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Matchupalooza: Walter Jones v. Gaines Adams

Those 4 PranQsters I downed last night are beginning to chase me down so this will be my last post for the day. The other matchups will follow tomorrow.

The first game of the season is a lot about speculation, we have an idea of the quality of the Hawks and an idea about the quality of our opponents, but, in reality, it's pretty tough to know where everyone stands until a few games are played. In that spirit, the matchups this week are more about questions than answers.

Gaines Adams Conducts a Clinical Evaluation of Walter Jones' Health

Gaines is the rookie and Big Walt the future HOFer, but like Longfellow's two ships passing in the night the contact may be brief and leave much sorrow in its wake. That's because Adams is a speed rusher and Jones, 33, is overdue for a little loss in his lateral agility. I'm not saying that I predict that Jones will be blown past on the outside by the clearly quicker Adams, just that this Sunday is a good test of how Jones' is holding up entering his 11th season.

First, let's examine this classic matchup. Adams is a speed rusher who likes to dart to the outside. His goal: gain a step or two on the opposing tackle, getting an advantageous position on the tackle's outside shoulder and then stripping the block on his way to the quarterback. Simple, right. The tackle has the advantage because the end must run a longer route to get to the same position; To put it another way: Think of two quarter-circles, one with a radius of one yard another with a radius of 1.5 yards, the first quarter circle is only 1.57 yards long, the second 2.36 yards long--50% more distance to cover.

That's good because Jones can no longer match Adams 4.6 forty. Adams impact on Sunday should tell us a few things about Jones: How his surgically repaired left shoulder is holding up. The left, natch, being the outside shoulder on a left tackle. That's the side Adams hopes to prey on. Adams jitterbug style should also illuminate how Jones' ankle feels, an injury he played the entirety of the 2006 season suffering from. Finally, we should get a good look at how Big Walt's drive blocking is doing, at his best, Jones should be able to manhandle the light, and relatively speaking, quite weak, Adams. Making him a liability against the run game, where his aggression and Maginot Line like ability to hold the point should be exploited again and again. If Jones' is in top form, look for Ronde Barber to get a lot of tackles in run support and a big game by Shaun Alexander.