After watching the playoffs this Sunday, it seems the football Gods are finally back to their senses. The old addage, defense and rushing wins Championships seems alive and well. This video game football fantasy world we live in now saw the two best fantasy teams fall to what should have been lesser teams. In the end, the ability to run and play defense won out over high flying passing attacks with incredibly weak defenses! There are 2 teams left in the playoffs that finished the year in the top 10 in both rushing and total defense, and there are two that did not.
Baltimore is a very well balanced team, and when they use Rice (why they forget about him at times is beyond me) and don't let things rest on Flacco, they have great success! Further, the 49ers play a great brand of def and with Gore and Hunter they can pound the rock. These teams also possess dynamic threats at the TE position, causing mismatches in both the rushing and passing attacks. Neither team have a great receiving corp, and this is where Pittsburgh can separate themselves, as our wrs are outstanding.
Finally, we have got to protect Ben. With a healthy Ben we can win any game, no matter the circumstances. Without him, we are in deep trouble. We need to get back to pounding the rock, we need to upgrade the OL, we need look at the success teams like Baltimore and San Francisco are having, and get away from the video football they are playing in now.
My thoughts on the draft, possible trades and restricted/unrestricted players.
First, I would make a trade with St. Louis to get the 2nd pick. They need a top-flight WR, we have one who is better than any WR in this draft and he is a restricted FA. I would offer St. Louis the following: Mike Wallace, our 1st (24) and 2nd (56) in 2012 and 2nd round choice in 2013 for their picks in the 1st (2), 4th (98) and 6th (162) in 2012 and a 4th in 2013.
I would then turn around and trade with the Dolphins (Ross wants RG3), I would offer them: St. Louis' 1st (2) and Our 6th (184) and Our 4th in 2013 for their picks in the 1st (8 or 9) and Mike Pouncey.
I would try to keep Jerricho Cotchery but I would not offer him a lot of money, if he stays great, if not so be it. I would keep Ward for another year if Cotchery walks, if only to help tutor the new WRs drafted, as he did with Brown and Wallace.
I would keep Legursky and Foster, they are both restricted, I would let Essex go. Starks I would keep for another year, I doubt he will be offered a ton of money from anyone else. Can we just cut Kemoeatu, please!
I would keep Carlie and Byron (again neither of them would I pay a lot of money to), let Dixon walk.
Now, for the draft.
1st. David DeCastro OG Stanford
3rd. Ladarius Green TE La.-Lafayette
4th. (From St. Louis) Jarius Wright WR Arkansas
4th. Joe Adams WR Arkansas
5th. Chad Diehl FB Clemson
6th. Adrian Robinson OLB/DE Temple
7th. Chris Greenwood CB Albion
DeCastro is why I would do all the trading around, if we could put him at OG with Mike at the other G and Maurkice in the middle, we would be athletic enough to pull and trap and psychical enough to blow people off the line. Now, there should be a few good LTs available here, like DeCastro's teammate Jonathan Martin, but I would draft DeCastro, he has a mean streak to him and he is massive for a OG, we need that against the Ravens and Ngata.
Green is a fast, athletic TE, split him out or keep him in line.
Those two WRs from Arkansas, without Wallace and Cotchery getting these two would be great. And Adams is a heck of a returner, we would have to protect Brwon as he would be our number 1 receiver so I doubt haveing him return punts would be wise. Plus, both those guys can fly! With Sanders in the mix, our future at WR would be bright.
Chad Diehl is a fullback, and can he block! He can pick up blitzes and is an outstanding lead blocker. With a rebuilt interior OL, and a big bruising FB leading Mendenhall/Redman, those all out blitzes against Big Ben will be a thing of the past.
As for Adrian Robinson and Chris Greenwood, ton of potential, ideal size and upside. They like projects too, and Greenwood could develop into a very good corner.
With the new additions on offense, this would help them become much more balanced, being able to run out the clock later in games. Running the ball also eats up clock, thus decreasing the amount of possessions for each team during a game, thus saving our defense from extra plays run against them and keeping them fresher.
Next year, without a doubt it will be time to work on the defensive side of the ball, but if Ben does not get protected now, it won't matter what our defense does.
I think the core of our defense has another run in them, retool the offense, protect Ben, establish a running attack and go for it!