With a 2nd consecutive missed playoff, you might feel this team isn’t very good. However, I was encouraged by the 8-4 finish. The team was a single Antonio Brown misstep on the sideline from being playoff-bound (or choose your other key weird play).
While I’m not completely thrilled by the offensive coordinator, OR the defensive performance, I wouldn’t be upset if all staff stayed status quo. I’m *mostly* content with the play-calling down the stretch, save a few screen passes on 3rd and long. The no-huddle became effective, and Haley bought in to that idea, which, I believe, saved his job.
The o-line took its lumps, but, was respectable by the end of the season, with a lot of backups and guys off the street. I suspect, there will be some good competition in camp and am actually fairly excited about the prospects of the o-line this upcoming season. I wouldn’t spend early picks there unless there was just a beast available. Otherwise, I take a mid-to-late round o-linemen or two. That’s it.
Defensively, I think Lebeau was a little short-handed and for all my griping about the offense, I’d focus the offseason more on defense than offense. The league has become a pass-heavy league, we all know this. LeBeau’s defenses thrive when they can get you in 3rd and long, then blitz your socks off. Unfortunately, they didn’t find themselves in that situation as often as they could have. This run defense was 21st in the league. Help up the middle defensively is a requirement.
With that, here’s my game plan:
Free Agency, signings:
Worilds, Cotchery, Dwyer, Al Woods, Fernando Valesco
A few contracts need to be extended/adjusted for cap purposes (Ben, Troy, etc).
Manny Sanders, Ryan Clark, Felix Jones, Brett Keisel, Lamarr Woodley, Larry Foote, Ziggy Hood, Levi Brown
Other teams guys:
- A mid-range priced, solid WR; Golden Tate would be my target
- FS is a big need if Clark is allowed to walk. The team needs to find the next Ryan Clark here...
1. Louis Nix, III, NT, Notre Dame; has made both Manti Te’o and now, the next man up, look good. Put him in front of Timmons and we’re talking Defensive POY ballots for Timmons.
(other possibility: CJ Moseley, HaHa Dixon if a serviceable FS cannot be found)
2. (Trade down ~20 slots and get and gain an additional 4th or 5th rounder.)
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss; good size (6’2”) decent speed and big hands and fights for ball. Bye Manny.3. Traded in 2013 draft
4. a. Rashad Reynolds, CB, Oregon State; Solid cover guy who doesn’t mind helping in run support.
b. (from Trade) Select De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon; This will be what Chris Rainey should have been. A Solid change of pace back to compliment our big-back, LeVeon. Bye Felix and LaRod...
c. (Comp pick - Wallace) Lamin Barrow, ILB, LSU; another of those “first on tape to recognize the play” guys that Tomlin loves. Good fit to battle it out
5. Brandon Thomas, OG/OT, Clemson; solid find with the flexibility the team likes
6. Charles Sawyer, CB/FS, Ole Miss; good cover guy, supports in run; was injured, has some character flaws.
7. DeAndre Coleman, DT/DE, California; huge, run-stuffer, depth at DE
NOTE: There’s probably another comp pick or two in here, but, who knows what the commish does with the Tomlin sideline debacle
NT - Louis Nix, III
DE - Heyward, McLendon, Al Woods
ILB - Timmons, Spence, Vince, (rook)
OLB - Worilds, Jarvis, Chris Carter
Starting defensive secondary would add a FA, and Reynolds might compete for Nickel on day 1
QB – Ben
RB – LeVeon, DeAnthony (3rd down), Dwyer
FB – Will Johnson
WR – Brown, Tate, Cotchery, Wheaton, Moncrief
TE – Heath, Spaeth, Paulson
OLine – With Pouncey back, to go along with experience gained due to all the injuries, I’d expect minimal changes
Most of this written a week ago, so i hope nothing major changed since then..