Stillers Players Grades -- 1999 Season
Foreword: These grades are based on a player's play during the entire season, as I personally watched and re-watched (via videotape), as well as took notes on, each and every play of the season. Bear in mind that a player's grade is based not only on what he did, but also his years in the league, his salary, and any expectations of him. In other words, more is expected from a 6-year veteran making $3 million per year, than of an undrafted rookie free agent making the league minimum. Those not playing enough get an incomplete grade ("I").
In order of jersey number, here are the final grades:
A. Wright: Was never allowed to play even 1 snap the entire season, despite the team's elimination from playoff contention with 4 games remaining. Inc.
K. Brown: The young rookie made 25-29 FGs and finished with 105 points, which all in all made for a good season and a pleasant surprise. A couple negatives were his longer FGs; only 73% made from 40-49 yards, and 1-1 from 50+ (a 51 yarder). Sure, it's not his fault, per se, that he only attempted 1 FG in the 50-range, but I have to believe that the staff had such little confidence to try him on longer 55-yard FGs that they simply didn't ask him. Also, his KOs were terribly shallow the entire season. I'd venture to guess he had no more than 3 TBs the entire season, and all too often his boots were barely getting to the 12-yard line. A-.
Josh: Josh had a pretty stellar season; by far the best of his 4 years. His pooching and directional kicking was solid, and rarely did he go into any miserable slumps as he had in previous seasons. The 1 negative was the finale, in which he foolishly butterfingered the ball while preparing to drop it for a punt. A-.
Gonzalez: Like last saeason, Gonzalez was not permitted to get ANY playing time, except for a few snaps in mop up in the opening day laugher over Cleve. The fact that A. Wright ended up supplanting him as the #2 QB in the season finale spells doom for any future with this team (at least, as lng as Field Goaal Bill is around). I.
Stewart: The Western Union Man picked up where he left off last year�.except he played even worse a good bit of the time. He rarely threw effectively while on the run; his play-fakes were sloppy; his recognition & reads during the play was glacially slow; his deep passes were far too soft and floaty; and he continued to blatantly telegraph his throws. Not much more needs to be said for a man making an exorbitant salary and providing such little value to his team. F.
Mike Prozac: As I've insisted since preseason --- when this dumsummabitch Tomwhack attempted a pass while literally lying on his back --- I refuse to waste any time analyzing this worthless waste of cap money ($700K) and a roster spot. F.
Washington: DeWayne had a pretty solid season, finishing with 4 INTs and providing fairly consistent coverage and run support. Yes, DeWayne had some days where he took some abuse, but all in all his play was well above acceptable, and had he had even 2 ounces of pass rush support from the front 7, probably would have taken less beatings. B+.
Zereoue: Another player, like Gonzo, who was allowed a few token snaps in the laugher at Cleveland, and then barely ever touched the ball again. 18 rushes, 2 receptions, and 7 KO returns hardly gave us a picture of what this man can, or cannot, do in the NFL. I.
Simmons: A marginal second year player who did little to impress last season, Simmons had a mediocre season in '99. Simmons again showed that he has virtually no skills --- be it size, speed, athleticism, hitting, etc. --- to shut down a WR on a given play. Furthermore, Simmons may have set a modern day NFL record for number of misses on punt returners in a single season. C-.
Oldham: Ever the fan favorite, Oldham had another "ok" but unspectacular season. He had 1 INT and 3 sacks, the sacks mostly coming on blitzes where the offense was overmatched in sheer numbers. Oldham is a "nice guy to have around" but the team ought to be looking for more skill and youth in the secondary. C.
Townsend: Little Deshea had a pockmarked season, recording no INTs and getting heaped with a lot of abuse from enemy receivers. He did have a couple sterling games. I remain convinced that his best skills are covering a WR man-to-man- face-to-face right at the line of scrimmage, rather than this 12-yard cushion stuff. C+.
T. Davis: An astute observer I know commented rather early in the season, "Davis is like Perry, except he simply is faster at getting out of position." Not only that, but Davis proved he was capable of getting out of position any number of ways, including dumbassed stupidity, bootfooted clumsiness, biting on fakes, and overall poor reading and preparation. His tackling was often weak as well, with a bothersome penchant of refusing to wrap his arms around the ballcarrier. In all, a terrible disappointment and a major flop. D-.
Lance Brown: Sir Lancelittle did little again this season, contributing next to nothing in the dime defense and special teams. Teams that perennially carry stiffs like this often end up with sub-500 records. C-.
C. Scott: After sitting out all of last year with the knee injury, Chad came back and had a fairly solid season. He was often gimpy and unsure of himself, but he did acquit himself ok on occasion. They say it takes a good 2 years to fully recover from major knee surgery, which for Chad will take place in May '00. Hopefully he can come back full bore in '00. C.
Huntley: Hunt emerged from Cowhead's '98 doghouse to turn in one helluva season, rushing for 567 yards on only 93 carries (over 6 yards a crack!), scoring a team-high 8 TDs, and averaging 9.4 yards/catch --- better than Blackwell and just a smidgen less than Breuner & Hawkins. The one sour note came in the finale, when Hunt dropped an unforced fumble, then foolishly walked away in disgust while the defender sprinted by en route to a long TD return. All in all, however, Hunt displayed great reading, great footwork, good cutting, and very solid power. A.
Bettis: The Bus had a solid but unspectacular season, barley eking over the 1K mark by virtue of a lot of mediocre carries that netted only 3.6 yards/carry. He supposedly trained like a demon in the off-season, but then minor knee surgery during camp seemed to set him back and pack on whatever few pounds he managed to shed. Bettis did plow hard and fought for extra yardage, but it was readily apparent that he's no closer to 255 pounds than Roseanne Arnold is. B+.
Witman: Like many of his fellow teammates, Wit picked up right where he left off last year, and did little more than his miserable '98 campaign. His blocking was all too often too spotty and weak, and rarely did he get the kind of push that is expected and needed by a team trying to play smashmouth football. He dropped a plethora of passes, and very rarely gained much yardage at all after his ever-popular rinky-dink dumpoffs. His 2 long receptions were: a short out-pass was nearly INT'd by a diving defender, and no one wlese was nearby; and in the finale, another short out was left totally uncovered by ANYone for a long gainer. Take away these 2 plays and Witman averaged about 4.5 yards/catch. D+.
Flowers: The Lee-thal Weapon had another strong season, finishing 3rd on the team with 63 solos and 78 total stops, plus an assortment of bone-rattling hits. He also emerged as the outspoken leader on a team with a horrible lack of leadership. The minus side was that he broke up relatively few passes and was beaten deep a few times, including once in the Carolina loss. Next season, I'm hoping Lee fully fine-tunes all phases of his game. This year was good but my only fear is him plateauing in his mental reading and reacting, which are so very important for a safety. A-.
Chris Fu: The burly RB was hampered seemingly forever with nagging little injuries, and had no chance to garner much PT in front of Bus and Hunt. I.
J. Tuman: The rookie from Michigan supplanted Breuner as the team's "receiving TE" after about 5 games, but then promptly tore up his knee and was lost for the season. I.
Shields: The rookie 2d rounder tied for the team lead in INTs with 4, and had a solid season for a young rookie. Yes, he had the embarrassing day versus Balt, in which Q. Ismail made him look plain foolish on 2 successive slants for TDs. Despite his immense size, Shields often tackled and hit quite smallish. In all, if he polishes his game, he should be the starter next September. B-.
Hit Man Holmes: The Hit Man had another top notch season, leading the team in tackles with 87 solos and 27 assists. He'd finished with 96 and 92 total tackles the past 2 seasons, so this season continued the upward trend of this very under-rated LB. With a cap hit of only $1,389K, Holmes might very well be the best bargain in all of football. A.
Emmons: This stiff was rewarded with a fatty $930K 1-year tender as a RFA, and then went out and had 1 of the worst seasons ever by a Stiller LB. His run stuffing was some of the most wretched, nauseating crap the world has ever seen. He was continually pushed and bullied about�.by solo-blocking TEs or FBs! OTs thrashed him about even more. Yeah, he recorded 6 sacks --- and every damn one of them was a Dong Sack in which he beat NO ONE to get to the QB. His pass pressure stunk, his run stuffing stunk, and his pass coverage was, at best, mediocre. Every once in a rare while, Emmons made an adequate play that made one think, "Maybe this guy is coming around�" Then he'd make 23 utterly piss poor plays. F.
Vrabel: Another disappointing season from this glass-fragile player. After a promising '97 rookie year, Vrabel has done little more than warm the bench and fetch water. He did force a fumble on a rugged tackle late in the season, but that served as about the only highlight of the season. In my opinion, this was a make or break season for Vrabel --- a season to either show he belonged as a starter in the NFL, or a season to serve as proof that he is a career journeyman. Unfortunately, the latter holds true. C.
Fiala: Playing in his second season, Fiala played very solidly on special teams. He raely, if ever, played on the defense, unless in blowout mop-up relief. I don't think Fiala will ever become an NFL starter -- to slow and too msall. However, because of his meager salary of $250K, I can tolerate keeping him around another year or 2. B+.
A. Brown: For whatever bizarre reason, Donahoe pursued Brown in the offseason free agent sweepstakes like a bag lady pursuing a recyclable aluminum pop can. Brown quickly earned the nickname "Skates", due to his penchant of getting pushed around so easily it appeared he were wearing roller skates. Brown, at times, was serviceable, but all too often got abused and committed a plethora of foolish penalties. I could actually live with Brown being invited back -- as a backup ONLY. C-.
Duffy: This veteran played far more than anyone expected him to, due to the prolonged injury to Dawson. Duffy, like Brown, was serviceable at times, but also spent far too much time lollygaging, failing to finish blocks, and failing to get much push. Duffy also had a hideous habit of getting totally befuddled on pass plays, allowing instantaneous up-the-gut pressure on the QB. C.
Dawson: The perennial all-pro was nagged nearly the entire season with assorted injuries. He's a graybeard, but I fully expect Ol' Dirt to be back rejuvenated in his '97 form next season. I.
Faneca: I was quite impressed with Faneca last season. He even earned one of my highest grades out of all the players (an A-minus). Of course, coming out of the draft, it was well known that his one weakness was pass blocking. Unfortunately, neither he nor the staff did much, if anything, to rectify this problem. While his run blocking was pretty solid, his pass blocking was far too sieve-like. It's be one of the biggest disappointment in Augsut if this man does no improve in this area before the '00 season. B-.
Sweeney: This old warhorse gave it his last hurrah, spending what little PT he got almost exclusively on spec teams. He did get a truckload of work as a 2d TE in the season finale, for no apparent reason other than Cowhead's over-sentimentality. Perhaps Sweeney can be hired on after retirement as a scout or a line coach. B.
Pourdanesh: The Shar of Iran was deactivated for most of the 1st 13 games, or at most he sat glued to the pine. In a fit of desperation, he was inserted in game #14. He acquitted himself fairly well, and then was allowed to start in game 15 versus Carolina. In that game, he dominated Kevin Greene and led an offensive line surge that produced by far the line's best effort of the season. Although abused by Kearse for a sack & strip in the finale, Shar did neutralize Kearse pretty well. I would never consider just handing this man a starting job in next year's camp, but he ought to be given a long look and a legit shot to win the RT job. Ordinarily, a man playing so little would receive an "I", but given his strong play, plus the ADMITTED LACK of any reason whatsoever by Coach Cowhead for his benching, I'm giving him a B+.
Stai: The PigStai had a rather wretched season in which he gummed up more plays than a tar inside an engine, and committed more jackassed penalties than Paul Baxter and Dave Shultz combined. Stai not only failed to improve, but he unquestionably regressed. Very poor. D+.
Roye: The big DE finally was allowed to start full-time, and he responded with by far his best season. He provided solid pocket push and pass pressure, and made plenty of big run stuffs. He showed he is head and shoulders above any other defensive lineman on the roster. A-.
Gandy: Wayne Candy was a FA left tackle that Donahoe signed for mega-bucks this past spring. Unfortunately, he didn't live up to whatever sparse billing he had. Sure, at times he played fairly well. But his play was inconsistent and he committed loads and loads of foolish penalties. At times, he failed to dominate at the line on ground plays. He's going to have to step it up a helluva lot more to come close to earning his massive salary next season. C-.
Justin: He hurt his leg again in the offseason and was out for the year. In my mind, it's highly unlikely he'll ever come back. I.
Harrison: Last season, Harrison was narrowly edged out for the China Doll Award, given annually to the team's top malingerer who misses loads of games due to piddly little injuries. Almost as though he were driven by the anger from this snub, Hot Tub Harrison dominated the malingering this year and won the award in a landslide vote. In extremely sparse PT, Harrison finished with a whopping 6 tackles all season. F.
Henry: Keevin played his usual fairly solid, yet unspectacular, style of play. Perhaps if he was pushed for PT he'd do a bit more. B-.
Conrad: The Mannequin Man was used extensively by Cowhead this season -- for absolutely no apparent reason. He had a poor preseason and struggled like a bitch in the regular season, yet he consistently got loads of PT. What was particularly maddening was watching Olé Conrad -- a man who is 6'5" with long arms -- keep his arms hinged tight to his ribs and refuse to extend his arms to ward off pass rushers, which allowed rushers to storm by like a freight train over a bump. Rarely in my entire life have I EVER observed an NFL lineman with as poor footwork and handwork as The Upright Alligator, Piss Conrad. F.
Cushing: Given a chance to play after injuries wiped out Tuman, Breuner, and Lyons, Cushing had a few drops but caught a few balls and blocked okay. I.
Edwards: Troy came into camp at cocky as a rich man entering Vegas, and then bogged down in sprints, showing that he was not fully in shape. However, he dominated in preseason, showing a clear superiority over EVERY receiver on the roster in RAC skills, football skills, and the ability to make big plays. However, he rotted on the pine, sitting behind career journeyman Hawkins and unpolished & unspectacular Hines Ward. Edwards did come in off the bench as the #3 WR, and made an abundance of big plays. He likely would have never been allowed to start, but Hawk got injured around week 11 AND Troy was finally permitted to start. Eddie was victimized by several drops, but his big play capability and all-around skills make him a prime candidate --- if supported by any kind of average QB --- to have a dominant season in '00. B+.
Shaw: Clay Shaw came out of nowhere and had a very stellar season, snaring 28 passes at nearly 14 yards a grab. He showed very good smarts and RAC skills after he caught the ball, more often than not getting to the sticks and moving the chains. My one gripe with Shaw was his asinine flashing of a Superman t-shirt after he caught a meaningless late TD in the finale. Very juvenilish and sophomoric. B+.
M. Johnson: Because he was a rookie, Malcolm was not permitted to play excpet in rare mop-up work, despite the team's WR corps having NO ONE taller than 6'1" and also being ravaged by injury. I.
Lyons: This trusty backup played solidly in the 2-TE set and as a starter in Breuner's absence. Then he himself was injured late in the season and lost for the year. It was a pretty sever knee injury, so it's doubtful he'll be back in '00. B.
Ward: After showing solid promise as a rookie in '98, Ward was a major disappointment in '99. He basically was handed the starting job on a silver platter and then spent 16 weeks proving that he did nothing to deserve being a starting WR in the NFL. Yes, he made some solid plays now and then. But, time and time again, especially on deepish throws, he failed to go up and get the ball over a defender, and he showed zero ability to get any downfield separation. Unless drastic training and refinement occurs in the offseason, this man cannot be a successful starter in the NFL. C-.
Bruener: Re-signed to a massively fat contract this past offseason, Breuner was supposedly going to be the recipient of "the renewed emphasis of the TE." However, between Breuner's galcially slow pattern-running, and his stone fingers, this never materialized. He then got hurt after about 11 games and was lost for the season. Coming off yet another leg injury, his best chance to help this club in '00 would be not at TE, but at RT. C-.
Hawkins: Although he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in '98 that he had NO business starting in the NFL, he somehow was given the starting job again in '99�.and he again proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he had NO business starting in the NFL. Too small, too slow, and ZERO touchdowns after only a meager 1 TD last season. A trusty #3 WR but a horrible starter. D+.
Blackwell: In his 3rd season, Balckwell did little more than cement his name as one of the biggest 2d round busts in Stiller history, right next to Bob Kohrs and Wayne Capers. In his brief PT, he averaged a piddly 9.3 yards/grab with zero TDs. as is his brittle nature, he got hurt -- again -- and missed the final 5-some games. This pitiful excuse for a football player has not given any reason to be even invited to camp next summer. F.
A. Smith: Played only sparingly. Didn't impress me much at all, but it's likely he'll get a long look at camp in '00, especially if Roye departs. I.
Gildong: Last year, amid the foolhardy hype about his 11 sacks, I pointed out what a farce he was, since he'd gotten only 2 earned sacks and played overly poor run defense. This year, Gildong digressed so badly, that that thousands of Gildong fans severely soured on the overpaid stiff. He recorded 8.5 sacks, although only 3 were earned, and even at that they were against no-name RTs from Balt, Atlanta, and KC. And, he had a measley 1 sack in the final TEN games of the season. What's worse, was that Gildong got ZERO pass pressure or harassment on the QB, unless he came in totally unblocked & untouched. As for his run stuffing, it ranged from Downy soft to outright vomit. And no one in the NFL jumped on more play-fakes than Jason Gildong. The lasting image of Gildong in '99 will be of scrub FB M. Edwards steamrolling a pussyfooting Gildong at the goal line to score a key 4th quarter TD in Cleveland's stunning upset. In all, '99 one of the stenchiest, gack-laden seasons from a Stiller LB. Ever. F.
Steed: Fat Steed came off an entirely mediocre '98 season and followed it up with an qually sub-par '99. Sure, he ended up succumbing to knee problems that ended his season prematurely --- but did anyone consider how he GOT the knee problems? Any chance that being an overweight fatass had anything to do with it? Long before his season ended, Steed played mostly average, uninspired football. C-.
Staat: After wasting his entire rookie season with crybaby problems with his girlfriend and his mama, Faat Staat showed little in '99 despite a boatload of PT. What was comical was watching this understrengthed stiff try to play NT, where he was routinely blown off the ball without drawing a drop of sweat from the offensive lineman. Staat shows no explosiveness, no strength, no leverage, and no grit --- which are traits that some teams look for in their defensive linemen. D.
Porter: The rookie from CSU dominated in preseason, then -- because of his rookie status --- was quickly banished to the bench, rarely ever getting snaps on "D" until some late-season mop-up work. Porter played his ass off on spec teams and showed good signs of electric quickness and headhunting, culminating in the strip and TD return against Tenn. in the finale. It'll be a travesty if he is not given a fair, long look at a starting job at camp. A-.
Kelsay: The rookie from Nebraska played sparingly, so much so that he recorded just 4 tackles -- the same as Edwards and Witman had. He seems to be cut from a similar mold as Fiala, though not as gritty or as nosey for the football. I.
Kirkland: The Big Levon -- and I do mean BIG -- had a solid season. But compared to his pre-'98 seasons, it was a bit mediocre. Kirland led the league with his new tackling tachnique -- the Diving Flop and Flail, in which he would approach a QB dead on and somehow flop, flail and whiff at the QBs feet rather than make the sure, easy stop. Because of his fatty weight, he became a severe liability to cover backs and TEs downfield, so much so that late in the season, with the team facing KC and all-pro TE Gonzalez, the team had to yse L. Brown, Scott, and Holmes on different occasions, rather than the multi-millionaire and supposed Pro-Bowler Levon Kirkland. His tackling and run stuffing was also sub-par, which allowed Holmes to emerge as the team's clear #1 run stuffer. And, just like last year, there was a total dearth in leadership by the team captain and megabucks millionaire. B-.
The Still Mill