Monday, July 09, 2007

re: ESPN's Hashmarks Offseason Power Rankings

Well, I had a dream last night wherein I was reading some misguided analysis of the Bears defense, centering largely on the possible absence of Lance Briggs, which is an interesting variation on the Bears dreams I've had during past summers. But apparently I'm caring about this again. And then while fiddling around on the internet I stumbled across ESPN's little pre-preseason power rankings thing by Matt Mosley. So I'm just going to correct a few things he seems to think.

Not surprisingly the entire entry on the Bears, whom he ranks 6th, 3rd best in the NFC, is concerned only with Briggs and Tank Johnson. No mention of picking up Archuleta, which will allow the Bears to either have the best Safety tandem in the league (Archuleta/Brown), or at the very least, not to have a significant fall-off in that area should either suffer an injury. Smith's whole scheme is built pretty heavily around the safety, so an upgrade like this easily balances out the potential loss of Briggs. Briggs is an amazing player who plays a position that on this defense is largely about being in the right spot. Having Briggs in that spot is actually more gaudy than essential. Which is kind of why I can understand why, from his position, he might want to go play on a different team, where he could make full use of his potential. But, whatever. A potential holdout by Briggs would at worst be a mild distraction for a game or two, until it becomes obvious that he wasn't necessary for the proper running of the defense.

As far as Tank goes. The Bears were totally stacked at the line with Tank, and they're still pretty much stacked at the line without him. None of their tackles are as good as Tank was. Except, of course, for Tommie Harris. Who is the best in the league. So it's not like they're really hurting. No one knows how good Dvoracek will be, but it seems about an even bet that he'll end up being at least as good as Tank going by Angelos track record in drafting defensive linemen. Just like with Briggs, losing Tank merely downgrades the Bears defense at one position from gaudy to easily in the top four or five in the league, and with the type of upgrade they got at safety, I'd say that overall the changes in the defense amount to--at worst--a wash.

They were pretty clearly the best team in the NFC for the majority of the season, and proved it when it mattered. How exactly the Tank and Briggs thing is supposed to be big enough of a deal that they could be moved down below New Orleans and Philadelphia is not exactly clear to me. New Orleans will likely be as good as they were last season; maybe even better. They'll not have the huge emotional boost they had at the beginning of the season, but they'll be able to build on what was obviously a really good team after that wore off. So I couldn't say for sure that the Bears deserve a higher spot than New Orleans, although I'm pretty sure they do. But Philadelphia is three or four years removed from their peak, and have had two seasons in a row killed by a serious injury to McNabb. If McNabb stays healthy for the whole season, they'll be in the competition with New Orleans and Chicago for the top spot, but I think they have to prove it.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Is this the same ESPN that thinks the addition of Norv Turner is the thing that will propel San Diego past the Colts and Patriots and into the Super Bowl?

If ESPN's preseason analysts were ever right, then Daunte Culpepper would have catapulted the Dolphins to Dynasty status, having won two straight Super Bowls over the Arizona Cardinals.