Taking off my purple-colored glasses for just a moment...
First off, let me say that I tend to be an optimistic fan. I usually try to see the bright side of things and I think we'll field a team with great talent and chemistry this season. However, there are a few things that our very disconcerting about this team.
First, the positive:
I think Steve McNair is going to be a great quarterback for us. He brings intangibles to the table that are rare in this league; he's a field general with ice water running through his veins. Any physical shortcomings that he may or may not currently possess are fairly irrelevant. He's accurate enough and has enough arm strength. Boller WILL prove to be a very viable option at back-up and should lead us to at least a .500 record if/when he plays this season.
To run through the other encouraging things about our team, I'd say that our skill positions on offense are locked down. Mason, Clayton, Heap, Jamal, MA, and Musa CAN provide much needed offensive production given the opportunity. Demetrius Williams and Devard Darling are exciting, and Justin Green should prove to be a good and versatile fullback.
The defense can be great this season with a much improved D-line, a solid linebacking core with a plethora of tweener guys, and one of the best STARTING secondaries in professional football. Depth at LB is good and the depth on the D-line is fantastic. I have more faith in the secondary's depth than I did last year. Corey Ivy, Ronnie Prude, David Pittman, and Gerome Sapp should do the trick just fine.
Now, the bad:
The offensive line, the offensive line, and the offensive line. Chris Forrester has the track record of being one of the worst offensive line coaches in the NFL. In Miami his O-line was second-to-last in sacks allowed and dead-last in rush yards per game (thanks 24x7). Our running game last season was practically non-existent and we still couldn't pass protect worth a damn. We can HOPE that his system is better understood between the players this year, but I'm doubtful.
Next, as so many of us have expressed, the starters on the line are very questionable to say the least. Ogden is the least of our worries but he's aging; he's still a top 10 tackle, but not for long. Mulitalo doesn't get a free pass from me because he played so poorly last year. Hopefully his weight-loss and improved physique will allow him to return to old form, but I'm skeptical. Both of these guys will need to be replaced in the near future.
Mike Flynn could quite possibly be the WORST starting center in the NFL. Physical incompetence is his problem. He is unable to compete with the good-to-great defensive lineman in this league. But for some obscure reason, Brian Billick continues to be blindly loyal to him.
Keydrick Vincent is also a below-average guard. He's been given another chance to start this season, probably because there was no action taken in the offseason to improve the weakest link of this team. I don't buy that Chris Chester or Jason Brown could not take his job. In fact, I think Brian Rimpf is better suited than Keydrick Vincent to start at RG.
Tony Pashos will get his chance with me and I'm hoping for the best. He's young and I think he or Adam Terry should start at RT, though I wouldn't have been opposed to nabbing a ready-to-go RT in the draft, or Mike Williams from the Bills.
Once we realized the offensive line would NOT be overhauled this offseason (which it should have been), we look for reasons why. I came to the conclusion that our coaches would be confident in our young guys to start: Jason Brown, Chris Chester, and Adam Terry. After all, we drafted two of them in the second round and one of them was a 1st team All-American with incredible strength numbers and top-notch credentials. I figured there was no way they would keep the same players on the field as last year. Welp, I was wrong.
The fact of the matter is that Ozzie has not been drafting enough lineman, and too many "projects" at that. There have been no significant FA signings for the line and I'm afraid the RIGHT lineman aren't being drafted. We have been employing one of the worst OL coaches in the NFL and we have inexplicably taken no initiative to adjust one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. It seems that there has been absolutely NO effort in fixing this brewing problem.
I TRUELY hope I'm wrong about this. I think this current line (unless Terry, Brown, and/or Chester start), will be responsible for a lack of offensive production this season. And if Terry, Brown, and Chester actually aren't good enough to start, I'd venture to say that we truely aren't drafting that right guys for our OL. Furthermore, I'd like to know what it will take for this organization to take notice.
I'm open to opposing viewpoints on this issue. I hope someone can prove me wrong and show me the light because this current starting lineup looks like shit right now.
Re: Taking off my purple-colored glasses for just a moment...
While I agree with what you are saying and, frankly, feel the same way about the OL issue. I do not discount that part of our running problems last season were directly the result of Jamal Lewis being in a snit all year. He admitted to "holding back" and his whining, and complaining didn't help anything. Hopefully, since he was placated with more money he will move his freaking ass this season!