Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Starting Locklear the Right Move?

by: Michael Steffes

Reports are in that Sean Locklear will take back his starting right tackle position this week against the Giants. This appears to be at the expense of Ray Willis, who played admirably in his first real time starting in this league. So is this the right move?

One could argue that this team has been searching for the right offensive line combination for 2 years. For the first time in these 2 years the line looked like a cohesive, physical unit. The team ran for nearly 400 yards in the last two games. Why change it?

Because, in my mind, it is the right move to make. First off, it sets a bad precedent to have a player lose his job to injury . . . well, aside from Rob Sims, of course (sorry Rob!). Plus, Sean Locklear is a fine player. He is very capable of handling the duties at right tackle. Even if he isn't as dominant a run blocker as Willis, he has generally been the most consistent lineman in the past few years. You could make an argument for Walt, but he did struggle a bit with Sims next to him.

Also, when in doubt, follow the money. Locklear took a hometown discount to help the Hawks, and that needs to be rewarded. Also, despite said discount, they paid Lock like a top echelon tackle. They want to make good use of that investment. And if all that wasn't enough, Ray Willis is a free agent after this year. The Hawks will most certainly want to re-sign him, as he has proven to be a valuable commodity, but the more he shines, the bigger an expense that becomes. The question is whether or not he will want to go to a place he can start. Also, if the Hawks are planning on drafting a young tackle, then that changes things too.

In the end though, it is Locklear's ability and consistency that truly drive this decision. Lock is a player, and if fully healthy, he should be able to do a nice job against Justin Tuck this weekend, and that's something I am not sure I would say if Ray Willis was the RT. ~END~