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No Playoff, So Assess And Move On


etherdome
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Let's take a step back and look reality in the face. Let's take stock of what we have and seriously suggest how to move forward. In this first post, I will concentrate on our coaching.

Mike Smith is not brilliant but he is a calm and stabilizing influence. Blank has gone through a lot of tumoil and he clearly prefers Smitty's style. It also appears that the players respect Smith and honestly work hard for him. For those of us who claim that the team has quit on Smitty, please replay last night's game. The quality of the play may be poor, but every player gave his best. No one has quit on Smitty. Mike Smith stays.

Koetter was brought to the team last season. He was hired for his knowledge of the passing game. Clearly, the decision to be a pass-oriented team has been made. To my eyes, Koetter has done a very good job of creating a passing system that works. Clearly, a missing Julio and an injured Roddy, as well as an aged Gonzo, have all put a serious clamp on the passing game. However, Koetter can not catch the ball for our receivers. Some big gains were missed last night due to poor play from our receivers and off-target passes from Ryan. That is not on the OC.

In my opinion, the real problem with our offense is along the OL. This has been stated all too often this season (finally). Our RB's do not have running lanes and our QB simply does not have the protection he needs to disect defenses and deliver the ball down field. Again, this is not a scheme problem, nor is it a problem with the QB, our OL stinks......plain and simple. Nothing good will come of this offense until our OL improves to mediocre status.

For that reason, I think that we need to look closely at our OL coach, Pat Hill. We had an OL coach by the name of Cable (the cable man). His OL's did a mediocre job of pass protection, but his lines were excellent run blockers. Every OL knew what to do and how to do it. Cable was released and Hill was brought here to improve the pass protection. As of now, our pass protection appears to have worsened and our run blocking is probably the worst in the NFL. So, should Pat Hill be retained? I say: NO.

The defense has been relegated to second thought status. The bulk of the cap money seems to be on the O's side, so naturally, we lack talent on defense. Mike Nolan's hire seemed a bit odd to me. He has experience with 4-3 and 3-4 alignments, but his greatest successes has been with 3-4 fronts. Smitty has been a 4-3 guy most of his career. So, the hiring of Nolan was either a forced union, or a genuine sign that Smitty wants to transition to a 3-4. My guess is that it is the former. If a transition to the 3-4 was the original plan, NT would have been the priority acquisition. So, where does this leave us? I don't know. Will we move to a defense that uses the 3-4 as its base alignment? It makes sense, given all the mobile QB's we will continue to face. 3-4 allignments allow for more mobile LB's to shut down running threats from the likes of Newton, Kaepernick, and Russell. I believe that Nolan is a very talented DC, but if he does not see eye to eye with Smitty, then a better fit is in order.

Regardless of the defensive front, one thing has been obvious for years, we do not rush the passer well. At some point, we have to look at who is coaching the DL and ask: is this guy doing his job? Hamilton has been with the team for a while. Has Hamilton coached the best from our players? Babs and Abe were who they are, before they ever met Hamilton. Who has shown improvement under Hamilton? No one. We will be in a position to draft a top rated pass rusher in this draft. To tell you the truth, I don't trust Hamilton to develop that talent. I think that it is time to hire a new DL coach. I doubt we can do worse. BTW, does anyone remember a former Falcons DL coach by the name of Kollar? That guy could coach the DL. Every game and every play, our DL was playing behind the LOS. Where is Kollar these days?

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