In keeping with my theme that the glass is half-full, but at the same time recognising that this team of ours has some fundamental flaws in it's make-up, I'm going to depart from quasi-philosophical wandering and throw you all a bone. Or a blueprint at least. I don't say that it's possible, and I certainly don't think that it's probable but in a talking shop like ours it may be worth consideration and give us a little food for thought.
From early season promise our defence would look to have regressed alarmingly. The Denver game, which had some who tread these boards claiming that our D was one of the best Ram D's of all time, was, I would argue, largely a product of a Denver team being largely unprepared for the Defensive game plan of the Rams and their new co-ordinator Jim Haslett. What happened in the games immediately after the Denver show was that the Rams reverted to giving up a lot of yards but had the ability to take the ball away.
The result was the same, one in the win column, with the exception of the whiner game which we all hope was an aberration of sorts, but the signs were there for all to see. If we looked past the gloss of the wins, it was obvious that on the defensive side of the ball we were playing a high risk, boom or bust type of game.
Despite the reverses of recent weeks, I have plenty of confidence in Jim Haslett. I honestly believe that, as a co-ordinator he is a huge step up on Larry Marmie and that he has assembled a scheme that in the early part of the season managed to camouflage what I believe is the underlying issue of our football club. And that is that we simply do not have enough talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Now that teams have had enough time to look past the smoke and mirrors of the multitude of blitz packages that he has installed, Haslett is burdened with the uncomfortable fact that he doesn't have enough talent on that side of the ball to compete with top flight teams in the NFL. That's what you need to get into the playoffs and then stay there, and we just don't have it. You can scheme as much as you like, but as we all know, there's only so much scheming and gameplanning you can do to mitigate a shortfall in talent. In this game of ours over the course of a season you get found out and we have been.
Face it, Jim has to pick his poison. Either we sit back in a kind of cover 2, blanket receivers, generate no pass rush and get ran all over or we stack eight men in the box in a kind of 46, dare people to throw on our average secondary which they will and we get passed to death. What do you do? Well, you do what he's doing which is mix it up, blitz when you can, squeeze teams in the redzone and pray you don't get gashed when you do decide to throw the sink.
Where do you start, when you consider what to do about the mess that Jim has inherited?
Well, I'm going to revert to conventional wisdom here (not the eastern kind that I've been known to go on about) and venture that we build a group of players that can stop the run. If you have a team that can run and add the ability to stop the run, then you are one good QB away from the SuperBowl. Isn't that what historically inspired conventional wisdom dictates?
We all know it and so does Jim, but how do we get there?
Well, it's not going to happen this season. If we accept that it's not about the system it's the players, and we accept that the players that we have as a group have demonstrated, over the last three seasons that they don't have the collective talent to get it done, then, inspired by the fast and conventional wisdom, we look to the future.
And in that future I don't necessarily see Leonard Little. Little is a great pass rusher but widely considered to be a liability against the run. He's coming up to a contract year, he's over 30 years old we've likely seen the best from him and whilst he still has a couple of good years left, would it not be best to realise a second round pick from a team desperate to add a pasrusher to an already solid front seven. I say second, but it could even be a third.
In this vein, abandon the Jimmy Kennedy experience as futher evidence of our poor record at drafting first round DT's. I like Jimmy, but his track record to date is a poor one and I suggest, unlikely to improve dramatically any time soon.
Accept the leadership given by La'roi Glover and further accept that whilst his level of play this season hasn't been superlative he's surrounded by less talent now than at any stage of his career. He's on the slope to retirement but still has a couple of years left.
Polish Adeyanju, but don't rest easy in the knowledge that he's the answer.
Cherish Witherspoon and Tinoisamoa enough to know that you have to give them more help. Another solid young run-stuffing SLB would be a great addition. Chillar I feel, isn't quite what he might be.
Recognise that the secondary has two solid players in Brown and Chavous, two less than solid ones in Fisher and Atogwe. But Atogwe is young and also know that the unit as a whole has been hampered by the lack of pressure up front. The time for Hill maybe soon, but he hasn't as yet demonstrated that he's ready to step up or a dramatic upgrade over Fisher. You could argue that we need a turnaround at 3 spots here but that seems a mite drastic.
In short, to achieve the kind of progress that we all want it may be necessary to cut some ties. We have to invest heavily in new talent over the next two seasons if we are to see any improvement in our D's ability to stop the run.This, I feel is key to it's future success as a unit and as a contributor to us getting to the playoffs consistently.
It may not be necessary to explode it all overnight and start again, but then that's what the unit may need. Real and sudden change. We may have to move to a 3-4, we may decide that Witherspoon is best suited as an OLB in a 4-3, there are a multitude of decisions to make, but I know that we have to do something and it has to involve some tough decisions about players who we assume are keepers. Little maybe a luxury we can't afford in more than just dollar terms.
I think we need to challenge existing assumptions.
I'm pretty sure that they'll have done it and are doing it.
Well Fat Pang is off and running, or writing, so to speak. Two articles in a few days time. Very impressive. He must be very excited to write for the Clan.
The fish story was a good one....nice and relaxing. FIsh and dolphins are nice, especially when the beat up on da bears.
Revamping the Defense and dumping lots of players seems extreme, but maybe it is necessary. I don't want to wait around for a few years to see if Haslett can put a decent defense together. Is the coaching the problem? or are the players lacking in talent? Who knows....I am not sure.
FP, very good article. I tend to agree with you. The old saying is that the truth hurts. The fact of the matter is that blowing up this defense might just be the answer.
Tried to give you reps....denied, need to spread them around.:r
Letting Little go is a scary proposition. As you say, he is not very good against the run, but we have no depth there at all right now. If we were to let him walk in the off-season, we would virtually ensure another year of defensive struggles. Could we really afford to go into the off-season with Victor Adeyanju and Brandon Green as our only defensive ends? Maybe it would pay off in the long run, but the clock is ticking on some of our offensive stars. Likewise, if we don't hold on to Kennedy, it's not like we've been priming someone to take his place. So maybe we try to switch to a 3-4 because of our lack of depth at defensive line? Move Glover back to NT, draft another big run defender at end? How do the 'backers line up then?
It is a bit of a conundrum, but I don't think dumping players without having adequate replacements on the roster is the answer. Seattle has got a pretty good pair of defensive ends now because of similar reasoning on our part that those players weren't worth what they were going to be paid. You're right, though, that we have to consider that tough choices may have to be made to get this D back on track. I'm afraid I don't know it is going to take at this point.
I'm not saying that I have the answer but if you haven't noticed since Lovie left we haven't exactly been blowing people away with our defensive prowess. I enjoyed the article emmensely I think that this is exactly the right thing to do for our team as a whole.
Originally Posted by Goldenfleece
First of all who is making the draft day decisions? I think we had the most productive draft that we have had in a long time in 2006 but obviously we have either gotten rotten scouting reports or someone just isn't paying attention.
I worry too about the longviety of our offensive stars, but the fact remains it may get worse before it gets better.
It's just about food for thought really. Granted, we don't have enough playmakers on D to be able to afford to throw them away, but we have to confront the fact that we need far greater depth then we have right now and we need to able to consistently stop the run.
Perhaps we have to think the unthinkable?