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Old 05-23-2007, 10:52 PM   #1
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Default You gotta go deep in this league

another great article by kirwan explains perfectly why the steelers will not cut all their depth just to resign 1 player (faneca)http://nfl.com/news/story/10193430
By Pat Kirwan
NFL.com Senior Analyst
(May 23, 2007) -- NFL teams have May thru July to fortify the back end of their rosters, and there's no time to lose. As any NFL fan knows, the 16-game season is a war of attrition. It doesn't take long for teams to call on their roster depth to move forward. Where would the Eagles have been in 2006 if Jeff Garcia wasn't on the roster? Garcia, a former starting QB who bounced around the league in recent years, was grabbed up by a smart Philadelphia franchise and he was good enough to keep the team on its winning path.

The Broncos can weather injuries at tight end, thanks to Stephen Alexander.
The Eagles had one of my very best preseason depth charts headed into 2006 and will be good again in 2007. On the other hand, for a number of teams the depth on the roster isn't good enough to keep the winning going when a few choice starters go down with injury. Which clubs lead the way in the roster depth issue? Well, a list of critical questions should lead you to understand if your favorite team is ready for the injuries and holdouts that will start to mount up during organized team activities. For example, the Broncos lost second-year tight end Tony Scheffler for a few months with a broken foot, but their roster depth with Daniel Graham and Stephen Alexander makes the loss less significant than it could have been.

You would hope your team has an answer for all of these questions, but not even the best teams can check off all of the critical components to the depth issue. Keep in mind these players need the experience, talent or both to perform without a lot of practice time until they are called upon. (There's a 2006 example behind each depth question).

1. An experienced backup quarterback who can win more than half the games he may have to start. (Jeff Garcia)
2. A running back who can come off the bench and deliver 1,000 yards. (Ladell Betts)
3. A third wide receiver who can step up to a starter's spot and deliver five to six receptions a game. (Reche Caldwell)
4. A swing tackle who can stop a pass rush on either the left or right side. (Roman Oben )
5. An inside lineman who can play center or guard ... or at least give the line coach the flexibility to change the combination inside. (Floyd Womack)
6. A second tight end who does not reduce the offensive package. (Stephen Alexander)

1. A third defensive end who can rush the passer. (Trent Cole)
2. A third defensive tackle who can create a rotation inside to keep the D-line fresh. (Alfonso Boone)
3. At least two backup linebackers with big contributions on special teams. (Larry Izzo )
4. A third corner to build a nickel defense and start when needed. (Philip Buchanon)
5. A third safety to build a dime defense and be versatile enough to play strong or free safety in a pinch. (Chris Harris )

When I look at roster depth, I start with the backup quarterback before any other position. With that in mind, only half the league really has a backup QB with a chance to keep the winning happening. After one question, the league is cut in half. For example, the Colts and Patriots would really struggle if they lost their franchise signal-callers. Neither team has a "Jeff Garcia" backing up the starter.

After the quarterback issue is solved, it's on to backup running back. Is there a 1,000-yard rusher on the bench waiting to take over? Ladell Betts did it for Washington and it looks like Michael Turner would keep the Chargers rolling along -- which is the reason A.J. Smith kept him even though some team apparently offered a first-round pick for him. After the running back question, the depth issue reduced the league to 11 teams.

The Redskins have some outstanding depth at running back with Ladell Betts.
A swing offensive tackle, a guard/center, a third wide receiver, and a second tight end are all required offensive players for any team thinking about playing meaningful games in December and January. The Eagles, Bears, Redskins and Rams look pretty good when the offensive questions are asked and answered.

After the offensive depth is addressed, it's on to the defense where team need a third defensive end with specialty pass rush skills, a third defensive tackle to keep the rotation going, two backup linebackers who are core players on special teams, a nickel corner and a dime safety. Naturally, some teams look better prepared to withstand the rigors of an NFL season if the defensive depth is challenged

Once again, the Eagles are high on the list and are joined by the Cowboys, Buccaneers, Steelers and Patriots. Philadelphia still has depth questions on the back end of its defense, but look at this list of nonstarters on its roster: Quarterbacks Kelly Holcomb and A.J. Feeley; running backs Correll Buckhalter and Tony Hunt, tight end Matt Schobel; offensive tackle Winston Justice; guard Max Jean-Gilles; and wide receiver Greg Lewis. That is quality depth.

A team like the Redskins may be sitting in the middle of the pack in the NFC, but if injuries become a critical factor around the league, Washington has a very good chance of surviving. Quarterback Mark Brunell, running back Ladell Betts, wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, offensive tackle Jason Fabini, guard/center Ross Tucker, defensive end Renaldo Wynn, defensive tackle Joe Salave'a, cornerback Fred Smoot, safety Pierson Prioleau and linebacker Lemar Marshall make up an impressive group of nonstarters on the team's roster.
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Old 05-23-2007, 11:59 PM   #2
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Default Re: You gotta go deep in this league

Yep. Which is why big contract players destroy teams.
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Old 05-24-2007, 04:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: You gotta go deep in this league

Its a nice article - I guess it underpins a basic fact of NFL life - and that is you are going to get injuries - its how you deal with them that defines your season.

Having a vet QB is a very nice insurance, and the Steelers probably have one of the best 'policies' in Charlie Batch.

I know Belichick likes to have a vet on the roster at No.2 and a younger guy at No.3 - although this years No.2 will probably be Cassell and his No.3 (if we have one) will be Testeverde.

High quality back-up RB's tend to be a fluke of circumstance in my opinion - maybe you have a proven older guy (who is a year or two from retirement) and a high round draft pick to back him up.

But this situation is not typically sustainable for any great length of time - eventually the rookie wants more playing time and the vet gets pushed out the door (Dillon, T.Jones, Priest Holmes) - and it could be awhile before the next high quality back up appears on the roster.

Football intelligence and versatility are two key components in the make up of any football player that the Patriots tend to invest in - if a guy is capable of mentally assimilating enough information to be able to play 2 or 3 positions then it increases the effective size of your 53 man roster.

Betts is a nice guy to have as back up - you have to think that he will want his contract redone if/when Portis retires and he become 'the man'.

If San Diego have truly turned down a 1st rounder for Turner then they have made a mistake - the mistake of putting all your eggs in one basket or buying into the 'window of opportunity' theory.

High levels of highly rated 'sexy' talent (the guys who get to the probowl) is very difficult to sustain - eventually alot of these guys begin to believe their own publicity - some even want to prove they can get it done on another team just to feed their ego.

San Diego has more of this type of talent than any other team in the NFL.

So depth is a major key in success - but to alot of fans is not very visible - fans want the guys who rack up big FF points not guys who can step into the line up with hardly a blip in the output of the team.

As Kirwan says, you can't tick all of the boxes - just as many as possible.
They've been great for a while now, three Super Bowls' worth of great. But only this season have the New England Patriots become The Show, the must-see team of stars, pretty boys and reformed bad boys. Suddenly, the Patriots are not simply great; they're compelling, fascinating, appearing to be almighty and a touch lawless.
The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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