Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shutdown Corners are Overrated

Champ Pictures, Images and Photos

Don't believe me? Check this. None of the teams that played in this years AFC and NFC Championship games started a "shutdown corner". Let's review, shall we?

Baltimore started Fabian Washington and Samari Rolle down the stretch. And their defense played championship ball. Granted, Ed Reed is in an area code by himself but still this team has no "shutdown" corner. You could argue that Reed can play a shutdown roll but I'd argue that safeties don't line up on WRs and "take away half the field" unless you're looking to throw over the top frequently.

Pittsburgh has historically played team defense and stayed away from shutdown corners. Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend don't scare anyone on paper, but when they pop you with their physical style the game indeed changes. Ask Willis McGahee. They too have an all world safety but like I said earlier, you can avoid safeties if you don't go over the top. If you are looking to throw underneath, there may not be a duo in the league that will hit your receivers harder.

On to the NFC, Arizona starts Rod Hood and DRC. Cromartie's a rookie who is coming into his own, but hardly a shutdown corner at this stage. They too have a great safety over the top but Arizona plays great team defense and get a lot of pressure from pass rushers Laboy, Hayes, and Okaefor.

Philly has Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown. Brown and Samuel may be the closest thing to shutdown corners in the Championship round, and yet Kurt Warner had a field day against their defense. Brian Dawkins is a tremendous run support safety but at this stage in his career Kurt Warner showed that "Weapon X" is not to be feared when going over the top.

So what does all this mean for the Broncos you may ask? Simple. We are clinging on to an early 2000's style of defense when the game has clearly changed. Of the 4 teams I profiled, 3 run a 3-4 base defense. Last season Denver ran a 4-3. All four teams have a Pro Bowl safety. Denver started a rookie and a journey man and subsequently were in the bottom third of the league in total defense and rushing defense as usual.

Other Bronco fans have suggested that we trade Champ Bailey and/or change personnel to run the base 3-4. It seems that Mike Nolan will bring the 3-4 but what about the players. You need players to run the system. A 3-4 does not need a corner to "take away half the field". In reality it looks as if the opposite works better. The teams that made it to their Conference Championships all started at least one physical corner, with a mammoth nose tackle, and run supporting safety. Denver lacks all three of these things. Should we trade Champ Bailey to fulfill the requirements needed to run a 3-4? We may have no choice.

Mel Kiper's First Round

Crabtree Pictures, Images and Photos

Mel Kiper's first round

Pick Team Player Position College
1 Detroit Matthew Stafford QB Georgia
2 St. Louis Andre Smith OT Alabama
3 Kansas City Mark Sanchez QB USC
4 Seattle Michael Crabtree WR Texas Tech
5 Cleveland Aaron Curry LB Wake Forest
6 Cincinnati Jason Smith OT Baylor
7 Oakland Jeremy Maclin WR Missouri
8 Jacksonville Eugene Monroe OT Virginia
9 Green Bay Malcolm Jenkins CB Ohio St.
10 San Francisco Aaron Maybin DE/OLB Penn St.
11 Buffalo Brandon Pettigrew TE Oklahoma St.
12 Denver B.J. Raji DT Boston College
13 Washington Brian Orakpo DE Texas
14 New Orleans Vontae Davis CB Illinois
15 Houston Everette Brown DE Florida St.
16 San Diego Knowshon Moreno RB Georgia
17 New York Jets Percy Harvin WR Florida
18 Chicago Tyson Jackson DE LSU
19 Tampa Bay Josh Freeman QB Kansas St.
20 Detroit (from Dallas) Rey Maualuga LB USC
21 Philadelphia Chris "Beanie" Wells RB Ohio St.
22 Minnesota Hakeem Nicks WR North Carolina
23 New England Brian Cushing LB USC
24 Atlanta Larry English DE/OLB No. Illinois
25 Miami Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Maryland
26 Baltimore D.J. Moore CB Vanderbilt
27 Indianapolis Peria Jerry DT Mississippi
28 Philadelphia (from Carolina) Michael Oher OT Mississippi
29 New York Giants James Laurinaitis LB Ohio St.
30 Tennessee Michael Johnson DE Georgia Tech
31 Arizona LeSean McCoy RB Pittsburgh
32 Pittsburgh Alex Mack C California

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Plaxico! We Miss You!

plaxico Pictures, Images and Photos

So after getting straight up bullied by the Philadelphia Eagles several Giants players have told the media they would like Plaxico Burress back with the Giants. Of course you do. You need him.

Domenick Hixon, Steve Smith, and Amani Toomer at wide out aren't scaring ANY ONE. Sorry. Combine that with Hixon and Smith's occasional cases of the dropsies when they do break open, and you have a 1 dimensional team: Brandon Jacobs or Derrick Ward running the ball.

Eli's not going to get you back to the Super Bowl without a legit #1 receiver. Teams will load up and stop Jacobs. You dont want Plaxico back, you frankly need him.

It's Smith or Stafford for the Lions

As the 2009 NFL Draft approaches, the Detroit Lions have a lot of things to think about. They need to hire a coach, and get him in sync with the management staff as to who they will select with the #1 overall pick they earned by going a perfect 0-16 this season. Looking at the prospects, there are 2- maybe 3 choices that make sense. Do you take the QB of the future, or a franchise left tackle?

Choice #1- Matt Stafford, QB Georgia.
Matt Stafford Pictures, Images and Photos
The highly regarded signal caller from Georgia. Stafford has put together a very nice season. His 153.54 QB rating ranks #15 among the NCAA. He is tied for 17th in the nation with 25 touchdowns and only threw 10 interceptions. He is a tremendous athlete and was the top passer coming out of high school. The only thing left to see about Matt is how he will translate to the NFL game. He struggles early in some games and in the NFL that is bound to continue as he adjusts to the game. If he goes to Detroit, he will have Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith to help him out but will Detroit upgrade the talent to protect him?

Choice #2- Andre Smith, OT Alabama.
Andre Smith OT Pictures, Images and Photos
Andre Smith played very well along with the rest of Alabama's line for the most part of their season. With Andre Smith anchoring that line, J.P. Wilson was only sacked 16 times in 13 games. But In Bama's loss to Utah Andre was injured and they gave up 8 sacks to the Utes. If he goes to Detroit he would presumably have the job of protecting Dan Orlovsky. Orlovsky is a drop back passer unlike Daunte Culpepper who likes to scramble. At 6'4 and 330 Smith is a prototypical franchise LT and if the Lion's learned from the Dolphins quick turnaround they would know that fixing your lines goes a long way in the NFL.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Knowshon and Matt Make it Official

matt stafford best qb in tha nation Pictures, Images and Photos

Knowshon Moreno and Matt Stafford made it official today: They're headed to the league.

This is after Georgia's disaster season which culminated in an anti-climatic win over a Michigan State team that was way over matched. The Bulldogs were ranked #1 at the beginning of the season and touted presumably the best QB/RB combo this side of Beanie and Terelle.

Are they ready for the NFL game? Yes. There is not much either could do at this point to boost their draft stock any further. Knowshon is the #1 or #2 RB depending on who you ask, and Matt Stafford is in the running to be the top pick to Detroit.