• October 5, 2022

Eagles Need To Draft A Linebacker With The Size And Speed To Cover Tight Ends

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots didn’t beat the New York Giants in the Super Bowl and one of the big reasons for it was the leg injury suffered by their Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski in the AFC Championship game.  He was their most dominating receiver, who opposing defenses had no answer for.

He played in the Super Bowl but he wasn’t himself.  Gronkowski was one of the main reasons the Patriots were able to carve up NFL defenses without a speedy downfield receiver. They did most of their damage between the hashes.  They utilized the talents of Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez as well as slot receiver Wes Welker.

They did things with their tight ends which have never been seen previously in the NFL.  Gronkowski had a record breaking season with 90 catches for 1327 yards and 17 touchdowns.  Hernandez caught 79 catches for 910 yards and 7 touchdowns.

The NFL is a copy cat league, so you know there are offensive coordinators throughout the NFL looking at tape today of the Patriots and putting in some of those routes and plays for their tight ends.  If your defense can’t cover tight ends, it will have problems stopping the offenses in the NFL.   I guarantee that tight ends will be utilized much more in 2012 than they were in 2011.

Big physical receivers like Gronkowski are almost impossible to cover because of the way referees protect the receivers.  Belichick was wise enough to go to a tight-end heavy passing attack.

When I look at the Eagles depth chart on PhiladelphiaEagles.com, I can’t help but be astounded that they would write in second year linebacker Brian Rolle as the starter at Will linebacker.  He’s a good football player, but he’s too small to be starting at Will linebacker for anybody in the NFL.  Rolle is about 5’9″.

Could you imagine him being matched up against the tight ends in the league?

I expect the Birds to move Jamar Chaney over to the Will spot, when they start lining up and running plays.

Akeem Jordan is slated to be the starter at the SAM linebacker spot.  Tight ends didn’t totally torch the Eagles in 2011 like they did in previous years but the Birds didn’t totally shut them down either.  Regardless, I don’t know that you could give Jordan credit for it.

Tight ends are matched up against the linebackers and the safeties of NFL defenses.  Can middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, Chaney and Jordan along with the team’s safeties Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Kurt Coleman shut down the outstanding tight ends in the league?

I don’t feel comfortable about those matchups.  It’s the main reason I want to the see the Birds draft an athletic linebacker who has some size.

North Carolina’s Zach Brown has the size and speed to be that guy, but he looked awful in the tape of saw of him.  He’s athletic enough to cover the tight ends in the NFL, but he’s not a good football player.  In all likelihood he’s going to be drafted in the second or third round.

I like Keenan Robinson from Texas much more than Brown, but he may not be fast enough to cover the tight ends in the league. nearly as well.  This youngster has the size, but he’s not a blazer.  I wouldn’t have a problem with them going with Robinson, but they need to stay away from Brown.

I’m going to continue looking for which players would best fill this need.

GCOBB

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paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 1:19 pm

I like Luke Kuechley to play SAM (since Ryans will handle the Middle)
He has size 6-3 and speed, I also like Shea McClellin from Boise State who is another 6-3 strong player who maybe doesn’t have the speed that Kuechly has, but has a nose for the ball and the strength to hold some of these guys up at the line of scrimmage, Nigel Bradham is another SAM to check out ..
WILL LB Rolle should lose 15 lbs and be converted to Strong Safety and be a player to play down in the Box on Running Downs, Short-yardage and Red-Zone Defenses, then let a quicker Safety come in play on obvious passing situations..

schiller
schiller
April 17, 2012 1:45 pm

from movingthechains on philly.com:

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com thinks the Eagles might still take Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly:

No, I didn’t forget that the Eagles traded for quality middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Perhaps the better question might be if you forgot how poorly Philadelphia’s entire linebacking corps fared last season. In proving his athleticism at the Combine (and his jaw-dropping consistency throughout his entire career), Kuechly is earning top 15 grades from some clubs as an outside linebacker, as well as for the inside position. The addition of Ryans and Kuechly would turn what was the Eagles’ worst unit into one of the team’s greatest strengths.

I would love them to draft Keuchly, then grab Worthy in the 2nd. And try to trade up for Wagner. Then you have your front 7 taken care of. You can try to sign Bell and then you’d have it all sured up.

Obviously I’d be ok with Cox, then Wagner or something like that too

BirdoBeamen
BirdoBeamen
April 17, 2012 1:47 pm

I want Zach Brown. Has all the talent in the world. Teach him the NFL game and let him flourish.

paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 1:51 pm

Paulman staed this a few times over the last 2 weeks about having Kuechley at the SAM Spot while Ryans plays the Middle
The only team who I really see selecting Kuechley would be the Seahawks at #12 or possible the Cardinals at #13. If he gets past them, I think he falls to #15 where the Eagles can scoop him up which I think would be a great move for them..
There will be 3-4 Good DT’s still available in the 2nd Round for the Eagles to grab with their #46 Selection..

navyeaglefan
navyeaglefan
April 17, 2012 1:54 pm

So wait – you took the time to write an article about a potential problem – though you mentioned it got better last year – then you listed a bunch of guys you don;t want – and then you tell us you will get back to us??

Sheez – coulds just pulled a Songs and complained….

I mean seriously – how hard do you have to look to find Lbs that are 6’2 or better that run 4’what 6 or better? STart and end with Kuelchy?

GMCliff – Pman – know of any others??

another question I keep asking – this talk about Sam and Will implies strong and weak – i.e. the LBs switch sides based on the strength of the formation – but I don;t think the bird LBs switch… they are ROLB and LOLB – are they not? Please – someone tell me I completely missed the fact the LBs switched sides… The reason this is important is that if this is the case – you can’t make allowances for differences in size and skill set – becuase both players will play Sam and Will becuase they don’t switch…. both OLBs will have to be able to jam TEs, cover the TE, and pick up RBs out of the back field – anyone?

btc24
btc24
April 17, 2012 1:56 pm

schiller, I’m with you. I’d like to see Luke Kuechly selected as well followed by a DT in the 2nd. I’d be fine with them packaging their two 2nd rounders to move up and get one if need be. Our DL is aging very quickly and if it isn’t addressed soon, it’s going to turn into a major weakness. Currently, I love our DL but I realize they are getting old and as the Giants have shown, you can never have too many stud D lineman.

sullybleedsgreen
sullybleedsgreen
April 17, 2012 2:03 pm

Here are some other names the Birds could look at…

2nd rd prospect – Lavonte David 6-1 / 233 OLB Neb

4th rd prospect – Nigel Bradham 6-2 / 241 OLB Fla St

5th rd prospect – Miles Burris 6-2 / 246 OLB San Diego State

schiller
schiller
April 17, 2012 2:18 pm

Navy – it’s semantics. You’re technically correct, but you’re the only person to date that cares about that level of specificity.

Fact is, the TEs in the NFL USUALLY line up on the strong side – right handed quarterback, his non-blind side. So the LOLB in our D generally covers TEs more than the ROLB – do you dispute that? And Navy, you’re definition of SAM/WILL as being determined by where the TE lines up is disputable – many consider it to be determined by the QB’s blindside.

You’re splitting hairs here. Yes, we need to upgrade both outside spots and ideally we want guys who can cover TEs and do it al etc…etc…etc…

But Rolle is better at WILL or ROLB if you want to call it that, then SAM or LOLB. And chances are, he’ll play there with a draft pick (if they pick one) playing at SAM/LOLB.

Also – if you’ve all been following Tommy Lawlor like I told you to, he’s been all over the Eagles options in the draft (and free agency) for the SAM spot for a LONG TIME on both scoutsnotebook.com, and igglesblitz.com.

paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 2:19 pm

Lavonte David, Bobby Wagner are more WILL LB’s as opposed to playing the SAM spot but are very good LB’s

concrete_marley
concrete_marley
April 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Songs writes another Burfict post in t-minus:
10
9
8
7
6

concrete_marley
concrete_marley
April 17, 2012 2:31 pm

Akeem Jordan is penciled in as what? Somebody tell me this is just an awful nightmare. That guy stinks almost as bad as Fokou. I don’t want either one of them on this roster. Have there ever been two starting lbs with stiffer hips than those two? Smh

larrwd
larrwd
April 17, 2012 2:50 pm

Rolle can also play middle. but the coaches are too dumb to put him there.. The eagles work in a fret …

lionsden
lionsden
April 17, 2012 2:54 pm

What this article is outlining is exactly why I’ve been screaming for Mychal Kendricks. Bellichick was thinking outside of the box (as he always does when he’s not cheating) when he build his offensive scheme around his two TE’s. The solution is not at LB the solution is at SS. Bellichick is the master of mismatch football… he will exploit the natural advantage his offensive players have over the defense. This is why you have to be willing to think outside of the box as a DC when playing against teams with these sort of TE’s. That’s where a guy like Kendricks comes in. At 6’1 240 he is the most Athletic LB in the draft running a 4.4 40 with a vertical leap of 39.5 inches. He should be drafted by the Eagles and converted to SS. With him on the field you have essentially 4 LBs on the field at all time when running your base defense so theoretically your 4-3 becomes a 4-4. This counters the mismatch issue because you have a guy who’s both big enough and fast enough to handle TE’s.

Yes, the NFL is a copy cat league, but you’ve got to be willing to think outside the box to win.

schiller
schiller
April 17, 2012 2:55 pm

despite what Garry wrote about Rolle being too small, all the speculations I’ve seen – from many many sites – is that the currently ‘pencilled in’ linuep is Chaney at SAM, Rayns, and Rolle at WILL.

But seriously, speculating who where is silly. We all did that last year, and I don’t care what your prediction was – it was mostly wrong because they shuffled all kinds of combinations.

We need to draft some linebakckers cause we need better ones. After the draft we can talk about who plays where.

I’d LOVE them to come away with Keuchley and Wagner or some other combo of 2 talented LBs. We’ll see.

navyeaglefan
navyeaglefan
April 17, 2012 3:01 pm

Schill man – the point is – based upon our agreeing that sam verse will and ROLB vs LOLB is semantics – they are in fact the same thing – the decription of a skill set saying someone should or should not ne a will or someone should or should not be a sam is moot – the skill set (size, speed, play against the run, pass, ability to blitz) should be identical – it makes no sense to say you can have a will that is 6′ 225 but need your sam to be 6’3 250 – when the fact of the matter is they both are required to do the same things –

and power is not totally based on where the TE is – as a team may line up without a TE – power is based on which side a team typically has more rcvrs (you knew that though) vice just a TE and typically determines more where the strong safety lines up (one of the reasons the eagles like both the free and strong safeties to be interchangeable) –

I have never heard of determing the strong side by the QB being right or left handed – but typically coaches will have a fall back if the Ofense lines up balanced – in HS and College – it is typically the wide side of the field –

but I digree – notice how above Pman refers to people being more ‘will’ like – how can you be more sam or less will like if you need to do the same tasks?

schiller
schiller
April 17, 2012 3:07 pm

well Navy – remember JJ’s “true SAM” Carlos Emmons gushing? That kind of goes against your point there.

paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 3:16 pm

SAM Spot denotes the Strong Side which usually means being lined-up across the TE Side of the formation in old Traditional Formations that most teams used with 2 WR’s, RB, FB in the Backfield and the TE lined up usually on the Right side of the O/Line (since most QB’s are Right-Handed) but the reality is that today’s Football is much more specialized where Offense’s have 3 WR’s Stets, DOuble TE’s, empty backfields, etc,etc.. and then the Defense catch up.. Most of today’s TE’s are bigger (6-4″ and taller) and can still run as fast as many WR’s which is why bigger,faster LB’s are needed .. Give me a Defense with 3 Good LB’s who can run,hit, tackle and pass cover and I will find a way to scheme them aginst my oppnent.. The Eagles aquiring Ryans is a big updgrade, now if they can add at least 1 Big LB early in the Draft and then maybe another one who is more of a pss-coverage specialists, then the LB Position will be much better than the past 2-3 seasons
The Bottom line is the Fokou,Jordan,Chaney, MAtthews,Clayton are simply not good enough to be NFL Starters in my opinion..

navyeaglefan
navyeaglefan
April 17, 2012 3:17 pm

OK – my point is we need to get two big bad ass tacking machine blanket coverage studs i this draft – we need TWO carlos emmons – we need Frank LeMaster and Jon Bunting – stop taking all my fun away schill

bsmvideos
April 17, 2012 3:18 pm

The world is coming to an end because I am going have to agree with navy…

How hard could it be, get mel kiper’s news letter? Mike Mayock of NFL network is pretty good when it comes to knowing every position in the draft.

Heck, when i was a kid I used to read STREET and SMITH’S yearbook from cover to cover 10 times a week and could name every preseason all-conference player and every 1st and 2nd Team-All-America player.Including division II and all-ciaa.

You have the all-sec 1st and 2nd team linebackers. Are you telling me that there is not one that has both size and speed and play football??

pheags88
pheags88
April 17, 2012 3:20 pm

I don’t even want to see Akeem jordan and Fokou makes anything other than special teams…C. MAthews might be in that category after this year but the other 2 have had more than enough time to establish themselves and didn’t…they are average on their best days if that. Same with he safeties…Safety and Linebacker should easily be 2 out of their first 3 picks this year…Fact is there is no way in hell you can win a Superbowl with these group of guys or go deep in the playoffs for that matter against the good teams. Which is why we haven’t even won 1 playoff game in years. Can’t play with the good teams/QBs.

I really like Lavonte DAvid and Robinson as later picks for linebacker. Brown has all the potential physically to be great but he could also just be another Ernie Sims. Obviously I want BArron to be the 1st overall pick…i don’t like the excuse that we have wasted 2nd round picks on safeties in back to back years…If they can’t play why does that matter? Admit the mistakes and move forward for whats best for the team…and thats drafting BArron 1st overall and looking at LB next.

paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 3:24 pm

I agree with Pheags..
The MLB Position has been updgraded with D Ryans, updgrade Strong Safety and DT positions and build out the Defense from there.

gmcliff
gmcliff
April 17, 2012 3:26 pm

@ Navy – My Choice to play the SAM is Nigel Bradham, fast 4.56 40, violent hitter, sure tackler with cover skils, and Bobby Wagner who is a wrap up old school tackler, fast ran 4.45, and 4.46 at his pro day and strong as an ox 28 reps at 225 lbs, at the WILL. Other options:

1. LaVonte David
2. Demarrio Davis
3. Sean Spence, but I would play him at SS; He is a bigger faster Brian Dawkins thats technically a LB, but has the athleticism, smarts, and leadership to play the S spot. OH, and he will knock the snotbubbles out of anyone coming over the middle. If you miss Dawkins, draft this guy but only as a SS. He is too short to play the outside although he is a warrior.

Big Navy, I am not remotely interested in any others outside those 4 for OLB duties.

I also still like Vontaze Burfict in the 5th -6th rounds. Yes I do think he has what it takes to turn things around. Could be the steal of the draft.

bsmvideos
April 17, 2012 3:36 pm

Jerry Franklin – OLB Arkansas

6’1″ 242
4.6 forty
#8 rated linebacker in the draft (nfldraftscout)

Jarvis Jones Georgia
6’2″ 242
4.7 forty
#1 rated linebacker (nfldraftscout)

both are 2012 ALL-SEC linebackers who have played against the top competion and athletes in their careers.

dman
dman
April 17, 2012 3:51 pm

Stop kidding yourselves, you know the birds will be drafting an OT with the 1st pick lol

pdiddy
pdiddy
April 17, 2012 3:54 pm

He fellas I love keenan Robinson he’s a beast, I think he will be a better pro than college player.

schiller
schiller
April 17, 2012 4:16 pm

Right Navy. And there are about 10 of them on the earth right now. Most of the 10 currently are on other NFL teams. That’s the problem. Forget the Eagles problems drafting a good LB for a minute – there really aren’t many LBs that fit that “Emmons” description. You can get as close as possible, but the problem is that there aren’t that many that can do it all at SAM (to have a second at WILL).

But hey, dream dream dream. Liklihood is that we’ll get 1 and the other side will be manned by something between Rolle, Chaney, Jordan, Fokou, Mathews etc….

paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 4:20 pm

To BSM,
Jerry Franklin (3 Year Starter for Arnkansas) has been on my radar all off-season and would be a great pick-up in the 5th or possibly even in the 6th Round. You have have listed as OLB, but I am pretty sure he played MLB at Arkansas and to me would be a great pick to groom for eventual replacement for D Ryans at MLB for Chaney is simply not bright enough to be a play caller for this Defense which was a big reason the Chaney started at Will last year and Matthews starting at MLB even thoguht it was obvious that MAtthews wasn’t ready… .

pdiddy
pdiddy
April 17, 2012 4:34 pm

You guys are going to think I am crazy but I think casey might be a pretty good will LB. I know it sounds crazy but, I refuse to believe he can’t play football at all. I just don’t think he can play MLB in the Nfl. I would give him a shot. He was a very good player at Oregon. I just think they threw him in there too soon.

pdiddy
pdiddy
April 17, 2012 4:36 pm

I also believe the two best DT’s in this draft are Stills and worthy, both of these guys play in the backfield constantly.

Stevo
Stevo
April 17, 2012 5:18 pm

diddy- ill agree with you. we know nothing. the poor guy was put in a spot he couldnt live up to. I want to see what Allen, Graham, Mathews can offer this year. I want good battles in camp for spots. lets bring in talent and see what shakes out.

nsidious
nsidious
April 17, 2012 5:51 pm

G:

Credit where credit is due. I heave criticism on Big Red. But he was ahead of Belichick when he drafted Cornelius Ingram. He looked outstanding when he was on the field…unfortunately that field was limited to Lehigh for those years he was with the Eagles. I was pumped about Ingram in the Eagles’ offense and thought about what an outstanding move it was.
But Belichick’s TE’s stayed healthy.
As far as LB; if you’ve read any of my posts (and chances are you haven’t [who cares what I have to say]) you know you are preaching to the choir on this one. Never liked Bradley – NEVER. You did. OK, that’s over. It’s just as tough to pick a TE that can block, move and catch as it is to pick a LB/S that can cover a TE like I just described. They don’t come along every year. Maybe once every couple of years, and then only 1 or, at most, a few.
They (TE & LB/S covering them,) ought to be very highly paid in the NFL. And where are you Carlos Emmons?

pdiddy
pdiddy
April 17, 2012 6:07 pm

Keenan Robinson will be the next….the hell with carlos emmons, SETH JOYNER yeah I said it Robinson will be the next joyner. He can cover, hit and tackle. His size is what we need book it.

pdiddy
pdiddy
April 17, 2012 6:09 pm

Agreed stevo.

pdiddy
pdiddy
April 17, 2012 6:48 pm

Man carlos emmons couldn’t hold seth joyners jock strap.We need a Lb that can get to the qb off the blitz, create turnover cover TE and hit somebody. Keenan Robinson fellas

pdiddy
pdiddy
April 17, 2012 6:55 pm

Seth joyner actually wanted to be the eagles linebacker coach but no we have the great mike caldwell.

EaglesSuck
EaglesSuck
April 17, 2012 7:29 pm

Regular Season
Sunday, Sept. 9 – at Cleveland – 1 pm (FOX)
Sunday, Sept. 16 – vs. Baltimore – 1 pm (CBS)
Sunday, Sept. 23 – at Arizona – 4:05 pm (FOX)
Sunday, Sept. 30 – vs. New York Giants – 8:20 pm (NBC)*
Sunday, Oct. 7 – at Pittsburgh – 1 pm (FOX)
Sunday, Oct. 14 – vs. Detroit – 1 pm (FOX)
Sunday, Oct. 21 BYE
Sunday, Oct. 28 – vs. Atlanta – 1 pm (FOX)
Monday, Nov. 5 – at New Orleans – 8:30 pm (ESPN)*
Sunday, Nov. 11 – vs. Dallas – 4:15 pm (FOX)*
Sunday, Nov. 18 – at Washington – 1 pm (FOX)
Monday, Nov. 26 – vs. Carolina – 8:30 pm (ESPN)*
Sunday, Dec. 2 – at Dallas – 8:20 pm (NBC)*
Sunday, Dec. 9 – at Tampa Bay – 1 pm (FOX)
Thursday, Dec. 13 – vs. Cincinnati – 8:20 pm (NFL Network)*
Sunday, Dec. 23 – vs. Washington – 1 pm (FOX)
Sunday, Dec. 30 – at New York Giants – 1 pm (FOX)
*Nationally Televised

pdiddy
pdiddy
April 17, 2012 7:34 pm

Yo that schedule hard as hell

paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 7:41 pm

I lile the schedule and think the Eagles got a pretty good break on when and where they are playing teams..
Opening 4 Games (Browns,Ravens at Home,Cardinals and NY Giants at home could really be 3-1 and in good shape
Next 4 games against all Playoff Teams but 2 at home against teams that usually don’t play well on the road (Lions and Falcons) so a split at 2-2 is very doable
The next 4 Games versus Cowboys twice, Redksins and Panthers at home could be another 3-1 stretch
Then final 4 games versus TB Bucs,Bengals,Redskins and then at NY Giants could be a 3-1 finish

Eagles could be 11-5 with this Schedule with some breaks,staying Healthy and obviously, playing well as a Team… The Key is is being 4-2 by the BYE Week which is very attainable if they play their game..

EaglesSuck
EaglesSuck
April 17, 2012 7:53 pm

WOW you gotta wait until Nov. 11th to play Dallas?

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
April 17, 2012 8:12 pm

Tough tough schedule. At first glance it looks easy but 7 out of the 13 teams were in the playoffs last year. Ugh.. the Eagles better be ready this year because teams will not let up on them nor will they lay down for them, the birds did not make the playoffs but they still have a target on there back.. This is no cake walk schedule.

paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 8:35 pm

I look at Teams like the Steelers,Ravens,Saints and Giants all taking a step back
(remember the the GIants were a 9-7 Team last year)
The Key games that the Eagles must win in my opinion is the NFC Divisional Games vs the Cardinals & TB Bucs on the Road, and win home Games versus Detroit,Falcons,Panthers at home..
Eagles can then even split games in the NFC East and AFC North and still end up with 10 Wins to make the Playoffs.. They must play must better ball at the Linc and protect home turf… They go 6-2 and home and split Road Games with very winneable games at Cleveland, Arizona and Tampa Bay and they should be fine

jott1972
jott1972
April 17, 2012 8:41 pm

there are only a few very good SAM LB’s in the NFL and fewer in the draft…..DRAFT the best LB period! I dont care what LB position they played in college

Focusing on a BIG, FAST LB is foolish…I’ll take Lavonte David in round 2 over any LB in the draft from round 2 on….. I’ll put him on the TE in coverage and he will do well….

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
April 17, 2012 9:24 pm

Again paul i go with the facts. 7 of the 13 teams were playoff bound last yr and regardless of what you “think” or “assume” will be teams that take a step back, they all proved that they can win big games and all are consistently in the playoffs every year, giants are SB winners but you bring up a 9-7 record?.. Cmon man go with the facts not assumptions all the time, your way off..again

vinnietheevictor
vinnietheevictor
April 17, 2012 9:40 pm

The issue with the schedule seems to be with bye weeks.

The bad news:
The birds will be playing Pitt, Det, Alt and Washington all coming off their bye weeks – that seems very odd. They’ll also play the NYG and Cowboys after they played Thursday games the week prior,,,,,

Weeks 2-9 seem tough

The good news:
Eagles get a home Thursday game (home teams on Thurs win at about a .650 clip)
FInal 4 games all (at least now) look winable

could be 2-2 or 3-1 over first 4 (all 4 games there will be tough)
I think 1-3 over next 4 (pitt, det always disasterous game before the bye, atl (easy win?) after the bye and then at NO – very tough)
2-2 over 3rd 4 (split dall, split car/wsh)
3-1or 4-0 to close out (at tb – stink, thursday advantage over cinci, wsh at home and nyg)

between 8-8 and 10-6

EaglesSuck
EaglesSuck
April 17, 2012 9:50 pm

Paulman sometimes I think you say stuff just to get a rise out of us. The Ravens was arguably the best team not named the Patriots last year and as long as The Saints have Drew Brees they will always be tough to beat. Steelers #1 defense last year and the Giants are Superbowl champs. How or what proof do you have to back up your statements? I’m not trolling at all i’m curious at how you think these teams will regress?

paulman
paulman
April 17, 2012 11:58 pm

#1) Ravens Defense is not what is used to be, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed can be exposed, they lost back 3 other contributors from their Defense (DT Gregg, LB Johnson and Safety Zbitowski) Offensively, their OL lost their best player to Free-Agency in Ben Grubbs and they have issues at both OT postions, Their Starting Center Matt Kirk was talked out of retiring to play for 1 more season Both Flacco and RB R Rice have contract issues..
#2) Steelers have 3 key Starters out with torn ACL’s that happened in mid January during the Playoffs, RB Mendenhall, DT Casey Hampton, DE B Keisel and it’s very possible that these players may start the 2012 Season on PUP List and not at a 100% until the 2nd half of th eseason.. On top of this the Steelers released WR H Ward, LB J Farrior who were 2 very popular players who were also leaders in the locker room.. The yfired OC B Arians (much to Big Bens disappointment) and will try to implement a more power tunning game than the pass-happy team they have been the last few seasons. The have problems along their OL, searaching to RB depth, resigned 40 years old Charlie Batch as Big Bens Back-up and also have lost a lot of Assistant Coaches to the Cardinals the last 2-3 Seasons

I stated a month ago that if would be a positive if the Eagles could play both the Ravens & Steelers early on the the Season and this has happened..

#3) Saints are a Team in limbo for ltos of reasons, besides losing All-Pro LG Carl Nicks, and WR R Meachem, they have a very unhappy QB in Bress without a contract deal in place, he will not sign or workout under a Franchise Tag (as neither will Ravens RB R Rice or M Forte from the Bears casuing some dissension)
You have the Black CLoud of Bounty GAte in which Sean Payton is removed from all Football functions for the Season, Interim Coach Bill Vitt also has to serve a 6 game SUpspension,. Is it all at once or spreadout throughout th eSeason, who knows, you hgave a new DC in Spags with lots of new players and they will have 2-3 Defensders suspsend (Roman Harper, Will Smithe and possibly others) They did sign 2 very good LB’s in Hawthorne and Lofton , lost valuable CB Tracey Porter, probably will release LB J Vilma for Salary Cap issues so they have lots of moving parts with personnel, coaching and scandal hanging over their heads..

#4) Giants — It’s very difficult to repeat as SUper Bowl Champions in the Giants case, almost every SUper Bowl Victory has been followed by a sub-par season, Players leave (Manningham,Jacobs,McKenzie) New players come, Living in the fishbowl that NTY is, many times, the distractions, and pulling of Star players in a 100 directions can be overwhelming and a team can lose focus.. The have some question marks along their OL, lost depth at WR and in the Backfield, but did pick-up a very good LB in Keith Rivers and still have the best DL in the NFL so they be competitive, but take a step back and to be honest, they weren’t all the consistent lass regular season and got hot at the right time and played some good ball the last month of the season, can they do it again, possibly, but their Schedule is brutal and it’s always tough repeat…

DCar
DCar
April 18, 2012 3:59 am

GC, I agree with you. Brown has the size & speed, but has a little dog in him & has Mesante-ITIS. I like Keenan Robinson too. He can be had in the 3rd. But I think that’s where they are going to get a QB. They need to get either Wagner, or David in the 2nd, or consider Irvin, or Bradham in 3-4 also. All could be very good SAM’s, or WILL’s. Zach Brown has BUST, written all over him. Somebody is going to be stupid & overdraft him. Just watch & see.

DCar
DCar
April 18, 2012 4:27 am

Navy, I stated the same thing a few weeks ago. The SAM & WILL basically have the same responsibilities, depending on what side of the line the TE lines up & what formations the DC runs for that play. But basically, they both cover the TE’s & blitz. We just don’t have the players that can make plays, or cover. Fokou & Jordon are ST players at best, Chaney will be coming off of a neck injury, Rolle, while played surprisingly, inspiring football last year, is a mighty might. Don’t even get me started with Mini-me Clay Matthews. We have Ryans who is still a + concern, Chaney who is a + concern & a bunch of
bodies. That’s why I would love to see them get at least 2 LB’s out of their first 5 picks. I’d be alright with 1- DT Cox, 2a- DE Curry, 2b- OLB Wagner/ David,
3- QB Cousins, 4- OLB Robinson, 5- SS Antonio Allen, 6a- WR Devon Wylie, 6b- WR Tommy Streeter, 6c- OG Ryan Miller/ RB Terrance Ganaway/
ILB Vontaze Burfict. What a draft that could be.

DCar
DCar
April 18, 2012 4:48 am

Paul not to mention they have signed no free agents to upgrade their team & have NO WR’s or RB’s. Ward has retired & it is unlikely that Wallace will be back (isn’t signing his tendered & likely traded at draft) & other than a young, raw Antonio Brown, only have camp bodies. Also their secondary is ancient & slow.

ceterisparibus
ceterisparibus
April 18, 2012 2:02 pm

The SAM and the WILL don’t have the same responsibilities. If you want your SAM lined up over the TE to play him man-to-man, you move him at the L.O.S. if the TE moves. The WILL will cover the RB flat on his side. The WILL plays more freely in space and chases down the play than the SAM, who is more likely to be engaged with the TE or FB on a lead run. There is a reason why the WILLs are typically the smallest and quickest LBs in the group. Unless there is are teams that run to their weakside of the formation more often than not, the difference between the SAM and the WILL certainly isn’t semantics.

That being said, Rolle showed that he is serviceable as a WILL in his rookie season with some potential upside. We have no one with upside at the SAM spot. While David is really shooting up draft boards, most analysts say he seems better suited to play the weakside in the NFL. I think the birds will get more marginal improvement drafting one of the better SAMs to compete with Chaney/Foku/Jordan rather than a WILL to compete with an already decent starter.