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  1. #1
    Ram on nos Guest

    NFC West's weak link = Subpar secondaries

    Hey Rams Fans
    Here goes my first post!
    Its an article from Pro Football Weekly

    Subpar secondaries could present primary problem

    I’ve said it before in recent Web columns, and I’ll say it again: The NFC West, which has struggled more often than not the last couple of years, looks like it’s going to be a great deal more competitive in 2006.

    Considering the offseason improvements that appear to have been made by the Cardinals, Rams and Niners, something tells me the Seahawks, who remain the NFC West’s undisputed heavyweight, could actually have some company from at least one other team within the division in next season’s postseason tournament.

    That said, it occurs to me that there’s one glaring chink in the armor shared by all the NFC West’s teams heading into the 2006 campaign, the defending NFC champion Seahawks included.

    Their defensive backfields are shakier than the Cubs without Derrek Lee.

    And when you take into account the fact each of these teams has four games on the docket with the Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers and Raiders from the wild-and-wooly AFC West, their fragile defensive backfields, as they are currently constructed, figure to be tested to the max.

    Kansas City, Denver and San Diego finished first, fifth and 10th, respectively, in total offense in 2005. The Raiders didn’t fare as well, ranking 21st in total offense, but with Randy Moss and Jerry Porter among others on the roster, Oakland ranked 10th in passing offense and has an owner in Al Davis who remains hopelessly obsessed with dropping bombs downfield on a fairly regular basis.

    NFC West secondaries, beware.

    Speaking of those secondaries, let’s take a closer look, starting with Seattle’s.

    Despite showing major improvement overall on defense last season, the Hawks ranked 25th in passing yards allowed. They partially offset that lowly ranking with a surprisingly healthy pass rush (league-leading 50 sacks) and a concerted effort to avoid giving up big passing plays downfield (they ranked an above-average 13th on average gain allowed per pass play).

    The Seahawks look to be in decent shape at right corner and strong safety with Marcus Trufant and Michael Boulware, respectively — a pair of ascending players with perennial Pro Bowl potential. But left corner and free safety are different stories altogether.

    With Andre Dyson being released before this year’s free-agent period, a three-man battle shapes up at left corner featuring Kelly Herndon, who is coming off surgery to his left knee that forced him to miss the last four regular-season games and is considered by many to be better-suited as a third corner covering slot receivers; Jordan Babineaux, a major playmaker in a situational role last year but an unproven commodity as a starter; and first-round pick Kelly Jennings, who was a proven performer at Miami (Fla.) but has a slight 5-11, 178-pound frame that could be altered significantly after a few bump-and-runs in the big show.

    At free safety, the Hawks are hoping Ken Hamlin can rebound from a fractured skull suffered in a nightclub altercation after the team’s blowout win over Houston last season, which put his career in serious jeopardy. Hamlin passed the eyeball test with flying colors at the Seahawks’ initial minicamp, but he has yet to be cleared for live contact drills, which will be the real litmus test later this summer. If Hamlin can’t cut the mustard, newly acquired Mike Green, formerly of the Bears, could end up starting, but he’s another guy who seems better-suited for a backup role.

    After all is said and done, the Seahawks’ secondary could be in OK shape — but just OK.

    As for the Cardinals, Rams and especially the Niners, major secondary issues remain at this writing.

    In Arizona, the one DB spot the Cardinals don’t have to worry about is strong safety, where Adrian Wilson played well enough last season to earn a Pro Bowl berth. After that, things get hairier than yours truly after a month away from the local barbershop.

    LCB Antrel Rolle is a former first-round pick with plenty of promise, but he missed most of his rookie season with a knee injury and spent much of the team’s first minicamp limping around like the lead character in the show “House,” suggesting that more touch-up work on the knee might be required. RCB David Macklin, meanwhile, is ordinary at best. And the biggest problem is ancient FS Robert Griffith, whose best days are way, way behind him.

    Moving on to St. Louis, the CB position is definitely cause for concern, with the two most proven commodities, Jerametrius Butler and Travis Fisher, coming off major injuries. Free-agent addition Fakhir Brown (from New Orleans) and first-round pick Tye Hill could mount serious challenges for starting roles, but Brown lacks the top-end speed to keep up with the Randy Mosses of the world, and Hill is undersized and seems better-served easing into the pro level in a reserve role.

    At strong safety, Corey Chavous, another free-agent addition (Minnesota), is studious and serviceable, but the projected starter at free safety, second-year pro O.J. Atogwe, must make a major leap in development.

    We’ve saved the worst for last.

    While most draftniks praised the Niners’ recent draft, the team did precious little to shore up a patchwork secondary that was primarily responsible for league-low rankings last year in both passing yardage allowed and average gain per pass play.

    RCB Shawntae Spencer and SS Tony Parrish effectively fill the bill at their positions, provided they can stay healthy. On the left corner, however, former first-round pick Mike Rumph remains a very scary project indeed, while at free safety, the current challengers for the starting job all appear to be Band-Aids with precious little adhesive.

    Consider yourselves warned.
    By Dan Arkush

    Kind of a harsh review of the Rams defencive backfield in my opinion. Sure the pass defence was pretty bad last year but here are the reasons I think it will bouce back.

    (1) Better tackling. They were soft last year and Haslett knows it. Hope he can fix it.
    (2) No Arch or Furrey. Its no secret that Arch wasnt performing well last year and wasnt great in coverage. Im not completly sold on Chavious being a major upgrade but think he will be more stable. With no disrespect to Furrey intended, he souldnt have been playing defence.
    (3) The return of Jerametrius Butler. He has been our best secondry player for the last couple of seasons. Assuming hes 100% healthy and hasnt lost a step from his injury he will have the no.1 CB slot locked up
    (4) Greater Depth. Drafting Tye Hill and the signing of Fakhir Brown just adds to the CB possibilitys. Not a big Brown fan and didnt think he deserved a 5 year deal with not a single solid season and very few int's but I guess Haslett knows what hes doing.
    (5) Improvement of second year players. Both Ron Bartell & O.J. Atogwe showed promise and the can only get better.
    (6) Pass rush improvements. I like the La'Roi Glover signing and hopefully he continues to be a force on passing downs and teach Claude Wroten a thing or two. A lot of this will depend on the development of Kennedy and Hargrove. Hargrove came on strong in the second half of the season and started to look quite good.(Ive got my fingers crossed for Kennedy)
    (7) New Co-ordinator,New Scheme. Marmie is gone. Hasletts scheme will have way more blitzing. Putting more pressure on the QB will no doubt cause more sacks, incompletions, passes defended and interceptions. More turnovers = better chance to win!!!

    There were a few uncertinties I guess, but I dont think the secondry is looking that bad at all. Im more worried about stopping teams racking up 150 yard rushers on us. What do you think?
    Last edited by Ram on nos; -05-24-2006 at 04:37 PM.

  2. #2
    RamOfDenmark Guest

    Re: NFC West's weak link = Subpar secondaries

    Good read.

    Hmm Seattle's secondary doesn't look that weak on paper IMO, unfortunately.

    As for our defense I agree that the run defense is more of a concern. I would have liked either a huge run-stopping DT or a SOLB who can take on blockers and runners with power, or of course both, in the draft. Instead we got smaller, faster players (and we got rid of Pickett), and that has me a little worried. We better hope Kennedy can protect our lighter LBs and let them roam around making plays. So much of our defense seems to hang on Kennedy's shoulders this year, and I'm not all that sold on him - that (and of course improved tackling from *everyone* on D) is the main issue I see with our defense right now. So yes, our secondary doesn't look fantastic, but I'm not that concerned about it, more with the other issues we have.

  3. #3
    RAM-BO's Avatar
    RAM-BO is offline Registered User
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    Re: NFC West's weak link = Subpar secondaries

    Michael Boulware won the SB for the Steelers. He was the only one who could have made the tackle on parkers 70+ yrd run and fell for the reverse and left Ward wide open in the end zone to be hit by Randel El.


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