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The playoffs rest on the shoulders of two players: Griffin and Taylor


Dirk Diggler

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I, along with a few others have maintained that Griffin is the one irreplaceable player on the defense. Never was that more obvious than yesterday. The handful of times we did get pressure came from the ends and on LB blitzes and Simms was able to step up in the pocket because our DTs never got off the LOS. If Griffin is in there, this doesn’t happen very often and we come up with a few sacks on those blitzes. If Griffin is playing Mike Alstott does not find the fountain of youth and convert those short yardage opportunities up the gut. Up to and including the SF game, nobody ran up the middle on us. Since then it’s been a very different story.

Our Dline is average with Griffin but horrendous without him. That means we have to bring numbers to force the issue. This exposes problems #2 and #3: Walt Harris and whatever scrub is replacing Sean Taylor. Harris suddenly looks old and with Taylor out, you see something you didn’t see very often in the past 2 years, WRs running over the middle without fear of being decapitated. We’ve allowed 28+ points 4 times in 2 seasons and Taylor was unavailable 50% of those Sundays. The whole field expands when he’s out.

At times like this, the defensive staff is caught between a rock and a hard place: sit back, protect Harris and the backup FS and get picked apart underneath (because we have 0 pass rush w/out Griff) or challenge the QB with blitzes that put Harris and Prioleau in one-on-one situations. Neither option seems too palatable. That’s why I don’t think that it’s as simple as Williams “calling a better game” as some people suggest.

The good news is that we’re not destined to suck on defense because we’re simply outmanned like Arizona or Tennessee or Houston. Taylor and Griffin are coming back. Without them we are below average on defense. With them we are solid. It’s as simple as that. The fact that we’ve put ourselves in a position to rely so greatly on one or two players is another problem altogether but I think that’s a conversation for the offseason. For every game we have to play without these 2 lynchpins, we are going to need a monumental effort on offense and about 30 points per game. We’ll need ball control drives capped by touchdowns. That’s a lot to ask for from any team this side of Indy.

I think that once Griffin and Taylor heal up, we’ll see great improvement from the defense and a balanced team that can start stringing together wins. If they are in and out of the lineup, we’re staring at 8-8.

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Griffin should be back this week against the Raiders...Not sure how sever Taylor's ankle is but I'm like you, the boot isn't that re-assuring. Maybe it is just for a quicker recovery time, let's hope! Because Prielou is severly over matched against basically anyone on the field!

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That's great to hear about Griffin. He is desparately needed. There is absolutely no pass rush without him, even when blitzing. I still don't know what happened to Taylor. He hurt his ankle versus SF, plays 2 more games, and then shows up with a boot on his foot. When was it reinjured?

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