For those who have given up on Gandy...
I had kind of given up on him myself, but there is hope. Before I start, let me say that I would be very happy to see us pick Levi Brown, or even move up for Joe Thomas. But...
Wayne Gandy has been written off by everyone to whom I have spoken about the Falcons. Last year, he faded horribly in the second half of the season, and if that happens again, Vick will not get the opportunity to succeed.
However, the reason for that decline may not be as simple as everyone imagines. It is assumed that he is just too old to get it done. However, he was excellent in the first half of the season, with his performance culminating in excellent passing performances against the Steelers and Bengals. Is he just too old to sustain that performance over a whole season? Perhaps. But the recent comments of Forney shed a new light on the situation. If our O-line "guru" was forcing the whole O-line to basically starve themselves, then surely he was also doing that to Gandy, by far the heaviest guy on our O-line. If Forney, aged under-30, was complaining about feeling drained over the course of the season by the starvation, then how do you think Gandy would have been affected?
I'm not saying that his age was not also a factor, but I do think that he was hindered by the Gibbs regime. That fading performance through the season was EXACTLY what Forney blamed on Gibbs' weight demands. Maybe, just maybe, if Wayne Gandy is allowed a properly nutritious diet throughout the season, we will see a consistent performance at the same level as the first half of last season.
Even so, I would love to draft Brown, and Gandy's continued starting ability would allow us to give Brown what all tackles need: time to adjust before being thrown to the wolves. Jon Ogden, one of the greats, spent his first year at OG. Jammal Brown had a year at RT, before being moved to the more difficult left side.
If we draft Brown at #8, I would hope for Gandy to remain at LT, and Brown to slot in at LG. Occasionally, Brown could get some snaps at LT, with Fonoti at LG. That would also help Gandy to survive the whole year. Even if Gandy does fade at halfway, like last year, Brown should be ready to step in, with Gandy or Fonoti at LG. We could also draft an OG in the 4th to develop.
Gandy's continued starting ability would also allow us to draft an OT in the 2nd, like Tony Ugoh. Ugoh cannot start at LT right now, but definitely has the requisite athletic ability. He would be able to start at LG for 2007, a much easier position, while he improves his technique, ready to start at LT in 2008.
And don't forget about the dark horse, Omiyale. Everyone has also written him off. But remember, he was drafted as a project. NEVER was it expected that he would start in 2005 or 2006. He is neither ahead nor behind of schedule. This year is when he might be primed to emerge. Maybe he will, maybe he won't, but his absence over the past two years gives no indication whatsoever that he is not ready, it is what was expected.
Right, that's probably enough. Suffice to say that you cannot overestimate the importance of a good LT. Vick will never reach his full potential without one.
TD 2011 catch-phrase: "explosive"