Adalius Thomas a Better Fit for Big Blue Than Gang Green?
We are just two days removed from the NFL draft and the player activity continues to swirl. This time it is centered around the not no surprising release of veteran linebacker Adalius Thomas. Thomas spent last season in the Patriots coaching staff's dog house.
After being late for an 8:00am team meeting, he was benched along with three other players and suffered through a bumpy season with the once great New England franchise. Now, after his release, he, and others, are talking about a possible reunion with former coach Rex Ryan.
Thomas played under Ryan while with the Baltimore Ravens. He, along with Ray Lewis, formed an intimidating tandem for a once stifling defense. Many believe that the reunion with former coach Ryan is eminent and necessary for both for parties involved.
That may be so, but allow me to bring another team into the discussion that has an equal need and also may be a possible good fit for his return to the caliber of player he once was. That team is the New York Giants. The Giants, like the Jets, are in need of a linebacker.
The Jets' need is more to assist in depth at the position, as Vernon Gholston will be moving to defensive end. The team already had talent at the position in the sensational David Harris and the veteran Bart Scott. Thomas may only be used as additional depth and a fill-in when the aforementioned players need a breather. Under Rex Ryan's aggressive play calling, Thomas most certainly could shine again.
For the Giants, the need runs a little deeper. Despite what the analysts say, the depth at the linebacker position is not full of established players. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The team cut ties with long-time defensive leader Antonio Pierce early this offseason. Since then, and some may argue even before that, they have been in need of linebackers.
They drafted two a few days ago in Phillip Dillard and Adrian Tracy, who plays both linebacker and defensive end. The team also has a few players returning with another year's experience under their belt—players such as Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff, Bryan Kehl, Clint Sintim, and Kenny Ingram. However, with the exception of Boley and Blackburn, none of these players are established in the league and for the most part remain widely untested.
This scenario has to be considered unacceptable to a franchise that barely missed the playoffs last season and are just a few seasons removed from a championship. They are in contention every year under coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning. They must expect more from this phase of the defense. They need veteran leadership in that linebacker corp for two reasons.
One, if they drafted for the future and believe that the previously mentioned players are going to be adequate or beyond so, they must have a veteran presence that can properly groom them—a player whose sheer presence alone can cause opposing quarterbacks to second guess. This is the type of player that Thomas has been and can be again. He can show these youngsters the little nuances of the games that the average player may not be able to.
Second, if combined with the playoff experience of both Boley and Blackburn, Thomas makes the corp instantly credible. He adds depth, leadership, experience, and, under the right circumstances, an example of how to play the position. These are, above all, what is needed in that group.
I recall watching a play from Super Bowl 42 in which Pierce made an adjustment at the line prior to the Patriots snapping the ball. He called for a different coverage and a different blitzer. The result went in the Giants' favor. This is the type of impact that goes unnoticed most of the time but is essential for the success of a team in a game and a season.
This is the type of impact a veteran leader on a defense can bring. This is the type of veteran leadership that not only Thomas can bring, but the defense would be missing if they go on as planned without such a player.
I am prone to mention that he could also be the type of player who ends up like Lavar Arrinton. A flash of greatness and then gone, never to regain that form or that level of stature among the players again, Thomas may very well not be worth the risk for either team.
Then again, if he can prove himself healthy and remorseful, ready to accept a new challenge with an open mind and an open understanding of there being no place for former behaviors, then he may just be worth the risk and pan out properly as expected. If indeed, he does this, he will be not only an asset to either team, but to anyone willing to take that risk.
After examining the needs for both teams mentioned, it may be more worth the risk to the Giants than the Jets. The Jets already have the type of player twice over, that he could be. The Giants do not. That's the difference and that is what Thomas could make for the Giants defense—a difference.
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