News of the weird:
Stillers experiment with the 4-3:� Reportedly, D-Head Tim Lewis is tinkering with a 4-3 alignment featuring Smith, Clancy, Hampton and KVO across the front with Gildon, Holmes and Porter behind.� I am highly in favor of the 4-3 if, but only if, the Front 4 can pressure the passer.� When that happens, the LB are freed to either rush, run blitz or drop into coverage; Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Baltimore have had enormous success with this model.� In contrast, in the Stillers 3-4, if the OLB drop off to cover then the pass rush effectively disappears.�
In essence, that�s the problem here.� The fact is that this putative Stiller Front 4 has a career total of (10) NFL sacks.� Last season, (2) Buc, (3) Saint and (2) Raven D-linemen had individual totals that met or exceeded this Stiller Fab Four�s career haul.� In fairness, Hampton hasn�t had a chance yet but then again Hampton was projected as a run-stuffer, not a pass rusher.� Clancy has no career sacks, Smith has (4) and KVO has piled up (6) in (7) seasons.�
Compare this to the Saints, as that team entered the 2000 season.� Norman Hand was brought in to anchor the D-line; in that respect, Hampton compares to this player and, truly, neither Big H-man project to pressure any passer.� LeRoi Glover had double digit sacks in �99, pre-Hand; Hand amplified Glover�s effectiveness in 2000 and, presumably, the Stiller brain trust expects Clancy will flourish alongside Hampton in 2001.� Maybe so, but both Hand and Glover were proven commodities; that can�t be said yet for either Clancy or Hampton.�
Saint LDE Joe Johnson is a proven rusher as Smith and KVO are not.� In New Orleans, 2000 rookie Darren Howard moved in at RDE alongside (3) established players.� The Stillers hope for big things from Hampton but in this 4-3, he will play alongside (3) men who have done little in these projected roles.�
The best Front 7 players the Stillers have are all LB; Holmes, Porter and Gildon have better credentials than KVO, Smith and Clancy.� The depth is better at LB, at MLB anyway, than anywhere on the DL.� Fiala and Bell can play; of the current DL reserves, Hampton is the only one who has shown anything at all.� The Stiller�s don�t have much at DE; consider that in this projected 4-3, (3) of the (4) DL are current or converted NT.� NT don�t rush the passer and that suggests that this 4-3 won�t pressure the QB.�� More than that, if this 4-3 is to be a change-up set then the Stillers ought to use it get one of their NT a blow.� NT is physically demanding and it is the keystone position in the 3-4.�� The Stiller brain trust may want to get Clancy and Hampton on the field together but doing so will surely reduce their effectiveness in the base set.
At this point, the Stillers haven�t got the horses on the DL and so their threat to use the 4-3 is something no O-Head should take seriously.� However, I don�t think the B&G is far away; consider this 4-3 scenario:
DE: ���������������� Smith or Combs.
DT:��� ������������� Hampton.
DT:��� ������������� KVO or Clancy.
DE:� ��� ����������� Gildon now, who knows in 2002?�
LOLB: ����������� Bell; no less an expert than Chad Brown has said that playing 4-3 OLB is more like playing coverage MLB, rather than OLB, in the 3-4 set.��
Assuming they get a deal done with Holmes, the Stillers are a rush DE away from having a very solid 4-3 base set.� In the meanwhile, they�ll have to make do with a change-up 4-3 using Gildon in some SF/NE elephant role.� Playing (3) NT just won�t get it done; further, any set that sits Bell down is, off the Atlanta game, imbecilic.
Brent Alexander extended:� You�ve got to like a guy who gets the most from his ability and you�ve got to love a guy who makes the players around him function more effectively.� This describes Alex and, from that point of view, this is a good signing.� On the downside, Alexander is 30 now and, since speed is his handicap, doesn�t figure to get more effective in the years to come.� Alex will probably decline much as the similarly speed-challenged Darren Perry did during his final contract here.� That�s no problem if, but only if, Alex will have a modest cap hit in the last year or so.� I haven�t seen the contract but given that the Stillers were something around $87K below the cap prior to this deal, I�ve got to believe that Alex received a pretty decent bonus so to reduce his 2001 hit.� If so, the Stillers will feel some pain when, or if, Alex has to go.
This move may give the Stillers some flexibility with respect to Flowers, if not now then following the 2002 season when his contract is up.� Neither Lethon nor Alex have great speed; in fact, Mike Logan was brought in to upgrade that commodity at the Safety slot.� Logan has Flowers-like size and CB-like speed; possibly, a future Stiller S tandem would feature Alex at QB of the secondary with Logan sideboard at SS.� Not bad, but not necessarily so; for sure, if some UPMC transplant team could install Alex�s knowledge and instincts into Logan�s frame then the Stillers would have a state-of-the-art safety not seen here since, well, Carnell Lake.� Failing that, Coach Lewis will have to make due with (3) players who bring some assets but, in some situations, have to be covered up.
Troy Edwards throws in the towel (?):� I�ve been highly disturbed by some of the things Edwards has, reportedly, stated.� The essence seems to be that he is just going about his business, not getting upset over things he can�t control, and so on�� Edwards has also said that he�s no #3 WR; that�s true; in fact, he is now #4.� Edwards is reported to be saying that he�s coming to practice, doing his work and moving on.� Maybe that�s a sign of some new maturity; maybe that�s a sign that this man believes he is so deep in the doghouse that Fang will see the field before he will; maybe it�s a sign that the this young millionaire has seen his ceiling as a player and its just too damn low.� I have no idea what goes on with Toy but, IMO, this man has to have more value to the Stillers in trade than as a #4 WR.� I like Toy�s ability and, unless he and Spike come through, I don�t think the Stillers will move up in 2001.� For that reason, I�d make him the slot man, at least, but if that is not in the cards, move him out, say, to the Eagles.�
It seems to me that Toy believes he has no future here; that�s too bad but if he is correct then deal him now and move on.� In the interim, get him on the field with Maddox.� Off the Atlanta game, Tommy is the most effective passer on the team.� Maddox got the ball up high to Plax; Stew and Graham generally send this big WR diving to the turf seeking to snare that all-important 3-yard curl.� Toy projects as a dangerous RAC-man; get him on the field with a QB who might hit him in stride.� Toy needs an injection of confidence and the Stillers need Toy; put him in a position to succeed, whether here or elsewhere.