Yesterday's post was filled with so much Kool-aid that many woke up with a hangover this morning. In fairness to the "negative Nancys", I want to look at the other end of the spectrum for our team in 2012. In my post yesterday, I focused on the area I believed made the biggest jump in talent; offensive skill. Today, I'll attempt to list the defeciencies of this team, and why those areas will hold this team back from being competitive in 2012.We can all agree that the offensive skill positions have improved dramatically, and most likely will see even more improvement come draft day with another wide receiver and running back possible. But let's take a look at some areas of concern for this team both now, and in the future.
The linebacker spot is an area I view as a concern this season and beyond. It was imperative that we re-signed London Fletcher, but just how much longer can we expect the machine to produce? Perry Riley was a pleasant surprise last season, but he is still a work in progress at inside linebacker. My major concern is, what happens if someone gets injured? We currently have Alexander set to back up both spots, and as much as I love LoAx, he is a liability in coverage. I suppose we will address linebacker in the draft, and whether or not that player is ready, he will most certainly be forced into early action. My absolute worst fear is that one of our linebackers gets injured in preseason. If this happens, will it be too much for us to overcome? Well, I guess we could always ask Grossman to step in. Maybe he can erase some of those interceptions he's thrown in his mind, by picking off another unfortunate quarterback from his middle linebacker spot. If I do recall, he did say he'd do whatever he could to help the team.
The offensive line is still a concern for this team. I remain more optimistic than most when it comes to this unit, but it still scares the hell out of me. In an ideal world, Brown would enter the season 100 percent healthy, Williams will finally play to his ability and stay off the pot, Licht will return to the form he started the 2011 season with, and Monty and Chester will build on the solid finishes they had. Unfortunately, we all know the NFL is far from a "ideal world". My nightmare is, Brown coming back and getting worse, Licht losing strength and mobility from his injury, Monty continuing to spend more time in our backfield than Helu, and Chester and Williams not getting any better. Both scenerios could happen, but I have to believe there will be at least a mix of the two.
My hope along the front five is that we can use one of our draft picks(hopefully a third)on a right tackle(Zebrie Sanders or Nate Potter would be ideal), and one of our later picks on a center. I would also hope that Willie Smith will have taken huge strides this offseason to improve his strength and quickness, and be ready when called upon to provide the much needed depth this unit is lacking. Right now I grade our line as a C, but it could just as easily move to a D, as it could a B.
My final area of concern is in the secondary. For me, this is not an immediate concern, but it is one that could easily turn into being so in the future. The lack of future draft picks is what scares me in this area, as I would like to see the team add both a corner and safety for the future. Our second and third next year can easily be used for these needs, but we can not forget about other team needs as well. This is an extremely deep cornerback draft, and not having that second round pick this year will really hurt us. We could still opt to use a third on a corner, but unless a quality guy like Trumaine Johnson slips through the cracks, the value may not be there. Are Hall and Wilson good enough to contain guys like Dez Bryant, Jeremy Macklin and Hakeem Nicks......., and what happens when one of these two go down with injury? Can Barnes, Thompson and Griffin pick up the slack? In my mind, NO.
Safety is a position I'll gladly wait another year for, as this is a weak safety class. I'm glad we filled out the roster with some younger vets, and I really feel like this potential weak spot just two months ago, has grown into a solid position on this team. We have young starters in Meriweather and Jackson, and good depth in Williams, Gomes, Doughty and Griffin. We are lacking a true "blue chipper", but we thought we had that in Landry, and look how that worked out. Maybe a more workman like approach in the secondary will do this team some good.
Overall, the potential of this team on paper looks promising, but we all know the game is not played on paper. I'm not sure this team is strong enough yet to overcome the potential deficiencies that are staring us in the face. Realistically, it may take us two more years to dig ourselves out of the hole we have been in for two decades. It will sure help to have a strong showing in 2012, if for nothing more than to show the fanbase that we are finally moving in the right direction, but to think this team can be a contender in a division full of good quarterback play, great skill players, and sound defenses who love to get after the quarterback, could be that last sweet taste of kool-aid that still hangs from our dry lips.
Beware folks, and don't be fooled by the glitz and glamore. This team still has a great ways to go before we can sing "Hail to the Redskins" once again, like we so proudly did in the days of old. Remember, even the most beautiful diamonds in the world once started out as pieces of coal.