Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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27 Mar 2007

Four Downs: NFC West

by Doug Farrar

Before we continue with our review of free agency and look forward to the draft, a special announcement: Football Outsiders will be doing a question-and-answer with Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com. This is your chance to ask about any player, from the first-rounders to the sleepers. Send your questions to me at doug-at-footballoutsiders.com, and I'll use the best ones in the interview.

Arizona Cardinals

Eminence Front

If it seemed that Dennis Green was coaching the Cardinals with less than a full tank, his first public comments after his firing added credence to that notion. "I wasn't as disappointed as a lot of people think because we didn't play like we thought we would play," Green told ESPNews in mid-March. "We left five games on the table that we should have won in the 2006 season, (and) we did the exact same thing in 2005 and 2004. My frustration level was very high."

While Green is working on an instructional DVD about fishing, and accepting offers as a motivational speaker (insert your own "crown their ass" joke here), new coach Ken Whisenhunt is shoring up many of the fundamental issues that went unwatched during Green's time with the team. The former Steelers offensive coordinator has expressed a desire to implement the same sort of two-back system often employed in Pittsburgh. Having Russ Grimm coaching an offensive line that was always ignored under Green will make that system more effective over time. Whisenhunt and Grimm will probably save Edgerrin James' career.

We're also discovering how many Cardinals took a pass on team conditioning programs, such as they were. Left tackle Leonard Davis, who departed after the 2006 season to sign an enormous contract with the Dallas Cowboys, left much of the $1 million in workout bonuses built into his rookie contract on the table to train on his own because he was dissatisfied with the conditioning facilities provided by the team. This year, the front office has put serious money into upgrading the equipment, and hired strength and conditioning coach John Lott. You may remember Lott from his uproarious pep talks to draft prospects doing bench press reps each year at the Combine -- if you haven't seen him, here's a sample -- and he'll no doubt be exhorting all his Cardinals to "get their stinkin' minds right" as he has done for the Steelers, Browns, and Jets.

Under Green, there were no individual workout sessions tailored to each player -- according to Darren Urban of the East Valley Tribune, many players would show up at the facility to make the coaches happy and then work out separately with their own personal trainers later in the day. Lott has the flexibility to know what will help each player, but his message will be universal -- get the job done and reach your goal.

"I've got a little boy, Jasper, who would love to eat jelly beans all the time," Lott said. "Me being his daddy, I have to give him green beans sometimes, not just jelly beans."

Welcome to the new Arizona Cardinals.

Free Agency Recap

Arizona signed two defensive backs to five-year, $15 million contracts, adding former Detroit safety Terrence Holt and ex-Eagles cornerback Rod Hood. Holt and Hood will be asked to help a secondary that finished 26th in the NFL in pass defense DVOA -- not a great finish when you consider that teams weren't exactly throwing the ball everywhere to play catch-up against the Cards. Other than that, it's been a slow go this off-season, though the additions of Whisenhunt and Grimm probably corrected the two most obvious need positions. The team wasn't able to compete with the amazing salaries given to even mid-level offensive linemen, so they'll take care of that in the draft.

Draft Needs

Davis' absence leaves a void at left tackle, though one could argue that his presence did pretty much the same thing. There have been rumors about Arizona possibly trading up from their current five-spot to Detroit's second position in order to take Wisconsin's Joe Thomas. Thomas won't last to the fifth pick, and Arizona might go with Penn State behemoth Levi Brown if such a trade doesn't happen. Either player would provide a massive upgrade to a line that did see some improvement at the end of the 2006 season. Arizona needs to augment the cornerback position, add to the defensive line, and act on their interest in a blocking fullback, but the O-line is the obvious issue.

St. Louis Rams

Going Mobile

The occasion of Marshall Faulk's retirement is a good time to look back at Rams offenses of the recent past and recognize that for all the talk through the Vermeil and Martz eras about the "Greatest Show on Turf" and an aerial attack that would match the greatest of all time, the versatility of their running back was the engine that made it all go. From 1999 through 2001, St. Louis' offense led the NFL in points, yards, and offensive DVOA each season. Faulk gained over 2,000 total yards in each of those seasons, and he did so in 1998 as well in his last year with the Colts. In 1999, he did the Roger Craig thing and gained over 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving. The next season was his greatest, as he finished first in DPAR, DVOA, Success Rate, and total touchdowns, and he won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award. 2001 brought his third straight Offensive Player of the Year award and the Rams went to their second Super Bowl in three years.

In 2002, St. Louis finished 7-9, while Faulk missed two games and rushed for only 953 yards. His DPAR and DVOA ranks dropped to the low teens. While his team rebounded in 2003 to go 12-4, Faulk was done with great seasons. He was still productive, but he would no longer be the supernatural force he had been. The Rams responded by drafting Oregon State running back Steven Jackson in the first round. As Jackson's carries increased, Faulk became less of a presence. He bottomed out with 65 carries for 292 yards in 2005, though he still caught 44 passes. A knee injury stole his 2006 season, led to a gig with the NFL Network, and marked his eventual decision to hang 'em up.

Faulk will be remembered as the greatest rushing/receiving combination back in history. His 12,279 rushing yards and 100 rushing touchdowns would be Canton material alone, but when you add in the 767 receptions -- the names directly beneath his on that list are James Lofton, Charlie Joiner and Michael Irvin -- his greatness really comes into focus.

What's most intriguing about the current Rams, and Faulk's replacement, is that Jackson appears to be just as versatile and productive as his predecessor. In this third season, Jackson broke Faulk's record for receptions by a running back with 90, and he led the league in total yards from scrimmage. This in a different offense, with a different quarterback, and a different head coach. No matter who the Rams are or what they do, the purpose of their running back is clear -- do it all, and do it as well as anyone.

Free Agency Recap

The Rams surprised many by signing former Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael, whom Coach Scott Linehan knew from his one season as Miami's offensive coordinator. St. Louis drafted two tight ends last season, but while Joe Klopfenstein seems to be firmly entrenched, Dominique Byrd has been arrested twice in his young NFL career -- first for assault and then a recent collar for driving under the influence. (No, he wasn't with Jerramy Stevens at the time.) After losing receivers Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald to the Eagles and Lions respectively, the Rams signed former Titans wideout Drew Bennett. Bennett finished 56th in DPAR and DVOA with a sub-50% Catch Rate, but no Tennessee receiver had great efficiency numbers while Vince Young was finding his feet. Expect more from Bennett in 2007.

Former Seahawks DE Grant Wistrom, who started his career with the Rams and was cut in the off-season, has expressed interest in returning to his original team. He could be an asset at the right price. For comic value, the Rams also signed ex-49ers and Redskins cornerback Mike Rumph, which means that the NFL's worst cover corner will return to the NFC West after a year in the nation's capital.

Draft Needs

In 2006, St. Louis finished 31st in defensive Adjusted Line Yards in the Mid/Guard area; only the regular season non-Bob Sanders version of the Indianapolis Colts were worse. The Rams have already shown a keen interest in Louisville DT Amobi Okoye, the 19-year-old Senior Bowl star. They could very well take him with the 13th overall pick, and he could solve a position the Rams have been trying to fix for years. Michigan's Alan Branch is a possibility as well. Once thought to be a sure top-ten pick, Branch has seen his stock drop after an unimpressive Combine. Later rounds should have the Rams looking at defensive ends, cornerbacks, and perhaps a receiver.

San Francisco 49ers

Miracle Cure

Of the 31 NFL coaches and executives who spoke at the 2007 Scouting Combine, San Francisco head coach Mike Nolan gave the longest and most detailed opening statement. What was a quick, 10-minute In-and-Out-Burger for most podium dwellers became a State of the Union Address in Nolan's hands.

It is this attention to detail in all matters that not only has the 49ers poised as the team some think will challenge the Seahawks for NFC West supremacy in the near future, but also had formerly compulsively meddlesome owner John York employing a hands-off policy as Nolan, vice president of player personnel Scot McCloughan and director of football operations Paraag Marathe handed out almost $40 million in bonus money alone to a host of free agents. This goes completely against York's cheapskate reputation, which was quite well-deserved at one time. In past years, his administration was responsible for PR bloopers such as charging coaches $82 each for the game balls they received, and placing cases of bottled water in a locked cage to prevent unauthorized consumption.

What's different now? A trust between the executive branch and the football side that did not exist when Terry Donahue and Dennis Erickson were in charge. The team was forced to undergo an enormous personnel purge over the last three seasons due to unhinged decision-making based on fast-twitch emotional responses by the previous regime. A recent article by Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle details the careful planning that went into this recent spending spree after two salary cap dumps.

The team was playing with both hands tied from a marquee star standpoint in 2006. But the players remaining, the ones drafted, and the few that could be acquired during the holding pattern put together a season of encouragement their fans haven't seen in quite a time. When the 49ers were still winning at the end of the Mariucci era, the cracks in the foundation were obvious. Now, an intuitive, organized approach rules the day. This bodes well for the future of the franchise -- in fact, you could argue that it's the best-run team in the NFC West.

Free Agency Recap

Only Detroit, Houston and Washington finished lower than the 49ers in pass defense DVOA, and the team with more cap room than any other acted with a quickness to correct it. Former Bills cornerback Nate Clements became the highest-paid defender in NFL history when San Francisco signed him to an eight-year, $80 million contract with $22 million in guarantees. By any combination of our numbers, Clements was one of the league's best cornerbacks in 2006, and teaming him with Walt Harris will make a huge difference. The 49ers signed safety Michael Lewis, formerly of the Eagles, on the same day. Clements and Lewis will take up over $15 million in 2007 cap room by themselves, but these signings clearly display San Francisco's commitment to improvement. Former Ravens tackle Aubrayo Franklin will man the nose position in that 3-4 defense. Receiver Ashley Lelie and linebacker Tully Banta-Cain were good depth signings. The 49ers impressed by adding four potential defensive starters, but there's one position on the other side of the ball that still needs some major work...

Draft Needs

San Francisco's need for an elite wide receiver isn't the elephant in the living room -- it's the bigger thing that crushed the elephant in the living room. This problem wasn't corrected in free agency (Lelie has disappointed too many times to be taken seriously as an impact player), but San Francisco will have up to eight picks in the first four rounds including one compensatory pick each in the third and fourth rounds)and this draft has a great stock of pass-catchers. Thus, many expect Ole Miss ILB Patrick Willis to be the 49ers' pick at the eleventh slot. Mike Nolan coached Willis at the Senior Bowl and was tremendously impressed, comparing him to 2006 Defensive Rookie of the Year DeMeco Ryans. Willis' athleticism would provide the finishing touch for a linebacker unit they've been overhauling since Nolan took over, and allow the coach to run his preferred 3-4 all the time. That scheme will also have the 49ers looking for someone who can spell Bryant Young.

Seattle Seahawks

The Punk and the Godfather

When reviewing the Seahawks career of one Jerramy Stevens, it's appropriate to remember what Brooklyn Dodgers pitching coach Joe Becker told the great baseball columnist Red Smith in 1955: "The good ones listen and learn. The others have a big hole in the head that starts at this ear and goes right through." Determined to void the last year of his contract and test the market after the 2006 season, Stevens missed out on the richest off-season in NFL history when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving charges in Scottsdale, Arizona on March 13th. Marijuana was also reportedly found on Stevens' person by the police, and he was nearly three times over the legal limit when arrested.

This was the latest point in a pattern of uneven behavior that Stevens had displayed all the way back to his college days: a string of DUIs, car accidents, and alleged assaults. The Seattle Times recently revealed that Stevens was an impossibly unruly neighbor in his condo development. This lifestyle brings his inconsistent on-field production into sharper focus -- it's tough to play at an elite level when you're exhausted after years of outrunning God knows how many demons.

Stevens is the last troubled remnant of the teams put together by Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren when Holmgren also served as general manager from 1999 through 2002. Holmgren had a tendency to ignore college scouting reports that pointed to the kinds of off-field issues that only escalate when fame meets financial success. He gave wide receiver Koren Robinson chance after chance to the detriment of the team, but Robinson's substance abuse issues eventually proved too great for anyone, including Robinson, to handle. After stints with the Vikings and Packers, Robinson was sentenced to 90 days in jail last October for violating his probation with the most recent drunk driving offense in a very long string.

"I have come under the gun in years past about not taking a harder line with some of our players, but people don't really know what goes on behind the scenes," Holmgren said after Stevens' release. "I like him personally. I think when he was healthy and played for us, you couldn't ask for a harder worker, and he did a nice job for us as a player. I always think, though, if you get in too many jams, you have to deal with life issues more then the athletic issues, and I would say the same thing about him."

When Tim Ruskell became the team's president in February of 2005, production finally trumped potential, and a new emphasis on character dominated Seattle's draft and free agency outlook. Enablement went out the window. The team responded by making Super Bowl XL at the end of the 2005 season and taking the NFC Champion Bears to overtime in the divisional round despite an enormous number of injuries in the follow-up.

Stevens' future is less clear. Only the Buccaneers showed an interest in him before the incident, and his priors make him an excellent candidate for a league suspension when another team signs him. Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to introduce a stricter code of conduct at this week's owner's meetings.

Free Agency Recap

Two of the biggest free agent splashes for the Seahawks this off-season were the ones they tried and failed to make -- after bringing San Diego guard Kris Dielman to Seattle on Paul Allen's private jet, they watched as he talked turkey with his potential new team, only to balk and return, flying coach, to the Chargers for less money than the Seahawks were offering. Then, they entered the bidding for former New England tight end Daniel Graham and were blown out of the water by Denver's $30 million winning offer. The Broncos, for their part, were chagrined by Seattle's acquisition of Patrick Kerney, the defensive end who had amassed 58 sacks in nine seasons with the Falcons. Kerney will replace Grant Wistrom, who was greatly overpaid in 2004 by the interim personnel man between Holmgren and Ruskell, former team President Bob Whitsitt. Wistrom was released when he refused to restructure his six-year, $33 million contract. The team was set to pay him $3.5 million this year. Kerney was signed for six years and $39.5 million; but as we have seen, this current market can be compared to nothing else in NFL history.

The Seahawks also shelled out cash to re-do their secondary. They signed two safeties: Jacksonville's Deon Grant and Cleveland's Brian Russell, who is best known for his nine-interception season in 2003. In his other four seasons, Russell picked off six passes total. Grant will replace Ken Hamlin at free safety, while Russell might take some of Michael Boulware's time at strong safety. The Seahawks want more veteran leadership in the defensive backfield after so many missed assignments in 2006.

Draft Needs

The most obvious remaining need for the Seahawks is at guard, a position they still haven't shored up entirely since losing Steve Hutchinson. Their first-round pick gone to New England in exchange for Deion Branch, the front office won't be looking at obvious killer prospects like Auburn's Ben Grubbs or Justin Blalock of Texas unless they can trade up, perhaps using receiver Darrell Jackson as a bargaining chip. At pick 55, Akron's Andy Alleman is a possibility.

The Seahawks also need a tight end -- replacing Jerramy Stevens with the 35-year-old Marcus Pollard is a stopgap at best -- which could lead them to Kevin Boss of Western Oregon, whose Pro Day they recently attended, or Combine star Michael Allan of Division III Whitworth College. Brandon Mebane of Cal is the sort of run-stopping defensive tackle Seattle needs in the wake of Marcus Tubbs' microfracture surgery, and a blocking fullback might be on Seattle's radar.

Later this week: NFC East

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 27 Mar 2007

75 comments, Last at 30 Mar 2007, 6:02pm by Jeff

Comments

1
by Benjamin (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 2:02pm

First

2
by wr (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 2:20pm

Nice article, although any optimism about the Cardinals needs to be tempered since they are the Cardinals. BTW, loved the Who reference.

3
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 2:25pm

I think Ahmad Carroll wil be a little upset at Doug's promotion of Mike Rumph ahead of him as the worst cover corner on the NFL. I heard a rumour that the league has been considering asking for Carrol to pay for wear and tear on penalty flags.

I really don't think the niners will go for Willis, they have Ulbrich, Smith and Moore at ILB; together with Lawson and Bannta-Cain at OLB, so I would have thought that they'll be lookin for a lineman. Most likely Carriker or Branch.

If you look at the offensive personel assembled by the Rams and Cardinals, I'm very glad the niners landed Clements.

4
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 3:15pm

#3: You're presuming Carroll will be in the league next year. :)

5
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 3:21pm

That John Lott video was hilarious.

6
by Ryan (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 3:27pm

#3: "I think Ahmad Carroll wil be a little upset at Doug’s promotion of Mike Rumph ahead of him as the worst cover corner on the NFL."

I recall Rumph getting beaten badly, all night long, by Koy Detmer and A.J. Feeley.

7
by bowman (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 3:33pm

4.

Carroll's signed, we'll see if he makes it through camp.

8
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 4:59pm

I believe it was Fran Charles, but did anybody else see the NFL Network draft analyst saying the Cards should take a running back?

He said they weren't getting production from the postion, then he said Edge was getting old, then he said you can't pass on talent like AP. Is it me, or did anyone from the FO crowd get angry as well?

9
by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 5:21pm

Seeing the list of guaranteed money for the 49ers free agency signings in the Chronicle article, I'm thinking that the best single measure of how much a team values a free agent is probably the amount of guaranteed money in the contract. Does anyone know where to find the guaranteed money in every free agent contract signed this offseason?

10
by Ch V Kalyan (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 5:25pm

Does someone have the breakup of the monster contract that Clements signed? Is the 22-million g'tee already wired to Clements?

I still think that the 49ers are atleast an year away from competing against the seahawks. Alex Smith has to improve on his sophomore performance even without last year OC Turner for the 49ers to make forward progress this year.

11
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 5:38pm

8-Why would I get mad about what Fran Charles thinks? Now, if the Cardinals actually do take a running back on the first day, I might get mad.

12
by Jacob Stevens (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 6:38pm

10 - I don't think it's Alex Smith's development that would keep SanFran from challenging Seattle, but I do think they've still got an uphill battle in that regard. Both those games the past year were decided in the last minute or two, and ultimately the reason they were close at all was the absense of Marcus Tubbs. Frank Gore won't be surprising anyone, this year.

13
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 7:11pm

'That scheme will also have the 49ers looking for someone who can spell Bryant Young.'

I guess that rules out any University of Miami players. I doubt they can spell much of anything.

14
by pcs (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 7:33pm

Whisenhunt and Grimm will probably save Edgerrin James’ career.

... if not his life.

15
by Sam (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 7:37pm

"Frank Gore won’t be surprising anyone, this year."

Based on the number of 8 and 9 man fronts Gore saw last year most will agree he didnt surprise anyone last year either.

16
by brent (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 8:27pm

why are the 49ers a year away from competing with the seahawks? the free agents they brought in will make a much larger difference than marcus tubbs. granted seattle had a lot of injuries last year, i still see the niners coming out and performing well this year, eventually winning the division.

17
by Another Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 8:55pm

Wow Brent, you're not doing much to dispel San Francisco's reputation for abusing hallucinogens. Swap 'Niners' for 'Cardinals' and your post sounds identical to the yearly predictions of Arizona's inevitable emergence as a top team. And we all know how that turns out.

18
by NF (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 9:59pm

17:

I'm not a fan of an NFC West team, but I have to note that the 49ers aren't coached by Dennis Green. Neither are the Cardinals anymore.

That said, if Seattle is as bad next year as it was this year, and St. Louis still has an awful defense, the 49ers have a chance to take the division 9-7 and then have a competitive loss in the wild-card round, barring a similar improvement by the Cardinals. If Seattle is back to the quality it was in 2005, and St. Louis regains some sort of defense, the 49ers are likely to beat some teams no one expected them to after last season, but they aren't going to win the division, and they don't have enough of an advantage over the rest of their schedule to get a wild card spot (unless the NFC South has three or more bad teams next year).

For all the improvements the 49ers made on defense, the Seahawks may match those improvements just by patching up the o-line and having the QB and RB back healthy. The potential of the Jackson/Branch WR duo has yet to be really tapped. Also, Matt Leinart, Anquan Boldin, and Larry Fitzgerald will all have another year of experience, and the Arizona O-line is likely to improve. So the defensive improvements may serve to keep the team steady in the division as the entire division's quality of offense improves.

If you wanted my gut opinion, I think that the Seahawks will recover from last year, but the 49ers will improve to the point that they resemble the 2004 Bengals; a young slightly above average team on the verge of a major breakout.

19
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 10:01pm

While I agree with Doug that the ninrs could use a WR, I still think that Lelie has a shot to be better in SF than his other stops. This is the first time he won't be playing in aa west coast offense that requires him to go over the middle a lot. That type of offense minimises his strengths and accentuates the fact that he's a bit soft. All the niners will look for from him is to go deep and make room for Gore and Davis. His last year in Denves he had 700 yards and he's also getting paid peanuts.

20
by Duff Soviet Union (not verified) :: Tue, 03/27/2007 - 10:19pm

"Kerney will replace Grant Wistrom, who was greatly overpaid in 2004 by the interim personnel man between Holmgren and Ruskell, former team President Bob Whitsitt." As a Portland Trailblazers fan, I found that pretty funny.

21
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 1:46am

My spam word: twodeep.

Cool.

It's hard to believe the 49ers are going to be challenging next year. The free agents they've brought in--even the highest paid defensive player ever--they're not great players, they're some good players, and some average players.

So we overpaid for a few good players? So what? I'd rather overpay for a few good players than not use that cap room at all.

The thing is, we're way more than a few good players away from winning wildcard rounds in the playoffs. DVOA thinks the 49ers have far outperformed their ability ever since Nolan arrived. If their record actually matches their DVOA this year, they could be a much better team and still not improve their record.

Not that I much care about their record next year. Nolan's and his crew have impressed me, and I can see this team getting better and I love the way they play for him. If three years from now the 49ers are still 7-9, then I'll rethink, but not before then.

22
by Fargo (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 7:19am

Ye Gods, I hope that by some freak of injuries and/or suspensions that the Rams have to start Mike Rumph at some point this year, preferably when playing the Niners. The guy isn't without talent, he just has none that are particularly useful to a CB.

I don't think Lelie is anyone's idea of a #1WR, but I think he can give us approximately the same production that Bryant had last year, and hopefully with a lot less bitching/moaning/drink driving. I think Arnaz Battle is still improving as well, remember he only started playing receiver after he was drafted. If he can stay injury free, he's like a even more aggressive (albeit significantly less talented) version of Anquan Boldin.

23
by Ahmad Carrol\'s mom (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 7:45am

3/4: I realise that your comments weren’t entirely serious, but I think Ahmad Carroll is an unfortunate scapegoat to some extent. In Green Bay he was thrust in by circumstances before he was ready (from a maturity standpoint and playing standpoint) – and because he was horribly overdrafted by Mike Sherman in one of the worst draft classes the NFL has ever seen. His reputation has him as the worst corner in the league – possibly most famously for the game against Philadelphia on MNF that led to his getting cut. However even within that game he had a very good first half – and I challenge anyone to watch the tape and tell me otherwise. From memory I think 6 balls were thrown his way by McNabb, and only one completed. He also had a sack on a superb leg tackle. Even when he was burned in the second half, he was far from the only guy at fault – go back and ask yourself where the hell the safeties were on some of those plays.

I realise I may be the only person that thinks this (and feel free to call me crazy), but I think Carroll can be a decent nickel/spot starter for somebody. He’s still a very good athlete, and he’s very good at covering short and medium routes tightly – he has one major problem, which is tracking the ball in the air when it’s thrown deep. Unfortunately if that weakness can be exposed within a scheme then he can be made to look very shabby. In Green Bay he played in a secondary that boasted only one good to very good starter in Al Harris. Sharper was garbage his last year in Green Bay, Nick Collins has massive upside but has made a lot of mistakes. The less said about Roman and Manuel the better. He hasn’t had a chance yet in Jacksonville.

He needed to go in Green Bay because he had failed to show the necessary development… but I still think there is some upside there, and I still think he can carve out an NFL career. And I certainly think he can cover quite a bit better than Rumph.

24
by David (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 8:08am

Niners will challenge next year. We can't crown their asses right now, but they will challenge.

Personally, I think that Lelie can do everything that Antonio Bryant did last year (go long...), and VD is more of a space stretcher than EJ. Hopefully the line is fairly settled (lot of injury problems there over the last couple of years), so the offense should be about where it was last year, if not a little better.

The defense, however, should be a lot better. Bringing in Clements is an enormous upgrade since, due to injuries, the niners were reduced to starting such luminaries as Sammy Davis at CB. Injuries can, of course, strike again, but with better starters we also get better depth (Spencer is a perfectly competent starter, and should be an excellent nickel back). Nolan now has (most of) the personnel to run his 3-4, and this, plus a bit of regression to the mean, should prove to be enough to have the niners looking at 9-11 wins next year.

25
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 8:35am

23:

Oh, come on. That guy's hips are cast iron. When he runs a coverage route it's like he's physically stuck to the track of the big yellow arrow in Madden. If he was any good he'd be playing.

26
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 8:57am

I've been saying it for a long time, " Mike Rumph is the worst corner in the NFL". If he wasn't out of Miami and a high pick, he'd be long gone by now. He is either slower than everybody ( not likely), or he just plays at half speed to 75%.

The reason why I was upset at Charles Davis analyis on the Cards RB needs was because the guy is a professional. I don't think you'd find even one FO reader that would say the Cards need to draft Adrian Peterson because Edge is getting old and they need production from the position. I don't think you'd even find any amatuer Fantasy football players or people on those crummy cbssportsline boards saying that either. The fact that the guy is on TV arguing that baffles me. It would be almost as bad as saying the Cards should draft a receiver. I lost all respect for the guy with that piss poor analysis.

The biggest loss in San Fran was Norv Turner. Is Turner a premier head coach? So far he hasn't been, but he is one of the better offensive coordinators.

I really feel that Alex Smith was on the verge of a breakout, ala Carson Palmer before he broke out, but with the loss of Turner I'm not sure sure anymore. RB's have also greatly been helped by Turners offense, so it will be interesting to see how Gore follows up last season. If SF were to even keep that offense the same, I think they addressed those holes on that poor secondary.

I wouldn't count out arizona or the rams. The Rams problem is simple. If they were to even have an average defense, they should be solid. That is easier said than done though for them.

I felt the Cards have the goods, but they have to make them work the right way. If they were to just improve that run game, their whole team would be a whole lot better. If Edge gets some blocking, the Cards can eat more clock and help keep the D off the field, and open up that passing game even more. If Russ Grimm figures out that line, the Cards could be a vastly improved team. Sort of like Carolina a few years ago once Stephen Davis gave them a rushing prscence. It made that whole TEAM better.

27
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 9:18am

Niners have extended Gore. Looking closely at the contract, it gives Gore some security with some up front cash but gives the niners relief if Gore gets hurt as a large percentage of the salary is paid out as bonuses for Gore being active for games.

28
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 9:29am

Re: 25

Hey, go easy on Mrs. Carrol.

29
by Ahmad Carrol\\\'s mom (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 9:47am

25: I’m quite serious. I realise that it’s a minority opinion that I have (even among other Packers fans that have watched him as much as me), but I am genuine. Although Cliff Christl’s (Miwaukee JS) training camp blog from 2006 echoed a lot of my own opinions when Carroll was discussed.

I really find it strange that you’d question his hips… athletically he’s always been a very good prospect, that and his draft status are the things that kept him in Green Bay as long as he was there. He’s an athlete and not a football player, that’s always been the knock on him from the time he arrived in Green Bay. Athletically there are FAR inferior players with nickel and starting jobs in the NFL – what do you think got him his first round draft status to begin with?

What plagues him is inconsistency – check the tape of the first half against Philly in 06 and you see a solid player playing some nice coverage and giving it all in tough run support. The tape of the second half shows his propensity to get beat deep and get penalised. He’s capable of glue-like coverage at times, he just gets beat or makes mistakes too often (often on deep balls that he struggles to track in the air, which of course means big plays – especially if you get zero safety help). That’s something that he may never be able to rectify completely, but if ever he could (however unlikely that may be), or if you can restrict him to a role that would cover that weakness up, you’d have a very decent player. Which is why I have a problem with the ‘worst coverage corner in the league’ tag.

30
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 10:37am

28:

I would disagree with your analysis of his athleticism. That Green Bay game was one of my favorites this year, and what got me about his coverage when he was getting toasted was how badly receiver cuts set him aflame. It was like he was so busy trying to run hard and fast that he forgot that to stay near the receiver he was covering when it changed direction. He could be agile as an athlete, but he's not agile in coverage, and that's where the adamantium bar that is his waist comes in.

31
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 10:38am

28: It's not just his inability to track the ball in the air, I can remember laughing out loud at him trying to cover a double move. He bit so hard on the first move that he failed to even see the second, though I can't remember who it was against (it was the game that led to the Pack cutting him). I then began to feel a little sorry for the guy, but then I remembered he's already earned millions.

However, I thought that Joe Horn torching Michael Lewis was pretty funny and the niners just signed him to a big contract.

32
by Benjamin (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 11:08am

Ahmed Carrol’s Mom. I may be a little late to the conversation here but did I see you write that 04 was a weak draft class? (post 23) This is the draft class that brought us Fitzgerald, Rivers, Taylor, Roy Williams (wr), Hall, Rothlisberger, Vilma, Robinson, Evans, Wilfork, Shawn Andrews, D.J. Williams, Steven Jackson, and Watson just in the first round right? This is a week draft class?

33
by lobolafcadio (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 11:16am

I thought the Cards signed Terrelle Smith as FB.
Indeed, they have, I checked.

I didn't think Edge was a Smashing RB, but I didn't think that of Portis neither, and, he did well in Washington.
However, Portis don't play very often behind a FB and Edge didn't.
Is it a big deal ?
I mean, the opposing front seven is less stretched with a FB than facing a double-TE set, I mean, I think the reads are different for the HB, he needs more patience to let the blocks develop (first, the OLs, then, his FB, then to burst)...
So, will the cards bring in a new RB (possibly a late-round pick) accustomed to this running style ?

34
by Ahmad Carrol\\\\\\\'s mom (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 11:18am

29/30: you’re right in so much that he has struggled with double moves at times, but I would state fairly emphatically that it is not an athleticism related thing – his hips are fine & some of the time he can handle those types of routes very well. It isn’t an every time thing. I maintain his problems are discipline, inconsistency with his eyes and a big tendency towards over aggression that can be exploited in the right circumstances.

The first and the third of those problems are related and I believe, as he gets older, if he gets the right coaching and matures personally, are eminently correctable. The bigger problem from a potential/player ceiling standpoint are his eyes and his ability to track the ball deep. Because until he answers that bell, teams will repeatedly go after him there wherever they can.

But make no mistake, we’re talking about a premier athlete – 4.26 40, 10.3 100m, 21.2 200m. He has the athletic ability to run down the field with anyone in the league, and he can redirect very fast – it’s just he’s still raw in terms of reading and reacting to double moves.

35
by lobolafcadio (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 11:28am

no links with the thread :

http://community.foxsports.com/blogs/footballoutsiders/2007/03/27/Eagles...

an absolute hilarious thing !

(my antu-spam word : tanier !!! ha ha ! to post his work !)

36
by Ahmad Carrol\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s mom (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 11:28am

32: Ahmad Carroll
Donnell Washington
B.J. Sander
Joey Thomas

This is why it was a weak draft class – I meant for a single team, and in this case the Packers. The names above are the first 4 picks the Pack made that year, none of which are still with the team. If it wasn’t for the team hitting on one decent-but-eminently-replaceable player in DT Corey Williams in the 6th round, and C Scott Wells, who has become a very good player in the 7th then it would have been a total washout. It was hyperbole to say worst class ever – I’m sure there are a few examples of teams being even more wasteful… but it really stands out when we had been spoiled by Ron Wolf consistently finding players in the 90s.

37
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 11:35am

33

Why is everybody so obsessed with schemes. Just because edge played with a lot of 2TE sets doesn't mean he can't run with a fullback in front of him. Just because Mike Tomlin coached a 4-3 doesn't mean he is ignorant about a 3-4 defense. Why are people so bent up on "systems". Football is football and it's not rocket science. If Edge is a good RB in a 2TE set, it is likely that he is also good in a 1 TE set. He's a good player and not some robot who can only run without a FB ahead of him. I'm not trying to pick on you but I'm sick of hearing about systems and who can and can't play in them.

38
by Reinhard (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 12:12pm

it looks like SF is trying to run the "AFC West" offense: a good QB, great TE and RB, and then no one scary at WR... it seems to work very well for some teams, and Norv of course left to coach the Chargers, so I don't know if the WRs will be as big of a problem as they should be

39
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 12:24pm

I think the doubts about James' ability to run behind a fullback stem from the fact that he has never really done it in the NFL. In Indy he had a lot of his decision making done for him by Manning who would read the defensive alignment and then call one of two run plays to take 4-6 yards that were there for the taking. There were always two safeties deep, often in the nickel with Stokely split wide into the slot, never eight men. The Colts run game was based around sealing off edges and walling guys off inside, this didn't require a great deal of block reading by the tailback, most of it would have been done by Manning pre-snap. In a more traditional I-form system with a fullback the backs both to read the blocks from the line and read the defense before making their decision. The fullback will then make his decision, and the tailback then has to read the fullback's block as well. It isn't neccessarily that no one thinks that James can do this, just that he hasn't yet in the NFL.

40
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 12:57pm

Well Mrs. Carroll, it's a little early to be judging the Class of 2005, but even so try:

1/16 Travis Johnson (could yet work out, but not much sign of it to date)
3/73 RB Vernand Morency (netted a guy who couldn't beat out Ron Dayne and Wali Lundy in trade; no meaningful contribution of his own)
4/114 WR/KR Jerome Mathis (ok, he was a good kick returner as a rookie. He may or may not still be effective if he ever returns from injury)
5/151 C Drew Hodgdon (has started games, but only due to injuries. Sucks)
6/188 S Ceandris (CC) Brown (if he played SS, he would merely be a liability. As it is, he is the worst defensive starter in the entire NFL)
7/227 LB Kenneth Pettway (apparently picked up a couple of sacks as a situational pass rusher for the Jags last season, which probably makes him one of the better players in this group. Never activated by the Texans)

The tragic thing is that despite the inhuman suckitude of these guys, most of them have seen significant playing time, because the Texans have really been that bad.

41
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 1:04pm

"I still think that the 49ers are atleast an year away from competing against the seahawks. Alex Smith has to improve on his sophomore performance even without last year OC Turner for the 49ers to make forward progress this year."

It is perhaps worth mentioning that the 49ers did, in fact, sweep the Seahawks this year, so you could argue that they are already competing against the Seahawks. Just saying.

42
by Ahmad Carroll\'s Dad (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 1:06pm

#34 - You know, I try and try with that woman to get her to understand that some guys look good on paper but just don't have what it takes to be a pro football player. Ahmad's a good kid and tries hard. But he always falls for the double move and ALWAYS grabs if he gets beat - meaning an automatic big penalty for first down. Maybe he's not the worst NFL CB. But that still makes him a pretty bad one. We still love him though.

43
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 1:18pm

"I’m sick of hearing about systems and who can and can’t play in them."

Then go back to posting on ESPN's message boards.

44
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 1:23pm

PFT is reporting that the Crads are thinking of switching to a 3-4. I assume that this would mean installing Gabe Watson on the nose (or drafting Branch), moving Dockett to end and having Calvin Pace and Dansby as the OLBs. Does anyone think this would work well?

45
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 1:56pm

39- James didn't see a lot of 8 man fronts in Arizona either. The 8 man front doesn't happen as often as you think it does.

43- Wouldn't ESPN message boards tend to have MORE ignorant fans which would tend to wrongfully complain about systems? That is assuming of course that FO has smarter fans.

Why don't you swim back to Cuba?

46
by James C (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 2:38pm

45

My post was more about reading the defense and a blocking scheme that involves seven in-line blockers as opposed to six and a blocking back.

If you put seven blockers on the line the defense has to adjust pre-snap to cover gaps, spreading the front seven out and effectively de-wrinkling the defensive scheme. This different to an I formation in which the fullback can pull and lead sweeps and in which the tailback has to read the fullback's block.

If you ever did see the Colts against and eight man front you probably saw a play in which they threw the ball.

All teams run eight man fronts, some more than others. There are teams who use the eight man front as a base defense, de-emphasising the requirements of the corners in their run defense schemes.

47
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 3:00pm

I agree that an I formation with a fullback can present different scenerios than a 2TE set.

The 2TE sets can also have very effecive sweep plays with a TE crashing inside and some teams actually have a LT pull on occasion. I remember seeing Walter Jones pull in a seahawks game and just feeling pity for the defenders he bowled over.

The Patriots also work all sorts of matchups inside with their tight ends. You sometimes see those tight ends break quickly to the inside and get an angle on a DT. Sometimes they will also throw a TE in motion and snap the ball while he's not outside the tackle but still inside. If you've ever blocked on an O-Line, it is beautiful to watch all the different pulls/traps the Pats run.

I don't see teams running 8 man fronts as a base defense. The Ravens ran some 46 two years ago, but I don't see very many 8 man fronts in the nfl. Sometimes safeties will cheat up on blitzes, but I don't really see a lot of 8 man fronts. I think a lot of it is hype and whenver a RB had a bad day people proclaim " the opponent ran a lot of 8 in the box" without even seeing what they did. OR, it was a tactic used SOMETIMES, but people make these broad statements about 8 in the box.

48
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 3:23pm

Chris, my original point was this, just because you don't enjoy the tactical nuances of the game, don't disparage those of us who enjoy discussing that aspect of the game, as you did when you said, "I’m sick of hearing about systems and who can and can’t play in them.�

If you really don't think that teams use 8 men in the box when they want to stuff the run then I suggest you watch any niners game from last year. . .or any Bears game from too years ago. . . or the Colts in the playoffs. Need I go on?

BTW I'm not from Cuba, it's my Ron Mexico name

49
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 4:15pm

Because it's riddulous. Do you really think top notch players can only play in their current system and they are ignorant to the rest of football?

Do you think since Bellichick coaches a 3-4 right now that that football genius would be LOST if he had to coach a 4-3? Football is football.

Like I said, 8 in the box happens SOMETIMES, but not as often as people make it out to be. Whenever a good runningback is shut down people assume that the opponent threw a lot of 8 in the box but that is now always the case. Sometimes a good defense can shut players down because their front 7 is just better.

Even with a 7 man front, the safeties STILL play a crucial part of run support. Do you remember that long Willie Parker run in the SB where Michael Boulware ran up from his safety spot and wiffed on Parker?

In season finale, NY vs Washington, the Redskins safety Vernon Fox ran up about 5-7 yards to make a play on Tiki Barber and wiffed on the tackle, allowing Barber to make a long run.

In both of those examples, the offense correctly blocked the front 7 so that the half field player was the free man to make the tackle. In both instances the half field player wiffed and the back had a long gain.

People don't always associate safeties at regular depth with run support, but they HAVE to. When Fox runs up to make the play he has a chance of making it only about a 6 yard gain. In Boulwares case he could have cut Parkers run down to somewhere around 7-8 yards but he missed and it turns into an 80 yard rushing attempt.

A lot of highschool teams "groom" their middle linebacker by playing a stud tackeling sophmore at safety and as he grows as a Jr./ Sr. bringing him down to linebacker. Sort of like what happened to Brian Urlacher from college to the pros.

50
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 5:01pm

Re:49

Why is it ridiculous to think that certain players have talents more suited to one system than another?

The question isn't whether the player is ignorant of different systems, but rather that it will take a player from being "Pro-Bowl" caliber to "NFL-avg." level, or from "NFL-avg." to "NFL-suck". I firmly believe that there is only a very small difference between most NFL players (they're all elite athletes, etc.)... if there were big differences in players, there would be a lot less draft busts or late round sleepers.

Therefore, I conclude the most highly successful players are those whose scheme matches their particular strengths (See "Trotter, J." as an example of stud vs. kinda-suck depending on system).

That doesn't seem like a ridiculous proposition to me, and calling it so just makes you seem unreasonable...

Like all generalizations, mine as presented is false as well... Many hall-of-famers, etc. would likely be successful in whatever system you put them in... but then again, they might then have only been "very goods" vs. hall of famers, etc.

Basically, taken to either extreme the argument is just as likely wrong (all I can say is its definitely not 100% system NOR 100% player), so why wouldn't you want to discuss the effects of the system? Whether its 20%, 50%, or 70%, its almost impossible to say it has ZERO effect... therefore as smart, thinking football fans, we discuss it.

51
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 5:17pm

I agree that certain players will perform better under certain "systems" but...

fans can't always correctly diagnose actual systems they play in. If you ask most fans, they think 90% of teams run a "west coast offense", and a "cover 2 defense". If you say Atlanta ran a "west coast offense" last year then your wrong. Just because somebody labeled it that ( and everybody ran with it), doesn't make it true.

But Edge didn't decline last year because of the SCHEMES. The Colts ran more zone blocking, where as Arizona ran more man/man blocking SCHEMES. Edge declined last year because overall the Cardinals line was not as good as the Colts and not because " he went from a zone blocking rushing offense to a man/man run blocking offense".

Your right too though, a lot of these guys aren't physically THAT different. You could psyuedo say they are all physically "peaked" out for their bodies ( but certain guys peak out higher).

The biggest variable is what is underneath their helmet, and you can't see that. However, the FO crowd and Billy Beane try to measure it :)

52
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 7:44pm

The fact is Chris that most teams do use principles that originated in Walsh's West Coast Offense (actually the Cincinnati offense). Lots of short routes to recievers and most importantly almost every ofense in the NFL sets the timing of the WRs routes to the quarterback's feet. However there are very few teams that still use the West Coast system as Walsh ran it in SF. The closest comparison is Seattle and they use too much I-formation.

Your conflation of cover 2 and the Tampa 2 scheme confuses the issue a little.

Cato June for example, is far too small to play LB in a 3-4. Grady Jackson would be wasted in a Tampa 2.

53
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 03/28/2007 - 9:54pm

So Bill Walsh invented the short pass? Huh? Short passes and timing exsist in any offense, that doesn't mean every offense is part of the west coast offense.

There is a difference between a cover 2 and a tampa 2. The Tampa 2 isn't some here all be all zone scheme that is duplicated every play. It might come as a suprise but they do sometimes play MAN in tampa.

You could argue that Cato June is too small to play LB in any scheme. There are freaking receivers, quarterbacks and safeties that are bigger tham him.

The whole " west coast offense", "cover 2 defense" and "tampa 2" defense reminds me of a little child that uses a new word and then keeps using it over and over again.

54
by lobolafcadio (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 4:40am

I'm always amazed by some skills to spoil a thread...

Keep it simple.
You're a java analasyst, but you're asked to create a framework using C (not even C++ ), just plain old C, you'll do it, but not as quickly as if you made it in Java. It's not your speciality. That's all, it requires an other way of thinking.

Just as playing behind a FB or not.
If you have a FB, you wait for him to do his job and then, you burst.
If you don't, you usually wait for your OL to do his job, but he is 7 yards in front of you at the snap, so you can burst earlier.

Basically, my question was, does Edge have the patience to wait for the play to develop ?
And he was never used as a smashmouth runner, I even remember some qualifying him soft after his multiple goalline fumbles, can he be successful in this kind of system ?
I hope so, but not all rbs are created equals, that's why you have Bettis' and Parkers'...
And just recently, I don't remeber Faulk playing behind a FB.

PS : I think some readers here have played football, not only one. And everybody is free to discuss the game.

55
by Ilanin (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 6:41am

Chris - if you want a team that runs 8 man fronts as something approximating a base set, try the one you're talking about, the Cardinals. Clancy Prendergast's 4-3 lines Adrian Wilson up much closer to the line than a strong safety would traditionally be (that's why his stop rate is so high for a safety) and tends to funnel plays at him (because he's the only player on the team who can tackle, I think). Of course, Wilson is one of the best blitzing safeties in the game, so cheating Wilson up to suggest a safety blitz and dropping him back also happens a fair bit.

56
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 9:09am

54- The thing about edge is that he is pretty much a big back himself. He's somewhere in the 220 range, but if you watch him play you wouldn't think that. His big size allows him to be an outstanding pass protecter, but he runs with a lot of agility for a cera 220 pounder.

We have no reason to believe he can't run behind a FB. Running behind zone blocking requires a certain amount of patience and reading in itself.

Sometimes Adrian Wilson creeps up to the line, sometimes he moves up a little further the line but that doesn't mean it's a base set. It's not like you can even see Wilson in the traditional camera set ( looking at the line of scrimage). They just use him more like a SS, and less like some half field cover 2 safety.

Dansby is a beast and he can tackle. If he were on a a good east coast team I think he'd get a lot more publicity. Same with B. Berry. The Cards have some talent on D. They have a stud pass rusher, big play LB, big play in the secondary ( all 3 levels). If the cards had a better run game that defense would be better too.

57
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 9:37am

Chris for a guy who gets upset when other people vaguely insult him, you sure throw around a lot of insults.

Firstly, if you can't understand the difference between a normal 4-3 running a cover 2 and an entire defensive scheme that has assembled the personel to be able to play 2-over man or cover 2 zone whilst giving the QB the exact same pre snap look then you must be an utter moron (in your case this is a consensus opinion).

Secondly, you are the only person that is suggesting that anyone is using a 8 man front as their base set. Other people are, correctly, saying that teams push the SS up into the box when they need to stuff the run or that some teams run a lot of cover 3 strong sky zones as one of their stock plays.

"It’s not like you can even see Wilson in the traditional camera set" Yes, you can. Quite often, are you just making this crap up?

Finally, Bill Walsh invented the short, TIMED pass to the reciever that turned the throw into an extended handoff. Virtually all NFL teams now use timing in their pass routes. That is why commentators say that so many teams use the west coast. The commentators are wrong, the teams have adopted some principles that were pioneered in the West Coast offense. The offense that Walsh ran operated almost exclusively out of a pro-set or a far set and ran a lot more qb motion that you are likely to see in the nfl nowadays.

Blundering around a web forum running off at the mouth and starting arguments on every thread is more reminiscent of a "little child".

58
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 10:58am

Post 57 is a great example of the "pot calling the kettle black". You just won the petulence award away from Chris in this thread... not a disctinction to be proud of. I hope Chris lets you keep it.

Can't we all just say our points in a calm, respectful manner? And if someone doesn't, is it really necessary to sink to their level and respond in kind? Anyone heard of the concept of turning the other cheek? If one poster is being jerk, the rest of us are perfectly capable of noticing it without someone else pointing it out.

A lot of you combatants have intelligent things to say (which I want to hear)... please don't obscure your thoughts in your petty little disagreements... the rest of us don't care.

59
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 11:05am

As folks seem to have trouble figuring out how to do this in a respectful manner, here is what post 57 should have said:

Chris for a guy who gets upset when other people vaguely insult him, you sure throw around a lot of insults.

Firstly, there is a difference between a normal 4-3 running a cover 2 and an entire defensive scheme that has assembled the personel to be able to play 2-over man or cover 2 zone whilst giving the QB the exact same pre-snap look. This is what I mean when I make that distinction.

Secondly, you are the only person that is suggesting that anyone is using a 8 man front as their base set. Other people are, correctly, saying that teams push the SS up into the box when they need to stuff the run or that some teams run a lot of cover 3 strong sky zones as one of their stock plays.

As for “It’s not like you can even see Wilson in the traditional camera set�, I disagree. Yes, you can. Quite often. I think most would agree with me. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Finally, Bill Walsh invented the short, TIMED pass to the reciever that turned the throw into an extended handoff. Virtually all NFL teams now use timing in their pass routes. That is why commentators say that so many teams use the west coast. The commentators are wrong, the teams have adopted some principles that were pioneered in the West Coast offense. The offense that Walsh ran operated almost exclusively out of a pro-set or a far set and ran a lot more qb motion that you are likely to see in the nfl nowadays.

Now, was that so difficult? Same points, less vitriol. Notice it even leaves opportunities for others to get in the coversation? That it doesn't make us want to leave the thread in disgust? Hurray!

60
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 12:51pm

46- claimed that some teams run an 8 man front as a base defense.

Karl- You were very vague when describing the cover 2. There tons of different variations to it. To say that the cover 2 requires the front 4 to get pressure suggests that isn't the case in other defenses. Any defense needs to put pressure on the quarterback.

I also think you need to brush up on your football history.

61
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 1:44pm

cjfarls I think that you could take a look at some of the other threads where Chris has been very insulting to lots of different people. Did you noice him comparing me to a little child?

You are right though, in future I'll try to ignore the halfwit.

62
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 2:14pm

I miss Stephen Yang. At least his posts were so ridiculous that they pushed the boundary between "complete douche bag" and "unintentionally funny". Plus with all the capslock it was alot easier to just skip them altogether.

63
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 2:15pm

I would agree no team WANTS to use 8-in-the-box as a base defense (the Cards being closest with Wilson as a pseudo-linebacker?). A good QB should shred that.

However, I think you could say last year in the playoffs, Indy basically did run an 8-man front more often than not, especially against KC. It seemed like all game I saw lots of Indy guys crowding the middle of the field on first and 2nd down, which consequently was why I was so frustrated with KC's play-calling... run for 2 yards, run for 2-yards, incomplete on 3rd down (after the D pulls back into nickel D), then punt.

Didn't watch Indy/Balt, but I heard Indy's D just came out to play and looked impressive, no matter what the scheme. I think many were surprised.

But then it was an adjustment by the Indy Def in the NE game after the first quarter/half when NE's run game seemed to start clicking (Faulk 20-odd yarder, etc.) that stopped 'em in the 2nd half. Unlike KC, NE seemed to know that pounding into 8-men fronts over-and-over wasn't likely to be successful... they just couldn't catch the ball when they did throw it. Indy didn't start 8-in-the-box, but certainly used it more in the last 2.5 quarters... it certainly explains how wide open NE's receivers were much of the 2nd half, even if bad TV angles makes it tough to guage what the scheme was on every defensive snap.

Sadly, I didn't get to watch the Superbowl (was driving cross-country) and could only listen on the radio periodically. However, if I was Indy's D-coordinator, I'd bet against Grossman rather than on the track-record of my 7-man front.... my guess is once again there were extra folks in the box for much of the game.

64
by max (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 2:19pm

The Rams picked up Rumph because the needed someone approriate to cover Lelie.

Can you say AFL quality.

65
by Chris (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 2:20pm

Karl Cuba-

I've only insulted people after they have insulted me.

Your about as riddulous as your made up "Ron Mexico" name.

66
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 2:32pm

Now, now, kiddies. Play nice, or we'll have to send you to CBSSportsLine for a timeout.

67
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 2:33pm

At least I can spell

68
by bravehoptoad (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 6:23pm

I’ve only insulted people after they have insulted me.

Why?

69
by Vince (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 7:06pm

Your about as riddulous as your made up “Ron Mexico� name.

Another contribution for the "Stupid things Chris has written" file!

70
by calbuzz (not verified) :: Thu, 03/29/2007 - 8:17pm

Chris, I followed the link on your name to your NFL blog. In your analysis of the SB, you claim Peyton Manning should win the MVP, not Rhodes, because "Rhodes is a back in a very good system."

Are you the only one qualified to make this kind of judgment?

71
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 9:13am

Calbuzz- If you take Peyton off the Colts what happens?

If you take Edge James, Addai, or Rhodes out of the lineup what happens?

72
by Jeff (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 11:51am

Chris,

While I agree that Peyton Manning is of the utmost importance to the Colts it is a bit deceiving to suggest the Colts were successful in this year's post season BECAUSE of Manning. The Colts won WITH Manning. Huge difference. In fact, I would say that the unsung hero(es) for the Colts
( aside from the defense ) was the offensive line and the running game. That allowed the Colts to achieve balance on offense. To be honest, Manning had a sub par post season, throwing more than double the interceptions as touchdowns. And in that Baltimore game he was simply horrendous. So I can see giving credit to the running backs this past playoff season. They were indispensible to the Colts.

73
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 5:35pm

Jeff, Manning faced 2 safeties deep for almost all the playoffs, teams were limiting his big plays first and thinking run second. Even in the superbowl when the colts were ahead, the bears didn't dare to bring a safety closer to the line. The only game where the safeties were close to the line was vs ravens but they were blitzinglike mad trying to get to Peyton, and they never quite got there. (though I'd have given the O-line the MVP)

74
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 5:42pm

If you take Bob Sanders off the Colts, what happens?

Bob Sanders for Super Bowl MVP!

75
by Jeff (not verified) :: Fri, 03/30/2007 - 6:02pm

RE: 73

I agree with the safeties playing real deep
limited Manning's big plays which is why it was important for Manning to not get impatient and take what the defense gave him. And I understand what you are getting at: mainly the safeties were playing hella deep out of respect for Manning and the Colts passing attack. But that is why the run game was so important. It allowed the Colts to consistently move the ball and not turn into a one dimensional team as they have in playoff years past.