Glenn Guzzo

 

2007 Pro Football Thrills and Chills

Part I

 

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!         100-catch man Larry Fitzgerald is a deep threat, too … Three 7-rated pass blockers in the middle of the offensive line

Oh No!            Lackluster run game: HB Edgerrin James ain’t what he used to be, there’s no change-of-pace back and no OL run blockers better than 4

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         LT Darnell Dockett is a 6 and his 9 on the pass rush is tied for best of any starting DT

Oh No!            The Poor pass D is a headache both Short and Long. The Cardinals force very few turnovers.

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Steve Breaston’s punt return TD

Oh No!            +18, +15, long gain on punt coverage … penalties galore

 

ATLANTA

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         WR Roddy White looks like a future All-Pro

Oh No!            RB Warrick Dunn looks like he’s done. Backup Jerious Norwood has explosive gains Wrong, but explosive losses Right

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         6s at MLB (Michael Boley) and LCB (DeAngelo Hall)

Oh No!            The Linebuck and Off Tackle defense is porous, both on the team card and with the 0 and 4 at DT

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Excellent punting yardage except for the block; decent punt coverage, too.

Oh No!            -4 penalty differential, a blocked punt, Morten Anderson is reliable on FGs only inside the 30, and the Falcons yield a long gain on kickoff coverage

 

BALTIMORE

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         Willis McGahee can run, Kyle Boller can throw, Derrick Mason can catch

Oh No!            Automatic run fumbles on #11, plus hefty chances on #5

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         Excellent vs. run depends on front seven’s individual ratings (two 6s, four 5s) … Perennial 6 FS Ed Reed is in familiar form

Oh No!            0s at RCB, SS weaken defense significantly

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Both punt returners (Yamon Figurs on #3, Ed Reed on #11) have a pair of TD chances. Figurs takes kickoffs back all the way on #2, also

Oh No!            A blocked punt and a -4 penalty differential

 

BUFFALO

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         The left side of the line with T Jason Peters (6,7) and G Derrick Dockery (5,7) … WR Lee Evans will make most of the Bills’ big plays.

Oh No!            Rookie QB Trent Edwards obviously is still learning to aim for the men on his own team.

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         Fine Short Pass card if the shaky secondary ratings aren’t called on much

Oh No!            Two 0s a LB and two more in the secondary … RE Aaron Schobel (7) is the top pass rusher … The Bills give up gobs of yards on the ground, too.

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         PR Roscoe Parrish (TD on roll #2, big yards on rolls 3-6) … Superb punt coverage … PK Rian Lindell is very reliable … KOR Terrence McGee has a TD on #2 (but little else)

Oh No!            long gain on KOR

 

CAROLINA

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         Though he lacks a Long Gain, WR Steve Smith has 9 chances for +57 or better on Long Pass Wrong

Oh No!            Having four QB cards can’t be good. It’s not.

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         6-rated RT Kris Jenkins and three 5s up front, but rookie MLB Jon Beason is the only 5 or better in the back seven

Oh No!            Run D depends on fumbles and individual ratings. Otherwise, watch out.

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Strong kicking from P Jason Baker and PK John Kasay

Oh No!            Ryan Robinson is no threat on either KOR or PR … long gain on punt coverage

 

CHICAGO

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         WR Bernard Berrian is a lonely threat, though both TEs can go deep

Oh No!            The Bears are well below average at both QB and RB … The OL has lost all the glamour from its 2006-season Super Bowl team

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         DT Tommie Harris and MLB Brian Urlacher are 6s …Good pass-D card

Oh No!            Both safeties are 0, both corners are 4

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Record-setting return man Devin Hester’s PR TD on roll #4 and KOR TD on #2 … Superb punt coverage … Robbie Gould: 2-9,12 from 23-32 yd lines

Oh No!            long gain on KOR coverage … -4 penalty differential

 

CINCINNATI

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         QB Carson Palmer’s interceptions are higher, but otherwise he’s terrific … Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmanzadeh (each more than 100 catches) are the best

1-2 WR corps in the game and trouble-maker Chris Henry is a dangerous 3rd wideout who will make it risky to double-team

Oh No!            In a realistic-use replay, RB Rudi Johnson’s card (170 carries / 2.9 avg) will kill the offense (otherwise Kenny Watson picks up the slack).

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         Look hard. LE Robert Geathers is the best vs. run (5) and pass (4 rush)

Oh No!            Very Poor vs. Pass = Long Gain on #4 in Short Pass 3 Men and a historically bad pass rush (top rating is 4)

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Glenn Holt’s KOR TD … Shayne Graham is 2-9,12 on FGs from 23-32 yd lines

Oh No!            Poor punt returns and a long gain on punt coverage

 

CLEVELAND

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         QB Derek Anderson, WR Braylon Edwards and RB Jamal Lewis all will make big plays. TE Kellen Winslow Jr.’s card looks like his dad’s – he’s a                        

horse … LG Eric Steinbach (6,7) is one of three OL with 7 pass blocking.

Oh No!            Anderson’s Flat Pass Wrong column: 13 chances for completions, 14  chances for misses

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         The team is defenseless, except for RE Robaire Smith (5,4)

Oh No!            Poor vs. run = Short Gains at #7 with 0 Men in Linebuck, Off Tackle and End Run vs. a 3-4 … Very Poor vs. pass = Long Gain at #4 in

Short Pass 3 Men … few turnovers, few sacks, no 6s and one 5. Ouch!

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Dynamite returner Josh Cribbs has a KOR TD at roll #3 and a PR TD at #2, plus good secondary yardage … solid punter Dave Zastudil

Oh No!            long gain on punt coverage … -4 penalty differential

 

DALLAS

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         No RB fumbles, no QB/WR fumbles … QB Tony Romo, WR Terrell Owens and TE Jason Whitten – each All-Pro caliber – can do so much damage

in the air that RB Marion Barber III ought to make great use of his explosive Wrong columns. He has help: Four 6-rated run blockers.

Oh No!            Romo’s higher-than-average interceptions are the only downside

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         Two 6s (LCB Terence Newman and FS Ken Hamlin) and two 5s in the secondary … Two asterisk sackers in LOLB Greg Ellis and

ROLB DeMarcus Ware … Ware: 6 vs. run, 12*6 pass rush

Oh No!            too many completions allowed, not enough turnovers created

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         PK Nick Folk is 2-10 at all ranges through 32 yd lines.

Oh No!            long gains on both KOR and PR coverage

 

DENVER

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         QB Jay Cutler passes with confidence and WRs Brandon Marshall and Brandan Stokely turn catches into big yards.

Oh No!            For a change, no marquee running back or 6-rated blockers in Denver, but no obvious offensive weaknesses, either

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         A 6 (LCB Champ Bailey) and two 5s in the secondary … RE Elvis Dumervil’s asterisk pass rushing

Oh No!            Poor team cards and no 5s or 6s in the front seven mean the Broncos cannot stop the run

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         PR Glenn Martinez’ TD at roll #3 (but only minus yards and fair catches otherwise) … See the effects of altitude in P Todd Sauerbrun’s yardage

Oh No!            blocked punt and long gains on both KOR and PR coverage

 

DETROIT

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         Four-deep WR corps led by dangerous Roy Williams

Oh No!            QB/WR fumble rating: 1-6 … Poor pass blocking and all 4s up front for run blocking

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         Twin 5s at DT

Oh No!            “Very Poor” is a generous way of describing what could be the worst Short Pass card ever. If SOM can label a run defense “Supreme,” it

should consider a “Supine” label for a pass D this bad … Four 0s in the back seven and five overall, and a lackluster pass rush, to boot.

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         KOR Casey Fitzsimmons’ TD and P Nick Harris’ strong yardage

Oh No!            Very poor kick coverage (+36, +33, long gain on KOR). Other than Fitzsimmons’ TD, awful kick-return yardage

 

GREEN BAY

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         Brett Favre’s stylish passing card doesn’t look like a QB ready to retire. He’s supported by strong pass blocking and RB Ryan Grant, who

 can get the tough yards and the long ones …WR Greg Jennings is a constant big-yardage threat.

Oh No!            0 run blockers at both guards

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         Studs LE Aaron Kampman (6,12), MLB Nick Barnett (6,6), RCB Al Harris (6) … There are four 5s, too.

Oh No!            Very few turnovers … Very vulnerable to the bomb – long gains everywhere with 0 men and 0-rated FS Nick Collins. So there’s little help                                 

for a Short Pass card that needs it.

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         No. 2 PR Will Blackmon’s TD on roll #5 (plus other good returns) … Superb punt coverage … PK Mason Crosby is 2-10 at short range, 2-6                               

long range, perfect at XPs and strong on kickoffs

Oh No!            a blocked punt

 

HOUSTON

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         Matt Schaub is the best QB in the Texans’ young history … WRs Andre Johnson and Andre Davis don’t catch everything, but when they hold on, they fly.

Oh No!            Poor cards and poor blockers give the running game slim chance guessed right

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         RE Mario Williams breaks through: Run D-6, rush-12*1 … MLB DeMeco Ryans is a 6

Oh No!            Other than a mere 2-3 interception chance on roll #9, there is no number with a sure incompletion on Short Pass 3 Men

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Andre Davis’ KOR TD on roll #4 and companion KOR Jerome Mathis’ TD on roll #2 … Kris Brown: FG 2-6,11,12 from 33-40 yd lines (that’s a 50 percent chance up to 57 yards out)

Oh No!            Mediocrity elsewhere, but nothing to scream about

 

INDIANAPOLIS

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         QB Peyton Manning still elite, especially on Long Pass … Thrilling WR Reggie Wayne makes Manning even better …

So does C Jeff Saturday (6,7), who leads an OL with three 7-rated pass blockers … No QB/WR fumbles and no RB fumbles …

Oh No!            RB Joseph Addai is ho-hum, behind a ho-hum run-blocking OL

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         Good vs. the pass, both short and long

Oh No!            Former sack star Dwight Freeney is pass rush 5 … SS Bob Sanders the only 6 in a lineup with seven 4s and a 0.

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         T.J. Rushing’s punt-return TD.

Oh No!            The worst Adam Vinatieri PK ratings ever (FG 2-4 from 23-32 yd lines; a        missed XP, short kickoffs) … long gains and other big yardage on both KOR and PR coverage

 

JACKSONVILLE

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         RB Fred Taylor’s monster card: Short Gain Right and Wrong at #7 across the card, plus 12-13 chances for Short Gain or better in all running

categories. The “better” includes +80, +76, +62, +50 … Backup RB Maurice Jones-Drew would start for most teams as runner, receiving back and KOR man

Oh No!            The four WRs drop more than they catch

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         6-rated LCB Rashean Mathis, four 5s and decent run/pass team cards

Oh No!            Only 9-rated RE Paul Spicer rushes the passer well

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Maurice Jones-Drew’s KOR TD … Josh Scobee’s seven chances for touchbacks, plus all the standard deep kickoffs

Oh No!            Scobee can hit a 50-yard FG only on roll #2

 

KANSAS CITY

Offense:

Oh Yeah!         Veteran TE Tony Gonzalez and rookie WR Dwayne Bowe make the catches and the TDs

Oh No!            RB Larry Johnson’s injuries show in a lackluster card … A rebuilt OL has taken the once-mighty Chiefs to three run-blocking 0s and no 6s,

with pass blocking topping out at 4 … QB/WR fumbles: 1-5

Defense:

Oh Yeah!         Re Jared Allen dominates: 6 vs. run and 12*5 pass rush

Oh No!            Poor vs. run and vast long gains in Long Pass 0 Men … Chiefs can’t expect to force turnovers

Special teams:

Oh Yeah!         Despite a +81 on roll #2, P Dustin Colquitt kicks for huge yardage -- +41 all the way to #10. He has a block on 12, though.

Oh No!            PK John Carney is shaky on FG and very short kickoffs … Return man Eddie Drummond also is at his career worst … long gain on punt coverage

 

 

Miami through Washington coming in Part II