I know we here at Timesyours.com are apt to be critical of older Daily News and Inquirer writers (in many cases it is warranted), but some props to Domowitch for an intriguing note on last Sunday’s game:
“Three changes Juan Castillo needs to make immediately to his defense: 1) bench Casey Matthews and insert rookie Brian Rolle at weakside linebacker in his base package; 2) put Joselio Hanson back in the nickel at slot corner. He understands the slot better than both Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha and can tackle better than both of them; and 3) enough with all of the zone coverage you’ve got Asomugha playing. The guy has spent his entire career as a man-cover guy. He’s one of the best in the game at taking the other team’s best receiver out of the game and making him disappear. Both Castillo and Andy Reid talk nonstop about needing to put players in position to make plays. Well, do it.”
The last point is a great one. Asomugha is supposedly one the best shutdown corners in the game, so he needs to be assigned to the other team’s best receiver (or some receiver). Isn’t this the reason we acquired him and that he has value in the first place? Yes, you want to vary your coverages, but there is a reason Asmougha was the least targeted CB over the last several years. Let’s use what we have and get this guy into man coverage on the outside much more often than not.
As to the other suggestions, let’s not jump the gun. DRC was a former Pro Bowl player, a playmaker, and potentially one of the great advantages Castillo can throw at opposing defense (a starting caliber player in the 3rd corner position). Hansen was so great no one even had interest in picking him up off the waiver wire a month ago. Let’s give DRC some more time to make an impact. Also, I’m not ready to bench Matthews just yet. He was late in getting out on coverage on a swing pass. This happens all the time with LBs, young and old. A molasses slow, lumbering RB like Jacobs should not be able to run 65+ yards on a swing pass, and that is an indictment on the whole defense, not simply Matthews. Also, I’m sure replacing him with a another rookie is going to make much difference when it comes to missing coverage assignments.
His third point has further legs when applied to Reid’s approach so far this year, and in the past. I know his “put players in better positions” drivel is just a means of deflecting reporters, and I don’t blame him for this, since press conferences don’t win Championships. However, how on 2nd, 3rd and 4th and inches, respectively, at the most critical moment of the game, was Vick not put in motion on a sprint pass with an option to run or pass. Exceptions aside, this is largely unguardable, and I imagine the Giants were sweating this very prospect. Vick is one of the best atheletes in NFL history at the QB position, so use him accordingly. Stop trying to win with smoke and mirrors and out thinking the other team. You were the better team, for the fact of your athletes, ie. Vick, McCoy, Jackson, etc. So, use them. Look, I know it’s easy to sit here and say “Just do this or that,” as teams are doing various things to stop you. But, the goal line debacle just jumps off the page. McCoy was having a career day and made a miraculous play on the goal line earlier. Vick is an amazing athelete who can get to the corner faster than almost any player in the NFL. So, one of them HAS to get the ball in these situations. Certainly never Owen Schmitt. TWICE. Additionally, enough with the trick plays, especially when facing inferior teams. Yes, this had intriguing success early in Reid’s tenure, but is largely the tactic of lesser teams attempting to hang with those with better talent. As Domo said, stop talking about putting players in position to win, and just do it already.
On to San Francisco (from denial to acceptance):
On a positive note, the rumblings out of SF suggest some serious angst related to the SF offense. They only scored 13 against the Bengals last week and had no receiver with more than 65 yards receiving (with the exception of tight end Vernon Davis with 115). Harbaugh was brought in largely to cure SF’s offensive ineptitude, and harken back the days of Walsh’s vaunted offense. Well, the early verdict is, it’s not coming around just yet. The metrics appear to prove this out, as SF is 29th in defensive DVOA (a rating of efficiency by the illustrious Football Outsiders) in the NFL (in fairness, the Eagles defense is 22nd in defensive DVOA right now). Ouch. So, I know I said this last week, but if Eagles cannot stop SF, they’re not likely to stop anyone, ever. So strap in. Is it too early to say must win?