Monday, May 11, 2009

More on the RBs

Last time out I mentioned that we should see improved health from Westy. Last year was a major struggle for him. He hurt his ankle when trying to hurdle Tra in the Steelers game in Week 3. Remember that Tra was on the ground. Brian jumped and as he came down one of his feet hit Tra's leg first. Brian missed the rest of that game and the next week. He then hurt his ribs vs WAS and missed the SF game.

Somewhere along the line his knee became really troublesome. I'm not sure when exactly that was. I was told this offseason that things got so bad they had one person focused solely on rehabbing his knee. Westy got treatment all week long so that he could take the field on Sunday.

Brian's performance was up and down. Still, he always looked a bit off. He lacked the burst and cutting ability that normally make him stand out. His YPC average was down and big plays were missing. Give Westy a lot of credit for getting out there and doing his best, often good enough for us to win.

After the season he had a surgical procedure to clean up the knee. There were some calcium deposits that had built up and they were removed. Westy says the knee feels good. That's very encouraging news. If his knee is better and Westy can get back to the 2006 or '07 level, the offense could really be in great shape.

We won't know for sure how he looks until September when Brian faces real defenses in a live setting. I'm optimistic based on what I've heard and read. The other thing to watch is to see how the knee holds up over time. Is he as good in Week 12 as Week 2?


Lorenzo Booker was a major disappointment in 2008. We all expected him to be a key role player and solid contributor. That never happened.

Things started going down hill when he struggled as a KOR in the preseason. LoBo had 6 returns for 85 yards. Not good. That made him a lot less important. He did have 22 carries and 11 catches in the presason games, but his long run was 17 yards and his long catch was 13 yards. What happened to the big play potential?

Booker had 64 total yards of offense for the 2008 season. 64. I figured he'd have a play that long at some point. His long run and catch was 8 yards. As a rookie for the Dolphins LoBo had 3 plays of 20 or more yards. We know he has the physical potential to be a playmaker.

I hope he and the coaches made some adjustments. The coaches need to figure out how best to use him. Throwing him slants isn't the answer. Work him into the offense with draws and screens. Do something creative. The pressure is on Booker to take advantage of any opportunities he gets. He dropped a couple of passes last year. Can't have that this year. He must make good things happen to keep his spot on the team.

I haven't given up on LoBo, but he's on a short leash this year. He's got to perform well and bring something to the table. Let's hope that will happen with the year of adjustment behind him. LoBo knows the playbook and his teammates. He understands the pressure of playing on a winning team.

Touches should be hard to come by this year. Westy is still the featured player. Leonard Weaver will get runs and catches. LeSean will get runs and catches. LoBo got 26 touches last year. He's gonna need one heck of a preseason to get that many touches this year. Booker has the talent. He's just got to step up to the plate and make things happen. Good things.



izzylangfan said...

Was LoBo's poor performance completely his fault? It seems that when they brought him in the Eagles were telegraphing that he was going to get the ball. He seemed to get nabbed in the backfield far too often. Do you have the stats on that? When the defense shoots the gap and nails the runner in the backfield, isn't that more the fault of the offensive line?

Tommy Lawlor said...

The coaches didn't help him out at all.

They threw him some passes, but most early throws to him were slants. LoBo did get 5 carries in the opener, but they came in garbage time. We had a backup OL in there and the Rams knew we were going to run. He also got 5 carries vs PIT, a very tough run D.

Against a bad run defense like ATL, Booker didn't get a carry. He got one vs SF. He did get 4 carries vs ARZ and had 21 yards.

Give him a chance to run behind the starting OL. Just mix him in.

I'm sure the coaches would point out that Booker had 20 carries and his long run was only 8 yards. Kyle Eckel had 24 carries and managed a 14-yder. LoBo's athletic ability just never showed up last year.

When a short-yardage back off the street puts up better numbers, that isn't good.

Eckel: 24 - 79 - 3.3 ypc - 14 (long run)
Booker: 20 - 53 - 2.7 ypc - 8

Cliff said...

Kyle vs. LoBo...

Don't their receiving stats tell us something about how the coaches view each player? In our offense, the RB has to be a receiver to see the field and while Eckel got more carries, he also had ZERO receptions. Booker, at least, was thrown to in his limited role.

I think Eckel is the (I should say "one of the") odd man out. His role was replaced by Weaver. Booker, on the other hand, is around because of his potential, but he will be competing with the UFA's. I can't see us keeping Eckel, but Booker might find a way on to the team.

shlynch said...

I can't see Booker making the roster this year. How can you justify using a roster spot on a RB who a) doesn't do anything your top two backs don't do and b) is useless on STs?

With the addition of McCoy -- and the likely role that Shady will play -- Booker is a marginal player on this team. I could tell you how they'd use Kyle Eckel (STs demon and short yardage back). I can't figure out under what circumstances you would use Booker, even if you could see your way clear to activate him on game day.

Stephen said...

Watching Booker was a frustrating thing, you could see just how quick he was, but he also seemed to be playing a little out of control.

I'd love to see him get plenty of carries in the preseason, let him settle down a bit and see if he can turn all that athleticism into something.

Cliff said...

shlynch's point about LoBo not doing anything the top 2 backs don't is a good one that I neglected. I contended that Eckel's role was filled by the addition of Weaver. However, Booker's role was filled by the drafting of McCoy, at the least.

With that said, Booker was originally as a future replacement at RB in this offense. We needed someone who could take Westy's place after the inevitable happens. Booker still offers that *potential* whereas Eckel does not. In fact, Kyle is fairly old. I think he turns 28 this season, which makes him older than Weaver and all the backup RB's. It doesn't make much sense to have a 'developmental' FB who's older than the starter, in my opinion.

Hopefully someone like Mendenhall has a really good Camp and preseason so we can keep a *young*, "big" back around.

T_S_O_P said...

I think LoBo was given his chances early. All but 8 touches and 22 yards coming in the first 6 weeks.

I agree with Slynch, and believe that come the start of the season Shady will be wearing his College No. on his jersey.

If we really need a player that can come in "just in case", there are plenty of better candidates without a job at the moment.

IMO the 4 most useful backs we have at present are Westy, Weaver, McCoy and Eckel. Though with the changes in the wedge rule, Eckel's excellence at breaking it will be less valued.

izzylangfan said...

The Eagles futility in third and one and other short yardage situations is not limited to last year. It actually goes back about the last four years. Eckel is a guy who gets the yard- even when everyone knows what the play is. He can play on my team.

shlynch said...

One thing I think that people don't really appreciate is that, as I understand it, Weaver wasn't used as a short-yardage back in Seattle. He just wasn't that kind of runner, despite his size. Maybe he can fill that role for us, but I can see the Eagles wanting Eckel on the team to fill the role, and at worse provide strong special teams play in the post-wedge era.

I could also see them using the spot for a different RB (probably not currently on the roster, maybe a Clifton Smith type, who another team tries to sneak on to the PS, or Buckhalter after Denver cuts him, given the RB glut there) who plays STs and provides something else to the team. But like I said, I can't think of any argument for keeping Booker.

Mark H. said...

When I watched LoBo, it looked like he couldn't pick up blitzes at all, and I was afraid he'd get McNabb killed. I'm sure that's one reason the coaches didn't feel they could put him on the field.