From the FanPosts. -Chris
There has been a lot written on here about the draft. Both before and after, one of the key points I’ve seen is we did not get a NT or ILB to bolster the run defense. While I think most people are pleased with our draft, and the quality of players we got, I think it is safe to say none of us saw this particular set of players ahead of time. Other than Eric Berry, the rest made me kind of go "Huh?" As I’ve learned more about these guys, I like the draft a lot and think it makes perfect sense.
Last spring and summer while I was unemployed, I used to spend a lot of time commenting on AP. Since getting a job, I just don’t have much time to comment, but I do get on and read every day. Usually several times a day. I keep wanting to add these comments to posts, but never seem to do so, and I decided I’d just make a post about it instead.
The one comment I just have not seen is this: Todd Haley is all about eliminating the big play on defense, and eliminating minus plays on offense.
When putting on that view of team production, the draft and free agent acquisitions make a lot more sense. We have to judge the picks on what the COACHES felt needed to be fixed, not just on who was most talented, or what the pundits had to say about what we needed. None of them other than the coaches understand the particular talents of who is already here, and the particular failings we have that must be remedied in order for us to win. Here are a couple of quotes from Haley that point out exactly what his mind set is.
"Going back to the bye week we’ve looked closely at ourselves and there are some interesting things about our team. Defensively, we’re in the top seven or eight in forcing three-and-outs - the top seven or eight in the league. Every team ahead of us in that particular category is a winning team. We’re not a winning team and something’s happening. I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that the big plays are the killers on defense. When we give up big plays in the passing games specifically that’s what’s causing us to lose."From Todd Haley’s Nov 11 presser
HALEY: "Minus plays, minus plays. We have to eliminate minus plays. Coach (Bill) Parcells drilled it into my head over and over and over again for years about minus plays and how they lead to dissatisfaction with your offense. Right now, we’re all dissatisfied with the offense and to me, the root of that evil is minus plays. So we’re doing an extensive study again, to figure out if it is the play – are we asking the players to do something they just can’t do; is it the players, is it match ups, what is it – if we can see a pattern that develops between the sacks, the minus runs and the penalties"From Todd Haley’s Oct 27 presser.
Since these quotes were taken with quite a few games left to play, we have some evidence of what effect the self-scouting during the bye week had. We still gave up too many big plays on defense, and we also declined in ability to stop the run. But for one and a half of those games, we were missing Glenn Dorsey and found out just how valuable he really is to us. Haley’s comments from the Cleveland game point to technique being the demon there, that we were just blown off the line. We also were having trouble keeping DBs healthy, with a lot going to IR or missing games. The need for multiple position ability was very apparent.
So here we are now with Romeo instead of Clancy to scheme and call plays. Thank goodness. I really thought Clancy outsmarted himself more than the opponents with his play calling late in games. We have Anthony Pleasant instead of Krummie, a guy who actually played under Romeo and in his scheme, to teach our D-Line some better technique. We have HOFer Emmitt Thomas instead of Clancy to teach our DBs better technique. We have some very shiny new toys for Emmitt to play with too. I think the case for improvement within is going to make a strong statement this year.
On offense, we did manage to slow down the minus plays. Lots fewer sacks. No Larry Johnson unable to find the line of scrimmage. Jamaal Charles emerging as a threat. At least slightly better WR play. The OL obviously coming together as a unit.
So now we have an OL with a few new pieces that should be an upgrade. We have a WR corps that looks way better now than this time last year. We have a new power back. We have a new weapon in RunDMC. We have a full time OC to scheme and call plays.
We had a pretty good special teams coverage unit last year, but we did not have a very good return squad. We now have a couple of solid additions to that group as well.
Bottom line is if we had gone NT and done a better job of run protection but still given up the big plays, we would still lose a lot of games because of it. I think it is far better to go the route we have. Make them go 10 plays or more to get a touchdown and there’s a good chance the offense does something to implode. Fumble, Int, holding, delay, procedure, just anything that will make them have to go farther. We did great on 3-and –outs last year, if we repeat that we will be competitive.
Once again, I just think this is something people seem to have forgotten. But I recall a lot of times Haley talking about the big play and minus plays last year. Get those under control and we may have a shot at that 9-7 that I was foolishly predicting last year!