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Our shortcomings as a team and the needed fixes are clear


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I've listened to both our fans and fans of other teams say that "the league has figured out Zorn", and I agree to a certain extent, though I don't conclude from that any fault or issue on the part of Zorn himself. The truth is that we entered this year as a good but flawed veteran team with its share of strengths and weaknesses, and Zorn's fresh approach to running the offense, combined with Jason's surprising ability to quickly absorb and run with that approach made us look better than we actually were for a while.

The last few weeks in which we've played against some of the top defensive fronts in football has shown that you can't creatively cover up those flaws of ours for very long. Our major problems are these:

1) Our o-line is simply incapable anymore of holding its own for an entire game against four-man fronts that can generate pressure without blitzing, much less against such fronts that disguise and utilize blitzing from LB's and DB's too. We've covered this up by running quick pass plays, misdirection and running aggressively, but the game is now up. Teams are pressing our receivers, crowding the line, and putting a safety in the box to stop the run.

Rabach, Thomas and Jansen are now all below-average OL's overall, with notable flaws especially in their pass protection. Kendall is the second best OL on the team now, and he's the oldest guy out there. Only Samuels has any sort of a future with our team, though we may have to grin and bear Rabach for a couple of more years while we rebuild elsewhere. Pray that Reinhart and Heyer are in fact the guys who can hold down their respective positions because if not, we're in for a long rebuilding process on OL, one that might ultimately spell doom for Zorn's coaching regime.

2) We don't have enough play-makers at WR. We have exactly one guy who can make plays, and that's Santana Moss. Cooley is nicely paired with him and should in theory take coverage away from him, but the problem with Cooley is that we need him to block given our o-line woes. Moss gets pressed to take away the slip screens, and safeties rotate to him over the top to take away his deep routes because nobody else is a threat. Thrash, Randle El, Thomas and Kelly all regularly drop balls. Our passing game therefore gets shut down easily, especially when our running game can't get anything started.

The good news is that while Thomas and Kelly aren't ready for prime time yet, I have seen glimpses from them of some promising things. We've already devoted draft picks to them and Davis to improve our passing targets, so we don't need to do that again in this coming draft. They simply need a complete offseason of reps and conditioning and we should see improvement there. Our draft can focus on OL.

3) On defense we need a D-line that can generate its own pressure without blitzers. We have gone for too long without building our d-line through the draft. Unless you count Kenard Lang, which is certainly debateable, we haven't acquired a noteworthy d-line starter through the draft in 25 years, since we drafted Charles Mann. That's an absolute embarrassment.

This isn't a jab against last year's draft approach, which I support because it did address the need for playmakers in the passing game as stated above; rather it's just a statement about a now decades-long omission spanning numerous coaching and front office regimes that simply needs to end. The good news is that we have an outstanding secondary, so if we just get them a little help up front we should start to see some differences right away. On offense, the good news there is that Jason has certainly shown that he's a guy you can build around and win with - we no longer have to list QB as an area of need.

I would only add to these needs that we certainly need some depth at LB, and I'm now starting to get concerned about the miles on Portis such that we might consider drafting someone there if they're a BPA in the draft. But by and large, we need a lot of big uglies in next year's draft on both sides of the ball. This can be put off no longer.

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On offense, the good news there is that Jason has certainly shown that he's a guy you can build around and win with - we no longer have to list QB as an area of need.


Jason Campbell has shown he is someone you can build around? Ok time to put the crack pipe down and back away slowly. In the four years he has been here what has Campbell shown? The answer is absolutely nothing. This team was struggling and one the verge of collapse last year until a journyman backup QB who had not played in 10 years took this same group of players and poof the offense suddenly worked! Agreed, Campbell has all the physical tools but he is a mirror image of Kyle Boller. They both are missing that something special that makes a successful NFL QB.

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yesterday was the first time i was truly dissapointed with campbell. There was a set of downs where he threw an incomplete pass, then got sacked, then tried to force a throw on third down when he EASILY could have picked it up on the run. Another drive we had ARE get big plays on 2 straight plays (the drive when he threw to cooley) and he would have scored a touchdown except for Campbell's poor throw.

I thought the line stepped up BIGTIME this week. Campbell had all kinds of time and was sacked only a few times, which was to be expected. Every time we had momentum going in this game Campbell was the one who dragged us to a halt with a busted play or bad toss. I know he had lots of dropped balls from his recievers, but his inability to think on his feet was so maddening this week it was impossible to ignore. Yes, throwing the ball away or checking down to a reciever before the line of scrimmage is the safe, smart play. But not on 4th down when your team needs a spark. At least give them a chance.

I was opposed to any sort of quarterback controversy because of the way it has backfired for us so many times in recent years. However......while I don't think we will be a new team with Todd Collins or Colt Brennon, the fact remains that Campbell is not improving, and is making the SAME mistakes week in and week out. At least by giving one of the other 2 a chance we can see if there is a better option available to us, because I honestly don't see Campbell being any better for the remainder of the season, and we'd be foolish to go against the Ravens and expect a different result.

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