Right on JML.
I started a thread a while back comparing our 2008 and 2009 opening day rosters. Here's an updated version. As you can see, our team is looking massively improved over where we were in 2008:
2008 - Thigpen/Huard/Croyle
2009 - Cassel
Cassel won 11 games in 2008. Thigpen and Huard won 1 apiece. Cassel is bigger, has a better arm, and is more accurate. Easy call.
Mike Cox is a good enough FB who shouldn't see a ton of work this year.
2008 - LJ/Battle/Charles/Savage
2009 - LJ/Battle/Charles/Williams
Basically the same. I think the big difference between 2008 and 2009 will be the level of LJ's effort. Now that he has a real HC and his contract isn't guarenteed, expect a Cory Dillon in NE-style rebirth.
2008 - Bowe/Bradley/Franklin/Webb
2009 - Bowe/Toomer/Engram/Bradley/Lelie
One of only compaints I've had this offseason is that we never really seemed to figure out what we're doing with out WR corps. It's better than 2008 corps, and I think Toomer and Engram are much needed sure hands, but it's still an area of concern.
2008 - Gonzalez
2009 - Ryan/Cottam/O'Connell
Our most obvious drop off in talent. Tony G. will be very missed. Ryan will beat out Cottam, I think, due to his experience, health, and blocking skills.
2008 - Albert/Waters/Niswanger/Jones/McIntosh
2009 - Albert/Waters/Alleman/Goff/Ndukwe
I'm assuming Alleman and Ndukwe end up beating out Niswanger, Richardson, and McIntosh (a safe bet). No question, the 2009 OL is better. I still think were a ways away from "good" though.
2008 - Boone/Dorsey/Tank/Hali
2009 - Dorsey/Edwards/Jackson/Magee
I'm guessing Edwards beats out Tank at NT, and that we have a pretty consistent rotation between Jackson, Dorsey, and Magee at DE. We aren't going to get a ton of sacks from our DL, but they at least won't be a sieve against the run.
2008 - DJ/Pat Thomas/Donnie
2009 - Hali/DJ/Zach Thomas/Vrabel
Big edge to 2009. Vrabel and Zach Thomas are a bit past their primes, but they're massive upgrades over Pat Thomas and the corpse of Donnie Edwards. Our reserves in Mays and Beisel are far better than D. Williams and Boiman.
2008 - Flowers/Carr/Page/Pollard
2009 - Flowers/Carr/Brown/Pollard
Not much of a change. I still think Brown beats out Page at FS (how can he not?!). Leggett and Page should be our main reserves.
Edge: Slight edge to 2009
2009 - Robinson/Charles
2009 - Unknown
I don't know who will win the starting KR or PR job, but they have to be better than Robinson/Charles at PR/KR.
Edge: Probably 2009
2008 - Barth/Colquitt
2009 - Succop/Colquitt
Barth wasn't bad at field goals shorter than 40 yards. But he had no range was bad at kickoffs. Succop gives us improvement there, and can at least attempt 45-50 yarders.
2008 - Herm/Gailey/Gunther
2009 - Haley/Gailey/Pendergast
Do you even have to ask?
Big Edge: 2009
We are a worse team at TE.
We remain unchanged at LT, LG, 1WR, HB, FB, and NT.
We have upgraded at QB, C, RG, RT, 2WR, OLB, LDE, ILB, FS, and K. Not to mention that Hali and Dorsey should improve in their new positions. And that our special teams have massively improved.
I still see us at 6-8 wins this season. Which is pretty good. Another great offseason, and we should be (at the minimum) contending for a playoff spot.
Right on JML.
No but seriously, I think what has also helped Hali is having a new head coach who is willing to bust his balls. One of the biggest positives about Hali coming out of college was how coachable he was, and Herm never went the distance to get everything out of Hali that he could have.
And of course with Dorsey a year of experience can go a mile. He's still playing out of position though, so if he can be even average then it's a good sign.
Brown looked horrible against the Vikings. He was constantly getting beat. I don't see him beating anyone out of a starter spot. Specially since he is playing SS and would have to beat out Pollard. People are living on his past. The injuries and time has depleted his performance. I saw nothing from him to make me think he is worth keeping on the team yet alone start.
I would be upset if Mays is not starting. Right now, I would take him over DJ an DJ has been my favorite player. Herm killed DJ. He was on the cusp of being a dominate player until Herm. Please move DJ to the oustide where he can run. PLease....
WR has always been a concern dating even back before Marty Left. We haven't had stud receivers for years. Even DV didn't have elite receivers with that high powered offense. I think the WR postion is the most over rated, the sky is falling postions out there. Now that may change with TG gone, but as far as I know, a good offensive line fixes poor running backs and poor receivers and that has been the downfall of this offense. Herm ignored the offensive line. The recent moves made by Pioli and Haley, shows me that they are not denying reality and are making every effort to fix the issue.
I am truly excited to see Haley and Pioli work. I was skeptical of them at first, but I love what they are trying to do. It is clear they are building a team, after reviewing performances and fixing the issue, by either promoting people or looking for replacements.
Good job J. Two disagreements: Brown wont start at safety. Page is developing quite a fan base within the coaching staff as usual. As Seek pointed out, Brown has been playing SS and he wont beat out Pollard. Also, Ndukwe was picked up as a backup because of how awful the second and third string lines have been. He has never started a game in his NFL career. Alleman could push Niswanger or Ghuichac for the starting center spot, but probably wont take Goff's spot and has never played tackle so I dont think he is a threat there. Alleman was third string with the Phins and Ndukwe is a career practice squad guy, all in all I think these guys were picked up to give stability on the bench.
I completly agree with your frustration at WR. This has to be the only thing about the Haley regime I dont like so far. "Hey Todd, Bowe gets the point, cant you tell!" Let this guy loose, instead of putting Terrence Copper out there with the first string which we know is complete crap.
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Like Seek said, Mays is gonna get the nod over Thomas.
Nice post. TG definitely made our receivers look better than they ever were. I think if you lump in TG as a receiver then the 08 squad gets the nod. But this team is getting better. And I like that Pioli and haley aren't burying their heads in the sand when they identify problems. This team won't turn around in a year. But I'm very excited about the progress this team has made in 6 very short months.