Pounds Posted February 6, 2009 Share Posted February 6, 2009 Debunking the "untruths" It is my contention that the front four, preceded only by the secondary, is an immutable strength of our defense. While I don’t agree with Blache’s schemes in how he uses his players along the d-line, there is no arguing their effectiveness in what they are asked to do, which is to occupy blocks. In application this occupation of blocks is not unlike offensive linemen blocking for a running back, but instead the defensive linemen are blocking for their linebackers. Surely, by now, the reader thinks I’m crazy to assert such a claim judging by the numbers, or in this case, complete lack thereof. We were tied for 28th in the league for sacks with just 24 and according to Football Outsiders we had an adjusted sack rate of 4.6%, which is roughly 27% lower than the league average of 6.3%. I answer this question of my sanity by pointing out to the reader that we are the only team to be in the bottom half of these important statistics by choice and, surely, by no lack of talent. The aforementioned statistics are symptomatic of an approach that serves as the backbone of our defensive philosophy: stop the pass with our secondary, but combat the run with our front four allowing the backers behind them to read, react and make plays, both in the passing and running games. Still, even in an era so blighted by parity and redefined by rule changes aiding the passing game, teams, philosophically, rely heavily on the run. So it makes some sense for Greg Blache to approach defense this way. Defensively, game-to-game success is measured by stopping the run, but championship defenses are designed to stop the pass. With a secondary ranked fourth against the pass, in terms of yardage per game allowed, Greg Blache figures that both individually and collectively he has the players in the back end which allow him to disguise coverages and subsequently make opposing offenses one-dimensional. Therefore, Blache utilizes the front four in helping to combat the remaining dimension: the running attack. As mentioned, their primary task is the occupation of blocks, forcing runners to move laterally and to the outside, theoretically funneling them to our OLBers. Often times, our ends are lined up in the five-technique, shading the tackle’s outside shoulder, with Anthony Montgomery, or Kedric Golston, or both, playing two-gaps, in run hindering alignments. For the most part, they perform this task very effectively, although at the expense of their individual statistics. Many times, in fact, Blache designed schemes that had Montgomery lined up in the three-technique, a position not exactly suited to his strengths, along with Kedric Golston, who lined up in the one-technique; this coupling, to me, served as a bold illustration for Blache’s commitment to stopping the run. The Issues The problem with this defense is the lack of consistent play from every one of our backers not named London Fletcher. Marcus Washington, while still above average when healthy, struggles to play more than half a season, his counterpart on the weak-side, Rocky McIntosh wore down so horribly in the second half that Blache decided Alfred Fincher represented the better solution and benched Rocky. I submit to the reader this: when Alfred Fincher is receiving playing time on defense in your starter’s stead, linebacker depth and play should be a tremendous concern, especially when one considers this group’s importance to the scheme. Our only depth at this position is the Swiss Army knife-like H.B. Blades, who’s talents are best suited for the middle, not for the strong-side where is diminutive stature is exploited, serving as further evidence that the LBer corp is the one in dire need of addressing. The Trench One of the more widespread misnomers I encounter regarding defense is this concept of the "trench." It is a total fallacy and nothing more than illusion, postulated and perpetuated by media types, whom really don’t understand what they think they see. What is a "trench" in relation to a defense? I know the most common answer one would offer is that it is the four down linemen. But those that offer such an overly simplistic answer are wrong. The "trench" notion in reference to today’s complex defensive strategies, to make any kind of sense, should apply to a defense’s middle strength, i.e., it’s DTs, MIKE, and free and strong safeties. Each of these positions is a strength for this defense, from Golston, Griffin, and Montgomery to London Fletcher to LaRon Landry, Kareem Moore, Reed Doughty and Chris Horton. Cornelius is one of the best run stopping DTs in the NFC. Kedric is a young, solid player, particularly adept against the run and, specifically, draw plays. Montgomery, if allowed to use his instincts as opposed to the read-and-react demands of two gap play, could develop into one of the better young, one-technique tackles in the NFL. London’s play, even at his age, has not tapered off even slightly with his effectiveness closely tied to that of the DTs in front of him, occupying blocks. And the triumvirate of Landry, Horton, and Moore allow Blache to skillfully mask his coverages. The only missing element to our middle strength is a three-technique capable of wrecking backfield havoc, but players of such ilk are hardly run-of-the-mill. The Conclusion For this defense, as currently constructed, with Blache as DC to continue any kind of upward progress, the front office must address the LBing corp ASAP, and, if need be, completely at the expense of the defensive line; particularly on the strong and weak sides. Depth at LBer is an inarguable issue, but the addition of a play-making element would radically alter our defensive modus operandi. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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