Well there it is another game, another loss. Questions and answers surround every team and with todays games arise the same questions that seem to surround our team. What will need to do put together the right formula for winning. I know when we came into last offseason we entered with several questions, i.e.: offensive line, salary cap, receiver depth, depth behind Jackson, a true QB, defensive line, safety questions, holes at LB, a coaching question, and if I missed any please forgive me. The answers we came with when this seasons started with were two additoins to our offensive line, an excellent strong safety in Butler, a new coach in Spags, a committment to Bulger, a second round pick for MLB from Ohio, and several cuts (including some into the season) to create some space in the cap. We left the questions of a true QB, can the defensive line put it together (many thought they would under Spanguola), experience wide receivers (Robinson is a fine acquisition with a history of injury in his short career), and no one behind Steven Jackson. The current results are a 1-11 record that simply states this team has not found the formula to find victory.
Being honest and being blunt, I am not sure all the question marks left running into the season are our primary reason for our record. Actually I would place the primary factos on two sources more than any, equally in which I speak. The two I have identified is the extremely difficult schedule that we started with and we will finish with, and the equally attorcious play calling this year on offense. Now there are so many other things that have gone wrong, particularly the complete vacuum that occurred at wide receive this year that has led to countless drops (I am sure someone knows the stat on this one), and the lack of experience route running necessary, but every game it is absolute triumph when we find the end zone, knowing we may not see that territory for a week (as today was a prime example). No the schedule we saw was admonishing and one only a proven team could take opening in Seattle (a bad team who play very difficult in their own building) and then fly across country to Washington (another bad team, but better than most realize). Only to come home to a very powerful offense in Green Bay, and the story goes on and on, but the play calling has just guaranteed loss in so many games. From a virtual committment of other teams to stack 8 or even 9 guys in the box to stop Jackson, you would think the offensive game plan would be at least two-four times a game send a receiver deep with max protect and use the speed we do have, but we don't. Fact is the play calling is so predictable it seems every defensive coordinator comes in with the same strategy, have our passing game beat them.
Now back to what this post was meant to state, we left las season with several questions and some are answered but heading towards the last four games here are questions we have and somethings we need to identify:
1) Our QB, Bulger who was actually respectable this year is certainly going to be released and how do we plan to address this position. Do we look to the draft, free agency, or to Boller or Null?
2) There is no depth at RB, we are going to wear him, Jackson out before his time, and we need to do something quick to help alleviate his load.
3) The Line actually looked really good (I have watched every game this season and can't believe the improvements), but Barron leads all offensive line men in penalties (surprising holding is at 7) and is a free agent. Do we let him go and how do we address the position?
4) Receiver Depth is actually better than we thought, thanks to the additions of Gibson (who looks very good depsite his fumble today) and Amendola (who is good for a big play every game, along with a gut wrenching drop). This unit looks to have made significant improvement during the season, but is there a number one in the mix here? Is Robinson a player we can actually count on to be healthy? Where would we look for a number one? Free agency, trade, or draft?
5) How do we fix the defensive line. Who knows if they bring back Carriker, but for certain we need a presence that is explosive, dynamic, and capable of eating up blocks. I certainly see Ryan making plays, but you hear his name called out maybe three, maybe four times a game. I like what I see when Scott is in there, but is he the presence we need? Depth and a mean man in the middle is definitely an area that has to be addressed and quick.
6) Linebacker, trading Witherspoon brought much more than the pick and the possible talented wide receiver. It brought cap flexibility (as did the trade of Hill) and brought a big gaping whole at the weakside. Is Vbora (forgive the spelling) the right guy, is Lenon still a big man to rack up tackles at the other side. This year's draft has some depth at LB particularly the kid from UCLA who may fall into the third round, but is the draft where we answer a position where you need an explosive ball hawk of a player?
7) What do we do about our offensive play calling. Really? Switching out coordinators particularly out of the West Coast means putting all these young kids (at receiver) into learning mode and spending a season adjusting to it. Can we trust Schumer to improve?
So many questions, but truly this year did bring some essential answers for building a winning program. Offensive Line is paramount and our took huge strides to become a very good one. Our new MLB is a beast and a gamer, and our secondary is actually not that bad (don't judge Bartell the guy has played hurt all year). Now what do you think?