Hopefully everyone has settled down a bit. I don't know about you guys, but I'm having a hard time even remembering what happened in the 2009 season. That was ages ago...right?
I want to talk a little about Sean McDermott. It is hard to fully assess him after one season. That's just too small a sample. I thought he did a pretty solid job. The defense never hit the same roll that they did in 2008. We always had some player or group in a lull, mostly due to injuries. Still, it wasn't as if the defense was awful or anything like that.
We finished with 44 sacks, a good total. We had 25 INTs, the most of the Reid era. We finished 2nd in the league in takeaways and 3rd down percentage. We were 12th in total defense. The big problem we had was allowing points, mainly because of coverage breakdowns. We allowed the most TD passes of the Reid era. That was due to individual mistakes as well as communication breakdowns that left us dazed and confused.
The defense was without a pair of key leaders in Stewart Bradley and Brian Dawkins. Losing both of them and having a new coordinator made for some growing pains. The hope was that Mikell could be the guy to run the secondary and Stew would run the overall defense. That plan failed utterly when Stew selfishly tore his ACL just so he could catch up on old episodes of Law & Order: SVU.
We had a new Secondary coach in Brian Stewart. I have no decent way to evaluate him. Like the overall defense, the results were highly mixed. I don't know how much of the success Stewart should get credit for and I'm not sure how many of the problems were his fault. The loss of Dawk, injury to Sheldon, injury to Hobbs, and suspension of MmmBop made for a lot of shuffling. There's no way that all the change was a good thing. This was our worst secondary play since 2003 when we had all kinds of injuries.
Sean McDermott made some comments in a recent article about Asante Samuel not carrying out his assignment on a particular play. Was that an accident or intentional? Is Asante doing his own thing? Was he just taking advantage of the coaching changes? Remember substitute teachers? We all took advantage of them. My Latin class once convinced a woman that we were supposed to watch The Sheriff Lobo show. That's fine for high school punks, but not NFL players. McDermott and his staff need to lay down the law this year and get everyone on the same page. Missed coverages and blown gaps lead to TDs.
This was a learning experience for Sean. You know he has regrets from this year. Some will involve gameplans and schemes. He is probably mad at himself for shuffling players as much as he did. Jim Johnson was reticent to make changes. He needed something to be so painfully obvious that Ray Charles was yelling to bench the guy. Sean maybe went too far the other direction.
I do think McDermott will prove to be a good DC. I think he's eventually going to be a good HC. Trying to measure him will be tough. JJ is one of the best coaches of the last 30 years. Think about the great defensive minds of the NFL in that period:
* Buddy Ryan
* Dick LeBeau
* Bill Belichick
* Fritz Schurmur
* Bud Carson
* Monte Kiffin
* Dom Capers
* Floyd Peters
Jim is near the top of that group. It isn't fair to hold Sean to that standard. All we can ask is that he does a good job. If he can do great things, then that is even better. I just want to make sure we're fair with the guy.
PLAYERS TO TARGET
I'm starting to do my lists of FA and I've obviously been working on the draft since last June. Trying to get specific with draft targets takes some time because there are so many guys to consider.
Julius Peppers is a player that the FO will have to talk about. There are very few impact players available in free agency. He could be one. You have to consider that guy. The situation is tricky for many reasons. I'll do a whole post on JP sometime soon. He's more than just a couple of quick comments.
The key thing to remember is to always have backup scenarios. 32 teams will have some interest in Peppers. We need to look high and low to make sure we don't miss anything.
Something to keep in mind with draft talk is that we don't count on rookies to step in and start right away. Reggie's injury last year opened the door for DeSean. Kevin's injury this year opened the door for Maclin. Taking a FS or CB early this year doesn't mean that guy will be the starter. Rookies can get you killed. We've mixed them in when needed, but prefer to rely on other players.