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Saturday, June 25, 2005
Top 5 reasons we're not NFC favorites
Despite possessing one of the leagues top offenses, huge question marks on our defense have rightfully kept us off of most pundits contenders lists.
Here are my Top 5 reasons to doubt GB's chances to reclaim the NFC in '05.
1) Pedestrian pass rush
After KGB and Jenkins we don't have a legitimate pass rusher. None of the untested youth seem to fit the bill. Right now Lee and Washington appear to be nothing but push the pocket types. Williams seems to have better skills, yet ended up on the ground every other play last year. Neither Kampman nor Truluck draw doubles or have the type of explosiveness you need on the edge. None of the LB's have shown they can defeat a blocker in pass rush situations, neither have any of the S's. An injury to KGB and we'd probably be forced to rush 3 and cover with 8.
2) Light at CB
Either Thomas or Carroll will start and the other will play nickel. Neither showed great promise last season. Carroll still looks like a careless player. Thomas might be adequate but will likely still have problems tackling. No depth behind them, two injury risks and not much else. As I see it, we're about "1.5" deep at CB in a league where you need to be 3 deep. The failure to sign a vet in the past 2 years is perplexing.
3) Nothing behind Grady
After watching him the past two seasons we all know what an impact NT looks like. None of his backups appear to have even half his talent. When he had to start, Lee was absolutely abused by Kruetz vs CHI. When your NT can be handled by a C, straight up, you're in trouble. He's done nothing but get in shape in 2 years as a pro. Neither he nor Washington have the ideal body type for position. Both play too high and don't look particularly coordinated. Cole may be the better pure NT but likely won't make the cut. G Brown is a better NT than Lee right now.
4) No muscle in the back 7
Sharper had lost a step but could at least be counted on to splatter people given the opportunity. None of the guys slated to start at S are hitters. Same story at LB. Both Diggs and Barnett lack punch. Their FF #'s are telling. This lack of punch factors into missed tackles and invites throws up the seam and underneath. I'm sure Bates can do plenty with X's and O's, but ultimately this a problem you have to coach around.
We've been chasing them for years and have been losing ground. They're the class of the conference and return the same O that abused us last season and the same D that throttled us both last season and when it counted in the playoffs in '03. We'll field the same group of skill players. Our offensive success seemingly depends on Sherman outfoxing Jim Johnson. Defensively, we just don't match up in the passing game. A mobile QB plus a stud WR and a stout OL equals trouble. The playoff road will likely go through PHI again and I can't see us beating them if they field all their horses.
Of course, injuries to key players like McNabb, Vick, Culpepper or Owens could tip the balance, but right now we appear to be no better than the 3rd or 4th team in the NFC. Despite our problems we should again win 10 games and make the playoffs. The offense should abuse lesser teams and be competitive against everyone. However, the defense has personel shortcomings that can't be overcome by coaching alone. Decent offenses should again have little trouble putting up 20+. As I see it, to win the NFC, we'll need either some help from teams like PHI, MN and ATL or a lights out, MVP season from Favre.
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