to say he might not have been worth the pick to get him.

However, how can you say that Winston Justice doesn't look like a good pick when he hasn't even gotten on the field yet? Would you really expect a rookie to come in and unseat a ProBowl LT right off the bat? Would ANYONE play a rookie, even one of great potential, when you've got a trusted 9 year veteran at the position who is playing well? Rookie QBs get time on the bench all the time when the player in front of them is doing a good job. Is it that much different for the most important OLine position?

While it's possible that Justice could still be a bust, I think in one or two years we'll be looking at him saying how smart the Eagles were to draft him BEFORE the need was dire rather than waiting for Thomas to either get hurt or get expensive.

41
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:46pm

Adding to my previous post - the Jets will have to face the following next year:

AFC North: Bengals/Steelers

AFC South: Jaguars

AFC West: Chargers/Broncos (or the chiefs!)

Play AFC North: Ravens, Steelers/Bengals, Browns

Play NFC West: Hawks, Rams, 49ers, cardinals

That's an interesting 10 games outside the division next year.

42
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:54pm

Oops, i think i made an error in the previous post. I believe that the AFC East plays the NFC East not NFC West in 2007

43
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:56pm

Yeah, the Vikings offensive line is underperforming, but it gets really difficult to delineate it's performace from the fact the quraterback and wide receivers pose little threat to even a bad defense. As to the system employed, it is also really hard to evaluate that with ball handlers who mostly couldn't start for anybody else, or at least very few other other teams.

The Vikings had the benefit of a semi-sober Koren Robinson during the 2nd half of last year, and having one wr who can credibly challenge a secondary makes a huge difference. When a team's best wide receiver is Marcus Robinson, and he misses half the games, there isn't much to hope for, especially with an immobile, weak-armed qb.

Looking over the past two years, the biggest personnel blunder for the Vikings was not the Moss trade, it what was done with the Moss trade. If the Vikings had reversed their first round priorities in 2005, and taken Merriman or Demarcus Ware with their first pick, and Matt Jones with the latter pick, their defense would be even more dominant, since a great edge pass rusher would greatly reduce their vulnerability to top-level passers, and Matt Jones to date has been miles and miles ahead of Troy Williamson, who is about 16 games away from being a certifiable, complete, wash-out, bust. I'd really like to know how much Tice was responsible for those picks, and how much of the blame should be laid at college scouting director Studwell's feet.

The reason for optimism for Vikings fans going forward is that there is plenty of cap space, and an owner who isn't looking to hang onto every nickel. I have no idea how good Childress' personnel skills are. The Hutchinson pick-up will eventually be viewed as wise, I think, and I like his emphasis on line play. However, a guy who trades for Billy McMullen, even with just an undrafted free agent, has to be watched carefully.

44
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 3:57pm

Post 37:

But the REASON Walker was unhappy because the big star on the team criticized him multiple times in public and nobody in a management position did anything. Mike Sherman or Ted Thompson had ample opportunity to pick up a phone or call Favre into an office and tell him to put a cork in it.

They failed to do that and now the team lives with the consequences.

45
by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 4:02pm

"BTW, tell me one good reason why the NYJ’06 are not the MIA’05?"

I'll give you two: (i) they're rebuilding with a solid foundation at the OL and (ii) they have a capable QB. If Culpepper played like a capable QB this year, the Dolphins would not be 26th in offensive DVOA and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

The poster in #36 is getting a little ahead of himself, but I think by any measure the Jets have done a nice job rebuilding so far and can reasonably expect good things in the future. I agree with Nathan's comment in the AGS article that the Jets are not more than an average team this year. But average teams with weak schedules have a shot at the playoffs every year. That's not a bad place to be for a rebuilding team with a new coaching staff that was pegged to win 4 games.

46
by Chris M (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 4:09pm

The reason Jets 06 aren't Dolphins 05 is because the Jets have been a consistently good team this decade that has won playoff games. Yes, they did poorly in 05, but EVERYONE was injured.

I'm not arguing the Jets are better than an average football team this year. I also don't think they'll make a Super Bowl run next year. But they could make the playoffs both years, and they have enough developing talent that two years from now, they might be a contender.

47
by DP (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 4:17pm

I'm still a Walker fan despite his departure from green bay... i really wished he would have stayed but i understand why he felt he had to leave. As he stated, his departure had more to do with Thompson than Favre. I wish him the best and i still love watching him play; i just wish he was still making those plays for the Packers!

As for the draft, the Saints had an excellent year and they clearly have the steal of the draft in Colston, but i think GB may have had a better overall draft class (at least for now): Colledge and Spitz have been playing well, Jennings is the second best rookie receiver, AJ Hawk has been solid and is improving week by week; and Tony Moll has not been too bad either...

48
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 4:47pm

Regarding the Jets; to pick up two offensive linemen, who will be solid starters for years, in one draft, is good. If one becomes a Pro Bowl level performer, that's really good. If both become Pro Bowl level performers, that is a TREMENDOUS draft. No, they ain't there yet, but it isn't completely far-fetched, either.

49
by Paralis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 5:11pm

#32

Colston's a rookie, and a seventh-rounder at that. Unless the Saints decide to do the smart and fair thing and pay the man, he's going to play for veteran minimum salaries for two years before another team even has a chance to trade for him. And if he doesn't like that, he's not going to play at all. Sure, he can hold out and show up in week 10 for three straight years to get his crack at UFA, but by that point, what team would want him?

Vested veterans in the NFL can't really be locked up. But rookies? Colston's three years away from having a chance to pick whom he's going to play for. Maybe two if he turns into Michael Clayton next year. That's pretty locked up.

50
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 5:22pm

45: Hate to admit, but i agree with your reason with regards to the Jets OL

Moreso, i haven't seen or heard about DBF or NM - which in the case of OL, is a very good thing.

46: I am not sure if the Jets have a track for the playoffs this year, unless they win 5 of the remaining 7. Even then, it is a given that Broncos/Chargers will be win one wild-card. Jaguars, Bengals and the chiefs will fight-out the Jets for the remaining one wild-card, unless the Jets triumph in the AFC east - and that's an equal long shot.

Summary: Sorry to say - but the Jets will not make the playoffs unless the Pats tank or the jets run the table from here.

51
by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 5:29pm

Re#49:

There are 2 methods - either the Philly way of locking talent up early, or the Bears method of waiting till the final year of contract to start talks.

if i were the saints, i will amend his contract to add an additional $1 mn bonus over & above the current escalator if colston hits the 1200 yds this year (which is pretty much given!) or for winning the offensive RoY award (for which he is the strongest contender).

that way, you keep MC not being unhappy with his pay (seen too few WRs who are happy with their pay and the no. of balls coming their way!) and saints don't need to commit till they see MC pass the sophomore test.

52
by Spoilt Victorian Child (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 5:37pm

Most overlooked reason for the Rams’ offensive resurgence? Center Richie Incognito.
I think you just blew his cover.

53
by ABW (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 6:03pm

Remember that Colston will also get a chunk of change out of the rookie bonus pool. See MDS's article on Fox from a while ago.

54
by Dizzle (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 6:05pm

Regarding the AFC final playoff spot, (assuming the Pats win the division)-

Here are the schedules for the Jets, Jags, Chiefs and Bengals:

Note: The Jags have the H2H tiebreak with the Jets, and the Bengals are down 1 game to the rest right now.

Jets: Chi, Hou, @GB, Buf, @ Minn, @ Mia, Oakland
Jags: Giants, @Buf, @ Mia, Indy, @ Tenn, NE, @ KC
Chiefs: Oak, Den, @ Cle, Bal, @SD, @Oak, Jac
Bengals: @NO, @ Cle, Bal, Oak, @Indy, @ Den, Pitt

Decide for yourself, but the Jets clearly have the easiest schedule, even with the Bears this week. They have just as god a shot at the playoffs as any of the other teams.

My prediction-
KC tanks with Green coming back not in rythm and Gonzale out. 3-4 at best.
Jac goes 4-3 with 3 tough games, but all at home, pls in KC to end the season.
Cin gets on a hot streak, wins 4 in a row and finishes 5-2, even with the pour D.
Jets go 4-3, losing a couple games they could easily win, and the Cle officials gaffe bites them, bad.

That would lead to a 3 way tie with the Jets, Jags and Bengals. Tie breaker would be conference record. All 3 of those teams are at .500 now. (Jets loss to Jags wouldnt matter).

I could be way off, but I love predicting!

55
by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 6:14pm

The Jets have an excellent shot of making the playoffs this year. Their remaining schedule looks like this- Chicago, Minnesota, Green Bay, Miami, Buffalo, Houston. That’s by far the easiest schedule of any of the wild card contenders. The team probably has the worst talent out of any of the wild card contenders, but I think they’re the most likely to nab that sixth seed.

As for the Miami comparison, I don’t know that it’s entirely valid. The Dolphins have been leaning on a defense that is very long in the tooth, and they have terrible talent on their offensive line. They were able to mask the offensive line deficiencies in 05, but ultimately they were doing it with mirrors. Do I think the Jets are a serious playoff contender next year? I wouldn’t think so, although obviously it’s too early to say before free agency and the draft have been factored in. But the Jets have very few older players on their roster, and they’re in pretty good cap shape, with Washington’s second round pick in their hip pocket come draft day. The team is coming along nicely.

56
by RecoveringPackerFan (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 8:10pm

37: Had the Packers been willing to pay something more than Walker's (small) rookie deal, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Instead, management decided that the best solution was to try and ignore his very legitimate complaints, considering his production. I still think, however, that the injury is what killed the relationship; had he played all of last season, GB would have (hopefully) realized that giving him a real contract, and we would have a much more dangerous receiving corps.

57
by Truman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 8:22pm

Ashley Lelie's numbers are also mediocre because Mora and Knapp refuse to put him in the starting lineup.

58
by Truman (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 8:34pm

And I know he was in there against Cleveland, but I don't think he played anywhere near as many snaps as Roddy White.

59
by rk (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 8:59pm

Re: Winston Justice
There is a difference between not getting on the field and not dressing for the games. Right now, Justice is wearing sweats on Sundays. If a starting tackle goes down, someone else is going in (I guess Scott Young). A promising rookie tackle should be able to crack the 45-man roster, but it is still way early to talk about it being a bad pick.

60
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 10:39pm

A promising rookie tackle should be able to crack the 45-man roster

Nah. The reason that Justice isn't cracking the roster is because they've already got a backup tackle on the 45-man roster: Herremans (who's the starting guard). It's just for roster juggling, since having Young allows you to have a backup tackle (Herremans) and a backup guard (Young). Subbing Justice for Young means you've only got two backup tackles.

61
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 10:54pm

Raiders fan here (please don't make fun of me). MDS, thanks for the kind words on Huff, Morrisson and Sapp. I completely agree. I don't know what's gotten into Sapp. Maybe playing with talented youngsters has reinvigorated him. Anyway, I was wondering if you have paid any attention to DT Tommy Kelly. He always looks really impressive to me, but I've only seen 3 games so far and I was wondering what you thought.

62
by Jere (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 11:12pm

Re: #2, #14, #59

MDS, yooz suk! yooz make sweeeepin generlizashuns about football. Whear iz your indeep analiseez??? Da Eagles be even #1 in your stoopid DVO-haaayyyy statisticicicical numberz stuff, and yet yoo still must show us disrespekt an stuff! Mike Tanier should beat your ainyuss to a pulp sinc heez the only real man to rite at this heres website! EAGLES RULE!!

63
by Steve Sandvik (not verified) :: Wed, 11/15/2006 - 11:20pm

Naturally Richie Incognito gets recognized (which is funny as has been mentioned) the week after he commits a questionable personal foul which was significant in the game and immediately followed it up with a less questionable hold on a 2-point conversion. Then again, I get the impression that the Seahawks are better than a lot of teams at inside D-line pressure with the front 4, so it was probably a tougher matchup than some he sees--a lot of teams tend to use their DTs as run-stoppers and not get a lot of pressure with them even on passing downs, from what I've seen.

64
by fyo (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 12:13am

Re: Patriots front 7:

MDS: "Against the run, no front seven is better than New England’s."

Which measure would this be by? The Patriots are 7th against the run in DVOA (worse in non-adjusted). 5th in adjusted line yards. 26th against "Power Success". And 18th in "stuffing" the run.

Sometimes, just sometimes, FO has the tiniest bit of Patriots-fanboy-ism over it. I don't know if MDS is a Pats fan or if he's just picked up the habit from his fellow Outsiders.

65
by PackMan (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 12:27am

34.
You mean the way Ed Reed was overshadowed by Ray Lewis when he won DPOY?

66
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 12:50am

Sometimes, just sometimes, FO has the tiniest bit of Patriots-fanboy-ism over it. I don’t know if MDS is a Pats fan or if he’s just picked up the habit from his fellow Outsiders.

MDS is a Lions fan.

And it's not like he spent an entire article raving about the Patriots run defense. It was one sentence, and not even part of the point. And they are a good run defense, and historically always have been a fantastic run defense. I think it's perfectly fine literary license.

67
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 2:20am

The biggest problem on this team continues to be the offensive line. It’s a mystery why they gave left tackle Jeff Backus such a big contract.

How is this a mystery? Has Matt Millen not made it abundantly clear by now that he has no clue what he's doing? I mean, it'd be a mystery if Backus received a big contract and then played WELL. That would be a real head scratcher. We'd all be standing around saying "when did Millen learn to evaluate talent?"

He hit on Dre' Bly, but there's a saying about the sun and a dog's hindquarters. Two hits in the past 5 years might actually constitute a trend, though.

68
by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 12:03pm

Just wanted to add that although Ngata has played extremely well this season -- so much for the "takes a few downs off" rep that hautned him pre-draft -- I think the best draft pick Ozzie made this year was Dawan Landry, who has very ably filled in at strong safety.

Remember, there was talk of the Ravens' base defense this year using only 3 DB's at one point, because no free-agent was signed to replace Will Demps (how's that pass defense working out, Giants?). Landry has held up his own quite nicely -- and he's not even the best safety in the family. Have you seen his brother playing for LSU this season? Whatever team with crying needs in the secondary in the top 5 picks can save on their scouting budget and pick Lamar.

69
by War N\' Peace (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 12:53pm

RE: San Diego

Yeah.. maybe if Carlos Polk did steriods he'd be as strong and explosive as Merriman. :P Obv, tongue in cheek, but steriods do help and I wish people would address this type of thing a little more professionally as opposed to treating Merriman like he isn't playing because of some unknown reason.

70
by MCS (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 2:59pm

Listen, I dislike how Favre behaved during the Walker situation as much as the next guy, but let's be realistic.

Discounting 2005 stats.
2002 23 rec 319 yds 1 TD
2003 41 rec 716 yds 9 TD
2004 89 rec 1382 yds 12 TD

Walker made: $5,538,500

simple math shows that he made
$2,291/yd OR
$36,199/reception OR
$251,750/TD

That's a lot of money for a guy that fell on draft day because his learning disorder made a lot of teams think he couldn't be taught to play in the NFL. Green Bay (a team in an economically depressed city) payed him very well, helped him get through his learning disorder and taught him NFL football. He pays them back by holding out.

Note that the per capita income for Green Bay is $49000.00 / year (20% under $25k). 1/3 third of households rent. In that environment, you have a man making $500k/year + bonuses saying that he isn't getting enough.

I wish him the best, but my view of him is tainted by his behavior. $5mil is a lot of money.

71
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 4:52pm

Re: 62

Um...wow. I'm all for use of the template, but where the hell did that come from? A few people have commented that Philly's top 2 draft picks play on two very strong, deep units so it's a little unfair to criticize them for not making an immediate impact. How in the holy hell is that even remotely close to "yoo still must show us disrespekt an stuff!"???

72
by JSap (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 6:04pm

Re: #2, #14, #59
In the 2002 draft (which is considered the Eagles best recent draft), Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Michael Lewis and Brian Westbrook totaled 7 starts and 5 'did not plays' between them. They all had established starters ahead of them, and even though the jury is out on Lewis, they all turned out pretty well...

73
by Kal (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 7:08pm

#70 - why not compare his numbers against the other receivers on GB's roster and how much they were getting paid, and see whether it seems reasonable to you.

Shockingly, all football players get paid a lot more than the average salaried person in Green Bay. I know, it's weird. Even more shocking is that Green Bay as a team isn't suffering huge financial depression. Crazy, I know.

74
by billvv (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 8:26pm

Oddly, MDS is on the staff of ESPN's Power Rankings which conclude: "Very impressive performance by the Jets' defense. Tom Brady was under pressure all game and hardly ever had enough time to do what he wanted. Eric Mangini is moving to the top of any coach of the year discussions."

MDS is directly at odds with that staff. I'd love to have heard the arguement on how to word their differing opinions on the Jets. He seems not to have been very convincing.

Andy, Robertson surely was a part of that defense, wouldn't you agree?

75
by DGL (not verified) :: Thu, 11/16/2006 - 8:48pm

#74: Wrong Michael Smith.

76
by Nev (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 10:00am

Is Merriman going to be back for the game against the Bronco's this weekend?

77
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 10:48am

MDS is directly at odds with that staff

Not at all. The Power Ranking quote praised the Jets' pass defense. MDS criticised their run defense.

78
by billvv (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 1:03pm

The score with 4 minutes to go was 17 - 6! How bad could they be? And, more to the point, they had every reason to be worse, given new coach, rookies, 4-3 to 3-4, on and on! Remember the preseason prediction for the Jets? Playing for the first selection in next years draft? Remember that?

79
by C (not verified) :: Fri, 11/17/2006 - 5:12pm

#74 Michael Smith who writes for ESPN is not the Michael David Smith who writes for FO.

80
by RC (not verified) :: Sun, 11/19/2006 - 1:17am

yeah, pittsburgh's defense is just as good as last year's. please, they're dreadful, but even at 3-6 they're the best team in the AFC North!!!

hail to the stealers :(