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Tag:Kevin Williams
Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:57 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Draft needs

A. Luck should be a No. 1 selection in next year's draft. Who will select him, though (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

As we enter the final weekend of the season, a number of squads are just playing out the string, hoping to put a solid performance on film, ready to clean out their lockers and look ahead to next year. While only four games on this week’s schedule mean absolutely nothing in terms of the postseason, quite a few of those teams are just looking to play spoiler.

And looking to the 2012 draft, where they can begin to rebuild their team or shore up that one position that could put them over the hump for next season. That’s why we’re taking the 10-worst teams in the league this year and finding one major flaw that needs to be fixed from April 26-28 in New York City’s Radio Music Hall.

For these teams -- and their fans -- the time has come to salivate at the prospects of landing the exact right guy that could change their fortunes for years to come.

10. Bills: Defensive line -- I didn’t like the Ryan Fitzpatrick $59 million extension earlier this year, and I hate it now. But I think Buffalo has other concerns for the moment, and they come on defense. For one, Buffalo has a tough time stopping the run. First-round pick Marcell Dareus has been a bit inconsistent at the nose tackle, but he also has the ability to play like a monster. The 3-4  ends, though, need to be better. Injured tackle Kyle Williams obviously will help when he returns next season, but the ability to rush the passer once in a while also would help (Buffalo’s 25 sacks ranks 30th in the league).

9. Dolphins: Quarterback -- Look, the Dolphins have some talent. They proved that when Tony Sparano’s job was on the line, and they started winning games. They proved it by nearly beating Tom Brady, and they proved it by nearly beating Tim Tebow (that last point was a joke). While Matt Moore has been much better than expected after taking over for Chad Henne, he’s a Band-Aid. I think most of us would agree that Henne isn’t the answer as the starter, and perhaps, he and Moore could have a battle to see who could back-up a legit starting quarterback. Reggie Bush established himself as a 1,000-yard rusher, and with a talented quarterback like Robert Griffin III (if he lasts that long in the draft), the Dolphins could begin pushing for AFC East crowns.

8. Browns: Pass rushers -- Cleveland got two defensive linemen early last year (tackle Phil Taylor in the first round and end Jabaal Sheard in the second), and they’ve done a nice job on the left side of the defensive line. But the defense ranks 25th in the league in sacks, and defensive end Jayme Mitchell hasn’t had a great season. Marcus Benard, coming off a solid rookie season last year, is on IR, and if the Browns could get one more high-end rusher in the draft, they’d have talent and depth.

7. Redskins: Quarterback -- It’s probably time for Mike Shanahan to come to the realization that his quarterback picks the past two years have been disastrous (Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck). He said the other day that the rebuild of this franchise has taken more time than he thought, but a standout quarterback obviously would help that process along. Shanahan also said that there was no question in his mind that he’d be back next season, but unless he finds a way to invigorate his offense, that might be a different story this time next year.

6. Chiefs: Right tackle -- Looking across Kansas City’s depth chart, there’s not one position group that so obviously needs to be overhauled. The Chiefs have talent, even if some of those positions don’t have much depth. But right tackle Barry Richardson has badly struggled this season. According Pro Football Focus, Richardson is the worst-rated offensive tackle in the league (the decision to cut Jared Gaither near the end of the season was a bad one). Left tackle Branden Albert is solid, but the right side of the line needs to be reworked.

Minnesota's secondary has been a big concern this year (US Presswire).5. Buccaneers: Run defenders -- The Buccaneers tried to shore up their defensive end spots last draft, taking Adrian Clayborn in the first round and Da’Quan Bowers in the second round. Considering Tampa Bay ranks dead last in sacks, the experiment hasn’t paid off immediate dividends. But the Buccaneers are also terrible against the run, and even though tackle Albert Haynesworth has played better than most of us had a right to expect, there are still huge holes to fill in the lineup.

4. Vikings: Secondary -- The Vikings rank as the 31st-worst defense in the NFL, but in reality, their front seven has talent (for instance, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Chad Greenway). Minnesota lost Antoine Winfield (its best corner) early in the year, Chris Cook has legal troubles, safety Jamarca  Sanford has struggled badly and the rest of the safeties have been ravaged by injuries. It’s no  wonder opposing quarterbacks dominate the Vikings defensive backs. On the season, Minnesota has recorded seven interceptions, worst in the NFL. The Vikings need to find somebody who can force turnovers in order to improve this unit.

3. Jaguars: Receivers – Oh, how they need receivers. Yes, Blaine Gabbert has been, by far, the worst rookie quarterback to play this year, but Jacksonville, even with new ownership and a new coach, probably needs to give him more than a season to see if he’s a quarterback of the future. He also needs somebody who can catch his passes. Here are Jacksonville’s top-three receivers: Mike Thomas, Jarret Dillard, and yeah, nobody else. In fact, there’s a good chance running back Maurice Jones-Drew will end up as the team’s leading pass-catcher this season. Hard to blame Gabbert completely when his receiving corps is so bad.

2. Colts: Running backs -- Assuming Peyton Manning returns healthy next season -- admittedly, a huge assumption -- his receivers should continue to be fine (this, of course, depends on what happens with free agents Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon). But we’ve seen this year that without a running game, a Manning-less Colts squad has very little chance of doing anything (mostly because Manning makes up for SO many team deficiencies). Joseph Addai, who’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry and probably won’t get to 500 rushing yards on the season for the second year in a row, might be released into free agency, and Donald Brown, while improved, isn’t a legit No. 1 running back. The Colts obviously have a big decision to make regarding Manning and Andrew Luck, but taking a running back probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

1.Rams: Offensive linemen -- There’s been talk that maybe the Rams should grab Luck if they end up with the No. 1 pick. Which, with Sam Bradford on the team, would be ludicrous. Instead, St. Louis should be focused on how to put together an offensive line that doesn’t lead the league in sacks allowed. The biggest problem, not including injuries to Jason Smith and Jacob Bell that have hurt the unit, has been the line’s interior. Linemen aren’t the sexiest position, but damn, St. Louis needs to find some that can stay healthy and keep Bradford and Steven Jackson out of danger.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:43 am
 

Film Room: Bears vs. Vikings preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Few people are excited about this week’s Sunday Night game. The 1-4 Vikings and 2-3 Bears look like non-contenders in an NFC North division housing a pair of 5-0 clubs. This Film Room post is not about the Bears-Vikings game. We’ll touch on the matchup towards the end simply because it’d be weird not to. But the main point here is to examine why the Tampa 2 defense – which both these teams run – is on its death bed.



1. Tampa 2: What it is
The Tampa 2 (aka Cover 2) is a classic zone scheme. Four pass-rushers up front; three linebackers underneath; a left and right cornerback outside; and, as the "2" refers to, two safeties over the top.

Against the pass, as the illustration to the right (click to enlarge) shows, the safeties each cover half the field deep. The linebackers and cornerbacks each cover 1/5th of the field underneath. The middle linebacker is responsible for any vertical routes inside. Up front, the linemen shoot the gaps. There’s no blitzing.

The advantages are that all pass defenders have straightforward responsibilities and the action (for the most part) always takes place in front of them. As for the disadvantage ...

2. Run Defense
In football there are two traditional ways to stop the run: have a defensive line that wins battles in the trenches or have a strong-tackling safety drop down as an eighth man in the box. A Cover 2 naturally misses on both of these. The defensive linemen are instructed to rush the passer first and play the run if it’s convenient along the way.

Defensive line penetration is great for stopping the run, but it can be hit or miss (especially if the offense knows that the defensive linemen are trying to penetrate on every play). The safeties must stay back and cover deep. If they step forward, they run the risk of biting on play-action (which is a great way to get beat deep).

Because of this, Tampa 2 defenses rely on their linebackers and cornerbacks (yes, cornerbacks) to stop the run. More on this in item 4.
Worth noting is that not all Tampa 2 defenses are bad against the run. In fact, the Vikings and Bears have been spectacular in run defense over the years. That’s a product of phenomenal personnel.

The Vikings have had the Williams Wall at tackle (and Pat Williams actually played a nose tackle role, which is a twist on a traditional Cover 2 front) and the Bears have had star linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. But Tampa 2 teams without top-echelon run-stuffers (like the Colts) are very susceptible to the run.

3. Tampa 2 vulnerabilities
Cover 2 defenses are vanilla by nature. That was fine in the late 90s and early 2000s when the scheme was still new and offenses weren’t spreading the field every down. But complex, motion-oriented offenses have an easy time creating mismatches against a Cover 2.

Heck, even basic offensive formations can create mismatches. For example, something the Eagles do against a Cover 2 is line up their speedy receivers in minus splits (close to the formation).

Because Cover 2 cornerbacks always line up outside, this formation dictates that DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin run their routes against linebackers and safeties. Talk about a mismatch.

There are other avenues for mismatches. For a long time, Cover 2 defenses did not have No. 1 and No. 2 corners, but instead, left and right corners. If the left corner stunk, offenses would simply align their best receiver over there. Mercifully, most Cover 2 defenses (the Bears and Vikings included) have recently shown a willingness to at least move their corners from one side to the other based on where they expect certain receivers to be.

That still doesn’t mean a defense will get the corner-on-receiver matchup it desires. This past Monday, Calvin Johnson ran what amounted to a slant-and-go against the Bears’ Cover 2. Charles Tillman stayed with Johnson for about 15 yards. He should have jammed Johnson in an effort to reroute him. Instead, he played the basic Cover 2 technique, which meant he let Johnson go once Johnson went inside towards safety Chris Harris’ deep zone. That left the most athletic wideout in the world matched up on a strong safety. The result was a 73-yard touchdown.

Besides matchup issues, there are natural voids in the Cover 2 that everyone knows about. The gaps 15-20 yards downfield outside the numbers are the main ones, though the voids behind the linebackers in the seams can be enticing too. Really, Cover 2 is the new Prevent Defense. And because the Cover 2 became such a popular defense in the early 2000s, every offense in the NFL has a special chapter in its playbook specifically designed for beating it.

4. Stringent personnel needs
Obviously, a Cover 2 is not a completely hapless defense. If it were, nobody would run it. With the right personnel, the scheme can be quite viable. A great defensive line can sometimes be enough; look at the 2011 Lions or previous years’ Colts, for example (But keep in mind, great defensive lines are going to make any scheme look good.)

Because of the Cover 2’s simplicity and NFL offense’s familiarity with it, the “right personnel” has gone from being “strongly recommended” to “absolutely required”. And the bar for the “right personnel” has risen considerably.

In a Cover 2, you must generate a pass-rush with only four defensive linemen. Thus, you need top-notch speed rushers and defensive tackles with outstanding initial quickness. Those types of players are usually found only in the first rounds.
 
Because the cornerbacks only defend the first 10-15 yards outside, and because the safeties are aligned so deep, Cover 2 cornerbacks are counted on as part of the run defense. Thus, they need to be good tacklers. This is why Antoine Winfield is so potent in Minnesota’s D. Or why, in part, Ronde Barber has stuck around for so long in Tampa Bay. Or why Indianapolis always brings in firm-tackling corners.

It’s also why you’re always hearing about Tampa 2 teams needing fast linebackers. Yes, the linebackers need speed in order to play the pass (especially the middle linebacker, who must run with any targets running vertically between the numbers). But really, Tampa 2 linebacker speed is needed for stopping the run. With the cornerbacks lined up along the front, the defensive linemen are told to shoot the gaps and force runners to that help outside. It’s up to the linebackers to chase them down along the way.

Finding quality Cover 2 type players is certainly not impossible. Problem is, if you don’t have the right guy in every spot, offenses can easily punish you. If a team like the Packers has a weak spot on D, they can use disguises and zone blitz concepts to cover it. If a team like the Bears or Vikings have a weak spot, they can only hope that their defensive ends reach the quarterback before the quarterback exploits it.  

5. Studs and Duds
The star defensive players for both teams have lived up to their end of the deal. For the Bears, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has moved with more quickness and fluidity than in any of the past three seasons. Monday night’s game aside, Lance Briggs has been the fierce hitter he always is. Julius Peppers has only two sacks, but he’s been a force in bits, if not chunks. Opposite him, Israel Idonije, who has great movement skills and a real feel for executing moves based on the situation, remains one of the most underrated ends in the game.

For the Vikings, Jared Allen has recaptured his 2008/2009 form. End Brian Robison has been fast and tenacious. In fact, he’s having a much better season than Ray Edwards is having in Atlanta. As usual, defensive tackle Kevin Williams has shown his uncommon mobility/power combination. Cornerback Cedric Griffin has been stout in coverage, and E.J. Henderson, while not always great versus the pass, remains a smart, assertive downhill force against the run.
 
The problem is both teams have had a propensity to give up big plays, in part due to iffy play at safety. It’s worse with the Bear than the Vikings. But, on the flip side, the Vikings’ offense has been worse than the Bears’. We could write a thousand posts explaining what’s wrong with both offenses. In short, neither has a good line nor the receivers necessary for their respective systems.

Perhaps this is the week that these offenses find their rhythms through the air. After all, both will be facing plenty of Cover 2 looks.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 6 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 6:39 pm
 

Kevin Williams, Will Smith suspended two games

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The fall out from the StarCaps case is officially complete.

Already, we had told you about Vikings defensive end Kevin Williams and the likelihood of his original four-game suspension being reduced to two games, and today comes word, via Rapid Reporter Larry Holder, that Saints defensive end Will Smith will face the same two-game suspension.*

*The New Orleans Times Picayune reports that Smith still will miss four game checks. So will Williams, by the way.

The suspensions for Smith and Williams begin Saturday, Sept. 3 and end Sept. 19. The four game checks will cost Smith $1.5 million.

Charles Grant and Pat Williams, both of whom are free agents, also have been suspended.

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Posted on: May 23, 2011 5:10 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 6:53 pm
 

Kevin Williams at peace with likely suspension

Posted by Andy Benoit

A few weeks ago, the NFL quietly won thK. Williams (US Presswire)e never-ending court battle against Pat and Kevin Williams in the StarCaps case. (That ruling in the Minnesota Supreme Court flew under the radar because it came at the same time that a different Minnesota court was ruling on a much bigger and no-longer-fun-to-talk-about case involving the NFL.)

With the court ruling in favor of the league, expect the four-game suspensions of the Williams Wall and Saints defensive end Will Smith to be upheld. Kevin Williams told Jeremy Fowler of the Pioneer Press that he is ready to accept the suspension and, after three years of fighting, is finally at peace with the whole thing. He’s also optimistic that the NFL might, you know, just sort of forget about the whole thing. (Don’t count on it.)

"With all this (lockout stuff) going on, maybe (the NFL will) forget about it and we can go on with our regular work," he said. "If it happens, it happens. I found a great place to work out in Little Rock. I'll be there getting ready and see you in Week 5, if that's the case."

Whether Williams will be lining up next to Pat Williams come Week 5 remains to be seen. The 39-year-old veteran free agent recently said it’s 50-50 on whether he’ll return to Minnesota. He’s not happy with everyone in the organization.

"It's just guys up in the office, man," he said. "You know how the front office is. I don't have a problem with Coach Frazier. Me and Coach Frazier talked. We talked a lot of times. It's just people up in the office, man. With a lockout going on now, it's all the same. Business."

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Posted on: May 19, 2011 9:59 pm
 

Ray Edwards ready to start new career

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Vikings DE Ray Edwards will start a new career Friday. A career where he’s going to get hit in the face quite a bit.

As we’ve written about before, Edwards will face former kickboxer T.J. Gibson in a pro boxing match. It will mark Edwards’ pro debut – and he reportedly will be getting a $5,000 payday and half the gate receipts for the card at Grand Casino Hinckley in Minnesota.

And he continues to claim that if he doesn’t get more money from the Vikings – or more likely, a trade to somebody who WILL pay him more money – he’ll simply continue merrily along on his boxing career.

NFLers freelancing as boxers
"I've openly said I won't play for the Vikings, because of the simple fact of my backup is getting paid 70 more percent than I am -- there's no way I can do that to myself,” Edwards told 1500 ESPN. “I'd rather do what I love doing. I love doing football as well. But if there's nobody that's going to trade for me, I will be definitely focusing on boxing."

He also talked about Brian Robison, his backup who signed a three-year, $14.1 million contract (as opposed to Edwards $2.836 million tender), and DE Jared Allen – who is in the middle of a six-year, $73.26 million deal.

"I was happy for (Robison)," Edwards said. "He's definitely a great guy. I love the guy off the field, love him on the field. Great teammate. I wished him all the best, because we both were up for contracts. So, I told him that more than likely they're going to keep you because of the numbers situation.

"They're paying Jared. You've got Kevin (Williams), who's almost due for a contract and he's been there forever and he's a six-time Pro Bowler, I believe. I don't know if they're going to try to keep Pat (Williams) or not. It's just a numbers game.”

So, boxing it is – for now, at least.

But let’s be honest. How long will it take Edwards to earn $2 million a year by boxing? Most likely, never.

Perhaps he should just stick to football. Because he gets to, you know, wear a helmet.

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Posted on: April 28, 2011 4:01 pm
 

NFL wins in StarCaps case

Posted by Andy Benoit

A court in Minnesota ruled in favor of the NFL on Wednesday. Too bad it wasn’t for the case the owners care most about.

Remember the StarCaps case? Well, league spokesman Greg Aiello announced Thursday on Pro Football Talk Live that the “the Minnesota Supreme Court has just issued this morning an order denying a review of the appeals court decision that went in favor of the league. The result is the case is over and we, the NFL, prevailed in the case.”

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Thus, Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams (a free agent) and Kevin Williams, as well as Saints defensive end Will Smith, will have to finally serve that four-game suspension they’ve been fighting since 2008.

The whole incident came about after several players tested positive in ’08 for bumetanide, a banned diuretic that was in the StarCaps weight loss supplement but not listed as an ingredient. The players said they shouldn’t be suspended for unknowingly taking the substance. The NFL essentially said rules are rules, and the rules state that the player is solely responsible for what goes into his body. The Minnesota Supreme Court said the NFL was right.

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 10:40 pm
 

StarCaps: only one Williams will continue fight

Posted by Andy Benoit

Interesting twist in the StarCaps case (yes, it’s still going on):Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune reports that Pat Williams will continue to fight, taking his latest (anK. Williams (US Presswire)d final) appeal to Minnesota’s Supreme Court. But teammate Kevin Williams is surrendering. The All-Pro defensive tackle is prepared to face a four-game suspension if the NFL indeed goes in that direction.

The last time a court heard this case, Minnesota’s Appeals Court refused to block the NFL’s four-game suspensions of the Williamses because the banned diuretic in the StarCaps (Bumetanide) that was found in the players’ systems does not fall under the state’s workplace drug-testing laws.

This latest twist is interesting because not long ago, Pat Williams was the one saying he’s done fighting. The 38-year-old nose tackle even rationalized that a four-game suspension could help him be fresher come season’s end.

If the Minnesota Supreme Court agrees to hear the StarCaps case, Pat Williams could delay his suspension yet another year while the legal process plays out. The StarCaps issue commenced back in December 2008.

Williams Wall

Peter Ginsberg, the attorney for both Williamses, issued a statement:

“Pat and Kevin have both shown an enormous amount of dedication and frankly courage to continue to pursue this litigation. I understand Kevin’s feelings that he’s just had enough with the lawyers, the courts. There are important principles and protections for NFL players and Minnesota employees at stake. Pat has decided, after much deliberation, to continue. What happened to those two men is unfair and egregious and we remain optimistic that at the end of this process justice will finally win out.”

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Posted on: February 15, 2011 10:21 pm
 

Kevin Willams goes under the knife

Posted by Andy Benoit

No need to be alarmed Vikings fans…this story probably wouldn’t warrant its own post if it weren’t mid-February. According to the Pioneer Press, defensive tackle Kevin Williams recently visited Dr. James Andrews for a knee operation. It was an arthroscopic procedure to clean up some sore ligaments that had been hindering the perennial Pro Bowler.

Williams should be able to resume regular offseason conditioning sometime during the spring. The next time you read about him will likely be after his lawyers decide whether or not to take their never-ending StarCaps case to Minnesota’s Supreme Court. If they don’t, Williams could be looking at a four-game suspension in 2011.

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Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com