McCourty is fast, has good ball skills, and understands the defense. None of his other actual safeties fit that bill as well.
On the flip side, McCourty was having trouble as a cover corner this year at least in part because he wasn’t getting adequate safety help. BB probably decided that, while he had a stable of adequate corners, he did not have a stable of adequate safeties. Any corner put in McCourty’s position would struggle the same way he had without an upgrade in the middle. But moving McC to the middle was an upgrade that could make barely adequate corners more serviceable.
At the end of the day, it may have been an on-paper downgrade at one position, but on the field, it plays as an overall upgrade. McC is probably a better corner than he is a safety — IF he has an adequate safety behind him. Player X probably isn’t as good a corner as McC, but with McC at safety (rather than a player of lesser awareness and discipline), the combination of McC at FS and Player X at CB is an upgrade overall.
That he happens to be a good tackler is a nice bonus.
“He’s a special guy,’’ said Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. “A guy like Reggie can do a lot of different things. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can run the ball, he can play on punt return, he can return the ball, so there’s many things he can do on the field that can hurt you, so you’ve just got to make sure you don’t let him do those things.’’
“I think our run defense, really the last two weeks, is really been something we’ve struggled with,’’ Ninkovich said. “We need to get back to the things that we were doing well early and midseason, doing a good job against the run.’’
Rob Gronkowski talks about how different the Dolphins are compared to Week 1.
The big difference is that first I think that they went 0-8 and now they’re on fire. They are just winning a lot of games now, they’re in every game, their offense is looking good, their defense is looking smooth. Definitely a team that’s just looking to knock someone off, looking to give [us] a loss, so we’ve got to go out and we have to be prepared because we know they’re coming hard.
They’re doing what they do. They’re playing their defense, we’re studying up obviously on it and everything, trying to learn what they’ve changed and everything, but they got the same players and they’re all good players and they all play hard. We know that they’re going to be especially playing hard this week again and trying to get the ‘W,’ so we’ve got to be out there. We’ve got to be ready because we know their defense is going to be coming.
VIEW FROM MIAMI
We all know that Clay Matthews is an excellent outside linebacker and is in the correct defensive scheme under Dom Capers in Green Bay but statistics show that he cannot do it all by himself.
/> Clay is tough and can play through injuries and I am not … [ href="http://lombardiave.com/2011/10/31/packers-defense-in-need-of-the-other-book-end/">visit site to read more]
href="http://lombardiave.com/2011/10/31/packers-defense-in-need-of-the-other-book-end/">Packer’s Defense in Need of the Other Book End – href="http://lombardiave.com">Lombardi Ave – href="http://lombardiave.com">Lombardi Ave – A Green Bay Packers Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and more.
In part 1, we looked at the prospect of Utility Safety James Sanders remaining with the squad, despite his hefty contract and his slipping performance. Of course, the chances of Sanders being let go in a short off-season is extremely slim, especially with the lack of experienced players waiting in the wings. Sanders is a locker room leader, as well as a favorite of the coaching staff. The only reason to let Sanders go would be to free cap space for a free agent acquisition. In this off-season, that seems unlikely.
However, there is a player on the defense who might have his position in jeopardy because of his performance on the field (in addition to a contract near the same level as Sanders). Brandon Meriweather has become the fan-(least?)-favorite scapegoat over the past season for a multitude of reasons:
1) His questionable off-the-field actions, which reflect poorly upon Meriweather’s character, especially when compared to Sanders’ pristine image.
2) His early season benching for free lancing and ignoring the coaching staff, again a negative when compared to Sanders.
So what will happen to Brandon Meriweather?
Like Sanders, I question if the Patriots will make a move with such a short off-season. However, if the Patriots are presented with an extremely reasonable and beneficial trade under a new CBA, I could see Meriweather being a top trade prospect. He’s coming off another Pro Bowl season and he could benefit from playing in a different defense where’s allowed to be more of a showboat in the secondary. Just like Asante Samuel going to the Eagles, Meriweather might go to a defense where’s he’s allowed to play more coverage and worry less about pursuit angles.
Still, Meriweather has undeniable talent when he puts his whole game together. He’s a great athlete, who can hit with power and also cover with finesse. He must improve his mental game this off-season if he wishes to earn another contract with the Patriots. He has all the physical capabilities that James Sanders’ lacks, but he has half the football intelligence. Meriweather has this season to put everything together if he’s going to stay a Patriot for the rest of his career, or else he’ll leave town in a mid-season trade like Laurence Maroney.
Meriweather can still develop into a stud in the defense- a few solid weeks of great angles and ball play will make everyone forget about last season- but he has to develop. If he continues to play at his current level, he doesn’t have a bright future with the Patriots. Unless Meriweather improves, he’s a player who might see the door this year.
Donovan McNabb, soon to be released quarterback for the Washington Redskins, has found himself in yet another racially-tinged feud, this time with former middleweight boxing champ and Philadelphia native Bernard Hopkins.
The sparring match between the two athletes has been pretty much one-sided for a number of years, beginning with McNabb’s career in Philadelphia when Hopkins started making statements to the press regarding the all-pro quarterback’s upbringing, racial “integrity”, and heart.
During a workout this week for an upcoming fight, Hopkins took time out to jab at McNabb again, saying he’s not, in fact, black, but that “he’s got a suntan, that’s all.” In a phone interview with the Associated Press yesterday, he elaborated:
With the 162nd pick in the 2011 NFL draft the Pittsburgh Steelers took Chris Carter from Fresno State. Carter projects to be an outside linebacker in the Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense. Carter was extremely productive last season and won the Western Athletic Conference defensive player of the year award after notching 11 sacks. Carter was a key piece to an improved Bulldog defense after matching the same amount of sacks the entire team recorded a year earlier. Carter also had 16.5 tackles for a loss and ended his collegiate career with 200 tackles and 19.5 sacks.
Carter is probably a bit smaller than the Steelers are used to in terms of their outside linebacker position coming in at 6’1, and 248 pounds. Carter is closer to James Harrison (6’0, 242lbs) than Lamarr Woodley (6’2, 265lbs) in terms of size but his strengths have been noted as his intelligence and his non-stop motor. Carter was a player that I have seen in mock drafts as high as the second round to the Houston Texans. Perhaps the second round was a bit high for the Fresno State product, but it appears that Pittsburgh has another solid player that should at least be able to contribute on special teams next year. Welcome to Steeler Nation Chris Carter.
Earlier we took a look at the impact the draft had on the offensive depth chart. Although it was neglected save for two picks, Rob Ryan’s defense was molded some for the first time. Let’s take a look at the defensive positions and what we can expect to see.
DL - Extremely against the grain for the Cowboys not to take a lineman in what was regarded as a ridiculously deep d-lneman draft. Jay Ratliff remains the key to the line, with Stephen Bowen expected to take one of the defensive end positions. Sean Lissemore is in the mix, but free agency will have to be dabbled in to fill out this depth chart.
LB - Rob Ryan’s scheme seems to do a lot of diverse things from the linebacker position, specifically the inside backers. Adding the talent of Bruce Carter to Sean Lee and Bradie James is insurance for an aging Keith Brooking. Leon Williams will see camp competition. The outside, for now, remains the same with the league’s best pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, plus Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler and Brandon Williams.
Follow the jump for the secondary.
CB: The sure-tackling Josh Thomas is the new competition for the slot corner. Will the Cowboys make a move in free agency? Several reports throughout the draft attached Dallas to the Nnamdi sweepstakes, although every major free agent is associated with Dallas. Nothing in the draft signaled a change in Terence Newman’s status. Alan Ball back to cornerback? To quote Jay-Z, we don’t believe you, you need more people.
S: Hello free agency. Dallas entered the draft without a starting safety and leaves in the exact same position. Akwasi-Owusu-Ansah and Barry Church currently sit atop the depth charts and you know that is changing. Danny McCray is also in the mix. Expect calls to go out to Eric Weddle, Quinton Mikell, Michael Huff and Brodney Pool as soon as legally allowed.
Offense … that’s been Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy’s mantra through the first two rounds of the 2011 NFL draft.
I guess that’s not surprising considering their penchant in recent drafts to do the same.
Derek Sherrod at offensive tackle is a great pick … offensive tackles don’t grow on trees and when one presents in the first round, you have to snatch him up.
He’s a solid pick.
Howver, I really like Thompson’s second rounder, Randall Cobb. Here’s a guy with size, speed and durability who will be highly valued when Donald Driver finally hangs them up and James Jones moves on in free agency.
Not only will Cobb be utilized at several different positions, but even more importantly in the return game. It’s been nearly a decade since the Packers have had a threat in that part of their game and what it will add to the team’s attack next year is immeasurable.
Can you imagine what this team could do with a short field three or four times a game? Instead of the potential to average 21-24 points per game, one could probably amp that up to 28-31 points per game. That translates into a lot of wins in this league.
Now, let’s consider the Pack’s third-rounder, Alex Green … a big back who Thompson said can catch the ball out of the backfield and can also block.
Those are both attributes that fit well into the Packers scheme, but the first question one must ask at this point in the draft is “why a running back?”
We have come not to question Thompson’s picks given they have for the most part panned out in building a Super Bowl team. But to add another back to a team that already has a deep pool is questionable.
However, take it from new running backs coach Jerry Fontenot when he says you can never have enough running backs … he’s right, especially when your top back only had eight carries last year and is coming back from a serious leg and ankle injury. Also consider that Brandon Jackson may be gone through free agency and the other two, Dmitri Nance and James Starks, have limited experience.
Green’s statistics are impressive, but a couple of things stand out for me as red flags … number one, he started in junior college because of academic issues (is he smart enough?) and he put the ball on the ground (he’s a fumbler ala Ahman Green?).
Nevertheless, it’s been a solid draft so far for the Packers. Nothing splashy as we all expected (consider Atlanta) … it’s been a draft that has added solid contributors to a team already awash with talent.
What it means is increased competition and the building of the team concept.
My only hope now is that the Packers look to the other side of the ball in the later rounds to continue their build toward another championship.