Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Around the League + Some Eagles Stuff


The offseason has started for 20 of 32 NFL teams. Let's take a look at some of the happenings so far.

WAS --- The Skins have hired Mike Shanahan to come in and save their franchise. Seems like I've heard this story before (Norv Turner, Spurrier, Schottenheimer, Gibbs). Mike had great success in Denver in the late 90s, winning consecutive Super Bowls. He had a team full of elite players. That group got old and Mike had to deal with a whole different situation.

Shanny was 7-1 in the playoffs in his first 5 years in Denver. The rest of his time there ... 1-4. He only had a couple of losing seasons, but struggled to get the team back to glory.

I think Mike is a gifted offensive coach, but I think he's overrated as a HC. Take away Elway and the stars and Mike was good, not great. He never could find a defensive coordinator to match his offensive acumen. Mike's biggest weakness was when he took over personnel. He made some terrible decisions. He loaded up on high maintenance, low character players. He bottomed out when he spent a 3rd round pick on Maurice Clarett.

I think Mike will do a solid job in D.C., but he still needs a strong personnel guy. Bruce Allen is a bad fit in my mind. Bruce worked with Gruden in OAK/TB and they consistently loaded up on veteran free agents. I can see Mike falling into that trap because of his desire to win ASAP. WAS needs someone to come in and draft well for 3 or 4 straight years to build up the infrastructure of the team. Allen isn't great at that. Nor is Shanny.

The Skins will be an improved team in 2010, but I don't fear them. I would have been much more nervous about Mike in Dallas where there is a strong talent base in place.

NYG --- The Giants were good in 2007. They overachieved in winning the SB. The team had a great start to 2008 and looked like the real deal, but then Plax got into trouble. The team was never the same. This year the Giants again started red hot. Injuries piled up and the team fell apart.

The Giants didn't have a great defense in '07. They had a great pass rush by the DL. Strahan was the man at LDE. Osi was the man at RDE. Tuck came off the bench and also played DT. Kiwi was hurt. The Giants had 3 terrific pass rushers and that made them a force. This group hasn't been the same since. Strahan retired after the SB. He was replaced by Tuck at LDE. Kiwi came back from injury to give them another rusher. Then Osi got hurt and missed all of 2008. Suddenly there was just Tuck and Kiwi. Osi returned in 2009, but wasn't 100%. Tuck hurt his shoulder and wasn't close to 100%. The great rush of 2007 simply wasn't there.

The secondary suffered lots of injuries. CB Aaron Ross wasn't ever 100% this year and actually spent most of his time at S. Kenny Phillips got hurt early and was never replaced. The Giants put a run defender in his place (C.C. Brown) and that killed the secondary. The rush wasn't good. No one could cover. The Giants gave up 40 or more points 3 times late in the year. That's unheard of for their team.

DC Bill Sheridan got fired. He was a scapegoat, but to be fair he never really helped matters. Anyone can coach when everybody is healthy and things are clicking. The good coaches are the guys who can put on a band-aid when times are rough and get his guys to still do a passable job.

Osi and Tuck will be healthy to start 2010. That will make a huge difference. Osi made some comments about getting traded, but I think that was just his frustration with getting benched. I think the Giants would be crazy to deal any of their pass rushers.

Eli and the offense should be fine next year. They need to develop a #3 RB, but they've got some guys with potential already in place. ProFootballTalk had opined that Tom Coughlin should be on the hot seat, but I don't agree with that. The Giants had a bad year and finished 8-8. That hardly seems cause for firing.

CAR --- The Panthers are apparently going to keep John Fox. Wise move. John is a good coach. He simply needs to figure out the QB position.

DEN --- I know Josh McDaniels is catching some heat for the way the Broncos finished the year. I still think he's a good young coach. That team wasn't as good as they looked at 6-0, nor were they as bad as they looked at 8-8. Shanahan left behind some awkward personalities. Josh has to get players that will completely buy into his system.

CLE --- I have no idea what will happen. The sure-fire dismissal of Eric Mangini was complicated by a hot streak to end the year. I'm still not completely sold on him, but the team did show some progress. Mike Holmgren is going to be an interesting executive to watch. Can he quietly run the show or will his old coaching instincts take over and make him hard to work for?

* Bill Cowher --- Sounds like he's having trouble deciding if he wants to come back this year or wait. PFT speculates that it is all money related. I sure hope not. I've got no problem with a coach making big bucks, but I'd lose respect for Bill if his future was all about the highest bidder.

* Hot Assistants --- My first choice would be Inga, but I should probably focus for someone in the NFL. If I had to take an offensive coach right now to be a HC candidate it would be Russ Grimm of Arizona. He's done well with vets and rookies. He's been successful there and at PIT. He should get a job one of these days. On the defensive side there is no question who I want - Mike Zimmer of Cincinnati. He's had success at multiple stops and has yet to coach any elite players. Mike knows how to motivate guys, but also to be tough on them. Zim can lead, he can teach, and he can coach. He'd be my #1 choice among non-HCs.


* GM Tom Heckert is talking to the Browns about a job. Tom has a solid rep around the league, but he's also trapped in Andy Reid's shadow. Going to Cleveland would give him a chance to build more of his own legacy. The big problem would be the presence of Holmgren. Would Tom be seen as his underling? How much control would Tom have?

There is also talk of him going to Seattle. That would be a great fit. That team needs some help and there is no "presence" there. Heckert could sink or swim on his own merits.

* Sean McDermott is reportedly on the list of candidates for the Buffalo HC job. Getting an interview would be good for Sean, but frankly I don't think he's ready to run a team. Sean needs another year or two at DC to really be ready for his own team. Hopefully he knows that and the Bills will go elsewhere. I'd like to see Sean take over for Big Red in a few years. Andy's in his 11th year. He won't last forever as the head man.

* Playoff talk. We're 0-2 vs Dallas. They're at home. They're red hot. We have no shot to win. OR...Dallas has beaten us twice already, but there's no way they win a 3rd time. Our guys will be super-motivated this week. There's no way we lose.

Dallas has beaten us twice. You look at the numbers and see defensive dominance. If you watch the games you'll see something different. We've had opportunities to move the ball and score points. Maclin was open for an easy TD in the first game. He and DeSean were both open last week. And on and on. Guys have been running free. We've just had breakdowns and mistakes that killed us.

Think about the game at Dallas in 2005. We gained 129 yards all game long. McNabb had no time to throw and no one was open. We scored 3 offensive points. They dominated us. That was a major butt-kicking. Take away 4 or 5 mistakes last week and we score at least 13 points and gain 300 yards in the game. That's hardly great to be sure. The point is that we're as much of the problem as Dallas. We're screwing up when chances are there. All we have to do is execute.

This doesn't mean we'll definitely win on Saturday. The Cowboys could easily get the better of us and advance. We must execute better on offense and pressure Romo more on defense. These are achievable goals. I'm not asking King Dunlap to block DeMarcus Ware or Dimitri Patterson to cover Miles Austin. I'm asking our good players to simply do their jobs. If that happens, the game can go either way. If we're off...Dallas will be a happy town for the first time in a long time in the month of January.



rick said...

If Heckert left, would we replace him from within the organization?

And on an unrelated note, watching Iowa - Georgia Tech last night, what do you think of A.J. Edds for us as one of our 3rd round picks?

Tommy Lawlor said...

Howie Roseman would take over as the head of personnel. He currently runs college scouting. He did pro personnel a couple years ago.

AJ Edds - I told someone today that he could be of interest as a backup LB for us. He is a SAM now and might have MLB potential. We brought Stew in here to be a backup at SAM and MIKE. That worked pretty well. I don't know that Edds is a 3rd Rder though. Might drop a round or two below that. Solid player.

Edward said...

I'm finding it really hard to believe we can win this weekend. Were we playing any other team in the playoffs i'd be feeling fairly confident. I just can't see Donovan feeling comfortable behind the line as it is with a bunch of angry cowboys opposite him. If Donovan isn't comfortable the whole offense is off and its game over.

We shall see.

orangecrush007 said...

I listened to Reids show on WIP podcast, I found it remarkable when he was talking about Vick he said we took a look at him prior to the game and decided that he would be ready to go next week after taking this week off Why was he thinking about next week becuase they could have had a bye; I have never seen the Eagles show up so small; Never against and NFC east team; never; why would he not want to win this game? Does he want Dallas to be overconfident and knock them out early because he fears facing them coming to philly if they won their first round game?

orangecrush007 said...

and another thing the line is plus 4,,,last week it was plus 3,,,,so we get just one more point even though we got trounced?

Tommy Lawlor said...

The boys in Vegas know stuff we don't. Not inside info, but they've studied trends that play out over decades. They put the line at 4 for a reason.

Carson's said...

Tommy, I live about 20 minutes from Bowling Green, OH. What are your thoughts on Freddie Barnes in the NFL? How about Lafevour from Cent Mich?

Ben said...

In the preseason in deseans rookie year we did a WR screen. buck threw a good block and the new kid weaved up field for a gain of 28. Any chance we see something like that to slow the Dallas pass rush?

We've had opportunities in each game. I'm not saying we've had a great game plan by any means, but we've got something to work with. I think we just need to design quick stuff to slow their rush. Any thoughts on what we could do to this affect?

Ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben said...

good read

aaron said...

Per an interview today Cowboys CB, Mike Jenkins claims that they go single man coverage vs DJax. Ive seen safety help over the top quite a bit but I would like to get your opinions on this.

Without sounding overly condescending, How does Howie Roseman become Head of Personnel
? What exactly are his qualifications other than being a Joe Banner guy?

Bal√°zs said...

Hey Tommy,

Do you think that our defensive line struggles have to do with Rory Segrest who certainly had some tough times last year with the special teams or is it more on the lack of a true LDE? Anyway, I have the impression that our DTs were doing a better job last year and they are the same players except for Dixon of course.

Cliff said...

I think I've asked you this before on EMB, Tommy, but what about expanding Juan Castillo's role with the offense?

Every summer I go to Training Camp for a couple days and Castillo is the most animated, vocal guy on the practice field. He's obviously done a remarkable job as OL coach. He's probably our best assistant coach in that regard. However, he's been here so long that I wonder if it would be worth it to give him another little challenge. Most guys try to fly up the coaching ranks, Castillo seems content with just being a position coach.

So, I guess the real question is, why hasn't Castillo "moved up" the ranks? Is he missing the X's and O's part of the game or does he just not have the career aspirations that most NFL guys do?

Boyboy said...

All the talk this week is about how the Eagles had opportunities and left plays on the field, and how the players are angry, and how the coaches barred the media from the practice field...they're saying all the right things to make us think this week will be different. My gut tells me that we should be prepared for a collosal let down.

The fact of the matter is we don't have a great option at MLB or FS. None of the LBs can seem to cover a TE. Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel are boom or bust. Quinten Mikell looks like 'just a guy' out there. And nobody oustide of Trent Cole can pressure the QB. I don't think it matters what McDermott changes up with his schemes if we don't have the players to run them.

On the offensive side of the ball, it's all about McNabb this week, like it or not. Even with the the shuffling of the OL, the guys up front still do a decent enough job. McNabb got the weapons he asked for. It's all on him now. He has to pick up his game and instill confidence in the younger guys. We can talk about play selection, but the fact is that this is a QB driven league. And the FO gave him a good chunk of money in the off-season to perform in games like this. We're going to need 24 points or so to win this so I hope he's ready.

I guess we'll see...

jamie said...


Can you give us an explanation/writeup as to why the SLB's in our scheme seem to always do nothing?