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Tag:Wade Phillips
Posted on: June 17, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 6:13 pm
 

Hot Routes 6.17.11: Palmer still could be traded



Posted by Ryan Wilson
  • When quarterback Carson Palmer said he would retire if the Bengals didn't trade him, owner Mike Brown didn't budge. And Brown still hasn't. But NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, who played for the Bengals in the 1980s, thinks Brown will eventually cave and try to move Palmer.
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Posted on: June 12, 2011 4:12 pm
 

Wade Phillips handcuffed by lockout

PhillipsPosted by Josh Katzowitz

The other day, I caught legendary coach Bum Phillips on the phone for a 45-minute chat, and briefly, I asked about his son, Wade, and how he thought the Texans would adjust to running the 3-4 defense that Phillips will install.

Not surprisingly, Bum said he thought the adjustment would be smooth – even if DE Mario Williams, who’s been much more effective in a three-point stance than standing as an OLB, will have to get used to a new position.

Yet, Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune isn’t so sure.

As Kaufman writes, the lockout has played havoc because Phillips and head coach Gary Kubiak, just like every other coach and defensive coordinator in the league, can’t communicate with their players.

Considering Phillips basically was hired in order to send Houston to the playoffs for the first time, this doesn’t bode particularly well (of course, on the other hand, the Texans’ future opponents aren’t communicating with each other either).

As Kaufman writes:

Phillips has proven to be a pedestrian head coach in several NFL outposts, but he's also an effective assistant who can make a difference and save Kubiak's job.

Unfortunately, his timing is lousy.

This lockout is having a particularly debilitating effect on a Houston franchise that took a major step backwards last season.

It's in (owner Bob) McNair's interests to get this lockout lifted as quickly as possible so Houston coaches can get to work on a daunting turnaround project.

Tick tock, Wade.

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Posted on: May 11, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Hot Routes 5.11.11: Anybody up for bull riding?



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Just what we need: another reality show featuring an NFL player doing, I don’t know, every-day stuff that none of us should actually care about. Jets CB Darrelle Revis – coming off his well-regarded Hard Knocks performances – wants to make it happen.
  • Although Houston’s Brian Cushing will be moved to inside linebacker in Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 scheme, Phillips said Cushing will spend plenty of time rushing the quarterback. Which is good for the Texans, because he’s pretty good at that.
  • Apparently, 19 percent of people surveyed said they would be less likely to watch the NFL if the season is delayed. That doesn’t seem like a huge percentage, but still, that would be a ton of people who would abandon the bandwagon. That’s if you believe them, of course.

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Posted on: May 5, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Is Wade Phillips moving Mario Williams to OLB?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When the Texans hired Wade Phillips to be the team’s defensive coordinator – and, in the process, switched from the 4-3 to the 3-4 scheme – some of us wondered what would happen to 4-3 DE Mario Williams.

In fact, less than two months ago, Phillips addressed the issue himself, saying he didn’t envision Williams’ role changing much, particularly since he wasn’t all that effective when trying to rush the quarterback from the standing position.

Super Mario
Perhaps Phillips has changed his mind.

As the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain writes in a recent online chat (via Pro Football Talk) , the Texans will move Williams to the outside linebacker spot.

Now this doesn’t mean Williams won’t get down in his three-point stance, because he most likely will at some point. But that also means Williams also will playing standing up quite a bit more than he normally would.

And now Houston’s first-round pick of DE J.J. Watt actually makes more sense. Assuming Watt can play the defensive end spot, that would allow Williams to jump right into his new position and figure out how to be effective.

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 10:28 pm
 

2011 NFL Draft: Winners and losers

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- The grind of the NFL Draft -- and don't let anyone tell you otherwise, three days of straight picks is definitely a grind -- is finally over. Which means we should probably take our time to sit back and reflect on who did well and do not do well. Or, alternately, we can just start calling people names right ... now!



WINNERS
Atlanta Falcons: Been flopping on these guys all weekend long it feels like -- I like Julio Jones a lot, but I didn’t like all the picks the Falcons needed to get him. I do, however, freaking LOVE Jacquizz Rodgers. They got a steal when they landed a lot more offensive explosiveness in the seventh round. Couple that with a few more solid adds in Andrew Jackson, Akeem Dent and K/P Matt Bosher and it was a good haul for Thomas Dimitroff. Good enough to have me thinking about picking them to win it all. Again.

Peyton Manning: Not only is the best quarterback in the NFL going to get real paid as soon as we get a new CBA, but he’s going to have two new guys -- Anthony Castonzo and Benjamin Ijalana -- in town to help keep him healthy.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills started off their draft with a good blueprint: DEFENSE. And they stuck to that blueprint throughout the rest of the draft too, only diverting twice to pick up Chris Hairston from Clemson to beef up the offensive line and Johnny White for backfield depth and special teams. Da’Norris Searcy out of Chapel Hill could be a steal for them in the fourth.

Wade Phillips: Not that you expected the Texans to actually go out and get anyone that’s an an offensive player early in the draft, but did a great job with their first five picks, particularly in trading back up to grab Brandon Harris. Given all the limitations on that defense and the switch they have to make, it’s good for him to at least get a head start out of the draft.

Cleveland Browns: Giving up a top-10 selection when you’ve got a young quarterback that needs weapons is no easy move ... unless you’re getting five picks in return and turn those into serviceable offensive products and some defensive standouts. Buster Skrine’s value fell post-Combine but he could be a good find, Jason Pinkston out of Pittsburgh will help and already-physical offensive line. Phil Taylor/Jabaal Sheard immediately improve the defensive line and Greg Little and Jordan Cameron give Colt McCoy some guys with good hands and upside.

Ryan Mallett: My man Freeman thinks Bill Belichick might have taken too big a gamble, and there’s a good chance he might be right. But if Mallett goes anywhere else, you would have heard everyone saying that about the GM that grabbed him. (Can you imagine the reaction if Carolina took him or, dare I say, the Bengals?) The pressure of falling in the draft because of character issues and having to play/perform well at an early time is lifted with his move.

Green Bay Packers: Not that it’s hard to “win” if you’re Green Bay, coming off a Super Bowl-winning season and sitting on a young, stacked roster. But “In Ted We Trust” applies here, because Thompson beefed up the Packers’ offensive line depth, got a superb second-rounder in Randall Cobb to potentially replace and just generally marked everything he needed off his checklist. Standard Packers draft, really.

Arizona Cardinals: They had a good first two days nabbing Patrick Peterson and Ryan Williams and then fared quite well in the later rounds, particularly with their selection of Quan Sturdivant, a pretty stupendous value in the sixth round. Some would argue they didn’t address their QB need and that’s fair, but they’ll be the leaders in the clubhouse for a veteran or a Kevin Kolb trade.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The rich get richer, per usual. Cameron Heyward is the future at defensive end, Marcus Gilbert -- a reliable offensive lineman -- is exactly what the Steelers need, and the Steelers stepped up and addressed their cornerback issues early on Day 3 of the draft by grabbing Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen.

America: For awesomeness’ sake, I’m going to hold out eternal hope that the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, Ricky Stanzi ends up shirtless in a downtown BBQ joint with an American flag as a cape, holding a huge turkey leg while belting out the “Star Spangled Banner” in celebration and this scene makes its way onto YouTube. America needs that.



LOSERS
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers were a classic example of how trading early-round picks and finding yourself extremely weak at certain positions can kill you: in a draft with ridiculous defensive line depth, they still couldn’t add to a weak position until the third round when they picked up a pair of undersized defensive tackles in Terrell McClain and Sione Fua. Kealoha Pilares was a good grab at the top of the fifth, though. And, of course, they were essentially forced to take Cam Newton at the top spot. If he busts, this draft is a total nightmare. It might even be a situation of Carolina just taking their medicine in the best-case anyway.

Carson Palmer: Marvin Lewis says the Bengals have “moved on” for Palmer too; you gotta think they’ll try and trade him just to get something in return, but it’s shame because the best scenario for him might actually be returning to the ‘Nati and helping to bring A.J. Green and Stanford product Ryan Whalen into the fold of Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley. Those are nicer weapons than he’ll find in retirement.

Jacksonville Jaguars: I think Blaine Gabbert will end up being pretty good. If he’s great, this ranking could change, but if Jack Del Rio’s job is on the line, how does he not convince Gene Smith to go out and get him some freaking secondary help before fourth round? (Caveat: Smith has killed drafts since he got to J-Vegas, so if he thinks Gabbert’s “the guy” going forward, more power to him.)

Ronnie Brown: There was some talk Brown might stick with the Dolphins even after they took Daniel Thomas out of K-State in the second round. Nabbing Charles Clay -- even if he’s a fullback -- probably means Brown is done with the ‘Fins. (And it might also mean they’re not as set on paying DeAngelo Williams whatever he wants too.)

Washington Redskins: All weekend long, the Redskins looked like winners as they kept avoiding making huge mistakes by trading down and piling up picks. But did they really end up getting anything of substantial value for it? Leonard Hankerson could be a nice pull in the third round, certainly, but for all the Redskins’ surprising patience, they didn’t once address their (very serious) quarterback issue or linebacker issue.

Reggie Bush: Sean Payton’s saying that he’s open to Bush coming back. That might be true. And it might not be true. But what he’s not doing is making a dumb, knee-jerk reaction on Twitter simply because his team drafted Mark Ingram. Which is what Bush did and it’s not going to help him in the short or long term.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos accumulated a lot of picks, and added a linebacker trio that could be dominant in a few years (Von Miller as the pass rusher, Nate Irving as the tackler and Virgil Green as the cover guy). But two tight ends and not a single defensive lineman? Did someone show John Elway the wrong depth chart before this thing kicked off on Thursday?

Oakland Raiders: Al Davis didn’t have a first-rounder, so it’s okay to temper expectations a little bit, but Al really isn’t going to stop over-drafting athleticism until the day he dies. And considering how hot it was in Radio City Music Hall when they played “California Girls” for the second time on Saturday, I can’t imagine hell’s freezing over any time soon.

David Akers: With the Eagles’ decision to reach up into the fourth round and grab Alex Henery out of Nebraska, as well as the fact that Akers wasn’t happy about his transition tag, it’s pretty obvious that the incumbent kicker’s days as a Philly legend are numbered. (You could also add Henery as a loser here, too: having to come in and kick in front of Eagles’ fans sounds worse than listening to drunk Jets’ fans boo everything for eight-straight hours.)

Seattle Seahawks: Maybe Pete Carroll’s drafts are just too “zany” for me to understand, but the James Carpenter pick strikes me as possibly the biggest reach of the first round, maybe even ahead of Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. Unless bring Matt Hasselbeck back or land another veteran QB in the offseason, it’s almost impossible to imagine them sniffing the playoffs again.

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Posted on: April 13, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Dallas Cowboys

Posted by Andy Benoit



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups.



In terms of disappointment, the 2010 Dallas Cowboys more than lived up to the “Everything’s big in Texas” phrase. The year that was supposed to end with Jerry Jones’ team being the first to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium instead ended in effect before Thanksgiving.

Wade Phillips was no longer the coach at that point and Tony Romo had been sidelined for the past month with what would turn out to be a season-ending fractured clavicle. Can’t blame the face-plant on Romo’s injury, though.

After all, the Cowboys were 1-5 in games their star quarterback started.



Brooking quickly established himself as the defense’s emotional leader when he arrived in 2009. Because he’s been in his 30s since the Bush Administration, everyone has assumed he’s on the cusp of washing up.

That simply hasn’t been true…until now. Last season Brooking showed hints of decline in struggling to get off blocks. He is still a dominant player when pursuing the ball untouched, but in a 3-4, inside linebackers can’t count on regularly being untouched.

Lee, a second-round pick out of Penn Stage last year, overtook Bradie James in nickel packages. Lee has good natural change of direction ability and, in a limited sampling, has shown adequate instincts. As great organizations like the Eagles and Patriots have illustrated over the years, it’s better to replace someone a year too early rather than risk keeping him a year too long.




1. Safety
The game is evolving to where safeties are becoming vital for creating deception and disguise in a defensive scheme. The only experienced safety on Dallas’ roster is Alan Ball, and he just converted from cornerback last year.

2. Offensive Linemen
Right tackle Marc Colombo’s lack of athleticism finally caught up to him last season. Right guard Leonard Davis may have remained benched if backup Montrae Holland had been more reliable. Davis really struggled with lateral movement in pass protection last season. Left guard Kyle Kosier is an unrestricted free agent.

3. Cornerback
It may be time to start grooming Terence Newman’s replacement. Newman will be 33 when (if) this season opens up. He’s no longer quick enough to play man coverage with the cushy buffer zone he prefers. Orlando Scandrick is not the guy to replace Newman long-term. The third-year pro is better equipped to defend the slot and must first bounce back from a difficult sophomore campaign.




It’s “America’s Team”, so there’s always talk of a Lombardi Trophy. But how about having no expectations and just shutting up for a change?

It’s well known the Cowboys have as much talent as any team. What needs changing is the way they manage that talent.

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Posted on: April 11, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 12:37 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Houston Texans

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups . Also, check out our checkup podcast:





When the Texans beat the Colts 34-24 in the 2010 season-opener, Houston was well on its way to winning the AFC South and the first-ever playoff appearance for the club. Matt Schaub was going to continue emerging as one of the top QBs in the game, Andre Johnson was going to cement his place as the top receiver in the NFL, RB Arian Foster was going to build on his first-game performance (231 yards and four total TDs on 33 carries) and Houston’s secondary was going to be just fine without Dunta Robinson.

That’s what we thought anyway.

Then, the Texans, sitting at 4-2, lost eight of their next nine games to kill their season. Foster still went on to win the rushing title, and Schaub had a pretty good season. But Johnson didn’t have one of his better years (though to be fair, he WAS dealing with a painful ankle injury that he played through), and the secondary, to be kind, was absolutely horrid. Overall, in fact, the defense was terrible. Yet, coach Gary Kubiak has been retained for another season, and the Texans continue to be slightly worse than mediocre.

But something must change …




New defensive system

That something might be new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. While Phillips’ reign as Cowboys head coach ended in disaster in the middle of last season, he’s still well-respected as a defensive coordinator. In 2011, though, he’s got a big job in front of him.



1. Um, the secondary
Yes, the Texans will need to rethink their entire defensive back roster, because it repeatedly got torched last season. After saying goodbye to Robinson, who went on to a so-so season with the Falcons, the secondary (Kareem Jackson, Glover Quin, Bernard Pollard and Eugene Wilson) were just tremendously bad. If the Texans can’t get this fixed, it doesn’t matter who’s coordinating the defense, because Houston simply won’t win.

2. Nose Tackle
Houston hasn’t had to worry much about this position in the past because of the 4-3 scheme it used to play, but now that the Texans will go to the 3-4, they need to find a massive NT to eat up blockers and allow his linebackers behind him to make plays. Maybe Shaun Cody is that guy, but he might not be good enough and he certainly hasn’t been an impact player thus far in his career.

3. Second Wide Receiver
It looked for a time like Kevin Walter might be that guy, but he was little more than solid last year. Jacoby Jones is fine on kickoff returns, but he drops the ball too much as a receiver. Though the Texans obviously have much bigger problems, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if the Texans went after Julio Jones in the first round of the draft.




It’s hard to be confident that a Kubiak-led team will ever make the playoffs, but the Texans better accomplish that this year if they want to keep him around. Defense, like we’ve pounded in your head over and over in this checkup, is the true test, and there is plenty of talent in the front seven on that side of the ball. If Phillips can help get that unit in gear, the AFC South is ripe for the taking.

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Posted on: March 14, 2011 11:36 am
 

Don't expect Mario Williams' job to change

Expect M. Williams to continue playing with his hand in the dirt. Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Texans DE Mario Williams has been one of the league’s best defensive ends the past four seasons, accumulating a total of 43.5 sacks, and he’s accomplished it in a 4-3 scheme in which he was a major pass-rusher.

Considering new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will implement a 3-4 defense, where the outside linebackers are the ones who score a plethora of sacks, you’d have to wonder if Williams would have to play more standing up in the second level of the defense rather than with his hand in the dirt on the line of scrimmage.

According to Phillips, Williams has nothing to worry about.

"I think Mario fits in well with what we're going to do," Phillips told the Houston Chronicle. "He's a five-technique, an outside rush guy. That's what he is. I don't see any difference for him. He's going to be outside all the time."

Phillips’ version of the 3-4 is a bit different than the traditional 3-4 where defensive linemen have to control two gaps. Instead, Phillips’ DL control a single gap and, instead of taking up the attention of the offensive linemen so the linebackers behind them can tackle and pass-rush, the defensive linemen are the ones who move up the field to pressure the QB.

Also adding to Phillips’ decision to keep Williams in a three-point stance is that Williams actually isn’t all that good when he rushes from a standing position.

Super Mario
"When they did stand him up, he took that false step every time, and that made him late on his rush," Phillips said. "You don't want him late on the rush. That's just fundamentals, something you have to work on. That's what happens when you have a player who's not used to standing up stand up.

"I don't think you need to stand Mario up. He comes off the ball so well with his hand on the ground I don't know that you'd ever want to stand him up."

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