Some posts have recently noted that one option, perhaps our best, would be using Peyton Hillis as an 'H-back'. I did a little digging, asked our resident authorities some questions and came up with a short analysis that I'd like to share.
H-back. For what it's worth, I'm not sure this is the best role for Hillis this year: at the least, not his only one. We probably are in need of him at RB, but we know that McD does value versatility. If that's the case, there's really no reason to limit Hillis to one role or the other. While his running style might create the potential for some injuries, it does reduce others. It's always better to be the hitter than the hittee, and Hillis likes hitting people when he runs. Since he also catches well and blocks fairly well in certain situations, we can use him in different roles. After all - that's one idea of the function of the H back. But first, let's define our terms.
In 2008, most people would agree that Brandon Marshall had quite a year.
He started the 2008 regular season off with a multiple-game suspension for several incidents of off-field unbecoming conduct, a suspension which Commissioner Goodell reduced to a single game after an appeal. Earlier in the spring, he gave differing explanations of how he fell through the glass door of an entertainment center, severely injuring his right arm. But Brandon returned from his off-season escapades with a recovering arm and a changed attitude – sort of. As Jay Cutler later put it,
"Brandon will be Brandon."
The change to a 3-4 alignment has become increasingly popular in the NFL, as have integrating the hybrid formations. There are several reasons: Although their roots are several decades old, like all alignments, they are most recently emerging in response to the increasingly complex offenses and to rule changes that favor the offense.
Like every approach, they have strengths and weaknesses. One of the strengths is the availability of linebackers who are otherwise ‘tweeners' - those who are too big for the more-traditional 4-3 formations, yet who lack the size and strength for the 4-3 DE position, much less the two-gap 3-4. Our colleges turn out many of these players each year, and with the growing 3-4 movement, the best of them can have a solid career in the NFL. And that's where Cody Brown comes in.
Early this season, I published a story about Ryan Clady, comparing him to Joe Thomas (find it here). No one from the MHR was unkind enough to disabuse me of that notion, but I tried not to suggest that he would be as good as quickly. That was a very good thing, since for his first year, he wasn't. Clady was better. Greatly better.
To show just how much, I just caught a link in Walter Football, listing the number of sacks that each LT gave us. We all knew that Clady was the best over the 1st 16 games with 0.5 sacks. Seeing it again in print brought it back to me. Remarkable that one of the Pro Bowl players, Jason Peters had 11.5 sacks in 13 games. The near legendary Joe Thomas? 3.5 sacks, the same as another Pro Bowler, Walter Jones. At least Michael Roos came close with a single sack.
There has been a lot of buzz on MHR recently about the RB situation and particularly regarding a central question going into next year: Who will be our RBs? Should we use a high draft pick on the famed ‘Home Run Hitter' running back, or is a different approach a better option? It's a great discussion, and there is a lot to be said on all sides.
The Broncos nearly didn't have the pick that brought Hillis to them. They received it from Tampa Bay in the Jake Plummer trade. While Plummer is happy sticking to handball, the 7th round pick they sent us has produced an exciting and solid performer. Hillis has raised the bar for our RB group. He's going to be hard to stop and hard to top.
"…pick of the draft, the 325 lb. DE from football powerhouse Stillman, Sammie Lee Hill!"
You bet. In an innovation that worked beyond their hopes, Greg Thompson, head coach of the Stillman football program, spoke to Dennis Conner, his OC, and they decided to try something new on defense. Their answer was Sammie Lee Hill, a very big, very versatile player with a lot of skills.
One good reason that the Cardinals are in the Super Bowl is that a few years ago Dennis Green chose an interesting strategy for the draft. He and his staff make a list of the top 140 players in the draft and placed them in descending order. Any time a player was drafted they drew a line through him and moved on. When it was their turn, they took the player at the top of the list. No matter what strategy you espouse, this one worked out well for Arizona.
What happens after an injury?
With the hirings of Ed Donatell, Wayne Nunnely and Don Martindale, this is where we are to date:
A lot of the MHR faithful have been concerned with Peyton Hillis and his rehabilitation from his injury of last year. Many of us cringed just watching that circus catch with the obvious injury it created, but Hillis didn’t drop the ball then and he’s not going to drop it now. The name of the ball is rehab, and he’s become a fixture around Dove Valley this winter. He's constantly getting treatment and getting stronger for next season.