Todd Archer continues his series of looks at different Dallas Cowboys positions, this time zeroing in on the linebackers. Luckily, the Cowboys have a ton of talent at the linebacker position, they just need to figure out how and where everybody fits into the Phillips 34. Here’s Archer on Bradie James:
He admitted, however, that he did not have a top season. He struggled late in the season in pass coverage, but this year he has dropped 15 to 20 pounds, which he believes will help him defend better. Looking back at '06, he probably played too many plays and with Carpenter behind him, James could be a two-down linebacker this season.
That’s one adjustment I’d definitely like to see. James struggled badly in coverage, and Carpenter – or even Roy Williams – working in the nickel would be an upgrade.
But this is a strange paragraph from Archer about Bobby Carpenter.
Kind of a tweener at the linebacker spot because he's as tall as you'd like to play outside, but he has pass-rush skills. He is a more natural fit on the inside and needs to continue improving his ability to shed blockers.
I don’t get it. He has the height to play outside, but he has pass-rush skills? Wouldn’t having pass-rush skills be a good thing for an outside linebacker in this scheme? Maybe Archer meant he has the height and he has the pass rush skills.
Update [2007-7-12 17:58:18 by Grizz]: Todd Archer emailed me and noted that he meant to write that Carpenter is not as tall as you'd like at OLB, but has pass-rush skills. He did an edit to the article to clear up the confusion. That Todd Archer is a stand up guy. [END UPDATE]
And why does he fit more naturally inside? I’m not saying he doesn’t, but a statement like that would seem to need clarification. Regardless, Carpenter’s ability to shed blockers was one of my biggest complaints about his play last year. If he’s built up the strength and technique to do that, he could have a much better year.
And who does Archer have as the unknown who could make a move onto the roster?
The final two linebacker spots will come down to special teams ability, but keep an eye on [Alex] Obomese. The undrafted rookie has the ability to rush the passer, which could push the more veteran [Junior] Glymph.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Jason Witten is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He has averaged 73 receptions at 11.5 yards per catch over the past three seasons. Witten is not an explosive receiver off the line of scrimmage, but he has excellent foot agility, quickness and balance to find voids in short and intermediate zones. Witten is an effective blocker, locking on defenders and gaining leverage with agility and hand use. Second-year player Anthony Fasano provides effective depth to the position but needs to become more involved in the Cowboys' offensive scheme to be a factor. Look for new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to use more multiple-tight-end formations in 2007.
Jason Witten is the man, but the lack of proven quality depth behind him is still a problem. Anthony Fasano needs to step up.