Four out of the five aspects of our offense(O-Line, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, and Quarter Backs) have been under scrutiny all year. We already covered the receivers, and it seems as though only the Tight Ends have been safe from the fans wrath. Rex Grossman started out the year bad, and now Brian Griese is trying to inject life into our offense. Cedric Benson has shown some flashes, but is no where near where he was advertised before the season. Alternatively, he isn't where any of us would have put him after last years strong performance when he shared carries with Thomas Jones. Wolfe's speed hasn't been used, Peterson is making the most out of limited carries, and most of the time the O-Line has been shaky. I am anticipating everyone to argue their opinion here because we have all been hurt or let down by these positions one way or the other this year. For me, I had to eat my words after I called out Bill Simmons in this chat on 7/11/2007,
Bill Simmons: I'm thinking the opposite - they have 6-10 written all over them. Aren't they relying on Super Rex and Ced Benson or did something change?
I still don't think we will finish 6-10, but it's just painful to have to read that again. Without further ado, let's get into it.
Cedric Benson: Grade C-
Benson has shown his talent, and at times looks great. Other times, he comes off as disinterested and pensive. He should not be blamed for every issue with our offense, but he deserves to take some flack. Other backs from his class were performing without offensive support (see Brown, Ronnie and Williams, Carnell). I know I have been harsh on Ced this year while others here on this site have been huge supporters, but the fact remains that he hasn't proven himself to be the "go to guy" on our offense. He was supposed to be the back that could carry our team, but his success in that role at UT hasn't translated to the NFL just yet.
Adrian Peterson: Grade C+
Has shown some promise by making the most of his status as the #2 back averaging 4.5 yards a carry and an 8.0 average when receiving the ball. He gets a C plus for doing his job well. He hasn't shown us any game breaking ability or given us any big plays. There has been a clamoring for him to start on local radio, but I don't think that is the answer. We need to stick with Ced unless this Adrian Peterson starts performing like his northern alter ego.
Garrett Wolfe: Grade INCOMPLETE
He gets an incomplete because of his mis/non-use. I have not been too upset with Wolfe, but I have been upset with the promises of his speed being an asset to our offense and then not seeing him on the field. Check that, he has been on the field in a small role, but has been grossly misused. Seriously, I don't understand. If this guy is supposed to be a speed demon who can change the game, then why are we running him up the middle? I want to see some HB wheel and more screen pass plays. Also, get some more plays to him where he gets a dump off pass in the open in the middle of the field with space where he can be most effective.
TE's, O-Line, and QB's after the jump.
Greg Olson: Grade A
We can't ask for much more from a rookie. He has proven his mettle with some great catches and is a huge weapon for our offense. I love it when he lines up as a wide out with Moose and Hester because it almost always results in a big play. He has been exactly as advertised and even better. In addition, he hasn't been dropping a lot of passes. Again, I can't ask for much more from the rook.
Desmond Clark: Grade B+
Clark has been a foundation for our passing offense with Griese at the helm. He has provided big plays (game winning catch over Green Bay), and has proven ability. He gets knocked down to a B+ because of all the drops he had against the Lions two weeks ago. Seriously, it was horrible. I feel like part of it was Griese having a bad game, but I believe the blame goes both ways. I hope that he can right the ship as the team goes to Oakland who has been soft against TE's all year long.
John Gilmore: Grade C
Last year he had only 6 receptions, but when he got the ball he was deadly. 2 TD's and 3 First Downs out of 6 catches isn't bad. This year he hasn't had the ball thrown to him as much as last year with the emergence of Olson, but he has one catch for a first down and does well in pass blocking situations. Seriously, at 6'5 257 the guy is a house. He gets a C for doing an average job.
Olin Kreutz: Roberto Garza: Fred Miller: Ruben Brown: John Tait:
John St. Clair: Terrence Metclaf: Josh Beekman: Grade C-
I combined the offensive line guys because I feel as though they all suffer the same criticism (Also, do you know how hard it is to find stats for these guys? I'm not kidding its murder). Seriously, everybody complains about the same things with these guys. For one, everyone says they are old. This can be a contributing factor, and the 35 of Fred Miller and the 34 of Ruben Brown isn't helping. Then the backups at their position (Metclaf, St. Clair) are both 29. I am not too big on the age of the line, but it sure doesn't help our future when we only have one young guy (Beekman, 24) waiting in the wings who is currently slated to back up Roberto Garza who is our youngest starter already.
The bigger issue at hand with the line is their run blocking ability. They have done a adequate job of pass blocking for Griese. Once in a while they get beat off the line but that happens all the time in the NFL, and as Adam mentioned yesterday in a post if the O-lineman beats his guy 67 out of 70 times the only thing we will notice is the 3 times he was beat. However, the running game is a bigger concern. They really haven't opened up too many holes for Ced so far this year. Every time we have a running play it just looks like they collapse on the RB. They just aren't getting it done when it comes to the running game. I really have been disenfranchised with the line play overall, and in between the average pass blocking and abysmal running game has led me to believe that they are below average overall.
Rex Grossman: Grade WF (Withdrew Failing)
It was a nice run we had with Sexy Rexy here, but he couldn't get it done in the beginning of the year. We should have waxed the Chiefs, we should have beaten the Chargers, and he shouldn't have thrown stupid picks against the Cowboys. His only offensive touchdown was to an offensive lineman, and the magic he had last year with Moose on 3rd downs and Berrian on the deep ball disappeared. There were the weird reports during the Cowboys game about how he didn't look at pictures or talk with offensive teammates on the sideline because he liked to have time to himself. He didn't act like a leader or like he wanted the job, in fact it was almost like he was sulking. He was failing and was pulled. It was almost like he alienated himself. The reason I give him the WF is because I don't think he is done in Chicago. Weather we give him a small contract at the end of the year, or if Griese starts to suck or suffers from an exploding tendon... I just don't think we have seen the last of Rexy.
Brian Griese: Grade B
Griese is like the guy who does really well in his class and once in a while bombs a big test. This season, Griese has bombed the test of the Detroit Lions. He bombed against them in his debut, but then he shook off the rust and excelled up until we ran into the proverbial Juggernaut from Detriot again. He picked apart Green bay, torched Minnesota (you can thank Adrian Peterson for that loss), and engineered the last minute drive against the Eagles with the precision of a brain surgeon. I have been thrilled with how he has made our passing offense come alive. He has utilized most of our weapons and our offensive shortcomings should be directed at the coaching staff and not at him. We can argue until the cows come home about the teams quarterback situation, but he has proven his worth so far. He has been more of a leader on the sideline than Rex was, and I expect him to improve as the season goes on.
Kyle Orton: Grade A+++++++++++++
When I see the Neck Beard I know that there is still hope for the world. Seriously, though we haven't seen him on the field. A part of me wishes we would have put him in instead of Griese. We need to decide if Orton is our future or if we are going to draft someone. Griese may be good this year and the next, but after that who knows.
Defense coming soon.