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Who Went Up & Who Went Down in 2008 (1 Viewer)

Bob Magaw

Footballguy
due to the short week i will post here informally & add to over next few days...

the list is meant to be representative & suggestive, not necessarily comprehensive & exhaustive... feel free to add your own thoughts (in fact wanting input partly informed & prompted this thread)...

thanx to everybody for reading this season & for all the comments & suggestions... i received more feedback this year (ETTGs 5th) than in any previous season...

i've said it before, but the SP & IDP boards are a like a 1,000 eyed monster that sees everything... i really appreciate how as a community we are able to instill a kind of aggregated and collaborative intelligence, where the whole is truly more intelligent & wise than any individual could be... a high level debate could already be in place, that could spark off a thoughtful question in another incoming poster who has brought a new perspective, which could lead to fertile new directions for thought previously unexplored... when done in the right way, this just makes everybody smarter, and can take individuals to levels it would be hard to get to separately... feeding that enhanced individual football IQ growth writ large back into the collective, makes the whole progressively smarter... & so on...

i haven't posted here as much lately (one reason for THIS post, but not the only one)... partly that is due to the fact that it has grown exponentially since i began here (in 2004 i think?)... it is great to see that it has grown to the point where it is self-sustaining, with so many learned & helpful contibutors willing & able to share their knowledge... i can remember when i was new, staffer dave baker taught me much & steeped me in some very useful fundamentals which i continue to employ to this day... with a solid foundation, i was able to come up with some stuff on my own, & i personally enjoy giving back some of what i got... many others here seem to have a similar attitude...

one thing i personally find fascinating is how the IDP offshoot has grown... FF is a coherent body of knowledge with many interconnected principles... IDP is a separate body or domain of knowledge unto itself... sometimes things learned on offense can be generalized (consistent scoring is good, why MLB better than FS, in general), at other times not... (great cover CBs like asomugha make bad IDPs, as they are avoided... this is a twisted, upside down alice in wonderland kind of verity that would never apply on offense... there, good is always good & bad always bad! :thumbup: )...

the scouting side (which i am more inclined to) will always have a degree of art, if only because some of the most important things about a player are their hearts & minds, which we don't currently have good tests for extracting this type of info, & have to rely on anecdotal observations & reports...

but we also have some gifted historical/statistical number crunchers here (people like dr. drinen, his protege chase & jene & aaron on the IDP side come immediately to mind) who are doing great work at making FF more precise, rigorous & exacting, more like a science...

i agree that the IDP board sets a great tone... another reason i haven't been as active here recently is knowing it is in such great hands with the likes of jene, aaron & anthony... ever since i can remember, & they & other current regulars have continued this legacy from the earlier example set... responding to the community in a genuine spirit of of helpfulness... it helps newcomers to learn better & faster, & they are soon in a position to in turn help others... this willingness to put the process first & check egos at the door is why i think this is the best board at FBG, and alway will be as long as this spirit continues...

on to the informal week 17 column... happy holidays to the board... :)

_______________________________________________________________

2008 Season Wrap

Who went up and who went down in 2008?

Arizona

Up - Karlos Dansby has enjoyed a breakout season, and stands to make a lot of money soon.

Down - Eric Green has already lost his job to good looking rookie DRC and should be shown the door in the offseason.

Atlanta

Up - While it is hard to call an aging talent like John Abraham ascendant, he is indisputably in the midst of a career renaissance and playing the best ball of his career.

Down - Michael Boley was the Falcons most promising defensive player as recently as last season, but his fortunes have fallen to virtually the same degree and proportion as the franchise's as a whole have risen. He isn't even a full time starter any longer and is being deployed in a situational role (splitting time with ex-Bill SS Coy Wire), and it wouldn't be a surprise if he is allowed to move on in free agency. His fall from grace has been remarkable for its rapididty.

Baltimore

Up - Haloti Ngata is an emerging force as a young interior DL, and looks like a future Pro Bowler. Shocking feet, quickness and athleticism for a big man, with the movement skills of a much smaller human. We could have just as easily made the case for a few other Ravens defenders to be plugged in here, with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed all making the Pro Bowl.

Down -

Buffalo

Up - Marcus Stroud elevated the defense and entire team early, though he hasn't been as conspicuous with the Bills incinerating upon re-entry and crashing back to Earth after a now distant memory red-hot start.

Down - Aaron Schobel was hurt but wasn't setting the league on fire even before.

Carolina

Up - Jon Beason and Julius Peppers made the Pro Bowl and would be logical choices here. Less obvious but equally tenable inclusions here would be Chris Gamble and Thomas Davis, who also enjoyed career seasons. Charles Johnson is also a name to follow in the future.

Down - The athletically gifted and multi-talented Richard Marshall disappointingly failed to crack the starting lineup once again, only this season he uncharacteristically failed to be productive within the constaints of his typically restricted nickle CB role.

Chicago

Up - Lance Briggs has of course had a huge season and bounced back in a big way from a disappointing 2007 campaign.

Down - Brian Urlacher, whether due to an inferred deteriorating back condition or the mundane, pedestrian body blows and ravages of Father Time, didn't look as explosive or come close to making as big an impact in 2007.

Cincinnati

Up - Straining for positives in such a brutal season is tantamount to the onerous task of trying to highlight the biggest chick magnet in a Dungeons and Dragons convention. Practically by default, Dhani Jones and Leon Hall have had the best numbers for IDP purposes.

Down - Prized rookie Keith Rivers was playing about as well as could be expected given the fact that he was saddled with an appalling lack of surrounding talent, but his injury and landing on IR was a setback and disappointment.

Cleveland

Up - Shaun Rogers has been a revelation for the Browns, and one of the few positives in a nightmarish season for the club. D'Qwell Jackson enjoyed a breakout season and appears to have a bright future.

Down - Kamerion Wimbley hasn't developed as expected, and is approaching bustdom with a meager and paltry 4 sacks in a disappointing third season.

Dallas

Up - DeMarcus Ware is a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Down - Roy Williams (the SS) had become an IDP afterthought even before going on IR. His best hope is that he lands with another team that can put his LB-like tackling skills to better use while scheming around his increasingly all too apparent coverage deficiencies.

Denver

Up - Nate Webster was greatly outproducing his IDP expectations before getting hurt, and looked like one of the few players on the "D" that was more part of the solution than the problem.

Down - The proverbial "cast of thousands". The biggest problems holding back the defense continues to be a lack of talent and playmakers on the DL and in the deep secondary.

Detroit

Up - The number of losses, which barring unforseen circumstances, is expected to "rise" to a league record 16 losses during a 2008 season that has conjured up descriptions such as abominable and abysmal.

Down - After the stunning reports that the Lions "interim" front office and coaching staff may be retained in 2009 by ownership, the Detroit fanbase expectations for next season must be as beaten down as... stock in Ford Motor Company (not to suggest there are any corporate mismanagement parallels).

Green Bay

Up - Charles Woodson and Nick Collins are the no-brainer picks here, with both making the Pro Bowl (a combined 11 INTs and 5 TDs), though they haven't played as well in the past month. Woodson may have more of an excuse as he was shifted in-season to an unaccustomed safety spot. A.J. Hawk has flashed moments of brilliance, but partly due to multiple injuries, he has been inconsistent and had an up and down season.

Down - The loss of Cullen Jenkins almost immediately and Nick Barnett relatively early were devastating losses to the defense and not so hidden factors in the Packers mid-season collapse and the withering away of once promising playoff aspirations. It could also be counted as a disappointment that Aaron Rouse was unable to lock down a job when Atari Bigby was hurt, to the point where the defensive coaching staff found it necessary to disrupt already shaky defensive continuity and stability by shunting Woodson to the deep secondary (after playing at a Pro Bowl level at CB).

Houston

Up - Mario Williams played up to the large expectations that come from being a former #1 overall pick, making the first of what should be many Pro Bowls. With his devastating combo of size, athleticism and talent, he has a chance to be a historically good DL, barring injury. He seems to possess the requisite work ethic and desire for greatness to max out his formidable, awesome array of skills, which is bad news for opposing AFC South offenses and the rest of the NFL. The rare ability to be as good as he wants to. Dunta Robinson gets honorable mention. His on field accomplishments didn't compare to the prodigy Williams, but it took a near miraculous recovery to even be on the field after a catastrophic knee injury. As Robinson quickly rounded into playing shape and form, he began to play at a high level (without need of a... for a guy returning from from a devastating knee injury qualifier).

Down - DeMeco Ryans fell way off the blistering pace he set in his first two seasons in the league, but this could in large part be chalked up and attributed to his playing through injury for a good chunk of the season. This could become more of a pronounced trend if he is surrounded by a more talented and better defensive supporting cast. A harsher indictment could be levelled at Amobi Okoye, who has showed very little since about the first month or two of his rookie season. The Manchild is just a few years removed from being a teenager, and could blossom as he physically matures and becomes more technically sound, but most IDP owners have lost patience.

Indianapolis

Up - Robert Mathis is enjoying maybe his best season (and that is saying a lot). The CB tandem of Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden was looking like an ascendant duo before being beset by injuries. They have big upside (both individually and together).

Down - Bob Sanders could be an all time great based purely on talent and heart, but his checkered medical record and the prodigious number of missed games on his resume takes some of the luster off and could tarnish his NFL legacy.

Jacksonville

Up - Daryl Smith is already on IR (typical in a lost season), but he is now safely ensconced at MLB pointing towards 2009 and flashed signs that he might be more productive with the opportunity than he has been in the past.

Down - Mike Peterson has lost a half step but can still play, but this became a moot point after landing in Del Rio's dog house. The situation deteriorated to the point where he wasn't even allowed to suit up at one point. He is filling in on an emergency basis with Smith done for the year, but as far as his long term Jacksonville career is concerned, he is a "dead man walking" tenure-wise.

Kansas City

Up - Their draft position in the 2009 draft, which could be #2/#3 based on a titanic battle for worst record after the Lions (who paradoxically refused to be beat at losing), with the toothless (hornless?) Rams. Brandon Flowers and less heralded fellow CB Brandon Carr were among the best rookie DBs and should have a bright future despite the pall on the season given the defense and team as a whole's overall futility.

Down - Lots to choose from here. Expectations should always be modest and tempered when it comes to rookie DL, yet more was expected from top 5 pick Glenn Dorsey. Demorrio Williams became marginalized early when Derrick Johnson was unexpectedly shifted to WLB (not that it was a bad moving, just the timing was a surprise, in the third year of his career... he has been moved since to MLB, though that is in part due to ineffectiveness of existing talent... it is unclear if this is a permanent move... OTOH, i don't think we know conclusively it ISN'T)...

Miami

Up - what a difference a year can make... last year Joey Porter was thought to be on his last legs and the acquisition was ridiculed... in 2008 he has had a Defensive Player of the Year type season...

Down - Channing Crowder's future is murky... he is a gifted athlete, so it makes you wonder if it is an intanglible flaw... Jason Allen was a trendous talent at Tennessee before a potential career-ending hip injury... By all accounts he made a complete phyical recovery, but he has been unable to translate his two-way (run support & pass coverage) playmaking skills flashed in college to the next level... it is looking doubtful he ever will, at least in Miami...

Minnesota

Up - A few players could go here... Kevin Williams had maybe his best year ever (and he was a previous Pro Bowler)... Antoine Winfield had a great comeback from an injury-marred previous season... E.J. Henderson pick right up where he left off after a breakout 2007... but Chad Greenway was the most surprising and impressive breakout, coming somewhat out of nowhere... he flashed signes of being good in the past (missed first season with knee injury & may have been regaining his range of mation and confidence in the knee lasy season), but played at times this year like one of the best up 'n coming young LBs in the league...

Down - Tyrell Johnson was just a rookie, & not necessarily counted on with darren sharper & free agent Madieu Williams... but when Williams went down and he was pressed into action, he played tentatively...

New England

Up - Jerrod Mayo showed why Bill Belichick the talent evaluator allowed Bill Belichick the roster architect to disregard his heuristic of generally avoiding young LBs (his system is complex and by the time they learn it they could be moving on... why train them for somebody else on his own dime & time?)... despite the scheme complexity, he was able to not only carve out a niche from which to contribute, but quickly emerge as probably the pats best defender... looks like he could be a future Pro Bowler (merited consideration as a rookie and a lock for Rookie DPOY)... makes plays all over the field, great instincts, takes good angles to the ball, sheds tackles, flashes an innate knack in coverage and playmaking skills...

Down - Rodney Harrison has been getting hurt with greater frequency in the twilight of his career, and & it wouldn't be a surprise if he has played his last down for the Pats...

New Orleans

Up - Jonathan Vilma bounced back from a knee injury and looked more like the 2005 MLB that led the NFL in tackles and all IDPs in scoring, than the 2006-2007 iteration that was miscast as a 3-4 ILB... the Saints secondary has been an Achilles heel pre-dating even when Jim Haslett was the HC, but the rookie CB Porter was playing at a high level for a rookie and looks like a definite keeper...

Down - Will Smith is supposed to be in the 2nd tier of better young DEs in the league, but he had a very non-descript & uneventful season. Far more was expected after signing a contract extension...

New York (Giants)

Up - Justin Tuck went from being great to maybe the top DE in the league... and he did it without the help of the retired Michael Strahan or IRed Osi Umenyiura.

Down - Matthias Kiwanuka flashes the potential to be great at times, but for some reason hasn't always been capable of sustaining it in a consistent manner... its unclear if it is a motor issue, or one of technical development... he has been shuttled back and forth from DL to LB and back again, which can't have helped in the technique department...

New York (Jets)

Up - Darrelle Revis got a we deserved hawaii invite and looks like he will be a fixture i the future... Though not of great IDP import, in terms of his actual impact and on those around him, Kris Jenkins has been a revelation in the middle.

Down - David Harris looked like he could put up Patrick Willis numbers based on about half a season's worth of work his rookie season in 2007. He came no where close before getting hurt and missing substantial time with a groin injury. Since returning (and improbably while being listed questionable past few weeks), he has redeemed himself and looked much more like the 2007 version. Kerry Rhodes isn't being used the same way he was in 2007, and his stats have suffered accordingly... he is being used in more of a center fielder capacity, and not able to attack the line of scrimmage as much... he also seems to be deployed in more of a structured and disciplined manner, and not allowed to range around and make plays like before...

Oakland

Up - Nnamdi Asomugha is as bad an IDP as he is great an actual cover CB, but he gets props here for a Pro Bowl season... Kirk Morrison had his best season but labors in anomynity and is overshadowed by a dysfunctional front office that is one of the league's laughing stocks...

Down - DeAngelo Hall was an ill-advised free agent signing (as was Javon Walker on offense), and is no longer with the team... Derrick Burgess and Thomas Howard fell off in 2008... the biggest downer could be safety Michael Huff losing his starting job, though the point could be made that not much was expected from him in the first place given his disappointing and underwhelming first few seasons in the league...

Philadelphia

Up - Trent Cole was one of the most productive IDPs... Quentin Mikell exceeded expectations at SS... Stewart Bradley went from being a relatively unknown commodity to looking like he could have top 15-20 upside... Akeem Jordan (sounds like a dream hoops player) has sent Omar Gaither to the bench...

Down - Omar Gaither (see above)...

Pittsburgh

Up - Few to choose from, with Harrison having a DPOY and even league MVP type of season, Troy Polamalu rebounding from a sub-par 2007 season with a vengeance and making the Pro Bowl, James Farrior looked rejuvenated and was also voted in... LaMarr Woodley gets honorable mention for a breakout, borderline Pro Bowl caliber season...

Down - Casey Hampton's season was clouded by conditioning issues... Still, they couldn't have had too many players with down years given their dominant team defense over the course of the season...

San Diego

Up - Eric Weddle took a big step up in his first year as a starting safety... He is very active in run support and has been athletic and big a playmaker as he was advertised coming out of college playing everything but the halftime band instruments...

Down - Matt Wilhelm failed to build on his 2007 season... Antonio Cromartie made some big plays but gave up too many and appeared to regress from his brilliant previous campaign...

San Francisco

Up - Justin Smith was a solid player but never lived up to his former 4th pick overall status. He had by far the best season of his career, which raises the question of whether his previous inability to take his game to the next level had more to do with his supporting cast with the bengals, or, more likely, how he was schemed?

Down - Nate Clements was one of the top IDPs last season and came nowhere close to that level of production in 2008... for a CB that is one of the highest paid defensive players in league history, he wasn't a big difference maker and he failed to generate a number of big plays commensurate with his pay grade...

Seattle

Up - Maybe nobody in a horrific sendoff season for HC Mike Holmgren... Julian Peterson was one of the few players on the stop unit that didn't regress relative to last season.

Down - Pro Bowlers Patrick Kerney and Lofa Tatupu had down seasons that were injury related (and thereby ending Tatupu's incredibly consistent string of productive IDP seasons)... the secondary had a precipitous drop compared to last season... Marcus Trufant was one of the top DBs in IDP leagues in 2007 but fell off a cliff... the safety tandem of Deon Grant and Brian Russell were an integral part of the Seahawks success last season, and their decline played a corresponding negative role this year...

St. Louis

Up - Incoming GM Bill Devaney... If the Rams were a building, they would be condemned, but since they are an NFL franchise, the edifice remains standing, despite chronic, systemic front office and organizational insults that has allowed the internal structure to decay and rot down to the foundation. Devaney will be allowed to rebuild from the ground up. If the Rams are in fact sold to an interest outside St. Louis, even the ground they build on may be new (unless of course they end up back in Los Angeles, which would be old ground).

Down - Outgoing President John Shaw and GM Jay Zygmunt... I once asked a termite inspector how he knew when a building had termites? When you casually rest your hand on a wall and nonchalantly lean and put weight on it, and your whole body falls through the crumbling structure like a scene from a cartoon... you have termites. :)

Tampa Bay

Up -

Down -

Tennessee

Up -

Down -

Washington

Up -

Down -

 
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In my opinion Nick Barnett went down before he went out, he was killing me in 2 leagues averaging under 10 points a game after scoring over 200 2 of the last 3 seasons. For a starting MLB that was basically in the exact same scheme as before his drop off was mind boggling, in previous seasons i watched him make tackles all over the field and am really curious what happened to this once great IDP'er before he went on IR.

 
Another Bengal brightspot was Ndukwe, when he played that is. He averaged almost 11 points per week (Top 5) and that actually could have been a little higher but he "played" a game and got hurt on his first tackle and never returned but that counts as a full game played. Problem was his health though, he missed 5 full games and 98% of another game.

 
Karlos Dansby is a monster and i have been saying that for a few years now. You can call this a breakout season, but if you check the numbers vs games played over the past few years you will see he has been a monster for a while now. He was another guy that had the injury bug every year missing a few games so the "end stats" didnt match up with other guys and fortunately for him and the Cardinals he avoided it this year and produced like i knew he would.

 
I think that D'Qwell Jackson is great for fantasy football, but for real football he's not good enough.

I will say that I've seen every Browns game this season, most of them multiple times and with a DVR to review plays. In fact, I've easily seen over 90% of the his career games in the NFL. I know that he's IDP gold, but from watching the game tape I think he's actually fool's gold in terms of winning real games. He's a decent enough athlete for sure and is philosophically the type of LB that most would see as a reliable third down player because of his athleticism. I think there is more to it than that though.

The problem with his game is that he doesn't drop guys short of the sticks on third down when he has the chance to. He is too often grabbing a leg as a guy turns the corner allowing him to stretch out for the 1st. He gets dragged an extra yard or two in the hole on key downs way too often. His ability to shed blocks is inconsistent. He's not physical in terms of destroying blockers or ballcarriers. He benefits so much from Shaun Rogers that I am amazed at how few gaps he shoots to make tackles for losses. I can't say enough about Big Baby, he was double and triple teamed so often yet still dominated the trenches. Most of the runs against the Browns were outside runs and most of the inside runs came when Rogers subbed out and went right through D'Qwell. Another quick point I want to make is that the notion that Shaun Rogers has motivation issues and doesn't play hard is a myth. He has 2 or 3 guys blocking him every play and understandably gets tired at times, but at the end of games he's in there fighting through it. I saw plenty of his games as a Lion and I don't ever recall him playing bad football. Whenever I hear someone bring up that trash I just ask them to produce the game footage, but nobody ever does. With as many kicks as he's blocked in his career he could be in the HOF just as a special teams player realistically. If you haven't seen him play, do so, it's a real treat.

I started really watching D'Qwell closely after the first month of the season because someone asked me about the linebackers and if Andra Davis was playing well. At the time I had to admit that I didn't really know, there is so much to watch in a game that things fall through the cracks. So I went back and watched the games again and paid attention to what the ILBs were doing. I don't think that Andra Davis gets enough props. He does his job very well, whether it's taking on a fullback or just spying a RB. Things like that don't result in stats, his stats are decent though. When he tackles a guy he usually does so with some power and he shoots gaps much better than D'Qwell, often rerouting plays to Jackson. He may not have the top end speed or whatever, but he's quicker mentally and physically, has better balance and power. Which to me is so much more important. I see him as a piece that is in place and has been for years. He is the only remaining starter from the Browns defense that last played a post season game.

Another thing that I've noticed about D'Qwell is that he muffs key plays. Just off the top of my head, I can recall him coming right up the gut on a blitz and he just whiffed on the QB, I believe it was the Redskin game where he dropped a gimme pick that probably would have won the game, and I believe he missed the tackle on Daniel Graham's TD in the Denver game, not to mention the fact that most big runs up the middle against the Browns came because he took himself out of the play by trying to jump around a block or he just got stonewalled and sealed. He is really good at chasing the play outside and grabbing a guys leg after he gains 5-7 yards. You don't have to take my word for it, I encourage you to just watch the film and you'll see many plays that he didn't make. You would think he'd be quicker to the outside considering teams tried to avoid Big Baby as much as possible, which was very obvious.

Of course the Browns had many other problems, and D'Qwell did play pretty well at times I willingly admit. I think that his best games came later in the season once it was clear that the Browns were not playing for a post season spot though. He has 2 sacks, one of which came last week when the QB slipped, or else he was probably getting past the LOS. He has 3 ints, 2 of which were against the Titans. He dropped more picks this season than he caught for sure. I tend to think the Titans saw something and decided to throw right at him, probably because they felt his hands were suspect. Up to that point in the season I don't blame them, it just didn't work out. Regardless I don't see him as a guy who controls anything in the middle or as any kind of game changer, (0 career FFs, WTF).

So why are his tackle numbers so high? He can obviously get from point A to point B and tackle, which means a lot in terms of linebacking. However, thinking a little deeper it's clear that generally for defensive players the worse they play on the field the more they stay on the field to a certain point, especially when they are the guy who has to make the play scheme wise when it is boiled down to everyone else doing their job. The more they stay on the field the more they have a chance to put up stats. D'Qwell is in a situation where he has Big Baby keeping him clean, he has the athleticism to be seen as a third down player, and has little competition for his job especially with injuries to backups, another thing about the Browns defense is that they aren't exactly a swarming defense so he has plenty of chances to make tackles.

The Browns are not very good on 3rd down, they are one of the worst in the league and he's a big reason why. That helps him in fantasy terms though and his numbers provide a nice jump to conclusions mat that make you think he's doing his job very well. He's not the only reason they are so bad on 3rd down though, Terry Cousin is another big reason why as well. If Terry Cousin comes into the game teams just key on whoever he is covering and throw to that guy which works out very well.

I guess it's an unpopular stance to pick at D'Qwell Jackson's game, but it's just what I've seen from watching the film. I would not be surprised if he lost his starting job as shocking as that may seem. A player with a better awareness of the sticks and the ability to drop people in their tracks would really improve the defense overall. I don't know if the Browns realize this or not. People thought I was crazy when I said Braylon sucks and they need a real #1 WR, that was 3 seasons ago and I felt the same way coming into this season. Some guys just don't do the little things well enough in key situations and you gotta call them out on it when a pattern emerges. So I don't know that he really has a bright future, because if he gets better in real life his fantasy stats will probably take a significant hit and if he doesn't he probably won't be on the field as much because he'll get upgraded like a Beyonce commercial. It might be too tough for the organization to go out on the same limb as me considering other draft needs. I don't know how friendly his contract situation is, but that will play some role as well obviously. He'll produce numbers in the current scheme, but his weaknesses will still be his weaknesses and 45% 3rd down conversions need to be addressed as much as possible. To me a guy with the ability to be a downhill thumper on third down is going to clean that % up somewhat nicely, perhaps 3rd down is an attitude as some say.

A couple of my other thoughts on the Browns defense.....

-Safety: Sean Jones needs to attack ballcarriers in the open field more instead of letting them come to him, he just gives up too many yards in those situations. I like Brodney Pool's playmaking ability, he can cover some ground and deliver some punishment both to opponents and himself though. I would upgrade Jones, he's not a natural defensive player in my mind.

-Corner: Eric Wright is good and improving to perhaps a top tier cover guy. He does not always make great attempts to make tackles that are not his responsibility, but he is always looking to strip the ball which is important. He can tackle though and he can time blitzes well too. One negative thing he does at times is dropping off the LOS too soon presnap and turning his back to the sideline, basically saying "I'm playing zone." I think he's the fastest player on the team as well. (Stallworth might be, but he's super soft and should be cut as it is.) Brandon McDonald had some ups and downs and some teams really picked on him, but he has some ball skills. Both guys are second year players who do a lot of things very well, but I clearly think Eric Wright has elite potential. I think that Romeo has a decent ability to develop CBs, he did parlay Leigh Bodden into Shaun Rogers afterall. Davin Holly and Gary Baxter's injuries hurt the secondary depth.

OLB - Willie still has some game and I like that every hit he makes has an element of a dirty old man hit, slight nastiness that refs let slide, a forearm shiver to the throat and things like that. Kam Wimbley made the all milk carton team this season, have you seen this man? I am not calling him a bust just yet though, he's shown me some things that I really like and some things that need to be corrected right away. I was surprised at how often he looked a step slow and how much he was just getting pushed into the ground when he tried to turn the corner. He use to be able to dip around tackles really well, but he lost his explosiveness all of a sudden and I don't know why. I am a bit baffled by him honestly. Alex Hall showed flashes and played hard, but still has a long way to go.

DE - Corey Williams, scrub. No motor. No moves. His biggest plays of the year where plays where he got stonewalled and just got his hands up to tip passes. Not what you want from a big man who sees one on ones all game. He was hurt, but it's really no excuse, the only headlines he made where from running his mouth not beating anyone in the trenches. Shaun Smith outplayed him and he's a very average player.

 
thanx for the great feedback and detailed comments, ravens & drop...

dansby did have a very good year last season... i didn't qualify it, but i just meant that dansby had his best year yet, & his performance this season catapulted him into the LB1 production range, which he hadn't done previously... point taken that he would have finished even higher a few times if not for missing the occasional game... than again, a pattern of missed games must be accounted for... to an extent, to paraphrase parcells (& with exceptions of course, the following can be a bit glib)... you are what your stats are... bob sanders is not a good comparison because he misses SO many more games (think he has missed 10+ three times in his short career, off the top of my head)... i would just make the point that a history of missed games can be a concern...

i am a big fan of dansby, too... i wrote the below player page for last year's preseason content... my take hasn't changed much if at all since then (HE IS WHAT WE THOUGHT HE WAS! :sleep: )... it just reflects some uncertainty about his ILB/OLB mix entering the 2007 season...

"Positives - Gifted athlete and physical prodigy. Former nationally recruited WR (dual threat, all-state WR and hoops star as an AL prep phenom). Blew up into a safety than into a LB (switched his sophomore season at Auburn), but has maintained his skill position wheels, ball skills and playmaking ability. Good pedigree (2.01 - '04, first team All-American). Multitalented player with a well rounded skill set. Highly developed pass rusher, equally adept playing in reverse and in coverage. Helps covering WRs, having been one. Good instincts and run/pass recognition. Innate sense of angles and solid open field tackler. Extremely dangerous in space. Has flashed playmaking ability in his first three NFL seasons, with a combined 17 sacks (8 in '06 - top 10 among LBs), 4 INTs, 5 FFs and 2 TDs.

Negatives - Not many. Could get off blocks better (like nearly all young LBs). Runs around blocks at times. Has missed at least one game in each of his first three seasons, so durability is a question. Could be miscast as an ILB in the new 3-4. The Cards DL is a work in progress, so he could have plenty of occasion to refine his block shedding chops.

Outlook - Top 30 finish among LBs in FBG scoring in '05 (in 15 games). His prorated projection last season (just 14 games) would have been closer to top 20. Merely 25, his best ball should still be in front of him. Outstanding pass rushing ability and his overall skill set is well aligned with OLB responsibilities, but he has the size (6'4" 240), athleticism and tackling ability to make a smooth transition to the inside. IF he can stay healthy, has a bright future. Could have top 20 upside in IDP dynasty leagues. Dansby closed out the '06 campaign with a smoking finish. His blistering second half clip (after beginning the season with toe and leg injuries) would have projected to about 100 solo tackles and DD sacks. Has the motivation factor, as he could make a lot of money with a big season... either in free agency eventually, or more likely with a big contract extension (ARI has shown the foresight recently to lock up their nucleus of core young talent)."

* great points about d'qwell, drop... thanx for the homer insight & thorough breakdown... with crennell OUT, if cowher doesn't come on board (or pioli?), it will be interesting to see what happens in the dog pound, if for instance, the browns make things interesting & shake things up by going to a predominately 4-3 base alignment... OR, if they don't think they have the personnel to run this effectively (personally, i don't see a problem... rogers would make a nasty UT, d'qwell could transition to MLB if protected (similar to vilma?), wimbley could possibly transition to undersized DE ala mathis... though he might get abused in the run game by divisional foe PIT), they may make it a point to at the least hire a DC with 3-4 scheme familiarity/expertise...

 
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Very nice write up on Dansby, hopefully you did not take my original reply about him sarcastically. I just meant (And by your above post already knew/agree) that some people will see his stats this year and think this was the first time he rocked it/broke out, but he just missed games before so his stats never were top 10ish. I also agree injury risk/lack of production while on the bench does have to be considered. (But he did stay healthy this year)

Was not trying to pad my post stats either :-) Just had to read and reply then re-read and reply and so on.

 
What about Brady James? He had an excellent season 117 tackles and 7 sacks. He helped me win one title...Yerimah Bell also had a very productive year for Miami.

 
:mellow: great stuff, Bob......

would like to add a couple comments:

Yerimah Bell had an outstanding season, W/W pick up for me that helped me get to a title game.

Nedu Ndukwe considering that he started the season hurt and showed up on the injury report more than 1/2 of the games, had an ok season, oh did i mention he was on a gawd awful team.

Nate Webster....nice season when he played, wasn't he a injury replacement? will the job still be his?

Channing Crowder--had a fairly consistent year just didn't score very big numbers, he is only 25 so wouldn't you expect his numbers to go up?

and what would an IDP thread be without the Justin Durant sighting.....he continues to tease and i like many others hold on to him.....will he FINALLY get the starting gig? he showed the occasional fash but seems to be in Del Rios doghouse.

 
Will Witherspoon-

57 tackles, 15 assists, 1 int, 1 sack

2007: 92 tackles, 18 assists, 7 sacks.

He was limited by injury the last third of the season, but he wasn't anywhere near doing what he did in '07 when he was healthy.

 
Nate Webster....nice season when he played, wasn't he a injury replacement? will the job still be his?
he was a stand-in that performed pretty well. i don't know how much faith i have in him going forward though because, at 31, he's pretty old for a NFL starter.ETA:
ChicagoUp - Lance Briggs has of course had a huge season and bounced back in a big way from a disappointing 2007 campaign.Down - Brian Urlacher, whether due to an inferred deteriorating back condition or the mundane, pedestrian body blows and ravages of Father Time, didn't look as explosive or come close to making as big an impact in 2007.
i thought S Kevin Payne and CB Corey Graham were productive once they got some playing time.
 
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some teams i just put one exemplar for each category, & in others, multiple...

be that as it may, yeremiah bell was definitely an oversight & thanx for the collective catch!

i'll comment on others as i find time...

i was too disappointed in the rams to even comment on them in anything but a general way, but witherspoon was without a doubt one of the bigger IDP disappointments of 2008 & i would be remiss to not mention that here... some of it was injury related, & probably could also be linked to injury/ineffectiveness on the DL (little & carriker missed time & were less than 100% at other times)... seems like i mentioned this elsewhere, but there are rumblings that witherspoon will be moving to WLB in 2009 & they will be looking for a bigger, stouter MLB... which begs the question, if beason is about same size as spoon, does bigger NECESSARILY equate to better... i think not, though in the case of extremes, there aren't too many 210 lb. MLBs ( :confused: ), but people like willis, beason & vilma (& many others) have proven that 230-240 is plenty big... BTW, not sure where this development leaves tinoisamoa? he did begin his career at SLB, & would probably be OK in coverage & blitzing, but he doesn't have ideal makeup to hold up at SLB... its been awhile, but i'm guessing he dealt with the bigger blockers by running around them, which would compromise the integrity of the defensive gap control... so he might be looking at a situational, reserve role?

* as i recall, they gave tino an EJ henderson type deal a year or two ago (without looking up, around 5 yr, $25 mil?), which will look pretty bad if he doesn't start... i'm guessing that was not all guaranteed, though... even if this transpires, this won't even be the rams worst signing by a long shot... that dubious distinction would HAVE to be held by the hummingbird egg fragile drew bennett in the first two years of his contract, of which the tangible on field payoff thus far has been a whole lot of NUTHIN... one of the worst free agent signings at any position by any team in the last two years... (well, the raiders had a couple bad ones in 2008, & jerry porter was awful for jax)...

 
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Gibril Wilson needs to get credit here for maintaining his level of play despite switching to a different team. Now that the season is over there are likely many Wilson dynasty owners who took for granted the production they got from the guy since he's been consistent top 10. However I know in the preseason I was worried that my workhorse top DB might take a major nosedive, even if his new surroundings looked good on paper. In fact, you could even argue Wilson's move to Oakland preserved his status as a top 10 DB. I tend to think he wouldn't have gotten nearly as many chances playing the same role for the Giants this year due to their improved D.

 
Thanks for all the great posts from everyone.

Even thought I didn't get to watch him play, DB Josh Wilson(Sea) made a big splash as far as points near the end of the season. I don't know whether it was due to solid play or just being in the right place at time.

 
DenverUp - Nate Webster was greatly outproducing his IDP expectations before getting hurt, and looked like one of the few players on the "D" that was more part of the solution than the problem. Down - The proverbial "cast of thousands". The biggest problems holding back the defense continues to be a lack of talent and playmakers on the DL and in the deep secondary.
Statistically, Webster was better than expected but that defense could not get off the field. I don't think the new coaching staff will keep him on board as he is not a playmaker and whiffs on too many plays IMO. I would put Wesley Woodyard on the up for Denver. He did a great job filling in for DJ Williams and I have seen talk that Denver might move DJ back to the middle so Woodyard can take over the Will spot. The defense seemed to get better with Woodyard in there.
 
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I'll take a crack here:

Washington

Up - In the purest sense, it's hard to say that anyone was "up" as there just weren't many plays being made by this defense, which shouldn't be surprising to say about a defensive unit that generates both few sacks and few turnovers. Regardless, if you're looking for the silver lining here, the discussion has to begin (and practically ends) with London Fletcher who remains a 3-down tackle machine at LB.

Late season signing DeAngelo Hall, perhaps playing for his career, added some much needed playmaking ability and came down with some INT's and probably will return next year.

Carlos Rogers had a career year, and surprisingly so after suffering a horrible knee injury last year.

Chris Horton came out of nowhere to make some plays as FS.

That's about it.

Down - You can assume that everyone else was either down or not worth discussing regardless, but I'll hit some of the more important players.

Jason Taylor, for the first time in his career, was hit with the injury bug and just couldn't seem to stay healthy; I don't know what the future holds for him.

Andre Carter, already undersized at DE, had no impact with nobody opposite him to generate pressure.

Cornelius Griffin, once one of the better up-tackles, only occasionally shows flashes of what he used to be.

Rocky McIntosh seemed to fade around midseason leading to speculation that his knees are troubling him and may spell an early end to his career.

Marcus Washington is washed up physically

Likewise Sean Springs can no longer stay healthy for 16 (or even 10) games, though he at least remains a good player when healthy.

Laron Landry, forced to play the Ed Reed/Sean Taylor-esque "centerfield" position, played that position effectively but with no statistical impact that would make IDP'ers happy.

The overall miracle is that this defense was (in NFL terms) a top-10 defense despite making so few big plays. They were a classic bend-but-not-break defense in the mold of the Tampa Bay Bucs of the early 00's. Their draft should be focused primarily on an up-tackle style DT, and secondarily upon any good DE's or maybe OLB's that they can find with their limited picks.

 
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I'll take a crack here:

Washington

Up - In the purest sense, it's hard to say that anyone was "up" as there just weren't many plays being made by this defense, which shouldn't be surprising to say about a defensive unit that generates both few sacks and few turnovers. Regardless, if you're looking for the silver lining here, the discussion has to begin (and practically ends) with London Fletcher who remains a 3-down tackle machine at LB.

Late season signing DeAngelo Hall, perhaps playing for his career, added some much needed playmaking ability and came down with some INT's and probably will return next year.

Carlos Rogers had a career year, and surprisingly so after suffering a horrible knee injury last year.

Chris Horton came out of nowhere to make some plays as FS.

That's about it.

Down - You can assume that everyone else was either down or not worth discussing regardless, but I'll hit some of the more important players.

Jason Taylor, for the first time in his career, was hit with the injury bug and just couldn't seem to stay healthy; I don't know what the future holds for him.

Andre Carter, already undersized at DE, had no impact with nobody opposite him to generate pressure.

Cornelius Griffin, once one of the better up-tackles, only occasionally shows flashes of what he used to be.

Rocky McIntosh seemed to fade around midseason leading to speculation that his knees are troubling him and may spell an early end to his career.

Marcus Washington is washed up physically

Likewise Sean Springs can no longer stay healthy for 16 (or even 10) games, though he at least remains a good player when healthy.

Laron Landry, forced to play the Ed Reed/Sean Taylor-esque "centerfield" position, played that position effectively but with no statistical impact that would make IDP'ers happy.

The overall miracle is that this defense was (in NFL terms) a top-10 defense despite making so few big plays. They were a classic bend-but-not-break defense in the mold of the Tampa Bay Bucs of the early 00's. Their draft should be focused primarily on an up-tackle style DT, and secondarily upon any good DE's or maybe OLB's that they can find with their limited picks.
egggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg-cellent, smithers!
 
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Tennessee

Up - Cortland Finnegan and every DLineman not initialed KVB

Down - KVB

Finnegan is a better NFL player than IDP Fantasy player but still shines nonetheless. Haynesworth (in start DT leagues) is nice and all of the young DLineman show nice progression of skill in the Fisher system that just breeds success at DLine

Kyle Vanden Bosch's best asset is his 24/7 motor but his all-out style means nothing if the body is broken down and hopefully an offseason of healing will bring back the old KVB in 2009

 
We'll see how he does this weekend against Baltimore, but I think Tennesseee's Michael Griffin takes a bump up this year after moving to safety at least for big play leagues.

Tackles = 75

Sacks = 1.0

PDef = 11

Ints = 7

Int Yds = 172

TDs = 1

He was ranked 8th overall for DBs and only 23 pts out of first.

 
someone already beat me to the punch on the post on DQ being a much better fantasy player than actual NFL LB'er. as bad as there defense was it would seem Sean Jones would have made more tackles/plays. Kam Wimbley took a step back as he had no pass rush complment to take doubles off him whatsover, which they can prolly find in the draft. it will be interesting what happens scheme/personel wise with the browns defense with mangini rollling in. both romeo/mangini are both ex patsies but there 3-4schemes seemed to function different. whether it was just from the browns bad personel or what but romeo ran a 'lighter' 3-4 then it seems mangini did/does.

i think same can be said of Jonathan Vilma this season. i even think Vilma'a phenominal statistical season for the jets a few years ago much the same, what big plays does he ever make? every tackle is after atleast a 3-4yard gain.

Chris Long didn't have a great statistical rookie year but he did look the part and i think the future holds alot for him in IDP. Leonard Little/Corey Chavous have little left. Witherspoon needs to be shifted back to WLB if he's to hold up for a few more seasons. Pisa showed as he always does he can make plays for those few plays he's not on the trainers table/cart. Rams toyed with Chris Draft/Vrobora at MLB down the stretch.....very sad. the rams have so many holes at every level.

The Patriots had quite a few youngsters show a bit of potential besides mayo. Guyton played quite a bit and altho undersized showed he belongs. Brandon Merriweather has arrived. the 2young CB's Wheatley and Wilhite showed improvement and promise. Shaun Crable wasn't on the field all that much but he appears to have a spot/future as well. very quietly it seems the ravens restocked alot of holes on there defense for the next few seasons.

i think its apparent Derrick Brooks is done. Quincy Black doesn't appear ready so Cato June may finally get his shot to slide into Brooks's spot. Ruud showed he's a legit probowl MLB in the making. the Bucs sure are set at Saftey. Gaines Adams didn't show marked improvement liked most thought. Chris Hovan really really wore down as the season went along.

The Cheifs have alot of holes to fill in the front 7. i have no reason to believe that Glen Dorsey can't become a good or impact player. not writing him off after his rookie season. but it is obvious the cheifs need upgrades in the pass rush off the ends. Tamba Hali and Turk McBride haven't got it done. Derrick Johnson has yet to live up to his potential, he has the tools to play any position but we'll find out if he has the instincts and will to put in the work. Flowers/Carr/Maurice Leggett all seemed to be finds. Bernard Pollard can sure bring the lumber, he really needs a good centerfielder behind him however.

 
I rewatched many of the Bears games on my DVR and I have a few comments about Urlacher. He is having as hard of a time as ever with shedding blocks. Once a blocker gets a hat on him he pretty much gets shoved off the screen like he is on roller skates. Now, many Bears fans will tell you it is because of there Cover 2 scheme and Urlacher's responsibility in the defense. However, the Bears play that D about 30% of the time. Many teams PURPOSELY attack the Bear's D up the middle because they don't believe Urlacher can do anything in the run game. Even when he isn't blocked Brian tends to take very poor angles to ball carriers and many times completely misses on the tackle. So much of his game in his younger years was based on speed and athleticism. However, as he has gotten older his athleticism has declined and his inability to play in the trenches is becoming more and more evident.

 
someone already beat me to the punch on the post on DQ being a much better fantasy player than actual NFL LB'er. as bad as there defense was it would seem Sean Jones would have made more tackles/plays. Kam Wimbley took a step back as he had no pass rush complment to take doubles off him whatsover, which they can prolly find in the draft. it will be interesting what happens scheme/personel wise with the browns defense with mangini rollling in. both romeo/mangini are both ex patsies but there 3-4schemes seemed to function different. whether it was just from the browns bad personel or what but romeo ran a 'lighter' 3-4 then it seems mangini did/does.i think same can be said of Jonathan Vilma this season. i even think Vilma'a phenominal statistical season for the jets a few years ago much the same, what big plays does he ever make? every tackle is after atleast a 3-4yard gain.Chris Long didn't have a great statistical rookie year but he did look the part and i think the future holds alot for him in IDP. Leonard Little/Corey Chavous have little left. Witherspoon needs to be shifted back to WLB if he's to hold up for a few more seasons. Pisa showed as he always does he can make plays for those few plays he's not on the trainers table/cart. Rams toyed with Chris Draft/Vrobora at MLB down the stretch.....very sad. the rams have so many holes at every level.The Patriots had quite a few youngsters show a bit of potential besides mayo. Guyton played quite a bit and altho undersized showed he belongs. Brandon Merriweather has arrived. the 2young CB's Wheatley and Wilhite showed improvement and promise. Shaun Crable wasn't on the field all that much but he appears to have a spot/future as well. very quietly it seems the ravens restocked alot of holes on there defense for the next few seasons.i think its apparent Derrick Brooks is done. Quincy Black doesn't appear ready so Cato June may finally get his shot to slide into Brooks's spot. Ruud showed he's a legit probowl MLB in the making. the Bucs sure are set at Saftey. Gaines Adams didn't show marked improvement liked most thought. Chris Hovan really really wore down as the season went along.The Cheifs have alot of holes to fill in the front 7. i have no reason to believe that Glen Dorsey can't become a good or impact player. not writing him off after his rookie season. but it is obvious the cheifs need upgrades in the pass rush off the ends. Tamba Hali and Turk McBride haven't got it done. Derrick Johnson has yet to live up to his potential, he has the tools to play any position but we'll find out if he has the instincts and will to put in the work. Flowers/Carr/Maurice Leggett all seemed to be finds. Bernard Pollard can sure bring the lumber, he really needs a good centerfielder behind him however.
sorry, i've been busy & haven't had a chance to revisit the thread lately...nicely done, 9er fan...i agree with pretty much everything you said... dorsey can still be a force, but he needs help... at least with pioli at GM, he can probably count on better surrounding talent in the near future... hali seems to have regressed... sometimes it makes you wonder, if players start fast but taper off (not to say hali couldn't rebound), if it was due to being hurt, though i don't recall hearing this, or if opponents have figured him out... at the time he came out there were questions about his athleticism, & whether he was a tweener & a player without a position... sort of between a DT & DE in terms of strength & speed, but not as big, strong or fast as the prototypical players at EITHER respective position... flowers has future star written all over him... should be interesting to see what kind of defense the new look chiefs sport... & whether DJ remains in the middle or is shunted back to the outside... if they go with a 3-4, DJ could probably play either, but would seem to be a better fit at OLB, where they could let him play in fast forward mode all the time & let him attack the QB...* agree with prior poster that michael griffin is an ascendant player... he has a very well rounded game... he proved he is a solid tackler & intimidating hitter at texas (some of the talent on the offensive side of the ball hasn't fared as well in the NFL in recent years), but has shown that his overall game has translated well to the pros... he is very instinctive & opportunistic in coverage & routinely makes plays on the ball (he has been prolific in the INT dept since becoming the starting FS during the 07 season)...also agree with later poster about urlacher's rapidly diminishing & eroding skills... he was truly a freak when he was younger... reportedly could do a 360 dunk, & at about 250 & a pro bowl caliber MLB, there can't have been too many humans with such prodigious physical & athletic gifts...** i added a more recent breakdown of the rams in the wake of the spagnuolo hiring, in the new hires/schemes thread...
 
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