Another non-surprise, we are woefully short on depth in the OL and DL departments. Another, the DBs are lost a lot even though we do have some playmakers like Demps showing up and some solid play coming from Chad Williams. Two guys I thought could step up and be solid nickel and dime backs, Waddel and Porter, were spinning like a Clownfan making excuses for Couch while Chrebet and Coles had a field day with them.
All in all I am quite happy with what I have seen, I knew we would be lacking in some areas and it shows, but we have also shown more raw talent that I thought we would have.
The Windbag Gets Offensive
Nothing new, right?
The running back situation looks very good with Jamal giving 4 runs reminding us of the pre-injury Jamal. The Super Bowl winning Jamal, the "better bring 3 friends to tackle me" Jamal. Chester Taylor also looks great; he hits the hole fast and gets his shoulders down. He may go down easier than Jamal, but you still have to bring good tackling skills with you when you hit this kid or he will get past you. He also knows how to get that extra half-yard or so when tackled. Tellis Redmon is a solid 3rd back, but the kid needs to hold onto the rock. Running great and fumbling the ball away are no way to earn a position on an NFL team. Two fumbles, TOO MANY!
Along with the running backs our fullback situation is not nearly as bad as I thought without Gash, though I believe we could still use him. Ricard has shown the ability to be quite Gash-like, catching the ball well and consistently finding a LB to lay good wood on leading through the hole. Why in the hell was this kid sitting last year when Femi was being shoved around like a rag doll by opposing LBs? After that we have one player, Marvin Brown, who Aaron reports hits LBs with a very nasty attitude, but is so raw my guess is he is a year away. Another guy, Sean Gregory, is a converted tailback who is a bit more polished but can't handle LBs. We need some depth here even with Ricard's positive showing.
By the way, these are the kinds of things you can find out by being in the loop with the premium services. And no, I do not get paid for anything I do on this website or have any investment in it, buying a subscription won't put a penny in my pocket. Steve is only trying to improve the site with additions like Aaron and Jaymes and needs the small fees to keep it going. Commercial over.
Back to my regularly scheduled pontificating!
At wide receiver Freeman is apparently out, and I think I know why. Stokley and Ron Johnson have performed very well in camp and pre-season, and here is a surprise Aaron again let us in on, Travis is actually playing quite well – more on Travis in a second. I believe the front office and coaches look at our WRs and see enough there. Along with Heap we should field a more than credible set of weapons and bringing in Freeman won't really help and will only slow the youngsters' progress. I wanted Freeman to give Redman a legit threat, but it looks like we have plenty in house so why bring in a vet to take playing time from our young players?
Travis? That guy who hasn't done near what a 10th overall should do? Travis hasn't caught much in two pre-season games, and he bobbled that one pass costing us a 3rd down conversion, so why am I cautiously talking him up? Aaron advises the kid is getting open and doing what needs to be done, even beating McAlister in practice. He works hard year round attending Carter's camp in the off-season and my guess is he shows the same dedication in practice and hitting the books. So why hasn't this kid made an impact? When he was a rookie he showed flashes and then got hurt. Then last year, again flashes, the Green Bay game, the Denver game, the Miami playoff game. But why only flashes? Because Grbac never had the time to find the kid. If I am reading this right Travis is running the deep routes, the 15-20 yard patterns and the fly and posts for the big hits. The thing is, Grbac rarely had the time for these patterns to come open. And now? Redman is getting pretty good time and making more time when needed with his feet, so why hasn't Travis shown up in pre-season? First, the Jets cut the deep stuff off and second Chris has been working on the shorter timing patters. I believe we will start to see a few more deep balls to Travis in the last pre-season game, and maybe this one. If the OL can give Chris the time to wait for Travis to come open, watch out. My prediction, and a week ago I wouldn't have made this, Travis will have a big year and make the leap to valid #1 WR.
I am also "stoked" about Stokley, who in the first two pre-season games has shown he can be a legitimate #2 WR, although I would prefer he be a slot guy who sees a lot of time. Along with Heap, we will have a good short and mid-range passing attack. Ron Johnson will prove to be the scoring threat in the red zone, and like Stokley, prove his value moving the chains. The rest of our group back there are, like many other places, raw talent. Himes, Hunter, Hambrick, who else? These guys show raw talent but are a long way from being polished.
Watch Taylor, watch him get open, and if Chris has the time, then watch out.
Adams, Adams, he's our…OOPS!
So what happened, this guy was just biding his time until two-a-days were past before signing, right? Well, Oakland happened, or more appropriately, their pre-season games happened. Sans Russell who is out for a year on drug suspension and other DL issues, Oakland got desperate.
Al Davis Sells His Soul to the Devil, Again
Their cap situation next off-season will make ours look like chump change. I looked up their salary situation for 2003. They have almost $93 million in salary commitments next year against the cap. That doesn't include signing bonus pro-rations or likely to be earned incentives. Nor did it count Sam Adams. Basically, the reports of being $50 million over may be high, but not by that much. The cap should be around $74-75 million next year; they could easily be more than $40 million over.
They know that, they know this is it, win now because they are REALLY going to be stripped. So they gave Sam a 6-year deal to hide his bonus, but in truth it is a one-year deal. Sam will get more from the Raiders than us up front AND get to hit the FA market against next year. No need to try and match that offer, it would be a waste of our precious resources.
Personally, with a new coach and the age they already had before signing guys like Woodson, I think they should have cleared their cap this year. Like the last two years, Oakland will start out strong, their age will slow them down toward the end of the season and they will limp into the playoffs only to get thumped by some youthful and energetic team. Bank on it.
So the desperation of a man with one fleeting chance cost us Adams, but one thing you never do is bid against a desperate man for anything. Maybe next off-season, this year, let's play the kids and roll the dice.
Preview of Brilliance to come
Next time I will blabber on about the defense. But I will say this, I better see better tackling on special teams and defense or I am heading up to Owings Mills and get on Nolan and Zaun. We need to get back to the basics on tackling and now. Ravens football means hard hits and solid tackling, not whiffs and being pushed around like a pansy with a stiff arm.
Until the next time I deign to pass on my brilliance.