It's Football Friday, and Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders has all the analysis of this weekend's conference championship games.
Bill Barnwell (Football): Welcome to another Football Friday on BP! I'll be talking all things conference championships, draft, fantasy keepers, pretty much anything pigskin. I'll start with Sebadoh for music, but I'm already late, so let's get started.
Bunny the Tap Dancer (LA): Hey Bill when are they releasing pro football prospecuts 08?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Good opener. Last year, we released, IMSMR, around the end of July. I'd expect the same to be true this year, with Aaron on an accompanying book tour around the same time. For those of you who haven't been to one of our book signings, it's a good time -- essentially, we just talk football until we get kicked out by the bookstore.
There's also movement on BP-style pizza feeds in the areas where we've congregated as Outsiders, namely San Francisco and Boston. More on that later this year.
ammek (Picardy, France): Bill, Like most Packer fans I wasn't expecting to see the Giants at Lambeau this season, so I don't know much about them. What's the o-line like? Can they win on the road in the cold? And how is an offense run by Kevin Gilbride alive in the playoffs today?
Bill Barnwell (Football): The Giants have a very good offensive line. The star is Chris Snee, the right guard who doubles as Tom Coughlin's son-in-law. He took a huge step forward this year, and if I was picking an All-Pro team, Logan Mankins would be on the left side and Snee on the right.
They're significantly better run blockers than pass blockers, particularly on the ends. Kareem McKenzie still gets caught flat-footed at times, and is susceptible to speed rushers. Shaun O'Hara is the unsung hero of the line as most centers normally are, and along with Eli, they do a great job of adjusting protections on the fly. Rich Seubert is the weakest link on the line at left guard, while David Diehl...
Jon (NJ): The Giants were criticized a lot last offseason for cutting Luke Petitgout without seemingly having a quality replacement on the roster beyond a very green Guy Whimper.
While David Diehl has his struggles against speed rushers, are a few more sacks and hurries a worthwhile trade off for a much more durable player who gets penalized far less than Petitgout used to?
Bill Barnwell (Football): It's funny -- I actually think Diehl is pretty good against speed rushers, relative to the rest of the league. Where Diehl really struggles is with larger defensive ends, who can manhandle him. There were about a dozen plays this year where I saw Diehl just pushed backwards into Eli Manning. He's been way better than I gave him credit for at the beginning of the year, but, well, there's not many guys who go up the defensive spectrum in baseball, and Diehl did the same thing on the offensive line.
As for next year? I mean, Diehl's a good placeholder. He's not really someone I'd want to be the long-term solution at arguably the most important position in football. If Whimper's ready, I'd rather use him and move Diehl to LG and bench Seubert, or use Diehl as a supersub, but unless a nice LT falls to the Giants in the draft, I'm comfortable with them using Diehl for another year.
I also would rather have him at left tackle than Petitgout, to get back to your question.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Can Corey Webster be converted into a useful Free Safety? Thanks!
Bill Barnwell (Football): I think Corey Webster couldn't be converted into five cents if you threw him into a recycling bin, let alone free safety.
Webster's tackling is far too abysmal for me to think that he could be a free safety of any caliber.
Tony Romo (Dallas): Am I going to have to break up with Jessica?
Bill Barnwell (Football): For your own good? Yes.
Because you lost last week? Nah. There are plenty of people to pin that loss on before you get to Tony Romo.
nick (granson,nv): who's gonna have the most sacks in the game, packers or giants, and which player is going to step up to make them?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Aaron Kampman. I don't think the Packers drop back enough times for the Giants rush to get there more than Kampman does.
Troy (Ithaca): I'm just planning my fantasy football team -who do you think will be more productive next year in fantasy: Maroney or Willie Parker? Thanks.
Bill Barnwell (Football): I'd have to go with Maroney. We were concerned about Willie Parker's workload all year, and he ended up breaking his leg at the end of the season. That's not a victory for the Curse of 370, it's common sense -- giving a smaller back like Parker that kind of workload is going to wear him out, no matter how tough he is. I'm concerned about both how he'll look when he gets back and how that offensive line looks next year without Faneca. There needs to be a serious upheaval there, and that should be the Steelers' first priority this offseason.
TJ$ (Boston): Hey where do I get a Jeff Feagles jersey from? He is a terrific player and a big deal to this game
Bill Barnwell (Football): I think F--- DA EAGLES girl has one. It might have some extra stuff on it though.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Don't the Giants need to get a good Nose Tackle ASAP in the offseason to put next to Robbins (who seems to take advantage of single blockers very well) and help cover up Gerris Wilkinson at WLB, who seems much more athletic than Kawika Mitchell? Thanks! Hope my Webster question didn't get me banned...
Bill Barnwell (Football): I don't think so. The Giants have shown an ability to plug in pretty much anyone at defensive tackle and, because they're playing with Strahan and Umenyiora on the ends, end up with a pretty effective defensive tackle. Kendrick Clancy's a good example of that.
I think the Giants priorities this offseason go LB, CB, S, LT.
Tommy Bahama (Buffalo): Who is the most ready-to-go reciever in the draft right now? A guy who can come in and immediatly put up numbers?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Switching to The Wrens here...
I'm not a big DeSean Jackson fan because, in general, I'm sour on Pac-10 wideouts. The only real successful wideouts to come out of the Pac-10 in a decade are the Oregon State pairing of Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, with a minefield of busts along the way.
If I had to pick one today? Mario Manningham. I think he profiles as a really good #2 in the pros as opposed to a #1, but if he gets drafted into the right scheme, he could be a legitimate NFL wideout as a rookie.
ajmorriso (Chicago): How likely is it that the Chargers will generate enough pressure with their front four to unsettle Brady?
Bill Barnwell (Football): The Chargers use a 3-4 front, not a 4-3, although they often line up Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips outside close to the LOS in what basically becomes a 5-2. If Phillips and Merriman can get to the quarterback and the Chargers can send five and be successful, well, we might have a game on our hands. I'm skeptical, to be honest, of how likely that is.
I diagrammed a Chargers blitz that got home with five people in my Patriots Daily column this week at http://www.patriotsdaily.com/2008/01/outside-foxborough-three-plays-from-chargerspatriots/.
Patches O'Hoolihan (Boston): Now in all seriousness, is there any chance San Diego has of winning. Can Billy do a satisfactory job and the Chargers did nt have Chambers last time they played, will he be a factor?
Bill Barnwell (Football): I mean, there's a chance anything can happen. They can catch a few more tipped passes for picks. Tom Brady could get hurt and Matt Cassel could implode. It's entirely possible.
Entirely possible, if I had to quantify it in this case, is about 5-10% of the time. I don't see Chambers making a huge difference -- he's been a much better player since heading to San Diego, mainly because he's no longer being relied upon as a possession guy and gets to do what he best, go downfield and use his leaping ability to go get the ball, but the Patriots coverage is sound enough to keep him quiet. I think.
Wow, that was a run-on sentence. No grammar rules in chat, right?
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Are you ending the Kiwanuka SLB experiment then, or getting a playmaker at the weak spot?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Yeah. He just doesn't look like he'll be good enough in coverage to make it worth anyone's while. I'd love to see them try something out of the box, like a 5-2 front with Strahan-Kiwanuka-Robbins-Tuck-Umenyiora and Pierce-Wilkinson/new LB behind them, but that would be a novelty defense on some downs, not an everydown scheme.
ElAngelo (White Plains, NY): Faster Gun? And why is Lawrence Tynes still receiving a paycheck?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Actually, Secaucus at the moment. Best thing to ever come out of New Jersey.
As for Tynes, I mean, NFL coaches have no comprehension of how kicker fungibility works. They're like backup catchers in baseball. It's hard to get a job, but when you do, you have one pretty much for life despite any incompetencies.
Tommy Bahama (Buffalo): Does Miami take McFadden.....
Bill Barnwell (Football): Not a chance. The last name of the first overall pick will be Long.
bartleby (chicago): How should the Jags divide the RB workload next year? Has Taylor earned the right to split carries again with MJD?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Man, I think so. Taylor looked like the better running back this year, and probably one of the top five backs in football. Not giving him at least the opportunity to share the rock seems a little too aggressive. Personally, I think MJD's perfect in the role he's in, so as long as Taylor can remain, oh, 85% of the player he was this year, I don't think they should change a thing.
Bob (Seattle): Aaron admitted that a flaw with Kubiak this season were the guesses regarding playing time allocation. Seems like you guys could solve that problem by giving team projections and then adjusting the Excel spreadsheet so that each purchaser could input the percentage split (i.e., 60% to Fred Taylor, 40% to MJD). Would you do that? Or at a minimum, just having the team projections would better allow users to draw their own conclusions about individual players.
Bill Barnwell (Football): I think that's an eminently reasonable solution. We're going to be exploring that as a possibility for the spreadsheet. I mean, at some point, it's amazing how different things are in the preseason. Go check out the PFT archives and read about how Randy Moss was about to be cut (and that's not a knock on PFT at all). Take guys like Derek Anderson. That's not anything we can really prepare for as researchers, no matter how good of a job we do.
TED F!@#ING GINN!? (Atlanta, GA): Do you think Glenn Dorsey can be a Nose in the 3 - 4? Do you think the Dolphins will move to a full time 3 - 4 with the regime?
Bill Barnwell (Football): I love, love, love Glenn Dorsey. There may not be a better bet in the first round than SEC defensive tackles.
That being said, he's not an ideal fit in the 3-4 as the nose. He could bulk up and do it, but he's going to lose some of his athleticism that way. I'd play him as an end in the 3-4 or stay in the 4-3 and have him on the interior there.
I can't say yet because I have absolutely no idea what the personnel situation is going to look like. I would guess that if they were going to play a straight 3-4, they might've kept Capers on. I suspect you'll see a mix of both, but 2008 is basically a scrimmage for whoever they put out there in the hopes that they find some people to start anew in 2009.
Soulja Boy (Boston): Which Patriot would you say could do the Crank dat dance better?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Welker. Low center of gravity is ideal for cranking that.
ElAngelo (White Plains, NY): Speaking of Jax, wouldn't an offer of their first rounder + a lower pick for Ocho Cinco make a ton of sense for both teams?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Absolutely. In Madden, I dealt Joey Porter for him when I was rebuilding the Dolphins for IGN, but I don't think that would fly in real-life.
I still, honestly, see Chad Johnson as a Patriot after Moss leaves this offseason.
mattymatty2000 (Philly, PA): I was particularly excited to hear that the Redskins were interviewing Jim Schwartz. Now all the talk seems to be that Greg Williams will be the head coach. Can you compare the two? What is the likelihood that Williams would be a better head coach than Schwartz?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Obviously, we're a little biased towards Schwartz, since he's been a public supporter of our work for several years now.
It's hard to say. I know Williams wasn't a very good HC in Buffalo, with serious personnel problems on the offensive side and really questionable playcalling, but it's difficult to actually ascertain where his responsibilities in those areas began and ended. Personally, if I was the owner of a team, I'd go with Schwartz, but in Daniel Snyder's world, I am thinking an economics major who's going to urge cap caution and understands the value of replacement-level players isn't a good fit. So, then, if I was Daniel Snyder, I'd go with Williams.
pieman (China, Maine): Billy Boy!
For next season, do you see Ahmad Bradshaw's role expanding much? Is he just a chance of pace back to Jacobs? Will Jacobs get the bulk of the carries this week? They seemed better offensively last week when Bradshaw was playing.
Bill Barnwell (Football): Pieman! I think Bradshaw will be the #2 guy next year, playing a similar role to what he does now. I've been really impressed by his patience and acceleration, and assuming all things stay the same, there's no reason to not give him 100 carries next year. I think anything more and you risk overexposing him. I'd like to see him get better in pass protection before his role expands.
This week, I think you have to give Jacobs the bulk of the carries, yeah. The Packers defense is a little more disciplined than the 'Boys, so you'll see less freelancing on the outside and restricted movement for a guy like Bradshaw. The Giants will probably try and run at the Packers somewhat-mediocre crop of defensive tackles behind Snee and McKenzie.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Do Toomer's dropped balls earlier in the season mean that these playoffs should be his swan song? What (if any) rounds' pick can Sinorice Moss be turned into? Thanks!
Bill Barnwell (Football): I mean, they've used two second-round picks on replacing Toomer, and he's still kicking. Steve Smith's played better as the year went along, so I have some hope for him, but Moss looks to be a dead issue at this point. Of course, Toomer looked for all the world to be a bust after two years, and he broke out eventually, too. I would hold onto all three of them for now, but training camp should be a competition.
Sam Miles (Columbia, MO): How bad was the Chiefs offensive line this year?
Bill Barnwell (Football): How about 31st in rush blocking and 29th in pass blocking? Pretty awful.
Carson Palmer (Cinncy): Man I miss winning, what happened to us this year and how do we fix it?
Bill Barnwell (Football): You weren't all that bad. DVOA has you as basically performing just as well as the Giants in the regular season. I'd add a veteran LB in free agency, let the offensive line settle, consider trading OC but probably hold onto him, and you'll be 9-7 next year.
jeff (boston, ma): Kyle Orton, next tom brady?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Maybe next Kyle Brady. If you told me a 1-800-COLLECT commercial was in his future, I wouldn't bet against you.
MarinerDan (San Francisco): Should I stick a fork in Shawn Alexander?
Bill Barnwell (Football): If you can find a spot that doesn't already have one in it, sure. He probably can't feel it at this point.
Sam (Columbia, MO): If Jake Long is gone when the Chiefs pick (#4 or #5), do you think they'll reach for the next best tackle, trade down, or do something else?
Bill Barnwell (Football): I just want to take this opportunity, first, to give Carlos Pena some love for cashing in on his big year with a 3-year, $24 million deal. Regardless of whether it's a good move for him or the Rays, it's always nice to see a Northeastern graduate represent.
If he falls, I could see them taking Matt Ryan. I wouldn't recommend it. But I could see them doing it.
Brian (Brooklyn NY): I have recently been engaged in a conversation with my friends over what the most important position in football is. They all swear QB while I have been promoting the case of left tackle. I saw you make a reference to the importance of the left tackle so please let me know the best way to make my argument other than forcing my buddies to read Blind Side. Thanks
Bill Barnwell (Football): Unfortunately, it's a little difficult to quantify the value of a left tackle in a short argument. You can disprove the QB argument, pretty easy, though, by mentioning Trent Dilfer or, more recently, Ben Roethlisberger's Super Bowl abortion.
Eric (Boston): It's obvious who we will see in Glendale, so what are your thoughts on who will win the rematch of Super Bowl XXXI?
Bill Barnwell (Football): All I will say is that Atari Bigby better get some flame retardant for his dreads.
mattymatty2000 (Philly, PA): What do you think of Clinton Portis' chances to bounce back next season?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Bouncing back? He was sixth in the league in rushing yards and had 11 TD's!
OK, so he didn't have a great year by DVOA's standards, but he's also in a scheme that really, was pretty awful. He's also the best pass blocker out of the backfield in football, so there's a lot of hidden value. I don't think he needs to bounce back.
Norv Turner (San Diego): When did we over achieve more, this year or last?
Bill Barnwell (Football): I don't know about we, but considering what happened to Alex Smith after you left, you obviously did something magnificent in 2006.
Johnny Brownbag (London): Hey speaking of Atari which would you rather have the original game system in working condition or Bigby on your favorite team?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Are you kidding? The game system, no question. Mainly because I could probably sell it to someone at work for serious bank.
Tony (Brooklyn, NY): Do the numbers support the idea that the shutdown corner has been legislated out of the game?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Hard to say. I think it's more that there's been an offensive explosion based around inventive schemes and better quarterbacking. It's funny -- I remember reading the Bill James essay from the 80's about how baseball could support eighty teams, and I related it to soccer and how, say, England has four tiers of professional soccer. Couldn't the NFL support fifty more teams, even if there were three tiers? Wouldn't people tune in for that?
Proof that the shutdown corner exists is in Oakland, where Nnendi Asomugha is arguably the best corner in football.
mattymatty2000 (RE: LT v. QB): You were probably kidding, but on the off chance you weren't, citing two medicore QBs who won Super Bowls in no way disproves QB as the most important position in football. Has every Super Bowl winner had a Hall of Fame quality left tackle?
Bill Barnwell (Football): No, of course not. What it points out is that having a great QB isn't essential to winning the Super Bowl, so you can't necessarily make that argument. To be honest, I'm not sure which is more important. I just think making the argument that QB isn't it is easier than making the argument that an LT is.
Richard (San Diego): Where does Eric Parker fit in with the Chargers when he comes back next season?
Bill Barnwell (Football): I love me some Eric Parker, but I don't know, to be honest. The Chargers have to decide if they really believe in Vincent Jackson or not, because he's going to be competing with Chambers for a job, while Parker's going to be up against Buster Davis. All of them have to get behind Tomlinson and Gates for looks. It's a good problem to have, but if Parker moved on this offseason, it wouldn't be the most surprising thing in the world.
dan (chicago, ill): Do you really see the bears taking andre woodson next year? I mean, am I wrong, or is this a team that contend again with a few key acquisitions?
Bill Barnwell (Football): If I were the Bears, I would stay so far away from skill position guys in the first round. If I'm still the Bears, my plans for the offseason are:
- Make a decision on Briggs immediately -- he's either too good to replace or is a system player. You either make him the deal he wants or you tell him to move out. Inbetween is just wasting your time. I'd let him go.
- Cut Muhammad. Consider bringing him back on a lower salary, but he was 2007's Rod Smith. Find a veteran wideout in free agency. Or, since I just talked about him, grab Eric Parker from San Diego.
- Replace Fred Miller. One of the tackles in the draft would be fine for this.
- Give up on Mike Brown. I love the guy, but health is a skill.
- Be willing to sacrifice one of your draft picks for a veteran QB. McNabb fits here. You've gotta give the defense at least one more chance to win a title before you start over, and their window of opportunity with regards to both the talent of their team and the suck that's permeated the NFC Norris is closing rapidly.
bill brasky (long island, ny): Over under on punts/kicks Devin Hester gets next year 0.5?
Bill Barnwell (Football): Is Todd Sauerbrun still in the league? If so, over.
Richard (San Diego): Where did Jeromey Clary come from and what can Charger fans expect from him moving forward?
Bill Barnwell (Football): The Chargers have that Colts trick down of finding useful offensive linemen late in the draft. I don't see any reason why he can't be successful in that offense for a few years.
Tom (Buffalo): I love Peters but how did he make the pro bowl
Bill Barnwell (Football): Jason Peters: Best offensive lineman in football in 2007.
My All-Pro line goes Peters, Mankins, Dan Koppen, Snee, Jordan Gross.
Bill Barnwell (Football): OK, I've gotta go grab some breakfast before I start just typing random foodstuffs into the chat window. Thanks for all the questions, and although I'm generally unbiased, go Giants!