Tuesday, December 25, 2012

C Khaled Holmes

I watched him play against Star Lotulelei.  After initially struggling, Khaled held his own for the rest of the game, sometimes getting the better of Star. 

Fiery.  He’s always looking to hit.  Sometimes his excitement gets the better of him and he overplays his role.  Must gain some discipline.  Gets good initial contact and drives guys away.  He’s not so much a blocker as he is a fighter.  Plays like a warrior.  Quickly gets to 2nd level to make contact.  Again, needs to stay disciplined and patient as he tends to lunge at defenders.  Gets good push on run blocking.  Is a great team blocker.  His head is on a swivel looking for the next guy he gets to punch.  Gets fired up easily and will get in teammate’s grill.  Very competitive. 

I think he’s better than the 3rd round projection I keep seeing, but I’m not gonna complain if he’s there in the 3rd.  He would be a nice upgrade over Lyle. 

G Dallas Thomas

A great prospect at G.  I’m not excited about him at LT.  And his questionable pass protection on the edge isn’t going to serve him well at RT either.  This is a Levi Brown type that teams will try to move him out when he should stay in.  I’m scouting him as a G.

Phenomenal athlete at G.  Versatile.  Keeps guys in front and maintains integrity of the pocket.  Seamless transition from one defender to the next.  Stunts and shifts don’t bother him.  Good seals on the run.  Uses his athleticism to bounce off line and fly to his trap block.  Quickly gets out on screens and uses athleticism and strength to make plays.  Gets to the 2nd level quick and makes/keeps contact with defender.  Great push on run block.  Strong punches.  Very good at both run blocking and pass protection in the interior.  Needs to be better about playing to the whistle.  Let’s guys scoot by sometimes because he thinks the play is over before whistle is blown. 

I’m sure I’ll attach an addendum to this because I’m scouting the Ts before the Gs, but he’ll end up a high prospect there.  He’s probably a 2nd round pick at G behind Warmack and Cooper.  The Cards would be lucky to get a guy like this as long as they play him at his natural position.

T Oday Aboushi

Not an NFL LT.  Maybe a RT, or a very tall G.  He’s lumbering, yet strong.  Can knock down opponents almost accidentally.  Has adequate feet to get to the corner and uses long arms to push defender outside.  Head on defenders don’t get anywhere, but struggles against speed on the outside.   He has questions as a run blocker which doesn’t bode well since he’s not the quickest.  Questions arise about his mental aspect of the game due to penalties.  Sometimes makes bad decisions during play.  Not an NFL starter yet.

I can see a coach drafting him as a RT and working hard on his run blocking.  But his slow mobility and mental errors leave a huge question mark.  I must be missing something that so many teams have him as a 1st or 2nd rounder.  I’m guessing I’ll have an addendum tacked on here later when I see something that changes my mind.  Right now I’d draft him in the 3rd as a RT, but wouldn’t consider him at LT.

The Cards should pass on him.  He's a massive project at LT and they already have Massie at RT.  They have more pressing needs elsewhere and should only look at him if he slips to the 4th.

Monday, December 24, 2012

LT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

Lane Johnson intrigues me.  I see that athleticism that screams potential at LT.  I also see size at 6-6, 305.  Has long arms and knows how to use them.  Once he locks onto a defender he rarely lets go.  Has a bit of stick ‘em on his hands.  He has great agility.  Sometimes his feet get cemented and he gets beat, then lunges to recover.  Needs to learn to always trust his agility and compensate that way.  Most times he recovers rather well though. When he gets beat up to the corner he uses his agility to freakishly compensate.  Quick feet and use of long arms keep him in front. 

A very smart run blocker.  He doesn’t quite maul as much as he places his body and seals very well.  He’s always in the play and uses his body well to shield.  Moves the defender exactly where he wants him to be.   I wonder what his strength tangibles will reveal.  Even if he isn’t the strongest he’s learned how to compensate. 

His mind seems to be locked into the play and stays with his assignment till the whistle.  And if he gets a switch he recovers smoothly.  Doesn’t panic but stays with the most sensible block.  Appears to be a smart player.  I love that he gets mad when he could have blocked the guy for a few more yards even though he just pushed him 8 yards.  He doesn’t seem to settle for less than great.  He claps his hands in disgust when he doesn’t meet his own expectations.  He’s always looking down field to find someone else to block.  Doesn’t take breaks when the play isn’t to his side.  Finds his way into the fray.  He was moved around a bunch on the line and is smooth on either side.  Heard he played QB at one point, which lends to his savviness. He’s raw and has a lot more to show.

Considering his size, agility, and football smarts Lane Johnson has all the potential to be a great LT.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My QB rankings for 2013 NFL Draft

So after spending some time looking over the QB prospects for the 2013 NFL draft, here’s my top 10 rankings: (December)

1.  Geno Smith
2.  Zac Dysert
3.  Aaron Murray
4.  Landry Jones
5.  Tyler Wilson
6.  Matt Barkley
7.  Ryan Nassib
8.  E.J. Manuel
9.  Matt Scott
10.  Mike Glennon

Addendum: January 2, 2013

I hate this list, so I'm fixing it.  And tomorrow I'll probably fix it again.

1.  Geno Smith
2.  Zac Dysert
3.  Aaron Murray
4.  EJ Manuel
5.  Tyler Wilson
6.  Ryan Nassib
7.  Sean Renfree (won’t be drafted, but I love him.  The next Tony Romo?)
8.  Landry “bonehead” Jones
9.  Tyler “erratic” Bray
10.  Matt “bonehead-injured-weakarmed” Barkley
11.  Matt Scott
12.  Mike Glennon

Ryan Nassib

Hot and cold.  That’s what I saw from Ryan Nassib. 

Decent athlete with an above average arm.  Has the choppy feet thing going, but gets his feet set to make the throw.  Can place the ball well at times, but other times can be way off the mark.  Seems to be getting better as he matures, so the growth chart is a positive for him.  There’s some intensity to his game, which is a good thing.  And even with his growing pains he still completed 63% of his passes.  Has low end size at 6-2, 230.

He also tends to suffer from brain freeze when he’s under pressure.  Often makes poor throws when seeing the pass rush.  I don’t see anything that tells me that he’s ready to play in the NFL.  But he does have some of the goods to have a chance at being a productive player.  I’d say he’s 2 to 3 years away from that.  He looks like he’ll be a good project to nab in the 3rd round.

The Cardinals however need to take a pass on him unless he slips to the 4th round.

Geno Smith

Let’s be fair about Geno, he shouldn’t be expected to be Luck or RGIII.  I know he wants it, but he isn’t quite there yet.  But he’s on his way.

Geno Smith is a workaholic.  He has a heavy commitment to game film and has made amazing strides to make himself into an NFL QB.  He is very accurate and has a great arm.  I like his footwork and pocket presence.  He can throw on the run and is a good double threat guy.  But I love that he has worked hard to break his case of the runs.  He’s been scolded this year for not running enough.  I absolutely love that.  He’s now a pass first, run second QB.  He hits his targets all over the field and gets the ball to his playmakers.  However, it helps when you have studs at WR.

Here’s my but: he looks like a guy who lacks confidence when he’s in the game.  I know that sounds weird, but he has a nervous edge to him.  Watch his arms pre snap and you might pick up on it.  That makes me nervous come crunch time.  It reminds me of Nick Foles his junior year.  Nick got over it.  So will Geno.  But he’ll need some time.  While he’ll probably go #1 overall, he’ll need a year to get used to the NFL.  He isn’t a complete package coming out of college like Luck and RGIII.  And that’s okay.  He just needs a good vet ahead of him and a smart coach to ease him in.  (That leaves out Whiz)

Some mocks have him going around where the Cards pick, but that ignores the growing trend of drafting QBs way ahead of projections.  They are just too valuable nowadays.  The Cards won’t see him wherever they pick.  Too bad though.  I really like his potential.

Mike Glennon

Mike Glennon is this year’s John Skelton model: tall, strong and inaccurate.  I’m fine with his footwork, pocket presence, and arm strength.  But he is wild on his accuracy.  I saw him hit the back of the defender who was trailing the play numerous times.  He overthrew his WR so bad that he almost broke his back trying to get to it.  He seems to exclusively work the middle of the field.  His mind doesn’t seem to be in it.  He plays behind the game. 

He has some truly Yuck moments.  There is NO WAY this guy should be considered before the 4th round.  He’s, at best, a tad better than Lindley and Skelton.  And I’m done seeing that model. 

The Cardinals shouldn’t even consider him till very late and only if they dump Skelton or Lindley.

Tyler Wilson

When I watch Tyler Wilson play I find myself uninspired.  I’m fully aware it could just be that the rest of his team isn’t very good.  But Dysert’s team isn’t either and he looks a ton better. 

He’s efficient.  But he checks down a ton.  Looks like he doesn’t want to take chances, so he plays it safe.  I don’t like his lack of consistency after 20 yards.  Good overall movement.  Decent pocket presence.  I don’t like his throw on the run.  He doesn’t keep his eyes down field.  Misses guys that are open.  His last play in Arkansas was an incomplete pass when there were two other guys open in the end zone.  He just seems to miss things.  Also, it sure seemed like many of his passes were a foot off.  Behind, too high, out front.  I question is accuracy. 

Like I said, he’s uninspiring.  62% completion is fine, his size is fine 6-3, 220, his arm is fine.  But where’s the moxie?  However, he’s not without hope.  That Arkansas team was a train wreck.  And I see enough there to consider him.  Maybe he just needs a change of scenery.

But with all the questions I have, I’d only look at him as a mid 2nd rounder.  But I'd take Zac Dysert over him.

Zac Dysert

A few years back I was apparently wrong about Pat Devlin.  I thought he had all the tools to be a good steal in the later rounds of the draft.  He went undrafted and now sits 3rd behind Tannehill in Miami.  I've still got time to be right.  But not much.

But that was soooo 3 years ago.  I just had a wow moment watching film.  You know that moment when you watch a guy make a great move that your pretty sure very few people on the planet can do.  Well, I had numerous wow moments watching Zac Dysert play.  He has great pocket presence.  Stands firm with pressure.  Keeps his eyes down field.  Has a 6th sense on avoiding pressure.  His arm is great and accurate on the deep balls.  Can roll either right or left and has amazing accuracy throwing on the run.  He's a gamer.  Will make athletic throws when he's in trouble and actually gets it there.  And has an amazing knack for keeping plays alive.  Oh, and he's 6-4, 230.  He's got real NFL size.

The offense he ran at Miami (Ohio) is a slight concern.  Far too many roll outs, which can create habits of needlessly escaping the pocket.  But with a year in the NFL, he'll settle down and acclimate to his surroundings.  But the thing I noticed most about his offense was that his WRs were TERRIBLE.  I must have counted 15 dropped passes in the Ohio State game alone.  Considering he had 21 incompletions, that's only 6 bad passes out of 51.  Against a real team.  Early in the season.  But some of his passes do tend to sail.  He'll have to bring them down or he'll get someone killed.  Still, his 63% completion was decent. 

Right now CBS has him rated as an early 3rd round prospect (71 overall).  I like him more than Matt Barkley.  If, and this is a big if, he stays around there I'd love to see the Cards look at him in 3rd or even stretch into the 2nd (possible trade back).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Matt Barkley

I would never take Matt Barkley in the first round.  All I see is inconsistency.  I hear he's got a good head on his shoulders and isn't like Leinart or Sanchez.  I hear that he has the intangibles to be good.  Unfortunately, I don't see them.  All I see when I watch this guy play is two superstar WRs bailing him out.  I see horrible passes on the deep ball and on sideline placements.  I see tons of dumps to WRs that jack up his completion percentage.  I see weak arm strength.  I see him make bonehead decision after bonehead decision.  And I see him fold completely under duress.

And yes, I'm aware that his Oline was a mess and they asked too much from him.  But I would expect more from a 1st rounder.   He's not a 1st round QB.  I see him more as a late 2nd to early 3rd.  And I'm nervous about taking him even there.  I better have a solid line in place and a good starting QB to rely on so Barkley can grow into the role.  With time and good coaching he'll probably be okay.  But what about arm strength?  That's a huge question.  And for QBs, it's a death sentence if you can't fix it. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cards options at LT in the 2013 draft

Right now the CBS mock draft guys have Joeckel going 4th.
Matthews going about 6th.
Lewan going about 13th.
Fisher going anywhere between 16th and 27th.

I would love to see Matthews stay ahead on team's boards. While I absolutely love his rock solid consistency, I just don't see the Wow factor that I want from a top LT. I'm wondering if pedigree is being overplayed here. Don't get me wrong though. I'd love to have Matthews on my team (I was a HUGE Houston fan before the Cards, so this hurts a little), but not for the current asking price.

My Michigan friend swears we're only seeing a small portion of the talent from Lewan. He converted late so it makes sense. I see tremendous athleticism from him. I love his speed and size and think he's a great talent. Albeit a bit raw. I do see the Wow factor from him, but I also see some inconsistency. He and Matthews seem to have contrasting pros and cons. I'd still take him, because of his upside.

Fisher is legit. I love his explosiveness off the line. He doesn't seem to labor like other guys his size (6'7, 305). He also picks up stunts and shifts with relative ease. Great balance when engaged, but he does end up on the ground some. (Not much of a con, but I felt I had to say something) Most of all I love his fire. He doesn't just block, he LOVES to block. This guy gets after it. He has that fiery competitive edge you want in a guy. He's coming across as that guy that no one wants to put higher on the boards because of the school he comes from. I'd be ecstatic if the Cards could land him.

It looks like Philly and the Chargers are going to go LT before us. And the Rams will assuredly take the left overs after us. While I like the idea of a trade back for picks, I'm not sure these guys will be around. I would be very careful if I go that route. Because this team needs "that guy" at LT and have some good ones to choose from this year if they don't screw it up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Floyd the BPA? You're kidding, right?

I was recently told that Floyd was the BPA for the Cards at #13.  Here was my response.

I certainly don't agree on any level about Floyd. In no way, shape, or form was Floyd the BPA. DeCastro [93], Brockers [94], Coples [94], Ingram [93], Jones [94], and Reiff [93] all graded out same or better than Floyd. [per ESPN]

(And no one in there right mind should pull the "Well that's what the guys at ESPN think and they get it wrong all the time". That's just plain stupid. Sure, they aren't perfect. But neither are we. And those guys get it right more often than not. And even if they don't, could anyone actually say with a straight face that the Cards have a better handle on their grading system than ESPN?)

WR2 was NOT a pressing NEED last year. If anything it was #6 behind 1)HOF QB, 2)LT, 3)RG, 4)OLB, and 5)SILB. In fact, we had a pretty darn good one in Roberts if anyone bothered to notice that Kolb completely ignored him. But Whiz refuses to acknowledge it. He threw Roberts under the bus (his typical MO), and sacrificed the year with the Floyd pick. Floyd hasn't helped this team one iota. And Roberts has made Whiz look stupid. Which is sad, because Whiz drafted him and should have believed in him. EPIC FAIL.

But LT was the #2 overall NEED (behind a HOF QB which didn't look available at the time) and Reiff graded out identical to Floyd [93 to 93 via ESPN]. Reiff would have started out of the gates over Batiste, and served this team well. Maybe even winning us more games and putting us in the playoff hunt. And you could say they didn't know about Levi. Fine. Reiff was still a massive upgrade at RT over Bridges.

Because the state of the line was so bad before the draft, RG became a much more pressing NEED. (This of course assumes that Levi moves to RT where he played well before. If you want to argue that he should be RG... fine. Then replace the RG need with RT. All the more reason to draft Reiff) Whiz was drinking some magic Kool-Aid when he signed Snyder to that rediculous contract. He passed on DeCastro who graded out equal to Floyd [93, ESPN].

OLB was another NEED. It should have been #4 on their list. And Ingram graded equal to Floyd[93]. I just read a stat line from PFF that had him as a top 15 pass rusher. (Sorry, can't find it to post. Found it while I was trolling S.D. forum to see how he was doing via the fans. If anyone cares, the fans seem to love him but think he's being underused, but everyone blames the coaching. Shocker, I know) He's also considered extemely solid in his versatility. Can you imagine him on this defense? Shudder.

And even though Hightower graded lower[91] he was a more pressing NEED. He would have done wonders for our SILB spot. (I love Lenon, but it's time) I know, this discussion is about BPA. Moving on.

And if you really want to argue BPA, I would submit that Brockers, Coples, and Jones [all 94, ESPN] are better. Sure, I think it would have been dumb to draft them. But I believe it was more dumb to draft Floyd. He had a weaker grade and only satisfied a slightly higher NEED. So he was a bad BPA pick, because he was only arguably 4th on the BPA list. (And more technically, if you believe that when there's a tie for BPA, you go with NEED to break it... then that would have him 7th on the BPA list)

And BTW, I actually like Floyd. I agree he's gonna be good. But let's just speculate that he meets his grade and so do these other guys.

By the numbers, Roberts grades out at what?... Let's say 80. I think he's better but I'll stick with that. If Floyd grades out to 93 then that's only a +13 gain.
What's Levi at LT? 70? If I'm being nice. That's a +23 on drafting Reiff.
What's Bridges? 65? That's +28 on drafting Reiff.
What's Batiste? 30? If I'm being nice. That's a +63 on drafting Reiff.
What's Snyder? 60? That's a +33 on drafting DeCastro.
What's O Scho? 70? That's a +23 on drafting Ingram.

(And what's even more infuriating is they could have traded down and picked up an extra pick AND STILL GOTTEN one of these guys. Yes, I know... "we had no good offers". That's what they said. But by what evidence would you trust that Graves knows what a "good offer" is? I never heard them once clarify what those offers were. How do we know someone didn't offer them a late 2nd or early 3rd and their 1st and they could've picked up Russell Wilson as an add-on? They might have gotten Reiff and Wilson instead of Floyd. GRRRR... Whiz/Graves suck as GM.)

I know I'm just guessing these numbers, but the point should be clear as day that we would have gained more at other key positions if we drafted differently. And after watching this season can anyone truly say that drafting Floyd was a wise move? I couldn't at the time and I certainly can't now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How to fix the Az. Cardinals

To fix the Cards offense you’d need a complete overhaul of the philosophy.  Here’s my stab at the fix.

1.  Fire Whiz.  He’s done here.  He won’t change.  He just said so.  When Wolfley asked him if he could fix the Cards after they lost 58-0 to the Hawks he said that we already knew the answer to it.  After all, he brought the Cards to the Super Bowl and won 4 playoff games.  He then said they just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing because it’s the right thing.  Wow.  That’s arrogant.  After placing in the bottom 5 in offense 2 of the last 3 years you want to keep doing what you’re doing?  And what about Kurt Warner?  Sheez.  Whiz truly believes that it was his ‘offense’ that took them to the Super Bowl and not the future Hall of Famer.  After all these years of listening to Whiz’s ‘spin’, I’ve had to conjure a new word to describe him:  stubbordumb. 

2.  Fire Graves.  He gave full authority to Whiz and did nothing to stop the train wreck of the last 3 seasons.  I don’t care if Whiz had full authority of the roster.  It’s Graves’ fault for giving it to him.  His drafting in the first three rounds has been suspect.  Although, he’s come up with some gems in the late rounds.  His signing of Snyder is down right pitiful.   In summary, his cons far out way his pros at this point.

3a.  Hire Steve Keim as GM.  I suspect he’s been an integral part of the later round finds.  And so I’m leaning towards giving him a chance as the ‘Man’.  However, if he agreed with either signing Snyder to that ridiculous contract or drafting Michael Floyd, then I say no way.  He’s well respected around the league and so I’d love to get more facts about the guy: draft philosophies, FA thoughts, communication skills to pull trades…

3b.  Hire Bill Polian.  Why not?  The guy turned Buffalo into a powerhouse and made Carolina into a legit team almost overnight.  I’m suspect of his work in Indi, but there’s enough body of work here to give him a shot.  It all hinges on his offensive philosophies when you don’t have an elite QB.  If he thinks you should throw the ball like Whiz does then I’d pass on him.  But if he’s a believer in what S.F., Seattle, and Minnesota are doing then I want him.

4.  Hire Ray Horton as HC.  I’m assuming Bill Cowher isn’t gonna coach anytime soon.  If he was then I’d throw the money at him.  And although I like John Gruden, I’m not his biggest fan.  I like how he won without an elite QB though.  That says a lot about him.  So I’d put some feelers out for him.  As for Ray, he’ll be gone this year if he isn’t the HC.  He’s proven he can lead the players.  He’s a bit fiery, but I think it will translate well. 

5.  Fire the entire offensive coaching staff.  They suck.  The new OC can keep who he wants.

6a.  Hire Tom Cable as the OC.  He’s a proven Oline genius.  He’s a run first kinda guy, and since this team doesn’t have an elite QB, that’s what they need.  I’m not sure how good he is at calling plays.  That needs to be investigated first, but the coaching aspect is all plusses.  Also, taking him away from Seattle as the assistant coach will severely hurt them.  That helps us.

6b.  Hire Norv Turner.  He seems more interesting than Cable.  If Cable does a good job in Az. I think he’ll be looking to move to a HC job somewhere.  However, if Turner does well here, he’s staying put.  Turner should never be a HC again.  I think it’s been driven out of the man.  That means he might pull a Dick LeBeau and become a lifetime coordinator.  That’s a major plus in my book.  Oh, and we all know he’s a proven OC.  Again, I want to investigate his offensive philosophies when you don’t have an elite QB, but I’m hoping he’s sensible.

7.  Hire Romeo Crennel as DC.  He’s identical to Norv in that he’ll never be a HC again.  He just doesn’t have the genes.  But he’s a heck of a DC.  He runs a hybrid 3-4, which is a bit sticky, but I think he’d buy in to run a Horton’s 3-4.  Plus, he’s a first rate guy.  I’d hire him in a heartbeat.  And for those that don’t believe you can pull a Turner/Crennel hiring, who was the OC/DC in K.C. last year?  Weisz and Crennel.  If K.C. can do it, why can’t the Cards.

8.  Either cut Kolb or restructure his contract.  No one should ever blame him for this offense the past 2 years.  The only thing we know about him is that he isn’t Warner.  But that leaves a lot of room for being good.  If he comes cheap I’m not against keeping him.  But if he doesn’t, I think it’s a huge no-brainer to sign Alex Smith.  He’ll be cut by S.F. this off-season and I think he’ll be frothing at the mouth to stick it to his former team by coming to the Cards.  He wouldn’t be asked to do much more than manage the team, like he did there.  And I’m betting he’ll bring his 3rd overall QB ranking with some fire to boot.  Note: he’s not a savior.  He’s just a manager.  If a savior ever does come they should jump all over it.

9.  Draft Luke Joeckel with the 1st pick.  This is an even easier draft pick than PP21.  He’s a “can’t miss” stud LT, something the Cards have never had.  (he hasn’t declared yet though)

10.  Draft Aaron Murray in the 2nd.  He’s a solid QB prospect with incredible accuracy.  I’m alarmed at his bad games against great talent, but not enough to avoid drafting him.  His technique is crisp and he has some “IT” aura glowing around him.  I’m betting he won’t be there in the 2nd come April, but if he is they should take a shot.  (he also hasn’t declared yet)

11.  Draft Khalid Holmes in the 3rd.  He’s a fiery Center from USC.  I like his desire and aggression.  He’s another guy I expect to climb the draft boards, but for now he’s projected 3rd. 

12.  Draft one of the RBs that fall to the 4th:  I don’t care if it’s the Stanford guy, the Florida guy, the Wisconsin guy, the N.D. guy, or the South Carolina guy.  But draft one.  I’m thinking one will fall to the 4th.  And behind this new line, he’ll be the next Alfred Morris.  I’m high on the N.D. kid.  He has great vision and sick athleticism, but he lets the turf trip him up a bit often.  And no, I won’t refer to draftable RBs by their names.  RBs are just Mercs that should be replaced every 3-5 years and never paid.  Sorry, but that’s the way to do it. (Actually I’m just too lazy to go look up there names right now)

13.  The starting Oline should be:   Joeckel – Colledge – Holmes – Levi – Massie
I’m fine with paying Levi the big money for playing Guard.  He’ll be all-pro every year he plays there.  He’s been out of position ever since they moved him to the left.  And the only reason he isn’t going to the RT is because Massie has been playing so well.  He’s looking more and more like the steal I thought he was.  Colledge is serviceable.  However, if they can’t land Murray in the 2nd round I’d draft Barrett Jones out of ‘Bama.  He’s a stud linemen and extremely versatile.  Switch Jones for Colledge and you have the makings of one of the best lines in the NFL almost overnight. 

14.  Run the ball.  We don’t have the elite QB, so we need to give him the bestest friend in the whole world in a running game.  This line should be able to get some heavy push and I think that, with time, they could start looking like Seattle or S.F.  Then the QB can be more protected and grow into the offense.  And they’ll burn a ton of T.O.P., which I know the D will absolutely love.  Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that you’d have two of the best run blocking WRs in Fitz and Floyd.  I also like Sherman as the Fullback.

15.  The QB can now get more acclimated to the offense.  He’ll take considerably less hits than before, and his confidence should grow.  If he’s just efficient this team will be good.  By the way, I think signing a guy like Tarvaris Jackson as a back up would be perfect.  He can step in at a moments notice and run a good offense. 

16.  No one will be more happier about the changes than the WR/TE corps.  Fitz, Roberts, Floyd, and Housler will flourish in this legitimate play-action offense.  This is another reason I like getting Alex Smith.  He’s never had this kind of talent at WR.  So he’s gonna make the most of his limited opportunities. 

17.  Commit to this for the long haul.  I watched Seattle struggle last year at getting the running game going.  But they just plugged away until eventually the team gelled.  It’s a thing of beauty now.  And they’re doing it with a rookie QB who’s just “managing the game”.  The Cards need to take their lumps early and just hope that everything starts to come together in time to make a playoff push. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Analysis of Grave's drafting

It's very easy to say that someone needs to be fired.  It's quite a different thing to bring forth sufficient evidence to justify it. 

It would seem like an exhausting task to do a comparitive analysis of EVERY GM in the league and rate draft picks, signings, and trades.  (I would LOVE to actually do it, but not for free)  Only after looking at every one could you truly rate 'em.  I honestly have no idea where Graves would fall.  I'd hate to fire a guy only to find out that there isn't anyone out there better.  (Bill Polian is fine.  I like what he did in Buffalo and Carolina, but I have major questions about what he did in Indi.  Minus Peyton they would have been...?)

What I do know is that Graves has drafted some very good players under his term.  I don't know how much credit he deserves, but I find it interesting that he gets the blame for bad picks and no credit for the good ones.  Doesn't seem right.

At the risk of boring people with draft analysis... if you broke down his drafting ability per player we might get a clearer picture.  (Ignoring Draft Value and BPA/NEED of each selection).  I guess I should define Good/Average/Bad first.

Good draft picks are players that started and made a good impact.  And, if they got drafted late (say 4th - 7th) and they made an average impact they should be considered good, because they played better than their draft position.

Average players would be guys drafted early, but didn't quite live up to their draft position.  But at least they made some impact.  Or average players could be later picks that are just okay.  Maybe STers.

Bad players would be wasted early picks.  I wouldn't consider any late picks as bad picks, because most late picks don't make it anyway.

The following lists are pulled from 2003-2011, and they are certainly debateable, but hopefully useful. (I didn't add 1012 as its to soon to tell)

14 Good Picks: PP21, Acho, Sherman, D. Washington, A. Roberts, Hyphen, Campbell, Breaston, Rolle, Fitz, Dansby, Dockett, Antonio Smith, and Q. 

16 Average Picks: R. Williams, Housler, D. Williams, O. Scho, Skelton, B. Wells, Toler, DRC, Hightower, Keith, Levi Brown, B. Patrick, Deuce, Pace, Hayes, and R. Wells.

11 Bad Picks: C. Brown, R. Johnson, Doucet, Branch, Buster, Leinert, Pope, Arrington, E. Green,
Blackstock, and Bryant Johnson.

His 10 1st round picks are 3-5-2 (Good-Avg-Bad)
His 9 2nd round picks are 4-2-3
His 10 3rd round picks are 2-2-6
He's got 4 good later rounders and 7 average ones.

Only 30% of the time does his 1sts turn out good.  That doesn't sound like a plus.  While he doesn't have a ton of busts, his 1sts do tend to come out average.  And since half of those picks are top 10, that is alarming.

Again, I don't know how other GMs are doing, but he did pull 11 players out of the later rounds that made an impact.  That's 11 out of 36 total drafted.  So he's got a 30% approval rating in the 4th through 7th.
If we compare him to the Cards 10 years of drafts before he got there he looks a whole lot better (but that isn't saying much).  Graves had 14 good, 16 average, and 11 bad.  Before him the Cards were 8 good, 14 average, and 20 bad.  (Only their bads were really bad; W. Bryant, Wadsworth, Knight...)

Again, this is only looking at a simple view of his drafting prowess.  And after looking at all this, I wouldn't say he's been great, but I wouldn't say he's been horrible either.  I'd guess somewhere close to average.  But he's for darn sure better than what we had before he got here.  Which, again, isn't saying much.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The right, the wrong, and the ugly

I'm an idealist. So I don't fall under the "win at all costs" bracket. I've never been comfortable with the idea that "a win is a win". I believe that there are 3 ways to win games:

The right way.
The wrong way.
The ugly way.

Every true fan of the game wants there team to win the right way: playing to their strengths, building for the future while succeeding in the present, balancing running and throwing, solid defense, good ST... etc. (The only time I've ever seen this done with Whiz was with Kurt towards the end.)

But we'll take winning ugly. That is, we can live with winning if the team was trying to win right, but just wasn't executing very well. These wins happen, but should come rarely. (Atlanta won ugly today against the Cards)

But in no way... I mean under no circumstances should a team win the wrong way. That is: not playing to players strengths, sacrificing the future for the present, unbalanced offensive attack, getting by with a sour defense or a bad ST... The reason you DON'T EVER want to win the wrong way... it encourages you to keep playing that way. After all, if it worked once it will work again. Only it never does.

And now the Cards aren't even "winning the wrong way" like they did on that stretch with Skelton last year. Now they're "losing the wrong way". And that's been Whiz's offense for the last 3 years. It's definately not right, it's not even ugly... it's flat out wrong.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Horton's thoughts on Niners Oline

I saw Kent Somers report on Horton in the paper on Sunday.  He asked him what he thought of the Niners Oline:

 "There is no mystery to what to what they're doing. They're just big guys who are very physical. They come downhill and they just pound you and pound you. It's a game of submission. They will try to trick you with an unbalanced (line). They'll put three extra linemen with unusual numbers in. But, really, there's no mystery about it. It's big men on big men. It's a pounding, physical game... And they're O.K., they figure 13-10 is a good win. Kind of what we want to do."

Somers then said, "Horton raved about the 49ers offense, calling the offensive line 'talented' and 'huge'".  Talented?  Huge?  Now just how did those Niners get those guys?  Oh yeah, I remember, the NFL draft.  Being a Cards fan, I'd forgotten that you could address the line through the draft.

Here's how they did it: 
#1)  they stole Joe Staley with the 28th pick in the first round (2007), about 20 picks after the Cards "reached" for Levi Brown.  Staley was an All-Pro in 2011.
#2)  In the 2010 draft they had two first round selections.  They used one on Guard Mike Iupati, the other on Right Tackle Anthony Davis.
#3)  Via Free Agency they grabbed Center Jon Goodwin, a former Pro Bowler from the Saints. 
#4)  They address their depth by drafting Looney in the 4th (2012) and Kilgore in the 5th (2011).  Sign Boone as an UDFA (2009) and sign Leonard Davis in FA.

And since the line is a major indicator of success in the running game, let's look at their 2012 stats.  They are currently:
#1 in Yards per Attempt (5.9)
#2 in Yards per Game (176.6)
#6 in Overall Attempts

Obviously, they have been very productive this year, but these numbers also reflect the last few years. 

But there is one more thing I feel compelled to point out.  Did you notice Horton said, "Kind of what we want to do."  Really?  The Cards want to build and run an offensive line like the Niners?  Funny I've never seen anything remotely close to what the Niners did.  At least not here in Arizona.  In fact, the Cards have been the exact opposite, throwing a whole lot more than they run.  So if this is what they 'want' to do, we sure are inept at doing it.  Funny how the Niners formula for success on the Oline looks NOTHING like the Cards formula.

That is:
#1)  "Reach" for Levi Brown at #5 when we could've have traded down and gotten him later.  Not to mention pick up Joe Staley.
#2)  Pick up an 'okay' guard out of Green Bay and overpay him.  And Colledge was on a line that never really ran the ball well.
#3)  Pick up a backup Guard/Tackle in Snyer from S.F and REALLY overpay him. 
#4)  Rely heavily on a backup in Jeremy Bridges.
#5)  Add depth by picking up Sendlein as an UDFA and signing Ohrnberger
#6)  Finally 'address' the line by drafting Massie (4th), Kelemete(5th), and Potter (7th) in 2012.

The Cards running game?

# 31 in Yards per Attempt (3.6)
# 27 in Yards per Game (89.3)
#17 in Attempts

It's ridiculous to say the Cards want to do it like the Niners when the Niners actually INVEST in the line.  And I call three 1st round picks and one PB FA an INVESTMENT.  The Cards are completely incompetent at investing.  They've taken No Offensive linemen in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rds since 2007 (Levi).  And they've signed and overpaid guy after guy, most recently Adam Snyder.  I'm sorry Horton, but the evidence weighs heavily against your statement.  However it is apparent that Whiz's propensity to "spin facts" is started to convert you to the Dark Side.  Don't do it Ray.  Resist the temptation of the Dark Side.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

An early look at the 2013 draft.

There isn't any point putting it off.  The inevitable is looming.  Just like every year since I was a kid we need to start talking about who the Cards are going to draft 7 weeks into the season.  I'm excited it took this long.  It means we've had one of our better seasons.  Unfortunately, it means that our season appears to be over. 

All right, I'm exaggerating quite a bit.  We're 4-3 and can lead the division with a win next week against the Niners.  But I don't see this ending well.  I mean like a 2-7 run kind of bad.  This offensive line is really really bad.  Its easily the worst in the NFL.  It might be the worst in the last 10 years of any NFL team. 

So let's look at the draft shall we?

With the first round pick the Cards better pray that Luke Joeckel falls to them.  He's a left tackle out of Texas A&M and looks to be the real deal.  Even if he's just average he's a major upgrade at the position.  If he's not there then hopefully Taylor Lewan is.  He might be just as good.  They are both juniors who haven't declared, but they most likely are coming out early. 

In the second round, they're gonna have to get even luckier.  They better pray even harder that one of the two 'Bama guards falls to them.  Guards tend to slip in drafts like DeCastro last year, so it may play into their favor.  Chance Warmack is a monster.  He's the guy you want at guard because he will bite ears off... through helmets.  He's got all the tools to be great, but since he's a guard no one cares.  The Cards better.  Because right now neither Colledge nor Snyder are looking very good.  If Chance is gone then they better hope to get Barrett Jones.  This guy is versatile.  He's started at just about every position on the line and done very well.  While I like Chance a tad better, I won't cry if Barrett falls to them. 

And in the third, they will draft a center.  WILL.  Sendlein isn't good enough.  They need new blood there.  They can go after a guy like Khaled Holmes out of USC.  Strong and steady and not easily moved.  Sounds good to me. 

If we're dreaming, and we are, the line will look like this:

  LT              LG                C            RG          RT
Joeckel     Warmack     Holmes     Brown     Massie

Massie hopefully will show enough improvement to keep his job at right tackle.  I'm not sure he'd make a good right guard.  But Massie/Brown on the right seems to make sense. 

With the next 4 picks I'd pick the best available Tackles and Guards.  I'm not kidding.  A whole draft dedicated the Oline.  I wouldn't bother scouting other positions (totally lying).  This pathetic excuse of an offensive line needs a massive overhaul.  And I'm hoping they will FINALLY see it too.

Grimm's Fault

It sure seems like Grimm is getting a ton of heat from the fans over the offensive line.  I guess that makes sense since the line is the worst in the NFL.  But is it all his fault?  If it isn't, how much belongs to him?  Let's take a look at him.

Grimm is a Hog.  He played in an era where linemen were built for mauling not finesse.  I think his coaching style reflects that.  Oh sure, he'll coach guys to block in complex patterns, but I think in his heart of hearts he wants BIG linemen who can clear a path.  He wants a run heavy offense that likes to pound the ball.  Three yards and a cloud of dust kinda stuff. 

Whiz on the other hand was a tight end.  You know, the guy that is supposed to block but hates it because he'd rather be catching the ball downfield.  I think his offensive philosophy reflects that too.  He says he wants to run, but in his heart he wants to pass.

Here in lies the problem.  Grimm wants to run.  Whiz wants to pass.  This is where I see the problem starting. 

In 2007, Whiz and Grimm took what would end up being their only offensive linemen in the first three rounds four 6 consecutive drafts.  They took him over Adrian Peterson, which I surmise is an unfair way of looking at the guy.   Levi Brown came out of Penn State as a mauler.  He's big and strong.  He is a star run blocker.  However, he is a terrible pass blocker in the NFL.  Levi epitomizes the problem of what I call grimmwhiz.  That is, a player who is designed to have one strength, but is told to do the complete opposite of that very strength.

Levi is exactly what Grimm is looking for.  He's the prototype for a right tackle.  Grimm probably talked Whiz into getting him under the false assumption that Whiz would actually commit to the run.  It makes sense if they ran the ball 55% of the time.  Levi Brown is the perfect right tackle in a run oriented system.  And even when he played there with Kurt Warner in that pass heavy system he performed rather well.  No one was labelling him a complete bust yet. 

Then Warner left.  Levi gets moved to left tackle.   That created three major problems for Levi. 1) He was now guarding the best pass rusher.  2)  Derek Anderson had a much slower delivery than Kurt so Levi had to guard his man for much longer.  3) Whiz called for pass plays 64% of the time.  So now he had to guard the best player for much longer for most of the game.  A true recipe for disaster.  Let's just say he didn't do so well.

I'm not sure what Grimm said during all this.  I'm not even sure what he's been saying for 3 years.  And that's the rub.  What has been Grimm's position during all this?  I can only see three plausible positions.  1) He has been crying out that they are using Brown in the wrong position and needed to draft a better left tackle or 2) He's the mastermind behind it and continues to preach to Whiz that you can give him whoever and he'll make them work. 3) Some kind of combination of the two.

I'd be shocked if he's the one saying Brown is fit to play left tackle.  I mean Brown is really really bad at pass protection.  But let's just say Grimm is.  Is Brown at left tackle Grimm's fault?  Well, my follow up question is what is Whiz doing about it?  Why isn't he in Grimm's face?  Is he?  Does Whiz cower to Grimm?  Somehow I don't think so.  But if he is, then I say Whiz is a terrible head coach.  He should be the Man.  The buck stops with him.  So why hasn't he overruled Grimm?  He should have gone in and said, "look, I know you like Levi and all, but he ain't cutting it at left tackle.  We need to go a different direction."  The problem is he didn't.  So that leads us to believe, in this scenario, that Whiz agrees with Grimm on Levi.  They both believe he's a good left tackle.  In which case, both of them should be fired for sheer stupidity.

He also could have been telling Whiz that Brown is not a good left tackle.  In which case Whiz is ignoring his lead assistant coach.  That isn't much good either.  It shows that he has hired someone that he has little regard for his opinion on the very thing that he's hired to do. 

The truth probably lies in the middle.  That is that Whiz listened to Grimm about Levi, but constructed an offense that plays against his strengths.  Whiz blows a lot of smoke that they are going to run the ball, only to totally betray that statement by running 5 times in the first half against Washington in 2011.  I think Grimm trusts Whiz to help him out and Whiz trusts Grimm to "coach up" the line.  However, neither have addressed the true problem: Whiz's offense. 

And this is the true heart of Grimm's problem.  This is where the real blame lies.  If Whiz was honest with himself he'd say that his offense is pass oriented.  They throw more than 60% of the time.  I don't know why he wouldn't.  What I've never understood is why he continues to draft guys that don't match his offense.  Levi is a perfect example.  Why draft/resign a guy into a pass heavy offense that belongs in a run heavy offense?  The answer: Whiz doesn't know what he wants.  He has no clear vision as to what his offense should be.  He has a bunch of guys that are built for the run, but then proceeds to follow the mantra that "it's a passing league".  The result is a bunch of guys like Levi, Wells, and Skelton who don't fit into the system.

So how is this Grimm's fault?  It isn't.

If Grimm is saying that he doesn't need top picks for the line, then Whiz should either tell him he's stupid or fire him.  Result: Whiz's fault. 

If Grimm is asking for line help and Whiz is ignoring him then Whiz is stupid.  Result: Whiz's fault. 

This all rests on Whiz's shoulders.  And for all the people crying for Grimm to be fired, I actually agree.  But NOT because he isn't doing his job.  Rather Whiz is making his job impossible.  Grimm is a run oriented guy with run oriented players in a pass oriented offensive system.  And, I might add, who never gets prime picks for the line.  Grimm needs to go for his own good.  He needs to go to a system where the run game thrives.  Where maulers are actually used to maul.  He needs to get away from Whiz who has languished him to years of confusion.  Because right now Grimm is... well, grimmwhizzed.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The 2012 NFL Draft Grades

 #13 (pick overall)  Michael Floyd, WR:  Why would the Cards think that what they need most is another WR?  I haven't heard a single legitimate reason why Floyd makes this offense better.  Levi Brown is still the LT and still stinks in pass protection.  Whiz still runs a pass heavy offense.  How is Floyd going to keep Kolb from getting killed?  He isn't.  This is the typical foolish philosophy that says "offensive linemen don't score TDs, the skill players do."  Sadly, this has been the age old adage of these Cards: Emmitt Smith will fix this team, FAIL.  Edgerin James will fix this team, FAIL.  All we need is a QB like Kolb, FAIL.  All the while Pittsburgh reloads the offensive line and builds perennial winners.  None if this commentary reflects on Floyd though.  It’s just a bad philosophy that has permeated through the years in Arizona.  They blew it by not addressing the line and passed on a good bet for the Hall of Fame in David DeCastro at Guard.  Pittsburgh didn’t.  They snatched him up the second they saw him on the board. 

Floyd is Larry Light in that he’s big, has decent hands, blocks well, meets the ball at the point, gets good push off of the CBs, and plays aggressive.  He doesn’t quite compliment Fitz as much as he is the exact same player.  I’m very concerned with his maturity.  I hadn’t ever heard him speak until he was drafted.  I was terrified to listen to a 9 year old boy speaking inside a man’s body.  Now I know why all the other teams shied away from him after he was interviewed.  He has a checkered history and all the hope is on Larry to mentor him into a professional.  Just like Cris Carter did for Randy Moss right?  I don’t think this kid is near as bad as Randy, but I also don’t think he’s near as talented. 

When grading this pick you also have to consider who was available at #13 when they selected:  David DeCastro, Melvin Ingram, Riley Reiff, Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, and Kendell Wright.  Considering LT, OLB, SILB, and WR2 were positions of need they were in a great position to trade down and grab some future picks and still get a quality player.  Although I heard they might have been low balled, I’m not sure what compensation they were offered, but it sure looks like they myopically selected Floyd.  Most people I talked to would place Floyd as the 5th best selection for the Cards there compared to who was available.  I had Floyd below all the others I listed above.  And WR2 was 3rd on the need chart.  They ignored a stud in DeCastro, and a major steal in Ingram.  Ingram would have had a major impact this year on defense as OLB.  I’m not saying they blew the pick.  I am saying that they came up short on all the value that the pick has to offer.  And, as you know, I’m furious that they didn’t get DeCastro.

Grade: C

#80 Jemelle Fleming, CB:  I watched this pick with my mom.  She kept pointing out before we took him that “the guy with funny hair says the Cards need one of those T guys.  And it says that Bobby Massie kid plays a T and should have gone 60 picks ago.  Why don’t the Cards take him?”  My mom gets it.  How do the Cards not get it?  Of course they got him in the 4th, which I’m ecstatic about, but they got LUCKY.  I mean starting RT falling out of the sky lucky.  There was very little reason for Massie’s fall.  But we’ll get to him next.

I love this Fleming kid.  Absolutely Love.  To be honest I hadn’t seen any film on Fleming till he was picked.  The guy is a PLAYMAKER.  And exudes confidence.  He’s a great BPA at this point, and should push Toler for the starting bid.  He basically will make us forget about losing… (uh, I honestly just forgot his name right now, Ha!) err… that corner who played opposite PP21 and backed up safety.  This kid will also, finally, make the Cards get rid of Michael Adams.  He’s even a better special teamer than Adams.

Seriously though, how many corners do you need?  Fleming and Bethel makes 9. 9! I don’t remember Ferris being absent 9 times… sorry… love me some John Hughes.  Man is that a crowded depth chart.  I think Toler and Fleming will be neck and neck when camp closes, (hopefully Toler comes back in full form).  So he’ll contribute this year, but to grab a CB4 over, I don’t know, say… a RT1.  What the heck?  I mean I totally believe in BPA, but this is extremist BPA.  This is orthodox BPA.  This is myopic.  Massie made perfect sense here and, I’m glad they got lucky, but I’m wondering if they might have been better off grabbing Massie and Zebrie Sanders over Massie and Fleming.  They are weak on the offensive line.  Strong at CB.  They continue to flat out ignore Need.  I don’t even think they say the word need in the War Room.

Grade: B (Because they got lucky)

#112 Bobby Massie, T: I called my mom right after the pick and asked if she could guess who the Cards got with #112.  That’s right she nailed it.  We bonded.  Mel Kiper had Massie as his #21 overall pick.  That’s a 91 spot drop out of the 1st round.  What a fall.  Who cares?  We landed him.

Let’s start off by saying this kid is a project.  But not so much of one that he couldn’t start at RT after camp concludes.  He’s big, has athletic movement, long arms, and is a good pass protector.  So right out of the gates you might ask why would he fall to the 100’s?  I don’t know.  No one’s saying much.  I think they just saw him as young (junior) and a bit immature.  They question his work ethic, which is a concern.  But not much of one.  Word is that he left early because his family is in financial trouble.  Had he stayed many think he would have been an elite Tackle in next year’s draft.  The Cards need to take this kid under their wing and protect him.  Ironically, just like Michael Oher’s momma did.  (Go Ole Miss)

As for negatives on the field, he needs to work on his footwork (who doesn’t) and his lack of strength is a big concern.  I believe Grimm will iron that stuff out.  After starting at RT this year, I fully expect him to supplant Levi at LT following camp in 2013.  This could be the starting tackle we’ve been waiting for since Mike Gandy.  If he is, there is no doubt he’s the steal of the draft.  FINALLY, the Cards take BPA and Need at the same time.  (I’m scared to even ask if Whiz thought T was a need before this selection.) 

Grade: A+

#151 Senio Kelemete, G: Finally they pick a guard.  This is a quality guy.  Two time captain. Can play T or G, although he’s a no-brainer for G.  A good team player.  Maybe he pushes Snyder out of RG and into his rightful position as backup.  Maybe not.  But he is a good addition to the team. Not a position of need though.

While researching how good teams found their lineman, I noticed teams like the Saints and Packers thrive on finding their guys in the 4th and 5th rounds.  Good teams don't rely on FA to fill spots on the line.  (unlike the Cards).  All the good teams found theirs via the draft.  (With the exception of the Giants.  However, it’s becoming more and more apparent that they are a product of Eli Manning and not a product of their line)

Grade: C

#177 Justin Bethel, CB/S:  ATHLETE.  This guy jumped onto some boxes 60 inches off the ground.  That’s… uh wow!  He has a 40 inch STANDING vertical.  So it’s fair to say this guy has hops.  He’s actually quick too.  Justin appears to be a project to back up Rhodes at FS.  He looks like a great pick if he develops.  But he doesn’t need to develop as a special teamer.  He's already a stud.  He blocked 9 kicks on ST. 9!  Add him to Calais and they might block a kick per game.  That’s a guy who impacts the team immediately.

Grade: B

#185 Ryan Lindley, QB:  Another steal.  Numerous national pundits said this kid is a steal in the later rounds.  It easy to see why.  He has an NFL body, an NFL arm, but John Skelton’s accuracy.  Sure he’s a project.  They’re all projects in the high 100’s.  He’s a great one though.  I think this kid will start one day and do well.  Interesting note: he was DeMarco Sampson’s QB in college. 

Grade: A

#221 Nate Potter, T:  All he did was start at LT for a freaking awesome Boise State team.  This kid is solid.  He has a great work ethic and has some natural ability.  He’s stiff, but he can play.  A good pass protector.  Another great 7th round find by the Cards. 

Grade: B

Overall Draft Grade: B

My speech to my staff if I bought the team in March

I’m excited about being the new owner of the Cards.  First of all, I think Graves is doing an amazing job as GM, however we’ve shown little progress in getting through to coach Whiz as to how dire the situation is on offense, so I’ve encouraged Rod to join me in an offensive philosophical overhaul.  He’s on board.   Whiz is also doing a fine job at head coach, but seems to be distracted from doing his job by getting too close to the offense.  I’ve made it clear to Whiz that he needs to remain focused on being a phenomenal head coach.  He’s on board.

Since we are severely limited to what offensive players we currently have we are going to modify our game plan.  A great passing offense needs a great QB.  Kevin Kolb is a good QB.  So we need to adjust the offense accordingly.  Instead of passing the ball 65% of the time, like we have Manning or Brees at QB,  we are going to bring that down to a more respectable 55%.  This will give him a good friend in the running game, and as a bonus he’s less likely to take hits and will reduce chances of a further concussion.  This will also slow the game down for him a bit and allow him to take in the offense at a more sensible pace. 

This also coincides with the strengths of Levi Brown who is the key to our Oline. He is dominant run blocker, but a poor pass protector.  Again, running the ball fits to his strengths.  The rest of the line will be built to compliment him and the run game.  We will draft his eventually replacement at LT this year and move him to his natural position at RT. 

Beanie Wells is a power runner and so we need to give him a steady diet of carries.  Probably close to 20 carries per game. He’s injury prone so the backup RB, Ryan Williams, will take some of the load off at about 10 carries.  Ryan will be a good change of pace back.  Again, a more dedicated running game compliments the talent we have. 

Fitz will still see his Hall of Fame share of targets.  And while play action will be in full effect, he will be a major focus of our offense.  Also, Doucet, Roberts, and Housler will see a good dose of targets complimentary to their skill level.  We know that due to the lack of time that Kolb was getting in the pocket that our 2nd and 3rd options were getting ignored.  We are going to give more time to Kolb by addressing the line and cutting down the # of pass plays.  The other WRs will be more involved with the game and opposing safeties won’t be allowed to double Fitz as much.  This is a quality vs. quantity argument.  It shouldn’t be “more passes make us a better passing team” as much as “efficient passes that play to our entire offense strengths will make us an efficient passing team.”

Since our line was ranked 31st in sacks given up and 27th in QB hits given up, I’ve strongly reinforced with Whiz that the line must be addressed this off season.  Since we don’t want to overspend in free agency and don’t feel that there is much out there that will give us the upgrade we need, we’ll be addressing the line through the draft.  This, of course, is what all the other great teams do (N.O., Pittsburgh, N.E., G.B.), but until this year the Cards have peculiarly not committed to it.  That changes now.

Our draft philosophy will blend a good balance of BPA and Need.  Unfortunately, we have only drafted BPAs in the past and missed out on some very good players that would have filled some holes we’ve had. (Akeem Ayers at SILB2 over Ryan Williams at RB4 or Justin Houston at LE2 over Housler at TE3 for example)  That also ends now.

All indications are that David DeCastro will be there at #13.  But since so many sought after players will be there, we’ve traded the pick to Tennessee for their #20 pick.  They want Michael Floyd and he wouldn’t fix the problems that we have now.  If DeCastro is not there than we will have plenty of good players available to take that would still fill need (Dont’a Hightower, Kendell Wright, Riley Reiff)  A little birdy told me we’ll get DeCastro anyway.  We’ve also had the fortune of seeing all the other teams draft boards and they don’t have Bobby Massie, the OT out of Ole Miss, pegged until the 4th.  That’s great for us, we can steal him in the 3rd and he’ll start for us at the RT spot.  He’s so good that he’ll replace Levi Brown at LT in 2013.  He’s a better pass protector than run blocker so we hope to have a major upgrade at QB by then so that we can get back to passing.  If not than he’ll be a great RT for us into the future.  This should bolster our line enough that we can proceed on with other needs.  All other players will fall under the BPA/Need philosophy as stated before.

This change in offensive philosophy compliments the players that we have and is modeled after the other great teams in the league.  Now that our defense and special teams are in the upper echelon, it’s time for our offense to catch up so we can go win a Super Bowl.  Enjoy the season.