FanPost

Arizona Cardinal Problems #1 - Levi Brown


So I have been ranting about my disappointment in the Cardinals. Most of my blame goes to Coach Whiz as the Head Coach is responsible for the product put on the field. I have not been impressed with the cardinals this year. We have blown 3 games. But, hope abounds as it is still early and lest we forget, we play in the NFC west.

I hope to write a short series of posts detailing what I think are the cardinals biggest issues moving forward. The reason I have been calling for Whiz to be held accountable because these important issues have not been addressed during his 5 year tenure as HC in the desert.

If you have been watching what I have been posting I have been talking about important key positions on football teams. Mainly that the NFL is a pass first league, thus your most important positions are QB, Blindside protector (usually LT), and Pass rusher. I am not going to discuss Kolb, because I like what he brings and I think he is one of the best trades the cards have ever made. He gave us hope, allowed us to sign Fitz, and is putting up solid numbers with a swiss cheese Oline. Thus, We are onto issue number 2- LT. 

So without further ado, Arizona Cardinals problem #1 - Levi Brown

The Cardinals selected Brown 5th overall out of Penn State in 07. He was selected above many notable players (which only adds to the disappointment that he has been) such as Adrian Peterson, Patrick Willis, Darelle Revis, Lawrence Timmons, Leon Hall, John Beason, Joe Staley, and Kevin Kolb. Going into that year was Whisenhunts first year at the helm and he decided, most likely with Grimm in his ear, to draft for need instead of best player available and select what he thought was a franchise OT. That offseason saw former first round pick/bust (at least at OT, Good Gaurd) Leonard Davis depart for Dallas. I have a few problems right here. I do not know when Whiz decided that Leinart was not his guy, so I can understand to protect what you thought you might have in Leinart. Plus, the Cards had a terrible Oline as all Denny Green would draft was skill positions. So in that sense I like the pick. He thought he had a franchise QB, so get some insurance, namely a LT. If Whiz new he did not like Leinart from day 1, then it was an even worse pick.  I am a bit old school and still firmly believe that you win games in the trenches. Good O line make good offenses. See: Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans. Bad O lines make good teams bad. See: Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals. So I do like the Idea of using high draft picks on the O line. More on that later.

Scouting reports on Brown were as follows:

Brown is already an outstanding run blocker and will immediately boost the running efforts of whichever team selects him. A pretty good athlete, especially for someone of his stature, Brown should  (my emphasis) be able to develop into a fine pass blocker as well,...He will be able to play either tackle or guard at the next level. If Brown keeps up his fine form, look for him to crack the top 20 on draft day.

- Usually you shouldn't draft someone fifth overall who might be crack the top 20. also, players who project to T-G usually are poor pass protectors. onto the next one. Boost the running efforts? what running efforts. We are the Cardinals.

Despite being blessed with great skills he did not consistently dominate. Good athlete, but he can be beat by speed rushers. Struggled with a meniscus tear in 06. Needs to develop more of a mean streak and improve his pass blocking technique...Brown has the ability and skills to be a potential Pro Bowler at the right tackle position. Although he has the athleticsm to be a left tackle if needed, his run blocking and size suggest he would be an elite right tackle

- LT if needed, beaten by speed rushers, not consistent, needs mean streak, needs to improve technique. hmmmm, sounds familiar. onto the next one.

With proper coaching, he will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. Brown has a high ceiling due to his extreme strength and athleticism. When he locks onto a defender, the play is over... Inconsistency has been the question of Levi Brown during his entire collegiate career. Many have a concern about his lack of focus at times, but the bigger concern is his technique. He will have some moments early where he may struggle, so initially he may not produce at the highest level. Like Thomas, Levi Brown also had some knee injuries while at Penn State, so there are some injury concerns. Past underachieving vs. future potential? That will be the question NFL scouts and teams will have to wage and make a decision about come April’s draft. Levi Brown will be one of the bigger Boom vs. Bust picks in the 2007 Draft. That being said, potential franchise left tackles are increasingly difficult to come by so expect to hear Levi Brown’s name called early in the draft, potentially in the top 10.

- He might even get picked in the top 10. REEEEAAACH! boom or bust. well, I guess we know the answer to that.

Looking at pass blocking on Pro Football Focus, Brown was the 2nd worst LT in the NFL last season in both productivity(rating: 9.55)  and efficiency(rating: 8.57). If you want to understand these better check out http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2011/06/13/2010-pass-blocking-efficiency-tackles/  Basically it means he is not good. Compare his numbers to Joe Thomas' (taken 2 spots in front of him in the draft) Efficiency: 3.47 and Productivity 2.44. Quite a disparity. Levi brown gave up 70 pressures last year...70! That is 4.3 per game. No wonder Kolb is skittish in the pocket. side note: Hightower gave up 3 sacks last year (do not miss him at all).

Levi Brown has been rated perennially as one of the worst LT in the game yet nothing has been done. He has not even been asked to take a pay cut. He is being paid like he is an above average LT when he clearly is not. look at the tape, the stats or one offensive series and you will see that Brown is a glaring weak spot on our offense. And the hole is magnified by the fact that it is the LT. 

Despite all this, I do not dislike or hate Levi Brown. I actually think he is a pretty good player and much like Leonard Davis, he could be a great Guard. What I do not like is the example of poor coaching that Brown has been for the Cardinals. Russ Grimm has not made Levi Brown a good player. There have been articles this year saying that Levi could be good if he would just 'trust his technique'. Good to see we are still learning the position in year 5. Whiz has not put Brown in a position to be successful. Why draft a run blocking tackle if you never run the ball. it was like the suns trading for Shaq. The player does not fit the system. Brown shines when he can get downhill and get his hands on DE's. He is a huge load in the run game and a huge load of S#!& in the pass game.

Whiz has had this problem for 5 years now and has not addressed it. As I stated in a previous post, we have used so very few draft picks (especially high ones) on linemen since whiz got here. This needs to be addressed. why are we drafting RB's and WR's in the early rounds of drafts? A running backs is only as good as his O line. the Texans are a great example of this. Steve Slaton (few years ago), Arian Foster and Ben Tate have all looked really good because the Texans line is really good. We need to spend early draft picks on linemen. This of course is tough because you do not want to reach on a player like we did with Brown. But we have only used 1, count 'em, 1 draft pick in the first 4 rounds since whiz has got here on linemen. And if you take away whiz's first ever pick as the HC of the Cardinals, he has spent exactly zero high picks on the O line. 20 draft picks through the first 4 rounds of the last 5 drafts, 1 OL. I do not know about you, but I was always told that franchises are built from the inside out.

Linemen we have passed on recently that would be really nice to have:

2010- Roger Staffold,

2009- Eben Britton, Sebastian Vollmer,

2008- Jeff Otah, Sam Baker, Duane Brown,

2007- Joe Staley, Ryan Harris, Doug Free, Jeremy Bushrod.

The Cardinals (Whiz) has done a very poor job in drafting, coaching and using Levi Brown. In a pass first league we have the worst (literally) LT in football. in 5 years nothing has been done to address this and now we have fans jumping all over Kolb because he won't hang in the pocket. I say, 'WHAT POCKET?' Brown gives up the edge over 4 times per game! that does not include pressure from other spots on the line. Brown, by himself is giving up pressure on about 10-15% of our passing plays. just brutal. I am not a football expert be any means, but I have an idea and those of you who know football give me some feedback. On passing plays, either roll away from the pressure (so roll to the right because the pressure is mostly coming for where Levi is), use Jeff King, an excellent blocking TE to help, or use a back to help. On running plays run right behind big Levi and at least let him earn some of the money he is paid. but hey, what do I know. The cardinals offense will never be elite until we can consistently establish a pocket.

Next post will be on our pass rush woes.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Revenge of the Birds' (ROTB) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of ROTB's editors.</em>

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