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  • Prince's 2009 Truths

    This is probably far too early for this, but whatever I had time on my hands and seeing as I am a slow typer this took me a little bit of time....

    1. Diminutive D

    The team and city formerly known as Big D will continue their recent fall from grace in 2009. The Dallas Cowboys continued to underachieve under Wade Phillips in 2008 and the almighty coordinator known as Jason Garrett was exploited as well. Let’s take a look at the offseason adjustments made by Jerry and Co.

    Offensively they removed the cancer, Terrell Owens, which stuck with this offense for a handful of years and at times seemed to alter how Garrett called a game. That I can buy as a positive move and one that was made for the betterment of the organization, but what’s the alternative solution to Owens’ production and stature? Miles Austin appears to be the plan of attack alongside Roy Williams. Austin has shown flashes and has not reached his full potential but he has a total of 18 career receptions. That type of production will certainly not demand double teams, and unless Roy Williams takes grasp of being in Dallas and being their number one wide receiver, it’s gonna be a long year for Tony Romo not having a go-to-guy at receiver. Jason Witten will always be Romo’s go-to-guy, but if Williams and Austin aren’t demanding help over the top then that may take away opportunities from Witten because he’ll be receiving more and well deserved attention from defenses. Looking at the offensive line, it appears to be pretty much the same unit, just a year older. They’re not a bad unit, but I think there was room for improvement. The backfield is clearly the offense’s strength with a Top 10 QB in the league and a solid slew of backs. Marion Barber III is one the league’s toughest to bring down when he’s healthy but after just one season of being “the guy” he has question marks about durability. Felix Jones also returns from injury and brings back the home run ability that the team lacked once he went down. Choice is a wonderful third option and he showed that he can take the workload if asked upon, see Steelers game. This unit will look to rebound off of being the league’s 21st ranked unit and health will play a large role in that success, and I think an addition to the front five may have helped that as well.

    Moving to the defensive side of the ball, I don’t see this unit being better or even as good as last year’s. You subtract Chris Canty, Greg Ellis, Zach Thomas, and Anthony Henry and you manage to sign Keith Brooking and Igor Olshansky. I question whether or not Olshansky will play anywhere near the level he has the past two seasons because he’s had questions about his drive and now he’s gotten his pay day; not always the best recipe for the team dishing out the dough. Youngsters Anthony Spencer and Mike Jenkins will be expected to step up, and neither player has played exceptionally well during their time with Cowboys. I just see the defense struggling as a whole because each tier seems to have its problems; the loss of Chris Canty will be tough to overcome, Anthony Spencer will be expected to fill the shoes of a veteran in Greg Ellis, and some new, young pieces will have to fill voids in the secondary. The moves made by the Cowboys certainly did not make the team stronger, and I don’t see the 2009 draft class making much of an impact this season so that’s why I didn’t discuss them. The youth of this team will be expected to step up in large roles and I don’t see them all doing their parts to a high level.

    So, part one, the Cowboys are not an improved team over last season, and part two, the other teams in the East made a big effort to improve the holes in their roster. The Eagles had some holes along their offensive line and playmakers on their offense. Solution? They signed Stacy Andrews, traded for Jason Peters, drafted Jeremy Maclin and drafted LeSean McCoy. The Giants wanted to build up their defensive depth and look for a replacement for Plaxico Burress. Solution? They signed Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Michael Boley. Then they drafted Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden. The Redskins have problems along both of their lines? Solution? They signed Albert Haynesworth to a huge deal and drafted Brian Orakpo. They failed to address their need along the offensive line, and that’s why they’ll fall short of Philadelphia and New York, but will still be as strong as or stronger than Dallas. All these teams were very competitive last season and there was very little difference in overall talent, but during this offseason the true competitors stepped ahead.

    Ultimately, I see the Cowboys finishing last in the East and having a strong chance at selecting in the Top 10 of next spring’s draft.

    2. Transition Trouble

    The Packers concluded the 2008 season with a 6-10 record, but didn’t wait long in making adjustments for the 2009 season and beyond by switching to the 3-4 defense. Was the defense really the problem? The losses of Cullen Jenkins, Nick Barnett and Atari Bigby (I am not his biggest fan but he’s better than what we were throwing out there otherwise) were a big part of the defense’s downfall; the trade of Corey Williams didn’t help either because in 2007 he was the best defensive tackle but Teddy felt the defense could move on without him, but that’s a different story. The team was under the leadership of a first year starter at quarterback, and while Aaron played well, there were times late in the game where a more experienced quarterback may have been able to lead a game-winning drive; the underachievement of Ryan Grant can play into that too. Overall, there’s plenty of blame to go around and the defensive scheme as a whole is not the reason for the Packers’ 2008 failures.

    Let’s take a look at the pieces in place. Along the line Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett and BJ Raji appear to be the front runners to start. I think Jenkins and Raji are nice fits for the defense, but Pickett concerns me. He was average at best last season and didn’t command the double teams, which will be a necessity if the Packers expect to have any success defensively in 2009. Johnny Jolly provides some nice depth at defensive end, but given his legal situation, it is yet to be determined how much he will be able to help the team. Justin Harrell, assuming he can stay healthy, will be expected to contribute quite a bit as well, and the role may increase even more depending on the Jolly situation.

    The linebackers will have the highest level of expectations, but I am very worried about how some of them will fit in this scheme. On the outside the Packers’ best front seven players over the past handful of years, Aaron Kampman, will be stood up and formed into a ‘backer. He has already shown some of his disapproval with the move, but being as classy as Aaron is, he is going to do his job every day. I don’t see him re-signing with the team beyond this season and I can understand his displeasure because he has been one of the game’s best with his hand in the dirt and using physicality getting to the quarterback. First round pick Clay Matthews and second year player Jeremy Thompson seem like the front runners to compete and start opposite of Kampman. Matthews does have experience in a scheme like this due to his days at USC, but some early injury problems have set him back a bit and Thompson has impressed the coaching staff enough to be the slight favorite. I think the outside backers can be solid contributors, but they lack an elite rusher, which helps separate an average 3-4 from a very good 3-4 defense. Moving inside the team has two backers in Nick Barnett and AJ Hawk, who are expected to do big things. Barnett has played a Pro Bowl level in the past, but before he went down with an injury last season he wasn’t showing that caliber of play and it is still unknown if he will be able to return to that level. AJ Hawk, meanwhile, has been a solid contributor in the NFL, but probably hasn’t lived up to the billing of the 5th overall pick. Both guys have not played with a high amount of physicality in the past and taking on defenders has been a problem so it’ll be interesting to see if they’ll be able to work on those flaws so they’re able to be successful in the new scheme. I have my doubts more with Barnett, especially coming off the injury, and I feel that maybe the best fit inside for this defense won’t be given much of a shot and that guy is Desmond Bishop. He has familiarity with a scheme like this thanks to his days and Cal and while last year he showed that he wasn’t much for coverage of getting to the outside, he showed a sense of physicality and toughness that Hawk and Barnett seem to lack during a game. It will sure be interesting to see how these ‘backers pan out because the spectrum of their performance sits far apart.

    The secondary is probably the least amount of my worries because of Charles Woodson, but there are still some question marks looming. Al Harris’ play has been falling off over the past year or two and now he’ll be playing more zones when he’s made his name a man to man, jam at the line type. I expect Tramon Williams to continue to develop as a football player and eventual starter for this squad. Will Blackmon’s role on this team is always unknown because his health is a roller coaster, but I think he can still be useful as a nickel or dime back. Pat Lee’s fit the system will have to play out over time because he was drafted to fit the old scheme and now they’ve made the switch; fortunately for him he’s young and willing to learn. At safety Nick Collins stepped up his game in 2008, but he will need to at least duplicate that for this unit to have any success. Atari Bigby is a big hitter and the team wants to utilize him like a Troy P in Pittsburgh, but his health is now a question mark and outside of the end of the 2007-08 season he hasn’t proven too much in this league. Anthony Smith was brought in for depth, but if he’s cracking a starting spot then this team will be in trouble; he’s got a big mouth but lacks the big game to back it up. Aaron Rouse is still around, but he’s nothing more than a backup.

    My prediction for this defense involves a lot of struggles early and even greater struggles if they fall victim to injuries again this season. The team has the offensive firepower to be a playoff team, but with this time of transition I don’t see enough defensive support to get the Packers back to the playoffs. I don’t see the shift as necessary, it places some key players in unfamiliar positions making them unable to utilize their full repertoire of skills, and it will cost this team in the win column for the upcoming season. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see the Packers being any better than a .500 team and the defensive change will be the catalyst for those results.

    3. Benson and the Bengals

    If the end of last season is any indication, I believe Cedric Benson will be this year’s breakthrough player of the year. He was labeled a bust and deservingly so by the Bears and fans around the league, but towards the end of last season the Bengals gave him a shot and he ran it with it. The Bengals return this season with a healthy Carson Palmer so defenses will once again have to respect the ability for this offense to stretch the field. This should open up more opportunities for Benson to face just a base, seven man box instead of the stacked boxes that the Bengals saw with Fitzpatrick and gang at quarterback. The addition of Andre Smith should help immediately as well. An overall, more balanced offense should allow the Bengals to be more competitive, and I think they can pull off a seven win season. They’re probably two years off before they’ll be playoff competitive again because their defense is still taking form and they’ll need a receiver to emerge opposite of Chad Johnson, but the Bengals appear headed in the right direction and Cedric Benson having the ball in his hands will actually be a good thing. Bank on 1200 yards and 10 scores from Benson this season.

    4. Hotlanta holds acquisition of the off-season

    The trade for Tony Gonzalez will be the biggest and best addition by any team this off-season because I think it’ll help avoid any chance of a sophomore slump by Matt Ryan. A young quarterback’s best friend is a security blanket in the tight end. Matt Ryan managed to have an outstanding rookie year without a good tight end at all. Justin Peelle? Michael Turner also defied logic and exploded as a first time starter and Roddy White was breakout player. Are these players going to have the same production this season? If you’re a Falcons’ fan you probably expect it, but realistically it would be too much. Adding another weapon, especially the caliber of Tony Gonzalez, will help Matt Ryan progress as a NFL quarterback and will relieved pressure on Turner and White to duplicate the production they gave to the surprising Falcons last season. I expect there to be a drop in wins for this team, but it will have nothing to do with Gonzalez or the rest of the offense and will rest more on the shoulders of the Falcons’ defense.

    5. The Hot Seat

    Based off of my first truth it can be assumed that Wade Phillips’ seat will be scorching hot and if their results are similar to what I’ve stated then he’ll probably be looking for a new job next season. I’m not going to discuss Phillips or the Cowboys any further because my stance is clear. I’m gonna stay in the East though but shift over to the AFC East and more specifically Buffalo. Dick Jauron has helped develop a competitive team in Buffalo over the past three seasons, but last season was an underachievement, a failure. The team had a nice draft, but the team is left with too many holes for this upcoming season. It all starts upfront and the Bills’ offensive line is one of the worst units in the NFL. The team has some key skilled players with Lynch (question marks), Evans and Owens (who will do nothing once it gets cold) but when you don’t have the guys in the trenches then it doesn’t matter how skilled they are. I predict this offensive unit will be one of the worst in the league and the record will indicate that. On the defense the team has some very nice NFL players but they lack a true difference maker. Aaron Maybin was selected to be the man opposite of Aaron Schobel, but I only see him as a pass rushing specialist for his rookie year. The linebackers are good but again nothing great. If this front seven struggles to put pressure then it’s gonna be a long year because the defense is going to need to compensate for the offense’s shortcomings. I will acknowledge that the secondary is pretty good but their success will hinge a lot on the front seven putting pressure on the QB, see the Minnesota Vikings before Jared Allen. When all is said and done I see the Bills sitting in last place in the AFC East, picking top five in next April’s draft and Jauron out of a job.

    6. Andre Johnson is the best receiver in football

    No receiver in the league has the impact on his team’s success like Andre Johnson does for the Texans. Assuming Matt Schaub stays healthy, I think Johnson will finally receive the national attention he deserves because the Texans will crack the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s history. It’ll resemble Larry Fitz’s takeoff last season when the Cardinals finally made the playoffs and the entire nation got to see how good he actually is. Johnson doesn’t have the comfort of playing with another Pro Bowl caliber wide receiver or a potential future hall-of-famer at quarterback. Instead, he gets an undersized tight end putting up production and a quarterback who comes will high expectations but not high credentials. I’m not saying Larry Fitz isn’t as good as people say, but I am curious to see how good Johnson could be if he had that kind of talent around him. Let the debate continue.

    7. Playoff Teams/Super Bowl Prediction

    NFC East :: Philadelphia Eagles
    NFC North :: Minnesota Vikings
    NFC South :: Carolina Panthers
    NFC West :: Seattle Seahawks
    Wildcards :: New York Giants and Chicago Bears

    AFC East :: New England Patriots
    AFC North :: Pittsburgh Steelers
    AFC South :: Indianapolis Colts
    AFC West :: San Diego Chargers
    Wildcards :: Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens

    NFC Representative :: Philadelphia Eagles
    -The front office continues to add pieces around McNabb and the team is always strong defensively.
    AFC Representative :: San Diego Chargers
    -Rivers continues to improve each year, but he’s gonna need the old LT if the team expects to get this far. Merriman returns and the defense will have their intimidation factor back.

    8. MVP Prediction

    The much loved Donovan McNabb (cough) is my early pick to take home the hardware at the end of this season. I expect big things from the Eagles this coming season and with possible health question marks with Brian Westbrook, the offense’s success will hinge greatly on his play and I think he’s up for it. He’s got LeSean McCoy behind Westbrook now so if there is a period where Brian is absent the team will still have a player capable of producing big plays out of the backfield. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin provide Donovan with two dynamic playmakers at receiver and Kevin Curtis is still there to provide steadiness. The combination of high production and team success are two of the keys to lock up the MVP and McNabb is my guy to do that this season.

    9. Coach of the Year

    There will be many familiar faces when it comes to candidates for this award (Reid, Tomlin, Coughlin, Fox, Bellicheck) but given my season predictions and the amount of pressure, I think the award will go to the Colts’ Jim Caldwell. Replacing Tony Dungy will be difficult, but Caldwell has the respect and familiarity with the players and that’ll help the transition. The team is loaded with offensive talent and their usual defensive question marks, but they always manage to put it together. Even though there is a ton of talent on the roster, if a new coach can take a team to the playoffs then they deserve the recognition for their work and Caldwell will be that man.

    10. On the clock…..

    Scott Pioli may be a genius, but that will not reflect in his first season running the Chiefs. This team starts off with a new, first time head coach and a quarterback who will be playing in a new system and out of his comfort zone. I don’t see Haley have much success with an offense that doesn’t even come close to the talent he had in Arizona; trading away Tony G will be a killer for both Haley and Cassel. On the defensive side there’s some young talent, but where’s the pass rush gonna come from? There are far too many holes and fortunately for them they’ll have the first pick to attempt to fill one of them.


    Follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/#!/aMo_Captain

  • #2
    First pick? Ouch. I don't know about THAT one..

    Good writeup though. Was a joy to read.

    Originally posted by fenikz
    His soft D really turns me off
    ** RIP themaninblack. You will be missed. **

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    • #3
      Since I fully believe Mike Shanahan will be coaching the Cowboys in 2010 and Phillips will remain the DC, that means the season doesn't go as some other Cowboys fans expect. TO's production will be tough to replace, but it may not be as needed. The offense has a lot of answering to do. However, I do think the defense is improved. Canty never seemed to realize his potential that he flashed in his rookie season... sorta plateaued off. Olshansky is reunited with Wade and flourished under him. The secondary should be better with the addition of Gerald Sensabaugh who is an upgrade over Keith Davis and Tra Battle. The subtraction of Anthony Henry is actually a good thing as injuries have caught up with him... all too often he was exploited in coverage, both man and zone and he became a finger pointer. A lot of expectations are on Mike Jenkins, but he was outplayed by fellow rookie, Orlando Scandrick last year to be honest. Adding Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith, the 2 Cincy DBs who are also reunited with former coach Dave Campo who coached them at Cincy and there should automatically be a nice level of comfort for them as rookies. Terence Newman is still one of the best in the business, so the youngin's won't have to shoulder a ton of responsibility. With the improved secondary, you can expect Wade to unleash the blitz with no holding back. He brought in a lot of new LBs this offseason.

      Depth hurt us because of injury, but this team is deeper with talent. Brad Johnson and Brooks Bollinger were pathetic when Romo missed a month nursing his hand. Kitna is not just a better player, but better mentor and will push Romo harder to be better. The coaching staff should understand how to use the RBs better now that Choice showed was he's capable of. The 12 rookies that were drafted all have ties to strong special teams play, so I'm expecting that unit to be better. The return of Felix Jones will also improve field position if he can repeat what he flashed as a rookie on kick returns.

      While I don't see a clear path to the playoffs, I don't see such a black cloud hovering over the Cowboys. Excited to see how this story unfolds, that's for sure.
      Last edited by D-Unit; 07-03-2009, 04:40 AM.

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      • #4
        Good writeup, prince. Must have taken a while to get that done.

        but you misspelled Calvin in truth #6

        Sig by Fenikz

        I remember NFLDC
        don't tell anyone, but Charlie Casserly is a dope fiend

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        • #5
          Benson is not as good as people are giving him credit for. I seriously don't understand all the hype around him at all. On the year he went for 3.5 yards per carry... His biggest game came against the Cleveland Browns where I believe he had two HUGE runs on 38 carries that made his day look alot bigger than it was. Also, this is against the Browns run defense which was absolutely dreadful once again.

          I would be willing to bet he is at best an average running back who goes for around 900 yards and about 3.5 yards per carry once again with about 5 tds. The Bengals will be pass heavy with Palmer back.

          Comment


          • #6
            As far as Green Bay's D goes:

            The OLB situation should be fine, even if Kamp leaves after this year. We would just need Clay or Thompson to step up and right now it already looks like one of them is going to do that.

            At ILB I think were going to need a big over-haul. We should trade Barnett and get the future started already. Its unfortunate because he's one of my favorite players, but he just isnt a good fit in a 3-4, and Hawk probably isnt either. We probably shouldnt trade him just yet though.



            Sig thanks to Bonekrusher

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            • #7
              saints are making the playoffs

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              • #8
                One thing I'll heavily disagree with is Cedric Benson. He really roughed up some poor poor defenses at the end of last year. I think Bernard Scott will be more productive this year.

                Other than that, pretty solid.


                Follow Me on Twitter!
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by WinslowBodden View Post
                  The Bengals will be pass heavy with Palmer back.
                  i disagree...with t.j. gone and the drafting of run blocking stud andre smith i feel the bengals will be much more balanced then the last time carson was at the helm...not soo sure that benson is the answer but there will be lots of running behind smith for the bengals.

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                  • #10
                    Seattle will be picking 1st overall, bank it.(f/Den)


                    Originally posted by Scott Wright
                    Terrellezzzzzzzz Pryorzzzzzzzz!
                    Originally posted by njx9
                    do i tell you when to flip the burger?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by slightlyabroncosfan View Post
                      Seattle will be picking 1st overall, bank it.(f/Den)
                      thats how i have it in my mock...but the funny thing is i feel that orton will have a pretty solid season considering all the turmoil but will eventully be the scapegoat...its their defense that will let them down (again) with no true n.t. to anchor their 3-4 and all the l.b.'s trying to get accustomed to new roles.

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                      • #12
                        Great write up even though it's still way too early. Gotta see TC before I make my predictions.

                        I like the cowboys ones though.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by roscoesdad27 View Post
                          i disagree...with t.j. gone and the drafting of run blocking stud andre smith i feel the bengals will be much more balanced then the last time carson was at the helm...not soo sure that benson is the answer but there will be lots of running behind smith for the bengals.
                          Goodbye TJ, hello Coles. He should be a decent replacement. If chad can go back to '03-'07 form they should be fine on offense. Not great though unless Benson breaks out.

                          Ofcourse those are some fairly big variables.



                          Sig thanks to Bonekrusher

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by neko4 View Post
                            Goodbye TJ, hello Coles. He should be a decent replacement. If chad can go back to '03-'07 form they should be fine on offense. Not great though unless Benson breaks out.

                            Ofcourse those are some fairly big variables.
                            i think their offense will be fine too and i actually have them making the playoffs...their offense wont be as explosive as it was a few years back but it will be much more balanced and efficient...this has much more to do with andre smith than benson however...a more balanced and clock efficient offense also bodes well for a very improved defense....the bengals are set for a nice playoff run

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                            • #15
                              6) are you serious he has a legit and very underrated WR playing opposite to him in Walter.

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