Saturday, February 6, 2010

O-line Help?


Dave Spadaro has a piece up on about how the OL "needs another boost".  His logic is that the OL has too many "he's good" types and not enough dominating players.  He points to the Jets run to the AFC title game as proof of what a dominating OL can do. I hope this is just Dave talking and not the team using him to send us a message. 

I agree that we need to be better up front.  I don't think that means we need to go out and make the OL a focal point in the offseason.  Dave mentioned the Jets.  He failed to point out the 2 Super Bowl teams.  Neither the Colts nor Saints spent huge resources to build up their lines.  The Saints have one of the best lines in football because they have a QB who gets rid of the ball quickly and that gives them confidence in pass protection.  The coach sticks with the run game and that allows the guys to be physical and aggressive.  It is always easier to be confident when you're attacking.  Retreating in pass pro doesn't exactly build up a killer instinct in blockers.  As for the Colts...they don't run block as well as they should.  Their pass blocking success has as much to do with Peyton Manning as anything else.  Coach Howard Mudd does a great job of teaching his players.  The Colts also wisely find guys who fit their system.  They get coachable players who are overachiever types.  This means that the guys will play with an edge, even when they don't get to run block as much as they want. 

We have a LT with Pro Bowl ability.  He was inconsistent this year, but I think Jason will be much better in his second year as an Eagle.  Todd Herremans has Pro Bowl potential at LG.  He is a gifted run blocker, but can get sloppy in pass pro at times.  RT Winston Justice had a good season.  He was consistent and looked like a good player.  I expect him to improve now that he's got some confidence in himself.  This will be his first offseason where he "knows" what he does will matter.  Some young guys fail to understand how much hard work is needed to earn playing time.  They see a veteran player in front of them and have a hard time "paying the price" because they don't feel they will get on the field.  Justice now knows he will be the RT, barring some big move.  It will be interesting to see if he trains harder or if he gets complacent.  I tend to think the light will go on for him now that he's tasted success. 

The Eagles have 2 holes, C and RG.  We hope Stacy Andrews is the answer at RG, but we don't know for sure.  We hope Jamaal Jackson will be healthy by September, but we don't know.  If JJ isn't ready, we hope Mike McGlynn will handle the job well, but we don't know. 

I have no problem if the Eagles make a move at C or RG.  I'd like to see Stacy and Mike get a chance at those spots, but I won't be upset if the team wants to go for other players.  What I don't want to see is the team trying to upgrade LG or RT. 

In order to get better players than Todd or Winston we'd need to sign big time FAs, draft guys in the 1st round, or trade for top talent.  I want those resources spent fixing problem areas on the team (LDE, FS, CB). 

Dave wants to see a dominating OL.  Here's the formula:

* Good LT
* Stability
* Plenty of running

We have the LT.  The way to get stability isn't to make a bunch of changes this offseason.  The Jets OL has been in place for a couple of years. 

The last time we have a dominant OL was 2006. 


That group really dominated starting about midseason.  They all had at least 10 starts in our system by that point.  They had played together since midway through the '05 season.  We also started to run the ball more.  Westy had 97 carries in his first 7 games.  He had 142 carries in his final 7 games.  Interesting.  2 of those games came with Donovan starting.  The other 5 featured Jeff Garcia at the helm.  The lowest number of carries for Westy in that span was 16.  Buck also averaged 5 runs per game in that stretch.  We let our big guys attack and they opened holes.  The offense got in a good rhythm and led us into the Divisional round of the playoffs. 

If we could truly add dominating players I might be open to change, but where exactly are those guys going to come from?  Are Nick Mangold or Steve Hutchinson available?  Does anyone know if Erik Williams is still retired?  Want to trade a high pick to the Saints for Jahri Evans?  I wouldn't do that with our defensive needs, as well as the fact whoever we bring in is going to pass block 60-65% of the time.  What about trades?  Think the Rams will take Mike Vick for Jason Brown?  No.  Would you trade McNabb for Brown?  I'd have to think about that one. 

Solve the defense first and foremost.  Do not make the OL the priority right now.  Think about recent SB teams. 


We've now had 4 straight years without a bunch of elite offensive linemen in the big game.  The groups in this time span have been lines that were developed.  You have to go back to 2005 when the Seahawks had Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson to find a pair of truly great blockers on the same team. 

It will be interesting to see what happens at C.  The free agent class isn't good at all.  We'll probably have to make a trade if we want to add a quality pro.  Or add a really old guy like Kevin Mawae.  He's still a good player to be sure, but he's 39.  I'm still a believer that Mike McGlynn should be our first solution.  The team has watched him practice for 2 years and should know if he's ready or not. 

We'll know what the team thinks of Stacy Andrews when they make the decison on his upcoming bonus.  If he gets the money you can bet he's the favorite at RG.  If they let him go we'll need to go find a RG.  Nick Cole is a good backup, but that's not the guy you want penciled in as the starter. 

I'm not going to say anything about Shawn Andrews.  We'll just see what happens with him.


RE:  More on Kolb / QB

We don't know the answer to many questions at this point.  Will he be the starter in 2010?  Will he turn out to be a good starter for us?  Will he be better than McNabb?  Will he be not as good, but get lucky and lead us to a SB?  Will McNabb be traded?  What will we get in return and how will that player work out?  Do we deal Vick? What does that lead to? 

Until we know all the answers we won't truly be able to assess the situation.  I do think the Eagles made the right decison to take Kevin in 2007.  QB is a spot where you can never be too careful.  Bill Walsh had Joe Montana lead him to SB titles.  In 1986 Walsh fell in love with a QB prospect.  He tried to trade up for Jim Everett, but didn't have enough ammo to make the deal.  Walsh wasn't looking to get rid of Montana, but the thought Everett could be a great QB and didn't want to pass on taking him.  Walsh traded for Steve Young and brought him to SF, which turned out to be a great move as Montana started to break down physically.  Think about GB and the QBs that went through that team in the 90's.  Brett Favre was in his prime, but they still had Ty Detmer, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks, and Kurt Warner on that roster at one time or another.  Because of Favre's freakish durability they traded or cut those guys.  I think we all know the story of Favre's successor and how that went down, another sign that you take a QB when you can. 

I understand the notion of questioning the move, but I don't think you appreciate the significance of finding and acquiring good QBs.  They just aren't available each year.  Get them when you can and then figure out how best to use them. 

RE:  Trade Kevin?

No way.  You'd have to sign Donnie to a 3 or 4 year deal.  During that time you'd have to spend a 1st or 2nd round pick on another young QB to develop.  At the end of Donnie's deal you'd still wonder if you had the right replacement.  Kevin isn't good enough to bring a king's ransom so you need to keep him. 

RE:  Leonard Weaver

Apparently we can't re-sign him right now.  He was here on a 1-year deal and we have to wait until the new season starts.  I thought that Leonard didn't fall into that category, but Spadaro said that was the case on Eagles Live recently.  You can bet keeping him is a priority. 

RE:  Jason Babin

I'd only keep him if I let someone go.  Jason did some nice things, but didn't show me anything that makes me think he should be a starter.  I want a new LDE.  That means that Clemons or Babin has to go.  Chris is more expensive, but also more versatile.  The coaches may decide that Jason is the guy to keep.  Neither guy is a lock to return. 

RE:  veteran RB

Westy is as good as gone, whether retiring or getting cut.  He's due a big salary and isn't going to take a pay cut to be a role player for us. 

If we keep Weaver around I'm thinking we may go for another rookie runner.  Weaver can be a FB and RB.  If Weaver somehow ends up elsewhere then we need to add a veteran RB.  I'm not against adding a veteran.  Just trying to guess what the Eagles will do.  I'd be all for adding a vet and then bringing in a rookie to challenge Eldra Buckley for his spot. 


Cliff said...

You could make Dave's argument about the OL for any position. That's why I think it's stupid.

I would be confident if the scenario you described unfolded - McGlynn gets a chance at C and Stacey is the RG. The only "upgrade" that would happen, in my opinion, is if Shawn Andrews drinks Bugs Bunny's MJ "juice" from Space Jam and returns to his All-Pro form. Other than that possibility, I don't see us spending a high pick on a C and I know we won't on a RG (we just signed one for multiple years, after all).

Pitmanite said...

i agree 100% with your post. it would be a shame if we spent a 1st or 2nd round pick on the OL if we had some guys that could really help us at trouble spots on the defense.

i tend to think it's best to do the opposite of whatever spuds says in all situations.

Dan said...

I'll call it now: if Vick gets traded, we draft a QB to run the wildcat (ala Pat White).

Tommy Lawlor said...

I've got no problem with that. I think Jarrett Brown of WVA could be a Wildcat QB initially and possibly a good complete QB down the road. I love Armanti Edwards of Appalachian State.

Cliff said...

My friend was at the ESPN The Magazine Super Bowl party in Miami Friday night. She said McNabb was there, but I didn't believe her and I wanted her to give McNabb the phone so I could verify Of course, she wasn't going to do that.

But I was thinking all day what I would've said to get proof that it was him. I came up with this...

Me: Ok. If you're really Donovan, how many TD's did you throw this season?
McNabb: 22, of course.
Me: Wrong. The correct answer was "not enough."


Stephen said...

Your Armanti Edwards love wouldn't have anything to do with App state being your alma mater would it Tommy?