An Afternoon Beer with Andrew Hofheimer

Source: boston.com

Not feeling in the same fiery mood I was yesterday – I guess talking about Mel Kiper just really gets the defensive juices of a Jaguars fan flowing. That’s the fun with writing this new article, pick the questions that seem like further discussion is needed and just let it flow. We get to the discussion after the jump…

From today’s Ozone:

Andrew from Toledo, OH:

Don’t you think it’s better for the Jaguars to draft before free agency? If they ignore safety again they will have to sign a big-money free agent.

John: At this point, it’s almost certain the draft will be before free agency. The way it looks now, signing a veteran safety is a pretty likely scenario, particularly with the safety class perhaps not being particularly strong. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a break-the-bank free agent. You can get a guy to fit in back there if you have solid players elsewhere in the back seven.

Of course it’s better that way, that’s why free agency comes before the draft – patch with known commodities and then draft for your future. When you sign an old, cheap Torry Holt you know you’re getting a guy who knows how to train, practice, and play like an NFL receiver, will be a dependable target, but whose skills are withering. When you get an Aaron Kampman fresh off of an ACL injury, you know you’re getting a consummate professional and a proven pass rusher, who can greatly affect your defense if he can get healthy again. Look at Zoltan’s article from earlier today – despite what we think we know about all of the prospective draftees because we’ve read it from 100 different analysts now, any one of these guys could turn out to be a hall of famer or a total bust. There’s a valid argument for the upside and downside of each and all that player personnel can do is project how his skills in an amateur setting (college) will translate to the professional setting. This takes into account not only his skill and physical ability, but his focus and aptitude for learning more about his craft, persevering through a long and hard season, and staying away from off-field distractions. For a disciplined BAP team like the Jaguars, this could be a good thing – hopefully more needs-driven teams feel anxious to fill their holes with the draft, effectively weakening their team by not taking the best available player and leaving a stronger player pool out there for teams like the Jaguars, who will take advantage of this.

And now from Green Bay Senior Citizen Correspondent, Vic Ketchman:

Gary from Hayward, WI

I haven’t noticed any nicknamed defenses lately, such as Fearsome Foursome, Purple People Eaters, Steel Curtain, Sack Exchange or Killer Bs. Are defenses not as dominant lately? Is this a symptom of the offensive dominance you mentioned? Or are cute names just out of vogue?

Vic: You’re right, you don’t see much of that anymore. The last one I covered was Coach Capers’ Blitzburgh. I’ll tell you what I think it means. I think it means that defenses are too fearful of what can happen to them on any given Sunday, because the personality of the game favors offense so greatly. I think defenses are afraid to paint a target on themselves by calling attention to themselves with a nickname and then being embarrassed by having 40 hung on them, which can happen to any defense on any given Sunday in today’s game. By the way, what nickname would you give the Packers defense?

Man oh man does this feel more true every year. Even in very recent years, certain defenses stand out as being consistently stifling or dangerous, but I can’t think of a single team that seemed that way last year. I mean, the Chargers had the #1 defense in the league last year and there is not a single thing that looked special about them. The new Ravens’ D gives up a lot more yards and a lot more points than they did just a few years ago and other than their fading reputation, frankly there isn’t much to fear. Maybe it’s because they’re older or maybe it was all Rex Ryan’s playcalling, but that brings us back to Sexy Rexy, whose Jets’ D is certainly impressive, but to Vic’s point, it’s certainly not dominating enough to be branded with its own name. They can pencil-whip you here and there, as they did with the Patriots, but to cite a few examples from their season – Chad Henne passed for 363 yards on them in Week 3 (166 of which went to Brandon Marshall), New England hung 45 points on them in Week 13 (to the Jets’ 3 pts), and the Bears put up 38 in Week 16. There are certainly some impressive and  dominating players on the defensive side, but as an entire unit, the rules just do not allow them to dictate games like they did in years past.

A penny for your thoughts, readers? Should the Jaguars draft a safety without knowing who they will or won’t get in free agency? Do you ever see a defense being worthy of a fear-inducing nickname? What would the Jaguars need to reach that level and what would they call it? The “Teal Curtain Revival Tour”?

- Andrew Hofheimer

Topics: Aaron Kampman, John Oehser, Rex Ryan, Torry Holt, Vic Ketchman

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  • Stephen D

    No to the safety, unless in 3rd round or later. No dominance in this class, so no need to reach. Aren’t there rumors of us courting Weddle?

    And for named Defenses, while I do agree with Vic’s take on it with the league being so Offense minded, I think information overload and fantasy has played a role. Rather than fans just knowing a certain defense is good, they know the actual players, and can pick out minor details within the game itself, not just blanket statements about the defense as a whole. I could name at least 1 defensive player on each team, some a lot more than others. By knowing the individual players, the nicknames almost are not needed.

    • thehof

      That’s a really interesting take on it – there is a lot more exposure to individual players and their statistics. Remember, “sacks” were not even defined or kept track of until the 80′s. Everyone knows the sack specialists of the league and it’s interesting that it has almost flip-flopped – before, a dominating defensive line would get the credit and the nickname (“Sack Exchange”, “Fearsome Foursome”) and the more avid fans were the ones who could identify individual skill. Now, we laud the individual and the skilled fan is the one that understands how well the unit works as a whole. Ray Edwards of Minnesota is a good example – most fans might see his 10 sacks/year and think he’s extremely good. The smart fan sees that he plays next to Jared Allen and the Williams Wall (there’s one!) and gets a lot of quarterbacks flushed into his arms.

    • zoltanfrombudapest

      I also would like to see more a free agent safety (even in not to cheap price) coming to the Jaguars then a draft prospects. When you hear that safety is one of the weakest positions in this draft class, you start to really worry.

      So yeah I would like to see the Jags going after Eric Weedle and give him an Aaron Kampman style contract.