No, this isn’t a charity pitch. If you do want to do something for charity go buy some pink stuff from RealSportsFansWearPink.com.
What I want to do here is help the less fortunate NFL teams. Those teams who are sitting at the bottom of the standings, those teams who seem to get blown out every week, those teams who haven’t been able to put it together this season. Fortunately the Seahawks aren’t in that list. I am talking about truely horrible teams here. Not sure why I am thinking about this today. I guess bye weeks make for pretty boring blog posts.
I am willing to offer some free advice to these teams. It might be some roster thoughts, some playcalling advice, or even shaking up the coaching staff. So without rambling on too much let’s see what we can do to help the worst 5 teams in the league. I won’t rank them because I don’t want to embarrass these teams. They have enough trouble already.
Indianapolis Colts: This one is pretty easy: Find a miracle cure for Peyton Manning. Well, that won’t be happening. Indy has played OK in most of their games and kept the score somewhat close but they are still 0-6. Curtis Painter has been very serviceable over the last three games averaging almost 250 yards with 5 TDs and only one interception. So I don’t think QB is the problem.
Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have 8 sacks between them which is pretty decent and Pat Angerer leads the NFL with 73 tackles (Kavell Conner is second with 58 BTW). Those 4 guys are producing but overall the defense has been pretty bad, especially against the run. They have given up the second most yards in the league on the ground (820) and they are allowing opponents to convert nearly 50% of their third downs.
What that shows me is they are letting teams run well and often on first and second down leaving a lot of third and shorts. When a team only needs two or three yards for a first down it is very tough on a defense. Opposing teams can run inside or outside, the QB can do a play action roll out to a TE of fullback, a WR screen can usually get a couple yards… the playbook for a successful third and short play has many options.
When the other team can convert on third down it keeps the defense on the field and tires them out. In many of these games Indy has been right in it until late and then they implode. If you look at time of possession numbers you can see this. In the 6 games this season the Colts have had TOP deficits of 13:46, 9:08, 6:56, 17:00, 6:14, and 7:12. That is a total of 60:16. So basically their defense has been on the field a complete game longer than the offense through 6 games.
How to fix the Colts: Stop the run on first down. The Colts need to beef up the interior of their defensive line. Fini Moala and Antionio Johnson aren’t cutting it. Indy needs to look at this position in the draft. Their best bet if they do get the first pick in the draft is to trade. Many people will want the #1 spot and assuming Manning can get healthy the Colts don’t need someone like Andrew Luck for a couple more years. Trade back, pick up a few more picks, and draft some D-tackles.
Miami Dolphins: I am assuming Miami will lose to the Jets tonight so we will go ahead and mark them up as 0-5. And while Miami’s defense has been pretty horrible this year (although Brady’s 500+ yards might skew that a bit) their problems lie straight on the QB position. (Edit: I didn’t post this until after the game so I was right on them losing. But the receivers did not help out Matt Moore at all. Moore was OK but his receivers dropped a TON of catchable balls.)
Since 1999 when Marino played his last game the starting Miami QBs are Damon Huard, Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, A.J. Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerote, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, John Beck, Trent Green, Chad Pennington, Tyler Thigpen, and Chad Henne. That right there is a giant pile of crap. Not too many teams could run out a string of QB failures to match the Dolphins.
Fixing the Dolphins is pretty simple. They need a QB. Luckily for them they have some great potential to have the first pick in the draft next year and could be in a great place to get Andrew Luck. Even if they can pull out three wins and get Matt Barkley that would be a huge upgrade from what they currently have.
How to fix the Dolphins: Put someone capable under center. BTW, since Marino retired back in 1999 the Dolphins have drafted the following QBs: 2009: Pat White 2nd round, 2008: Chad Henne 2nd round, 2007: John Beck 2nd round, 2001: Josh Heupel 6th round. That is three straigh second round whiffs and really nothing else. Time for Miami to step up and draft a QB in the first round.
Minnesota Vikings: Don’t stick this one on Adrian Peterson. He has 537 yards (almost 90 per game) and more rushing attempts than anyone else in the league. If anything he needs the ball more. How can you only run Peterson 12 times in a loss? He should get 25+ every game. Don’t stick it on the defense either. They have been very good against the run and are third in the league in sacks.
Can we stick this on Donovan McNabb? I would like to say yeah but he hasn’t been as bad as I thought. After watching some of Minnesota’s games I thought his stats would be terrible but he is actually completing a higher percentage of passes this year (60.3%) than his career average (59%). He hasn’t had any great games this year and his worst game was in a victory over AZ.
The Vikings don’t seem to have many holes so it is tough to know what to fix. I thought about the O-line but the have been OK. I think the biggest weakness on this team is at wide receiver. Percy Harvin is good but he isn’t a traditional receiver. The rest of the receivers are pretty pedestrian: Michael Jenkins, Devin Aromashodu, Greg Camarillo, Bernard Berrian and TE Visanthe Shiancoe won’t scare anyone.
Without a deep threat or really any big threat at receiver teams will be able to stack up against the run. Adrian Peterson is averaging .4 yards per carry less this year than his career. That might not sound like much but over 122 carries that is almost 50 yards. Think the Vikings would like more first downs?
How to fix the Vikings: Get a good receiver. Losing Sidney Rice is probably their biggest loss in the offseason and they really did nothing to replace him. Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State would fit great with this Vikings team and help tremendously.
St. Louis Rams: Screw it. I am not gonna help a division rival.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Basically the Jaguars are a total mess. Their defense is mediocre but their offense is pretty pathetic, especially the passing offense. Getting rid of David Garrard was a pretty bold move when you only have Luke McCown and rookie Blaine Gabbert as your other options.
The Jaguars are averaging 260.3 total yards per game which is last in the NFL. There are 10 teams that top that number just in their passing offense. Blaine Gabbert is completing under 50% of his passes and only averages 123.4 YPG. So part of this falls on him. But the receiving corps is pretty weak also. Raise your hand if you have heard of more than 2 of these guys: Mike Thomas, Jason Hill, Garett Dillard, Cecil Shorts, Chastin West. Didn’t think so.
How to fix the Jaguars: There is no one position or player to fix here. What can be done to fix the Jaguars? Move to Los Angeles. The Jaguars need to be done with Jacksonville and move to Los Angeles. The league needs to figure out how to make this happen quick. With the move there will be more money, more marketing opportunities, more ability to sign free agents, and all in all more ways to improve the team.
Maybe these teams will take my advice. But hopefully they won’t and will continue down their roads of futility. These teams pretty much have no realistic shot at the playoffs. I will never endorse or recommend a team purposely try to lose games to gain draft position. That is a strategy that could backfire in so many ways. But if these teams do have assets that can be traded now is the time. If they can get more draft picks next year they need to make those moves. Keep starting Gabbert. Give Christian Ponder a shot. Give the young players a chance to play so you can see what needs to be done moving forward.
OK, that is enough talk about other teams. GO SEAHAWKS!!!