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Lets look back at last years big names
A few thoughts on guys we wanted and did not take.
Vernon Gholston #56 Linebacker
No sacks and 13 Tackles and only 5 solo
Vernon Gholston Still Trying to Shake That Bust Label,
Jets' first-rounder Vernon Gholston can't get to quarterback, or on field
BY RICH CIMINI
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Tuesday, October 14th 2008, 10:25 PM
Jets rookie Vernon Gholston is having trouble getting grip of pro game and for most part has been banished to sidelines...
... and may not get a chance to tackle Darren McFadden.
Two of the NFL's highest-drafted rookies will face each other Sunday in Oakland - Jets outside linebacker Vernon Gholston and Raiders running back Darren McFadden. Watch your TV closely; it might be hard to find Gholston - unless the camera slow-pans the sideline.
The former Ohio State standout is discovering that life in the NFL is a lot tougher than carefree Saturdays in the Big Ten. Five games into his pro career, Gholston still is looking for his first sack. The Jets held a sack party in Sunday's victory over the Bengals, as six different players combined for five sacks, but Gholston never got close to the quarterback.
He was lucky to get in the game. Removed from the sub packages - his role in the previous games - Gholston didn't play until the third quarter, when he spelled the banged-up Bryan Thomas (calf). As soon as Thomas was able to return, it was back to the bench for Gholston, who registered zero tackles in 13 plays.
The Jets expected growing pains from Gholston, who is learning a new position, but they probably never imagined this: Only one tackle. Obviously, they'd never admit it.
"When I'm going to be concerned is when we're not making progress, and when we're not seeing him get better, week-in, week-out," Eric Mangini said. "That, to me, is a concern."
Gholston was drafted sixth, two picks after McFadden, who was rated one spot ahead of Gholston on the Jets' draft board, a person familiar with the team's thinking said at the time. If the Raiders hadn't selected McFadden, who has rushed for 302 yards and a 5.1 average, he'd be taking handoffs from Brett Favre.
"If I were the Jets, I would've done everything I could to get McFadden or (Jonathan) Stewart," an opposing personnel director said this week, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Stewart, picked 13th by the Panthers, was downgraded by many teams, including the Jets, because of a toe injury. So far, it hasn't been a factor, as Stewart has rushed for 284 yards and four touchdowns. The Jets could use some explosiveness in their backfield; they still don't have a run longer than 17 yards.
They recognized that shortcoming, but they felt Gholston was the best value at No.6 even though they had big money already invested in two outside linebackers, Thomas and Calvin Pace. Thomas, who leads the team with 4-1/2 sacks, has rebounded from a disappointing season, raising the question of whether the Jets panicked by drafting his would-be replacement only one year after signing Thomas to a long-term extension.
Few teams can afford to make the sixth pick of the draft a part-time player, but the Jets have created that situation. Gholston, who received a five-year, $33 million deal, is the only top-10 pick who hasn't started a game. Of the 31 players chosen in the first round, 19 are listed as starters or have started at least one game. Eight are making key contributions off the bench and two are out for the season. Gholston and ***** defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer (29th pick) are the only players who would fall into the minimal impact category.
The Jets will be patient with Gholston because they know it takes time to make the transition from a 4-3 defensive end, his college position, to a 3-4 outside linebacker. One rival scout compared him to the venerable Willie McGinest, a high pick who needed time before he felt comfortable as an outside linebacker in the 3-4. Others are alarmed that Gholston hasn't generated any pass rush as a down lineman, his position in the sub package.
"I really don't view his job as just rushing the quarterback," said Mangini, who believes Gholston's progress can't be measured by stats alone. "His job is to be a good defensive football player."
The proof is in the playing time - or lack thereof.
72 Glenn Dorsey, DT
One sack and 47 Tackels, One FF.
Dorsey's dominance should go a long way toward helping Kansas City rebuild its defense. He should command double-teams and the Chiefs become better up the middle instantly. There were some concerns about problems with Dorsey's tibia stress fracture, which may have been the reason he was still on the board at this point. His best traits are outstanding agility and a great motor.
The Chiefs picked Dorsey with the No. 5 pick. Since many expected Dorsey to go even higher, the Chiefs were hailed for getting a steal. While that was the scouting report coming out of Louisiana State, it's hard to see much of that when you watch Dorsey against the Jets. Dorsey was facing a tough matchup, as Jets left guard Alan Faneca is one of the best guards in the league. But if this was a heavyweight fight between Dorsey and Faenca, it would have been called early in the first quarter.
Dorsey finished with one tackle, which came downfield on a pass play. Dorsey got one hit on Jets quarterback Brett Favre, which came on a play where Favre held the ball too long. But generally, Dorsey was completely dominated by Faneca, and he never soaked up the double-teams that the Chiefs hope he will receive as he develops -- Faneca didn't need any help.
Dorsey played 48 of the 66 snaps for the Chiefs defense. He did show the motor that he showed at LSU. I only saw one instance in those 48 snaps where Dorsey gave up on a play before the play was over, and that was on an end-around that was to the other side of the field. On passes to the flats or over the middle, Dorsey would consistently chase the ball, even when he was 10 yards away from the play.
That was the best attribute he showed; what was disconcerting was his complete lack of pass rushing moves. Dorsey was not quick enough to beat Faneca off the snap, and when Faneca locked him up, Dorsey didn't have a large arsenal of moves to try to get free. In 32 pass plays, Dorsey never tried a spin move, and he rarely tried a swim move or a rip to disengage from Faneca. Usually, he tried to simply bull rush Faneca, which never worked. In fact, Dorsey didn't show the power to even move Faneca off the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackles aren't expected to get a lot of sacks, but they are asked to push the pocket into the quarterback, which prevents the quarterback from stepping up into the pocket if he's avoiding outside pressure.
On play after play, Dorsey was left churning his legs at the line while the rest of the Chiefs front four fired upfield. Dorsey's lack of push stood out, although it actually resulted in Dorsey's only tackle of the game. On a dumpoff pass to Leon Washington over the middle of the field, Dorsey was in position to make the tackle because he had gotten no penetration. So when Washington caught the pass three yards past the line of scrimmage, Dorsey only had to turn around and caught up to Washington as he tried to dodge a tackler.
I counted only one running plays (in 16 attempts) where Dorsey made any impact at all. On an end around to Brad Smith, Faneca was asked to pull. That left a gap for Dorsey to shoot through and he read the play nicely, almost getting a hand on Smith as he ran by.
The bad plays by Dorsey were more numerous. A couple of times, Faneca took advantage of Dorsey's aggresiveness, allowing him to shoot the outside or inside gap on running plays designed to hit another gap. Dorsey would aggressively fire upfield, but Faneca would allow him a step, then used his hands to turn Dorsey and drove him out of the play by using Dorsey's momentum against him.
Dorsey was also suckered on an 18-yard screen pass for a touchdown in the first quarter. Faneca gave a quick shove to Dorsey, then pulled out to set up for the screen. Dorsey should have realized that something was up, as it was the only time he had gotten free to rush the passer all day, but he fired into the backfield anyway, opening up a big gap that helped allow Washington to easily gallop into the end zone. To Dorsey's credit, he learned from the mistake and properly read the next screen the Jets ran.
But as the game went on, you could see Dorsey realizing he was completely outclassed. In the second half, Faneca put Dorsey on the ground on two plays. On the first one, Dorsey fired out too low, which meant he wasn't fully balanced. Faneca took advantage using his left hand to shove Dorsey to the ground before kneeling on top of him. As Dorsey laid on the ground like a beaten wrestler, Thomas Jones ran for 17 yards through the gap Faneca had created.
I went back and watched some of last week's game against the Titans to see if this was an aberration for Dorsey. Unfortunately it wasn't. Dorsey showed some better pass rush moves against the Titans, but he was a liability in the running game, as the Titans ran at him successfully. On several different occasions, Dorsey was tossed to the ground to create massive holes for the Titans running game.
The Chiefs defensive scheme isn't doing Dorsey much favors--I counted only one stunt that the Chiefs ran with Dorsey in 32 pass plays. When defensive linemen aren't generating pressure by physically beating their man (and the Chiefs had only one sack), stunts and line twists can help get someone a free shot at the quarterback. In the Chiefs case, that isn't happening.
Every Play Counts: Miami Dolphins' Jake Long an OK Left Tackle, Great Right Tackle
Posted Sep 24th 2008 9:00AM by Michael David Smith (author feed)
Filed under: Dolphins
Every Play Counts is Michael David Smith's weekly look at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game.
Everyone already knows that Miami running back Ronnie Brown ran for four touchdowns and threw for another as the Dolphins dominated the New England Patriots. But not enough attention has been paid to the role that rookie offensive tackle Jake Long played as the Dolphins' offense suddenly and shockingly came to life on Sunday.
Specifically, there were 10 plays on which the Dolphins moved Long from his usual position on the left side and instead had him play on the right side in an unbalanced line, and an examination of Long on every play of the game shows that while he's just OK at protecting quarterback Chad Pennington on pass plays, which is his primary responsibility when he's playing left tackle, he's dominant as a run blocker, which is his main job when he's a right tackle.
Long was great in short-yardage situations on Sunday. The Dolphins had a first-and-goal in the first quarter on which Long first blocked defensive end Richard Seymour out of the play and then went up to the second level and blocked cornerback Ellis Hobbs. Ronnie Brown didn't get into the end zone on the handoff, but if he had, Long would have deserved the bulk of the credit.
The play after that was the first time the Dolphins used what they're calling their "Wildcat" offense, with Long moving over to the right side of the line, Pennington lining up as a wide receiver and Brown taking a shotgun snap. Brown ran right behind Long for a two-yard touchdown on the play. Although Long's block didn't look dominant -- he didn't knock anyone down or anything -- he did exactly what he needed to do: He took a hard step toward the sideline and sealed off the edge, which cleared the path for Brown. From the Dolphins' perspective, the block was executed perfectly.
Long wasn't perfect on every running play. On a first-and-10 handoff to Ricky Williams in the second quarter, Long was at left tackle, one-on-one with Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green. Long made good initial contact with Green, but he didn't sustain his block, and Green tackled Williams for a two-yard gain on a play that could have gone a long way if Williams had been able to get past Green and break to the outside.
But most of the time, Long doesn't just sustain his run blocks, he also pushes his man a few yards down the field. If you see a replay of Brown's second touchdown run, watch Long at left tackle, lined up against Green. Long makes the contact and then continues to drive forward with his legs, like he's pushing a blocking sled. By the time Brown ran past them, Long had pushed Green five yards back.
On the Dolphins' second offensive play of the game, Long was lined up at his usual position of left tackle, matched one-on-one with Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour. This is a rookie in his third NFL game going against a five-time Pro Bowler. And Long absolutely destroyed Seymour. Long got under Seymour's pads, pushed him straight back for five yards, and had Seymour looking like a scrub, not like one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league, which is what he is.
Long had a lot of blocks like that. On Brown's third touchdown run, Long was on the right side in an unbalanced line, and he abused Patriots defensive end Ty Warren, knocking Warren several yards back as Brown ran past them into the end zone. On a run to the right by Brown late in the second quarter, Long, at left tackle, knocked Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel to his knees and kept him from ever getting within 10 yards of the play.
Long is already one of the best run-blocking offensive tackles in the NFL, and on the 10 plays Sunday when he lined up on the right side, he looked like a natural there.
Unfortunately, when Long is on the left side, protecting Pennington, he doesn't look so natural.
Pennington was never sacked on Sunday, but there were a few plays when Long left him vulnerable. On one Pennington pass in the first quarter, Long was at left tackle with Seymour to his inside and Vrabel to his outside. He gave a quick shove to Seymour and then turned toward Vrabel, but it was too late: Vrabel was already past him. Fortunately for the Dolphins, Brown stayed in for pass protection and kept Vrabel from getting to Pennington, with Long eventually coming over to help Brown. I can't say for sure what the Dolphins' protection assignments were on the play, but it looked like Brown bailed Long out by blocking Vrabel when Long should have.
On another pass play, a second-and-12 in the third quarter, Long was at left tackle with Patriots outside linebacker Adalius Thomas to his outside. At the snap, Patriots safety Rodney Harrison blitzed to Long's inside, and Long let him go to block Thomas. That was a mistake; if Long had to let someone go it should have been Thomas, who had a longer route to get to Pennington. Fortunately for the Dolphins, Pennington got his pass off just before Harrison hit him, and it was complete for a 12-yard gain to Williams.
Two plays later Long made a similar mistake: When Thomas looped to the inside to blitz, Long got caught flat-footed and let Thomas go when he should have followed him. But, again, Pennington escaped the pressure and passed for a first down. Any of those plays could have resulted in Pennington getting sacked, but since Pennington got the passes away despite the pressure, no one will remember how Long screwed up.
One of the good things about having a weak-armed quarterback like Pennington is that the Dolphins are going to throw mostly short passes, meaning they don't need the offensive line to hold its blocks quite as long as they would if Pennington were throwing downfield more often. And most of the time, Long at least got in the way of the guy he was pass-blocking for long enough that Pennington could get a short pass away. On the first play of the Dolphins' second offensive series, for instance, Long was matched one-on-one with Vrabel, who blitzed as Pennington dropped back to pass. Vrabel got a fairly good first step and appeared to have Long off balance for a moment, but Long quickly recovered and stayed in front of Vrabel long enough to allow Pennington to get the pass off.
Of all the Patriots who rushed Pennington with Long blocking them, the one who was the most effective was probably defensive end Jarvis Green, who almost disrupted one of Pennington's first quarter passes simply by pushing Long straight back toward Pennington. The knock on Long coming out of college was that he would struggle with speed rushers, as he did with former Ohio State defensive end and current Jets linebacker Vernon Gholston. But on Sunday it was the bull rush that seemed more effective against Long.
When I was at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, I talked to several NFL people who thought Long, a left tackle at Michigan, should move to the right in the NFL. Based on the way he played Sunday, I'd have to concur. He's as good as they come at opening holes in the running game, but I'd be worried if I were a quarterback counting on Long to protect my blind side.
133 Carries 499 yards, avg. 4.4 yards, 4 touch downs.
Raiders’ McFadden needs more chances on the ground
By Anthony Carroll | Wednesday, December 03, 2008 | ( 15 )
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There are still plenty of questions out there surrounding Oakland Raiders rookie running back Darren McFadden.
Can he stay healthy? Can he be a full-time NFL running back? Is he a good enough blocker? Can he carry the Raider offense for four quarters?
Well, there’s all of four weeks remaining in McFadden’s rookie season, and not many of those key questions have been answered. Scattered injuries and a coaching staff that refuses to put McFadden on the field have kept the former Arkansas standout on sidelines.
The 21-year-old has just 405 yards rushing this season -- second on the team behind veteran rusher Justin Fargas, who has 629 yards -- on just 87 carries. Not surprisingly, at 4.7 yards per carry, McFadden leads the team’s halfbacks in that category. Yet, with so few rushes this season, it’s not all too clear how well he’d fare if he was the team’s every-down back.
The Raiders’ head coaches (both of them) have been very picky about when and where to use McFadden. The 210-pounder averages fewer than 10 carries per game, despite the Raiders rushing nearly 30 times each contest.
Among all NFL rookie halfbacks, McFadden ranks sixth in total yardage gained, despite being the first back taken and being selected by a predominantly rushing team. Even worse, he ranks ninth in rushing touchdowns among all rookies, eighth in carries and ninth in first-down rushes.
Certainly, when the Raiders used the fourth overall pick on McFadden, everyone expected him to explode onto the scene. At the very least, 1,000 yards was expected. Now, it looks as if he’ll gain somewhere close to 600 yards.
In the nine weeks he’s played, McFadden has been the game's leading rusher only one time. And the Raiders didn’t learn from that experience.
After McFadden cut up the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 for 164 yards and a touchdown to earn the Raiders their first win of the season, McFadden was limited to just 13 yards rushing in last week’s lost against the Chiefs. In Week 2, McFadden carried the ball 21 times; in Week 13, he carried it seven times. Why McFadden wasn’t used more in the rushing game was a true head-scratcher.
“I’m more than ready for it,” McFadden said before the game last week. “Missing three games was hard, having to sit there and watch, but now I’m back out there and looking forward to playing them (Kansas City) again.”
McFadden has now only rushed for more than 50 yards in a game one time this season, and has double-digit carries in only three games. In two of those games, the Raiders won. In the other (Buffalo), they lost by a point on a last-second field goal.
“(Defenses) have to account for him” coach Tom Cable said of McFadden last week.
“It’s just his ability -- his explosiveness. In a sense (he’s) a true playmaker.”
So why not give the playmaker the football and let him run around with it?
Re: Lets look back at last years big names
A player cannot really be labeled a "bust" after only their rookie season and I think most of these guys will get on track. It sounds to me that Dorsey really needs to work on his hands and pass-rushing moves. Gholston climbed most draft boards due to his huge combine numbers anyway, so he looks like he might be a bit of a bust. Not unlike San Fran's Vernon Davis. Long should be alright and McFadden will be fine when (if) Oakland gets some stability and some form of an OL.
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