Monthly Archives: January 2014

Whisenhunt-Detroit Marriage Must Materialize

What’s going on everyone?! I have a TL;DR if you deem the article too long, but the information that makes it different than most others is contained in the longer version. Enjoy the article, comment with some feedback or questions guys!

Background:

Image

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was once seen as the future of the organization.

After a winless 2008 season for Detroit, the only team to do so in the history of the National Football League, Schwartz was brought in to coach up the team new General Manager Martin Mayhew assembled.

The start of Schwartz’s tenure was a little slow; the Lions went 8-24 in Schwartz’s first two seasons.

After years of awful play, and a previous season that saw the team lose narrowly in each of its 10 losses, hope finally emerged for Detroit fans as the Lions went 10-6, earning a wildcard round playoff berth.

The Lions lost that game to the New Orleans Saints 45-28, but optimism maintained for Lions fans everywhere; Detroit was finally fielding a winning football team.

Image

As the 2012 season opened, progressed and finished, Lions fans saw happiness become depression, excitement become anger and merrily drinking become binge drinking to forget the offensive display of play, both defensively and offensively, that season as Detroit finished 4-12, despite Calvin “Megatron” Johnson breaking the single-season receiving yard record, falling just short of his 2,000 yard goal.

Schwartz entered last off-season on the hot seat after losing control of his talent (seven arrests in the off-season/pre-season, in-season stompings and penalty problems) although it seemed unlikely he’d be fired if the team performed well in 2013.

The Lions, with a golden opportunity in 2013 to redeem themselves, fumbled their way out of the NFC North despite the starting quarterbacks for the Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers) and the Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler) suffering significant injuries that saw each miss 4+ games. The Lions faltered down the stretch of 2013, losing six of their final eight games after starting 5-3.

Schwartz was fired on the Monday following the end of the season, also known as Black Monday, putting the Lions into a search for their newly-vacant head coaching position. This is what brought YOU, the reader, to this story and I shall make you wait no more.

Ken Whisenhunt has been pumped up by the media as the perfect candidate to take over for Schwartz in Detroit. Offense, Kurt Warner, blah blah. Why is it actually imperative that the Detroit Lions bring in Ken Whisenhunt to take over for their vacant head coaching position?

Stats:

In three seasons as the Pittsburgh Steelers OC, Whisenhunt helped coach the team to yardage and points scored rankings of  16th and 11th (’04), 15th and 9th (’05), and 7th and 12th (’06). Despite working with a then-rookie/2nd/3rd year player in Ben Roethlisberger (of whom was originally thought to be raw and unfit to play before injuries to Charlie Batch and Tommy Maddox), Whisenhunt led the Steelers offense to a solid season, ranking in the top-half of both major offensive statistics recognized by the NFL.

Image

In 2007, Whisenhunt received a promotion in the form of a head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals. He immediately helped the team produce, leading Arizona to an 8-8 record with thought-to-be washed up quarterback Kurt Warner. The offense ranked 7th in points scored and 12th in OYPG (offensive yards per game).

The following season was Whisenhunt’s mastermind season; it was the season he coached his team to the Superbowl against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The offense ranked 3rd and 4th in points scored and OYPG, although Whisenhunt’s team ultimately faltered in the big game versus Pittsburgh. Whisenhunt had one last season left with his star QB before Warner ultimately retired, leading the offense to a lesser (while still respectable) offense ranked 11th in points scored and 14th in OYPG. After Warner’s retirement, GM Rod Graves failed to acquire a legitimate QB for Whisenhunt, leading to an ultimate downfall and losing record of 5-11.

Whisenhunt then led another seemingly washed up quarterback in Phillip Rivers into a career year that saw him complete over 69% of his passes for over 4,400 yards, 35 TDs and the second-highest passer rating of his career. Whisenhunt was seen as the overseer of this revival for Rivers.

Now…imagine Whisenhunt working with a QB that’s thrown for over 100 TDs and over 17,000 yards in 61 games (just under four full seasons) as a starting NFL quarterback and a wide receiver that broke the single season receiving yardage record originally set by Jerry Rice.

Add in a dynamic backfield consisting of someone with something to prove to the whole league after going undrafted (Joique Bell) and the ex-Heisman trophy award winner that had everything taken from him after being told he wasn’t good enough to start in the NFL.

Mayhew has found plenty of talent in the NFL draft to load up his defensive front and with an offensive minded HC like Whisenhunt at the helm, the Lions could finally find their starting wideout opposite Megatron.

TL;DR:

Whisenhunt is an amazing offensive coach that could get the best out of recently underachieving and seemingly regressing Matthew Stafford. He made Philip Rivers and Kurt Warner look like top-5 QBs, think of what he can do with a guy like Matthew Stafford. Oh, he also helped the Steelers win the Superbowl in ’05 with a second-year Ben Roethlisberger.

Yeah. That sounds awesome to me, too. If GM Martin Mayhew can pull in Whisenhunt to coach one of the most potent offenses in the NFL, the Lions could finally find their way to the promise land, sooner rather than later.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Solution

Hey everybody! I know it’s been about 3 weeks since I had my last entry, so it’s about time for me to finally follow up on it.

This next post will be a little lengthy- bare with me. It’s about the solution (in my opinion) for 85% of the Washington Redskins woes.

Since December 17th, a lot has changed.

The Redskins fired Mike Shanahan, Kirk Cousins tanked any and all trade value, Bruce Allen stated he will be taking over personnel decisions, and the Redskins have already interviewed a handful of candidates.

So, here’s when my super-opinionated, but I feel highly logical, argument comes in on how to fix the organization. This would be my decision making from the perspective of Redskins GM Bruce Allen, who recently proclaimed he would have the “power” to do what he needs to turn the organization around.

Step 1- Hire Cincinnati Bengals DC Mike Zimmer as HC

I don’t like old coaches. At all.

I don’t want a coach that has run their course in the NFL, being outdated and kicked to the curb by their prior team because they simply didn’t seem like they had it anymore.

Perfect example: Mike Shanahan.

But there is 1 coach on the older side, compared to the rest of the reported candidates so fat, that I think would be wonderful for this team: Mike Zimmer.

Swapping one Mike for another in relationships may not be the best idea, but swapping that Mike for this Mike in D.C.? I’m all about that scandal.

Outside of the win Washington had over San Diego, thanks to a late game goal-line stand, the Redskins defense was absolutely terrible.

The front 3/4/5 (depending on which fronts they were using) couldn’t generate much pressure, exposing a poor excuse for a secondary in which the number 1 corner is a fading DeAngelo Hall. A little of this is personnel, a bit of it is situation, and a lot of it was coaching.

Jim Haslett did not lead the Redskins defense to one season as a top eight overall defense (something the Redskins were used to before the 3-4 and the days of Shanahan). His playcall was very spotty and his coaching must not have worked. For a guy like Brian Orakpo, a pass-rushing specialist, to be dropping into coverage on a third of his plays makes no sense.

Add poor overall defense with the issue of penalties in all facets of the game and overall poor fundamental football, you get to the root of the problems:

The Washington Redskins are less disciplined than the Alabama Crimson Tide. Sure, the Crimson Tide is a great college football team, but that’s the big difference; the Crimson Tide are a college football team. Professionals shouldn’t be outdone by student athletes.

Mike Zimmer is, from what I’ve seen and read, an old-school, players guy kind of hybrid-type coach. What I’m essentially trying to say is Mike Zimmer is a strong leader willing to listen to his players but doesn’t put up with crap.

I’d also love to see Mike ZImmer with bookend rushers like Ryan Kerrigan and impending free agent Brian Orakpo. I could see Zimmer converting the Redskins defense into what he has up in Cincinnati- a 4-3 with outside off-man coverage/press-man coverage and undersized speed rushers, containing tons of power, from the inside of the DL.

There really is a lot of potential to this Redskins defense. There just needs to be someone to get it all the working parts in conjunction with each other.

Step 2- After hiring Zimmer, go for a recently fired head coach as the OC: Rob Chudzinski

Chudzinski is an offensive mastermind. Ever hear of how good Shanahan has been at molding RBs throughout his career? Rob Chudzinski has the potential to do the same thing, but with QBs. This guy made Derek Anderson look like a top-5 QB back in ’05 before heading down to Carolina and helping Cam Newton to his record-setting rookie season.

Chud was recently relieved of his duties as HC of the Cleveland Browns. Now, considering it was Cleveland that fired him, I don’t think there is anything wrong with Chud. He went 4-12 with a bad offense that had no QB or RB provided to it by GM Michael Lombardi. Chudzinski did the best he could and kept the Browns fairly competitive in games in which they should have been demolished in.

Allow Chud to install his vertical-based offensive playbook into a Redskins team rich in one aspect on offense–speed–  and then combine it with Robert Griffin III’s cannon of an arm. This could lead to an offense that could be extremely fast and extremely dangerous.

A huge benefit for Chud would be his ability to focus solely on Robert Griffin and emphasizing Griffin’s talents to help open up a running game for Alfred Morris. He no longer needs to worry about the complete state of the team, as he would no longer need to run the entity of it.

All he needs to do is focus on making this offense, and Griffin, better than they were.

Plus, if all Griffin does is throw picks, the deep passes will probably travel further than any of Sav Rocca’s punts.

Step 3- Hire Ravens STC (Special Teams Coordinator) Jerry Rosburg

Rosburg has led one of the best, most disciplined special teams in the NFL over the past few seasons. An explosive punt returner paired with good kick and punt coverage units have helped elevate, in my opinion, Rosburg to the top tier of ST coaches.

Rosburg could fix this….I don’t even know if I should call it a special teams unit.

Rosburg could be a big reason why the Redskins offense stops starting at it’s own 11, as well as a big reason to why the Redskins defense could stop having to defend starting at the opponents 38. I’m a believer in him; I think Rosburg could quickly lead this from the worst special teams in the NFL to a top-12 unit.

Step 4- Re-sign Rak, Sign FS, ILB, DL in FA

The current defensive roster will be turning over completely after the season.

Three of the top four corners on the roster become free agents. Young corners never saw time to develop under Haslett/Shanahan. The starting FS and SS are both free agents. The starting MLB is now retired, the “Jack”/other starting MLB/ILB is a free agent, followed by a defensive line that can’t create pressure without it’s best player who is, by the way, also a free agent.

If the Redskins re-sign Brian Orakpo like I say they should, they have solid pieces to build around on defense. Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, David Amerson, Barry Cofield. The rest of the defense needs some work. That’s where free agency comes in.

If the ‘Skins can re-sign Perry Riley and play him at SAM LB to gobble up tacklers and cover TEs, that’ll shore up some issues at LB. With less crazy cover schemes and more strict man-to-man coverage, Riley will be in a better position to succeed.

Buffalo Bills FS Jairus Byrd is a free agent.

I know Redskins fans, you hate it when we sign a big name. Look at our history:

Albert Haynesworth. DeAngelo Hall. Adam Archuleta. Trading for Brandon Lloyd. Trading for McNabb.

It’s a kiss of death.

With Bruce running the show, though, I think we stand a better shot of hitting rather than missing.

Bring is Jairus Byrd to play single-deep coverage every play and let him ball-hawk like he did his first four years and the guy can be a stud. He’s a great line of defense, a willing tackler, and someone who earns his paycheck every week. Pair him with a Wesley Woodyard or D.J. Williams (Bears) signing, and this defense goes from heavy fixing to a couple of patchwork players away from decency.

It doesn’t completely change the fact that the Redskins need a lot of help, but getting back seemingly-forgotten 2013 4th round rookie Philip Thomas could also provide some major help. After suffering a Lisfranc fracture, he hasn’t had time on the field, but should be prepared mentally for the game when he’s healthy enough to play again.

Step 5- Draft Line and Receivers

The Redskins defense is awful, but there are enough solid players in free agency for the Redskins to find value at their biggest needs (FS, LB and DT). What they need is to draft multiple ways to protect Robert Griffin III. Drafting speedy receivers to fit Chud’s offense as well as some strong, capable linemen could go a long way into keeping Griffin from being hit every play.

I’m not saying that the Redskins will draft the right guys. Allen doesn’t have a great…well, not even a good track record of drafting players, but attempting to build an offense around Griffin needs to be priority numero uno in the draft.

Step 6- This is the shocker- trade Alfred Morris

I know, earlier I mentioned to help fix RG so Morris’ running game opens up, but I couldn’t ruin the shock.

I legitimately believe the Redskins should consider, at the very least, entertaining offers for Alfred Morris.

Morris has been a workhorse for the Redskins over his first two seasons, amassing 2,800+ yards on the ground and over 20 touchdowns. You also need to remember something: Morris was playing for a Mike Shanahan coached offense. He’s a perfect fit for the zone-block scheme, which the Redskins may no longer employ, and is one of many guys that Shanahan has made look very, very good.

Some of those guys consist of Tatum Bell, Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Terrell Davis and Peyton Hillis. Shanahan made these guys look much better than they really were.

Coupling that with Alfred Morris’ punishing style of running, and it may be best to see if a second or third round pick could be picked up for the durable plodder. He’s got the talent, but doesn’t contribute much in the passing game and may be no good in the next coach’s offensive scheme. Helu has proven he’s capable of handling passing down duties, which would be upped immensely under Chudzinski.

Well, that’s the end of this very, very long article.

If you read all the way through, I sincerely thank you a lot and promise to keep most of my articles from here on out much, much shorter. Thanks again (Brandon)!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: