Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Not up to Par

by: Michael Steffes

So Far, these are the areas that are failing to impress....

Courtney Taylor: Oh Courtney, all the hype and none of the performance to back it up. Taylor has been long heralded as a talent, big and physical with the ability to make plays down the field. What have we seen so far? Well, his three catches have come near the line of scrimmage and he has fought for his yards. Add that in with the dropped passes and the apparent loafing on deep routes, and Taylor may not be around for long. Somebody needs to get this kid on track--obviously he shows his skills in practice, so we know he is better than this. Grade: D-

Ryan Plackemeier/John Ryan: Much like long snapping last year, it seems as if the punting team is set to be the abscess on the face of special teams. The team moved quick to cut ties with Fudge, but John Ryan hasn't produced much better results. He has failed in two attempts to pin the ball deep, had a punt blocked, and shanked another. All this with no field position changing boomers to help his average. I am sure the Hawks are still looking to improve this. So far it has been unacceptable. Grade: F

Special Teams/Bruce DeHaven: So far, this has been the weakest unit of the team by far. I am hesitant to lump them all together, but I have been disappointed with most aspects. The protection has been bad. The Coverage units are showing improvement, but there was nowhere to go but up. On top of that, I have seen some interesting decisions being made. Most notably, the Hawks squib kicked after going up 14-0 vs SF, which inevitably gave the 49ers the ball in Seattle territory after a poor coverage and allowed them to answer with a field goal without working for it. Having the players run around with brooms behind their backs looks good for a picture, but where are the results? Grade: D

Third Down Defense: Along with short yardage, one of last year's bugaboos was third down defense. I haven't seen much improvement yet. Third and long is supposed to be an advantage for the defense, but not against the Hawks. So far, SF hit a 50 yard pass and the Rams scored a touchdown, both in long yardage situations. Part of this is John Marshall. He needs to find a happy medium between sending the house and playing coverage. Maybe it is just luck. He seems to get burned no matter what he does. Either way, until they figure it out I feel more confident in the defense's ability to stop on third and short than third and long. Grade: D ~END~