OK, so our defense got exposed just a little bit. That was bound to happen eventually. We all knew we weren’t going to get through this road trip unscathed. I like our defense. Love them even. I think about Brandon Flowers when I’m eating my cheerios in the morning. But this isn’t the 90s, not yet. Romeo Crennel can’t work miracles (can he?).
You can’t be a great defense without a good pass rush. We’ve all known this for a long time. Our pass rush be stankin’, son. Matt Shaub didn’t look that gift-horse in the mouth. He sat in the pocket and completed pass after pass. Really carved us up. No secondary could’ve stopped him with the time he had. Well…..maybe Hasty and Carter. I miss them. Lord do I miss them.
We’ve all wanted to ignore this problem, but it isn’t going away. On the plus side, Tamba Hali is awesome and Sweet Ron already has more sacks than our entire starting line did last year. We seem to have a few young guys with some pass rush potential. But those guys aren’t seeing the field, and our base defense can’t provide pressure. Something has got to give.
Find out what after the jump
I know I’m gonna take some criticism for this, but I think its time for Mike Vrabel to make way for the Student Baker. I know Vrabel has those beloved intangibles crusty old football guys love so well, but I question what he’s bringing us on the field at this point. He plays outside linebacker in a 3-4 and can no longer rush the passer. We can’t afford to be sacrificing something so important from a position that is supposed to be a premium in this defense. The Chiefs recently re-signed Studebaker, so we know they believe in him. Enough to supplant Pioli’s 35-year-old golden boy? I doubt it.
I did like seeing Crennel experimenting with the defensive line rotation on passing plays. The base line can’t rush the passer at all, but I think we can find a decent combination for the nickel package at least. Dorsey on the nose with Gilberry and Magee (yes, I’m still plugging him) on the ends is a group I think could create some pressure. Although actually maybe Sweet Ron has earned his spot in there*. The point is I think we have solutions for this pass rush problem in-house. Plus wait til Tin Man comes back, then opposing QBs are gonna be running for their life! (cheap shot)
*Ron Edwards and Jon McGraw are both players I used to despise, but who seem to have gotten better every year to the point where now I legitimately respect them. Improvement from year-to-year isn’t so odd, except that these guys are in their 30s. They really have gotten better every year though, right? I mean its weird to say, but this is the best Sweet Ron I’ve ever seen.
All in all though, pass rush concerns aside, I’m pretty happy with where we’re at right now. Sitting atop the division with the easiest part of our schedule still to come. Neither of these losses were to divisional foes. We showed an ability to hang with good teams on the road. I mean can you guys believe that? I thought it would be another two years before I could say that, if even then.
These past few years, people would call losses progress and I would get indignant. It always seemed like such a load of crap. I still don’t really want to hear that word; Herm ruined it for me (along with “build”, “rebuild”, and “young”). But this season, even in defeat, we really haven’t looked half bad. We can run, we can pass (sometimes), and we can defend. I still think our defense is good, I just think we might have to wait a year or so before they’re great. I’m willing to do that.
As far as the offense is concerned, I’ve got no beef with them this week. They got the job done. Thom Jones and Jamaal Charles both ran well. Brandon Albert threw the prettiest cut-block I’ve ever seen. Casey Weigmann and Ryan Lilja both look like good signings. Hell, even Barry Richardson is more or less holdin’ it down.
And most importantly, my man D-Bowe is back. I’ll never doubt you again, Dwayne. Now lets get my boy Horney some more playing time so I don’t have to look at Terry Copper out there. When he’s playing receiver it feels like I’m watching a preseason game.