Good morning Rumblers,
It's good to be back home and with you guys. I've been gone for quite awhile for work and have tons of stuff to discuss so let's get right to it.
We going to have an interesting battle for the starting RDE position during training camp, and I wanted to get you guys opinion on a couple of things:
a) Who do you want to start opposite of Mario?
b) Who's going to start opposite of Mario?
I gave it some thought, and it isn't as clear cut as one might think. You have three guys with unique skill sets and attributes that they bring to the team and they will be competing for the starting RDE position. After the jump I'll get in to the discussion.
Now we all heard from Gailey and Wannstedt that we will be rotating our DE's throughout games, in order to keep them fresh and perhaps injury free. But the truth of the matter is, that on the 1st play of the game, someone has to start. Who would and shall it be?
Shawne Merriman "The "Has Been"- Okay, before you jump down my throat; I'm not calling him a has been, but just pointing out the fact that Merriman "has not been" the player he once was. Arguably, one of the best past rushers in this league at one point has become a shell of himself as of late; with numerous of injuries and off the field issues (steroids and domestic disputes). But in his prime, he had one of the fastest first steps off the line of scrimmage, had great hand placement, solid against the run, and played with an unbelievable passion for the game.
In the last year of his deal, this a make or break year for Merriman to show what he can do and he may be poised for a break out year "IF" he can stay healthy. The talk around town is that he finally looks healthy and is playing with the same burst that made him a pro-bowl player. Even though he can be considered as an all around player as a pass rusher and rush defender; it is important to note that he is playing a position that he's never played before, as he's been a career 3-4 OLB.
Chris Kelsay "Mr. Hard Worker"- What can you say about the guy? He managed to stick around all these years as a DE, and never managed to have a season with more than 5.5 sacks; yet his hard work, leadership, team work, perseverance has made him a Chan Gailey favorite and he was awarded with a FAT contract a couple of seasons ago. Now he gets an opportunity to play DE again as he was playing out of position for the past 2 seasons at OLB. Known as a guy who is good at the point of attack with his long arms and thick frame, but struggles at times with setting the edge and keeping contain, as he's constantly fooled on reverses, mis-directions and counters. Not known as a speed rusher, as he lacks that "quick twitch" and burst, but makes a lot of his plays on pure effort and will. Check out last year's Broncos game if you don't believe, as that game was probably the best game he's had in is career.
Mark Anderson "Dollar Bill"- Mark was fortunate to have one of his best seasons in a contract year, which ultimately got him paid a 4yr 27.5m deal, which 8 million of that is guaranteed. He posted double digit sacks last year with the hated Patriots; the only other time he did this was in his rookie year with Bears when he posted 12. Oddly enough, the only time he's posted double digit sacks was when he was he used a pass rushing specialist. It seems like he's been most effective is when he's brought in to only rush the passer. Mark says the reason why his sack totals dipped after his rookie season was because he started maturing as a player and relied less on talent but more on technique, fundamentals, and film study. I'm not sure how you regress as player, if you're maturing as a player, but I'll let you guys figure that out.
However, though he's been mainly effective as a pass rushing specialist; CHIX see's him as a 3-down player that is underrated as a run defender. I doubt that they paid him this much money if they only saw him as a specialist. With his price tag, age, and all around game he would definitely have the opportunity to start at RDE this season.
So what do you guys think?