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Archive for March, 2012
- Jim Leonhard – Former Jets safety and Wisconsin Alum Jim Leonhard is still available. He did get injured last year in Game 13 and I can’t say I’m sure about his present status. But assuming he is on track to recover and be ready for the 2012 season, I really think he’d be worth pursuing. He won’t be very expensive (he would have been picked up by now if he were) and he is a guy who just gets the job done. The jets fell apart down the stretch in good part because Leonhard got hurt. He is a really good player, very solid, very instinctive. He’s incredibly athletic. And despite closing out the last 2 seasons with injuries, he managed to play in the majority of games in those two seasons before getting injured. The Jets, because they are now in full-shameless-marketing-hype mode, signed Laron Landry instead of re-signing Leonhard. Landry is definitely the higher profile, more exciting seeming guy – but I highly doubt he’ll be as effective as Leonhard was in that defense. The guy is gritty and has made a career of being the underdog who can flat out play. I think we should go pick him up regardless of what the Nick Collins’ prognosis ends up being.
- Dallas Clark – I know he’s been injured a lot too. And he’s slow. And he’d be in a new offensive system. Etc etc. But he’s a smart player. He’s also instinctive and considering he’s still floating around in the free agency pool at this point, he simply can’t command a huge salary. But I like him in good part because I think Finley could use a mentor. Finley has developed nicely on his own but he has not had the luxury of learning beside a veteran TE really. I think a guy like Clark could really help Finley hone his craft. And Clark would be the kind of guy who would probably love an opportunity to play in the league’s best offense next to one of the league’s best young TEs. But Clark in his own right could really contribute to this offense. If we had him and could run 2 TE sets, throw in our WRs and the defense would really struggle to cover. He’d likely draw slower LBs and #4 CBs – and even if he’s slowed down a bit, he’d have no trouble winning those match ups.
- London Fletcher – I know he’s 36, but so is Jeff Saturday. London Fletcher just plain gets the job done. Last year he led the Redskins in tackles with an incredible 166, and forced 5 turnovers while picking up 1.5 sacks. He’s disciplined, he’s played in both 4-3 Ds and 3-4 Ds, and he’s been one of the surest tacklers in the NFL forever. He now has 10 straight seasons with at least 128 tackles – that’s crazy – and there are a number of people who think last season was his best yet. He is totally underappreciated and again because he’s still available, I don’t think he’d cost too much to sign. I envision slotting him into the middle and either benching Hawk – or perhaps moving Bishop to the ROLB so he could wreak havoc opposite Mathews.
So of all the guys to write about, why did I pick these three? Because TT and MM like to talk about bringing in “football guys” for this team. Guys who have instinct and just plain get the job done. Well, here are 3 guys who define “football guys”. We’d be a better team with any one of them in the fold.
Read here. I think this makes sense (as long as it didn’t cost too much). Saturday is a veteran who is more likely to pick up McCarthy’s system in a short time period than a younger dude. He’s a good player and has demonstrated a solid ability to play center with a fast offensive mind at QB. As the article indicates this will buy us maybe a year or two before we need to find a longer term answer.
While I do like this move, I do find it odd that TT would do it. Saturday is 36 years old – and TT often steers clear of guys over 30. Center is a bit different position granted, but it still seems odd. This strikes me as a decision heavily influenced by McCarthy and Rodgers.
Read here. This would be an interesting signing. As the article notes, he is decent in pass coverage and defending the run. But not necessarily much of an upgrade in the pass rush. Seems to me the reasoning behind pursuing him in particular is mainly depth – and probably specifically for pass coverage. Our LBs really struggle with this and perhaps TT feels it’s time to do something about it. He would definitely be an upgrade over what we have. I imagine TT will be drafting a LB or two next month and maybe one of these new guys could fill the pass rush void on the right side. That remains a major hole in our defense – and one that is critical to fill because the lack of pass rush has a direct, negative impact on the difficulty our secondary and our LBs have in coverage.
Um no Bucky – the Bears offense is not better than the Packers offense because of the Bears addition of malcontent Brandon Marshall. Read here. Is it a better offense than before because of Marshall? Probably. Marshall is a very good player. But is it better than the Packers offense – one of the most potent offenses of the last couple decades? Not even close. And is it now better than the Lions’ offense? No. The Bears most likely will be hard-pressed to end up with the 3rd best offense in the NFC North. And if Christian Ponder or Joe Webb develop at all, it’s possible they could end up 4th in the division again! (Last year, the Bears were the #24 ranked offense in total yards, GB was #3, Detroit was #5 and MN was #18.)
Bucky Brooks is on crack. Nothing else to say really.
This is a fun time of year. Lots of speculation, rumors, chaos. While I know the Pack will likely sit out the hype period of free agency which is in full swing, it’s fun to throw out names of guys they should consider. So here it goes:
- Mario Williams DE/OLB – Ok, I realize there is no chance this guy even crossed TT’s mind. He’ll command HUGE money in the market and we don’t have near the cap space needed. And I know he prefers a 4-3 (but we don’t really even have a 3-4 anyway). So it’s dumb to include him here. Still, it’s fun to imagine what life would be like for opposing QBs with Mathews and Williams rushing the edges. Would probably result in Raji having 35 sacks.
- Jim Leonhard S – bring him home to Wisconsin. Yes he was hurt last year but the guy will recover well I’m sure and he is a really good player. Having him back there as a safety option if Collins can’t come back would be hugely helpful. He and Burnett would make a good pairing.
- Cory Redding DE – he’s been a solid player for a very good Balt defense. I think he could slide in well next to Pickett and Raji on the line. He also can get to the QB at times (4.5 sacks last year).
- Chris Myers C – if Scott Wells doesn’t come back to the team (if he gets no good offers from other teams), then the Pack should consider Myers. he is a strong player who could be particularly helpful in developing our running game.
- Luis Castillo DE – he’s older (29), dinged up recently and not worth making a big splash on. But he had some fantastic years in San Diego. When he was healthy, he helped San Diego (surprisingly) be one of the top defenses in the NFL for a couple of years. He could stand as a nice option at DE especially as Mike Neal continues to hurt his own career.
- Peyton Hillis RB – his stock has really dropped off over the course of the last year. I’m convinced the guy is still a beast and could be a nice alternative at RB to James Starks. And there is something about a big burly dude like Hillis running in cold weather – just seems to fit. (No chance the Pack looks at him though.)
- LaRon Landry S – he is injury prone and can be a bit of a tool. But he’s also incredibly strong and can really make WRs pay. If Collins is gone this is a guy who could help change games for our defense.
- John Carlson TE – he suffered through a couple injuries in Seattle (and then a system that absolutely neglected TEs), but John Carlson is a very good player. I know we have 15 TEs already, but this is a guy who would really complement Finley well.
- Dallas Clark TE – I’m a little surprised this guy isn’t getting more attention. He has been injured, he’s not fast and I don’t believe he’s a very good blocker. But he’s also one of the best TEs in history. Again, having a guy like Clark opposite Finley could create matchup nightmares – even if he’s operating at 80% of his former talent level. (And if there continues to be little attention paid to him, he could end up being picked up for relatively cheap.)
- Kameron Wimbley OLB – this guy is athletic and might be a quiet possible solution at OLB. He can rush the passer (7 sacks last year) and he might just be extra disruptive opposite Mathews.
- Brandon Carr CB – he’s a bigger CB who has some talent. He wasn’t as good as his counterpart in KC Brandon Flowers, but he’s a good player who could at least add depth to our secondary that just wrapped up an off year.
- Michael Bush RB – surprised there isn’t more chatter about Bush so far in the first hours of free agency here. He is a solid RB. He did run behind a very good run blocking line and he’s not fast. But he is durable and is capable of taking over games with his strong, plodding runs. He reminds me of an NFL version of Ron Dayne in college. While I also want us to go after a quicker, smaller back, I wouldn’t mind seeing a guy like Bush added to our stable of RBs. (Of course, I’d only go after him if he slips through the cracks here in this first wave of free agency – wouldn’t pay him a ton.)
- OJ Otogwe S – he must have not had a very solid showing in his time in Washington (as they are not re-signing him), but he was a top level safety just a few years ago in St. Louis. He may end up being one of those guys who goes unnoticed mostly through this hype period. And this may make him a decent value-signing option. He may appear to be on the downside of his career but he also has the talent and instincts to contribute for another year or two.
Intriguing. Read here. This is getting plenty of press at the moment as Indy is apparently shopping Dwight Freeney. Wow, they are really cleaning house. Age, some injury history, a cap issue and TT’s general aversion to trades are major obstacles. But just forget about these obstacles for a moment and think about Freeney coming from one side and Clay Matthews coming from the other. Our secondary would have to cover for half a second per play. (By the way, I’m not sure it’s necessarily accurate to say Freeney’s best years are behind him” as PFT states. Sure his sack numbers have gone down but he played for one of the worst teams ever last year. They were terrible. I think he’d be back above double digits opposite Matthews.)
- Russell Wilson – I think this guy (former Badgers’ QB, in the draft this year) could be a pretty good NFL QB. I’ve said this before but simply want to say it again. He doesn’t throw the most amazing passes and he’s not very big. But he very much reminds me of a player who has turned out to be the second best QB in the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers – Drew Brees. They are both a bit on the short side, but both stand tall in the pocket, don’t get rattled easily and are way more mature than their ages. Wilson still stands as the most poised college player I have ever watched. He is unflappable as a player and he delivered several times down the stretch in impressive fashion. He just doesn’t get rattled. He even dealt with losing in a professional, far-more-mature-than-22-years-old way. While his arm is probably considered average, his mobility is definitely better than most QBs – he could be a dangerous running QB. He makes very good decisions – he rarely makes boneheaded mistakes. He also won’t have any issues grasping complicated NFL offenses. While Paul Chryst’s offenses at Wisconsin weren’t super complicated, Wilson picked it up no problem from the get-go this past year. Don’t be surprised to see him sneak up draft boards, get on a team somewhere and get a crack at playing when the starter goes down. He will impress when he has his opportunity. (He apparently just had what some scouts are calling the most impressive pro day by a QB they have ever seen – completing 62 of his 65 passes – making all sorts of different throws.)
- It was interesting for me to see Peyton Manning so emotional at his press conference. I liked seeing that side of him and importantly, I THINK THIS WHOLE THING WILL MAKE HIM BETTER. Peyton Manning needed to be knocked down a peg or two. This whole getting released thing despite being cleared to play, has been difficult for him to take. Even though some believe that the Colts were essentially showing mercy for Manning by cutting him from what might be a terrible team, I don’t think Manning sees it that way. I really believe he wanted to finish up a Colt. But the bottom line is that this whole thing has brought him back down to earth a bit. Manning had become WAY too comfortable there in Indy – to the point where he felt just fine yelling at his players and frankly, being a wanker on the field. Remind you of someone? Dan Marino? Guys like this won’t win the big game too often because they are too self-focused in a team sport. Peyton Manning has won 1 Super Bowl – but for the number of times the Colts have gotten into the playoffs, that’s actually not too good. Teams rally around QBs that are more connected to the team – and Manning has always seemed to place more importance on his own image. Don’t get me wrong. I think Peyton Manning is one of the best QBs to ever play the game. And winning the number of games he’s won as a QB is remarkable – even if he’s only won 1 Super Bowl. And his career stats are amazing. And I think if his neck is truly OK, teams with even decent QBs would be crazy not to try to bring him in. He will make whatever team he goes to instantly better. But I would submit that the whole exercise of having to join a new team, make new friends and earn their respect as a leader will bring him back to a place mentally that will be healthier for him. And this again, could make him an even better player over the next couple years. I think Manning’s best fit would be in Arizona. They play on turf, indoors, good coach with a reasonable ego, have Larry Fitzgerald and a couple other decent WRs (Early Doucet), the path to the playoffs may not be too tough, and I just see that as a place that would be a good fit. That said, I still think Miami is the most likely destination with Seattle close behind.