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Sifting For Gold (Week 11)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. Partly because of the amazing smells that fill the house in the midst of the frantic food preparation. Partly because of the promise of loved ones gathering together for a day of fun and feasting. Partly because, well, I really, really like good food. But also because it’s a reminder to take stock of what you HAVE and be grateful for it. I’ve been blessed enough to never have to have a Thanksgiving where we couldn’t afford to put on a big family meal the way we want to. Being thankful for what you have is a key to finding peace in your life.

In that spirit, then, I thought I’d revisit a post I made several weeks ago. After the Bengals’ game, in the midst of a grim stretch of games that had most of us doubting whether or not there was any reasonable expectation that this team would win even 4 or 5 games in the whole season, I wrote a blog detailing the players I felt were building blocks for the future. I also listed those that I had hope for, but to that point had not shown enough to say with any conviction that they could be part of the future. Now, in the glow of 3 good wins against competitive teams and establishing a new identity as a physical, attacking team on both sides of the ball, I thought it might be good to revisit that list and see how some of those players are holding up, and whether there might be any new players to add to the list.


Building Blocks for the future: Jarvis Landry, Laremy Tunsil, Devante Parker, Mike Pouncey.

Players to be named later (the “watch list”): Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Jakeem Grant, Leonte Caroo.

Changes and additions to the list after 10 weeks: Move Ajayi and Damien Williams to the “Building Block” list, add Marquies Gray and Dominique Jones to the “Players to be named later” list. I don’t really know what to do with Ja’Wuan James. Early in the year he played like trash, but he’s improved. He probably deserves to make the watch list as well. What about Ryan Tannehill? He certainly has played well the last few weeks. Keep that up, Ryan, and put yourself into the building block list. 


Building Blocks: Ndamukong Suh, Kiko Alonso, Reshad Jones, Xavien Howard.

Players to be named later: Isa Abdul-Quddus, Jordan Phillips, Bobby McCain.

Changes and additions: Move Abdul-Quddus and Andre Branch to the building blocks list. Branch has really stepped up since being inserted into the starting lineup. Jordan Phillips is close as well, but I would wait until I see more consistency for the rest of the season. Add to the Players to be Named Later list Tony Lippett and Neville Hewitt. Lippett has grown into his job as the season has progressed, and while he’s still raw, he has shown enough improvement to keep around. Hewitt has flashed the last couple of games and brings an intensity that I have enjoyed seeing. I am on the fence with Byron Maxwell. He’s improved as well, but is he worth keeping next year? It is telling that there is only one linebacker on the building block list. This had better be a high offseason priority.

Special Teams

Building Blocks: Matt Darr, Andrew Franks, Jakeem Grant.

Changes and additions: Add Walt Aikens to the Building Block list. He deserves to be recognized for his work there, even if he hasn’t developed as a defensive contributor yet.

As expected, with the team figuring out how to win and playing much better the past 3 weeks, we are seeing more players step up and show themselves to be players to build around. I hope to see more clarity of that type over the rest of the season. 


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