There are many question marks and to get right to it, none of us know for sure if it will be the good the bad or the ugly.
Our defense can swing a lot of ways, they can stay healthy and draft well and be good, they can continue on the path of injury, draft poorly and be terrible, or they can land in the middle and be average. But let’s at least try to take a Larry look (I kid brother, you said lets have fun disagreeing after all! J), I mean, realistic look at things.
Let’s start with safety; we go into the year pretty much where we left off. Logic dictates Wilcox and Heath will be the same and probably a little better with development and health. But that’s probably not enough. Matt Johnson simply cannot be counted on until he proves otherwise.
So we go into the year needing a guy who can start while the rest develop/prove themselves. I believe the talent is here but I’m not sure it will be developed by next year. I’d like to see a vet brought in just in case. That did not work out so well last year so I give our safety corps a neutral grade. Even if we draft one, that guy would need to develop too. No better than last year.
CB; Carr and Scandy are good enough, very good when the front 7 and Safety’s show up to play. Mo and Webb remain question marks and Moore just makes plays when given a chance. I believe this unit has a very good chance to take a step forward next year. I think Carr and Scandy play well and Mo, Moore and Webb improve. Probably be a rookie brought in to compete too. Better than last year, imo.
LB; Another question mark here. Does Lee not only play more than 10 games, is he there when we make the playoffs? Does Carter grow a pair? These are the two big questions because Durant, Wilber and Holloman make for a nice combo on the strong side and can be depth if Carter and Lee stay reasonably healthy.
I believe this unit will be improved, Simms is gone and we already are in better shape than last year. There are some other guys like Lemon who have a chance and we will most likely spend a top 4 pick here plus kick the tires on some guys on the street. Better than last year.
DT; Does Melton recover? He’s on track and players come back 100% from this injury all the time now. I expect he starts slow but returns to form during the year. We also have better depth at DT than what we were left with last year. I think the DT spot is as good as last year, 3 a little worse but deeper, 1 a little better and deeper, better overall even before the draft.
DE: Selvie/Crawford is better than what we fielded last year on the strong side, imo. That side is already improved. I seriously doubt we get an 18 sack a year guy to replace Ware, at least he won’t come close next year. But Ware was no longer an 18 sack a year guy and we had no depth behind him. I think we can replace his production with a draft pcik and another pick to back him up, plus the other depth easily in 2014.
His leadership is another story, I saw the man in camp and what he did for the team, beyond his play. That will be missed more than what he did on the field, even in the early part of the year, imo.
None the less, I expect the dline to be a better unit, not better individuals. We likely add a top DE or DT in the draft, or both. Plus some contributors later in the draft. We likely add one more FA who gets cut elsewhere, for whatever reason, who steps up here like Selvie did. I say better overall.
If the dline is better overall, that helps the rest of the squad. So I firmly believe the D will be improved over last year. Not just a little, but a little bit more than a little. Something more than a scosche however less than a good bit. A little bit good but not quite less than excellent. Hopefully it will be just right. That little bit would have meant playoffs last year.
Oh and one last thought…