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Keys to success: a glaring observation


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Take a look at the most succesful teams in the NFL at the moment. The teams that are most probably going to make the playoffs or are at least in contention of doing so. Here's a rough list:


Chicago, NY Giants, Philladelphia, New Orleans, Atlanta, Carolina, Seatlle


Patriots, Ravens, Colts, Jags, Denver, Chargers

What do these teams have in common? What is pushing them ahead of the pack?

-From a coaching standpoint, almost all of these teams have very good coaches. Most of them are coached by veteran coaches (Giants, Philly, Carolina, Seattle, Pats, Ravens, Colts, Denver, SD), but so do we. Some of them are coached by innovated young coaches (Chicago, NO, Jags). But from top to bottom, the coaching staff came in with a gameplan and was able to execute that gameplan with the front office. So I can't really point the finger here. What I do see is...



Almost all of these teams have disruptive defenses. Most commonly amongst all of these teams is a DOMINANT FRONT 4. I cannot stress this enough! It's almost jaw-dropping how similar all of these teams are in terms of their front fours and the ability/talent they have on them:

Bears have a pro-bowl DE in Ogunleye, young studs at the DT that are athletic and powerful (Tank J. and Tommie Harris), Philly always wreaks havoc (Kearse, D. Walker, Cole), The Giants have probowl DEs, New Orleans has a plethora of 1st round talent on their line, Atlanta has an excellent pass rush (Kerney, Abraham, Coleman), Carolina (do I need to mention it?), Seattle has an underated D-line as well (most notably their interchangeable depth). Pats have a stud line (Wilfork, Warren, Seymour), Ravens just reloaded their line with a great draftpick (Nagota) and have a stud DEs (Pryce, Suggs), Colts have a nasty Dline (Freeney, McFarland, the underated Brock, Simon) as do the Jags (DTs galore). The Chargers have a sweet line (J. Williams, Merriman) and Denver somehow gets it done with stunting their ex-browns. The Defensive lines of almost all of these teams have been homegrown, with the exception of the Colts who traded for their DTs (but still drafted Freeney) and Denver (who has Champ Bailey to protect their inadequacies).

All of these teams have been investing high draft picks (1st-3rd rounders) on these studs and they pay off big time for them. They allow their teams to force the agenda on defense and that's what makes them succesful defensively. Even the defensively woeful teams on the list (Chargers, Colts, Seattle mostly because of their secondaries) are still able to force pressure which leads to turnovers and puts their potent offenses back on the field. Look at the Chargers last week attacking Palmer and getting the ball back into LT's hands.

The truley elite defensive teams (Ravens, Jags, Pats, Philly, Chicago) also have the back 7 to compliment and playmake off of the pressure their front fours generate. Especially Chicago and Baltimore.

How does our front four compare to any of these teams? It's not even a contest. Our front four is aged and anemic compared to these teams. With lack of explosion from the WLB (Holdman) and the shakey secondary (every position), Greg Williams has scaled back from schemes that have hidden this inadequacy in the past, being delegated to zone coverage schemes and simple coverage. Did you see McNabb even get a hint of pressure? He had all day in the pocket. This compounds the problem for a weak secondary which doesn't need more damage to its psyche by an anemic pass rush. It's a vicious circle.

What have we done about it? We signed Griffin 2 years ago (who already seems to be declining) and signed Andre Carter (who has been for the most part ineffective, although shows signs of improvement). Wynn and Daniels are aged warriors but their gas-tanks are near empty. Demetric Evans spells players but he's not explosive. Golston and Montgomery are nice young talent, but clearly not elite physically. They are blue-collar backups which could thrive in that roll. Salavea doesn't get the same push he did last year (probably due to injury). Almost none of these players even has the inate ability to whiff double digit sacks. ALL of the teams afformentioned (which will be contending for the playoffs) have invested HEAVILY through the draft in the last few years on the D-Line. All of them have DEs that can contend for the sack title. I could literaly go down the list through the teams. Not ONE of those teams has ignored improving its D-Line. Almost all of them adressed it through the draft.

Just a little point that i think is PARAMOUNT to our defensive conscerns for next year. For the most part, I think the core of the offense is there (while the QB position still remains in limbo). The area we need to retool is in defense and we need to start with the D-Line, like all of these playoff teams did seasons ago and have been reaping the rewards.

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Great post. I agree. I remember following the draft for the past five years and Kiper had us taking Kevin Williams (Minnesota) and Tommie Harris in back to back years but we never did. Will Smith was also in his mock draft for a long time as going to the Skins. Of course, 20/20 we took other players who have been a mixed bag but all of these guys have turned out to be absolute studs. We absolutely need to use our top 15 pick this year on a defensive lineman. One disruptive guy on the line can change the whole face of the defense. We have been adding defensive skill guys for years, ALWAYS making sure to have 2 great corners, but the key to success is having 2 great lineman.

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