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hawaiiansteel
02-03-2010, 03:17 AM
Why can't our rookies contribute right away instead of being given a year of on the job training first? I think we should re-evaluate this philosophy!



No need to vet this: Five Colts rookies prove pivotal

Dennis Dillon
Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010 - 6:31 p.m. ET

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Colts are being portrayed as the more experienced team in Super Bowl 44—it has been only three years since they made a triumphant trip to the NFL's championship game, and several players who started then are starting now—but that might be a bit misleading.

In fact, 11 players on Indianapolis' 53-man roster -- almost 21 percent -- are rookies.

Of that group, five yearlings—four draft picks and an undrafted free agent—have been prime contributors as starters or key substitutes.

"They've been big for us," veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. "They've been stepping up to the plate all year, making things happen."

These guys might be rookies, but they don't play like it:

RB Donald Brown

Although he started only one game and was injured for parts of the season, Brown is emerging at the right time. After rushing 78 times for 281 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, he had key runs of 13 yards in a divisional playoff win over Baltimore and 12 yards in the AFC conference championship victory over the Jets. And he has two touchdowns in the playoffs.

Brown, a first-round pick from Connecticut, and veteran running back Joseph Addai are close to the same height and weight. Although it's not like the Addai-Dominic Rhodes tandem that helped the Colts win Super Bowl 41, Brown is a good complement to Addai.

"Joseph Addai went his rookie year to the Super Bowl, so it's funny how things work," Brown said.

CB Jerraud Powers

When Marlin Jackson suffered a season-ending injury and Kelvin Hayden was sidelined for several games, the Colts had to turn to Powers, a third-round pick from Auburn. Powers wound up starting 12 games in the regular season. He intercepted one pass and broke up nine others.

"(Coach Jim Caldwell) said that during the year he guaranteed that everybody would be needed, and we needed for these rookies and young guys to buy into that," Hayden said. "Kudos to them; they bought into it. They prepared themselves, they watched extra film ... and it's showing that the hard work is paying off."

WR Austin Collie

A fourth-round selection from BYU, Collie might have played only a cameo role this season had Anthony Gonzalez not suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. That pushed Pierre Garcon into a starting role and made Collie the No. 3 guy.

Collie doesn't look like a rookie any more. In the Colts' two playoff victories, he caught a combined 11 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns. While Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis limited Wayne to only three receptions in the AFC championship game, Collie and Garcon came up big.

"It was difficult at first and hard to feel comfortable out on the field," Collie said of his rookie season. "Recently, though, I've started to feel more comfortable with what I'm doing and it has allowed me to play to my natural abilities."

P Pat McAfee

He averaged 44.3 yards per punt (37.8 net) and opponents returned only 36 of his 64 punts in the regular season. This seventh-round pick from West Virginia also performed well on kickoffs. McAfee had 21 touchbacks (tied for second in the AFC), and opponents had an average possession start at the 25-yard line, which ranked seventh in the league.

CB Jacob Lacey

A free agent from Oklahoma State, he started nine games during the regular season, including the last three for Powers, who had a hamstring injury. Lacey had three interceptions and 13 pass breakups. Some NFL scouts say he played better than Powers.

Oviedo
02-03-2010, 09:17 AM
Our rookies can and do contribute on offense, e.g. Mike Wallace, David Johnson, Ramon Foster.

It is the defense that they are not allowed to play on for whatever reason or standard that LeBeau sets even when Gay and Carter are getting toasted like a Pop Tart.

Arians just seems to be better at getting young players ready to contribute and giving them that opportunity than LeBeau is capavble of. Isn't the sign of a good coach is setting your players up for success and bringing out the best in them versus forcing square pegs into round holes because you made the round holes.

stlrz d
02-03-2010, 09:49 AM
*yawn*

Northern_Blitz
02-03-2010, 10:46 AM
Steelers rookies don't play becuase their draft strategy is for them not to play. We aim to enter the draft with no glaring needs so we don't have to draft a team saviour. That way we can select BPA, and don't have to worry about ruining a rook by placing too much pressure on them (see QBs drafted by the Browns). When a rookie can contribute, it is a pleasant suprize (MW), but not a necessity.

Going into last season, what defensive position did you think a rookie should have been starting in?

We only lost 2 starters from what was one of the best defences of all time! Quality replacements looked to be on the roster because both Timmons and Gay got significant playing time during the season and looked like they could handle the starting roles. It turned out that Gay wasn't that good for us this year, but going into last year, people were only talking about drafting depth on D (specifically D-line where we need to get younger - and did).

Oviedo
02-03-2010, 11:07 AM
Steelers rookies don't play becuase their draft strategy is for them not to play. We aim to enter the draft with no glaring needs so we don't have to draft a team saviour. That way we can select BPA, and don't have to worry about ruining a rook by placing too much pressure on them (see QBs drafted by the Browns). When a rookie can contribute, it is a pleasant suprize (MW), but not a necessity.

Going into last season, what defensive position did you think a rookie should have been starting in?

We only lost 2 starters from what was one of the best defences of all time! Quality replacements looked to be on the roster because both Timmons and Gay got significant playing time during the season and looked like they could handle the starting roles. It turned out that Gay wasn't that good for us this year, but going into last year, people were only talking about drafting depth on D (specifically D-line where we need to get younger - and did).

But when Troy got hurt and Gya was failing we did not turn to young players and let them prove what they could or could not do. We stayed with a failing Carter and Gay and LeBeau failed to make any adjustments.

BURGH86STEEL
02-03-2010, 11:13 AM
I believe the Colts were forced to turn to rookies due to injuries.

Oviedo
02-03-2010, 11:41 AM
*yawn*

d---Sorry the topic bores you but it is a critical issue for this team moving forward. Our success, or failure, next season has far more question amarks on whether the defense can perform as opposed to the offense.

The relaity is we cannot interject youth into our defense to either replace or push veterans and haven't been able to do so for the past 4-5 years. This is a serious problem and I think we began to see that manifest itself in an aging Farrior, inability to replace a combination of McFadden/Gay with Gay, replace an injured Troy, etc.

It is valid to ask why other teams can play rookies and we can't on defense. Can't use the excuse that we have such great players they are too good to push out of the line up because the Colts have been the most successful team in the NFL the past 4-5 years and they don't seem to have an issue.

So it is a valid topic for discussion why we log in here to discuss "why can't we play rookies when the favorite in the Super Bowl can start two rookie DBs?" Is it we draft bad talent? We don't develop players? We don't trust players? Or the argument we make things too complex?

All legit questions versus the "in LeBeau we trust" approach. One thing about the NFL is "past performance IS NOT a predictor of future success." I for one refuse to just think "well Troy and Aaaron are back so all is well." If that is the approach the organization takes then I have no control over it but we have systemic issues that cannot be ignored or 9-7 records and missing the play offs will become far more routine.

papillon
02-03-2010, 12:14 PM
Steelers rookies don't play becuase their draft strategy is for them not to play. We aim to enter the draft with no glaring needs so we don't have to draft a team saviour. That way we can select BPA, and don't have to worry about ruining a rook by placing too much pressure on them (see QBs drafted by the Browns). When a rookie can contribute, it is a pleasant suprize (MW), but not a necessity.

Going into last season, what defensive position did you think a rookie should have been starting in?

We only lost 2 starters from what was one of the best defences of all time! Quality replacements looked to be on the roster because both Timmons and Gay got significant playing time during the season and looked like they could handle the starting roles. It turned out that Gay wasn't that good for us this year, but going into last year, people were only talking about drafting depth on D (specifically D-line where we need to get younger - and did).

But when Troy got hurt and Gya was failing we did not turn to young players and let them prove what they could or could not do. We stayed with a failing Carter and Gay and LeBeau failed to make any adjustments.

I have to assume just like any other sport when injuries mount or play is substandard by the starters. Unless, you have proven in practice to coaches satisfaction that you can get on the field, court or pitch and understand your role, the defense being played and your responsibilities in it, the offense being played and your responsibilities in it, specific situations and how to handle them, etc you aren't going to be put on the field, regardless of whether you're the best athlete or not.

A coach has to be able to trust his players to know what they are doing and you don't earn that during a game, you earn that during the week in practice. If you can't beat out the guy in front of you during the week, you aren't playing on the weekend and that goes for any sport.

If you can't beat out the man in front of you in practice, a coach isn't giving you the chance to do it in a game, unless, there is an injury.

Pappy

Northern_Blitz
02-03-2010, 12:16 PM
Steelers rookies don't play becuase their draft strategy is for them not to play. We aim to enter the draft with no glaring needs so we don't have to draft a team saviour. That way we can select BPA, and don't have to worry about ruining a rook by placing too much pressure on them (see QBs drafted by the Browns). When a rookie can contribute, it is a pleasant suprize (MW), but not a necessity.

Going into last season, what defensive position did you think a rookie should have been starting in?

We only lost 2 starters from what was one of the best defences of all time! Quality replacements looked to be on the roster because both Timmons and Gay got significant playing time during the season and looked like they could handle the starting roles. It turned out that Gay wasn't that good for us this year, but going into last year, people were only talking about drafting depth on D (specifically D-line where we need to get younger - and did).

But when Troy got hurt and Gya was failing we did not turn to young players and let them prove what they could or could not do. We stayed with a failing Carter and Gay and LeBeau failed to make any adjustments.

Again, who should we have put in?

Lewis was hurt so he couldn't play.

We tried to play Burnett and he dropped a pick that cost us a game.

After that, the choice was Gay/Townsend. I think if we had lost another game afrer CLE, we would have seen more play from the young guys, but we still had a chance to make the playoffs and defend the championship.

Carter is the only other SS on the team.

ikestops85
02-03-2010, 12:26 PM
*yawn*

d---Sorry the topic bores you but it is a critical issue for this team moving forward. Our success, or failure, next season has far more question amarks on whether the defense can perform as opposed to the offense.

The relaity is we cannot interject youth into our defense to either replace or push veterans and haven't been able to do so for the past 4-5 years. This is a serious problem and I think we began to see that manifest itself in an aging Farrior, inability to replace a combination of McFadden/Gay with Gay, replace an injured Troy, etc.

It is valid to ask why other teams can play rookies and we can't on defense. Can't use the excuse that we have such great players they are too good to push out of the line up because the Colts have been the most successful team in the NFL the past 4-5 years and they don't seem to have an issue.

So it is a valid topic for discussion why we log in here to discuss "why can't we play rookies when the favorite in the Super Bowl can start two rookie DBs?" Is it we draft bad talent? We don't develop players? We don't trust players? Or the argument we make things too complex?

All legit questions versus the "in LeBeau we trust" approach. One thing about the NFL is "past performance IS NOT a predictor of future success." I for one refuse to just think "well Troy and Aaaron are back so all is well." If that is the approach the organization takes then I have no control over it but we have systemic issues that cannot be ignored or 9-7 records and missing the play offs will become far more routine.

I agree with you that these are all valid questions and up for discussion. In fact it is discussions like these are the main reason I post on a message board.

I just disagree with most of your conclusions. We do play rookies on defense when they show they are ready. Woodley got significant playing time as a rookie. So did Ziggy. Burnett also got some playing time but he didn't look any better than Gay. Lewis never saw the field but I think that was because reports out of practice kept saying Burnett looked better. Mundy saw more playing time at the end of the season but did he look any better than Carter?

Now is the problem systemic? Well we did drop from #1 in defense all the way down to #5 (I think). This basic system has been in place since Capers installed it in the 90s. I think most knowledgeable football people would say it has been one of the most successful defenses during that time period.

As far as "past performance IS NOT a predictor of future success" ... that has more to do with stocks than the NFL. If you are doing something that is successful in the NFL then stick with it until it becomes unsuccessful. Now if the defense slips further down this year we should consider some changes but until then I think only a few tweaks are necessary.

My theory is our defensive success is predicated on pressuring the QB. While we ended up getting sacks this year we did not consistently pressure the QB. This was very evident at the start of the year. This also gave opposing QBs time to pick apart our DBs and expose them to double moves ... something that rarely happened in 2008. I still maintain the DBs then lost confidence and never regained it. Once they get that confidence back our defense will get it's swagger back.

phillyesq
02-03-2010, 12:55 PM
Can we just stipulate in all future threads that Oviedo thinks the defense is too complicated, and that Lebeau is holding back the team by not playing more rookies (despite the fact that rookies have contributed to the D in the past when they've proved deserving).

Iron Shiek
02-03-2010, 01:16 PM
Can we just stipulate in all future threads that Oviedo thinks the defense is too complicated, and that Lebeau is holding back the team by not playing more rookies (despite the fact that rookies have contributed to the D in the past when they've proved deserving).

Or save time and just put it in the sig.... :wink:

RuthlessBurgher
02-03-2010, 01:23 PM
So basically, the Colts have a first round RB who contibuted a bit as a rookie (but not as much as expected due to injury), a mid-round WR who emerged as a receiving weapon as a rookie, a punter who was successful in his rookie season, and some corners who were able to get some playing times as rookies because of circumstances impacting the veteran CB's on the roster.

We've had all of that in the past few seasons.

Rashard Mendenhall, like Donald Brown, was a first round RB who contibuted a bit as a rookie (but not as much as expected due to injury).

Mike Wallace, like Austin Collie, was a mid-round WR who emerged as a receiving weapon as a rookie.

Daniel Sepulveda, like Pat McAfee, is a punter who was successful in his rookie season.

Bryant McFadden, William Gay, and Joe Burnett, like Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey, were some corners who were able to get some playing times as rookies because of circumstances impacting the veteran CB's on the roster.

feltdizz
02-03-2010, 01:45 PM
Burnett dropped an easy INT but at least he broke on the ball. The issue is our D has been called the most complex in football and the playbook on D is bigger than the playbook on O. Our D is old in a ton of places and when Desheas and Tyrone Carter are still on the team it's a testimony to how complex it is. I have no problem with the LB or DL situation although I do think Fox played at a level that demanded more time.

Our DB situation was the problem.

Oviedo
02-03-2010, 04:45 PM
Burnett dropped an easy INT but at least he broke on the ball. The issue is our D has been called the most complex in football and the playbook on D is bigger than the playbook on O. Our D is old in a ton of places and when Desheas and Tyrone Carter are still on the team it's a testimony to how complex it is. I have no problem with the LB or DL situation although I do think Fox played at a level that demanded more time.

Our DB situation was the problem.

IMO LB is a disaster waiting to happen. We are great with Harrsion, Timmons, Woodley and to some degree Farrior. Fox is a good sub but beyond him can you imagine any of the other LBs on the roster being pressed into service as starters for an extended period of time? It would likely be almost as bad as Carter substituting for Troy P.

phillyesq
02-03-2010, 05:23 PM
Burnett dropped an easy INT but at least he broke on the ball. The issue is our D has been called the most complex in football and the playbook on D is bigger than the playbook on O. Our D is old in a ton of places and when Desheas and Tyrone Carter are still on the team it's a testimony to how complex it is. I have no problem with the LB or DL situation although I do think Fox played at a level that demanded more time.

Our DB situation was the problem.

IMO LB is a disaster waiting to happen. We are great with Harrsion, Timmons, Woodley and to some degree Farrior. Fox is a good sub but beyond him can you imagine any of the other LBs on the roster being pressed into service as starters for an extended period of time? It would likely be almost as bad as Carter substituting for Troy P.

Bruce Davis was a real swing and miss. Cliff Avril, who the Steelers worked out and who was ultimately selected a few picks later, would have provided nice depth as a backup OLB and situational pass rusher. I think the Steelers need to address this area in the mid to late rounds of the draft this year to build some depth.

hawaiiansteel
02-03-2010, 05:29 PM
Burnett dropped an easy INT but at least he broke on the ball. The issue is our D has been called the most complex in football and the playbook on D is bigger than the playbook on O. Our D is old in a ton of places and when Desheas and Tyrone Carter are still on the team it's a testimony to how complex it is. I have no problem with the LB or DL situation although I do think Fox played at a level that demanded more time.

Our DB situation was the problem.

IMO LB is a disaster waiting to happen. We are great with Harrsion, Timmons, Woodley and to some degree Farrior. Fox is a good sub but beyond him can you imagine any of the other LBs on the roster being pressed into service as starters for an extended period of time? It would likely be almost as bad as Carter substituting for Troy P.


Farrior is starting to become a liability in pass coverage as he has definitely lost a step. I would not be surprised to see the Steelers address the ILB position early and look for an OLB prospect in the mid to late rounds.

Oviedo
02-03-2010, 05:30 PM
Burnett dropped an easy INT but at least he broke on the ball. The issue is our D has been called the most complex in football and the playbook on D is bigger than the playbook on O. Our D is old in a ton of places and when Desheas and Tyrone Carter are still on the team it's a testimony to how complex it is. I have no problem with the LB or DL situation although I do think Fox played at a level that demanded more time.

Our DB situation was the problem.

IMO LB is a disaster waiting to happen. We are great with Harrsion, Timmons, Woodley and to some degree Farrior. Fox is a good sub but beyond him can you imagine any of the other LBs on the roster being pressed into service as starters for an extended period of time? It would likely be almost as bad as Carter substituting for Troy P.

Bruce Davis was a real swing and miss. Cliff Avril, who the Steelers worked out and who was ultimately selected a few picks later, would have provided nice depth as a backup OLB and situational pass rusher. I think the Steelers need to address this area in the mid to late rounds of the draft this year to build some depth.

I'd like to see us pick up both a player at ILB and OLB. The latter obviously being a project to learn how to play the position. I think we need to get at least one of these guy in round 2 or 3. Seriously, our depth at LB really sux.

Some post Senior Bowl rankings with players I like in bold. If Graham shows he can play ILB I'd wouldn't hesitate for a minute to take him at #18 as understudy to Farrior.:

Outside Linebackers
1. Brandon Graham – Michigan – Top 20 pick (ILB/DE)
2. Sean Weatherspoon – Wake Forest – Top 25 pick
3. Sergio Kindle – Texas – Top 25 pick
4. Navorro Bowman – Penn State – Early 2nd-Early 3rd*
5. Eric Norwood – South Carolina – Mid 2nd-Mid 3rd
6. Ricky Sapp – Clemson – Early 2nd-Early 3rd (DE)
7. Koa Misi – Utah – Late 2nd-Mid 3rd
8. A.J. Edds – Iowa – Late 3rd-Late 4th
9. Rennie Curran – Georgia – Mid 3rd-Early 5th*
10. Dekoda Watson – Florida State – Late 3rd-Early 5th
11. Roddrick Muckelroy – Texas – Mid 4th-Early 5th
12. Thaddeus Gibson – Ohio State – Late 4th-Late 5th*
13. Brandon Lang – Troy – Early 5th-7th Round (DE)
14. Justin Cole – San Jose State – Early 5th-7th Round
15. Cameron Sheffield – Troy – Mid 5th-7th Round


Inside Linebackers
1. Rolando McClain – Alabama – Top 15 pick*
2. Daryl Washington – TCU – Second Round (OLB)
3. Brandon Spikes – Florida – Early 2nd-Mid 3rd
4. Sean Lee – Penn State – Early 3rd-Mid 4th
5. Donald Butler – Washington – Mid 3rd-Early 5th
6. Pat Angerer – Iowa – Late 3rd-Early 5th
7. Jamar Chaney – Mississippi State –Early 5th-6th Round
8. Daryl Sharpton – Miami – Mid 5th-7th Round
9. Micah Johnson – Kentucky – 6th-7th Round
10. Joe Pawalek – Baylor – 7th Round-UDFA