The Abominable Snowman Exists! Bigfoot is Alive and Well! Hilary Clinton Gave Birth to an Alien! The Moon has Turned to Blood! Eric Heitmann is not a Good Football Player!
All of the above statements are myths, and yet, there are far too many people on this board (there are about 7 or 8 in one active thread right now) that seem to have blindly accepted the last "fact". So, I have taken on, as nearly a full-time profession, to dispell one the silliest myths in Webzone history, that Eric Heitmann is not a good football player and needs to be replaced.
Here is the truth, no matter how much some may personally hate it: Eric Heitmann is having a very good football season.
I believed this weekend would be an excellent opportunity to isolate and analyze his play, so I tracked his every down (I only took bathroom breaks when the Niners were on defense) against Dallas NT Jay Ratliff, who is considered one of the finest interior defenders in the NFL. Ratliff led all 3-4 NT's around the league with 6 sacks going into the Niners' game. He ranks 20th overall in the NFL in sacks, and is 3rd overall for all DT's in the NFL.
Here were comments or thoughts by coaches, broadcasters and journalists about Ratliff going into the Niners' game against Heitmann:
* Mike Martz stated last week that Ratliff was the best pass rusher from NT position he has ever seen.
* John Madden put him on the horse trailer as his player of the game against the Redskins.
*Many believe Ratliff is a Pro-Bowl candidate.
So, I tracked all 53 snaps of the game, in the matchup between Ratliff and Heitmann. I listed the down, the yards to go, whether Heitmann doubled on Ratliff with another guard, or handled him by himself. I marked down the direction of the block. And, finally, I listed whether he won the battle against Ratliff by pushing him out of the way, stopping his rush, etc.
Here is what I found: Heitmann excelled on 50 of 53 snaps. The three situations where I counted his play as a loss:
1) On the four yard line, at the 49 second mark left in the first quarter, on a 2nd and goal. Heitmann and Baas were to double Ratiliff, but did not get enough leverage to completely clean him out of the play. Ratliff gets an arm on Gore, but Thomas does most of the work coming through the middle. Play went for zero yards.
2) The next play, on third and goal, where Ratliff ran untouched into the backfield and Hill threw an incompletion. On the play, Heitmann went directly after the other DT Canty at the snap. Rachal blocked Spears, and Ratliff was unaccounted for. This may have been Heitmann's error, but it also may have been Rachal's. I'm guessing Rachal, but will count the miscommunication on Heitmann, just for the sake of argument.
3) The fumble with Hill. Now, Hill has already come out and said it was the QB's fault. Whether this is the truth, or if Hill is simply falling on the sword, we will never know. I will still count this against Heitmann.
The other 50 snaps, Heitmann played extremely well. In fact, Ratliff is nowhere near Hill the rest of the game. He is not pressured once by Ratliff. Ratliff does not make a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Ratliff does not break the line of scrimmage beyond the one pressure. Ratliff finishes with 2 solo tackles (one of his two solo tackles was made on a three yard run by Gore at the 9:05 mark in the second...and Heitmann drove Ratliff off the ball on the play) and 1 assisted (previously mentioned), and the sole pressure mentioned before. He would not have made the horse trailer, he would not be considered a Pro-Bowl candidate, he would be considered average at the end of this game. In fact, on most pass plays, Ratliff, matched one on one with Heitmann, is barely in the screen when Hill throws the ball.
And after playing at a high level against one of the better NFC defensive linemen, he is garbage and needs to be replaced? I'm searching for some sign of intelligence in these statements.
I am challenging any skeptic, who has the ability to be objective, to review the tape, and grade him yourself, instead of simply accepting this ridiculous board myth than Heitmann is a problem, and should be sat.
There is no Bigfoot, there is no Abominable Snowman, and I am once and for slaying the silly myth than Heitmann is a problem.
I call on the skeptics of the board to take the challenge. Watch the tape yourself, and then come back to the board and join me in crushing this silliness.
I thought I would spare the board my entire description of the 53 offensive plays, but if someone wants to know about a particular play, or down, please let me know.
Now, can we to another subject, like benching Patrick Willis. Or cutting Manny Lawson. Or taking away Joe Montana's Super Bowl rings.
Update: In order to prove how bad Heitmann has played this season, please check out the third page of this post, on the link that gives the stats for the Niners' running game. It may "shock and awe" you. Cheers.
[ Edited by MadDog49er on Nov 25, 2008 at 20:35:19 ]