So, this is awful timing on my part after consecutive beatdowns by the Cowboys and Chargers... but I’m feeling conflicted with the talent level of the team. So I thought we could talk about what needs to be improved and what doesn’t. As the title suggests, I’m leaving ownership and GM issues out.
Part of me looks at the roster, from top to bottom, and thinks we have a whole lot of talent (albeit some, or a lot, of it injured). The defense in particular has been the most confusing. It just doesn’t seem that losing Allen and Foster (and Nicholson, I suppose) should be significant enough to take what seemed like a decent defense and turn it into this abysmal mess.
So, I thought we could take a look at the roster as it stands now and moving forward. Specifically, who are the guys we want to continue with us (ie. guys we are comfortable with as starters), and which spots need to be upgraded.
Safety: I like Swearinger, though he does get exposed at times. I think he’s a solid SS. Not a big fan of him playing single high, but he’s better than some others we’ve put back there recently. Really like the potential of Nicholson, though health issues loom large. Everett is mostly just a guy, but he has value similar to Niles Paul - can play both safety spots and is a pretty good STer.
Corners: I like our corners, even if I’m sometimes questioning what they’re doing. We have a decent group, including depth. I’m thrilled that the slot corner position finally has an answer after years of struggles.
ILB: I think Brown and Foster are a very nice duo.
OLB: Smith has fallen off a bit from his fast start, but he pairs well with Kerrigan.
DE: It’s been nice to see McGee (and Lanier, to an extent) step up recently. Add McClain (if he ever gets going) and I think it’s... an ok group.
DT: Ioannidas and Allen look to be a very good match here. Again, McGee and Lanier are ok in rotation.
NT: Hood... I don’t know. He seems to be slightly better than expected, but that’s not saying much.
Random other pieces: there are a few guys - Francis and Smithson, for example, that could bolster our depth if they stick around next year.
So what needs to change? I’m pretty happy with virtually all of our starters. In our base D, I’d like to address NT and DE. I’m expecting Brown and Foster to be re-signed and Breeland to walk, but I’m comfortable saying that a combo of Dunbar and Moreau should be able fill that void. In terms of depth, I’d like to bring back Murphy and/or Galette, and draft an ILB, OLB, DE/DT and a corner to compete with Holsey for the 5th spot.
Oline: 3 positions are set (LT, RT, and RG), and I think we’re likely set at C as well (Roullier or Long).
TE: I think Davis is a fine number 1. Sprinkle has shown a bit, enough that I could see him manning the #2 spot. Reed is, well... there’s a thread for that. Paul is valuable in his own way, but I think you could argue that he’s maybe somewhat emblematic of what’s wrong with this team. A guy that is so-so as a pass catcher, not a good blocker, but will stick around because he does what’s asked of him, is capable on Teams and is a ‘leader’. For our 4th TE, I’d rather have someone with potential. Someone that can do at least one thing well even if they need to be coached up in other areas (see Compton, McClain, Mack Brown - way back when, Golston in years past, etc.).
RB: Perine’s done some good things. His average is poor, but he’s shown some good burst, vision and hands. I’d certainly like to see more, but my hunch is that our run game woes start elsewhere. Thompson is a stud, and Marshall is a guy I’d like to give a chance.
Receiver: Grant’s maybe a low end #2, and Crowder, for all his issues this year, is a good a lot receiver. Doctson, at this point, is an okay #2. He’s shown potential to be more, but it’s hard to be sold as of yet.
QB: I’m leaving this to the appropriate thread, but count me as one that wants him to return.
Looks like we’re going need depth on the oline. The biggest issues are at receiver of course, though there are some questions at runningback and we could use a blocking or all-around TE.