A Template for Success

Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

A franchise quarterback is always the craze. The San Francisco 49ers attempted to sway Peyton Manning a couple of off-seasons ago, but lost out. Our Tampa Bay Buccaneers have jettisoned the five year waiting-in-progress of a potential franchise quarterback Josh Freeman this past season and have had growing pains with third-round rookie quarterback Mike Glennon.  With a new regime, the biggest query will be what they are going to do with the quarterback position: should we stay or should we go... acquire another quarterback via free agency, trade or draft.

Three year Snapshot

Year

Offensive Pass Ranking

2011

29th

2012

23rd

2013

30th

Those are some terrible rankings. An offensive production like that from the passing game deserves its losing ways and missing the playoffs. The Bucs have missed the playoffs for several years, but those passing rankings listed above are not its own. Those stats belong to the 49ers.  It does make one have to re-think the need for franchise quarterback immediately to become relevant.  With Mike Glennon being compared to Alex Smith's game play, maybe Glennon can hold the spot until something better comes around.  And yet even then, see 2013 stat, the quarterback is not forced to carry the load.  That is if we are to follow the Niners' program.

Bucs and Niners Three Year Ranking Comparison

Year

Team

Off. Pass

Off. Rush

Def. Pass

Def. Run

PF

PA

2011

Bucs

16

30

21

32

17.9

30.9

SF

29

8

16

1

23.8

14.3

2012

Bucs

10

15

32

1

24.3

24.6

SF

23

4

4

4

24.8

17.1

2013

Bucs

32

22

17

15

18.0

24.3

SF

30

3

7

4

25.4

17.0

The meme that the NFL is a non-stop flinging league and defense is dead is contradicted by the San Francisco organization, as they have made the playoffs in the three consecutive years denoted above. Trent Baalke was the defacto general manager, GM, for the Niners in 2010.  QB Alex Smith has been with the Golden Gate team since being drafted in 2005.  Here is a snapshot of Baalke's top picks since being in charge:

2010

Round 1 (11th overall):  Anthony Davis, OT

Round 1 (17th overall):  Mike Iupati, OG

Round 3 (91st overall) NaVorro Bowman, LB

2011

Round 1 (7th overall):  Aldon Smith, DE

Round 2 (36th overall):  Colin Kaepernick, QB

Round 5 (163rd overall):  Daniel Kilgore, C/G

FA signing:  Jonathan Goodwin, C

2012

Round 1 (30th overall):  AJ Jenkins, WR

Round 2 (61st overall):  LaMichael James, RB

Round 4 (117th overall):  Joe Looney, G

2013

Round 1 (18th overall):  Eric Reid, S

Round 2 (40th overall):  Tank Carradine, DE

Of the five starting offensive linemen for the 49ers, only one was acquired as a free agent.  The rest were drafted, one of them was an undrafted free agent rookie.  Current head coach Jim Harbaugh  was hired in 2011.  San Francisco went hard after Peyton Manning during the 2012 off-season, meaning Kaepernick may not have had a chance to play at all and doing what Brock Osweiler has been doing, which is keeping the bench warm.

This may seem like an over simplification and it is, but the three year reflection can deduce a few things.  The team needs a strong running game.  Yet, to have a strong run game, the offense needs a strong offensive line to break open holes for its running backs to be consistently ranked in the top 10, let alone top 5 in rushing.  On the other side of the ball, the team needs to have the ability to stop the opposing offense's run game.  Lastly, maintain or improve controlling the war of the trenches.  To follow a defensive minded approach of the Niners.

Our organization seemed to have wanted to follow the offensive game plan to that of the Niners with the signing LT Penn and G Joseph to re-newed contracts as well as add G Carl Nicks.  Unfortunately, for the past two years, Nicks has been injury prone and Joseph was missing for two seasons despite playing in one of those two missing seasons.  The Bucs possess a superfluous amount of talent in running backs with Pro Bowler Doug Martin, 2013 sixth round pick Mike James, and undrafted Bobby Rainey to go along with Brian Leonard.  Yet these running backs are rendered inept due to an inept offensive line to push and create holes.  Without that ability, then the play action calls will also be deemed inept.

Defensively, we achieved a #1 ranking in defensive rushing in 2012.  In 2013, we all knew we had to address the secondary, thus the prompting of signing FA safety Goldson, traded for CB Revis, as well as draft CB Banks.  Unfortunately, we did not re-sign defensive lineman Michael Bennett and unheralded DT Roy Miller.  The defense rushing took an epic tumble going from first to last.  This organization needs to address this glaring problem.

In comes Lovie Smith to Tampa.  Here is what Lovie has done in the previous three years in the NFL:

Lovie Smith and da Bears, Three years snap shot

Year

Team

Off. Pass

Off. Rush

Def. Pass

Def. Run

PF

PA

2010

Chi

29

10

8

8

23.7

17.3

2011

Chi

26

9

28

5

22.1

21.3

2012

Chi

28

22

20

2

20.9

17.9

Coincidentally enough, Lovie seems to share the same ideology with Jim Harbaugh.  2010 was the best year of the three which concluded in a loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.  In order to achieve Lovie's old scheme, he needs to address the trenches.  Tedford can focus on the offensive side, with a focus on running.  Defensively, we have Leslie Frazier at the helm.  Here is seven years worth of his defense, both as a DC, defensive coordinator, and as a HC, head coach.

Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Years

Year

Team

Def. Pass

Def. Run

PA

2007

DC

32

1

19.4

2008

DC

18

1

20.8

2009

DC

19

2

19.5

2010

DC

10

9

21.8

2011

HC

26

11

28.1

2012

HC

24

11

21.8

2013

HC

31

16

30

It is safe to say that as long as Frazier is a DC, then we are definitely in good hands and true to form of what a Lovie Smith defense should produce: strong rush defense and low PA.

The huge desire for a franchise, hall of famer quarterback meme is contrary to who we hired as a head coach as well as the game plan for a successful program, which is to have a strong run game and a very good defense headed by a strong rush defense.

Chip Kelly's rookie HC season

Year

Team

Off. Pass

Off. Rush

Def. Pass

Def. Run

PF

PA

2013

Phi

9

1

32

10

27.6

23.9

For the hell of it, I looked at what Chip Kelly had done in his inaugural season.  Strong run game and strong rush defense produced a 10 win season and a playoff birth.  Crazy, right?  This was accomplished with a third round draft pick in 2012, quarterback Nick Foles.

There are several ways to build a franchise.  With this reflection, acquiring a quarterback may not be the most immediate need with this back to the future regime.  To become relevant, you have to win the war in the trenches.  At least that is what I gathered with the Niners and Lovie Smith programs.

*Note: All stats were from ESPN.com.

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