Several things keep bugging me, so this is a bit of a venting exercise, but I'd love to know if I'm alone or if the same things are bugging you.
First, hearing people say that you have to build through the draft and not free-agency. Frequently, those same people point to the Steelers as an example franchise. In my mind it's like a bicycle wheel. Once you have it spinning fast, it doesn't take as much effort to keep it spinning. Once you have a successful NFL team stocked with talent, it's easy to keep re-stocking through the draft, filling free-ageny losses with depth you already had on the roster and backfilling depth through the draft. And when you re-load with extra 2nd and 3rd round picks every year, like the Patriots seem to be able to do, it helps. Very little reliance on rookies in a starting role. For all the other teams who have so many holes that they can't fill them in one or two drafts, playing the free-agent market seems not only logical, but necessary. And you have to pay. Free agents have choices (mostly). It's about the money, but not just the money. Where to raise your family. Which team gets TV time and improves the opportunity for pro-bowl and MVP bonuses, etc... Seattle is at a disadvantage. Therefore, if we want a specific FA, we'll have to pay them and woo them away from what may be more favorable situations. Like we did Burleson, Kearney and Housh. We overpaid, because if we hadn't we wouldn't have been successful. Once we start winning more, we'll get more National coverage and that will make recruiting easier. We have to find a way to get over the hump and then keep the wheel spinning.
Cut blocking. I keep hearing about Greg Knapps zone blocking system and reliance on small quick guys who cut block. As an ex-lineman, I can tell you it's no different than the pass/run ratio. If you don't keep it balanced the defenses stack against your tendencies. If an O-lineman is predictable, cut blocking too often, it makes it easier for the D-lineman to beat you. It's only effective when they don't know it's coming. If you are so small that you can't overpower or hold the point of attack about half the time, and they know you must rely on cut-blocking, they'll beat you more than they should. There are no short-cuts. We need a big, nasty O-line if we want to run the ball with authority. Zone blocking is just a system for determining who will be assigned to who. In theory it makes the O-line job less complicated. Cut blocking is just a technique. If your RB can and will hit the hole quickly, it can be effective in freezing the D-line long enough for the RB to get to the second level. If the RB hesitates or dances too much it's not effective. Relying on it too much makes as much sense as running the option or passing 90% of the time. When I hear that we want small, nimble lineman who will cut-block in our zone blocking system, it makes me think we've already given up on the idea that we will have a dominant running game. Being able to get push on the 1 yard line is not something I'd willingly sacrifice.
So, what do you think? Is it just me? Am I not understanding something? Does it seem that we're trying to use a gimmick to make up for lack of talent?