The Guardian NFL Writer Cian Fahey’s RSP Project Q&A

You have to admire a writer with the sack to believe in a player others are ready to abandon. With a defense that Cian Fahey put together, he’s willing to give Colt McCoy a shot as a starter in what he believes will be a better offensive fit. Details below. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.

Cian Fahey covers the NFL for The Guardian. He also writes for Irish Central and at one time contributed for The Bleacher Report. Fahey is a Steelers fan and also contributes for Steelers Depot. If you’ve never read his work or followed him on Twitter, he’s not afraid to give his unfiltered opinion. You can follow him on Twitter @Cianaf.

What I enjoyed about collaborating with Fahey on this project is that he took some risks and as a fellow risk-taker, I appreciate the things we all can learn from doing so. His interview and the discussion that ensues about his team is below. You can also find his full roster in this post.


Eddie Royal as a fourth receiver could be a boon for Fahey’s squad, which will featured 3-plus receivers a high percentage of the time on the field. Photo by Jeffery Beall.

Personnel Formations:

The offensive ideal is very similar to that of the 2011-12 Buffalo Bills. Last year, the Bills used at least three wide receivers at the same time more than any other team in the league. Spreading the field was a staple of the offense as they used at least three receivers on 77 percent of their offensive snaps.

This scheme requires:

  • An intelligent quarterback with good poise under pressure, some mobility and good accuracy.
  • Strong and versatile running backs.
  • Versatile receivers. Players who can turn short passes into big gains, excel in space while still running crisp routes.
  • Interior linemen who excel at pass protection opposed to maulers in the running game.

This scheme does not place an emphasis on:

  • High quality tackles.
  • The use of tight ends and/or fullbacks outside of situational football.

Thirty-five million of my allotted $150 million budget was invested in running backs (10.5), quarterbacks (5.5) and wide receivers (19). Only 2.5 million was spent on Tight Ends, while another 23 million was spent on offensive linemen.

Spreading the field will alleviate some pocket pressure and make it easier for Colt McCoy to hit any hot routes since teams should be reluctant to send extra pass-rushers. Using short passes as extensions of the running game will be vital to the overall success of the offense.

My roster runs four receivers deep, without considering the projects who could also contribute, and Eddie Royal, my fourth receiver, will be featured as heavily as any of his teammates. The idea here is to force the defense to show its hand. With four receivers, most teams will be forced to play five or six defensive backs on every play.

This is where Trent Richardson comes into play. Initially I had Pierre Thomas as the starter, but investing In Richardson and sacrificing offensive tackle quality made more sense because of the match up issues his violent running should create.

Establishing Richardson and running a significant number of his snaps from the shotgun formation will be vital because play-action will feature heavily in the passing attack. Because the offensive line quality is not there, it is imperative that our play-calling creates some hesitant pass rushers on the outside, while the interior should be sturdy enough to withstand pressure.

Blocking schemes:

Fahey finds a fit for Chris Rainey as a role player in his offense. As a bonus, he gets a heck of a punt blocker. Photo by Tomis B

The idea is for the offense to be very balanced, even though the formations will predominantly be pass inclined with multiple receivers. You won’t find any zone blocking scheme in this offense, even though the players would probably be better suited to it, as spreading the field should allow our linemen to double down on players in the trenches while Richardson, and Chris Rainey, will be expected to beat players on the second level.

Bread and Butter Plays:

Taking a piece of Sean Payton’s offensive ideology is never a bad decision. The one thing I love about what the Saints do is with Brees in the shotgun. They run play-action as often as anyone. With Trent Richardson in the backfield, teams won’t be able to forget about him even if he isn’t the focal point of the offense.

By not making him the focal point of the offense, he should be more effective and help the team more than if he carried the ball 30 times per game.

Why? While I agree that Trent Richardson has the quickness and third down skills to be effective in a spread offense, the Alabama rookie’s power is such a fantastic part of his arsenal that I wonder if you have any concerns that using AT LEAST three receivers on the field for as many as 77 percent of your plays and often in a shotgun spread without a quality fullback could negate the best aspect of Richardson’s game?

Indeed if I put Richardson in a power running game then he would be a great back, however Richardson’s power will still be there. With three receivers on the field, and while I admit this is dependent on Colt McCoy, how are defenses going to react? They’ll play less linebackers or defensive linemen. Richardson’s power is excellent for getting forward momentum against bigger defenders, putting more secondary players on the field will allow him to make even greater use of that power.

The accepted thought is that, when you have a back like Richardson, you build your offense around him. Personally I look at things differently with running-backs, I want to take away as much attention from him as possible. I’m not going to reduce his role in the offense for the sake of reducing it, if the defense is set up for him to get 30 carries in a game, he’ll get them. But I don’t think it’s always the best way to use a back by setting up your offense to overcome eight in the box on every play, I’d rather try to prevent them from being able to put eight in the box.

By spreading the field, I think I can manage that, while Richardson special enough to make it work. It takes a special player at running back for me to invest in one, I absolutely hated the Browns’ taking Richardson because he is going to a horrible situation where he won’t make a major difference to the team. I don’t think that is the case here.

What do you say to those who will look at your roster and scheme and say you’re putting roller skates on an ox?

I’d say there aren’t skates big enough to fit on this fella (audio NSFW):

For me it’s not about the quantity of carries a back receives, it’s about the quality of the touches. Richardson is going to be involved an awful lot, but he just won’t be wearing down the defense on every snap.

Brandon Myers may be an excellent blocker, but he’s not a great receiver and Tony Scheffler is a good receiver but not much as a run blocker. Do you have any concerns that your personnel tendencies could create predictability that offsets your plan to keep defenses off-balance with a spread scheme?

My tight ends are completely situational players. They will see very little, if any, time in the main offense. I really like Myers for his blocking ability and in goal-line situations you could potentially see Myers, Doug Legursky, Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody and Tyrod Taylor on the field with Scheffler in different formations. Unquestionably, short yardage situations will be an issue with my offensive line though. Scheffler and Myers are predictable, but I’m not a fan of doing anything complex near the goal line either way because turnovers in that area of the field can often be crushing.

In terms of quaterback play, Colt McCoy will spend a significant amount of his time off the field studying Drew Brees’ demeanour on play-action plays. Working off the play-action, with quick passes to outside receivers will be a regular occurance for McCoy’s passing attack. That said, having receivers like Emmanuel Sanders, Denarius Moore and Kendall Wright outside will mean chunks of yardage are possible on every play. Sanders and Wright can be moved into the slot instead of Eddie Royal. Testing team’s safeties with deep passes for those two receivers will be done on a regular basis.

Quick short passes will be staples of the offense, but just like the Bills’ offense, the receivers outside are good route runners who won’t limit the passing patterns at all.

Why, in your opinion, is Sanders more talented than Antonio Brown? 

I previously wrote an in-depth piece explaining this, which you can find here, but I’ll give this a quick run through:

Sanders was actually taken three rounds ahead of Brown when both were drafted. During their rookie seasons together they juked with each other from week to week for an active spot on the game day roster. By the end of the season, both were active on game day more often than not. However, Brown was active predominantly as a special teams player and was only a complementary piece on offense. Sanders on the other hand became a pivotal part of the offense entering the playoffs.

Against Baltimore he had 54 yards. Against the Jets, who he had ripped for seven receptions and 70+ yards only a few weeks before, Darelle Revis spent a lot of time focused on him. Sanders’ physical skills are obvious to see, so I don’t really need to explain them, but there have been circumstances that have prevented him from rising to prominence and afforded Brown his opportunity to start.

Entering the Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers as a key offensive cog against the Packers, Sanders injured his foot early on after only two receptions. Issues with his feet lasted into last season and cost him his training camp and preseason. The first six weeks of the season, Sanders noticeably had no chemistry with his quarterback and repeatedly was overthrown or underthrown with multiple misunderstandings per game.

Once he got his chemistry back with his quarterback, he had 10 receptions in two weeks including a big game against the Patriots. Then his mother died and the remainder of his season was disrupted until he had a big game against the Broncos in the playoffs once again.

A greater explanation, including a better scouting evaluation of his physical abilities, lies within the article I previously linked to. I wouldn’t dare try break down players and let down the very high standards this blog has set!

I was a Sanders fan and had him rated higher than Brown when they were drafted, so I was just seeking you to share your take in more detail – but thanks for the props.  Speaking of receivers with talent but ups and downs early in his career, let’s talk more about Eddie Royal.

Cecil Lammey has long-reported that Eddie Royal was immensely talented as a route runner versus man, but deficient at identifying zone routes. Considering you’re spreading the field and using a lot of four receiver sets, I would think your offense will be facing a lot of zone coverage. Doesn’t think play into Royal’s deficiencies similar to Josh McDaniel’s offense?

I must admit this is something that I am only learning about Royal. I am still ok with his presence on the roster in terms of sheer value. Maybe I could have taken a Chad Ochocinco, Preston Parker, Jordan Shipley or Mohamed Sanu, but I liked Royal’s value over those guys and he does at least give me a veteran receiver that Parker/Shipley/Sanu didn’t offer. Scheme fits are obviously important, but how your locker room is composed is just as important.

A very fair and honest answer. Plus Royal certainly lends something in terms of special team value and set plays due to his open field skills as a runner.

Pivotal Player(s):

While Colt McCoy is obviously the biggest question mark and needs to perform better than most expect of him, I have high hopes for Tyrod Taylor if he has to take over. Trent Richardson is the key, because keeping defenses on the back-foot requires balance and he will need to establish the run behind a less than stellar offensive line.

Tell me what you see in Tyrod Taylor.

The first thing that screams at you when you watch Taylor play is his athleticism, however he doesn’t look uncomfortable in the pocket or like he is desperate to run the ball on every play. He sets his feet well and delivers the football quickly with good velocity, which is very important for a quarterback in my offense.

Then again, I may just have a man crush on him for being a ridiculous athlete and creator of crazy plays:



From a coaching point of view, my most important piece is Colt McCoy. I need a coordinator who will spend hours in the film room with McCoy memorizing his hot routes and studying Drew Brees’ demeanor on the field. Because we will be running a lot of play-action, McCoy needs to be like Brees on the field who is the best at selling play-action while still being totally aware of his offense. After his success with Andy Dalton last year, I would trust Jay Gruden as my offensive coordinator.

However, that is presuming that my head coach is happy to have him and would not rather choosing his own play-caller. Jim Harbaugh will be the coach of this team for multiple reasons. Harbaugh showed last year what kind of effect he can have on a quarterback, while I need someone who will completely buy into a youngster who has been maligned in a similar way to Alex Smith. His enthusiasm is something that will really permeate through the personalities on my defense also. Everyone on this roster will be delighted to show up for work.


When Nnamdi Asomugha is your No.2 corner, your secondary is righteous. See below. Photo by jndotcom

Personnel Formations

In today’s NFL, an all-around defense is necessary if you are to win a Super Bowl. Not only can you not afford to have any glaring weaknesses, you need to have a lot of versatility to mix and match with what different offenses will throw at you. This is something I have attempted to do on defense.

Characteristics of my ideal defense:

  • Very physical secondary.
  • Press cover cornerbacks who don’t need much help, if any.
  • Play making safeties who can cover a lot of ground.
  • Versatile linebackers who fit multiple schemes.
  • Mammoth defensive linemen.
  • A litter of role players who can rotate on and off the field for the front seven.
  • Scheme breakers. Defensive tackles who can rush the passer. Blitzing linebackers who can cover. Secondary players who can adjust to zone or man coverage.

Essentially, my defense needs serious levels of talent. That is why I spent $86.5 million on this group.

If I had to say there was a base front, I would say that the 3-4 defense was it. However the plan is to run a hybrid defense that will ideally play 4-3 and 3-4 as frequently, and as effectively, as each other. Having Haloti Ngata, Von Miller, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons allows me to do so with plenty of role players complementing them effectively.

Ngata playing the nose, with Kendall Langford and Glenn Dorsey at defensive end, provides plenty of bulk upfront to entertain blockers for Timmons, Woodley, Hightower and Miller to make plays on the passer or get to the running back. The first player of the bench, Terrence Cody, allows Ngata to slip to defensive end while there are multiple prospects to backup both spots in the rotation.

When the front switches to a 4-3 front, Von Miller and LaMarr Woodley put their hands on the ground while Donta Hightower becomes the strong-side linebacker while Jameel McClain comes into the MLB spot and Lawrence Timmons rounds out the group. At times, Von Miller will move back to Timmons’ spot, with Timmons moving inside and McClain dropping back to the bench, with Raheem Brock or Dave Tollefson coming into the end spot.

How do you feel Miller will fare against the run if an offense changes to a run call when he’s on the end?

The Miller and Terrell Suggs comparison is one that I fully believe in. The one thing Suggs has is that added bulk however. One of the first things we would look to do with Miller is get him on the right nutrition plan to bulk up while doing everything possible to conserve his speed. At worst, if Miller struggles, we can rotate Brock and Tollefson in and move Miller back to linebacker. In obvious passing situations, Miller, with Woodley, would be able to play end without worry. In obvious short-yardage situation, he obviously wouldn’t be playing defensive end.

My front seven won’t be asked to do much coverage because of the strength outside.

In a league where nickel defenses are used more than ever, staying in our base front will be our desire. With Nnamdi Asomugha and Darrelle Revis outside, I have two cornerbacks capable of playing on islands in press man coverage. Much like Al Davis wanted with his defense a few years ago, I can essentially forget about outside receivers and not worry about teams challenging them in single coverage.

My defensive line will consume running backs, while Langford and Ngata can push the pocket, with Liuget and Heyward looking to become pass rushers from the inside also. Quarterbacks will have to be wary of the number of pass rushing threats in my front, while being intimidated by my cornerbacks. Revis essentially takes away his side of the field, while Asomugha should prosper in this scheme.

Once you deal with all that, Troy Polamalu has to be spotted as he will be allowed to play in coverage almost exclusively. With Polamalu you have a game-changing strong safety, but you have to pair him with the right safety. Having Antoine Bethea to clean up any of his mistakes and help cover those hybrid tight ends makes this secondary simply scary.

When we do go to nickel defenses, Dwight Lowery has proven in the past to be a very good safety/corner hybrid while Kendrick Lewis showed promise as a starter for the Chiefs at free safety last year. Chris Cook and Cortez Allen are different types of players, but both are strong options at nickel. Keenan Lewis provides backup outside.

The quality of the secondary will allow the front to be very aggressive. With Jim Harbaugh as the head coach, the defense should be flying to the football on every down without sacrificing the deep ball.

Pivotal Players:

Von Miller is essentially going to be playing three positions, while Nnamdi Asomugha and Darelle Revis have to be on the field or I will need to alter my scheme.

Miller and Woodley together should be the best pass rushing duo in the league, considering the coverage they will be afforded. While Woodley excels in shutting down the running game and getting to the passer, he is not as versatile as Miller. With Miller, I can even line him up at 4-3 end and have him track tight ends off the line of scrimmage effectively. If I am able to start dropping linemen and running complex blitzes with a defense that should already have quarterbacks second guessing, then I don’t see how this defense will be beaten.

Asomugha and Revis have to take away their receivers, or at least contain them, in single coverage for the rest of the defense to function. The freedom that my linebackers, and Troy Polamalu, will have depends completely on the play of the two starting cornerbacks.

On obvious passing downs. One of two things will happen. Run specialists like Glenn Dorsey and Terrence Cody definitely won’t be on the field, but either a pass rushing lineman, such as Tollefson, Brock, Adam Carricker or Corey Liuget, will come on the field or an extra defensive back. Either way, Haloti Ngata will not be leaving the field. Just like in Baltimore, Ngata will be very important on passing downs and running downs.


No matter which defensive coordinator I choose, they will have some issues with the variety of fronts and type of scheme I want to run. I’d love to have a mind like Rex Ryan calling plays, but I don’t want to take a head coach with his personality working under Jim Harbaugh. It may be a bit too much. Instead I’m going to take a young coordinator who isn’t set in his ways. Ray Horton is a former Steelers secondary coach and current Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator. He did a fine job with a young group last season and his defense showed a lot of versatility on the field.

Offensive Vulnerabilities:

While I have tried to aid the offensive line in multiple ways, there is no doubt that the offense lacks a respectable group upfront. The two tackles are the biggest issue, but hopefully Bobbie Massie can develop. Short yardage situations should also be a problem, but hopefully Trent Richardson’s abrasive running will help. The running game relies on Richardson being 100 percent healthy.

You say McCoy is a lot better a quarterback prospect than people think, but one could argue that outside of Steve Smith, Cam Newton’s receiving corps was not much better and the Panthers didn’t have as good of an offensive line as the Browns.  Although the famous standby story for Brees in the media is that he improved his arm strength in the NFL, he was an aggressive down field thrower at Purdue. What he lacked was the consistent ability to hit the deep out or skinny post. Unlike Drew Brees at Purdue and even early in his NFL career, McCoy didn’t flash the down field mentality under pressure that Brees did. What specifically do you see about McCoy’s game that defies the conventional thought process of him as a weak-armed player incapable of making good decisions under pressure?

Firstly, I am under no illusions about McCoy not being an elite quarterback. He’ll never be Cam Newton and I’m not looking for him to be. Although I wouldn’t object if he fell into some black hole and morphed into a superstar.  I don’t disagree about the limitations of his arm, but his decision-making and poise is impressive to me and should be more important for this offense.

Quarterbacks are developmental guys, it’s not like a guard where you plug him in somewhere and just let him play. It is my belief that even the most minor of details can dramatically affect quarterbacks. In a way, they are sensitive I guess. What must be considered with McCoy is that he has been a developing quarterback over the last two years without any quality receiving weapons to rely on, a running game that was only respectable for a limited time, and no veteran leaders outside of Jake Delhomme – who can’t figure the game out himself seemingly.

Plus, they had an offensive line with multiple holes despite the presence of the best left tackle in the league as well as playing in an intimidating division for young quarterbacks. My regular readers will know that I hate statistics and how they are used in arguments, but when you put statistics into context they become relevant. First things first, McCoy is 25 years old. He can still improve. In his second season, McCoy had a 57 percent completion percentage. That may be bloated by the system he plays in, a system that is not too dissimilar to the one I will be putting him in I may point out, but it is also with receivers who routinely dropped passes.

For the year, McCoy threw 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. That’s not special, but it’s not awful either for a quarterback in his second season. I don’t need McCoy to throw 50 touchdowns to four interceptions, I need him to be a game managing quarterback in the mold of Alex Smith. Smith’s 49ers would likely have gone to the Super Bowl last year save for a special teams blunder.

I don’t expect to pair Jim Harbaugh and McCoy together and simply say McCoy will be Smith. However, McCoy last year showed a lot of inconsistency that I feel Harbaugh can coach out of him, because he is a great quarterback coach, and simply grow his confidence in himself which is important. He did have good games last year, two over 70 percent completion rating and one 60 attempt game over 65 percent, so there is talent as a passer, just putting him in the right situation should make a massive difference.

I’ve definitely bought into a player at quarterback whom most have given up on. I’m relying on Colt McCoy’s intelligence and poise more than his physical talent. If he doesn’t fit in the scheme as well as I believe he does, then there are going to be some problems Leadership is also going to be a major point of contention. Most of the offensive side of the roster is very young, while those with any kind of tread on the tires are inexperienced. There is a lot of leadership on defense that will need to permeate through the whole roster. This needs to be the very definition of a team, not a defense and offense.

Whether or not readers will agree with your explanation doesn’t take away from the fact that you did a good job showing that you went into this decision with a realistic understanding of the pros and cons. Thanks for sharing it. As someone who is likely to field a team with young skill players (with the exception of some key veterans), I certainly understand the risks involved and I appreciate you taking some.

Defensive Vulnerabilities

I am stressing the secondary and expecting very high quality coverage from players in difficult situations. Obviously my way of dealing with that is by bringing in top talents, and veteran players, at both cornerback spots with a garbage man at free safety who will clean up everything.

With a strong pass rush, quarterbacks shouldn’t have too much time to sit in the pocket and sell pump fakes to my cornerbacks at least.


Trent Richardson—I invested highly in Richardson because I knew my running back was going to have to do a lot on his own to give me a respectable rushing attack. Richardson is a special talent, there are very few backs I would invest in but he is, obviously, one of them. Just don’t tear that ACL on me!!!

Haloti Ngata—Ngata is a scheme breaker. His ability to take over games in a four or three man front from multiple positions is incredibly valuable.

Von Miller—Miller was the first player I went for when I saw the player’s values. He will play three positions for the team 4-3 DE, 3-4 and 4-3 OLB also.

Three headed secondary—Nnamdi, Revis and Troy Polamalu were all chosen for obvious reasons. I felt they were worth the investment, because in this scheme, I want to allow my front seven to be very aggressive while making the quarterback hesitate. Most teams won’t throw at Revis and Polamalu, I’ll happily have them throw at Bethea and Asomugha.

Offensive Role Players That Could Eventually be Stars

I genuinely believe if Colt McCoy had enough weapons and a coach like Jim Harbaugh to believe in him, he’d prosper and be a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback. In Cleveland his best receiver had 15 drops, his other receivers weren’t very good. His running game struggled, being generous, and his offensive line had significant holes in it. He still threw more touchdowns than interceptions in an offense that Peyton Manning would struggle with. Not to mention he played in a division dominated by defense with a city/franchise that doesn’t inspire success.

It may never be noticed, but Brandon Myers has the potential to be a very important piece as a blocking tight end, fullback in situational football.

Clyde Gates will be lucky to get opportunities, but purely because of his pace, and the quality of receivers around him, he could prove to be very difficult to deal with in the right situations.

Emmanuel Sanders has the potential to be an elite wide receiver. He has greater potential than Antonio Brown in my eyes and that is saying something.

Defensive Role Players Who Could Eventually be Stars

Corey Liuget and Cameron Heyward have been taken with the very purpose of stepping into starting roles at some point in their respective careers. Neither is imposing physically, but with good coaching, could become respected interior pass rushers.

Most of my defensive starters are proven starters, but players like Kendrick Lewis and Cortez Allen could really impress in limited action before becoming stars later in their careers.

What was the most difficult part of the process?

Because I am the youngest writer taking part in the process, I initially wanted to stick with a theme of having a youthful squad. My biggest problem was I couldn’t really stick to that. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that it was too hard to do, there were just so many different things that I wanted to try. I suppose the hardest part of the process was establishing what philosophies to use and to not deviate from them.

From a pure football perspective, the most difficult thing was finding a fitting defensive coordinator.

What would be your home environment for this team?

This is actually really difficult for me. I’ve got a mean defense that would love to be playing in the cold weather, but my offense is definitely set for turf in a dome. I think, in this instance, it is best to support the most important part of your team. I’d like to be based in a cold weather city when the weather gets harsh in November/December. It may hurt my pass attack, but Trent Richardson should carry us through those tough times.

Your riskiest personnel selections on offense?

Colt McCoy is too obvious here and I’ve already touched on that a lot. Instead I’ll go with Bobby Massie, Charles Johnson and Chris Rainey. Massie has attitude question marks and may not be happy to sit behind two less than stellar tackles. Charles Johnson has to develop while playing and Chris Rainey is very talented, but also very small.

I watched Rainey at Florida and I agree with you that he’s a great punt blocker and good return specialist. However, I have major questions about his decision-making as a runner. I don’t have those questions about Mewelde Moore, who would have been an underrated fit as a lead back in this type of offense five years ago. However, now he’s likely at the end of his career. What do you do if Richardson gets hurt?

Panic. Ha!

With this budget, I had to make certain sacrifices, as every team will, and a second option at running-back really wasn’t affordable because of how much I am going to rely on the position. I had a really tough decision between Chris Ivory and Chris Rainey. With Ivory I would have felt comfortable that I had a capable runner behind Richardson, but Rainey’s special teams contributions and Ivory’s limitations outside of running the football ultimately cost him his spot.

I’d be comfortable playing Mewelde Moore for extended periods during games, but I couldn’t live without Richardson for weeks at a time. Of course, we could always win games 2-0. 

Your riskiest personnel selections on defense?

I’m not 100 percent certain of the role that Corey Liuget will carve out for himself. He has to find some niche in this style of defense. Kendall Langford is a risk because I chose him instead of Muhamed Wilkerson to save money. With Glen Dorsey across from him, he has to get some kind of pressure inside with Ngata. Nnamdi Asomugha is a risk to me, that may seem crazy, but I had a theory that he fell off in Oakland and nobody really took notice because they rarely looked his way. Hopefully that’s a ridiculous notion, as it does sound a bit off, but still I have these reservations.

Which players did you want but couldn’t afford due to fit with your system?

LB Daryl Washington (No.41 for those of you uninitiated with the Horned Frogs) was a player Fahey coveted, but couldn’t afford. Photo by SD Dirk.

Daryl Washington. I settled for Hightower because of price.

Fletcher Cox. I wasn’t sure if he was versatile enough to fit as a 3-4 end and 4-3 tackle.

Numerous offensive tackles. I initially had better tackles in place, but sacrificed them for Trent Richardson. The value in my scheme sent me Richardson’s way.

Andrew Luck. Colt McCoy cost $3 million, Luck was the next realistic option at $12.5. I believe in McCoy though, a lot of scouts will call me crazy, but your surroundings and confidence are as important as any Xs and Os for your performance on the field.

Players who you would have overpaid for?

Von Miller is probably the only player who I would have paid any more for. Instead of Polamalu I would have gone Kam Chancellor, Ngata has Marcell Dareus, for Lawrence Timmons theres Daryl Washington. Even Revis and Asomugha could have easily been Jonathan Joseph, Lardarius Webb or Corey Webster. LaMarr Woodley is someone I feel I drastically underpaid for also.

Where did you break with conventional wisdom?

It’s a quarterback league…Do I need to say anymore? Outside of the quarterback, I’ve pretty much stuck to conventional wisdom. I’m scheme flexible on defense, with good coverage and pass rushers aplenty.

Discuss your special teams unit.

I tried to find players who could contribute on special teams and provide something on either offense or defense. Guys like Chad Hall, Clyde Gates, Cortez Allen and Chris Rainey will contribute in different ways. Keyaron Fox is a special teams player solely while Kendrick Lewis and Dwight Lowery should prove valuable in that area also. Brian Rolle is the one-to-watch of that group.

My special teams units are full of athleticism. I think, with a  decent coach, they could be some of the best around. Bryan Anger could be set at punter for the next decade, but Shaun Suisham will be replaced within a year or two.

Note: You can find out more about Fahey’s defensive schemes for this team at his blog.


2 responses to “The Guardian NFL Writer Cian Fahey’s RSP Project Q&A”

  1. I’m having a hard time seeing this offense succeeding, maybe you can help clarify. Defenses will play press man because the WRs are small and force Colt McCoy to beat them with one of his weakness, the deep ball. Once the defense is in press man, they will blitz McCoy into quick decisions. Plus running the ball will be difficult with pressure and average run blockers and defenders blitzing.

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