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2006 Starting Defense – Thoughts February 13, 2006

Posted by harkov in Uncategorized.
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Our defense improved again, but still has one glaring need…a consistent pass rush. Sure, our guys seemed to get a fair amount of pressure on and off through the season, especially when Coyer sent in his exotic blitzes. However, we need to be able to generate a better pass rush with the front four alone.

DE
Courtney Brown – I know there were a lot of people who were disappointed in his performance this year, but I think he did a great job of staying healthy, and was a force against the run. It would have been nice to seem him develop into an explosive pass rusher, but hey..we should be happy he did what he did. Remember, we were not the team that spent a #1 overall pick on him.

Drafted DE – We need to spend one of our first round picks on a pass rush threat to work the side opposite of Brown. With Brown, Warren and Pryce on the rest of the line, whoever plays this role should be able to work one-on-one with a tackle most of the game. We need someone who can get to, and take down the QB on a consistent basis…without the constant blitz. Mathias Kiwanuka, Elvis Dumervil, or Tamba Hali?

Depth – With Ekuban and Engleberger, I think we still have some quality depth at this position.

DT
Gerrard Warren – What a great pickup this guy was. Sure, statistically he didn’t have great numbers last year, but you could see what a force he is holding up the middle.
Trevor Pryce – Pryce doesn’t have the speed to be a pass rush force at DE in a 4-3 at this point. He needs to be moved back inside, next to the big man, where he can start wreaking some havoc in the interior. That being said, he also needs to restructure his contract. I doubt we’ll keep him around for the enormous cap hit we’re looking at in 2006.

OLB
Ian Gold – Bringing back Ian Gold was a great idea, he can change a game at times, and always plays at 110%. He made some critical plays in 2005, and should continue to excel at the weak side for us in 2006.
D.J. Williams – An unfortunate side-effect of Ian Gold’s return was the movement of DJ to the strong side. We all thought he would be able to quickly pick this position up, and do a great job in coverage…but I think the 2005 campaign left something to be desired. He should continue to learn the position this off-season, and hopefully get back to his dominant form of 2004. One concern is…his contract will be up soon…will he be upset that he was moved out of his ‘natural’ position to make space for Gold?

MLB
Al Wilson – What can I say, Pro-Bowler, great leader, excellent season. We’re set here for years to come.

CB
Champ Bailey – 8 picks this year, Excellent performance in the Pro-Bowl (pick and a fumble recovery). The guy is the best all-around corner in the league. He had his share of mistakes this year…but with the 7..8 man all-out blitzes, who wouldn’t get burned on occasion.
D. Williams – What a great draft pick. It’s unfortunate that he got banged up toward the end of the season but Darrent showed blazing speed in 2005, as well as his ball-hawking abilities. Who’s complaining about his height now?
D. Foxworth – Again, I’ll be the first to admit…when we drafted this guy, I said, hunh? But wow, another great pick. He got victimized a few times throughout the year (anyone remember Roc Alexander)…but he made his fair share of incredible plays as well. If he had made that pick in the end-zone vs the Steelers, perhaps that game would have turned out slightly different.

If these three guys can stay healthy, and we can get the pass rush going, we should see a lot more interceptions.

S
J. Lynch – Lynch is certainly getting up there in age, but whoever says he is done, or that he got into the pro-bowl due to popularity, is losing it. John can still play at a high level, and can change a game around in a hurry…be it with a blitz or a timely interception. Sure, we’ll have to find a replacement for his leadership and ability in the next couple years, but for 2006, he should continue to anchor our secondary.
N. Ferguson – Nick played well in 2005, a big improvement over Kennedy, in my opinion. He is getting up there in age as well. I hope someone pushes him in camp, challenging him for the starting role. Not that I think he won’t win the job again, but healthy competition is good!
Browner/Draft – Brandon Browner is interesting to me, he was highly ranked in the 2005 draft, until he put up some poor 40 times. He could be a wildcard at the safety position this off-season. I assume we will also spend a draft pick on another safety who could compete for playing time this year.

A few tweaks here and there, and I can only see our defense improving. Thoughts?

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