Going back over Jags’ first season as an offensive coordinator the past few months was reminder of where we are and where we were. Take a look:
2007: Matt Ryan
1997: Matt Hasselbeck
Better situation: 2007. Despite Hasselbeck’s success in the NFL, Matt Ryan is clearly the better college QB heading into 2007 than MHass was heading into 1997. Ryan has more wins, better numbers, is more athletic and has a better arm. Hopefully he’ll develop into a ProBowl Quarterback like Hasselbeck did after leaving BC. While Ryan and 2007 get the edge at QB, it should be noted that the backup situation was much better in 1997. TOB and Jags had one-time and future starter Scott Mutryn on the roster as well as future starter and NFL backup Tim Hasselbeck on the roster. Even if Flutie and Applegate were still on the QB depth chart, there may not be another starter on the roster. Crane will get his chance in 2008 but he is not a sure thing.
2007: LV Whitworth, Andre Callender, et al
1997: Mike Cloud, Omari Walker
Better situation: 1997. This one is not even close. Cloud was arguably the best back of the TOB era and would have an All America year in 1998. Walker was a solid contributor and a very productive back. Whitworth and Callender (or even Brooks or Smith) may explode this season, but I am not counting on it. We were in better shape a decade ago.
2007: James McCluskey
1997: Mike Hemmert, Frank Chamberlin
Better situation: 1997. This position is not a make or break now and wasn’t then, but we had better depth and experience in 1997. Hemmert proved to be a good pass catcher and Chamberlin played well before being moved to LB later in his career. This season we are looking at converted and untested James McCluskey
2007: Ryan Thompson, Jon Loyte, Ryan Purvis, Jordan McMichael
1997: Todd Pollack, Scott Dragos, Rob Tardio, Mike Guazzo
Better situation: 1997. This is expected since Henning made Tight Ends such a point of emphasis. While McMichael still represents unknown upside, most of the current crop would be called “serviceable” and “solid.” No game breakers in the bunch. In 1997 Pollack was very good and had very good hands. The rest of the 1997 crew all spent time (briefly) on NFL rosters.
2007: Brandon Robinson, Kevin Challenger et al
1997: Anthony Dicosmo, Dennis Harding et al
Better situation: 2007. Dicosmo was good, but Challenger has been much more productive and Robinson has better upside. While the remainder of our 2007 WR crop has many untested underclassmen, the depth and potential is much better now.
2007: Gosder Cherilus, Ryan Poles, Kevin Sheridan, Matt Tennant, Pat Sheil, Tom Anevski, Ty Hall
1997: Damien Woody, Andy Mitcham, Doug Brzezinski, Dan Collins, Noah LaRose, Jon Miles
Better situation: 1997. This is a toss up but the parallels are striking. One established all conference type player (Woody and Cherilus) and then rotation/depth based on a bunch of untested/unproven/undersized players. It was somewhat hard confirming the 1997 line. A bunch of people told me LaRose started, but according to the archives he did not letter in 1997. Darnell Alford, who would be a solid starter in 1998 and 1999 sat out 1997. The reason I give 1997 the edge is that Woody had a great season, and Collins and Brzezinski would go on to have really strong seasons. The same could happen for this year's team, but now we are still facing a lot of question marks.
Overall Edge: 1997. I would give a slight advantage to our 1997 talent. I obviously have the bias of knowing how the 1997 team performed versus the unknowns of this season. Our offensive line could still come together and our Running Backs and Tight Ends may surprise people this year.
Going back over Jags’ first season as offensive coordinator sparked this little exercise and it also laid to rest many of the TOB related misconceptions I keep reading and hearing about. “TOB inherited a disaster of a program” – off the field there were certainly some behavior issues, but there was still talent. “TOB left a loaded team” — our overall and defensive roster is better than 1997 but his recruiting missteps have left us very thin at Offensive Line and Quarterback. “BC fans are impatient” — this should serve as a reminder that TOB probably underachieved early in his time at BC. But BC game him a wide berth because the Henning years were so bad.
I think we can be a very good team this year. I also think an experienced Steve Logan will be a better coordinator than a young Jeff Jagodzinski was in 1997. And best of all, we have a player in Matt Ryan who has proven he can raise the level of play of those around him. This exercise shows that talent ebbs and flows and that Jags is going to have to bring in some good players soon.