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  • Published: Aug 27th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Cards' season will depend on how the D plays.

The Cards' season will depend on how the D plays.

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The Cardinals remarkable run in the 08 playoffs had little to do with the offense. It was the much improved play of the D that made the run possible. The only way the team makes the playoffs in 09 will be if the D continues to improve. So far in the preseason, that is not happening.

Kurt Warner is one of the great stories in football over the last few years. He continues to play at a very high level even though he is 38 years old. He has to stay healthy for the team to have any chance at a winning record. The protection he has gotten for the last 4 season in Arizona has been poor to average. If he is healthy, he will have another pro bowl year and is a great pick in the fantasy draft. Matt Leinart has had a good preseason and looks like he is finally able to read D and use his obvious physical abilities. He has clinched the backup position. The 3rd QB will be between Brian St. Pierre and undrafted Tyler Palko. That will depend on which has looked better in camp. St.Pierre was given a chance to challenge for #2 but failed totally.

WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are the best combo in the league. 3rd WR Steve Breaston came on strong last year in both the return game and catching passes. But he is hurt with a knee and PCL injury but should be fine for game 1. Jerheme Urban and Early Doucet are very talented and need only more experience to become starting quality. TEs have a lot of potential but little production. Leonard Pope is projected as the starter with Stephen Spach and Ben Patrick as the backups. Pope is a big target but is too tall to be an effective blocker. Spach is coming off a major injury and Patrick is suspended for the first 4 games. Vet Anthony Becht should make the team and is a better blocker then any of the others. How long he stays will depend on how the others develop.

The running back situation is also a little clouded. Last year rookie Tim Hightower was celebrated by some as the Cards’ answer at RB. But in 143 attempts he averaged 2.8 yards per carry. That is more than a yard under what is considered average around the league. He can catch and block a little but is not the plow horse that the team needs to carry 250 times a year. The team realized that and drafted Beanie Wells (Ohio St.). Wells has the ability to be a starting back with power and break away speed but has a history of injury. He has yet to play in the preseason but is expected to see action this week. There is no viable bench strength.

The O line had an up and down year in 08. They were up during the playoffs but down the last half of the regular season. LG Reggie Wells is not well known but is very good. T s Mike Gandy and Levi Brown are average but Brown is young and should develop. C Lyle Sendlein is coming back from injury last year. G Deuce Lutui needs to keep focused. He is very inconsistent. The bench is barely OK. G Elton Brown and C Donovan Raiola have some starting experience. The staff thinks T Herman Johnson potential but I don’t see it.

The D line seemed to turn their top effort on and off like the light in a refrigerator. It was on in the playoffs and they looked outstanding. It has been off so far this preseason. The starters in the 3-4 are LE Darnell Dockett, NT Gabe Watson, RE Calais Campbell. Dockett is the only dependable player there. Watson has a history of injury putting him out for long periods of time. There is no reliable backup at NT. Campbell is the new guy replacing UFA Antonio Smith. We have seen a few flashes from Campbell but he is going to have to work harder every snap. Bryan Robinson has experience at E and NT but the team would prefer to play him at E if Campbell fails. NTs Alan Branch and Rodney Leisle have two things in common. They have the weight to play the position but have not had much production.

At LB, the best part is inside. IBs Karlos Dansby and Gerald Hayes are very good. Dansby can do it all including cover receivers and Hayes is an outstanding run stuffer. OLB Chike Okeafor is a fair blitzer but he and Clark Haggans are getting old. The team drafted both OLBs Cody Brown and Will Davis to replace them in the future.

The D backfield has the potential to be outstanding. Starting CBs Bryant McFadden and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are both potential stars. McFadden came from Pittsburgh and is starting quality with upside. Rodgers added the Cromartie to his name just before the draft to remind everyone he is the cousin of start CB Antonio Cromartie of San Diego. Rodgers is not quite to his cousin’s level but is coming fast. Safeties Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle are very good as well. Wilson is all pro and plays like it. Rolle was a very good CB who is a better FS. The nickel back is CB Ralph Brown and rookie Greg Toler has looked good in camp.

OVERALL: The Cards O is fine IF Warner is healthy. The D will determine how far the team can go this year. If it plays like it did during the playoffs, the team should make the playoffs in 09 and do some damage there. If not, it will be a huge disappoint to the Cardinal fans that expect the team to be back in the Super Bowl. That isn’t going to happen but they are in a weak division and have a good shot at the division title.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Cardinals,Warner,Leinart,Fitzgerald,Boldin,Breaston,Hightower,Wells,Gandy,Lutui,Brown,Dockett,Campbell,Smith,Watson,Dansby,Haggans,Davis,Cromartie,Rogers-Cromartie,Chargers,Steelers,McFadden,Rolle,Wilson

The Packers hope the 3-4 will produce a better pass rush. Don't bet on it.

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The Packers offense is good enough to win. The D has been good but not good enough. The specific shortcoming was lack of a solid pass rush. The team is trying to convert to the 3-4 but still have 4-3 personnel. They may take a step back before getting enough 3-4 talent.

There isn’t much of a problem with the QB. The only area in which QB Aaron Rodgers has struggled in is 4th quarter comebacks. He also is not as productive inside the red zone as he is in the middle of the field. But that comes with experience. This is his second year as the starter and he should get better in that aspect of his game. He has all the physical skills to be a top QB. He just needs time to develop. Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm will battle for the 2nd QB spot.

HB Ryan Grant averaged less than 4 yards per carry. I am not a Grant fan. He tends to dance more than he should and seemed somewhat tentative after injuring a hamstring in the preseason. He is over valued in Fantasy drafts this year. The team plans to run more and we will see how that works out. FB Korey Hall is a good receiver and more than adequate lead blocker. Brandon Jackson backs up Grant and is just OK.

The receivers are outstanding. The starters are Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. In a somewhat short list of WR these two will have very good years for Fantasy Football. James Jones and Jordy Nelson are solid backup one of which will replace Driver when he retires or is traded to the Jets. Donald Lee. and Jermichael Finley are in a training camp battle for the starting TE spot. Both are a little above average receivers.

The line is back in tact. It has LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, C Jason Spitz, RG Josh Sitton and RT Allen Barbre. Clifton is getting old and his performance slipped last year no matter what you read elsewhere. RT Barbre is the weak link and is the most likely to be beaten out in training camp. The rest are OK and look better in pass protection because of Rodgers getting rid of the ball quickly. They deterioration of the running game is in part their fault. C Scott Wells and T/G T.J. Lang are the prime backups. The wild card is veteran free agent Mark Tauscher. He is recovering from knee surgery and may be signed if there is an injury or lack of production.

The D line starts rookie B.J. Raji and Cullen Jenkins at the ends and Ryan Pickett at NT. Jenkins missed most of the year with a chest injury and his condition is not clear yet. Pickett is new to the NT job and should be able to do a decent job. He is not going to collapse the pocket often. The team is betting that Raji has enough athleticism to handle the DE spot. The bench contains Es Johnny Jolly and Justin Harrell. Both have experience but Harrell is coming back from an injury again.

The real issue to the success or failure of the 3-4 will be the linebackers. The change to a 3-4 is a game of Chinese checkers. DE Aaron Kampman moves to OB. OB A.J. Hawk moves inside. Kampman was all pro at 4-3 DE. Whether he can or will be effective at OB is very much up in the air. He has been silent on the move. Hawk should thrive inside if he is allowed to use his instincts to blitz more. Nick Barnett starts inside but is coming off an injury and was inconsistent when healthy. He is still out due to surgery last season. Former DE Jeremy Thompson wasn’t very good at that so there is no reason to believe he will do any better at OB. Rookie Clay Matthews and former starter OB Brady Poppinga are the primary bench strength.

The DBs are solid and deep. Charles Woodson and Al Harris are as good as any in the league. They have excellent depth in CBs Will Blackmon, Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood. FS Nick Collins was all pro last year. The only semi-question in this group is SS Atari Bigby. He is recovering from surgery and did not participated in the OTA.

OVERALL: The Pack will be fine offensively. I think the change to the 3-4 will take a couple of seasons to improve the D. Look for them to battle the Bears for second in the division behind the Vikes.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Fantasy Football,Packers,Vikings,Bears,Rodgers,Grant,Jennings,Donald Driver,Clifton,Daryn Colledge,Jason Spitz,Josh Sitton,Allen Barbre,Raji,Jenkins,Pickett,Hawk,Kampman,Woodson,Harris

The Pats hope Brady is Brady.

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QB Tom Brady had the most replayed and discussed injury in the recent history of the NFL in game 1 last year. All Coach Bill Belichick wants is his QB back to where he was before the injury. All reports are positive and it looks like Brady is back at close to 100%. The Pats have added some key veterans that make the team better. That’s all very bad news for the rest of the AFC.

Over the last few years, the Pats have been plugging in younger players. Last year, they went 11-5 without the best QB in the league. Now they have him back and the team will be much better than 07 or 08. There is no experience behind him.

The running game is a lot more solid that it looks from the outside. It is deep and talented. Starter Laurence Maroney has underachieved and has been injury prone but help has arrived in the form of vet Fred Taylor. Maroney will have to improve or Taylor will get the majority of carries. Vets Sammy “the versatile” Morris and Kevin Faulk the 3rd down back are joined by rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis in reserve.

As if the receiver corps didn’t have enough speed, the Pats added the aged but still fast Joey Galloway to Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Welker should be totally uncovered with so much D attention having to be given to Moss and Galloway. Greg Lewis and Brandon Tate are capable backups. TE remains a trouble spot.

The offensive line is back intact and is solid but unknown. That is just the way Belichick likes it. T Matt Light and G Logan Mankins hold down the blind side while the much improved G Stephen Neal and T Nick Kaczur are on the right. C Dan Koppen is as good as any in the league and has the advantage of working against one of the best NTs in the league Vince Wilfork everyday in practice. The reserves may change but the starters are mostly young and all solid.

The key to the NE D is the front three and there is more than a little tension there. While Es Richard Seymour and Ty Warren are quiet, Wilfork is unhappy and clamoring for a new deal. But he will be there deal or not. The front three have been outstanding at defending both the pass and the run. They work seamlessly with the backers to provide more different looks than there are snowflakes in New England in the winter. Key reserves are T Titus Adams and E Jarvis Green and swing man Le Kevin Smith.

Grizzled vet IB Tedy Bruschi gets a second year to work with running mate in Jerod Mayo. Mayo had an outstanding rookie year after learning to do his job rather than freelancing. Brushi and Belichick will keep him under control and continue to get the maximum out of his unique athletic ability. OB Adalius Thomas is outstanding and Pierre Woods finally gets a shot at starting because of the retirement of Junior Seau (we think). Reserve Shawn Crable would start for most NFL teams.

The youth movement has hit the D backfield as well. The new starters at safety will be James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather who ended up playing a lot last year due to injury. Rookie Patrick Chung looked very good in OTAs and is challenging for a starting spot. CB Shawn Springs will start on one side but the other CB is totally up in the air. The leader going into training camp is Terrence Wheatley who had the job last year but is returning from injury. Vets Leigh Bodden and Darius Butler will both challenge Wheatley for his job. Bodden was signed as a FA and just a couple of years ago was considered one of the better CBs in the league and still has some skills.

OVERALL: The Pat haters will not like this but look for NE to get back to the AFC Championship game and perhaps the Super Bowl. They are the most likely to win it all.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Patroits,Belichick,Wilfork,Brady,Maroney,Taylor,Galloway,Moss,Light,Bruschi,Springs,Sanders,Super Bowl,AFC

The Ravens will be different but will they be better?

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There is no question that the window for the Ravens to win another Super Bowl is closing. The D is getting older and there are still questions on O. The Ravens will be different but there is serious doubt that they will be better or worse than in 08.

The D will be a little younger. The Ravens jettisoned their expensive and injury prone pro bowl CB Chris McAlister and brought in FA Domonique Foxworth. He had better work out because they are spending 27 million for the next 4 years with over 16 mil guaranteed. The other corner will be ex Raider Fabian Washington. Samari Rolle who was a starter came back on a backup contract and will be the key replacement. FS Ed Reed is older than dirt but played at a high level last year. He had better be just as good this season. The SS spot is up in the air. The Ravens have their fingers, toes, arms and legs crossed that Dawan Landry can come back after missing all but 2 games from a neck injury last year. There isn’t much behind him so he had better get well soon.

The linebacking will get new look as well. Tavares Gooden replaces Bart Scott inside next to Ray Lewis. He needs to be more physical than he has shown up to now. Lewis is older than rock but got it done last year. He is on the down side of a Hall of Fame career. Jarret Johnson is unknown but has started for 2 years and is getting better with every game. Terrell Suggs wanted to be paid like a DE but got top OB money—63 mil over 6 years. The Ravens hope he plays with as much abandon as he did in his contract year.

On offense, TE Todd Heap will get a heap of passes thrown his way. The WR situation went from critical to life support when their only consistent receiver Derrick Mason announced his retirement. If he doesn’t come back, they are going to have to find another starting quality WR. Mark Clayton starts on the other side but has caught over 50 passes only once in the last 4 years.

Joe Flacco has developed nicely. He will yield to Troy Smith for more wild cat type O than they used last year. The RB will be by committee. Last year starter Willis McGahee and the versatile Ray Rice will split carries. Rice may start over McGahee who is coming back from injury again.

The O line is physical and nasty. All pro FA Matt Birk takes over at C and gives the team real leadership. The left side is solid with LT Jared Gaither and LG Ben Grubbs. Both are young and talented. They will only get better. The right side is a question mark. Rookie Michael Oher and vet Adam Terry will battle for the RT spot. Oher should win. They hope that RG Marshal Yanda has recovered from his knee injury. If not, that will be a trouble spot for the Ravens.

Overall—The Ravens have enough to be a playoff team but unless they get all the right answers from those coming back from injury and find a solution to the WR spot, they will be second again looking over their shoulder at the Bengals coming on hard from behind.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Ravens,Bengals,Super Bowl,Lewis,Suggs,Flacco,Heap,McGahee,Birk,Johnson,Rolle

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