5 quick takeaways from Morrison signing
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • August 25, 2011 @ 2:46pm
One of my guilty pleasures is scrolling through message boards or “comments sections” below stories, weeding out the total idiots from the folks who have something snarky or useful to say.
GTorlone on ProFootballTalk’s comments had this to say about the Bills’ free-agent signing of linebacker Kirk Morrison:
Now that the Bills have Barnett, Merriman, and Morrison, they’ve successfully completed their quest to reunite the league’s best linebackers from 2006-07. Hoping it works out for them in 2011. Go Bills.
These three are not actually retreads, although the former two have durability concerns that often plague NFL veterans. The Morrison signing, from our perspective, is another positive step in what’s largely been a strong off-season—the near-complete contract extension for Kyle Williams is very savvy as well (though we wouldn’t break the bank yet to extend Stevie Johnson).
Morrison likely won’t have to wait long to face his old team, Jacksonville, as the Jags visit Ralph Wilson Stadium on Saturday night (7 p.m., blacked out locally but re-aired on WKBW Channel 7 at 8 p.m. Sunday). The AFC South opponent just settled a quarterback controversy, with veteran David Garrard beating out prized rookie Blaine Gabbert. They’ll still suck in 2011. Here are some thoughts on Morrison and what he brings to the Bills:
1) Morrison couldn’t shed the London Fletcher label in Oakland or Jacksonville. Fans and experts alike marveled at his ability to rack up huge tackle numbers on shoddy run defenses—a sign that Morrison struggled to shed blocks until a runner had gained 5-7 yards, and he’d finally disengage and haul down the ball-carrier from behind.
Oakland opted to draft Rolando McClain—a 260 pound “thumper” much sturdier at the point of attack—making Morrison expendable. Morrison’s fate with Jacksonville was sealed when the Jaguars gambled on a huge deal for former Bill Paul Posluszny. The disruptive nature of linemen Williams and Dareus could keep blockers from reaching the second level to stalemate Morrison—the new signing’s athleticism may compensate for his lack of pure power.
2) This Jacksonville.com article explains why Morrison was a poor fit in Jacksonville’s Cover 2 scheme. Interestingly, Tania Ganguli’s piece mentions that Morrison has never played regularly in cold weather—he spent his entire life in California or Florida, so the icy blast of Buffalo air will be a wake-up call.
3) BuffaloBills.com’s Chris Brown uncovered that Shawne Merriman had been pestering Morrison to sign with Buffalo. Looks like Shawne is putting his injury time to good use!
4) Morrison played his first year in Oakland at weak-side linebacker, so his versatility should guarantee him a roster spot with the Bills. Is Wednesday’s signing more a consequence of Reggie Torbor’s season-ending injury or the temporarily-stunted development of Arthur Moats? Morrison will probably suit up inside, but there’s been no confirmation from the Bills. A three player rotation inside—Nick Barnett, Andra Davis and Morrison—and a four man rotation outside—Merriman, Chris Kelsay, Moats (though he’s been playing inside a lot) and Alex Carrington/Danny Batten on passing downs—has the back of Buffalo’s front seven looking loaded.
5) It’s a little disconcerting that Morrison remained on the market after teeny tiny names like Aaron Maybin, Keyaron Fox and K.C. Asiodu had found new homes. It could be coincidence that Morrison turned in his weakest outings against teams with big backs—namely New York’s Brandon Jacobs, Houston’s Arian Foster and San Diego’s Mike Tolbert—but it’s fairly safe to say that Morrison isn’t at his best against downhill runners in a power scheme.
For a depth linebacker, Morrison is a great signing, particularly if it’s an inexpensive one (terms haven’t been fully disclosed yet aside from a one-year deal.) Last year, present Bills starters Andra Davis and Nick Barnett suited up for 10 of a possible 32 games between them.