Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

BarrettJT16.jpg

» SDA: Rivalry Showdowns

Rivalry week has significant conference and Playoff ramifications. Should Alabama, Mississippi State, Oregon, or Florida State be worried about getting upset by their rivals?

24 Feb 2011

Four Downs: NFC South

by Robert Weintraub

Atlanta Falcons: Where's the speed?

The Falcons never were fully embraced as a Super Bowl threat in 2010, and that's because they were never fully feared. The reason was their lack of explosiveness, despite playing on the fast track at the Georgia Dome. The Dirty Birds had one scoring play of more than 40 yards all season. The Packers wiped Atlanta out in the playoffs with a much faster team -- the Falcons appeared to have been built for the frosty mud of Lambeau Field. Save for superb wideout Roddy White, there was no one on the team who was a threat to score with every touch.

Wide receiver Michael Jenkins is an average plugger who doesn't scare defenses; Harry Douglas showed zero burst after knee surgery in 2009; and Tony Gonzalez is still Tony Gonzalez but dropped to 9.4 yards per catch, the first time in his 14-year career he wasn't in double digits in yards per catch. Meanwhile, Jerious Norwood, whom the Falcons have wanted to be a homerun hitter out of the backfield, cannot stay healthy. The word to sum up his career has changed from "unlucky" to "brittle." He likely won't be in Atlanta's plans for 2011.

Finding a Norwood-type probably won't take precedence over obtaining another wide receiver, but it should. Thanks to Matt Ryan's efficiency, the passing game was just fine, ranking eighth in the NFL in DVOA. The running game, usually credited with Atlanta's success, was 27th in DVOA. Michael Turner and Jason Snelling were good for tough yards, but neither was a breakaway threat. Atlanta was 28th in the NFL in second-level yards, a steep drop from their eighth-place finish in Adjusted Line Yards. That means more due should be given the Falcons offensive front then the backs, who were unable to turn five-yard gains into 25-yard gains.

This isn't news in Flowery Branch, and the hunt is on for "explosion players." Speed backs aren't usually first-round material, so many mocks have the Falcons going with a wide receiver in the first round, such as Maryland's Torrey Smith or Miami's Leonard Hankerson. Deeper in the draft, there are some intriguing players who might leave tread marks on the Georgia Dome turf. SEC fans in the area are familiar with Kentucky's Derrick Locke, who combines speed with excellent vision. Cal's Shane Vareen is a similar player, without the superior hands Locke possesses. A pair of waterbug types, West Viginia's Noel Devine and Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers, would make for dangerous matchups on the flanks.

Speedy explosion players are also needed on defense, especially at defensive end. John Abraham is getting on in years, and there was little production on the other side of the line (unless you count Kroy Biermann's impending marriage to Real Housewife Kim Zolciak, which we emphatically do not). Some early draft buzz has the Falcons focusing on Miami end Allen Bailey, a physical specimen who didn't live up to preseason All-American status.

Free Agency, Whenever It Happens, Watch

Right tackle Tyson Clabo is the protagonist of the Falcons offseason. He had a strong 2010 and is very dependable, but the team reportedly has a bright yellow marker across which it won't go to keep Clabo. He won't be franchised, as the team has declined to use the tag on any of its free agents. Much depends on how the Birds evaluate backup tackle Garrett Reynolds. He could be handed the spot if Clabo's price crosses the Rubicon in Thomas Demitroff's mind.

Complicating things is the free agent status of guards Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl. The Falcons could be in a position of having to choose between replacing one right tackle or both guards.

Other choices the Falcons have are Jason Snelling vs. Jerious Norwood at running back, and Stephen Nicholas vs. Mike Peterson at linebacker.

Defensive end Jamaal Anderson is almost certain to be cut. Local talk drools over the prospect of Ray Edwards or Mathias Kiwanuka coming in to replace him, but splashing out in free agency isn't the Dimitroff method. A lesser-known, younger type like Kansas City's Wallace Gilberry or Detroit's Cliff Avril is more Dimitroff's speed (both ends are restricted free agents under the current CBA).

Carolina Panthers: Is Clausen a franchise quarterback?

The NFC South seemed poised to become the Division of the Quarterback. Then Andrew Luck spurned the pros to return to Palo Alto. That leaves the Panthers with Jimmy Clausen, fresh off a rookie campaign that placed him 46th of 46 quarterbacks (qualifying minimum -- 100 attempts) in DYAR and 44th in DVOA. The quarterback he replaced, Matt Moore, was scarcely better, ranking 43rd in both categories. Clausen was 1-9 as a starter, with three touchdown passes to nine picks. At times he struggled with the most basic of throws, like bubble screens and quick slants.

Shall we pile on? Why not? Clausen also ranked dead last in quarterback rushing numbers.

Naturally, Clausen could improve -- he has nowhere to go but up. And the Panthers have indicated he will be given the first shot for 2011, so he has no choice but to get better. There are a few positives. For example, Clausen actually took care of the ball well. His nine interceptions in 339 attempts compares quite favorably to a number of recent rookies, including Mark Sanchez in 2009 (20 picks in 364 passes) and Josh Freeman (18/290), both of whom got significantly better in Year Two.

The Panthers don't have the option of selecting another quarterback in the second round, as they did with Clausen -- the team dealt the choice in order to take wide receiver Armanti Edwards, who barely played. So unless the team feels Cam Newton's game can translate to the NFL, they will have to wait until Round 3 to tab another challenger for the starting job.

"This isn't Notre Dame anymore" were the cutting words of Steve Smith after Clausen apologized to the defense for his poor play in a game last season. Of course, Smith and the wide receivers did little to help Clausen in his rookie campaign. Smith, 32, is a shadow of the All-Pro he once was, and questions abound about his presence in Carolina in 2011. The other receivers were a mélange of rookies (Brandon LaFell showed flashes of potential) and vets better suited to special teams (David Clowney). Tight ends should be a drowning quarterbacks best friend, but Jeff King and Dante Rosario were more anchor than life raft. Carolina's pass blocking was also poor, ranking 31st in Adjusted Sack Rate.

Carolina's defense wasn't as bad as it could have been, given the horrific offense. The pass rush was a respectable 17th in Adjusted Sack Rate, the front line 11th in Adjusted Line Yards, and the unit overall was 16th in DVOA. Still, the weak link was at tackle, meaning that with Luck out of the picture, the beneficiary will be Nick Fairley. So the defense could have some serious teeth in 2011. But unless the offense (read: Clausen) improves, the Panthers can't hope to rebound and compete with the stronger teams in the division.

Free Agency, Whenever It Happens, Watch

The Panthers tend to focus on re-signing their own, and there are several key guys they need to lock up. Center Ryan Kalil got the franchise tag and has signed his tender. Defensive end Charles Johnson had 11 sacks and is a must. Linebacker Thomas Davis is also a top priority. Another pair of solid defenders, corner Richard Marshall and breakout strongside linebacker James Anderson could also be free, depending on the CBA, and are more likely candidates to depart, given the holes on offense.

The emergence late in the season of Mike Goodson leaves running back DeAngelo Williams in greater limbo than the cast of Lost -- he could be franchised, re-signed, traded, or allowed to walk. Linebacker Jon Beason has another year remaining on his deal, but all sides consider the standout woefully underpaid, and the team hopes to lock the defensive leader up before his contract expires.

If the Panthers go on the hunt for skill position free agents, tight ends Zach Miller and Owen Daniels are prime targets. The Panthers are desperate for a pass-catching tight end, and with former Chargers tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski taking over as offensive coordinator, the position is certain to become an important one in Charlotte. Outside, the loser of the Santonio Holmes/Braylon Edwards money battle in New York could land here.

As for a quarterback, Vince Young and Donovan McNabb are outside possibilities, and the price for Kevin Kolb is likely too rich for Marty Hunley's blood. A Williams for Kyle Orton trade is intriguing, though unlikely.

New Orleans Saints: Is excellent defense around the corner?

Popular perception is that the Saints defense fell off from the Super Bowl winning unit of 2009. Certainly, the turnover rate that was the '09 Saints hallmark (predictably) declined, from 39 to 25. There was no chance the Saints would recover 13 of 15 forced fumbles in consecutive seasons. And the secondary went from 26 picks to night, from third in the NFL to dead last. New Orleans was third in the NFL in 2009 in ending opposing drives with turnovers (18.7%). Last year that number fell to 14th (13.9%).

But surprisingly, the Saints defense actually got better in 2010, moving up five spots in DVOA to ninth (consistent, too -- ninth against the run, ninth against the pass). The pass rush got a bit of a bad rap as well. The Saints were average, finishing 15th in Adjusted Sack Rate.

That said, the heavy blitzing schemes of Gregg Williams both exaggerated the efficacy of the pass rush and masqueraded deficiencies on the flanks. Most of the heat came from the middle of the defense. Tackle Sedrick Ellis led the team with six sacks, with middle backer Jonathan Vilma chipping in with four. Ends Will Smith and Alex Brown combined for only 7.5, and the lack of pressure off the edge from linebackers Scott Shanle and Danny Clark allowed teams to attack the Saints with secondary receivers.

As the wild-card game in Seattle showed, the Saints had tremendous problems stopping passes to opposing tight ends and running backs. The Saints were 27th and 26th in the league against those two positions, respectively, but that doesn't quite highlight their futility. This is better -- only the horrific Texans pass defense gave up more combined yards per game to non-wideouts (109.1) than did the Saints (107.9). The secondary did a good job covering wideouts, leaving the linebackers (and Darren Sharper) mainly accountable for the gaping hole in the defense.

An impact pass rushing end or linebacker seems an automatic target in the draft. One of the Big Ten's Fab Four -- Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt and Ohio State's Cameron Heyward -- should still be on the board when the Saints pick at 24. There will surely be local pressure to take Heyward if he is available. The son of the late Saints great Craig "Ironhead" Heyward coming to the Big Easy would be a staple warm and fuzzy feature for pregame shows. A rookie end may have to contribute right away if Smith finally has to serve the four-game Starcaps suspension that has simmered since 2009.

The return to health of will linebacker Jon Casillas would help. You might not recognize the name -- Casillas was undrafted and missed all of 2010 with a foot injury. You certainly remember his greatest moment, however. It was Casillas who was credited with recovering the Saints onside kick to begin the second half in Super Bowl XLIV (Casillas himself says teammate Chris Reis should have gotten credit, but whatever -- Hank Baskett hates them both). He was outstanding in training camp last summer and was named to take the departed Scott Fujita's place in the starting lineup, but Reis was hurt before opening day. His speed and hitting would be a welcome addition both in coverage and attacking the passer.

Free Agency, Whenever It Happens, Watch

The Saints will have plenty of decisions to make in-house. No fewer than 28 players have four-plus years of service, making them free agents under the current CBA. Contributors like Scott Shanle, Jimmy Wilkerson, Heath Evans, Jonathan Goodwin, and Julius Jones are at six years, which means they will almost definitely be free agents, regardless of the negotiations. Safety Darren Sharper, a crucial cog in the Super Bowl run but ruthlessly exposed in 2010, hopes for a one-year deal.

Meanwhile, Reggie Bush and Drew Brees have one year remaining on their deals. Assuming Brees is kept for a large sum, Bush will probably have his expensive contract negotiated downward, or be released. Jeremy Shockey was already let go this week.

Depending on just who and how many free agents there are, the Saints could be in a position to sign big-ticket pass rushers like Charles Johnson and Kamerion Wimbley. Manny Lawson isn't a great pass rusher, but he would be an intriguing fit in a 4-3 defense that needs cover linebackers. Washington's Rocky McIntosh is another natural 4-3 linebacker lost in a 3-4 scheme. Cleveland's Matt Roth would provide help in the pass rush, and he could be a bargain given the way he disappeared in the final third of the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Can the Bucs be the 2011 Packers?

An NFC team from the old NFC Central barely makes the playoffs at 10-6, then gets hot thanks to a superb young quarterback and races to the title, overcoming a plethora of injuries. Green Bay's story could have been the Buccaneers story in 2010, with some tweaks. The team went 3-1 in the final month despite a rash of injuries on defense and nearly slipped into the postseason, where Josh Freeman's excellence might have gotten some national exposure.

Of course, there was one critical difference between the two Bays besides 50 or so degrees in average temperature -- pass rush. Green Bay brought down opposing quarterbacks 47 times and was fourth in the league in Adjusted Sack Rate. Tampa Bay was second from bottom in both numbers, with a mere 26 sacks. Like the other teams in the NFC South -- only more so -- the Bucs have a crying need for someone who can get to the passer.

Tampa's run defense was equally poor. Running backs averaged nearly five yards per carry against the Bucs, by far the worst in the league. Teams also gashed the Bucs for more second-level yards than any other team. But advances and injury recoveries for young players like Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, end Kyle Moore, linebacker Quincy Black, and safety Cody Grimm, along with cornerback Aqib Talib, should help the cause even before the Bucs add bodies this offseason. Price and McCoy are especially vital -- only the Bills gave up more yards per carry up the middle than the Bucs. Somewhat contrarily, they were tough in power situations (seventh overall) -- it was all the other running situations that troubled Tampa.

However, there is no sack specialist on the roster. Tampa is a lock to take a pass-rushing defensive end in the first round, and have already spent considerable time making goo-goo eyes at Iowa's Adrian Clayborn. If the Hawkeyes end is gone by No. 17, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan, Georgia's Justin Houston, and Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson will get long looks. The Bucs could double up at the position, as they did in 2010 with McCoy and Price. Or they could go after an outside linebacker such as Bruce Carter of North Carolina or Washington's Mason Foster.

The Bucs are so committed to improving their defensive line play that they have hired two new coaches to yell at the front four. One, former Minnesota Vikings player Keith Mallard, was touted to the organization by none other than Warren Sapp. The other is named Grady Stretz, who will replace the likely-to-depart Stylez G. White as the most comical moniker in the meeting room.

Free Agency, Whenever It Happens, Watch

Guard Davin Joseph is the priority for the Bucs. He's the best run blocker on the line, and the team wants some continuity in front of Josh Freeman. He isn't expected to be franchised, and the Bucs are expected to let middle linebacker Barrett Ruud walk in order to keep Joseph. Strongside run stuffer Quincy Black is another player the Bucs want to keep. Breakout running star LeGarrette Blount will almost certainly be extended. Can corner Ronde Barber have yet another productive season at age 36? It seems unlikely, but he has been retained for another season.

As for outside signings, the Bucs could have Jags middle linebacker Kirk Morrison move across the state to replace Ruud, but drafting a replacement seems the better move. The right tackle combo of James Lee and Jeremy Trueblood is in need of an upgrade, with a young player like Denver's Ryan Harris as a possibility.

Portions of this article originally appeared on ESPN Insider.

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 24 Feb 2011

30 comments, Last at 02 Mar 2011, 5:21pm by Chieftain of Names

Comments

1
by Drunkmonkey :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 12:35pm

Wait, Blount was an undrafted FA rookie last year- does the team already have to extend him? I mean, I know they are counting on him to be the main guy next year, but doesn't he need at least one more year of good production before he should get a new contract?

6
by bubqr :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 2:23pm

He was cut by the Titans, and signed by Tampa, hence the one-year contract (unless I missed something ?)

22
by Sander :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 6:59pm

Actually, he has a two-year contract, and he can't be extended because of a CBA rule that is unlikely to change.

The Bucs picked him up off the waiver wire, so he's playing under the contract the Titans gave him.

2
by Paul R :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 12:50pm

In the New Orleans Saints section is the sentence "And the secondary went from 26 picks to night, from third in the NFL to dead last."
I'm afraid my inferior knowledge of football statistics prevents me from understanding the unquestionable logic of this statement.
Is it possible it's supposed to be "...from 26 picks to nine?"

17
by Stewart (not verified) :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 9:26pm

"Eight." Notice how many more letters in common? No need to get defensive over a typo man. It wasn't directed at you.

3
by rfh1001 :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 1:19pm

Gregg Williams's schemes 'masqueraded deficiencies on the flanks' - I love this.

(It goes up there with a BBC reporter who spent a whole day telling viewers about the 'mood-music' at an international conference on climate change.)

4
by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 1:55pm

I doubt Kirk Morrison has the speed to play MLB in the Tampa 2, so I suspect they'll draft somebody. Ruud's more prototypical for that position, but he's seemed on the way out for a few years. I've always liked the way he plays, he's a tackling machine (or was before last year) but is your typical "small but fast" LB and he simply hasn't had a decent d-line to help take the pressure off. I'd like to see him come back to the team just because I do think he'll be much more effective with actual defensive pressure from the front four. I'm guessing Jason Babin and Ray Edwards will probably be very expensive as FAs, so it's probably draft-only for a DE who doesn't utterly suck sucking suckiness.

Davin Joseph has been the anchor of that line for several years, and it would suck to lose him. Sure, the team managed to be shockingly effective last year even with a line composed of nobodies thrown together, but Joseph and Donald Penn would provide some experience and stability to build around. I do hope the Tampa city council has passed a resolution banning Jeremy "Penalty Machine" Trueblood from even entering the metropolitan area, however. Please leave now.

My biggest worry is how far will Josh Freeman backslide this year; I don't think there's a chance he can be nearly as good he was the latter half of last season, and I hope his return to the proverbial mean isn't too unpleasant. He was simply ridiculous late last year.

23
by Sander :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 7:02pm

Davin Joseph was actually really really bad last year. Possibly because of injury issues (he had an offseason knee scope and was listed on the injury report for his knee a couple times), but he wasn't close to the player he was in years before.

Also, I don't buy that the team has to choose between Ruud and Joseph. They're really really far under any realistic cap floor. There's plenty of room to sign them both.

25
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 8:57pm

I would agree about last year and have assumed he was dealing with more injuries than reported, but in prior years he was often touted as one of the best young guards in the league. Great run blocker, certainly consistent enough in the past that he deserves the benefit of the doubt that he could overcome the injuries.

The team's had multiple chances to extend Ruud and haven't; they just don't want to keep him. Sure, he's not a big hitter, but that's not really his job. He needs to be smart enough to set up the defense and fast enough to get down the seam in coverage. He does that. I'd prefer to keep him.

5
by Humil (not verified) :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 2:19pm

If we cut Reggie Bush, then there would actually be a multitude of shadow improvements on offense. Granted, we would lose out on formation diversity. But we would almost have to have drastic improvement in our punt-return and kick-return---things that get lost in our slightly-blind hometown Bush fervor held over from the post-Katrina early Bush years. He ran back a few kicks but once his dancing ways were figured out he stopped having any real contribution on ST. Really, if other fans have watched the Saints as closely as some of us do, game in and game out, Bush's dunderhead antics on returning kick would seem obvious: too much non-elusive lateral and backwards movements aside, he always misjudged the ball, ending up having to back-peddle (no momentum built/messing up teammates on ST formations...). That's not even pointing out the seemingly out-of-portion fair-catch gaffes and the readjusting or over-the-shoulder catches he has to make due to his poor ball trajectory judgment---all this for someone who is blessed with great hands...(!?) It was no wonder that Payton used Arrington and Roby in Bush's place more over the last couple of years, even when Bush wasn't hurt. They weren't studs but nonetheless represented improvements.

Great analysis on the D. Get the sense that, if we were to recalibrate for another SB run this year (which is a real probability), Gregg Williams may have outlived his usefulness. In the sense that his focus on over blitzing got too cute at times, I rather him having devoted more time in figuring out how to better stop the underneath/intermediate easy yards that inferior teams kept getting for nothing. What good is the intimidation of our Offensive Machine if we can't be certain (in our own heads) to not give away easy yards that gnaw away our confidence? Totally conflicted message we sent this past year, probably why teams weren't really scared of us. I can't even tell you how many times I felt lucky to be bailed out of that feeling of inevitable misfortune when some surprising no-name D player came up big.

8
by Jimmy :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 2:53pm

If you feel that the Saints are blitzing too much it is probably due to the line not getting enough pressure on its own. Will Smith is a very good player but is more of an excellent two way player than a monster pass rusher. Alex Brown at this stage of his career is probably at best a poor man's Will Smith (there was a reason the Bears cut him). If the Saints add a stud pass rusher in the draft (or free agency) Williams will probably be able to use his blitzes more judiciously and to better effect.

9
by Humil (not verified) :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 3:23pm

Pass rusher need has been there since Payton's been there; but weirdly the corps had done surprising ok on pass rush last year...

Also concerned with all sorts of running backs ripping good yards, plus screen passes which are essentially run plays. Tight ends also tended to have field days now that I think about it.

Would it be unprecedented to draft 4-5 linebackers in year? Is this year even considered to have that many good prospects in LBs? Come to think of it, maybe we just need one Troy P or a Clay Mathews type roaming-between-defensive-levels players to make all this work. I can dream on...

Dammit, our D is much more porous than perceived, all because we can't get good pressure or react fast enough at the middle level.

16
by TommyB (not verified) :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 6:33pm

Okay, what would some of these "multitude" of improvements on offense be? You spend your entire post talking about kick returns and never get to what you said the post was going to be about.

18
by Humil (not verified) :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 1:01am

I pooped on that one. It's more of a frustration on how we hype him up so much and his actual production falling so short of expectations. I was speaking instinctively on how much better off devoting his high salary and the offensive focus elsewhere. My bad.

7
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 2:40pm

With english being my second language, I simply can't undestand what "but the team reportedly has a bright yellow marker across which it won't go to keep Clabo" means. Is it a reference to something or...?

10
by zlionsfan :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 3:40pm

I believe it's a complicated way of implying that they have decided they will not offer more than a certain amount to Clabo (maybe a total salary, maybe a total salary over a certain number of seasons): if he wants more than whatever this unknown amount is, they won't negotiate further but will let him go instead.

11
by dbostedo :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 3:42pm

"There was no chance the Saints would recover 13 of 15 forced fumbles in consecutive seasons."

Oh come ON! Of COURSE there was a chance. I expect things like that to be calculated and stated on this site. If it's 0.0001%, I want to KNOW IT! You guys can do much better than statements like this with NO basis in reality. I thought this was a STATS site!

Kidding...of course. /end of joke

12
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 4:28pm

I agree with Rob's assessment of Manny Lawson, he could be a very good 4-3 SAM. He's very strong against the run, is good in coverage, especially using his height against TEs, and is utterly lacking the required explosiveness for rushing the quarterback.

If a team signs him to just play two downs against the tight end they'll be happy with him, I pity the poor deluded team that signs him to play OLB in a 3-4/.

13
by trill :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 5:06pm

IMO the Saints have the opportunity for an extremely strong draft class this year - the draft is deep in the areas they have needs in (D-line, playmakers on offense) with a few other intriguing later-round prospects at safety and LB. They pretty much have to go D-line in round 1; I could see getting a pass-rushing DE (and letting Will Smith spend more time at strong-side end) or a DT like Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple. If Bush won't agree to a significant decrease in salary, he's got to go. For all the "matchup difficulties" he brings to the table, he offers next to nothing in actual production. There are too many of these small, quick RB/WR/KR's around (J. Rodgers, N. Devine, D. Murray, etc) to spend $8mil/yr on one that's hurt all the time. I'd like to see them take a look at that LB from Nevada (Moch, I think?) as a fit for WLB with some speed and coverage abilities. It looks like Roman Harper may be done, too. Safety class is kinda weak at the top but maybe we can bring in one of the later-round prospects to develop while keeping Harper and Sharper around to mentor.

21
by Joseph :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 2:47pm

"the draft is deep in the areas they have needs in (D-line, playmakers on offense)"
Um, do you really follow the Saints??? D-line is #1 or at worst #1b behind OLB. But OFFENSIVE PLAYMAKERS???? Healthy RB's I can understand, since we had so many on IR, plus Bush & Jones got hurt in the playoff game. But there is only 1 football for Brees to distribute, and he does a better job at distributing his passes than any other QB in the NFL (Brady's pretty good at it too). We already got rid of Shockey because of Graham's emergence last year. We've got FIVE WR's (Colston, Moore, Meachem, Henderson, & the kid from Mich. whose name escapes me right now) plus Roby to return kicks. We have 2 TE's (Thomas and Graham) now that we got rid of Shockey--and will probably sign some no-name blocking TE in FA or as an UDFA. Then we have Bush, Hamilton, Ivory, and others at RB. Of these 10 mentioned, plus a 3rd string TE & 4th string RB=12, only FIVE of them can see the field at one time. How many more will fit on the roster????

14
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 5:21pm

Dimitroff isn't the type to make a splash in free agency...? Didn't he sign Michael Turner to a huge contract? I don't see why he wouldn't sign a big FA if that player is worth the value and fits into his system.

15
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Thu, 02/24/2011 - 6:25pm

Someone is going to have to explain to me why scouts are so ga-ga over Clayborne when halfway through the Big 10 season teams stopped double teaming him because he was injured or looking to avoid injury.

Iowa fans have any idea?

19
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 10:54am

I'm the same way; I really, really don't want Clayborn on the Bucs. In the Insight Bowl against Missouri, Clayborn spent half the plays sort of half-assedly pushing on a single offensive lineman and not making any real effort. I guess my rule #1 of drafting is "If you're not willing to work hard when millions are on the line, why would you work hard once you already have the money?"

20
by Joseph :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 2:46pm

"(Chris) Reis was hurt before opening day. His speed and hitting would be a welcome addition both in coverage and attacking the passer."

There is a reason that he wasn't listed with ANYTHING in the 2010 Almanac. It's that he is the SPECIAL TEAMS' ACE. In preseason, they put him out there with the 3rd string, and it's obvious that he doesn't practice playing safety that much. He is the successor to Steve Gleason (he blocked the punt against the Falcons when the Saints came back to the Dome after Katrina)--listed as S on the depth chart because STA isn't a position abbreviation.

Edit above quote to say "both in covering kicks and attacking the punt returner/punter."

24
by Dice :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 8:24pm

Not a Bucs fan, but damn I hope they stay as exciting a team to watch as they were this past year.

26
by WhyCantIJustBuy... :: Fri, 02/25/2011 - 11:52pm

Falcons have actually had the most expensive free agent 2 of the last 3 seasons in Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson - the other season they traded for Tony Gonzalez. I expect them to go hard after a big name at either WR or DE - Vincent Jackson and Kiwanuka are both possibilities.

27
by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Sun, 02/27/2011 - 12:09pm

Carolina needs to take a chance. Throw the long bomb to the end zone. But nope, they toss the check down. Which is a metaphorical way of saying they'll probably still with Moore and Clausen instead of, oh, Cam Newton. I'd love to hear him and Smith talk trash to each other, and maybe even throw in Shockey. Or more seriously, ANY of the QBs they could draft, just to say they tried. But it won't happen. They're too busy looking at the risk to think of the reward. I wonder if Jerry Richardson can understand this post.

28
by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Sun, 02/27/2011 - 12:11pm

I say "nothing ventured, nothing gained." My hometeam says "nothing ventured, nothing lost." Um, nothing lost except 14 games last year. There, that might be simple enough.

29
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 02/28/2011 - 3:36pm

I take it you still regret the decision to play it safe and take Julius Peppers instead of swinging for the fences with Joey Harrington? Hell, a really aggressive team run by a real winner would have traded up to take the best quarterback in the draft - David Carr. Boy, as a Texans fan I'm glad my team didn't pussy out of taking him.

30
by Chieftain of Names (not verified) :: Wed, 03/02/2011 - 5:21pm

The Buccaneers have steadily been building a roster of great names over the recent years... names that can power them to success above and beyond mere intelligence and physical talent. That's why the Chieftain is recommending that they retain Stylez G. White and Barrett Ruud in spite of some of their playmaking shortcomings. Cody Grimm menaces the opposition, and Aqib Talib has an undeniable zing provided by the rhyming factor. Brian Price and Kyle Moore contribute little to nothing in moniker distinctiveness, while Quincy Black has a certain timeless strength -- the intangible namefactor of a potential champion. Looking forward to potential DE, J.J. Watt is the standout sureshot, with Muhammad Wilkerson a distant second. Justin Houston could be effective when spoken in tandem with Aqib Talib, having a similar near-rhyming cadence. Ryan Kerrigan and Adrian Claymore have inherent problems with their names which leads the Chieftain to question what else they could bring to the table. At OLB, Mason Foster has a slight mystique edge over the raw power of Bruce Carter.