Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2 guys to pass on at 13

I'm not sure why they are ranked so high.  I mean what do people really see in Riley Reiff and Ryan Tannehill that has them currently in the top 10? 

Reiff is a decent enough run blocker.  He's big and agile and should fit into an offense that relies on the run.  But he doesn't look good protecting the passer.  I'm sorry.  He just looks like he hates to pass block.  I would hate to see him slip to #13 and see the Cardinals pick him.  I think I'd rather have Levi Brown than this kid.  Let's just hope he slips to KC and they take him as we scream with delight and grab Jonathan Martin.  There is no doubt Martin fits this offense better than Reiff.  Actually, I like Martin over Reiff in any offense.

Tannehill is a great athlete.  He was a star WR before he switched to QB.  His feet are super quick and he has decent pocket presence.  But no way is he ready for the 1st round discussion.  He's a project.  Yes, he is fast.  But really skinny.  Emphasize skinny.  He looks like a WR playing QB-skinny.  I don't see enough out of him to project him that high.  I might take a chance on him in the late 2nd.  But I'm looking at Foles before I look at Tannehill.  (And I'm not a big Foles fan.  He's plays too nervous.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Melvin Ingram at 13?

The question is, do you believe in Acho and Schofield?  Because if you do, I don't see the reason to draft Ingram with the 13th pick.  He's definitely worthy of the pick, but he's only taken here if you think you can't get something better at a position you have a hole in.  (say OT... both sides).  I actually believe that those two are solid players, but I'm not sold that they will be ProBowl players. 

As for Ingram, he'd be a perfect fit here.  He's big, 6-2, 270.  He's got good feet.  I mean real good feet.  He has an upper echelon athleticism that few have.  He can engage a double team and still have his eyes on a player slipping out of the backfield to make a play.  He can take three guys out of a play with just his instinct.  He's got a good nose for the ball.  And more importantly he can defend the pass well.  With the Cards he can line up anywhere on the line and rush the passer or drop back into coverage.  I see him as an elite LB in the future.  However, I do see a potential problem with his draft status because of his apparent lack of speed in the 40.  I don't think that'll show up on the field, but scouts might knock him back a peg if he doesn't show well at the combine.  I'm not worried about it.  I like him less than V. Miller last year, but I like him a heck of a lot more than Upshaw this year.  He's way more versatile

O.K. so do I grab him if I had the 13 pick?  Here's where I'm at now.  Luck is a clearly #1.  But after that its a little fuzzy to me.  I think Kalil and Reiff fit more to a run offense which doesn't match the Cards (ala Levi Brown).  Richardson is a stud, but are they gonna draft 3 RBs in a row?  I don't touch Griffin with a 12 foot pole.  I'm also not even gonna look at a D lineman.  The Cards shouldn't either.  So I think need-wise it goes:

1. Andrew Luck
2. Justin Blackmon
3. Morris Claiborne
4. Jonathin Martin
5. David DeCastro
6. Melvin Ingram
7. Kendall Wright

You don't have a chance at #1-3, but the latter four might be there.  (And yes, they need a future HOF guard from Stanford.  Leave me alone. )  I like Ingram here if they don't trade down for Wright.  He's a good fit.   (I should also point out that I need to see more film on Dre Kirkpatrick before I lump him in.)  All seven of these guys make this team better and would start some time this season. 

However the Cardinal needs by position look like:

1. Left OT
2. Right OT
3. 2nd WR
4. Left OLB
5. HOF QB (Okay, so maybe this should go #1)
6. Stanford G
7. 2nd CB

That stabilizes J. Martin at the top of the list that might be there at 13.  And if they don't get those OT positions taken care of, it won't matter who's the #2 WR, because they won't be seeing the ball get out of the QBs hands.  K.C. is taking a hard look at Martin, but I'm hoping they pass on account that they are stupid.  I can hope can't I?

All this leaves me to believe that only DeCastro, Ingram, and Wright will be there at 13.  And since you and I both know the Cards won't take a Guard at 13, DeCastro's out.  Wright is a big stretch here as I've gone into detail before about.  So that leaves us with Ingram.  Right now CBS has him slated at the 20th spot and ESPN at the 17th.  If we pretend this stays true to the draft, I'm totally fine with entertaining offers from teams in the low 20s.  I feel like Ingram and Wright might be around and they could use a 2nd round pick.  If those two are gone they can think about drafting the other two OTs (Zebrie Sanders or Mike Adams) or trading down into the early 30s where they are projected at going. 

So here's what we've got:  1) they sit on the pick until they are on the clock 2) they entertain offers 3a)  if one comes up they grab Ingram or Wright later or maybe one of the two OTs or 3b) if no good offers come, they draft Ingram.  And with that pick, I think they will have upgraded the most important position in this 3-4 D.

What the Haley?

Why isn't Todd Haley the Cards OC right now?  Good question.  First of all, its clear that Whiz doesn't want him as the OC, but rather wants him to take a position 2 rungs down from what he was this year: head coach to QB coach.  Essentially he'd be going from coaching 52 players to coaching 3 players.  I mean it makes perfect sense when you think about it.  All Todd has done is revamp a pathetic Cards offense to go to the Superbowl, and then take a really bad KC team and make them into a monster on the run game (and a brief playoff appearance).  And we all know how awesome Whiz has done with his offense in the last 2 years, finishing 31st and 19th respectively.  I mean why would Whiz want to hire someone that might think for himself and take a chance on not being able to force him to do as he wants.  Why would he risk losing that power?  Its painfully clear that Whiz has his hand up Mike Miller' @#$ and is performing one heck of a ventriliquist act.  It would be silly to get a guy in here who knows what he's doing and take more pressure off of Whiz.  I don't have a clue why everyone is so upset that Todd hasn't been hired yet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dealing with the Colts.

I've read a couple of articles out of Indi and hear the makings of a polarizing topic: trade Peyton or trade Luck.  It sounds like they'll have a hard time keeping both happy and it would probably benefit them to trade one.  So the argument comes down to what you want: a) be faithful to the face of the franchise and ride Peyton off into the sunset? or b) look to the future with Luck and become annihilated by the discontent of thousands of loyal fans? 

So what do you do?  Frankly, I don't give a rip.  It's Indi.  They're not my team.  I just want to know if the Cards can stick their noses in and land one of the two options. 

Would I trade for Peyton?  Hell yeah.  Would I sign him for a lot of money?  Hell yeah.  If he's healthy (a strong presumption in this argument).  Would I give Kolb and say a 3rd round pick for him?  Hell yeah. 

What intrigues me more is of course the Luck argument.  I've heard that you would at least need to offer two firsts and two seconds.  People get all bent out of shape over that saying its too much.  Publicly, I would too.  So I could drive down the price.  Privately, I would do it in a heart beat.  And phooey to all the talk about extra picks in the late rounds.  Those I'd throw in if needed.   And I'd go a step further.  I'd give them my next 3 first picks for Luck.  Hell yeah I would.  I love the draft more than the next guy, but this kind of QB only comes around once every 10 years.  So I would gladly sacrifice not being able to watch the next few drafts KNOWING that I have Luck at QB.  Sorry, but I think this argument is a no brainer.  My only discussion with Indi would be how much do you want? 

You mean to tell me that you wouldn't give Dan Williams, Beanie Wells, and DRC for Andrew Luck?  That's three first picks in a row.  Shoot, I'd give Williams and Beanie and the next 2 first rounders for Luck.  That's four firsts.  And I'd throw in Kolb for good measure.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Add one Freak to the mix.

He's a bit of a tweener.  I mean, he's part solid, part freak.  I was shocked when I watched him, but I'm a believer in Kendall Wright out of Baylor.  That tight rope act for 25 yards against K State was impressive.  But what caught my eye was his fire.  When he doesn't catch the ball for whatever reason, he ignites up.  Like every catch is a potential TD that he lost out on.  I like that fire.  Of course, it's always a fine line.  He could be a fiery Steve Smith and make his team better by getting in their face, or he could be a moron like T.O. and tear his team down.  My gut says he's in the mold of Smith.  He's little.  He's fiery.  He catches stuff and makes it look cool.  He would be the ABSOLUTE PERFECT compliment to Fitz.  He would demand the ball, but Fitz's greatness would hold him in check.  It would be a similar match up that Randy Moss had with Chris Carter. 


The replay from 1:00 on is a perfect shot.

Right now, he's projected to go 15 to 30 in the first.  He's only 5-10 (Steve Smith is 5-9) so teams won't want to take an early chance on him, so he might drop into the 20's.  I'd also bet that teams will be more enamored with Floyd, Sanu, and Jefferey's size so that would solidify his descent into the late 20's.  Plus, I think many teams are dumb enough to think RGIII was the reason he was good.  Also, consider that this is a good free agent year for WRs and you have a steal in the making in the 2nd round.   And if he gets drafted that late, this guy will have a chip the size of the Sears Tower on his shoulder and will be looking to make everyone eat crow that passed on him.  It's official.  I'm giddy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Addendum: Freaks

Luke Kuechly (top 20)  Not a freak.  Sorry.  He's too small, too slow.  If you want a guy that is a solid tackler and will 'Rudy' his way through a game than this is your guy.  They say he will put on some more weight which could help.  Has a great nose for the ball, both on the run and through the air.  I wonder how he would project as a strong safety.  He's not half as good as Darryl Washington, and a 5 shades below Paris Lenon.  Plus he projects into a 4-3 better.   I'd pass on him at 13th.

Levi Brown and Calais Campbell

I have been one of Levi's strongest critics over the years.  It started when they drafted him instead of Adrian Peterson because they couldn't get Cleveland to part with the pick that would land Joe Thomas (who just made this years 1st team All Pro at Tackle).  23 picks later the Niners grabbed Joe Staley (who just was announced to the 2nd team All Pro team at Tackle)  He has been moved from RT to LT and constantly ridiculed for his poor pass protection.  And 5 years after he was drafted he's about to be shown the door.  (At least that seems to be the way its going.) 

So I want to be the first to say, "I'm so sorry Levi."  I mean it.  I feel like this guy got the shaft from day one.  The poor guy comes out of an offense that is predicated on the run and falls into a franchise that has failed to understand how to run the football since years before the"ultimatum".   (In his rookie year, Edgerrin James runs behind him and the line for the best running back output in a LONG time, 1222 yards and 7 TDs.)  He never escaped the tag that he was the guy they took over A.P.  And he's thrust into the LT position in an offense that throws the ball more than Indi and N.O.  I truly feel like he landed in the wrong spot.  My advice to him is to have his agent call Oakland, Pittsburgh, or the Jets and get a look.  He needs to go some place that values running the football.  If he does I think he'll turn his career around.  And heap a pile of egg on the Cardinal's faces

So I'm not educated on all the ins and outs of signing players as it relates to the salary cap.  I mean I understand the basics of it, but I couldn't write a dissertation on it.  As it turns out, neither can the Cardinals front office.  They apparently could've signed Calais Campbell this year and placed some of that money under this years salary cap (which was $9 million below the cap).  Instead they failed signing him and now will have to hurt the team next year.  No, they won't let him go via free agency.  He will either sign here or they will franchise tag him.  But why did they wait?  Unless I missed something, they blew it by not signing him this year. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Freaks

There's a rule in drafting talent that goes like this, "If the guy does something athletically that causes you're jaw to drop, again, and again, and again, you draft him."  I like to call them the freaks of nature.  Randy Moss was the first guy I saw that made me respond like this.  Yeah, he was a knucklehead, but sometimes you just have to take a chance on a guy who can catch a 50 yard pass with his armpit and a defender draped all over him.

These are the guys this year that I've seen do that or heard someone trustworthy swear by them.  I know the Cardinals won't even sniff most of these guys picking at 13, but I'm holding out hope that one slips by.

Player (Expected draft #)

Andrew Luck (#1)  Best QB prospect since Peyton Manning.  Makes throws that only elite QBs get away with.  Great arm, great legs, great brain.  He makes me sorta wish the Cards sucked bad this year so they could get him.  Sorta.

Matt Kalil (#3)  I haven't seen enough of him to evaluate yet.  I'm going purely on what everyone is saying.  Cards need a LT so bad that need is going to overwhelm them this year at this position.  I'll get back to ya on Kalil.

Trent Richardson (#4) I absolutely abhor taking a RB in the first 2 rounds.  Reasons?  They're a dime a dozen.  They are 99% of the time a product of the O-line.  And they don't last very long.  Oh, and the Cards were dumb enough to invest in Beanie in the first and Ryan Williams in last years 2nd.  So what would I do with Richardson if I had the 2nd to 4th picks and he was there?  Fall over myself trying to rush to the podium to hand in his name as my draft pick.  He is an absolute freak of nature.  You ALWAYS draft the freaks (Randy Moss, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald...).  He's the best RB prospect since A.P. and you remember how well that went for the Cards after they passed him up.  (For the record, in the last 25 years I would have only drafted two RBs this early: Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson)

Morris Claiborne (#5)  Can you imagine the Cards pairing up the two former Tigers.  Peterson and Claiborne would be dynamic.  Some say Claiborne is better than Peterson.  He reminds me of Cortland Finnegan: he's tough and has a nasty streak.  Even though the Cards took Peterson last year they'd be nuts to pass on this guy.

Justin Blackmon (top ten)  One of the more frustrating stats when evaluating a player is production.  A guy can shell out a 99 and you still aren't sure what he'll do in the NFL.  (Kellen Moore is the poster child for this year and I wouldn't draft him until the 7th round).  Blackmon sort of has that problem.  His production is ridiculous, but he doesn't have that straight away burst that you want to see.  I can see the combine as a detriment to him.  And yet, I haven't seen a more productive WR in football since maybe the idiot Crabtree.  Just like our beloved Q, I think Justin will excel in spite of speed concerns.  He's tough, strong, competitive, and hungry.  He has the heart that you can't measure and, more importantly, the tools needed to be successful in the NFL

Jonathan Martin (top ten)  This is one of the guys I hope slips to the Cards.  While I think he's O.K. as a run blocker I also think he is the best pass blocking LT in the draft.  In fact, he seems to float, like a dancer and frustrates the crap out of the DEs he faces every week.  A guy that big shouldn't be that light on his feet.  And since the Cards don't really want to run and would rather throw all day long, this guy fits perfect into their scheme.

David DeCastro (top 15)  Mark my words: THIS GUY WILL GO INTO THE HALL OF FAME.  Wow, that was bold.  Maybe its because its my first time, you know... falling in love with a Guard.  But he's dreamy to me.  I can't help myself.  Everything I see out of this guy screams DRAFT ME!  I think he would be a knockout pick for the Cards.  I'm hoping that tradition holds out, because Guards don't get drafted top ten usually.  But I'm afraid everyone else sees what I see.  Hopefully, 12 other teams are just as dumb as they usually are and this time (cross fingers) the Cards aren't.

Luke Kuechly and Courtney Upshaw (top 15)  I haven't seen a single highlight of Luke yet, but I've heard enough guys talk about him to put him into the freak category.  As for Courtney, for some odd reason I can't seem to stay awake long enough during Alabama games to properly evaluate him.  Still, he looks to be a guy that will shoot up the charts after the "championship" game.  Let's hope I can stay awake long enough to watch him.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Offensive Coaching Grade

As much credit as I give Whiz for what he did with his defense and special teams, I’m going to take back for what he did to his offense.  They were absolutely abysmal this year.  If it weren’t for late game heroics from Skelton and Fitz, this season would have looked a whole lot worse.  (Which is saying a ton considering how bad they were overall)

Let’s start from the beginning. 

I was worried when I heard Whiz say he was going to hand the reigns over to Mike Miller.  Not because I thought Mike was bad, but because the way that Whiz stressed that he was going to give ‘some’ of the control to Mike.  If you read between the lines, he was essentially saying, “My offense is awesome and you guys don’t know what you’re talking about by saying it’s bad.  But because I’m getting heat from EVERYONE I’m going to ‘give control’ over to Mike on the offensive side of the ball.  But really, I’m just saying that to get you off my back and Mike will just be a Yes Man for me so I can prove to everyone that this offense works no matter who I have.”  Never mind that his precious offense was the worst in football in 2010.  Whiz was telling everyone, with a calm demeanor, that it worked once so it should work again.  Even without Kurt Warner, Todd Haley, or Q.  This, of course, is asinine.  And sadly he still thinks this way.

His next major blunder was to tell the front office that the reason they were so bad in 2010 was because the QBs were so bad.  That’s the biggest bunch of spin I’ve ever heard.  In the preseason, I likened it to asking Josh Childress to be your spot up shooter on the perimeter, and then blasting him for “not executing” when he’s not successful.  Well, you’re the nitwit who put him into a position he’s not gifted to do.  You bear the responsibility when you sign a player who doesn’t fit your system, or don’t design a system to better fit the player.  Either way it’s a sign of awful coaching.  And that’s what 2010 was all about.  Derek Anderson was signed to play the exact offense that Kurt did.  And when he stunk… bad… they blamed him for not executing.  Never mind that he’s a gun slinger who loves to go deep and needs a solid run game to set up play action.  No, no… let’s make him throw all the time, make quick reads which he can’t do, and throw touch passes which he’s awful at.  Whiz failed miserably with D.A.  He followed up by embarrassing himself with Max Hall.  But in his defense, Max did know the offense, but wasn’t given the natural gifts to be successful in the NFL.  He flopped because he isn’t Doug Flutie.  Skelton really didn’t flop so much as he learned on the job.  That brings us to this year.  Whiz spun the media and fans so masterfully to believe that if he just got that guy, well he’d be back in the playoffs.  That brought us Kevin Kolb.

I don’t think Kolb is a bust.  I do think we overpaid for a guy with a concussion history and other injuries.  I said all along that Orton would have been cheaper and Skelton is the future.  The problem with Kolb is that he didn’t know what he was getting into.  (I wonder if D.A. called him and told him what life would be like here after Kurt)  He actually looked good in preseason.  I started to believe.  However, the hair on the back of my head stood up after that Carolina game to start the season.  They just threw, threw, threw. All I saw was 2010 all over again.  Whiz was going to throw Kolb under the bus for not executing.  It didn’t take long for him to lose almost all confidence and get worse and worse every week.  Finally, he just got beat up too much (another problem Whiz created with his offense), and got hurt and finally knocked out.  He had one good half against Dallas, but was gone after that.  Whiz did nothing to take the heat off of him, and just like D.A. he failed with Kolb too.  I’m utterly disgusted with how Whiz has treated his QBs.  From Matt Leinert to Kolb it has been a train wreck.  Kurt Warner overcame it because, well, he’s Kurt Warner.  But no one else has been good for him.  He lucked out with Skelton’s 4th quarter heroics.  It saved the season offensively.  Minus those comebacks this season is no different than 2010. 

2011 Team Rushing stats:

28th attempts
24th yards per game
17th average per carry
16th TDs

2011 Team Passing stats:

15th attempts
17th yards per game
29th completion percentage
13th TDs
31st sacks given up

As you can see, Whiz refuses to run the ball.  And his excuses that they don’t execute are gone.  Beanie ran the best of his career.  His fumbles were down, his yardage was up, and he ran with authority.  The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, but were hardly called on to do that much.  I have to scream into a pillow every Sunday when a commentator says before the game that the key to a Cardinals win is to establish the run AND that should be no problem because Whiz loves to run the ball.  WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?  Whiz NEVER likes to run and they rarely, if ever, establish the run.  He’s failed miserably in the rushing department and still gets credit for being a run first coach.  How stupid are these people?

This has been my gripe since day one of last year: why do the Cards throw the ball with this personnel?  If you want to throw, fine.  Just get guys that are accustomed to a pass offense.  Levi Brown and Brandon Keith are not good pass blockers.  Skelton is not a pass first QB yet.  Beanie Wells is not a Marshall Faulk type to complement the passing game.  In fact, the only starters that compliment a passing game are Colledge and Heap (and that’s a stretch that he’s a starter.  King starts and he’s a run first guy).  9 starters are more designed to run than pass, and yet Whiz continues to throw 60% or more of the time.  And people wonder why this offense doesn’t seem to work. 

And yes, I realize that Fitz is on the team.  That actually frustrates me more when people say we need to pass more because of him and here’s why.  #1 we don’t have the QB to do it.  #2 he’s the best blocking WR in the NFL.  #3 I don’t see Michael Irvin complaining about his 3 Superbowl rings.  This personnel is just more inclined to run (which sets up the pass). 

If you want to throw then Kolb has to be your QB and hopefully he’s not damaged goods.  Trade Skelton while he has value and draft Brandon Wheedon in the 3rd  to back Kolb up. Start Heap or Housler. You’ll have to dump your two OT and Beanie.  Use Hyphen much more (ala Sproles in NO) and hopefully Ryan Williams.  And finally get another star WR.    I don’t think you’ll be very good, but you can have a better passing game than what you have right now. 

OR just dump your stupid offense and create one that compliments the players you have.

Whatever Whiz decides, well, he needs to decide.  He can’t stay in the middle of these two worlds and hope for success.  Either get the right people or make a new offense.  Right now he has a crappy offense with all the wrong people.

As for player development, I thought the line was better.  Colledge fits better in this offense.  Lyle and Rex are fine.  I feel bad for Levi Brown.  Keith wasn’t all that great before he got hurt and Bridges doesn’t fit the system either.  Kolb got worse through the year.  The second half of the Dallas game was a bright spot though.  Skelton has IT.  I wish he’d get the job, but they’re paying Kolb too much. Beanie was great all year in spite of the reoccurring injuries.  Hyphen was so underused in their pathetic screen game that I want to hurl.  It got better later though.  Heap was fine, but still injured.  King was a pleasant surprise and Housler was just O.K.  He fits the offense better though.  Kinda like a Jimmy Graham.  Doucet was healthy for once, but looks like he’s getting worse.  Roberts was about as up and down as you could get, but can we really blame him?  Fitz is the best WR of all time and continues to prove it every week.  He should have had 2000 yards this year if Whiz had pulled his head out.  I saw little if any growth across the lineup, but then who can grow under this offensive system?  I feel the same way about the offense as I do about last year’s defense; given the right coaching these players can be successful. 

One quick thought on Russ Grimm for everyone that thinks he’s doing a bad job with the line.  How successful should he be as a RUN first guy with RUN first players and a PASS first offense?  I’m sorry, but I don’t blame him.

Overall Grade for Coaching the Offense: F

2011 Special Teams Coaching Grade

Jimmy Johnson once said that in order to win football games 2 out of the 3 components to a team must play great: offense, defense, or special teams.  We all saw that this year when the defense finally came to fruition midway through the season. For the last year and a half only the special teams has been playing well.  When both were playing at a high level this team won 7 of 9.   Even as bad as the offense was the solid D and ST overcame it.  Kevin Spencer isn’t getting nearly the credit he deserves for what they’ve done this year.  Heck, or for last year either for that matter.

On kickoffs Hyphen is always a danger to break one.  What hurt this year was his injuries and the new kickoff rules.  Jefferson filled in O.K. for him when he was out.  They ended up 15th on yards per attempt. 

I now know what its like to be a Bears fan: that is, I lose my breath every time the opponent punts the ball because I’m expecting something amazing.  I first noticed it when James and I went to the Rams game.  Every time they punted the ball the crowd got on edge.  PUNTING.  I can only remember three other guys that made me feel like that: Deion, Dante Hall, and Devin Hester.   Patrick Peterson played like a HOF punt returner this year.  Spencer and Whiz got those players to give him a ton of room to have a chance at a return (not that he needed much).  I love how they gave him the Dante Hall rules, which basically states there are no rules.  Do whatever you want.  That’s a lot of control to give up to a rookie, but if they hadn’t he would have never fielded that one against the Rams in OT.  They finished 2nd overall on average yards per punt return. (Behind the Bears)

On kickoff return coverage they were 23rd with 25 yards per attempt.  Not good, however they gave up no TDs and balanced that with a stellar defense. 

On punt return coverage they were 25th  with 12.2 yards per attempt and 1 TD.  Again not good.  Both coverage teams must be addressed in the off season.

Feely was good on FGs this year.  He was 22nd of FG PCT, but he seemed to make em when it mattered.  Plus Feely is a real football player.  He gets in the game and it appears the players respect him.  That goes a long way.  Whiz was wise to get him and will be wise to keep him.

Its not his fault, but Zastudil had to punt far too often this year.  That can throw punter’s numbers all off.  However, he was 2nd in returns allowed and 9th on yards per return.  Those are very bad numbers.  Certainly they reflect a poor offense and bad field position.  His punting AVG was 16th which makes him exactly average.  With this bad a coverage team, there should have been more punting for hang time or punts away from returners.  It didn’t kill em this year, but it could in the future if left unaddressed.

I’ve never cared to even mention defense of FGs as a point of interest.  But how can you avoid it after this year.  They actually won about 3 games just because of this statistic.  Campbell blocked 3 and Peterson 2.  Those are gaudy numbers in this department.  I think they actually struck fear into kickers in the NFL.  That’s unheard of.  The coaches have these players believing that they can block anything.  I love what Spencer and Whiz have created here.

Overall grade for Special Team coaching:  B

2011 Defensive Coaching Grade

I’ll give Whiz credit for one thing this year, he pursued the right coordinator for this defense.  Ray Horton played a huge part in saving Whiz’s job.  From the beginning, Ken wanted Ray and went hard after him.  I thought it was a brilliant move, especially after hearing Troy Polamalu’s comments concerning him.  If there was a mistake on defense this year it was putting too much in too fast.  Everyone seemed lost, (which is to be expected after the lockout). Well… except Porter, but he’s too old and couldn’t get where he needed to.  And they took entirely too long letting Acho and Schoefield onto the field. 

Apart from that Ken and Ray were stellar in their development of players on the line: Campbell and Carter, the LBs: Acho, Schoefield, and Washington, and the DBs: Peterson, and even Rashaad Johnson.  They got Wilson back to a pro bowl level (after I shamefully had written him off), Hagans back to be a reasonable starter, and let Dockett terrorize opponent’s offensive line.  Lenon was solid again and is still the unsung hero on this team.  Marshall picked up the D quick and even Mighty Mouse, aka Mike Adams, played reasonably well.  Bradley seems to not get it and I’m not sure why.  I’m going to be judge him more on next year’s play, because I don’t think many people can crack the Washington/Lenon combo.  Only Jefferson showed signs that he was getting worse, but he wasn’t all that good to start with.  They recovered nicely from losing Dan Williams, Rhodes, and Toler (a huge loss for this team after the debacle of a trade with DRC).  Shoot, they even got good play from Holliday and Eason.  This season was a raging success on defense. 

And let’s not forget that Ray inherited this team from a pathetic coach in Bill Davis.  If you’re wondering how good Horton is and how bad Davis was, you need look no further than how they played last year.  Last year many said Dockett and Wilson were washed up, Campbell was bad, and this team was going nowhere with this apparent lack of talent.  LISTEN UP: The talent DIDN’T change from last year, only the coaching did.  So everyone can eat crow (ahem Ron Wolfley) that said the Cards had a lack of talent on defense last year.  The talent was always there, they just needed someone who knew what he was doing.  Great hire Ken.  Great job Ray. 

Overall grade on defensive coaching: A-