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Old 01-11-2007   #1
MorKnolle
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Default Mork's 2006 Review

OK, I'm back from my 4 month posting hiatus just in time to get in on offseason discussions, but first I'd like to post my thoughts on this past season after studying several of the games over again.

OK, everything is posted. It ended up being much longer than I anticipated and I realize most people won't have the patience to read thru all of it, but for those of you that can put up with all of it I think it's a pretty good overview of this last season and a small look forward into what our team needs.

Last edited by MorKnolle; 01-11-2007 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 01-11-2007   #2
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Default Offensive Overview

Offensive Ranks listed in this format:
rank (actual stat - NFL worst, NFL best)
Record
2005: 2-14
2006: 6-10
Total Offense
2005: 30th (253.3 ypg - SF 224.2, KC 387.0)
2006: 28th (278.9 ypg - Oak 246.2, NO 391.5)
Scoring Offense
2005: T-26th (16.3 ppg - Cle 14.5, Sea 28.3)
2006: 28th (16.7 ppg - Oak 10.5, SD 30.8)
Rushing Offense
2005: 15th (113.5 ypg - Ari 71.1, Atl 159.1)
2006: 21st (105.3 ypg - Det 70.6, Atl 183.7)
Yards Per Carry
2005: 11th (4.2 ypc - Ari 3.2, Atl 4.8)
2006: 20th (3.9 ypc - Ari 3.2, Atl 5.5)
Rushes 20+ Yards
2005: T-27th (5 - Ari 2, Atl/KC/Chi 19)
2006: T-18th (7 - Ari 0, Atl 23)
Rushing TDs
2005: T-25th (9 TDs - Ari 2, Sea 29)
2006: T-16 (12 TDs - Oak 5, SD 32)
Passing Offense
2005: 30th (139.8 ypg - SF 118.6, Ari 277.3)
2006: 27th (173.6 ypg - Atl 148.2, NO 281.4)
Completion Percentage
2005: 14th (60.1% - Mia 52.3%, Ind 67.4%)
2006: 1st (68.7% - Ten 51.3%, Hou)
Yards Per Attempt
2005: 29th (5.93 - Chi 5.27, Pit 8.19)
2006: 25th (6.30 - TB 5.60, Dal 8.04)
Yards Per Completion
2005: 32nd (9.9 - Hou, Pit 13.6)
2006: 32nd (9.2 - Hou, Phi 13.3)
Passes 20+ Yards
2005: 32nd (21 - Hou, Ari 63)
2006: 31st (29 - Oak 28, NO 65)
Passes 40+ Yards
2005: T-31st (2 - Hou/Bal, Pit 14)
2006: T-29th (3 - Ten 1, NO 20)
Passing TDs
2005: T-26th (15 TDs - SF 8, Cin 32)
2006: T-28th 14 TDs - Oak 7, Ind/Phi 31)
QB Rating
2005: 20th (76.0 - SF 53.6, Ind 103.3)
2006: 12th (83.8 - Oak 56.2, Ind 101.0)
Sacks Allowed
2005: 32nd (68 - Hou, Ind 20)
2006: T-23rd (43 - Oak 72, Ind 15)
Interceptions Thrown
2005: T-7th (13, GB 30, Jac 6)
2006: T-8th (13, Cle 25, StL 8)
3rd Down Completions
2005: 27th (34.2% - SF 24.0%, Ind 48.4%)
2006: 14th (38.9% - Car 31.1%, Ind 56.2%)
First Downs
2005: 29th (243 - SF 191, Ind 363)
2006: T-22nd (282 - Buf 234, Ind 376)
Giveaways
2005: T-7th (22 - GB 42, Sea 15)
2006: T-11th (25 - Oak 46, SD 15)

Overall on the year, the Texans offense showed marginal improvements. The passing game became stronger and more efficient, albeit inconsistent over the course of the year, while the running game struggled mightily at times before emerging towards the end of the year. Tight ends once again became a fixture in the passing game which helped open up the passing game some, especially early on in the year. The offensive line improved its pass protection but is still not where it needs to be, and the line started the season out of sync and ineffective in the running game. The Texans did improve on 3rd downs as they had greater success on early downs and kept themselves in more favorable situations, but they still didn't move the ball well enough, didn't sustain drives well enough or put up enough points, and at times did not take care of the ball very well.

David Carr made some positive strides early in the season and it definitely appeared that Kubiak was on the road to making significant progress with him. The passing game ran much more efficiently and David Carr was on pace for easily his best season and was leading the league in QB rating for several weeks and ended up leading the NFL in completion percentage over the whole season. Carr's mechanics looked improved and he seemed more confident and decisive for most of the year. While he had more than his share of some boneheaded plays, overall he cut back on them during the year. Early in the year, he was looking downfield much more frequently than we'd seen and made several big plays, most of which to Andre Johnson. Early in the year Andre Johnson was putting up some truly impressive numbers as a result of the revived passing game, we finally had a real #2 WR in Eric Moulds, and our TEs became more involved in the offense once again. However, pass protection was still a problem as the line struggled with adapting to the new system, figuring out personnel rotations, and then injuries. As a result, Kubiak scaled back the passing game some using more quick drops and timing routes to keep his QB off the turf, which eliminated most of the big play opportunities from the offense and the offense sputtered for several games in the middle of the season as they attempted to rediscover their identity. In the process, the passing game was reduced to quick hitting short routes, Andre Johnson was relatively taken out of the offense, and Eric Moulds virtually vanished while the TEs and RBs received much of the passes on check downs and screens.

Another big reason for the declined passing game was the general inability of the offense to run the ball effectively over the course of the year. Early in the year the running game was horrendous as the line was not working together as a cohesive unit, Wali Lundy was struggling finding running lanes and making the proper cuts, and Ron Dayne was struggling with a turf toe injury. As the year went on, many opposing defenses figured out that the Texans could not run the ball effectively and the main way they could hurt them was Carr making plays with Andre Johnson, so many teams started rolling extra coverage over on Andre, brought more pressure to keep Carr from getting in a rhythm, and several teams started spacing their defensive linemen out wider while dropping more players back into coverage. This made it harder for our OTs to protect speed rushes around the edges and also helped contain David Carr into the pocket and eliminate his ability to scramble to the outside. As a consequence, it opened up bigger lanes up the middle for the running game, which Ron Dayne exploited late in the season. Part of Daynes ineffectiveness early on was undoubtedly his injured toe, but the line also had problems opening sufficiently big holes for his wide body to get thru, a problem that opposing defenses helped solve for us later in the year, although our offensive line was adapting to the system and working together much better as a unit and blocking better. While Ron Dayne was able to run the ball pretty effectively and fill out the box score, our running game still lacked any big play ability to draw opposing defenses back to the line of scrimmage and help open up our passing game. Our offense is built on a successful running game that moves the ball and then sets up our passing game by allowing play actions and bootlegs, but without that main cog of a threatening running game our offense over the course of the year was ineffective.

While the overall offense on the year was still not up to par and a disappointment, there were several improvements. Andre Johnson put up a Pro-Bowl season and re-emerged as a dominant receiver, and he should be able to get better from here. Eric Moulds showed that he can still be a very good receiver if given the chance and can be a legitimate complement to Andre. Ron Dayne ran like a man possessed for those four games at the end of the year and while I don't think he should be our main RB heading into next season, he showed that he can be a viable option at RB if needed and deserves some carries throughout the year. Charles Spencer looked like a solid LT during the short time he was healthy, and if he comes back fully from his injury then he should be a long-term fixture on our line. Eric Winston came on towards the end of the year and looked solid and should also be a long-term fixture on our line. David Carr did show improvement and at times showed a lot of flashes of the type of QB that he can be and that we need for this team to be successful. OWen Daniels showed that he can be an effective player in the passing game and is pretty solid in run blocking as well. Our new system showed that it can be effective during certain games this season, and it obviously has a past history of great success. The pieces are starting to come together, and I believe we have a system in place that will be very effective over the long run once we get enough of the proper pieces installed.
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Old 01-11-2007   #3
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Default Defensive Overview

Total Defense
2005: 31st (364.0 ypg - SF 391.2, TB 277.8)
2006: 24th (337.5 ypg - Ten 369.7, Bal 264.1)
Scoring Defense
2005: 32nd (26.9 ppg - Hou, Chi 12.6)
2006: T-25th (22.9 ppg - SF 25.8, Bal 12.6)
Rushing Defense
2005: 32nd (143.9 ypg - Hou, SD 84.3)
2006: 20th (122.3 ypg - Ind 173.0, Min 61.6)
Yards Per Carry
2005: 30th (4.6 ypc - StL 4.7, Pit 3.4)
2006: 22nd (4.4 ypc - Ind 5.3, Min 2.8)
Rushes 20+ Yards
2005: T-17th (10 - NO 19, TB/NE 3)
2006: T-20th (11 - Ind 18, Mia 3)
Rushing TDs
2005: 29th (21 TDs - Buf/Ari/StL 22, Jac 4)
2006: T-25th (16 TDs - StL 21, Bal 5)
Passing Defense
2005: 24th (220.1 ypg - SF 276.7, GB 167.5)
2006: 22nd (215.3 ypg - Min/Cin 238.6, Oak 150.8)
Completion Percentage
2005: 30th (64.8% - Ind 67.4%, Was 54.4%)
2006: 31st (65.1% - Det 66.3%, Bal 54.8%)
Yards Per Attempt
2005: 31st (7.95 - SF 8.02, Chi 5.72)
2006: 25th (7.21 - Atl 7.58, Chi 5.83)
Yards Per Completion
2005: 29th (12.3 - NE 13.3, Chi 10.1)
2006: 9th (11.1 - GB 12.7, Buf 10.1)
Passes 20+ Yards
2005: 29th (49 - SF 61, Atl 28)
2006: 16th (42 - Was 55, Ind 27)
Passes 40+ Yards
2005: T-25th (10 - SF/NE 14, NYJ 2)
2006: T-4th (5 - NO 16, Ind 2)
Passing TDs
2005: T-26th (24 TDs - Ten 33, Chi 10)
2006: T-20th (22 TDs - Was 30, NE 10)
QB Rating
2005: 31st (100.0 - Ten 100.7, Chi 61.2)
2006: 31st (93.1 - Was 97.8, Bal 63.4)
Sacks
2005: T-14th (37 - Cle 23, Sea 50)
2006: T-27th (28 - Was 19, SD 61)
Interceptions
2005: 31st (7 - Oak 5, Cin 31)
2006: T-28th (11 - Was 6, Bal 28)
3rd Down Completions
2005: 17th (38.3% - Buf 46.5%, Atl 30.2%)
2006: T-29th (44.4% - Ind 47.1%, Bal 28.8%)
First Downs
2005: 32nd (348 - Hou, TB 254)
2006: T-21st (293 - NYG 314, Bal 226)
Takeaways
2005: 32nd (15 - Hou, Cin 43)
2006: T-28th (22 - Was 12, Chi 44)

OVerall on the year the defense showed improvement in most every area. The run defense improved in every facet from the previous year other than they allowed one more 20+ yard run this year, and for much of the year the run defense was solid, although there is still room for improvement. The pass defenseshowed slight improvements in most areas, the biggest of which was in eliminating big plays, while we still allowed some we ranked much higher in the league in big plays given up. Our defense also allowed a lower QB rating against us, although the league ranking was the same. One area that declined was in sacks as we were not able to get a very good pass rush for most of the year, although we were better at forcing turnovers. Our defense was worse at allowing 3rd down conversions which hurt at times during the year as our defense was unable to get off the field, but overall our defense did a better job of allowing teams to move the ball and get 1st downs. We struggled mightily the first three games of the season, but the defense settled down after that and played quite well for a stretch in which our defense was ranked 3rd in the league over several weeks.

The pass defense was not what it needs to be this year. The DLine was for the most part unsuccessful in getting a consistent or good pass rush, although injuries did deplete the line throughout the year. Mario Williams started his career slower than most people had expected or hoped, but he played very well for a stretch of 4 games in there before injuring his foot which slowed him down the rest of the year. The rest of the line did not do a very good job of helping him out, although outside of Antwan Peek and Jason Babin most of the line is not really built for pressuring the opposing QB. Anthony Weaver was not able to provide much of a pass rush off the edge but was decent providing pressure up the middle, while players such as Seth Payne, Thomas Johnson, Anthony Maddox, Lional Dalton, and others that ended up having to fill in are more of run stuffers. Peek and Babin provided some pressure at times, but they weren't as consistent as we need them to be better. We did blitz our LBs and DBs at times, but much of the time they were pretty ineffective. Our defense was pretty poor running any kind of stunts as most of the time the players didn't move very swiftly or with good spacing, and frequently they ended up running into each other rather than brushing off of each other and picking the opposing linemen off. Additionally, many of the blitzes we ran were pretty ineffective too as the players didn't have very good spacing and ended up clogging each other up, although at times mass blitzes were able to get after QBs and create pressure. Our coverage was not especially good throughout much of the year either. Most of our CBs should not be playing significant time and with the exception of Dunta Robinson none should be a starting CB for a playoff-caliber team. Both CC Brown and Glenn Earl are servicable at SS, but neither are really a FS and we do need a FS that can actually cover someone. We need to get better in coverage, although increasing pressure up front will help with that as well. Either way, we need to bring in players that can improve our pass rush and we definitely need to improve our coverage abilities.

Our run defense was solid for a lot of the year, but we did have some holes in it at times. Our starting DLine was pretty solid against the run, although our top 3 DTs ended up on IR and other injuries further reduced the durability of the players left. With Weaver and Mario and DE teams had some difficulty running to the edges, but when we brought in Peek and/or Babin at an end teams had a much easier time gaining the edge on us. Our interior run stuffing was generally pretty solid, especially considering at the end of the year we were playing three players that were street free agents. Teams did get some big runs on us, but a few of those were plays where we ran a stunt of some sort right where they were running the ball, so our play call helped open the hole for them. Our defensive front was also decent at getting penetration into the backfield and stopping runs for losses at times, and also showed some ability to chase down runs from the back side and make plays in pursuit. Our LBs were generally fairly solid in run support, although they can get better. Ryans obviously had a stellar season and made plays all over the field. Greenwood improved as the season went on, but at times our LBs did make bad mistakes. Shantee Orr is decent in run support, although he along with many of our other LBs don't read plays especially quickly and end up getting blocked out of the play because of it. Some teams also figured out that if they brought in a 3rd WR then we'd generally go with our smaller DLine and we'd also take out a LB which generally made us much easier to run on. For the most part our DBs did a pretty solid job in run support. Dunta Robinson is solid in stopping the run off the edge, Glenn Earl and CC Brown are both decent in coming up in the box and helping out in run support, although both will take poor angles to pursue runners out in space. Both also have problems making tackles out in the open field, especially Brown. Too many of our DBs and LBs also allow themselves to be dragged for extra yardage by runners. Our run defense made some strides this year and at times played very well and is no longer a laughing stock like it was in 2005, but finding an improved DE and LBs could go a long way to helping out for next year.

The defense is still obviously not where it needs to be, but there were several bright spots this year. Mario Williams started showing a lot of improvement during the middle of the year and despite his injury was showing further improvement later in the year, although his limited mobility affected his ability to finish plays. Anthony Weaver played pretty well all year long and was probably our most consistent performer outside of Demeco Ryans, although I personally think he is more effective at DT than at DE. Demeco Ryans put in one of the most impressive rookie seasons ever by a defensive player, he had great production and showed the ability to lead our defense on the field, he was one of the biggest steals of the draft and should be a main cog in our defense for years. Dunta Robinson showed more good play at times although he showed some inconsistency a lot of the time as well. Morlon Greenwood showed marked improvement over last season and got better as the season progressed, although he still needs to get better. Although our defense was riddled with injuries, many of the players we brought in to take their places played pretty solidly in their place. If we can find that kind of production in street free agents I can't wait to see what a full offseason with Kubes and Rick Smith at the helm can add the pieces we've already acquired on our defense.
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Old 01-11-2007   #4
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Default Turnovers and Special Teams Overview

Turnover Margin
2005: T-26th (-7 - GB -23, Cin +25)
2006: T-23rd (-5 - Oak -20, Bal +15)

Kickoff Return Average
2005: 2nd (25.9 - GB 18.7, Buf 26.6)
2006: 16th (22.7 - Car 19.4, NE 26.8)
Punt Return Average
2005: 22nd (7.4 - Oak 5.6, Bal 11.1)
2006: 6th (10.5 - Car 4.6, Ten 12.6)
Kickoff Average Allowed
2005: 15th (21.7 - Ari 28.3, Atl 19.0)
2006: 24th (23.4 - Oak 28.8, TB 18.2)
Punt Average Allowed
2005: 6th (6.6 - Oak 11.8, Ten 4.5)
2006: 15th (7.7 - Ind 13.9, Cin 5.6)
FG %
2005: T-23rd (76.5% - Oak 66.7%, Ari 95.6%)
2006: 23rd (76.0% - Mia 67.7%, Den/Bal 92.3%)
Punting Average
2005: 32nd (38.8 - Hou, Buf/Oak 45.7)
2006: 28th (41.6 - NYG 40.2, Dal 48.2)

Kris Brown overall on the year was below average again, although he finished the year relatively strong and allegedly was working on his kicking technique earlier in the year which could have affected his accuracy. He doesn't have overly good range on his FGs either. Unforunately he is costing us over $1.7 million against the cap last year which I don't like paying for a kicekr at all, especially one that isn't top of the line, although it will cost about $1 million to cut him and then likely cost over $800k against the cap next year to sign another kicker, so it would be difficult to save money on this short of trying out an undrafted free agent as our kicker for the year. At this point I wouldn't be especially opposed to him being our kicker next year, although I think we should bring in another kicker during the offseason to compete with him and let the better player stay.

Chad Stanley shouldn't be around next year. We've already signed another punter for the offseason and Chad Stanley is scheduled to be a free agent, although I don't know if they bother making him an offer or maybe find someone else for competition during training camp. For the 2nd year in a row Stanley was right at the bottom of the league in punting average and frequently choked at pretty key moments games. We need a punter that can help us win the field position battle when games come down to that, and Stanley has clearly shown he's not the answer.

Our kickoff return game obviously suffered with the loss of Jerome Mathis for most of the season although he did have the big return against Oakland to help get us back in that game. However, even without Mathis we we were still right at the league average. Dexter Wynn did a decent job for the majority of the year after Edell Shepherd struggled early in the year. David Anderson also showed some ability to return kicks if necessary, although Jerome Mathis should obviously be our guy assuming he's healthy and on the roster next season. Our punt return was very good this year as Wynn was solid all season long and had that one big return against Oakland on the fake reverse to Mathis, the main thing we need to work on is forcing teams into punting to us more often i.e. closing out drives defensively, but that's a different topic.

Our kickoff and punt coverage teams both dropped off this year and we were one of only four teams in the league to allow both a kickoff and punt return for a TD. We obviously need to do a better job covering both areas, part of covering punts better would be to have a more consistent and talented punter, although one that isn't going to outkick his coverage team like Shane Lechler does. Outside of that it is just a matter of our coordinator devising good coverage plans and players executing those properly. Unfortunately it's pretty hard to properly gauge how specific players are performing their roles properly, so I'll leave that up to the coaching staff and hope that Kubiak makes the proper changes to help fix this aspect of our team, whether that be changing the coordinator or just having him plug the proper players into special teams.
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Old 01-11-2007   #5
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Default Some Player Stat Comparisons

David Carr
2005: 256/423 (60.5%-17th), 2488 yards-19th, 14 TD, 11 INT, 5.88 ypa-31st, (77.2 rating-21st), 68 sacks, 56 carries, 308 yards (5.5 ypc), 1 TD
2006: 302/442 (68.3%-1st), 2767 yards-18th, 11 TD, 12 INT 6.26 ypa-26th, (82.1 rating-15th), 41 sacks, 53 carries, 193 yards (3.6 ypc), 2 TD

RBs
2005:
Domanick Davis: 230 carries, 976 yards-18th, (4.2 ypc), 2 TD, 39 catches, 337 yards (8.6 ypc), 4 TD
Jonathan Wells: 90 carries, 325 yards, (3.6 ypc), 4 TD, 22 catches, 179 yards (8.1 ypc), 0 TD
Vernand Morency: 46 carries, 184 yards, (4.0 ypc), 2 TD, 10 catches, 87 yards (8.7 ypc), 0 TD
Moran Norris: 1 catch, 4 yards, 1 TD
2006:
Ron Dayne: 151 carries, 612 yards-40th, (4.1 ypc), 5 TD, 14 catches, 77 yards, (5.5 ypc), 0 TD
Wali Lundy: 124 carries, 476 yards, (3.8 ypc), 4 TD, 33 catches, 204 yards, (6.2 ypc), 0 TD
Samkon Gady: 54 carries, 217 yards, (4.0 ypc), 1 TD, 16 catches, 80 yards, (5.0 ypc), 0 TD
Chris Taylor: 28 carries, 123 yards, (4.4 ypc), 1 TD, 3 catches, 40 yards, (13.3 ypc), 0 TD
Jameel Cook: 3 carries, 18 yards, (6.0 ypc), 0 TD, 18 catches, 107 yards, (5.9 ypc), 0 TD
Vonta Leach: 6 catches, 61 yards, (10.2 ypc), 1 TD

WRs
2005:
Andre Johnson: 63 catches-38th, 688 yards, (10.9 ypc), 2 TD (long 53)
Jabar Gaffney: 55 catches, 492 yards, (8.9 ypc), 2 TD (long 29)
Corey Bradford: 34 catches, 436 yards, (12.8 ypc), 5 TD (long 50)
Derick Armstrong: 9 catches, 115 yards, (12.8 ypc), 0 TD (long 28)
Jerome Mathis: 5 catches, 65 yards, (13.0 ypc), 1 TD (long 34)
2006:
Andre Johnson: 103 catches-1st, 1147 yards-11th, (11.1 ypc), 5 TD (long 53)
Eric Moulds: 57 catches, 557 yards, (9.8 ypc), 1 TD (long 29)
Kevin Walter: 17 catches, 160 yards, (9.4 ypc), 0 TD (long 15)
David Anderson: 1 catch, 27 yards, (27.0 ypc), 0 TD (long 27)

TEs
2005:
Marcellus Rivers: 24 catches, 168 yards (7.0 ypc), 0 TD (long 20)
Matt Murphy: 2 catches, 26 yards (13.0 ypc), 0 TD (long 14)
Mark Bruener: 2 catches, 22 yards (11.0 ypc), 0 TD (long 19)
2006:
Owen Daniels: 34 catches, 352 yards (10.4 ypc), 5 TD (long 33)
Jeb Putzier: 13 catches, 125 yards (9.6 ypc), 0 TD (long 26)
Mark Bruener: 9 catches, 62 yards (6.9 ypc), 2 TD (long 25)
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Old 01-11-2007   #6
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Default Offensive Position Analysis

QBs
David Carr made some progress this year, and throughout the year Kubiak stuck with him as his guy despite some struggles. I think Kubiak has confidence in Carr that he can become the QB that this offense and this team needs and I still think Carr can be too. He isn't one of the few great QBs in this league that can win a bunch of games for you by himself, but if the right pieces are put around him I think he can succeed, especially in this offensive system with this coach. You can't doubt Carr's toughness and I don't doubt his heart and competitiveness or his physical abilities, although at times this year I was starting to doubt his ability to make the proper decisions and his mental control of the game. However, he has all the mobility you could want for a QB in this system, he has a very strong arm and can make throws on the move, he has a lot of toughness and despite what a lot of people seem to think, I think he is a QB that looks to make big plays when they're available. He does need to work on his footwork although that is improving, he needs to work on using his eyes to look off defenders, he needs to read coverages and his receivers routes better, and he needs to work some on his ball placement on his throws, but all those are things that should be able to be accomplished with sufficient practice. He definitely has a lot of work to do but I think he is on the right path and having a whole offseason together can only help. Kubiak seems to still have confidence in him from every indication and I think that is important for both the rest of this team and for Carr's own development, especially since he has lost the confidence and support of most of the fan base and all of the media here.

I think Carr will be given one more year to show what he can do and Kubiak and Rick Smith will work hard this offseason to find as many of the remaining pieces to the offense that Carr will need to show what he is capable of. If Carr struggles again with a pretty complete offense built around him, then I think they move on next year, but I don't think he's been given an appropriate opportunity yet as he's only had one year in this new system and he didn't have an overly complete or talented offense around him. Maybe I'm reading between the lines improperly, but I think some of the recent comments about Carr from Rick Smith and Kubiak show that they still think he can be our guy, including the comment Smith recently made that they were disappointed in his performance this year. Obviously they shouldn't be happy with it, but at the same time I think if they had given up on him then they wouldn't have said that because they don't expect any better our of him, but I think they do expect he can do much better and didn't live up to that potential, plus I've also heard him say in an interview that this offense usually takes a QB into the 2nd season before they really get a grip on things. I think he will be here next year and will likely end up winning the starting job to start the season, where he goes and the team goes from there remains to be seen. I think Sage Rosenfels is a capable backup. In the short time that he played this year he showed that he can operate this offense with confidence and efficiency. I think he has earned the right to be here next year and he will be here. We also have Bradlee Van Pelt that we have yet to see in action, from what little I've heard about him from the couple people I know in the organization, in practice he has not looked as good as Sage has at all, so he could end up being here next season. I think he'll at least be kept on thru training camp to compete for a spot.

I would not be opposed to using a mid round draft pick on a QB (a 4th or lower, maybe a 3rd if someone good unexpectedly drops) so they will have another young, relatively talented player in the wings for a year in case Carr doesn't work out, and if Carr does work out they have a young backup to raise in this offense. I don't want to see them use a higher pick on a QB and don't think they will because in the top three rounds they should be able to pick up a valuable starter on either side of the ball, and at this point I'd much rather have that than get a backup QB. If Kubiak does decide to move on from Carr this offseason, I can see them using a 2nd round pick on a QB, but still don't see them using our 1st. I also don't see the need to bring in any other veteran. Jake Plummer has been a suggestion since he has played and had some success in this offense over the past few years, but I don't think he is any better than David Carr in any way at this point, plus he wants to be a starter somewhere so he isn't going to want to come here to sit behind David for a half year or more while they make their decision on him. Plummer is also likely going to want a lot more money than Sage so if they do decide to move on from Carr this offseason Sage is a much cheaper option as a temporary starter while we groom a new QB. Any other veteran doesn't really make any sense to bring in.

RBs
Obviously the loss of Domanick Davis hurt our running game this year and I don't know if he'll ever be back. As Kubiak said the other day in his end of season press conference, he isn't counting on some of these injured guys to be back, he can't afford to do that anymore, but if they come back it's a nice bonus (I sensed in that comment that he was quite specifically referencing DD, I guess now it's DW not DD). They need to push him and have him do some heavy running and practice simulation before the draft and even before free agency to see if his knee is going to end up holding up at all, even still they need to look for another option in there. If they don't think his knee can hold up, they need to cut him to get him off the cap, he's way too expensive to have sitting out all year.

Our running game struggled this year to say the least. After all our RBs this year were a 6th round pick, two undrafted guys, and then a former 1st rounder that's been a bust to this point in his career. Let's start with Lundy. He is a pretty solid runner, he has adequate speed and quickness, takes care of the ball, and is pretty solid in the passing game. However, he doesn't run with a lot of power and generally avoids contact if possible, he doesn't have particularly special quickness or speed, he doesn't run with particularly good vision as he really struggled to see where holes were developing and the cutback lanes this year, and he is not very difficult to bring down. He should be able to develop those skills over time, but even still I don't think he has what it takes to be a real #1 option. Ron Dayne struggled early this season with a toe injury and shaky blocking from the line. When he was healthy later in the year, he ran like a man which was good to see. He runs with a lot of power and is very tough to bring down, he takes care of the ball, and he gets downhill without messing around at all. However, he does not have any kind of good speed or quickness, he needs a pretty big hole to run thru and can't create anything on his own, he has some durability concerns, and he sometimes doesn't run with particularly good vision either. He can put up pretty decent numbers and fill out a box score, but he isn't going to make opposing defenses fear him at all. Teams later in the year spread their DLines out real wide to contain Carr in the pocket and get a better pass rush and dropped extra guys into coverage which allowed Dayne to find those huge holes up front, but they didn't care because they knew he wasn't going to outrun anyone and create big plays. Dayne has definitely earned a spot on next years' roster and should get some carries, but if he's our #1 guy then our offense will be very stagnant again. Chris Taylor unfortunately didn't get much of a chance this year, he was probably my favorite back in training camp other than Vernand Morency but he sat much of the year due to early fumbling problems. However, in the limited action we saw him I like him better than Lundy. He is bigger and runs with a lot more power, he's more explosive, and he does a better job finding openings and fighting for extra yards. He has a chance to be a legitimate big play threat. However, he has had fumbling issues, his durability is a question mark because we saw so little of him, and we only got to see him against Indy and Cleveland, the 32nd and 29th ranked rushing defenses respectively, so I'm not entirely sure what we have in him. He should be here next year but at this point I can't count on him being a major contributor next year. Domanick Davis we obviously can't count on, if he can somehow come back and be healthy he could be a major contributor, but I don't plan on him being back at all next year, much less staying healthy all year.

Jameel Cook played ok this year, he is the type of FB they like in their offense. He is pretty athletic and can contribute in the pass game coming out of the backfield and he can run the ball on occasion. He runs with decent power and determination although he had two very costly fumbles this year. I'm not real fond of his blocking, he gives effort on it but he's just not very good at it. Vonta Leach in my opinion played much better in the time he had on the field. He was not quite as quick but he was bigger, and he ran with good power, he never had any fumbling problems, he caught the ball quite well out of the backfield, and he was a much better blocker. I think both will at least make the training camp roster next year to compete for the team, if they only keep one of them I hope they keep Leach as I think he was a solid piece of our offense.

I think we have a pretty good nucleus of complementary runners, but I think we need a true #1 RB. We need a guy that is a big-play threat that can make opposing defenses respect our running game, someone who runs with good vision and power and has the ability to make big plays both running up the middle in traffic and getting out on the edges in space and take a few long runs to the house, and someone that can handle a pretty heavy workload. I think Adrian Peterson would be an ideal fit for this, but it's way too early in the offseason for me to get into draft discussions (and just in case someone wants to bring up last year's draft, I don't think Reggie Bush would be this kind of ideal fit, he is a phenomenal offensive utility playmaker that is great with the ball out in space, I don't think he's a true RB like I'm describing, but that is also another discusison that I don't care to start with this). I think bringing in this type of big-play runner will obviously help our running game a lot but it will also allow us to use play actions, boot legs, and other parts of our offense that are pretty key components that we were unable to use this year.
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Old 01-11-2007   #7
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Default Offensive Position Analysis

WRs/TEs
Andre Johnson obviously enjoyed the best season of his career and I think he can end up doing much better in future seasons. Eric Moulds is obviously a legitimate #2 and a good possession receiver, I wish we had ended up using him a lot more this year and I'm sure he was frustrated with his lack of involvement in the offense over the latter part of the year. Hopefully he sticks it out and stays around another couple years while we build this offense. Kevin Walter wasn't used overly much, but he was a solid possession receiver and a good blocker for a WR, and most of his catches were for 1st downs so they did look to him on some key plays and he usually made them. I question his ability to be a real #2 WR down the road when Moulds retires, but he's solid in his current role and I would like to him be used more next year. David Anderson was hardly used on offense but showed pretty good ability on special teams, he should still be around next year and should be given a chance to contribute more. I still don't know why they drafted him instead of Marques Colston or Hank Baskett, but that's water under the bridge that doesn't need to be argued at this point. Jerome Mathis has showed dynamic ability in the return game, unfortunately he was barely healthy at all this year but I think they'll keep him on at least thru training camp to see what he can do in the offense, so hopefully he works to develop his game so he can use his speed to create a deep threat in the offense. With an improved running game next year our passing game should open up again and we should be able to put up better numbers and more big plays. I'm not sure how much help we need to look for at this position in the offseason, we could use another WR that is a deep threat, especially if there is one with good size out there, and if there are any other pretty talented guys out there that we can get for relatively cheap it's never a bad thing.

Owen Daniels contributed a lot to the passing game at different points this year, and with the way Kubiak's offense traditionally uses TEs I expect further improvements out of him. He is pretty solid in run blocking too, so he should be an impact in this offense for years to come. Jeb Putzier didn't contribute a whole lot this year other than I'm sure he helped some of the guys get adjusted to the system during camp and the early part of the season. He seemed like he was playing hurt a lot of the year, not sure if he was hurt or that's just how he plays, but he can be a solid contributor at times. Mark Bruener is an unrestricted free agent. I'd look at resigning him for fairly cheap, he's still a premier blocking TE and he surprisingly has pretty good hands despite being slow, and he's a veteran team leader and a hard worker. I'd keep him if possible. They still have Ben Steele on IR so he will be here next year. He looked pretty solid in training camp, decently atheltic, pretty good hands and a good route runner and a decent blocker. It is too bad that he broke his leg during camp, but he should be back to compete for a spot again next year and looked like he could be a solid contributor. I don' think we really need to look for TEs, but if a good one that can contribute becomes available and is interested I'm never one to turn down good talent, but I don't see it as a priority.

Our receiving core is pretty solid, although adding more depth at TE would not be a bad idea with Bruener's age, and adding WRs that are capable of adding big plays to our offense is never a bad idea either. I don't think it's essential that they bring in a starting-caliber WR, but they do need someone with some speed that is a capable receiver that can stretch the field, maybe Mathis can become that, maybe they need to bring in a player to fill that role. Overall this is one of the more solid areas of the team and doesn't require any big free agent spending or a high draft pick, but if someone that can contribute is available for a decent price we should definitely be looking to pull the trigger on a deal.

OL
To say the least our OLine was pretty shaky this year. Early in the year our line wasn't providing much of any running lanes and it wasn't protecting David Carr either. Later in the year the line started protecting Carr better, but much of that was due to Kubiak changing the offense around and running a lot of shorter pass drops and quicker pass routes. The line came together and started run blocking pretty well towards the last portion of the year, although part of that was due to opposing teams focusing on stopping our passing game the second half of the year and spreading their DLines out wider that normal, plus we played a few teams that are just really bad at defending the run. However, the line did work better together as a unit, and at times was pretty solid in pass protection. The line suffered a lot of injuries this year as both our starting OTs and our starting C went on IR, and some of the replacements came in and played pretty well, but it was a problem for us yet again.

Charles Spencer was looking very good before his injury. He played solid in the preseason, played pretty well against the Eagles, and was holding his own against Dwight Freeney before he broke his leg. Spencer is much larger than the typical zone blocking OT but he did lose some weight before the regular season started (is rumored to have lost a decent bit of weight since his injury too), but he moved very well for someone of his size. He had pretty quick feet, although nothing overly special, he could physically move his body around well, he played with good leverage when he got in front of people, he was very strong and had a very strong punch, and he has long arms, although at times he would reach too much on guys rushing around the edge (although he had decent recovery ability), at other times he'd let guys get too close in on him, and he's not always very good with his hands, but he was improving on those. It's a shame that he missed so much of the season because he really could have used the reps. Assuming he comes back 100% from his injury he should be a long-term staple on our line, and from all indications it sounds like he is expected to return and be our LT. Eric Winston came in during the second half of the season and overall played well although he had a few shaky moments. He is built more like a prototypical OG in that his arms are relatively short and he doesn't have enormous mass to him, but he definitely has the athleticism to play OT. He is very quick, moves his feet pretty well although he too will reach at times rather than getting proper position, has decent strength but nothing special at this point, he plays with pretty good leverage, was pretty solid most of the time in pass protection (did have a few breakdowns, especially in the Tennessee game when he saw his first big action of the year, but he played well against Freeney on Christmas Eve) and was solid in the running game, although he too isn't overly good using his hands to keep guys off of him at this point. He is a smart player and seems to understand the blocking scheme quite well, and he has a nice meanstreak to him (he aggressively finishes off his blocks, I lost track of how many scuffles I saw him and Babin get into during training camp drills). Some think he would be better suited at OG, I think with his athleticism he should stay at OT, but obviously all that matters is where the coaches want him, and I think if they were especially interessted in trying him at OG they would have given him some time there this year to see how he did, but then again we had good depth at OG and were very thin at OT. Either way he should also be a long-term starter on our OLine. Zach Wiegert started out the year as our starting RT and played ok. He clearly doesn't have the mobility he once did and should not be a starting OT for us. He obviously is a very smart player and got by on that several times, but he simply doesn't have the physical ability to perform at the level we need out of a starter anymore, not to mention he can't stay healthy for a full year. He doesn't have the mobility to protect the edge pass rush and he got beat a lot by both speed and power rushers. He is decent in run blocking and sounds like he is a hard worker and a leader on the line. I would keep him around next year for a decent price since he is a veteran and a leader and would be pretty solid depth, but he shouldn't be starting for us. Ephraim Salaam ended up starting most of the year for us and shouldn't be put in that position again. He is very stiff, doesn't move very well, and is physcially dominated fairly frequently. He is not especially good in run blocking and can't protect the edge in pass protection either. He has experience in this system but the only way I'd keep him around is as emergency depth, but I really hope they'd get another OT in there that would come in before him in case of emergency. He also has serious durability concerns and sounds like he barely practiced the second half of the year due to nagging injuries. He has earned a spot on the training camp roster assuming they resign him, but hopefully improved talent/depth will push him out of the final roster as he is a liability during games. Brad Bedell played sparingly and did a servicable job, I didn't get to see enough of him in games to get a good feel for him, but he'll likely be here thru training camp since he was here all year, we'll see how the competition for the position works out.

Chester Pitts was our most consistent and probably our best performer along the line this year. I wouldn't have minded seeing him at LT for much of the year and then had McKinney and Weary at OGs, but the coaching staff is set on Pitts being our LG so I'm fine with that. He plays with good strength, he moves well and is pretty good in space and getting to the 2nd level, he is pretty good in pass protection although there were some communication problems with blitz pickup among the interior linemen at times, he plays with a nice mean streak, he is good when pulling on running plays, and he cut out a lot of the stupid penalties he got last year (not many false starts and bad holdings like in 2005). He obviously is here to stay. Fred Weary played pretty solidly this year. He is decent in pass protection although he seemed to be responsible for a lot of the interior blitz pickup problems, but he has very good strength, plays in space decently well and can get to the 2nd level fairly well, he can clear some ground in the running game, and overall he is pretty solid although somewhat inconsistent. I would be ok with him starting next year, although if they can bring in someone that can beat him out in camp and relocate him to the bench that's all the better. He played C in college and could possibly move inside to that spot next year, although likewise I think if the coaching staff was interested in doing that they would have tried him at C some at the end of this year rather than having McKinney play there. Steve McKinney's better years are definitely behind him. He doesn't move especially well anymore and is frequently a liability in pass protection, but he has decent strength, pretty good use of his hands, and plays with decent enough leverage that he can still be pretty effective in the running game, although with his limited mobility he can't get out and move in space as well in the running game. He is also a veteran leader and because of that I'd be ok with them keeping him here next year as depth if he costs us an appropriate amount for such a role. None of the other guys listed on the roster (Mike Brisiel, Scott Jackson, or Atlas Herrion) played enough if at all this year to mention. Mike Flanagan was a major disappointment for me this year, much of that because of all the accolades he came in with. Flanagan doesn't move particularly well anymore, he was ok in pass protection although I hold him responsible for most of the problems with the interior line as he's the C and signal caller of the line. He didn't play with particularly good strength and got physically dominated by many interior DLinemen this year at the point of attack, and he didn't get out and move particularly well either. I wouldn't mind him being here next year in a backup/veteran leader type role or as a temporary starter if we bring in a draft pick or something like that as long as his salary is appropriate for that, but I don't like him going into the season as the clearcut starter. Drew Hodgdon didn't play particularly well either. He moves fairly well but he doesn't play with good leverage and has subpar strength. He can move well enough to where he should be good in pass protection and productive in the running game, but he just isn't most of the time. He also usually gets pushed around at the point of attack and still doesn't seem to understand a lot of the nuiances of the zone blocking scheme. I don't see him as a long term solution and wouldn't be surprised if he ends up getting bumped off the final roster, although he should be here to compete in training camp. For many of these guys on the OLine, I definitely hope we bring in enough talented guys that many of our current guys end up getting bumped off of the final roster by the end of training camp, hopefully that happens because our line is not where it needs to be, although at the same time I don't think we have to use a 1st round pick or anything on a lineman, but that is a different discussion I don't care to get into at this time.
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Old 01-11-2007   #8
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Default Defensive Position Analysis

DL
Mario Williams had a rookie season that disappointed many people, but I think there were a lot of positives in it. He struggled early on with learning the system, especially as they tried to move him around to all four spots of the DLine, and he still isn't very good with using his hands and moves on pass rushes. However, he has shown the athletic ability to be a truly dominant DE in this league, he has amazing athetlicism for his size and great strength. He is very strong against the run and has shown the ability to be disruptive in the passing game, and that should grow exponentially as he learns to use his body better. Unfortunately he hurt his foot in the Giants game and wasn't the same the rest of the year because he was finally beginning to pull things together, and even after his injury I saw a lot of improvement in his game and he seemed to be understanding the nuances of pass rushing better, he just didn't have that explosive step to finish his moves. I look forward to year 2 for him with great anticipation. Anthony Weaver was a pretty good addition for us this year, although I think we ended up overpaying for him a bit, but when you're 2-14 sometimes you're left with no other choice. He is a solid DE and can hold up well against the run, but he isn't athletic enough to provide much of a pass rush off the edge. I like him a lot better at DT, I think there he has a distinct athletic advantage over the interior OLinemen and can create much better pressure up the middle, and he's still strong enough to hold up against the run from the inside of the line. He is a hard worker on the field and I've heard he's the same off the field and I think he's been a valuable mentor for Mario, and I look forward to them growing together and building this DLine for years to come. ND Kalu played a lot of positions along the line this year and played fairly solid for the most part. He's not big and strong enough to be a major force along the line and he is getting pretty old, but he was a hard worker on the field and seemed to find a way to make positive things happen a lot of the time. He is currently scheduled to be a free agent, so we'll have to see if they resign him, but I think he's earned himself a spot in training camp at least, and see how the competition goes from there. Jason Babin played fairly well this year, he's a pretty solid pass rusher but he's pretty weak against the run. He is a little undersized and doesn't have very good strength although he has decent athleticism, a pretty good repertoire or moves and at times has a good motor, but he is pretty inconsistent as well. He also is not costing a whole lot against the cap next year so I don't see any reason why he won't be around unless we bring in a lot of talent at the position and he gets beat out in training camp. Antwan Peek was injured for much of this year again and showed some decent ability when he was in games, but I'm not sure he'll be back since he's scheduled to be a free agent, it probably largely depends on how much money he is looking for. He is more explosive than Babin and I think can provide a more fearsome pass rush, but he also is undersized and not particularly strong and doesn't hold up his end against the run very well, although he is fairly solid in backside pursuit of run plays. We have a pretty solid set of DEs, although I think Weaver should be moved inside where he can provide more pass pressure since our defense is sorely lacking in that area, and since Peek and Babin aren't very solid against the run I'd like to see us get a bigger DE that can hold up against the run but still provide good pressure off the edge, there are a couple ideal fits in the draft if we can manage to get on in the 2nd or 3rd round, and there might be some good fits in free agency too, but then again it just depends on what the coaching staff wants to do, although they have said repeatedly that they need to improve their pass rush.

Seth Payne is another hard worker and overachiever, unfortunately he got injured again this year. He is costing a lot of money against the salary cap but it doesn't save us a whole lot to move him either, plus with his leadership I think he will likely be around next year. He is still quite solid against the run and at times can create some pass rush out of effort. Travis Johnson showed some improvement this year, but for the most part he was still pretty ineffective. He has the athleticism to do some nice things, but he isn't particularly strong against the run and just doesn't provide much pressure on opposing QBs, a lot of the time he seems content to just be there occupying some space rather than making something happen. He still isn't costing us a whole lot against the cap next year and would cost more to move than keep, but at the same time we're getting as good if not better production out of street free agents, so if he doesn't pick things up and show something in camp I don't know if he'll be here next year. Alfred Malone saw some action this year but missed much of the year with an injury. I think he could end up being a solid player for our team and he does have some ability to create a pass rush from the interior line while being pretty solid against the run as well. I definitely think he will be around next year and could end up contributing a lot, depending on what happens with Payne sticking around and where Weaver spends most of his time. Thomas Johnson, Anthony Maddox, and Lional Dalton all came in and played some solid minutes this year, especially considering they were all street free agents at the beginning of the year. None of them are especially athletic or provide overly much pass rush, but they are all fairly solid against the run, and all of them are hard workers on the field. I think they have all earned themselves a training camp slot next year and will give some good competition to make a final roster spot, although I don't see all of them making the roster, especially if they are really looking to improve their pass rush for next year and if Weaver ends up moving inside. Cedric Killings may also be kept around for training camp as he also looked fairly solid in limited action this year. It's sad how we got as good of production out of so many street free agents as we did out of a former 1st round pick. Our DT position is fairly solid, I think if we move Weaver inside that he, Malone, and Payne, Travis Johnson, and/or Anthony Maddox could provide a pretty solid rotation, although I wouldn't mind seeing us bring in one more guy that can push the pocket as well.

Overall our DLine is pretty solid. We didn't pressure opposing QBs enough this year and we need to bring in a DE somewhere this offseason that can provide pressure off the edge while still being able to hold up their side of the line against the run. We could use another DT that can provide pressure up the middle, although if we move Weaver inside then DT doesn't become as big of a need for us, and at this point I think we need a DE more, and as I previously mentioned I think there are some good options for that in the draft that we could likely have a very good one fall to us in the 2nd round or else find a decent one in the 3rd, and if we can pick up another penetrating DT either in the mid rounds of the draft or in free agency then I think our DLine will be solid. Depth isn't a real big problem either so we don't need to add a ton of guys just for training camp competition, although if there are talented players available it never hurts to bring them in.

LB
DeMeco Ryans had a phenomenal season and is well on his way to having a spectacular career and being a huge component of our defense for a long time. He isn't the most athletic guy around and doesn't have great size, which greatly helped in him falling to us in the 2nd round, but he has great instincts, he's pretty explosive, he's a very good tackler, he is a pretty solid blitzer, and he has great leadership at a very young age. He could stand to get better in coverage, but that should come with time and experience. I was not a very big fan of Morlon Greenwood last year or thru much of this season, but he played pretty well at the end of the year. He has good athleticism but he's pretty small, he doesn't read plays very quickly, and he isn't an especially good tackler, not to mention he too is lost in coverage and he's costing us a lot of money. However, as the year wore on he got better in our system and started making plays like he should have been doing all along. I am ok with him being a starting LB for us, although I definitely wouldn't mind bringing in a good strongside LB that can play in passing downs and be a good coverage and/or blitzer in those situations since Greenwood isn't particularly good at either, rather than Greenwood having to be a 3-down LB. Shantee Orr is a servicable LB but shouldn't be a starter. He is great on special teams and is a good pass rusher and isn't bad in run support, although he doesn't have ideal size, his athleticism isn't anything special, and he doesn't read plays very quickly, but once he does he finds a way to make a tackle much of the time. Kailee Wong has been a solid LB for a long time, but his age is catching up with him and he looked a lot slower this year after his knee injury, maybe part of that is that he's still in the recovery process, maybe he's going to be like that for the rest of his career. He is still played pretty well this year, but his limited mobility is killing him right now, plus he is pretty expensive to not be a significant contributor, although it wouldn't really save us any money to cut him, unless you cut him after June 1 and spread the hit out into 2008 season as well. Troy Evans surprised me a little this year by making the final roster, although he is probably the hardest worker on the team and contributes on special teams. DaShon Polk is similar, I thought they'd keep Sam Cowart over him but Polk cost a lot less money, so he got the spot. I don't have a problem with either of them staying here since their work ethic deserves it, but at the same time if we can end up replacing one or both of them with someone that can contribute more on defense I won't complain at all. Charlie Anderson played a decent amount this year and was pretty solid although nothing special. He has decent size, athleticism, and overall talent and contributes on special teams. He will be here in training camp and compete for a roster spot, I think he could make it but if we can bring in better talent that's all the better for us. Wali Rainer looked good in training camp until he got injured and landed on IR. He has pretty good athleticism, reads things well, and finds a way to stick his nose in the middle of everything and make some plays. It would have been nice to see him on the field this year, but at the same time his injury played a big part in their decision to move DeMeco Ryans to MLB where he flourished. Rainer should make the team next year and be a solid backup at MLB and could play some SLB too.

We need another starting LB for this defense to take that next step up the ladder. Ryans is a budding superstar and Greenwood is a pretty solid starter, but we need a starting SLB and someone that can be more effective in nickel formations since Greenwood doesn't contribute much there. Whether we find someone in free agency (and there are scheduled to be some good ones unless they get resigned before hitting the open market) or thru the draft remains to be seen, but we do need an upgrade. Outside of that adding any talent to the depth at these posiitons would be nice, but is not a huge emergency, but I think it's definitely worth looking for at least one depth guy in either free agency or the later rounds in the draft in addition to bringing in that new starter, and it shouldn't be too hard to find upgraded depth.
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Old 01-11-2007   #9
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Default Defensive Position Analysis

DB
Dunta Robinson is easily our best DB but he played inconsistent, some games he could shut down an opposing WR, other games he seemed to lack concentration and/or drive and just didn't get it done. DeMarcus Faggins has decent coverage skills, but he's just too slow to keep up with most starting WRs in this league as is Lewis Sanders, although Sanders also has terrible ball skills. Teams have figured this out and have figured out that we usually keep our CBs on a particular side of the field rather than matching them up with a particular receiver, and teams exploited this many times during the year. Faggins would be solid as a nickelback and Sanders could be ok as nickel/dime or even as a FS, but neither should be starting for us if we want to be a playoff caliber team. Von Hutchins and Dexter Wynn played ok in spot duty this year and should probably be around for training camp, but I wouldn't count on any of them making the final roster. Dexter McCleon played a decent amount this year and was servicable as an emergency guy and will likely be around in training camp to duke it out for a roster spot, but he also should not see a whole lot of action if we're going to be a contender. Chris McKenzie and Roc Alexander spent the year on IR and both could also be decent as a nickel/dimeback, both should be around for camp and I think both have a decent shot at making the final roster next year, and could contribute on special teams and in heavy passing situations, although yet again I'd prefer it if we didn't have to depend on them for serious playing time.

Glenn Earl is a decently solid SS. He has decent athleticism, tackles fairly well, and has decent instincts, although I'd like to see him try to make more plays on the ball rather than just waiting back and hitting people, although he can lay a pretty good hit at times. However, he isn't very good in coverage, although he's servicable as a run stopping SS. CC Brown is playing out of position at FS, he is pretty similar to Earl although he covers even worse and I don't think he has quite as good of instincts. He is a pretty solid tackler among a crowd but if he's out in the open field and needing to make a tackle 1-on-1 out in space then he struggles at times. I think it would be great if we brought in a true FS and let these two battle it out in camp for the starting SS spot, and I'd expect Earl to edge out Brown, but both shouldn't be prowling our defensive backfield together. Jason Simmons played a decent amount this year, some at SS/FS and a lot more as a dimeback. He did a decent job overall, he has decent athleticism but nothing special, he's a pretty solid tackler and isn't afraid to hit people, and he has decent instincts, although he is also quite short. I have no problem with him getting a chance to compete for a spot and being our 4th safety next year, although if we can get better players in here and bump him out of playing time or even a roster spot then that just makes us a better team. John Walker never made it onto the field during a game but looked decent in preseason and training camp. He has decent size and pretty solid athleticism, he needs to work on his instincts and awareness but that will come with experience, I'm glad to see they're sending him to Europe this summer to get some playing time, I think he can become a good FS/nickel/dimeback. Michael Stone spent training camp and the preseason with us and got signed back late in the year and only made it in a game on special teams. He's the most athletic of our safeties and has decent ball skills, but overall he's not especially good and although he may see training camp here I expect that again he'll be cut by the time the season starts.

Overall our secondary is still pretty weak, although we have a few pieces to build on. Dunta Robinson obviously is a starter as long as he decides to stay here, whether he can be our #1 guy with a solid starter opposite him or we need to look for a new #1 and make Dunta our #2 is a legitimate discussion. A combination of Faggins, Sanders, Walker, Alexander, or McKenzie would be solid special teamers, nickel/dimebacks, and depth at CB, but we need to find a new starting CB somewhere, whether that be in the draft or free agency. CC Brown and Glenn Earl would make for a solid competition for starting SS but neither is a good FS and we also need to find a FS that is capable of covering someone, and the free agent class appears to be pretty thin at that spot barring an unexpected release, so the draft is probably the best place to look for one of those. Walker and Simmons are solid backups, Simmons can play either safety spot and the loser between Brown and Earl could as well, Walker could be a good backup FS or CB. We really probably only need two add two pieces here, although adding more depth with talent is never a bad thing either if we can do so without stretching our finances too thin.

Special Teams
Kris Brown yet again had a below-average season, although he kicked the ball pretty well the second half of the year. He has previously said that he was working on correcting some of his mechanics early on in the year which could have led to his sporadic kicking, but judging from how he kicked last year that could have just been a continuation of the norm and he just happened to have a lucky streak late in the year. Either way, I think he kicked well enough late in the year to at least be given a training camp spot to compete for, and I hope they bring in another capable kicker to compete with him. I don't like that he is costing us $1.7 million against the cap, but it would still cost us $1 million to cut him and it would likely cost at least that remaining $700k to bring in a replacement of equal talent, so it likely wouldn't save us any money to replace him this year. Chad Stanley had another poor season although it was slightly better than last year. Still I can't imagine that it's hard to find a better punter out there, and given that his contract expired I don't know that they'd bring him back at all next year, and they already signed another punter for NFL Europe so if Stanley is back he at least has some competition. Our return game suffered this year, but if Jerome Mathis camn manage to keep himself healthy next year he should be a big help. Dexter Wynn did a pretty solid job in the return game this year and David Anderson was ok in limited action, but neither one really have the ability to take a return to the house short of getting amazing blocking along the way, and if I recall correctly Roc Alexander can return kicks too. This isn't really a position we need to go out of our way to look for, but if we bring in someone that is solid at an offensive or defensive position and can return kicks effectively as well then that's a nice side bonus.
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Old 01-11-2007   #10
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Default Front Office Analysis

Front Office
I am encouraged with the direction our front office is guiding us in. I think they have made some very good moves last offseason thru this season, all the way from the draft last year to some of their free agent signings last year to signings they made during the season to fill in for injured players. Outside of the David Anderson pick with Marques Colston and Hank Baskett available, I don't know that I'd change any of our draft picks last year. I also like how they had the cajones to stick with their convictions and make the pick that they thought was right despite all the public pressure to do otherwise (and for the record I supported the pick back then and stil do, and I think they would still do the same thing if they had to do it over again). Either way I like that they made their decision, withstood intense public scrutiny and stood by their decision, it shows that they will make the decision that they think is best for the team regardless of what others may say or think. I like that confidence. I would have liked to see them be a little more active in free agency last year but I think they did a solid job, and I hope they do likewise this year and bring in one big acquisition on both sides of the ball and then bring in some other solid players, we'll have to wait and see how much cap room we have and who becomes available. I look forward to seeing another very solid draft out of them, and from everything I've heard from and about Rick Smith combined with his ability to find contributing free agents off the streets this season I am excited to see what he can help add to our team. I also think we finally have a good coaching staff in place, it will be interesting to see who if anyone they bring in to replace Troy Calhoun as offensive coordinator and see if Mike Sherman ends up leaving to go be a head coach somewhere else. I wouldn't mind seeing us bring in Larry Coyer from Denver as an assistant head coach for the defense if they decide they would like some more expertise/advice on that side of the ball, although that might be adding one too many cook to the kitchen so to speak. I also would not mind them bringing in Alex Gibbs to help get our OLine and running game going, not sure how they would fit him in with Sherman here as assistant head coach and OLine coach (they already have John Benton as assistant OLine coach) but I would like them to find a way if possible, it would likely be easier if Sherman did end up going to coach somewhere else. Either way he has worked some wonders with several different teams in the past and wouldn't mind seeing what he can do with our guys. Outside of that I think our coaching staff is pretty solid and a few people I know with the team that have been around the league for several years agree that this is finally a legit coaching staff, we just need to get our roster up to par, but I think we are on the way and this staff is capable of getting us there.
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Old 01-11-2007   #11
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Default Re: Mork's 2006 Review

Great stuff Mork.
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Old 01-11-2007   #12
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Default Re: Mork's 2006 Review

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Old 01-11-2007   #13
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Default Re: Mork's 2006 Review

nice to see something well thought out around here....good stuff.
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Old 01-11-2007   #14
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Default Re: Mork's 2006 Review

Good to see you back. I skipped around some but tried to read as much of it as I could.
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Old 01-11-2007   #15
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Default Re: Front Office Analysis

sorry, but thats all wrong.

jk, great stuff. dont be offended if we give up half way through though.
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Old 01-12-2007   #16
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Default Re: Mork's 2006 Review

All I can say is WOW!!!!!!!
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Old 01-12-2007   #17
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Default Re: Mork's 2006 Review

Ummm... Have to disagree with you about Carr. I think he just had his worst season ever as a QB. I don't think anyone thought he was going to play this bad. Considering the expectations for him and the addition of Moulds, he looked horrible. And it's not all about #s either. When the coach can't trust the QB to even attempt a pass on 3rd and long, it shows that things aren't going very well. I have no idea how this Carr is improved at all considering the calls made on the field and the turnovers he has caused. I'm definitely going to support him if the FO chooses to let him stay, but I don't see how you can be even optomistic about Carr.
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Old 01-12-2007   #18
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Default Re: Mork's 2006 Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by phan1 View Post
Ummm... Have to disagree with you about Carr. I think he just had his worst season ever as a QB. I don't think anyone thought he was going to play this bad. Considering the expectations for him and the addition of Moulds, he looked horrible. And it's not all about #s either. When the coach can't trust the QB to even attempt a pass on 3rd and long, it shows that things aren't going very well. I have no idea how this Carr is improved at all considering the calls made on the field and the turnovers he has caused. I'm definitely going to support him if the FO chooses to let him stay, but I don't see how you can be even optomistic about Carr.
I think Kubiak's inital concern with the passing game was the pass protection or lack thereof (9 sacks allowed the first 2 games, couple with the season-ending injury to Spencer). From that point it seemed like Kubiak started shortening the passing game some, even still we still looked downfield a decent amount during those early games that many people seem to have forgotten about, and I think Carr looked pretty solid much of the time in those games. After the offense started getting scaled back and with defenses shifting their focus to the passing game (as explained a couple times in the lengthy posts) Carr struggled to adjust some, which led to Kubiak changing the offense around even more, which led to Carr struggling more, etc. you get the picture there, it was a vicious cycle. Carr clearly needs to play better, I think he is capable of playing better, and it seems as though the coaches think he can/expect him to play better, it doesn't seem as though they've given up on him yet and I haven't either, although my patience is starting to wear thin. I really think he has one year left to pick up more of the offense and hopefully they'll improve the offense more around him and give him better tools to succeed, and they will make him earn the starting role (maybe even use a mid round pick on a QB to groom as a possible future starter or at least a better backup). If he can't win the starting spot this year or if he struggles again after winning the spot then I think they look elsewhere, but I don't see it yet.
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Old 01-12-2007   #19
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Thumbs up Re: Mork's 2006 Review

great read! I'm still reading, actually..
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Old 01-12-2007   #20
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Default Re: Mork's 2006 Review

SUGOI MORK!! SUGOI means GREAT in Japanese.
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