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Old 08-19-2007, 09:52 AM   #301 (permalink)
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O-line looking good in Baltimoreby: Matt Williamson
posted: Thursday, August 16, 2007 | Print Entry
filed under: Baltimore Ravens, Jason Brown, Chris Chester, Jonathan Ogden, Jared Gaither, Marshal Yanda, Mike Flynn, Ben Grubbs, Keydrick Vincent, Adam Terry, Willis McGahee, Steve McNair

Baltimore's Ozzie Newsome is the best general manager in the league and the situation along the Ravens' offensive line is further proof why.
Newsome knew right tackle Tony Pashos would attract big money on the open market -- Pashos eventually signed with Jacksonville -- and that his front line was aging, so he was very aggressive in going after big men in the 2007 draft and it appears Newsome once again struck gold with his evaluations.

OgdenBaltimore expects future Hall of Fame left tackle Jonathan Ogden to be ready for the season opener despite some concern about a toe injury, and Ogden is still an excellent player whose veteran presence will be invaluable to an inexperienced unit this season. His career is nearing an end, though, which led Newsome to take a calculated risk by selecting Jared Gaither of Maryland in the supplemental draft. There were some questions about Gaither's maturity and work ethic, but he is massive with very long arms, has the quick feet and lateral agility to slide well in pass protection, and it takes an extra step for defensive ends to get around him. Those are things you cannot teach. Gaither will take time to develop into a suitable replacement for Ogden, but he is in an excellent situation to eventually excel.
Adam Terry should end up replacing Pashos as the starter at the right tackle spot, which looks right now to be the biggest weakness on the line. Terry is very tall and has good feet but still has to prove he is strong enough and physical enough at the point of attack. He isn't a killer and can play too high at times, but does a nice job in space and can get out to pluck off linebackers on the move. Terry might be pushed by rookie Marshal Yanda, who needs time to develop but is a fine right tackle/guard prospect in his own right and whose versatility will be valuable over the next few years.

The Ravens are stacked on the inside, where Jason Brown will hold down the starting left guard spot and should improve with more playing time. Brown is strong and stout with a nasty edge to his game. First-round pick Ben Grubbs is probably too talented to keep on the sidelines but is fighting with Chris Chester -- another young, athletic, supremely talented player -- for the right guard spot.

Grubbs was the best guard prospect in the 2007 draft and if Newsome's first-round track record is any indication, Grubbs will thrive in Baltimore. He certainly has the quickness, natural power and ability to change directions in space to become one of the better guards in the league. Keydrick Vincent started at right guard last season and is still in the mix there, but lacks the upside of the younger players.

Mike Flynn, the incumbent at center, is crafty and provides another strong veteran presence, making it difficult to take him off the field. Chester probably has a better future at center than guard, though, and could eventually nudge the veteran into a backup role in time. Chester is extremely quick off the ball, gets into his opponent quickly and is very intelligent. He doesn't have outstanding power but at center would get help from his linemates.

All of this means the Ravens' offensive line will be vastly improved this season. Baltimore did an excellent job of keeping quarterback Steve McNair clean last season but left a lot to be desired in the running game, something that should not be a problem in 2007. With an infusion of new blood and competition all along the front, plus the upgrade at running back with the addition of Willis McGahee, the offense will be much more well-rounded. A more athletic line will help McGahee get to the edges and allow Baltimore to be more diverse in its play calling and personnel groupings.

There is a lot to like about how the line has been assembled with an eye on the long haul, but this group is also very good right now.

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Old 08-19-2007, 10:07 AM   #302 (permalink)
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thanks a lot man for posting all those articles
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Old 08-19-2007, 10:56 PM   #303 (permalink)
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Sweet. Thanks dude!!!
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:15 AM   #304 (permalink)
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Old 08-20-2007, 10:42 AM   #305 (permalink)
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(bizell &#064; Aug 20th ) [snapback]2078327[/snapback]</div>Forgiving Cadillac, 2006 draft busts
posted: Thursday, August 16, 2007 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL

I try to be one who does not hold a grudge, but if you left a fantasy football draft last season with LaMont Jordan, Carnell Williams or Edgerrin James as your first-round pick, well, you probably didn&#39;t send those guys Christmas cards. The thing is, as fantasy owners, don&#39;t we need to have short memories and be objective? Second chances are a way of life.

What has changed in a year when it comes to not only these monumental 2006 busts, but others who were highly touted, like Matt Hasselbeck (No. 3 quarterback), Shaun Alexander (top overall pick), Clinton Portis, Ronnie Brown, Randy Moss and Chris Chambers (both were top-10 WRs)? There must have been a reason, after all, why everyone liked them so much only 12 months ago. Well, some of these players will be trusted in 2007, and some won&#39;t. It seems to me fantasy owners are more willing to trust quarterbacks and wide receivers who burned them, but not the running backs. Why is that?

I admit, in the drafts I&#39;ve completed I haven&#39;t felt any urge to click on the name Williams from Tampa Bay, but it&#39;s more because the timing hasn&#39;t been right and there were others I wanted more. Some are viewing him as a veritable sleeper. Now how can that be, you say? It&#39;s because so few fantasy owners trust someone who underachieved to the degree he did, he ends up sticking around longer than someone with his ability and potential should.

This is a starting running back in the NFL, one who was the No. 5 pick by the Buccaneers in 2005, and started his career with a record-setting bang, yet in some leagues he&#39;s being selected behind two or more rookie running backs (Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson generally, sometimes Brandon Jackson and Chris Henry), as well as future Hall of Famers Vernand Morency, Kevin Jones and LenDale White. Cadillac is currently being drafted in ESPN average live drafts No. 26 at running back, mainly because of our ranking of him, nestled between Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor. I&#39;d call that reasonable placement, actually.

Deep down, we all should know that Williams could be a decent fantasy option this season, so we cannot hold against him the fact he broke 100 yards only two times, and reached the end zone once in his sophomore season. He&#39;s only 25. Mike Alstott is gone. Caddy could bounce back for 1,000 yards and half a dozen scores. I mean, we&#39;re drafting just about any running backs who have a chance to help us, and Cadillac fits that mold. Cadillac, I forgive you. I will draft you in … Round 4. I think.

Oakland&#39;s Jordan looks better to me, actually, from a value standpoint, though his team remains brutal. I don&#39;t know if the Raiders will be able to move the ball, no matter who plays quarterback. But Jordan, the No. 6 running back on ours and most 2006 lists -- which nobody had a problem with, by the way -- brings some experience to the table, and he&#39;s a very good receiver, something the Raiders foolishly ignored a year ago. Jordan, now 28, isn&#39;t going to be Reggie Bush, but he was a top-10 running back his first season in Oakland, having rushed for 1,000 yards and catching 70 passes, reaching 11 touchdowns and doing this all while missing two games. Cadillac hasn&#39;t done this. Jordan has shown us what he can do. I&#39;m more likely to take a shot on Jordan, who is going a few rounds after Cadillac. Yeah, I know Dominic Rhodes is there, but not until October. We say this for everyone, but if Jordan can stay healthy, well, you know. LaMont, I forgive you. I will draft you in … Round 4 as well.

Finally there&#39;s the third killer pick from last season&#39;s first round, Mr. James. I&#39;m sure he feels guilty enough -- um, maybe not -- giving up a Super Bowl run for more bling-bling, but really, can you say this was surprising? I can&#39;t. There was no way James was going to duplicate his stats in Arizona. And by the way, a strong December allowed James to top 1,000 yards and score a few times. If you waited, and made the playoffs, there was some reward. Don&#39;t hate James because he left a winning situation for the money; you&#39;d probably do the same thing. I could see a 1,200-yard season, and a few more scores, which means James matters quite a bit this year. ESPN projects his stats to go down, but I don&#39;t agree. Edge, I forgive you. I might have to consider drafting you early in … Round 3.

See, it&#39;s best to be a kind, gentle fantasy owner and forgive and forget. Then again, if Jake Plummer, last year&#39;s No. 7 quarterback, returns and somehow gets a starting job, I&#39;ll need more coaxing.

Your thoughts

Bobby (California): "Eric, I would like to stick up for all of us that think Vince Young could be a breakout candidate this year. First, let me preface this by saying I am talking about leagues that have four points for passing touchdowns and minus-two for interceptions, with six coming on rushing touchdowns. Let&#39;s say, based on some fairly good projections, I think that Tom Brady will throw for about 4,000 yards and 30 scores and 10 interceptions. Then my projections will put Young at about 3,300 yards passing with 20 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, while also running for about 600 yards and five scores. I think five is about a good expectation. These numbers put Brady and Young at about the same number of fantasy points. So why is Young so low in your opinion? Do you feel my projections are that far off? I would be interested in your comments."

Eric: Well, Bobby, it&#39;s nothing personal, but I don&#39;t project Young for those lofty stats, and it&#39;s not just me. ESPN projects 2,400 passing yards and 13 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions, for example. I find that more accurate. Hey, we all could be wrong. As I wrote in Wednesday&#39;s blog, I would draft Young at some point, but I generally want someone more mature, consistent and reliable. If you think Young will do that, then he&#39;s a top-three quarterback. I can&#39;t say for sure you&#39;re incorrect. Thanks for the comment, and to all those who voiced their backing, and lack thereof. I read it all.

Eric (Orlando, Fla.): "Eric, I&#39;m in a 14-team league (yes, those do exist) and I&#39;ve got the sixth pick. I&#39;ve got a very strong feeling about Travis Henry, but I also know that picking him sixth is too much of a reach, even though I don&#39;t pick again until No. 23. But why shouldn&#39;t he be one of the top backs in the league this year? Denver&#39;s proven running game coupled with them finally settling on one featured back … what am I missing here? Please fill me in on why he&#39;s projected around No. 18 in most mock drafts. Thanks."

Eric: I don&#39;t know if No. 18 sounds right, but I can admit I am coming around more on this issue, and have moved Henry into my top 12, right at the end. Look, if you think Henry can, as people are speculating, compete for 2,000 yards, then he&#39;s worth the No. 6 pick. Let me take it a step further: What someone is really worth is totally subjective. This is a game, and these are human beings who can be affected by the same conditions normal people are. There are no guarantees. You&#39;re right, Henry won&#39;t be there at No. 23 for you. I wouldn&#39;t laugh at someone who drafted Henry No. 6. It is possible he delivers those stats. It&#39;s just his current value isn&#39;t as high as a Shaun Alexander or Joseph Addai. Could Henry be more valuable? He could.

By the way, I don&#39;t suddenly like Henry more because of his preseason touchdown. We do, and should, change our minds as we get more information. But not all info is good. Jerious Norwood is very questionable for Friday&#39;s preseason game against the Bills. Oh no, better drop him down on your lists&#33; (Kidding.) Norwood has a stomach infection. I think he&#39;ll be fine. Someone asked me yesterday what I was watching for this weekend in the NFL preseason games. Well, I said, injuries. That&#39;s about it. See who gets hurt, how serious it is, and write about it. But you already know that from the Tuesday blog this week. Donovan McNabb will play Friday night against Carolina, and, to be honest, he could produce a Trent Green stinker from last week (which means nothing), or a Dan Orlovsky lovefest (two TDs, 220 yards for Detroit, and it also means nothing). Oh, but definitely tune in Thursday as Green goes back to Kansas City to face his former team on ESPN. Does the league actually plan out preseason games for interest value, too?

OK, thanks for reading. Keep sending those comments by clicking here, and let me know what you&#39;d like me to write about, what you think of other blogs, whatever you want. I&#39;ll be covering fantasy baseball and football now. Enjoy your Thursday&#33;
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:29 AM   #307 (permalink)
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The new metric to be introduced this week is "interception types." This metric is designed to give more information as to why an interception occurred. This is actually something I have tracked in the past, but I expanded on it some in "Scientific Football 2007" by grouping some of the interception types together in new ways.

Interceptions can be divided into five main types:

1. Interceptions due to inaccurate passes
2. Picks that happen because the quarterback was hit while throwing the ball
3. Passes tipped at the line of scrimmage by defensive players and intercepted
4. Interceptions off dropped passes by receivers
5. Bad decisions leading to interceptions

Inaccurate passes

N.Y. Giants fans probably will not be surprised to learn that Eli Manning had the highest total in this category last season. Manning&#39;s seven inaccurate pass interceptions tied him with Rex Grossman for the most in the league. Charlie Frye finished just behind Manning and Grossman with six.
There were 10 quarterbacks with zero interceptions due to inaccurate passes -- Matt Leinart, Peyton Manning, David Garrard, Trent Green, Damon Huard, Joey Harrington, Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia, Marc Bulger and Mark Brunell.

Quarterback being hit and/or tipped passes

I was surprised by the relatively low totals in this category. Of the 39 qualifying quarterbacks last year, 34 had one or fewer interceptions in this metric. Grossman, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Chad Pennington and Alex Smith all had two picks due to this occurrence.

Interceptions off dropped pass by receivers

Joey Harrington was the leader in this category last year, with four of his interceptions coming as a result of dropped passes. Six quarterbacks -- Harrington, Charlie Frye, Jon Kitna, Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Smith -- had three interceptions of this type.

Bad decisions

Ben Roethlisberger&#39;s 13 picks in this category were easily the most in the league last year. He was followed by Brad Johnson, (10), Grossman (10), Jon Kitna (9) and Joey Harrington (9). The quarterback with the fewest interceptions off bad decisions last year was Damon Huard (0). He was followed by Tom Brady (1), Byron Leftwich (2), Aaron Brooks (2) and Jeff Garcia (2).
The flip side is the number of interceptions a quarterback has that are not due to bad decisions. The quarterback with the most interceptions in this category last year was Eli Manning with 15. He was followed by Smith (13), Kitna (13), Frye (12), Brady (11) and Favre (11). These numbers would seem to indicate the quarterbacks who can be expected to throw fewer interceptions in 2007. It will be interesting to see if the totals turn out that way.

Since we are on the subject of bad decisions, I thought I might take a moment to review the overall bad decision metrics from the 2006 season. I&#39;ll start on a positive note, so here are the top five in the bad decision percentage metric from the 2006 season:

Tom Brady -- 0.0
Drew Brees -- 1.0
Damon Huard -- 1.2
Marc Bulger -- 1.3
Bruce Gradkowski -- 1.5
Philip Rivers -- 1.5
David Carr -- 1.5

Brady&#39;s showing in this category is simply amazing. He is almost always near the top of the league in bad decision percentage, but to post this kind of figure with the wide receivers he had at his disposal last year is extraordinary.

Now let&#39;s take a look at the worst quarterbacks in the bad decision percentage metric last year:

Mark Brunell -- 4.0
Rex Grossman -- 4.0
Jeff Garcia -- 4.1
Drew Bledsoe -- 4.4
Kurt Warner -- 4.6
Vince Young -- 5.1

Even though Young had a high bad decision percentage, I don&#39;t think it is a negative indicator for his future. He had a very green group of receivers, and the Titans let him throw the ball vertically quite often. As he gets into a groove with his receivers and learns how to read NFL defenses, his bad decision percentage should drop.

In addition to measuring the number of bad decisions, I use the weighted bad decision metric to gauge how damaging the bad decisions were. Here are the bottom five by points in this category:

J.P. Losman -- 30
Brad Johnson -- 32
Rex Grossman -- 38
Jon Kitna -- 38
Ben Roethlisberger -- 40

With the exception of Johnson, all these quarterbacks are being counted on to perform at a high level in 2007. A reduction in the bad decision point total likely will be paramount, if these players are to meet those expectations.

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Old 08-23-2007, 08:30 AM   #308 (permalink)
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Between the Tampa 2 background of new head coach Mike Tomlin and the zone-blitz scheme of longtime NFL assistant Dick LeBeau, the Pittsburgh Steelers are much more multiple on defense this season than in years past. Make no mistake, this is still a base 3-4 defense and LeBeau is squarely at the controls, but the overall philosophy is evolving and the front office has begun to bring in versatile players who give the Steelers more options.
Pittsburgh still does not have a pure pass rusher on the roster, someone opponents must account for on every play, but they have many guys who are excellent blitzers and LeBeau generates pressure with scheme as much as personnel. Few defenses get as many defenders running unblocked to the quarterback as the Steelers do, but opponents are using max protection more frequently against them and they were limited to just 39 total sacks last season. That total must increase if Pittsburgh is to re-establish itself as a top-tier defense.

KeiselBrett Keisel is a big 3-4 defensive end but has exceptional athleticism for his size and will be used off the line of scrimmage in a two-point stance in addition to his usual responsibilities. First-round pick Lawrence Timmons is a perfect example of a second-level defender who can do many things well. Timmons is raw and has yet to see the field much due to a groin injury, but he is dripping with moldable talent and could become an excellent blitzer, cover guy and run-stopper from just about any linebacker spot. On the back end the Steelers have possibly the most versatile defender in the game today in Troy Polamalu.
These three players -- along with the likes of Aaron Smith and second-round pick LaMarr Woodley -- give Pittsburgh more options on each level than ever before. Expect Pittsburgh&#39;s scheme to be somewhat similar scheme to those used by Baltimore and New England, attacking offenses much differently from week-to-week because the players do so many things so well.

Tomlin is often considered a strict Tampa 2 defensive mind but he dialed up quite a few blitzes last year as the defensive coordinator in Minnesota. The Vikings didn&#39;t have quality defensive ends to generate the formidable rush his scheme needs, so Tomlin became more aggressive than his Tampa 2 counterparts in Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. That willingness to bring heat from all angles should lead to an excellent working relationship with LeBeau.

Pittsburgh will bring a lot of pressure this season no doubt. The more things change, the more they stay the same in "Blitzburgh".
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:31 AM   #309 (permalink)
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If the level of play so far this preseason is any indication, the St. Louis Rams have the talent to win the NFC West. in St. Louis Rams training camp are any indication of possible success this season, the Rams have the talent to win the NFC West.

Running back Steven Jackson is obviously a big part of the offensive game plan and he will be on the field at the same time with rookie back Brian Leonard in both passing and running situations, giving the coaching staff the ability to use multiple formations in order to create mismatches out of the backfield or split out wide in the formation. Leonard played fullback at Rutgers and can also be used a lead blocker for Jackson on running plays.

Steven Jackson
Running Back
St. Louis Rams

Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
346 1528 13 90 806 3

With Marc Bulger under center and wide receivers Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Drew Bennett on the outside, the skill positions are as explosive as ever in St. Louis, The offensive line is healthier overall as well, and the the fight is heated at center between 14-year veteran Andy McCollum and fifth-year man Brett Romberg, with each playing well enough to put pressure on the other.

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is in his second year with the team and will instill some consistency in his unit. His blitz schemes and disguised coverages have made his defenses successful in the past and this year should be no exception. The defensive line can be the strength of the unit with La&#39;Roi Glover and rookie Adam Carriker providing stoutness on the inside to complement the speed of Leonard Little and James Hall on the edge. The overall depth of the defense is a concern, but if they can stay healthy the postseason becomes much more possible.

The addition of return specialist Dante&#39; Hall is the first major acquisition the Rams have made in a long time to boost the special teams, and Hall still has the explosive burst to be a home run threat as a returner. His excellent change of direction and vision puts coverage units on their heels and gives Hall the edge to make a cut and take it all the way.

With so many talented players on both sides of the ball and teams in Arizona, Seattle, and San Francisco that look to be less than dominant, now is the time for the Rams to capitalize and take home the division crown.

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Old 08-23-2007, 08:31 AM   #310 (permalink)
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Those are posted in the order you linked them bizell.
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