Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

22 Oct 2009

Omar Gaither Out For Year

The injuries on the defensive side of the ball for the Iggles keep adding up, after a year of near-perfect health. Deposed middle linebacker Omar Gaither will miss the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury that will require surgery.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 22 Oct 2009

21 comments, Last at 23 Oct 2009, 10:31pm by Pat (filler)

Comments

1
by bingo762 :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 12:36pm

Damn, they shot my grandma's best church crown off

3
by Still Alive (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 1:24pm

The farmer in the dell...

13
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 5:49pm

Oh, indeed.

2
by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 1:07pm

What injuries on the defensive side of the ball? Bradley and Gaither are the only two I am aware of. 10 out of 11 starters remain uninjured. That's essentially no different than last year.

Maybe you meant "o-line," but then again the Eagles didn't have anything resembling "near perfect health" at that position last year. Eagles have a lot of injuries for sure, but they are all on the offensive side of the ball (where 7 of the 11 starters have missed significant time)...

8
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 4:06pm

What 2 starters did they lose on defense for the year last year?

Plus, we're not even halfway through the season.

10
by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 4:51pm

They lost Asante Samuel for a bit. They lost Sheldon Brown for a game. Brian Dawkins played injured in several games (where Demps came in on most downs). I'm not saying they were decimated by injuries, but they've only had 1 injury to a starter on defense this year in Bradley.

Calling Gaither a starter is a touch disingenuous - Mays was awarded the starting job, then Gaither was sole MLB for 1 game, then on split duty with Trotter for 2. Obviously, the Gaither injury clinched the Witherspoon signing, but the coaching staff clearly didn't think Gaither was a viable option at MLB.

I'm not sure what you're arguing here - yes, 1 starter and his back-up are out for the defense on the year, but that's nothing the huge rash of injuries implied Bill's comment. Compared to a lot of teams (for defensive injuries), there's absolutely nothing remarkable about the Eagles injuries...

14
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 10:35pm

I'm missing how losing Samuel and Brown for a game each is equivalent to losing Bradley for 16, and then his replacement for another 16. And I don't really see how you can't call Gaither a starter, considering he was starting games. The fact that he was originally a backup doesn't make it any better. It might make it worse since as you move down the depth chart there's got to be a cliff somewhere.

19
by mattman :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 6:48pm

"Calling Gaither a starter is a touch disingenuous - Mays was awarded the starting job, then Gaither was sole MLB for 1 game, then on split duty with Trotter for 2. Obviously, the Gaither injury clinched the Witherspoon signing, but the coaching staff clearly didn't think Gaither was a viable option at MLB."

Gaither was absolutely the starting MLB - Joe Mays didn't make it out of preseason as the starter, he hasn't even been active yet this season. Trotter was inserted as the 'starter' two games ago but Gaither still played more snaps in that stretch. (And played a hell of a lot better, too.)

4
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 3:00pm

What part of your body is malfunctioning when your lisfranc is busted? Or whatever happens to a lisfranc.

5
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 3:11pm

It fractures, and it's your toe bones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisfranc_fracture

6
by Harris :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 3:37pm

Domo called signing Trotter and trading for Witherspoon "desperate." I think when Plan A (Bradley) and Plan B (Gaither) are gone for the year and Plan C (Mays) doesn't pan out, desperation is perfectly rational response. If 'Spoon goes down, though, they should just go with 3 safeties as the base defense because nothing good can come from playing Trotter except in short yardage.

Hail Hydra!

7
by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 4:05pm

I don't think there's even any evidence at this point that Trotter should be in for short yardage. The Raiders moved the ball with relative ease on the ground last week even when Trotter was in - they even ran right at him frequently. Trotter was a great player in his prime (one of my personal favorites, up there with Andre Waters and Dawkins), but it's over: he shouldn't be on the field anymore.

9
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 4:08pm

Athletically, Trotter's fine. He looks way better than 2006, and actually quicker than 2005. His biggest mistakes so far have been recognition mistakes, which comes from being out of football for a year. I think it's worth keeping him around as a backup given the fact that Gaither's out to try to get him back to football speed.

11
by Harris :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 4:52pm

They have no choice but to keep him around as a backup; he's still a better option than Mays.

Hail Hydra!

12
by chemical burn :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 5:02pm

That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. He's played terribly and for you to so confidently separate the two issues is just ridiculous. There's no way for you to just dismiss the "recognition issues" as not being the result of shaky athleticism (when, say, he bites just a touch too hard on play-action and can't recover quickly). The fact is that he has played terribly so far. And to excuse an aging veteran with bad knees who has played terribly for his "recognition mistakes?!" I just don't understand what the Eagles have to gain.

I think keeping Joe Mays around as a back-up is a good idea and letting him get up to speed is a good idea. Putting Trotter on the field is a risk, every time. There's virtually no upside. And plenty of downside.

15
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 10/22/2009 - 10:41pm

There's no way for you to just dismiss the "recognition issues" as not being the result of shaky athleticism

Uh... yes there is. If a guy routinely starts moving in the wrong direction, that's recognition issues. If he's able to close 30 yards in around 3.5 seconds and then stop on a dime, yet puts himself 5 yards out of position due to reacting to a fake handoff... it's safe to say it's recognition, not athleticism.

And he's shown flashes of good recognition, too. The 31-yard pass last week that Trotter was in on is a good example. That was Sheldon's mistake, but Trotter helped keep it from being a touchdown, and he was the first LB there because he's the first one who realized where the ball was going.

I really don't get it. If you watch Trotter's plays from last week and the week before, the common thread is overcomitting on play action. That's not athleticism. It's recognition. And from what I saw from Mays earlier, he's got the same problem, *and* he's out of position a good fraction of the time. And isn't a great tackler.

16
by chemical burn :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 7:39am

Come on - Trotter making a tackle after a 31 yard game is your example of a GOOD play? You also fail to mention that the tackle was the only one he registered all game. Here's a serious question: how badly and for how long would Trotter have to play for you to say he has no business being on the field?

His play has really been as bad as it gets for an MLB and he's been startlingly out of place on an otherwise excellent defense - again, what's the upside here? Below average? "Ok" in the run game? "Not a giant liability" against the play-action? He did nothing against the run and was terrible against the pass - and the best you can say is that an aging veteran just needs to get better at seeing the game? Really, what the heck is the point?

Your constant accusations of "C" of not being realistic about the Redskin o-line's current state (and getting confused by memories of how they used to be good) are starting to take on an ironic character...

17
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 4:36pm

Come on - Trotter making a tackle after a 31 yard game is your example of a GOOD play?

Um, yes? The completion was Brown's fault - it was a 31-yard downfield pass, and Brown was in coverage. Unless Trotter has laserbeam eyes and popped the ball midflight, there's no way he could affect that completion. Seeing the play result and hustling downfield to assist in the tackle is a good play. I don't see why it wouldn't be.

You also fail to mention that the tackle was the only one he registered all game.

No, it wasn't. This was the Tampa Bay game.

Here's a serious question: how badly and for how long would Trotter have to play for you to say he has no business being on the field?

4 games, or until they're cut, is usually my minimum to declare someone totally useless. Doesn't really matter how bad they play. That number isn't really random - it's the number of preseason games.

I know that my information about how well someone played is incomplete - the coach has more information than I do - so I rely on their judgment for a while, and if they keep playing, I usually go back and try to find what I might be missing.

His play has really been as bad as it gets for an MLB and he's been startlingly out of place on an otherwise excellent defense

Now I know you've been listening to too much talk radio. The secondary's been a serious liability - Samuel's coverage is good, but his tackling is beyond abysmal. Brown's been great. Mikell's been way worse than last year, and Harris has been up and down.

Plus, the one area I was most worried about - effective blitzing from the secondary, which is a key to a Philadelphia defense - is indeed proving to be a serious problem. I have a long list of plays where a CB/S blitzed and didn't actually get pressure (or got pressure but allowed the QB to slip away). I was worried about this because this is where Dawk's loss is a huge hit.

Look, don't get me wrong, MLB is definitely the weakest spot on the team. But what did you expect after the starter got injured for the year, and then the backup (who was a *former* starter) gets injured for the year? What team in the league is 3 starters deep at MLB?

But the point here is that the rest of the defense isn't so good that they can cover for a weaker MLB. Last year, they probably could - they mostly covered for a weaker free safety. But even if Bradley was in there, the defense wouldn't be as good as last year.

again, what's the upside here? Below average?

Above replacement. That's all he needs to be. Considering Philly's already lost 2 MLBs, and we're past the trade deadline, all that's available is replacement level. If he's better than that, he's worth keeping.

18
by chemical burn :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 5:07pm

"No, it wasn't. This was the Tampa Bay game." Ok - misunderstood which game you were talking about. But the fact is that in his second game back vs. the first, he played downs, gave up more big plays and had fewer neutral plays. In neither game did he register anything resembling a positive play.

"Now I know you've been listening to too much talk radio." Stop throwing me in with groups I'm not a part of and putting words in my mouth - the only football site I go to is FO and I don't even own a radio. Also, I didn't say the defense has been flawless. Samuels could tackle better. Macho Harris is just getting up to speed and having "recognition issues" (perfectly acceptable and understandable for a ROOKIE, not for a player who has been in the game for a decade). But according to DVOA they are the best defense in the league and there's certainly no reason to think they're not top-5. Trotter is bad, everyone else has played (at a minimum) well.

I think replacement level is the ceiling for Trotter and there's zero evidence so far that he can reach that level - so far, he is performing at a level below league-standard back-ups. It's all moot, for now - Witherspoon is a 3-down backer for whom there's reason to believe can perform at the level of Bradley (which I can't imagine you were thinking is a level Trotter would reach). Just out of curiosity, do you like the Witherspoon trade? Aren't you way more comfortable knowing that Trotter won't have to be on the field in all but the most specific and carefully calculated of situations?

Also, I agreeing on the blizting - Harris, in particular, seems really bad so far at coming on the delay, but I don't have a list of his attempts or anything. My other big concern is Ellis Hobbs always seems to be hanging around when things go bad...

20
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 6:57pm

Also, I didn't say the defense has been flawless.

No, you said "otherwise excellent" and I strongly disagree. Hence the "talk radio" crack. I can understand DVOA thinking Philly's got an excellent defense because of the lack of strong opponent adjustments, but not a Philly fan.

The defensive line is excellent. Playing really, really well. The rest of the defense... not so much. Brown's having a heck of a year, though.

Samuels could tackle better. Macho Harris is just getting up to speed and having "recognition issues" (perfectly acceptable and understandable for a ROOKIE, not for a player who has been in the game for a decade).

Samuel could tackle better? That's politically correct, and strangely informative, because it's true he could tackle better. It's also true he couldn't tackle worse - last week he was the equivalent of Jason David - open air would've tackled better than he did. Seriously. On the long TD, he actually prevented Trotter from assisting on the tackle. I can't overstate how bad that is: as Samuel approached, Trotter was to his right, behind the TE. And Samuel went to the right - that's absolutely awful. I mean, he misses the tackle, took out one of his own guys, he helped the receiver get to the outside... just flat out terrible.

And I'm not talking about cutting Harris. I'm saying he's not playing great.

I think replacement level is the ceiling for Trotter and there's zero evidence so far that he can reach that level - so far, he is performing at a level below league-standard back-ups.

I don't understand where you're getting this "zero evidence" from. There's plenty of evidence. He's an experienced vet - his instincts will return, and they should return way before season's end. His ceiling is limited by his physical state, and it right now looks as good or better than 2005 (Note that Trotter shouldn't've gotten a Pro Bowl nod in 2005, he benefitted from teams which became one dimensional because we lost so much). I don't think he'll get that high, but I think by the end of the year he'll look like a serviceable linebacker. If his knee stays healthy.

Also, I agreeing on the blizting - Harris, in particular, seems really bad so far at coming on the delay

Samuel is far worse at this point. There've been at least three separate instances where he blitzed, came free or nearly free, and didn't manage a sack and the QB hit the guy in the zone he vacated. And in absolutely no case did it work.

It's really worrying, because those plays are only worth it if the CB doesn't blow the blitz. If he does, and the QB has time to let the WR get past the safety, it's really, really bad.

21
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 10/23/2009 - 10:31pm

Just out of curiosity, do you like the Witherspoon trade?

Absolutely!

Look, I never said I thought Trotter was playing well. I just think he's playing better than a street free agent, who would have all of Trot's problems (out of football for a while, not in football shape) while having none of his advantages (familiarity with the system). This is not a high bar.

I think if Gaither wasn't hurt that I would've expected Trotter's snaps to be scaled significantly back next week. Maybe even have him be inactive, because he clearly needs more time with McDermott and in practice to start keying on the right things.

Witherspoon's not a street free agent, and he's familiar with the defense. He's an obvious upgrade over Trot. He also cost a player and a pick, and we can't acquire someone like that again, anyway. Unfortunately I think Witherspoon's still a step down from Gaither from what I've seen from the Rams.

Aren't you way more comfortable knowing that Trotter won't have to be on the field in all but the most specific and carefully calculated of situations?

Yeah, of course. I was absolutely amazed that they used Trot in the Tampa Bay game at all, but there's a point here: he's just as familiar with the Philly offense as the Philly defense, so I figure that he looked better in practice and they just didn't anticipate how much work he still needed.

Also, one other point: I haven't seen a lot of plays where Trot's solely to blame. Usually someone else will have done something horribly bad on the play - the 80 yard TD is a good example. That play's just weird all around - 6 guys blitz, Akeem Jordan ends up flat out standing around doing absolutely nothing (I have no idea WTF he was doing - spying the QB, maybe?) leaving 2 corners, a safety, and Trotter in coverage.

This seems horribly, horribly wrong to me, and it just gets worse. The Raiders send 3, so maybe not so bad - but Mikell drops deep and shades to Sheldon's side? Seriously? WTF? A choice between helping Sheldon in coverage, Samuel in coverage, or Trotter in coverage, and he chooses Sheldon? Worse yet, he doesn't even realize his mistake, and he's 20 yards away when the ball is caught.

That play for me is simple: if I see a linebacker covering a tight end and there's literally a circle of 15 yards radius around him where there's no one else... something went very, very wrong. You don't ask any linebacker - much less a MLB - to cover over half of the width of the field.

Do I feel comfortable with Trotter in there right now? God no. But unless Witherspoon is way better than I think he is, I think there'll still be a use for him.