Ok so like many of you guys I'd assume, my shift has focused from this season to next April's draft and beyond. While I'm still watching the games, I'm much more concerned with trying to figure out which guys deserve to come back next year and which one need to be replaced via either free agency or the draft, then I am the actual outcome of the game. With that being said I was having a conversation with a guy the other day who had lost all faith in Whiz and his primary argument was that Whiz simply isn't a good talent evaluator. While I didn't really agree with him, his point definitely got me thinking. His main point was "how is this team better than the team he inherited back in 2007?"
He's certainly had time to make this "his team" and a quick look at the depth chart certainly proves that he's getting these results with "his guys." The only holdover starters from the Dennis Green era are Fitz, Duece Lutui, Gerald Hayes, Dockett and Adrian Wilson or in other words only five of 22 starters.
Of course we all know Whiz has had more success here than anyone ever before so it still feels foolish to question his success but my buddies point was that KW was the reason for that success and Whiz inherited KW so at least part of that success is still attributle to Denny. While that's a point I'm sure we could all cuss and discuss in length, my point of this fanpost is instead of look at where this team stands today compared to how he inherited it in early 2007. Have his drafts been successful? And how does the talent on this squad compare to the talent in 2007?Drafts: First in an effort to be fair, I'm ignoring this year's class, it's just too early. So over the last three years, Whiz has certainly had some hits and misses. He's had some first round success (DRC), some no doubt about it busts (Buster Davis and Cody Brown) and some late round amazing pics (Breaston and LSH). Seven of his 20 pics during those three years have turned into starters for this team and another four or five are valuable backup/role players. That's a pretty good percentage of pics who ended up playing big roles for this team but as we know from watching Cardinals football for a while, simply being a starter doesn't mean they're necessarily good players. Case in point, Levi Brown has started over 50 games for this team but has he really been worth a top 5 pick? I'd venture a guess that most of us would vote NO. If there is one thing that sticks out to me in looking back at the drafts of Whiz and Green, it's that they are remarkably similar. Both coaches had one year where they were really good, but I don't think anyone would argue that Green's 04 class was better than Whiz's 08.. They've both had mediocre starters who hung around and they both had their absolute busts. If there's one thing that separates Whiz from Green, I'd say it's been Whiz's two big early round busts (Buster Davis and Cody Brown). It's really hard to maintain success when you're getting zero production from guys picked so early in the draft.
Overall talent: I realize this is a very relative term but I'll give it a go anyways. On offense I think the talent level is pretty close. Both offensive lines were well below average and both running back corps were hard to judge because of that. Both squads had studs at WR and almost nothing at TE. The biggest difference is at QB and I think we pretty much all could have guessed that. Even if you didn't know KW had a couple amazing seasons still left in his right arm, I think we'd all take a promising looking rookie over the trio we have now. One defense it's even harder to evaluate because we're playing a different scheme now, so I'll take the easy road and look at front seven and secondary. Even though we get next to nothing from our OLB's right now, I still think I'd take our front seven over Denny's last squad. Secondary is closer in my mind but with so much young talent who we think is on the way up (DRC, Toler, RJ), I'll give the nod again to Whiz's squad.
Well I didn't really intend on this becoming a Whiz vs. Green debate. It was more about simply seeing if Whiz had built a more talented 53 man roster than he inherited, so try to ignore all of the Whiz vs. Green comparisons. Overall though, after looking at everything, I don't think this roster is all that much more talented and I'm not sure what that says about Whiz. Does he simply get more out of his players? Did he simply get lucky that old Grey Beard had a couple magical seasons in him or is it something else entirely? And if Whiz isn't a good talent evaluator, is he strong enough in other areas to overcome it? Would take this roster over the squad that played the 2006 season?