announcements

 2009 Pro Football Thrills and Chills


 

By Glenn Guzzo

 

            Here’s a brief summary of the highlights and lowlights of Strat-O-Matic’s new football ratings:

 

ARIZONA

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            QB Kurt Warner’s can shred any D Flat and Short, helped by strong OL pass blocking

Oh No!            Though Cardinals improved run game with rookie Beanie Wells, the OL didn’t get the memo … Though WR Larry Fitzgerald still catches with the best, his LP yards are unimpressive

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            6s at NT (Dockett), LCB (Rodgers-Cromartie), SS (Wilson), no 0s

Oh No!             You make the call: Short Pass 3Men where the only straight incompletion is at roll #5, or Long Pass 0Men – perhaps the worst such column ever, with auto Long Gains at rolls 3,4,5,11,12

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Ben Graham’s punting, Neil Rackers’ FG kicking, LaRod Stephens-Howling’s KR TD

Oh No!            Cardinal penalties on 12 of 36 chances means a lot of plays called back

 

ATLANTA

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            FB/HB Jason Snelling’s running takes the sting out of HB Michael Turner’s decline, giving ATL a two-back attack

Oh No!            Stats that would’ve made QB Matt Ryan All-Pro in the ‘50s make him just OK now … Falcon RB’s have lost their mojo running wide

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Good to Excellent run D

Oh No!             No 6s, three 0s (including both CBs)

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            K Matt Bryant’s 14 touchback chances; +5 penalties

Oh No!            Bryant’s leg is stronger than it is accurate, with bad misses on FG and XP

 

BALTIMORE

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Fumble-free, foot-loose runner Ray Rice great SP receiver, too … Backup HB McGahee would be #1 elsewhere

Oh No!            Rookie RT Michael Oher needed on the blind side: He’s he only 5 pass blocker on OL

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Ravens still tough with Good run D, Good to Excellent pass D

Oh No!             A 0 and three 4s in the secondary will get burned on LP card

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Nothing better than +17 on kickoff coverage (after short kicks)

Oh No!            -4 penalties, blocked punt, missed XP, LG on punt coverage

 

BUFFALO

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            HB Frank Jackson among the most consistent Right-Wrong gainers … Closest to an automatic TD in the set: Terrell Owens’ +98 in LP

Oh No!             See what a bad OL can do to an offense (e.g. both OTs are 0 run blockers) … Run, Ryan, run: QB Fitzpatrick Must Runs more often, better his completions

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            If run D can hold, high-INT pass D can get the ball back

Oh No!            No fumbles in 4-3 defense’s 0LB run zones … Both DE are 0

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Solid in almost all areas

Oh No!            -4 penalties

 

CAROLINA

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Stop-us-if-you-can run game: RBs Stewart, Williams can pound and breakaway in LB, OT and ER, with powerful OL blocking, too … Blink- and-he’s-gone WR Steve Smith

Oh No!            QB Jake Delhomme’s auto INT on LP roll #10 -- Wrong

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Good to Excellent pass D good enough to use Short Pass 3Men most often

Oh No!             You, too, can feel the pain of the injured DTs: Just look at the run D cards

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            John Kasay’s strong FG kicking, kickoffs

Oh No!            Everything else: -4 penalties, LG on both kick coverage teams, boring return men, a blocked punt and missed XP

 

CHICAGO

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Bears don’t fumble … Boom-or-bust QB Cutler can fling it deep

Oh No!            Both OTs are 0 run blockers (the LG, too) … If you use backup QB Hanie you can save time – just go straight to the INT chart

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            RLB Lance Briggs is a 6 again; Bears force fumbles

Oh No!             Without Urlacher, monsters are scarce on the Midway: Four 0s and Poor pass D

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            TDs on both KR and PR

Oh No!            Once-greatest Devin Hester is no longer a threat

 

CINCINNATI

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            RB Cedric Benson will consistently break tackles … C Kyle Cook, LT Andrew Whitworth are 5-run blockers, 7-pass blockers

Oh No!            Obvious options – RB Benson or WR Ochocinco – make smart play-calling essential

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            6s at both corners (Johnathan Joseph, Leon Hall)

Oh No!             Bengals force very few fumbles … If FS leaves LP zone, expect unseasonably hot temperatures in secondary

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            #2 KR Bernard Scott’s TD on roll #3

Oh No!            Missed XP, shaky punt coverage

 

CLEVELAND

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            RB Jerome Harrison has 18 chances of SG or better ER wrong

Oh No!            No need to complicate play-calling with Flat Passes with Derek Anderson at QB … WRs specialize in drops

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Two double-digit sackers in LOLB Wimbley, LILB Bowens

Oh No!             “Poor” Run D is Short Gain City

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Josh Cribbs takes kickoffs (#3), punts to the house … Excellent kick coverage … Phil Dawson tops on FGs inside 50 yds

Oh No!            Missed XP on #11 (not that it will be needed often)

 

DALLAS

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Explosive RB Felix Jones (LG on #10W ER), WR Miles Austin (reminds of Bob Hayes yardage) … Run blocking: three 6s, three 5s

Oh No!            Nothing serious, but 63% Romo just OK for Flat Pass and pass blocking can be beaten when he throws deeper

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Good to Excellent run D only because of player ratings: NT Ratliff’s 6, pair of 5 Des … Overall D: four 6s, five 5s

Oh No!             This “Average” pass D worst for ‘Boys in a long time … Run or pass, too few turnovers

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Patrick Crayton’s PR TD on #3 … Pat McBriar’s punting … 14 KO touchback chances

Oh No!            FG kicking bad enough to cause losses

 

DENVER

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Brandon Marshall’s big plays in LP

Oh No!            RB fumbles: 2-6, 11, 12 right

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Four 6s (two LB, two DB), no 0s

Oh No!             3-4 D has SG at #7 in all runs for 0LB columns

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Eddie Royal TDs on KR, PR

Oh No!            LGs on both KR, PR coverage

 

DETROIT

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Lions don’t fumble … WR Calvin Johnson will make big plays if …

Oh No!            … INT-prone QB Stafford can get him the ball

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            “Very Poor” pass D has no auto completes in LP 1Man … Three 5s, four 0s is huge improvement over winless ’08 team

Oh No!             SP 3Men has LG at #4, only solid incomplete at #12

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Everything except kickoffs, coverage very solid

Oh No!            LG on kickoff coverage

 

GREEN BAY

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Time to give QB Aaron Rodgers his due: With ordinary run game, worse OL, he’s elite

Oh No!            Only oft-injured LT Clifton is much help on OL

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Very high INTs … With a LB in right run zone, this 3-4 “Excellent” run D will shine … Three 6s in secondary

Oh No!             Serious LG trouble with SP 3Men (#4), LP 0Men (everywhere)

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            No LG on either kick coverage

Oh No!            Blocked punt, missed XP, short kickoffs, lots of penalties

 

HOUSTON

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            QB Matt Schaub nearly perfect Flat, deadly Long … Both OT are 7-pass blockers … WR Andre Johnson can explode Flat, Short and Long

Oh No!            With this low-voltage run game, Schaub will have to shine guessed Right

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Three 6s, three 5s on improving D

Oh No!             Too few INTs, too many run yards

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            No. 2 KR Jacoby Jones: TD on #3 … Elite punt coverage

Oh No!            Kris Brown’s erratic FG kicking will force many tough decisions

 

INDIANAPOLIS

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            QB Peyton Manning deadly at every range, with big-time pass blocking help (four 7s) and four strong receivers

Oh No!            Though fumble-free, RBs barely get enough Wrong to keep Ds honest

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Twin 6s at DE (Freeney, Mathis also double-digit pass rushers)

Oh No!             Others much worse, but too few turnovers, too many yards

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Chad Simpson’s KR TD, Matt Stover’s reliable FGs inside 50 yds

Oh No!            Ugly punt returns by Colts, ugly KO coverage

 

JACKSONVILLE

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Hyphen alert! Impressive RB Maurice Jones-Drew gets tough yards and breakaways … Big plays for rookie Mike Sims-Walker

Oh No!            Low-completion, good-yardage QB Garrard will shine or frustrate … With rookie OTs, no 5 or 6 run blockers on OL and only one 5 pass blocker

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Is there a spin doctor in the house? Well, there’s more 5s (three) than 0s (two)

Oh No!             Jaguar-ugly describes a D that doesn’t takeaway, doesn’t sack, but gives up gobs of yards (esp. the LG at roll #4 in SP 3Men)

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Elite punt coverage

Oh No!            Josh Scobee’s FG 23-32 yd line: 2-6,12 (but he’s same 33-37 yd line)

 

KANSAS CITY

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            RB Jamaal Charles is nothing inside or Right, but he runs wild Wrong OT (19 chances SG or better) and ER (LG on #9, +47 on #4)

Oh No!            Go left, young man: 0 run blockers at RT, RG

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            ROLB Tamba Hali’s blitzing: (5*) 12

Oh No!             Poor vs. run, Poor vs. pass is a compliment to this hemorrhaging run D

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Excellent PK Ryan Succop … Jamaal Charles’ KR TD … +3 penalties

Oh No!            Blocked punt, LG on KO coverage

 

MIAMI

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Two tough-to-tackle, fumble-free RBs in Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown … Promising QB Chad Henne … 7/6 LT Jake Long

Oh No!            At least 14 drops SP Wrong for all receivers

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            OLB blitzing: Joey Porter (3*)12, Jason Taylor 11

Oh No!            No 6s, three 0s

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Ted Ginn’s KR TD … P Brandon Fields, FG kicker Dan Carpenter

Oh No!            A missed XP is as bad as it gets on fundamentally sound team

 

MINNESOTA

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Brett Favre (with dangerous WRs Rice, Harvin) + Adrian Peterson (with strong run blocking) will keep defenses guessing.

Oh No!            Peterson’s fumbles: 2-6 Right

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Excellent run D boasts three 6s and a 5 on DL, forces fumbles

Oh No!            With maybe the worst Short Pass D card ever, Viking coach may never guess Run. In SP 3Men, every roll that could be blank is a catch.

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Percy Harvin’s KR TD, FG kicker Ryan Longwell, +4 penalties

Oh No!            LG on punt coverage, short kickoffs

 

NEW ENGLAND

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Passing with QB Brady, three 7-pass blockers, star WRs Randy Moss, Wes Welker

Oh No!            Only nit-picks about getting tough yards running in short yardage situations

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Two 6s on DL; (4*)12 sacking OLB Tully Banta-Cain

Oh No!            3-4 defense very vulnerable OT and on Short Pass; starting DL helpless in pass rush (a 0 and two 1s)

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            +3 penalty advantage

Oh No!            Blocked punt

 

 

NEW ORLEANS

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Record-setting QB Brees has better Right columns than most QBs Wrong (and he’s got three big-play WRs, plus three 7-pass blockers) … RB Pierre Thomas can dominate Wrong

Oh No!            RB fumbles: 2-7 Right

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            High turnover-D makes Saints Good vs. run and pass

Oh No!            Yards available on the ground and throwing deep

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Courtney Roby’s KR TD

Oh No!            PK Garrett Hartley (XP miss on 11)

 

 

NEW YORK GIANTS

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            QB Eli Manning rivals Peyton … OL still has three 6-run blockers

Oh No!            RB Brandon Jacobs’ yardage dive is suicidal

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Make it Oh OK! -- Run-card yardage not as bad as feared with weak DL, LB player ratings

Oh No!            It’s been the late ‘60s since Giants’ D this bad – no 6s, four 0s, LG on #4 Short Pass 3Men, SG on #7 LB 0Men

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Domenik Hixon’s PR TD on #3

Oh No!            Short punts and LG on coverage

 

NEW YORK JETS

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Dominant run game with HB Thomas Jones, change-of-pace backs and up to six 6-rated run blockers

Oh No!            Rookie QB Sanchez can’t rescue team if running fails

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Excellent vs. run, Good to Excellent vs. pass

Oh No!            Must blitz to bother QBs; two 0s taint top defense

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            No. 2 KR Brad Smith’s TD at #3

Oh No!            Long Gain on KR coverage

 

OAKLAND

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Very worthy runner Michael Bush (SG or better: 10 chances LB, 9 chances OT, 11 chances ER) is HB/FB, allowing a second runner

Oh No!            Very poor OL, weak WRs and QB JaMarcus Russell – fuggetaboutit

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            ROLB blitzer Trevor Scott: (5*)12, 6s Richard Seymour, Nnamdi Asomugha

Oh No!            Poor run D includes ER with SG at #4 and #7

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Greatest P Shane Lechler: Still +50 at #9, +41 at #11 … Greatest FG kicker Sebastian Janikowski: at least 2-10 inside 50 yds, 2-7 from 50-61 yds

Oh No!            Astonishing -7 penalty disadvantage; terrible KR coverage

 

PHILADELPHIA

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Electric WR DeSean Jackson’s big plays Right and Wrong in every range

Oh No!            Power outage among RBs who can’t get tough yards

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Good to Excellent vs. run, high INTs vs. pass

Oh No!            0s at MLB, DLE

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            DeSean Jackson’s #3 PR TD

Oh No!            Missed XP on #11; -3 penalties

 

PITTSBURGH

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            QB Roethlisberger, receivers Holmes, Ward, Wallace, and Miller make formidable passing attack

Oh No!            Weak OL will make everything tougher

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Excellent run D can stifle; two 6s, four 5s in front seven … LB pass rush: (6*)12, 6, 10 and (1*)12

Oh No!            Without Polamalu, pass D is Poor (two 0s in secondary)

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Whew! LG only on 12 after yielding 4 TDs on kickoffs

Oh No!            Short kickoffs + LG on coverage = poor

 

SAN DIEGO

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            QB Philip Rivers is a force Short and Long, esp. with explosive WRs Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and TE Antonio Gates

Oh No!            It’s sad to see what’s become of RB LaDainian Tomlinson

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            6-rated LILB Stephen Cooper and five 5s

Oh No!            Low takeaways and uninspiring D cards

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Darren Sproles’ PR TD

Oh No!            Long Gains on both KR, PR coverage

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Studly RB Frank Gore gets tough yards as well as any and more breakaways than most (e.g. OT: +80 at #2, LG at #4)

Oh No!            0-run blockers at both RG, RT (no wonder why SF went for OL high in draft)

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Strong coverage on Pass D cards; two 6s and a 5 on 3-man DL

Oh No!            Way too many yards Off Tackle with LB help in 3-4

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Andy Lee’s punting

Oh No!            Maybe the worst kick-returning in the set

 

SEATTLE

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            QB Matt Hasselbeck effective Flat and Long, RBs rarely fumble

Oh No!            OL decimated by injuries: Three 0s, three 4s for run block

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            5-rated LB Leroy Hill the best of a mediocre lot

Oh No!            No fear of theft charges against this low-takeaway D

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Olindo Mare’s FGs inside 50 yds

Oh No!            Very poor punt coverage

 

ST. LOUIS

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Fumble-free RB Steven Jackson can do it all (e.g. 15 chances of SG or better ER Wrong)

Oh No!            Weak OL, WRs will make decent-looking QB Marc Bulger uglier

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Few completes in LP 1Man with 5-rated FS Otogwe

Oh No!            Brutal ER in Poor run D; both DTs are 0s

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Josh Brown: 2-7 for 50-55 yd FGs

Oh No!            -4 penalties, LG on kickoff coverage

 

TAMPA BAY

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Fumble-free RBs and QB who can run, throw deep

Oh No!            INT-prone rookie QB Josh Freeman makes passing risky

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Three 5s in the secondary

Oh No!            Low fumbles and SGs at #7 across the board with 0LB make run D Poor

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            No. 2 PR, KR go for TDs at #3 … Without TD, No. 1 Clifton Smith gets good yardage … excellent KR coverage … PK Connor Barth is 2-6 on FGs 50-54 yds

Oh No!            -4 penalties

 

TENNESSEE

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            Except for fumbles (2-7,11,12 Right), HB Chris Johnson will go down as one of greatest SOM cards ever, with 16 chances +22 or better ER Wrong, +85 or better LB, OT and ER … Both OT are 7/6 blockers

Oh No!            In Music City, passer Vince Young still looking for some touch

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Two 6s, four 5s

Oh No!            Very Poor pass D is helpless with 3Men in SP and 0Men in LP … also very poor takeways vs. run and pass

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            PK Rob Bironas and P Brett Kern

Oh No!            Very weak return men; LG on KR coverage

 

WASHINGTON

Offense:

Oh Yeah!            QB Jason Campbell’s nearly perfect Flat Pass; low-fumble RBs

Oh No!            0/0 blockers at RG, RT, another 0 run-blocker at LT

 

Defense:

Oh Yeah!            Tag-team sackers RE Andre Carter (12), LOLB Brian Orakpo (7*)12

Oh No!            Fumbles caused by defense: Zip, nada, zero

 

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!            Superb return coverage on both KR, PR

Oh No!            Missed XP on 11 and 12