|05-19-2005, 03:14 PM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Dove Valley
Scouts Inc: AFC West Playmakers
The AFC West has been as unpredictable a division as any in the NFL. Last year the Chargers went from worst to first, making it three different teams in three years to win the division. Scouts, Inc. highlights the one player on each team who could vault his team to a division title in 2005.
Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos
When the Broncos gave up RB Clinton Portis to obtain Bailey from the Redskins, they thought they got a play-making, shutdown corner. The Broncos saw Bailey as a huge asset in the pass-happy AFC West. What they got were only three interceptions and no return yards -- not exactly the play-maker they were hoping for.
There was much discussion last season about the new illegal contact rule and how it would affect the elite cover corners. These changes didn't affect Bailey's game as much as his penchant for taking more chances in 2004. Despite all of his amazing physical skills, he repeatedly tried to outguess opposing quarterbacks and jump a lot of routes. As a result, he gave up too many big plays for an elite cover corner.
The Broncos' good overall defense ranked in the top 10 in 2004 in most defensive categories -- except for interceptions (12 INT, 27th in NFL). The low number of takeaways, combined with an offense that committed 33 turnovers, was a recipe for disaster. They need Bailey to give them some big plays to compensate for offensive mistakes. When Bailey's game hits on all cylinders, the rest of the Broncos' defense can blitz and gamble more, creating additional pressure on opposing QBs.
Kendrell Bell, Kansas City Chiefs
Last year, the Chiefs counted on Gunther Cunningham to turn their defense around. But Cunningham didn't play any snaps. New acquisition Kendrell Bell is a marquee player on a faceless defense, and has the significant job of making the interior of Kansas City's defense much tougher in 2005 -- especially against the run.
Bell may actually fit better in the Chiefs' 4-3 defense than he did in the Steelers' 3-4 defense. Bell has excellent skills against the run: the inside toughness and outside range to be effective. Bell's skills will be tested because the Chiefs' high draft picks on the defensive line haven't panned out. The poor run defense by their DTs put too much pressure on the MLB to step up and fill, without being protected by the guys up front.
Bell also has his negatives. He missed 13 games in 2004 with groin and back injuries. His recognition skills are inconsistent and his reads will change with his new MLB position in the 4-3.
The Chiefs were last in the NFL in pass defense a year ago, and they are counting on Bell to allow them to play more coverage schemes and fewer "eight in the box" looks.
LaMont Jordan, Oakland Raiders
This has been a great four months for LaMont Jordan, and he hasn't even taken a handoff. Just two days after the Raiders officially completed a trade for WR Randy Moss, Jordan signed a lucrative contract with the club. Not only had he finally escaped Curtis Martin's shadow in New York, but Moss' presence should probably add at least 500 yards to Jordan's rushing potential in 2005.
With Moss and Jerry Porter on the perimeter, and QB Kerry Collins chucking the ball around, the Raiders have huge threats in the vertical passing game. Defenses will be hard-pressed to load up against the Oakland run game. Jordan will likely see a lot of nickel and dime defenses designed to strengthen the perimeters, naturally softening up the middle against the run.
Oakland was dead last in the NFL in both time of possession and rushing yards per game in 2004, keeping an undermanned defense on the field way too much. Jordan will give them power and big-play run ability. The threat of the deep passing game will open things up and lead to a more balanced offensive attack.
Jordan rushed for 479 yards in 2004 for the Jets, but that number could triple in 2005.
Nick Hardwick, San Diego Chargers
The Chargers' offense exceeded everyone's expectations last season, and Nick Hardwick was the biggest reason. Hardwick has great feet and quickness, and is one the bright young stars among interior linemen in the NFL.
The Chargers only gave up 20 sacks in 2004, fourth best in the NFL, and most of those came off the edge. Hardwick's blitz pickup ability allowed him to regularly pitch shutouts against the top inside pass-rushers in the league. The Chargers' offensive line coach in 2005, Hudson Hauck, has since left for Miami. Hauck's replacement, Carl Mauck, is tough, aggressive and will establish a nasty attitude up front, but he isn't known as a teacher.
Hardwick plays with leverage and power. As good as he is in pass protection, he's also the key to LaDainian Tomlinson's run production inside and on counter and backside plays, where Hardwick can reach and seal off. The Chargers might replace two of their five starters from 2004. So even though he is only entering his second year in the NFL, Hardwick is now the foundation of the unit.
|05-19-2005, 03:16 PM||#2|
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Arcadia, CA
How can an OL be considered a "playmaker"? I like Hardwick and the Chargers struck gold on him and Olivea on Day 2 but linemen arent "playmakers".
|05-19-2005, 06:10 PM||#3|
Join Date: Mar 2004
That was weak!
I would agree with Bailey for Denver.
For Oakland, Moss isn't the playmaker to take them some where special?
For SD, you have Gates and Tomlison and he picks an offensive lineman?
Put down the bong dude!
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