Share It

Showing posts with label Mike Tolbert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mike Tolbert. Show all posts

Friday, March 30, 2012

Stewart Trade Still Smart

Stewart Trade Still Smart

It won’t happen, but Jonathan Stewart is a guy I’d still trade.

It hurts to say, honestly. Stewart has been a fantastic back for Carolina in four years, proving as able and surprisingly more healthy than Deangelo Williams. Given the chance, he could easily best 1600 yards (and probably would have no problem pitching in 500+ receiving yards). He’ll never do that here, which is fine, because it’s not about personal accomplishment here.

But, from a business standpoint, Stewart should go.

With a year left on his rookie deal, he’s ready to be paid well, and who knows – Carolina may do that. They have a history of it. It’s something they apparently intend to do – even suggesting that adding Mike Tolbert as a future contingency plan if Stewart goes. Stewart could demand more than Williams – and Carolina could pay, giving what could be 1/6 of their cap to just two players. Two players that aren’t doing different things. Franchising him for a year or two would net fewer longterm issues, with no security. But at a very unfortunate cap number in those two years.

The other option, of course, is that Carolina lets Stewart walk and they receive nothing. Which is why a trade now should be lucrative, a shift of talent from being RB heavy to being able to afford other things, too. It might give Carolina the ability to go get two defenders in the top 50, without missing out on another offensive playmaker. It might give the team the ability to load up on three defenders in the same space.

The trade of Mike Goodson to Oakland essentially seals in our RBs for 2012 – Stewart and Williams at running back, Tolbert at fullback. Stewart remains, and the team is better for it now- but longterm, the cost seems greater with him than without.

Tolbert To Do Heavy Lifting

Newly signed RB Mike Tolbert buys into what’s going on in Carolina.

Apparently, he’s willing to take less money than the Chargers offered to stay (in one of the most beautiful markets in the league), to move to fullback and play special teams, two of the grittiest, thankless jobs out there.

Ron Rivera reiterated that Tolbert was a guy they saw as a fullback, citing him as “athletic ... playmaking.” This, along with the Mike Goodson trade, suggests no Jonathan Stewart trade.

Now, suggesting fullback isn’t to say that Tolbert would spend all of his time flinging himself at a defender. It’s an important piece of the puzzle, one that was missing last year, but not the only part in Carolina. The Coryell offense has regularly given the fullback balls (note Larry Senters, FB for Arizona in the 90s, who caught 100 balls as a fullback). Tolbert himself caught 50 balls last year as a backup RB. There’s room for split-back sets that could give Tolbert the ball, and certainly short yardage he makes sense as well. Of course, were anything to happen where Carolina did need Tolbert at RB, that’s always an option. Consider him a more talented, more dynamic Nick Goings, who thrived in a throttled-down version of this offense with Dan Henning.

Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is a master at formations, shifts, and motions, and that could mean that Tolbert can move around – a lot. He’s not so athletic that he poses a bigtime threat on the edge as a receiver the way a Deangelo Williams or Greg Olson could, but it still does draw attention. Defenses would still, as typical, move the CB out if Tolbert motioned outside the WR, hopefully leaving a mismatch somewhere else. Moving Tolbert around within formation, or out-and-back (in our terminology, F Orbit), can tell the adjustment (which can tip off the defense). And having a more

It’s a departure from most of the league, where the fullback has fallen out of favor. Carolina, who used Olson and Jeremy Shockey together for the majority of snaps that didn’t include at least 3 WR, often used Olson moving around, and lining up at fullback a good deal, but it was window dressing. They may still do that at times on 2 TE sets – the other TE is up for grabs at this point (Ben Hartsock is the more likely blocker, younger Gary Barnidge would likely have the job if he can block lower or show more consistency as he had in preseason 2011), so it’s less likely the team does use 2 TE at this point. The move is a departure for Chudzinski, who spent time in 2011 acquiring three new TEs, and added Randy McMichael and to Antonio Gates in 2010. Both teams used more 2 TE than almost anyone in the league in that timespan. Of course, using Olsen by himself would increase his productivity, and might let him go deeper more often, combining him with a WR route instead of pairing him more with the other TE as was the case often last year.

Now that does leave Richie Brockel on the ledge, so to speak. Another former Charger, Brockel scored on possibly the coolest play of the 2011 season, on a goal-line trick play that included a stealthy snap without linemen moving, a fake triple-option that had both Steve Smith and Deangelo Williams as possible pitch men, and ended with Brockel the unlikely hero scoring untouched. Brockel has some blocking ability, and toughness – and special teams ability. But Tolbert recreates all of that, at a higher level, and better hands (and RB skill when needed).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stewart Trade Rumors Die Down

I have to admit, while I like the Pat Yasinskas ideal that the Panthers are using Mike Tolbert, picked up today, primarily as a fullback, I do think back longingly at the idea of getting great value out of Jonathan Stewart.

Stewart's a better back than anyone currently a free agent, and at a low deal this year ($3 million). He has low miles, and honestly, he might be more talented than Deangelo Williams if he can get more carries.

It's down to where I don't want him to go, but the appeal of having another top 40 pick for our defense is more palatable than spending another $50 million on another back.

Tolbert isn't Stewart, and in an ideal world you'd have all of these backs, but it isn't - and I don't want tons of money into a trio of RBs if it means being talent poor on defense. In a year, will it be more important to have that $50 million into an immensely talented RB with another one already there, or into a playmaker on defense? That's Jon Beason money.

It's a delicate balance. Stewart is a main force on this team. He'll probably stay, and I'll be happy the team got what it wanted, but it'll be tough to stay competitive with two star RB, a star QB who runs a good deal, and a lot of roleplayers.