I am going to start by saying that not everyone will agree with what I see happening this year! Only a few of you naysayers’ will leave your opinions, I welcome them. Then also there are the “Creepers” that won’t have the guts to say what they feel, that is fine too.
For this year as in the past I have huge expectations for our team, more on the defensive side of the ball later. Things that I have seen happen in the past tell me what to expect. Wll the loss of VJax hurt the team? Will the additions of other players help? We will not really know till the season is over but, here are a few of the things I see happening this year for Phillip and Co.
First is the addition of LeRon McClain. Having a real FB again will be HUGE. When we lost Lo Neal it made a big impact on the running game. LT not having the big, bruising lead blocker really took a chunk out of his production and I also believe it lead to injuries. #33 will (hopefully) be Mathews lead blocker this season, taking a majority of the hits from linebackers, allowing him to hit the secondary and bust open some really huge runs. I am expecting Mathews to have 1500 yards this season and (hopefully) stay healthy all season. I also expect McClain to have a lot of FB dives and be a big asset in the short yardage game planning.
Next is our O Line. Will the youngsters improve from last year? Will Clary still be a yellow flag magnet? I believe the youngsters will be greatly improved, Green and Vasquez greatly improved towards the end of last season and with the addition of “Big Lazy” our line provided the holes Mathews needed and the protection for Phillip that was lacking. Now for Clary, I have never liked him very much. I’ve never been impressed by a “Flag Magnet”. Stats say he allowed the 5th fewest sack of any O Lineman in the league last season, ok that’s serviceable but, flags are drive killers and can’t happen. I hope that changes for him this season, we need him to improve on that aspect of his game.
Now on to our receiving corps. VJax is gone, good riddance! I for one wasn’t all that impressed with him last season. He played for the love of green backs and not the game and it showed, the one game that really sticks out in my mind is Nov. 10 Vs. Oakland, he gave up on quite a few catchable balls and the one that was intercepted in the end zone was just pure BS! Lights my @$$. The addition of Royal and Meacham is huge to me. Imagine a 4 receiver set, Meacham and Floyd on the out side, Gates and Royal on the inside running picks. Throw in McMichael and Green to spell Gates. Who gets covered? You can’t cover all 4 and then throw in some misdirection type plays in the mix. I expect huge things from our receivers this season. I almost forgot Vincent Brown, oops! I see this kid as being a gamer, he has the playmaking abilities of VJax without the primmodonna attitude, he made the big plays against Oakland Nov. 10 when VJax wouldn’t.
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This all being said, I would expect to see an offense closer to when Marty was HC than in more recent years, a little more run heavy with the big play ability. You run to control the clock and keep your D off the field and fresh. You have the big plays to score when you need to score quickly. I think we will be in the top 5 in total offense, top 8 passing and top 4 rushing. Those are my thoughts, what are yours?