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RSP Writers Project: Questions and Answers

Yesterday, I told you about the RSP Writers Project and showed you my roster. As a reminder, here’s the full 53-man team:

QB1	Peyton Manning		LDE1	Shea McClellin
QB2	Colt McCoy		LDE2	Cameron Heyward
QB3	Nate Davis		DT1	Phil Taylor
RB1	Kendall Hunter		DT2	Jared Crick
RB2	Pierre Thomas		DT3	Terrence Cody
RB3	LaMichael James		DT4	Martin Tevaseu
RB4	John Clay		RDE1	Vinny Curry
WR2	Victor Cruz		RDE2	Adam Carriker
WR1	Torrey Smith		SLB1	Leroy Hill
WR3	Anquan Boldin		SLB2	Aaron Maybin
WR4	T.Y. Hilton		MLB1	A.J. Hawk
WR5	Ted Ginn Jr.		MLB2	Nick Roach
WR6	Wallace Wright		MLB3	Greg Jones
TE1	Jimmy Graham		WLB1	Jameel McClain
TE2	Delanie Walker		WLB2	Clark Haggans
TE3	Matthew Mulligan	LCB1	Morris Claiborne
FB1	Charles Clay		LCB2	Kyle Wilson
LT1	Jonathan Martin		SS1	Eric Berry
RT1	Todd Herremans		SS2	James Butler
LT2	Levy Adcock		SS3	James Ihedigbo
RT2	Vlad Ducasse		FS1	Ryan Clark
LG1	Charlie Johnson		FS2	Dwight Lowery
RG1	Chad Rinehart		RCB1	Ike Taylor
LG2	Robert T Griffin	RCB2	Will D. Allen
RG2	Robert Turner			
C1	Max Unger		K1	Ryan Longwell
C2	Kris O'Dowd		P1	Kevin Huber

But the actual player selections are far less interesting than the reasoning behind the players chosen. You can view the full Q&A session I had with Matt Waldman about my roster, but let me explain two of the philosophies that influenced my roster decisions.

One star offensive lineman does not a star offensive line make.

1) Offensive lineman when pass blocking are more like defensive players than offensive ones

On pass plays, offensive lineman retreat and block; their goal is to prevent the aggressors from reaching the quarterback. When DeMarcus Ware tries to get by David Diehl to get to Eli Manning, Ware is the aggressor and Diehl the defender. In those situations, offensive lineman are essentially gatekeepers, and the key to an effective gate is more about the strength of the weakest link rather than the strength of strongest one. When I built my offensive line, my goal was to avoid having any obvious weakness on which opposing defensive coordinators could focus. If you have $25 million to spend on your offensive line, the smartest move in my opinion is to evenly distribute that money, and that’s exactly what I did. While none of the starters cost more than $5 million per year, none of them cost less than $4.5 million per year, either. Essentially, the whole really is worth more than the sum of its parts.

2) For the same reason, the value of individual defensive players can be overrated

As a Jets fan, I watched Darrelle Revis have a magnificent season in 2009, shutting down practically every wide receiver and helping the other ten members on defense. He was the primary reason the Jets ranked #1 in nearly every major defensive category that season. Then, in the AFC Championship Game, Peyton Manning torched the rest of the Jets defense, as Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie combined for 18 catches for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns. If there’s a weak spot on your defense, an elite quarterback will find it. Even two great corners can be neutralized if you have poor safety play. So in building a defense, my philosophy was less focused on finding stars on defense, and more on avoiding having any weak links. Star players are great, but I think — especially given the constraints of a salary cap — building a capable pass defense is less about finding players to build around and more about avoiding having to field players whom opposing quarterbacks would be eager target.

You can read my full Q&A here.