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The Great Debate: Merriman/Ware, Year 3

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  • The Great Debate: Merriman/Ware, Year 3

    I thought this would be a good time to revisit the Shawne Merriman vs. DeMarcus Ware discussions that have been so prevalent on these boards in years past. Any NFLDCer worth his salt knows how the basic tenor of the arguments have gone. It's been about a 60-40 split in favor of Shawne in years past, mostly--at least imo--due to his superior numbers and the spectacle of his sacks.

    Fast forward to 2007, and I feel like an interesting new wrinkle has been thrown in. Ware is being deployed much more creatively by Wade Phillips than he ever was by Bill Parcells, and the results are showing. After a slow start getting adjusted to the scheme, Ware has racked up 5 1/2 sacks in his last 4 games, with his most impressive game coming against the Patriots. Additionally, he continues to disrupt plays in coverage, as evidenced by his tipped pass-turned-INT vs. Buffalo that turned the game.

    Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Merriman has looked--at least to my eye--significantly improved against the run, and has been staying in his rush lanes more consistently. While it is unclear whether or not this is due to a scheme change or just better discipline on his part, I feel like it has made him a better football player, even while his sack numbers are down. Of course, he always gets healthy against the Raiders, getting just half a sack less in that single game then he had in the entire season previous.

    Here is a breakdown of the numbers:

    Player.......Solos.....Assts....Sacks.......TFL... ...PD
    Ware........25...........6..........5.5..........3 .........1
    Merriman....22..........7..........5.5..........4. ........2

    Remarkably similar, and both players best games came against the Patriots juggernaut (though Merriman had 2 sacks to DMW's 1).

    Here is an evaluation recently done by ESPN called "Scheme Busters" in which they polled 2 GMs, 2 scouts, 2 coordinators, 2 position coaches, 2 QBs and 1 LB asking which players must be accounted for when putting together a gameplan. In other words, this is not simply John Clayton or Mort sitting down to the keyboard and looking at a highlight reel to formulate their opinions, this is real dyed-in-the-wool personnel guys.

    Of course, this isn't necessarily done according to quality of player, because certain positions don't lend themselves to be schemed against (OL being the obvious one, but to a lesser degree RB and CB too).

    The evaluation is broken down into teirs; the Unanimous or Cream of the Crop (or tier 1) group which were universally voted for by each member of the panel, the Split Decision (or tier 2), and the Feared But Not Quite The Same (or tier 3). After that there is the Past Their Prime tier featuring older HOF type players who have lost a few steps, and then finally the Over and Under Rated tiers with players who are better or worse than their perceived quality.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/column...ike&id=3056630

    The interesting thing here is that Ware is listed in the 2nd tier, while Merriman is listed in the 3rd tier. Needless to say, I was shocked, as most here would probably be, though maybe for a different reason. The prevailing sentiment almost league-wide that I have seen is that Merriman is at the elite-DPOY type level, but this doesn't seem to reflect that. Meanwhile, Ware has gotten very little press despite his dominant play thus far. Here are the excerpts pertaining to the two players:

    Ware (tier 2):
    "He's so big and strong. He's a young Charles Haley and that's good. He's really a defensive end that stands up and overpowers the blocker."

    Merriman (tier 3):
    "People talked about San Diego blitzing, but they were not. They were bringing four and getting matchups with Merriman against backs or guards who [had other responsibilities]. Pittsburgh did the same thing with Polamalu."

    Additionally, this quote from the same article was given by an AFC Scout on www.theboysblog.com (a local Cowboy blog, have no idea how he got it) :

    "Ware changes the game when he plays down, plays up. Guys who play that position in that defense must be able to rush the passer and then turn their hips to cover and drop. Ware can do it all."


    All last year, people wondered what would happen if Ware was given the freedom to go after the QB like Shawne had in his first two years. We are seeing that on a play by play basis. He has been practically living in the opposing backfield, and while his sack total is nice so far, the true indication of his performance is the regularity with which he ALMOST gets there, too.

    Obviously, I am partial (though not as much as I've been accused) to one side of the argument. But it has definitely taken a turn.

    It's time to weigh in.
    Last edited by DMWSackMachine; 10-16-2007, 12:57 PM. Reason: Redundant Language
    Originally posted by 21ST
    He was protecting his self
    Originally posted by tjsunstein
    From what? His leg?
    Originally posted by Paranoidmoonduck
    That leg has had it out for him since day 1.
    "We're the quiet guys, the guys before the storm. And then we hit you."

    DeMarcus Ware

  • #2
    My hope that Sunday's game against the Raiders are signs that the defense is gelling with Cottrell's scheme. This is particularly important for Merriman. Of course, Shaun Phillips is an even more underrated player than Ware IMO.

    Comment


    • #3
      I said last time I am waiting until the end of the season...just doesn't seem right to have this debate now.

      Very much like the QB debates.
      Originally posted by Paul
      Eli's opportunity to become a legend.
      Originally posted by Vikes99ej
      These last 50 seconds will define Eli Manning.
      MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

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      • #4
        I definately prefer ware to merriman he's more versatile being great at everything he's been asked to do. Whereas merriman still has to prove that he's great against the run and the pass.

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        • #5
          Shaun Phillips > both of them.

          :D

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          • #6
            BBD touched on this in his observations, and I tend to agree with what he said. I prefer Merriman to Ware (Chalk a lot of that up to me being a Chargers fan), although there's no clearcut better guy. Both are best at their positions...both are great players....there's no real reason to choose either guy, its too close to call one of them "better". It does have to be mentioned though that the knock "Merriman just blitzes every play" doesn't apply anymore. He's been dropped into coverage almost as frequently as being rushed, and he's still getting pressure, and doing just fine in coverage. It may be a weird comparison, but I'd look at it as a Brady/Manning situation right now. Both are so good, how do you choose which one you'd rather have?

            On a side note...how long until a steroid referecne is made....

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            • #7
              Steroids steroids Merriman eats puppies steroids.


              There ya go.


              Nobody cares about your stupid fantasy team.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by bearsfan_51 View Post
                Steroids steroids Merriman eats puppies steroids.


                There ya go.
                Haha thank you....thank you. Although I guess techincally, I made the first reference myself.

                Comment


                • #9
                  While Merriman is being dropped a little bit more, let's not get carried away. He's still rushing about 80% of the time. I'd say roughly the same as DeMarcus. But that's not a bad thing. You should only drop players like these guys just enough to preserve the doubt in the defense's mind about who is coming, and thus creating the matchups that you are looking for when they do rush.

                  I haven't seen him do much to show me he's significantly improved in coverage--and, yes, I have watched most or all of every SD game--but I have seen improvement against the run (even though the overall defense has been worse, :?) and he isn't breaking contain nearly as regularly as he used to, which is going to lead to less sacks, but also prevents the type of big plays that come from a QB getting out of the pocket and improvising.

                  It's never to early to talk about it. And its never late enough to give a definitive ruling. This is the pre-eminent player vs. player debate in the league right now, outside of the Manning/Brady one. Why not talk about it?
                  Originally posted by 21ST
                  He was protecting his self
                  Originally posted by tjsunstein
                  From what? His leg?
                  Originally posted by Paranoidmoonduck
                  That leg has had it out for him since day 1.
                  "We're the quiet guys, the guys before the storm. And then we hit you."

                  DeMarcus Ware

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DMWSackMachine View Post
                    While Merriman is being dropped a little bit more, let's not get carried away. He's still rushing about 80% of the time. I'd say roughly the same as DeMarcus. But that's not a bad thing. You should only drop players like these guys just enough to preserve the doubt in the defense's mind about who is coming, and thus creating the matchups that you are looking for when they do rush.

                    I haven't seen him do much to show me he's significantly improved in coverage--and, yes, I have watched most or all of every SD game--but I have seen improvement against the run (even though the overall defense has been worse, :?) and he isn't breaking contain nearly as regularly as he used to, which is going to lead to less sacks, but also prevents the type of big plays that come from a QB getting out of the pocket and improvising.

                    It's never to early to talk about it. And its never late enough to give a definitive ruling. This is the pre-eminent player vs. player debate in the league right now, outside of the Manning/Brady one. Why not talk about it?

                    There's no way Merriman is being rushed 80 percent of the time. MAYBE the Raider game. But honestly, you should see some Charger message boards these last few weeks; Ted Cottrell has been hung in effigy more times than I can count because he literally has not been blitzing Merriman more than a token few times per game.

                    Shawne has also always been dominant against the run; he has locked down his side since his very first game.

                    This year, Merriman's been playing in coverage a lot, and he's been doing great; he basically shut down Gonzo against the Chiefs. When Merriman was out of the game, the Chiefs went back to Gonzalez, and he beat us.

                    I like Ware a lot, but if this last week is any indication that Cottrell might finally have his head out of his ass, Merriman might just be going back to being the more dominant rushbacker. Screw this 'complete linebacker' nonsense, Merriman is out there to get after the quarterback.



                    and yeah, SP95 is better than both of them right now. sigh.

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                    • #11
                      Who you want, Marino or Elway?

                      Its literally that close.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bigbluedefense View Post
                        Who you want, Marino or Elway?

                        Brett Favre because he's a fearless gunslinger who holds the most records.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          both are sick nice
                          my scent?...like making love to a lumberjack
                          <TACKLE> i will ngata give you a bj raji
                          <+BOE> Scott, with Burfict's character concerns (whether legit or not) you think Pioli would draft him. :D
                          <+ScottWright> Why not. Baldwin does need a sparring partner...
                          Originally posted by Hermstheman83
                          What's with the hate on Ricky Stanzi? Those youtube clips of him with the hulk hogan theme music instantly make him better than Luck.

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                          • #14
                            merriman just isn't on wares level against the run or in coverage. And while he's better at rushing the passer the difference isn't very significant.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by osi+ap=allshallperish View Post
                              merriman just isn't on wares level against the run or in coverage. And while he's better at rushing the passer the difference isn't very significant.
                              I'll give you coverage, but against the run? Merriman is ridiculous at the point, I'd have a hard time imagining someone doing much better.

                              Comment

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