Probably some of the most commonly thrown around words on this site include: Unrealistic, Realistic, possible, optimistic, pessimistic, can, can't, maybe, and possibly. What's the common denominator between all of those words? They all involve our expectations for our players, and team. There are a few different kinds of people on this site. There are the optimistic, the pessimistic, the in-betweens, but then there are those of you who claim you're realistic. That's a very interesting term there, because we all have very differing views on what we think is going to happen. Because of all of those different views, realistic almost becomes a redundant term. I generally find that those who use that word are people who look at things with the black glasses (my contradictory term to rose-colored glasses) since they probably don't want to have too high expectations in fear of being disappointed. What I shall do after the jump is talk about some subjects in terms of what other people on this site have mentioned as their beliefs, trends around the league, off-season info, and various other factors.Aaron Maybin: I gotta be honest, I really hate talking about him, so i'm getting this out of the way first. Not because I don't like him, I love Mayhem. But because of how much differing opinion there is, and how stubborn some people are in their views. There are some who think he's gonna have a crazy, double-digit sack season, and then others who think he's gonna have only one or two sacks the whole year. Let's try to add up as much info as we can. Among other things, we know the guy has speed, we know that he was a pleasant surprise last year, and we know that he's had trouble keeping weight. That last bit of info, on top of how he's not an every-down player (as of now), lead some people to believe that he'll do nothing. Let me give my views on the topic. I think that double digit sacks is possible, but far from a lock. I personally believe that it's reasonable to expect at least a few more than last year, since he has the entire off-season to spend with the team, and has already shown that he can improve his game. Now, two things that people keep bringing up are 1. a lot of his sacks were coverage sacks and 2. He's only a pass rushing specialist. I'm gonna be blunt here: those facts are incredibly pointless. Aldon Smith isn't and every-down player, and look what he did. And even if some of his sacks were coverage sacks, they were still sacks that nobody else on the team managed to achieve.
Okay, long story short: He has his knocks against him, and none of us really know what he's going to pull off, but quit acting like he's gonna go sackless, because there's not much evidence to support that theory. The signs seem to point to at least some improvement. Okay, i'm done with this one now.
LaRon Landry: The only really significant free agent we signed (Tebow doesn't count). And boy, does he have a big red flag. It's that Achilles injury that's caused him to barely play half of his games over the past two seasons. By the way, read this article for some more insight: He claims that he's going to be okay and that "fluke injuries happen when you only know one speed with no brakes". But I don't know how much weight we should put into what players claim. It's reasonable to expect that it's going to cut his season short again, since it's happened twice, but this isn't Bob Sanders we're talking about. He missed one start his entire career before that Achilles. It's like not he's a lock to miss 8 games a season. This is one that we just have to cross our fingers on, since nothing has explicitly been said saying that he's going to play the whole season, other than some things Landry said himself. If you guys want to put on the Black Glasses here, go ahead. It's justifiable. That being said, i'm still hopeful that he can give us a full season, and that he's telling the truth when he says it's more of a bone injury this time that he can take care of by himself.
By the way, here's a side note: He's probably not gonna stay next season, since it's a bit of a catch 22. If he gets hurt, he's not coming back. If he plays the whole season, then he'll demand too much money on the open market. So enjoy his play while it lasts.
Quinton Coples: The reports coming out of OTAs and the rookie camp suggest that he's working hard, and honestly, that starts to answer one of my biggest concerns with him after the draft. I wasn't sure about his work ethic or passion. But everything seems to be A-okay so far on that front, so i'm not as worried now, but i'll wait for the pads to go on before a final judgement. What do I personally think he's gonna do? I think he'll help push the pocket a little more, and pitch in around 4-6.5 sacks. Oftentimes, defensive lineman don't produce many sacks their first year, but then sharply ascend in the next couple years. Look at Mario Williams and Chris Long for some good examples. He should help the pass rush a little bit, but i'm not expecting him to come here and be the next John Abraham right away. I think most people generally agree with these views, so there's not much else to say.
Stephen Hill: two words: Deep. Threat. That's all he is right now, and that's all he needs to be. A deep threat was what our offense was really missing last year, and now that we have one, it opens things up more. I don't expect him to have spectacular numbers because of his rawness, but I do think he'll have a very nice contribution in terms of his presence. Most people seem to generally agree with this viewpoint, but there are a couple people who don't think he's gonna pitch in very much at all because of how raw he is. You can't teach that kind of speed/size combo he as, and you have to respect it too. A few draft analysts have even said this. I don't see any reason to wear black glasses here, nor do I see how my opinions are really rosy. It seems perfectly reasonable to me.
Wayne Hunter: I'm gonna be honest, I was screaming for him to kicked out of the building after his play last season, and I was not at all happy when they decided to keep him on board. Rex is trying to preach that while he was inconsistent, so was the entire rest of the team. While that statement is true, It doesn't magically mean he's gonna play a heck of a lot better next season. He actually has had his moments; he played fairly well after Woody went down in '10, and actually had a few very good games last year. That being said, it's just so hard to forget all of those awful games he had as well. That Eagles game for example, was an enormous disgrace of a performance. He also had way too many penalties. I'm not really buying everything that the new Line coach is saying about him, but I guess it's good for his confidence, since he does have some impressive physical tools. What do I think is gonna happen? He may have a couple fewer really bad games. He may not improve. I'm not sure. What I do know is that we're going to run the ball more, meaning he won't have as much pressure to pass block, so it may be a little more possible to deal with his play for an entire season.
Let me clarify something. These are not the believe-or-die thoughts on these players. In the end, these are my own, imperfect opinions on what I think is reasonable to expect out of some guys. Many of you will disagree. My point was to show what I think is a logical viewpoint on some players, in response to a lot of people who claim they're being realistic, but in reality, may just need to take off the Black Glasses for a moment. Let me know what you guys think. If there's a positive vibe, i'll post a part two.