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blackhawk
03-03-2005, 06:09 AM
RAND: A cornerback quandary
Mar 03, 2005, 5:23:39 AM by Jonathan Rand


Some around the NFL will tell you that the Chiefs would be wasting their time spending a lot of money to acquire a marquee cornerback. This is an interesting argument, though it’s also unconvincing.

Cornerbacks were the primary losers in last season’s decision to have officials strictly enforce the illegal contact rule. No longer could a cornerback use his hands on a receiver more than five yards past the line of scrimmage. Illegal contact penalties increased dramatically and playing cornerback became even more difficult than usual.

Some even claim that the enforcement of illegal contact negates the abilities of the NFL’s top cornerbacks. According to ESPN.com, “The Colts won’t spend big money on their secondary because they believe the shutdown cornerback is extinct.”

Those who agree could cite the Patriots’ success despite an injury-riddled secondary. Randall Gay and Asante Samuel, both young backups, started at cornerback in the Super Bowl victory over the Eagles.

The Chiefs are pursuing top-notch cornerbacks, anyway, during the free agency period, which started Wednesday. As well they should.

If illegal contact calls truly bring all cornerbacks together, then why did Eric Warfield perform so much better at left cornerback than Dexter McCleon, William Bartee or Julian Battle on the right side? Why did opponents prefer throwing away from Warfield? They obviously didn’t believe that all Chiefs cornerbacks were equally vulnerable.

As for the Patriots’ success despite a patchwork secondary, their four linebackers formed the heart of their defense. If you can get enough pressure and coverage out of your front seven, you can get by with inexperienced cornerbacks.

The current cornerback quandary is nothing new. It’s just one more battle in the war against defense that the NFL has been waging since the late 1970s. Offense sells tickets and TV contracts, which is why major rules changes often try to diminish defense.

Starting in the late 1970s, the league changed blocking and illegal contact rules to open up the passing game. More recent rules have tried to protect the quarterback. Consequently, we’ve seen unprecedented passing production. We’ve also seen some pass-happy teams with horrible defenses make the playoffs.

But have NFL teams decided it’s a waste of time building strong defenses? Not as long as defense still wins championships. It would be just as foolish for teams to believe they can grab guys off the street and put them at cornerback.

You would think that at some point, NFL defenses would be legislated into submission. But defensive coordinators are a crafty bunch. Many, in fact, are regular Houdinis. You can handcuff them, chain them, put them in a box and throw them in the ocean and 30 minutes later they’ll be back on the dock.

These defensive coordinators keep coming up with zone blitzes, creative play calling, specialized substitutions and other wrinkles that keep the offenses honest. Then the league goes looking for stronger handcuffs or a deeper ocean.

And what would happen to the Chiefs, or any other team, if all of a sudden the officials are told to become more lenient toward illegal contact? This could prove disastrous to a club that assumed it could get by with one or two marginal cornerbacks.

Don’t expect the Chiefs to make that mistake.

cookster50
03-03-2005, 06:13 AM
Actually a pretty good article.

King_Chief_Fan
03-03-2005, 06:19 AM
If illegal contact calls truly bring all cornerbacks together, then why did Eric Warfield perform so much better at left cornerback than Dexter McCleon, William Bartee or Julian Battle on the right side? Why did opponents prefer throwing away from Warfield? They obviously didn’t believe that all Chiefs cornerbacks were equally vulnerable.

Why would you ever throw to Warfields side when you can toast Bartee all day long? SAme as McCleon and Battle which are no good. This is more about how really bad Bartee, McCleon and Battler are, vs Warfield being any good.

Gaz
03-03-2005, 07:17 AM
“And what would happen to the Chiefs, or any other team, if all of a sudden the officials are told to become more lenient toward illegal contact? This could prove disastrous to a club that assumed it could get by with one or two marginal cornerbacks.”

And what would happen to a team that spent a fortune on a CB, only to find that he was useless under the current rules?

Oh yeah, the Broncos and Champ Bailey.

Heh.

The rules are here. Better to devise a scheme to get the best effect under them than worry about what might happen if the NFL maybe changed their mind about wanting points, points and more points.

The “Shutdown Cornerback” is dead. Get over it. Improve your front seven and attack the Enemy backfield.

xoxo~
Gaz
Living in the real world where the NFL wants completetions.

CosmicPal
03-03-2005, 07:25 AM
As for the Patriots’ success despite a patchwork secondary, their four linebackers formed the heart of their defense. If you can get enough pressure and coverage out of your front seven, you can get by with inexperienced cornerbacks.



It has always been known All-Pro DB's are the product of a strong front seven. If you have a big defensive line, a rushing LB, and a run-stuffing LB, and a LB to drop back into coverage- then you've just made the job easier for your two corners.

JakeT
03-03-2005, 08:08 AM
You still need good corners. The last time the pats beat the colts in Indy. The colts hung 34 pts on that awesome front seven. They ran timing plays with the 3 step drop and blew up the Pats nickel back.

Fact is you can have all the pass rushing you want and your not going do squat if your corners suck. You need corners that have coverage skills. D is like anything else, a balancing act. Better CB play results in more pressure up front because the QBs quick reads are taken away. Granted the front 7 is critical, but putting two capable cbs on the field is as well.

Gaz
03-03-2005, 08:11 AM
“Capable.” I am fine with “capable.”

Second-tier talent at CB, first-tier talent at LB. That is the formula for the current set of rules.

xoxo~
Gaz
Sees a HUGE difference between Bartee, “capable” and a megabuck “supahstah.”

JakeT
03-03-2005, 08:27 AM
Gaz -- your GM give me your reasonable plan to fix this D.

Here's mine -
#1 Sign Hartwell
#2)Sign one big name FA corner. Rolle, Lucas or Baxter (no law and no trade for surtain)
#3)1st rd assuming Johnson is gone take the best available CB. With Drunkfield out for four games we need a replacement.

See if we can steal a DE or LB cheap late in FA and then draft DE and LB and pray for the best.

Hope gun can coach some of our younger LBs into something.

Chiefnj
03-03-2005, 08:35 AM
Dallas certainly didn't make things any easier for KC by giving 10+ million in bonus money to a second-tier talent CB yesterday.

keg in kc
03-03-2005, 08:36 AM
Dallas certainly didn't make things any easier for KC by giving 10+ million in bonus money to a second-tier talent CB yesterday.No doubt.

Gaz
03-03-2005, 08:49 AM
JakeT-

I agree with #1. Hartwell will cost a whole lotta love, but MLB is the weakest position on our team. It is even more critical given the NFL’s clear intent to neuter all Cornerbacks. Pay out the big money. I would not even consider Trotter because of his knees.

I sort of agree with #2. We need a veteran CB to replace McCleon and Bartee. However, while I am willing to spend megabucks on Hartwell, I do not want to spend megabucks on a CB. I would try to find a capable veteran CB later in FA, rather than throw money at these guys. My draft CB can fight it out with the FA veteran for the starting job.

I agree on #3. Johnson will be gone. Take the best CB available in the 1st and the best OLB available in the 2nd. If by some miracle, Johnson fell to within our grasp, I would move heaven and earth to get him.

I would also keep an eye out for a less-expensive OLB. I would look for an upgrade over Hicks, but since he has the DE position locked up, I accept it and do not include DE in my off-season wish list.

We are not that far apart. We differ in that I would not spend the kind of money that Rolle and Company are going to demand. It makes no sense under the current rules.

xoxo~
Gaz
Fully expects the Chiefs to overpay for a CB and regret it later.

JakeT
03-03-2005, 09:31 AM
Gaz -- nice

I don't think we're asking for a miracle - two big FAs. Hopefully we'll get it. Hoping Hartwell is ours by EOD.

Chiefnj
03-03-2005, 09:35 AM
On the topic of cornerbacks, have there been any reports of Smoot, Baxter or Lucas coming to KC??

Mark M
03-03-2005, 10:12 AM
KC needs an upgarde at CB to be sure, but the heart of any defense is it's linebackers.

Which is easier: naming the starting corners for the late '60s Chiefs teams, the '85 Bears, or the 2000 Ravens, or naming their starting MLB?

That is why I think the Chiefs need a MLB first, and then get the CB.

I still think you need at least one premiere player at the CB position -- while the new emphasis on illegal contact makes it more difficult, teams still need an athletic, instinctive player ... not second rate scrubs who have as many INTs as I do.

MM
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