the Post has him penciled in as the starting right guard going into training camp because "Shanahan and his staff liked what they saw on film..."Let me start by saying that I don't mean to pick on Mike Williams. I have a lot of respect for all the work he put into restoring his NFL career and he's a guy I'd love to be wrong about. And apparently the new coaching staff thinks I am wrong. He was given a new contract, and
Now granted Mike Shanahan gets paid several million dollars a year to think about football while I'm just some schmuck with an internet connection. Nonetheless I can't imagine what the film showed him that made such an impression.
Williams was certainly better at guard than at tackle, but lets face it, as a tackle he was an outright disaster. But even at guard Williams' weaknesses were on display. His total lack of mobility hurt him again and again. He occasionally got good push based on pure bulk, but he couldn't sustain blocks and the defenders were often able to recover from the initial blow and slip by him due to their superior athleticism. He frequently struggled to get out on screens. He understandably has trouble shifting all that weight in different directions, so in pass protection he was vulnerable to spin moves, stunts, or any other routine bits of misderection. He was not a good guard last year - he was just less awful than when he tried to play tackle.
All I can figure is that Shanahan sees more potential than accomplishment here - we've heard a lot about his confidence in his (and his staff's) ability to coach players to the height of their ability. With an additional year of conditioning under Williams' belt and a new coaching approach, maybe Shanahan thinks Williams is capable of performing close to the level that made him a first round pick so many years ago. I hope so, but I'll believe it when I see it.
OK, enough trashing of Big Mike. We got a few more tidbits out of minicamp. The two of them I found most interesting are below. It is of course, May, and everything is subject to change, but at least we can get clues about what the coaching staff is thinking going into 2010.
- WaPo answers one of my questions about the offseason moves : Was G/T Artis Hicks was brought in as interior line depth or to compete with Stephon Heyer for the right tackle job? It's the latter, and apparently it's Hicks' job to lose for now (I get it - May). I think I mentioned before that I'm worried about Hicks because if he was any good as a tackle he probably never would have been moved to guard. Nonetheless I'm pleased to see the coaches think they have found someone who would be an upgrade over Heyer.
- Andre Carter recently looked like someone without a role in a 3-4. From Tandler:
"[T]he team will play some 4-3, allowing Carter to line up with his hand in the dirt. Also, Jim Haslett has said that version of the 3-4 that the Redskins will use is very different from the one that the 49ers employed. He said that Carter would be much more comfortable in this defense as he wouldn’t be asked to drop back in coverage very often."
So they are going to use a talented player in such a way as to maximize his strengths. Not only that, but they are willing to say this to the media so people can quit speculating about his future. Why doesn't Albert Haynesworth get this courtesy?