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Author Topic: It's so hard, to say goodbye, to Dook & Nate  (Read 1945 times)
Preacherman0
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« on: Apr 28, 2008 at 09:26 »

I have to believe that, considering our draft picks and FA pickups, we're seriously on the edge of showing the door to several guys.  

1.  Nate Washington:  In spite of his inconsistency, I don't think he's a bad player.  Just not what we really need at #3.  Sweed provides a lot of the size, speed, and experience (4-year starter at Texas) that we want there.  If he can be consistent in training camp, why keep Nate?

2.  Davenport:  He had his moments, but the way he blocked for Ben in the Jax playoff game made me want to throw up.  He wasn't a good short-yardage guy, he was average out of the backfield on pass routes, and he wasn't good in pass protection.  What's the argument for keeping him?  We got FWP and a hard-working, fresh, talented guy in Mendenhall.

3.  Mahan:  We have Stapleton, signed a FA center, drafted on OT (and I heard it mentioned that he MIGHT be a good guard?).  Again, no reason to think he is any better than what we have, or that he can make any dramatic improvements.

4.  Willie Reid:  What has he done to justify a roster spot over anyone we've drafted or signed?  He'd better have a helluva camp and hope someone else doesn't.

5.  Timmons:  Yes, I said it.  I believe that drafting two more linebackers could be an indication that Timmons is now viewed as an official bust.  I believe he'll be given every opportunity (do we have another choice?) but any sign that he can't cut it, and we will cut him.
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« Reply #1 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 10:37 »

Timmons isn't going anywhere, so scratch that.

Nate won't likely get extended now, with Sweed here.  I think we have him play out his tender to fill that all-important Ced spot, #4.  If you recall, Ced actually got pressed into play due to injuries last year.  Here's the camp battle:  Washington should win the 4, Reid and Baker should battle for 5.  But if Baker is that improved, and Reid can even be a 5, why not trade Washington to a team like Dallas?  See what you can get.

Davenport's the odd man.  We have Moore as 3rd down and PR, and GR might stick again as a #4 grinder.  Cap hit kills Dookie here, IMO.  Again, get on the horn and see if anyone needs a decent COP/#3, get what you can.

Mahan should get a chance to compete at guard, but IMO cutting him sends a message and saves cap.  Of the presumptive guards -- Simmons, Kemo, Mahan, and Colon (if they switch him) -- Mahan would appear to be sharkbait.  The key here is, do they switch Colon?  Or do they keep him at RT and play Starks LT?  And what about Marvel?  Too many OT starters for that too play out well, but then again, who knows.  
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 11:15 »

I was clamoring for themto move Dookie yesterday to add a Rd 4 or 5 pick, not sure if it was something they pursued or not, but he's definitely gone one way or another before training camp.

Nate can stay on, he's only got the one year tender and then he's gone, not sure if I would want to trade him just because depth would be such an issue.

IMO, because Timmons projects as an ILB, his true value can't be determined until Farrior is gone in '09, but they certainly aren't going to cut the #15 overall pick from last year already.
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #3 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 13:33 »

I'm pretty confident Sweed will come in and eclipse Washington early on.  Baker's been making the kinds of strides, if off-season reports be trusted, that could see him cracking the lineup.  Reid has underachieved, badly, and IMO needs to break out now, or yesterday really.  All this adds up to Washington being the crunch man.

We probably will start him as #3, drop him to #4, let him go next year.  But IMO we'd get some return on investment, rather than none, if we traded him to a team like the Bucs, Cowboys, or Seahags, who really missed on taking a receiver in the draft.

That means we'd start a little green in our depth, but:

1. Ward.  Saw him referred to as "flanker-Z," whatever that means.  Could see him getting more and more of the Z routes, as Sweed grows into the SE or flanker.
2. Holmes.  SE who is still growing into his role.  
3. Sweed.  Might adjust OK to being a third wideout with Ward and Holmes in the picture.  Get him reps early and often.
4. Baker.  The Ced Wilson role.  Could be utilized situationally, RZ stuff.
5. Reid (or Trannon, or UDFA).  Not going to see much PT anyway, but seems like some depth bubbling up here.

I guess part of the upside of having a green #3 is that you season him faster, rather than have a possible R1 talent languish as the #4 receiver.  Hell, some folks had him as the #1 WR in the whole draft.  Bumping him ahead of Washington makes the ROI on keeping Washington even less.  Why not get value now?  He's among the better #3 WRs in the league, maybe we can get a R4 in 2009, or a DL player?
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« Reply #4 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 14:00 »

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I have to believe that, considering our draft picks and FA pickups, we're seriously on the edge of showing the door to several guys.
« Last Edit: Apr 28, 2008 at 14:06 by KeystoneKC » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 14:56 »

We shoulda cut Troy after his rookie year also....you my good man are a moron.
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #6 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 15:05 »

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I was looking over the roster at the Steeler site this morning. Before UDFA's, they show (9) wide-outs:

Flanker
H. Ward
N. Washington
W. Reid
J. Bloom
M. Trannon
G. Walker


Split End
S. Holmes
L. Sweed
D. Baker

I figure that (6) will make the roster, & another slides to the Practice Squad. Figuring Ward, Holmes, & Sweed as locks (I doubt they'd cut a #2 draft pick), I don't see three others that I'd like more than Nate or Willie. How would you rate 'em Preach?

In all honesty, this is how I would list our wideouts on the UN-official depth chart:

Flanker
Ward
J. Bloom
M. Trannon
G. Walker

Split End
S. Holmes
L. Sweed

Slot
Holmes
Heath Miller
Dixon

Fourth
N. Washington
D. Baker
W. Reid

Now, the exciting thing to me about this is that not all of these guys are officially WRs.  I believe that Dixon will become Slash II, and Miller will be flexed out much more, a la the Jags playoff game where he really made a dent.  With that in mind, we might be able to save a roster spot on WR.

I see us keeping in priority order:

Ward
Holmes
Sweed
Washington
Baker
Bloom

I list Bloom here, but really believe that his only chance to make the cut is if his return/STs skills prove valuable to us.  If he proves that he can catch, we may show Washington and/or Baker the door.

As for RB:

Parker
Mendenhall
Moore
Russell (I hope)

FB:
Davis (most likely)

I'm not a big fan of Davis, but Kreider (who is about my favorite player) is probably too old and too big of a cap hit for what he offers.  My hope is that perhaps Schmitt or Felton will be released and we can pick them up to challenge Davis.  If that is the case, Russell will be the odd man out.

 
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« Reply #7 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 15:46 »

Great post, Preach.  Really solid.  I don't agree with all, but excellent analysis.

I don't think I can set a receiver as flanker-only, slot-only, or split end-only.  There's some degree of flexibility in the starters' roles, and I expect the backups to be able to sub all spots as needed.  That said, Matt Trannon isn't going to be any great slot receiver, so there are certain skill set matchups.  

Ward can play flanker, but can also play slot.  Not a burner, so split end isn't his spot.  So let's say he's the starting flanker with Z flexibility.

Holmes is a guy who can play all three positions.  I think he could really excel playing primarily out of the slot.  Part of Ben's missing the big receiver may be that while Holmes has the speed, he gets a little small downfield: covering DBs close the window, which may have more to do with Ben than Holmes.  If you can just put it up there, the window's bigger.  Still, Holmes has the versatility and toughness to line up anywhere.  In a Welker kind of role, he could  be killer.

Washington looks like a flanker or split end.  Not sneaky enough to play slot, but has good speed.  

Sweed also looks like he could play flanker or split end.  Apparently a pretty smart kid, but physically thicker than Washington.  Is going to need to learn some ball skills technique and route running refinement, he's going to have some great mentors.  

I can see the mid-season 3-wide set as Ward at flanker, Holmes in the slot, and Sweed at split end, but with variations possible.  Miller makes four, and Washington is your Cedrick Wilson.

Others:
  • Dallas Baker.  I think Baker can fill in for Washington if we were ever to pursue a trade for Washington.  Would be a short-time fill-in until Sweed could take over, and frankly Sweed might be ready day 1 to be the #3.  
  • Willie Reid.  Do or die.  If he plays to potential, a guy who could be a nice little sparkplug slot guy.
  • Jeremy Bloom.  Will be locked in a battle with Reid and FA Dorien Bryant, as all three are smallish return men with slot skills.  
  • Dorien Bryant.  See above.  If I were handicapping, I'd rate the sparkplug guys as 1. Reid, 2. Bryant, 3. Bloom.  IMO, only one makes the cut.
  • Matt Trannon.  Could be a wild card.  I don't think he makes the cut, but he could make things interesting.
  • Walker.  Camp body.
I agree that Miller can operate out of the slot, and should be used that way more often.  At the very least, he needs to get more looks.  I don't know if I have him as a primary slot receiver, though.

Dixon might make a nice Randle-El type, but IMO he was worked out to compete at QB.  That's not to say they wouldn't use him for some trickeration from time to time.

Let's say we did trade Nate.  Here's a depth/alternates chart.

Flanker

Ward
Holmes
Sweed
Baker

Split End

Sweed
Holmes

Slot

Holmes
Reid/Bryant/Bloom

That's 5 WRs.  We could add Trannon or a second sparkplug for 6.  Working Dixon or Miller into some WR play as well.
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« Reply #8 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 20:04 »

Also, I don't buy the talk of Dixon being Slash 2.0.  What possible indication do we have that he can run a route, take a hit to the chops, or seal the corner?  Sure, pre-injury, he had great straightahead numbers.  So did Troy Edwards.  So did Skeets Nehemiah.  So do a thousand guys.  From what I saw of Dixon last year, dude's a damn good quarterback.  I think we drafted him with a view to those abilities; obviously not to replace Ben (who I think is going to be the best in the league in no more than four years), but to trade for picks, preferably high ones.  Think Matt Schaub, minus the rape stand.

Will we run a gimmick or two with him?  Sure.  But he's not the credible receiver Randle El was out of college, and therefore the deception will be more evident to the defense.  Also, and someone correct me if I'm wrong here (like that's nothing that doesn't need to be said on this board), I'm not recalling many trick plays from Tomlin, especially as compared to Cowher.  Or Cowhenhunt, maybe.

Alternately, come round four, Colbert realized he better have a guy can step in after his starting QB's been sacked eight times in the first half.  
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« Reply #9 on: Apr 28, 2008 at 21:32 »

I know many despise Nate, but the odds of a rookie WR coming in and displacing anyone other than other rookies is usually pretty unlikely.  Sweed would have to be the smartest cat ever, start studying now, and he would suddenly have to start running routes like a 30 year old Jerry Rice.

This is not to say that he won't make the roster and by season's end have a significant role, but there is about a 1% chance that is happening in training camp.
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #10 on: Apr 29, 2008 at 11:33 »

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We shoulda cut Troy after his rookie year also....you my good man are a moron.

I think you're a little closer to the moron category, since you are having trouble with reading skills.  I didn't say that we SHOULD cut Timmons.  I stated a belief (not a fact, just a belief) that our drafting of other LBs may indicate that he is on a short leash.  Was it moronic for all of us to be clamoring for the release of Zo Jackson after one year, where he rarely if ever saw the field?  Not to mention that several others intelligently put me in my place about that...but I still wonder how much confidence they are feeling right now in Timmons.  

The comparison between Timmons and Troy is not even applicable.  Troy wasn't great as a rookie, but he was getting significant playing time.  Timmons was not.  I'm just throwing out the idea that it could be another Zo situation, and I don't think the organization will mess around with him for a long time before releasing him.  I also stated that he would be given every opportunity to make it.

Now, on to hopefully less "moronic" topics...

Quote
Also, I don't buy the talk of Dixon being Slash 2.0. What possible indication do we have that he can run a route, take a hit to the chops, or seal the corner?

Will we run a gimmick or two with him? Sure. But he's not the credible receiver Randle El was out of college, and therefore the deception will be more evident to the defense.

I agree that he will not be ARE.  But Slash didn't do a ton of work at WR, especially early on.  He played some in the slot, ran some gadgets, worked certain routes designed for him, etc.  He did all this while still being listed as the #3 QB.  I don't think we have any less reason to believe that Dixon can do the exact same thing.  I'm not advocating turning him into a WR, I'm saying that he's a talented athlete that can be used as a special weapon.

Quote
I know many despise Nate, but the odds of a rookie WR coming in and displacing anyone other than other rookies is usually pretty unlikely. Sweed would have to be the smartest cat ever, start studying now, and he would suddenly have to start running routes like a 30 year old Jerry Rice.

This is not to say that he won't make the roster and by season's end have a significant role, but there is about a 1% chance that is happening in training camp.

I don't despise Nate at all personally.  But he's had two full years to develop the consistency that everyone hoped he would have.  I don't know that he's going to develop that, ever.  I'm skeptical about it anyway.

As for Sweed, he has a better chance than most to beat the WR learning curve.  He's played a ton of football, much more than a lot of rookies, and he's done it at the highest level.  Plus, he's not coming in to become a #1 or #2 right away.  We're talking about him winning a job as the 3rd option, and to me that's a whole different story.  Because of these factors, I think he has as much of a shot as any WR on our roster not named Holmes or Ward.
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #11 on: Apr 29, 2008 at 11:37 »

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Holmes is a guy who can play all three positions. I think he could really excel playing primarily out of the slot. Part of Ben's missing the big receiver may be that while Holmes has the speed, he gets a little small downfield: covering DBs close the window, which may have more to do with Ben than Holmes. If you can just put it up there, the window's bigger. Still, Holmes has the versatility and toughness to line up anywhere. In a Welker kind of role, he could be killer.

Okay, Finny, just for fun...

What about Hines Ward moving to the slot at this late date in his career?

He doesn't have Holmes' speed, and you hate to lose him as a blocker on the outside.  But he's a very smart, saavy, sneaky receiver who is great at slipping under coverage and making the tough catches in high-contact areas.  Is it possible that he could even extend his career in this role?

Just a spitball for you.  I agree with you about Holmes, but Holmes still has the downfield speed that Hines does not, so would my idea play more to their strengths?
 
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« Reply #12 on: Apr 29, 2008 at 11:56 »

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Okay, Finny, just for fun...

What about Hines Ward moving to the slot at this late date in his career?

He doesn't have Holmes' speed, and you hate to lose him as a blocker on the outside.  But he's a very smart, saavy, sneaky receiver who is great at slipping under coverage and making the tough catches in high-contact areas.  Is it possible that he could even extend his career in this role?
 
That's pretty much how I envisioned it if Pittsburgh were to snag a "big, downfield threat" type receiver.

Sweed (SE) ~ Holmes (FL) ~ Ward (Slot)

Although, the Steelers O seems to rarely fall into the traditional looking set packages anyway.  Factor in Arians and his high powered man love for all that is TE and you never quite know who will line up where and why.

Hopefully, BA is coming up with some new sets/spreads/formation combinations that put the best weapons on the field more often than not so that Ben can maximize them to the best of his abilities.  Because, with the firepower that they've got now, double TE sets should be few and far between.
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« Reply #13 on: Apr 29, 2008 at 12:11 »

Well, I like Holmes out of the slot more personally, but that's because I think Ward on medium-range routes can really rip shit up.  But as mentioned, I do think that there's a lot of flexibility in how we might use our receivers.  Ward already runs some stuff outta the slot, so sure, we could use him more there.  I just like Holmes at slot, Ward flanker, and Sweed split end.

And I agree with Preach on Sweed displacing Washington.  You have guys every year who come in and at least have some rookie impact at WR (Dwayne Bowe had a decent season, Colston a great one, of late).  I think that having Holmes and Ward takes a LOT of heat off a guy competing for #3.  And it sounds to me that Sweed's starting point is about where Nate left off last year:  need to work on a few drops, and refine some routes.  When you see Sweed on the field next to Washington, I don't there's going to be any question who the top dog will be.  In years past, it's also been more difficult for receivers to take the field as rookies because pre-2004, we had no BR, pre-2005 no Miller, and pre-2006 no Holmes.  It'll be easy for a rookie to get lost in the coverage of the primaries.  

Some good stuff from Wex in the Restricted Area on the UDFA Micah Rucker.  Hannibal at BGS also noted that he was eying Rucker in the BGS 7-round mock.  It's not too soon to name Rucker the 2008 recipient of the way too early Zamir Cobb Memorial UDFA Sleeper Award.  (If Rucker makes the 53-man roster, he wins a lovely engraved trophy filled with Scac vomit.)  Anyway, if the FO has any interest in getting value now for Washington, then I could see Ward, Holmes, Sweed, Baker, (one of Reid, Bloom, Bryant), and (one of Trannon and Rucker).  

The sparkplug guy would be a slot backup and KR, and Trannon and Rucker would be the token extra tall guy.
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« Reply #14 on: Apr 29, 2008 at 13:27 »

The Dookster should be cut for sure. Thanks for the memories and the STL game.
I like the sounds of FWP, Mendenhall, Moore, and Russell in the backfield. Lots of youth, mixed with a pro-bowler who should flourish with about 150 less carries a season.

I also see Sweed displacing Nate for the 3rd receiver. Maybe not by Week 1, but certainly by November. If that tranny thug Chrissy Henry can be productive as a rookie 3rd receiver, there is no reason why Sweed can't do it. Nate's numbers last year were in line with most other 3rd receivers last season, especially with TD's. If he sticks around he will be a well above average 4th guy. Throw in Heat, and someone is going to be open. If only the Franchise QB gets a little time back there to throw. The Steeler O could be very explosive, in a way we haven't seen in 30 years, but it also could feature a lot of porous Oline play.
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« Reply #15 on: Apr 29, 2008 at 14:23 »

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If only the Franchise QB gets a little time back there to throw. The Steeler O could be very explosive, in a way we haven't seen in 30 years, but it also could feature a lot of porous Oline play.

And there's the real issue, isn't it?

My bro-in-law called yesterday and said, "Man, we're going to be SICK on offense next year!"  And I said, "Yeah, IF we can block anybody."

Can we put together a line that does enough to allow us to use all of these weapons?  I'm not even sure they have to be great, just decent.

Now, in spite of all of my infinite wisdom, the Steelers have not called to ask my opinion about the oline.  However, here is one guy's worthless opinion on what our lineup could/should be:

LT - Starks, Essex
LG - Simmons, Kemo
     Not that I have any love for Simmons, which surprises you all, I'm sure.  But he's better at pulling and moving than he is head-to-head, so I think he's better suited to replace Faneca.  This could change if we alter our blocking schemes at all.
I personally think that either of these guys could win the starting job.

C - Hartwig, Stapleton
RG - Colon, Legursky (and whoever loses the LG battle)
RT - Smith, Hills

My thinking is that Legursky will play at least as well as Mahan as a G/C combo, thereby relieving us of the need to keep Mahan as a warm body.  

Smith is slowing, Starks played well at left.  Allow Starks to see if he can anchor that position, let the pressure off Smith.  If Smith falters, you have several moves (Starks to right, Colon to right, etc).  

If we keep 10, I think Mahan is still the odd man out.  It's possible that Legursky bombs or ends up on the PS.  But I think Mahan's going to have to show some very impressive stuff to keep a job this fall.

If Ben can get rid of the ball a little faster, and these guys can keep him, FWP and Mendenhall from getting blown up at the snap, we could see some unprecedented offensive numbers next season by the PS.  Which we'll desperately need if any of our DL get hurt.

 
 
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« Reply #16 on: Apr 29, 2008 at 16:12 »

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LG - Simmons, Kemo
     Not that I have any love for Simmons, which surprises you all, I'm sure.  But he's better at pulling and moving than he is head-to-head, so I think he's better suited to replace Faneca.  This could change if we alter our blocking schemes at all.
I personally think that either of these guys could win the starting job.
That thought had come to my mind as well, Preach, but I'm off that now.

The only thing is, the continuity of the line will be even more f'd up than last season.

Maybe it would be better to just keep Simmons at RG, and just stick Kemo in there at LG and let 'em play.
 
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« Reply #17 on: Apr 30, 2008 at 10:56 »

As others have suggested, I think in order to maintain at least some level of continuity, the O-line (barring some unforeseen miracle, like the signing of a post 6/1 cap cut) should look like this:

From left to right:

Smith ~ Colon (or Kemo) ~ Hartwig ~ Simmons (or Kemo) ~ Starks

Basically, keep the edge guys where they've been; Hartwig gets the start at center mostly by default; and the guard spots are kinda open to best two standing, but I think if Simmons keeps a spot, he should stay at RG just to keep some consistency.
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« Reply #18 on: Apr 30, 2008 at 11:10 »

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Quote
If only the Franchise QB gets a little time back there to throw. The Steeler O could be very explosive, in a way we haven't seen in 30 years, but it also could feature a lot of porous Oline play.

And there's the real issue, isn't it?
 
As many of us said last year, I think part and parcel of that is the offensive coordinator needs to do a better job of drawing up plays in the sand that develop faster.  There needs to be much, much more 3 step drop...BAM!...5 step drop...BAM!...quick shots to Miller down the seam...BAM!...improved screen execution, etc., etc. type of stuff.

Enough with the drop back and look to heave it downfield 30 yards as a scripted play junk.

People talk about the Pats a lot, but there's a reason why Brady appeared to have a ton of time.  Teams laid off for fear of getting burned.  Pittsburgh needs to incorporate that same offensive approach; kill 'em slowly with repeated quick strikes.  Use all of these goddamned weapons.  If that means Ben whips it 40+ times in some games, so be it.

You'd be amazed at how good an offensive line can look when the defense spends a good chunk of the game back on its heels.
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« Reply #19 on: Apr 30, 2008 at 11:26 »

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You'd be amazed at how good an offensive line can look when the defense spends a good chunk of the game back on its heels.

And we saw evidence of this on the opening drive and for most of the second half of our game vs. Jax.  Dude, we were a machine hitting Heat and Hines out of the spread.  The rythm and timing were evident, and the Jags had no answers.  Why we STOPPED after the opening drive, and RETURNED to it only after falling behind, is beyond me.

Bruce Arians is out of excuses.  If he can't take the talent that we have, and succeed with even an average line, then there is little hope for things to get better.  We've got all the weapons you could possibly want; now, he has to prove that he knows how to use them.
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« Reply #20 on: Apr 30, 2008 at 11:48 »

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You'd be amazed at how good an offensive line can look when the defense spends a good chunk of the game back on its heels.

And we saw evidence of this on the opening drive and for most of the second half of our game vs. Jax.  Dude, we were a machine hitting Heat and Hines out of the spread.  The rythm and timing were evident, and the Jags had no answers.  Why we STOPPED after the opening drive, and RETURNED to it only after falling behind, is beyond me.

Bruce Arians is out of excuses.  If he can't take the talent that we have, and succeed with even an average line, then there is little hope for things to get better.  We've got all the weapons you could possibly want; now, he has to prove that he knows how to use them.
Uh, yep.

FORK YOU BRYCE HAIREEARMS!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111
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Preacherman0
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« Reply #21 on: Apr 30, 2008 at 13:34 »

Just for the record, you guys may well be right about preserving the continuity of the oline.

However, I still have to ask:  Did we see enough positives from the oline to even worry about preserving any part of it?

At the same time, you get a couple of injuries or someone under-performs, and you're shaking things up anyway.  So maybe start with what we had and go from there.
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« Reply #22 on: Apr 30, 2008 at 15:09 »

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Just for the record, you guys may well be right about preserving the continuity of the oline.

However, I still have to ask:  Did we see enough positives from the oline to even worry about preserving any part of it?

At the same time, you get a couple of injuries or someone under-performs, and you're shaking things up anyway.  So maybe start with what we had and go from there.
I agree.  Plus, Starks played better on the left side after under-performing at RT, perhaps because of attitude or concentration.  So, shifts can happen even mid-season that don't kill continuity the way mass personnel overhaul or coaching changes might.  

I gots no problem shuffling the pieces.  I'd let Max compete for both LT and RT spots, for example, or moving Simmons to LG.  I don't think that constitutes major change.
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« Reply #23 on: Apr 30, 2008 at 19:52 »

It's a pretty fine line between an adjustment and an overhaul.  At this point, perhaps the former is a better idea than the latter.
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