The irony of former Giants CB Jason Sehorn signing with the Rams Monday is that Sehorn was exactly the type of defensive back St. Louis loved to torment a few years back, when the Rams had the league's most dominant, in-your-face, bullying offense.
But Rams head coach Mike Martz believes Sehorn will make a good free safety in Lovie Smith's cover-2 scheme. Bully for Martz — I couldn't agree more. Sehorn is going to struggle covering receivers near the line of scrimmage, but back him up 10 yards or so, and he's more than capable of covering one-half of the field, as "two" dictates.
After a down season in 2002, Sehorn should rebound nicely. The following five players also should fare better in 2003:
Jaguars WR Donald Hayes — Signed to be the “big” complement to smaller WRs Troy Brown and David Patten in New England, Hayes reportedly never got comfortable with the New England offense. He caught only 12 passes for 133 yards in his one season with the Pats and was released in February. The Jaguars, with a lack of depth at wideout, picked him up in March. This is a pairing that should work quite well. The 6-foot-4 Hayes is more skilled and accomplished than Bobby Shaw, who didn’t take enough pressure off WR Jimmy Smith last season. Also, Hayes is familiar with Bill Musgrave, Jacksonville’s new offensive coordinator, from their days in Carolina, so his learning curve shouldn’t be a factor.
Redskins CB Fred Smoot — Scouts have told PFW that Smoot played way too fast-and-loose last season. Too often he gambled — and lost. He may well have played himself into some trade rumors that circulated early in the offseason as the Redskins angled to get into the top three of the draft. But Smoot remains in Washington and remains the target of teams staying away from fellow CB Champ Bailey. But he has the ball skills and swagger to be a standout, and if he has learned his lessons from last season, he will play well this season, even if the Redskins sometimes struggle to get a pass rush.
Dolphins WR Chris Chambers — It wasn’t that Chambers had a bad 2002 season. He just didn’t make the leap to superstar after a magnificent rookie campaign. Chambers just wasn’t quite ready to be a No. 1 receiver. Double-teams gave him trouble. His production fell off in the second half of games; he scored no touchdowns after halftime. But some of his trouble is a product of QB Jay Fiedler missing five games with a thumb injury — he caught but 16 passes (and zero touchdowns) in Ray Lucas’ starts. Chambers’ production was also affected by a concussion suffered in Week Six at Denver. If Chambers and Fiedler can stay healthy, the wide receiver and quarterback will have productive seasons. Chambers will benefit from playing alongside WR Derrius Thompson, signed away from Washington after playing well in Steve Spurrier’s offense. Look for Chambers to return to his role of home-run hitter, with RB Ricky Williams wearing teams down and Chambers taking advantage of their weariness.
Buccaneers RB Michael Pittman — Pittman had a disappointing first regular season (only 3.5 yards a carry and one touchdown) in Tampa. But his 124-yard performance in the Super Bowl against a tough Raiders run defense is proof of what he can do. Pittman is strong and has enough speed to break the occasional long run. Running behind an improving offensive line, Pittman could approach 1,000 yards in 2003. That's a barrier that doesn't get much respect these days, but if he comes close while sharing carries with Mike Alstott, the Bucs will creep into the upper half of the league in offense (they were 24th in 2002). And with that defense, think of how much tougher that will make the Bucs to beat.
Colts PK Mike Vanderjagt — Vanderjagt is better than he performed in 2002, when he was 12th in the AFC in field-goal percentage and made only 6-of-12 kicks between 40 and 49 yards. He’s usually quite good under pressure, and he figures to be focused after an offseason to forget.
I was big on Chambers last season, and kept waiting for him to break out, which never really happened. He ended up just taking space on my roster. Though I'm bitter about him from last year, I think he will have a good season this year.