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Chalk Talk: Rush Outside Backers And Our Dilemma


KDawg

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Alright, so, I've been wanting to put this post together for awhile and I just haven't had time to accurately articulate it. I will now.

 

Prior to actually making the post, I feel the need to say this:

 

I'm a huge fan of Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. I think they're both tremendous. I also think that Orakpo is very underappreciated by our fanbase, and I actually, believe it or not, believe that Kerrigan is underappreciated. So I ask this of everyone who reads this piece: Please keep those comments in mind as you read through this.

 

PART OF THE PROBLEM WITH OUR DEFENSE IS HAVING TWO RUSH OLBs

 

This isn't a knock on Kerrigan or Orakpo in particular. It's not saying that neither is valuable, and it's certainly not saying that running a defense with two rush OLBs isn't possible. What it's saying is that with our current personnel (coach and player) the two rush outside backers is hurting it more than it's helping us. It's no secret that both Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo are best when they're able to bring pressure and rush the quarterback. It's my opinion that Kerrigan is more stout against the run, but it's also my opinion that Orakpo isn't nearly as bad at setting an edge as many believe he is. Having said that, there's no question what both of them do best: Get after the quarterback.

 

Kerrigan does things a bit different in that regard. He loves to bat down passes (which Rak actually did last week as well) at the line of scrimmage. But the end result is the same: Both players are strongest when getting after the quarterback.

 

If I had to pick a short coming for either one of them it would be the same: Coverage.

 

In order to really make the next point I'm going to make, I have to give a little background:

 

History of the 3-4

 

In many of the 3-4 defenses that have been around and put on the field, there are two different types of OLBs. One is the JACK. The JACK is also known as the RUSH to some people. This guy is primarily a pass rusher and generally a weakside outside linebacker.

 

That's a key point to keep in mind... He's generally a WEAK SIDE player. That means he TYPICALLY aligns away from the tight end, unless there are more than one tight end on the line of scrimmage. That changes alignments. Other than that, it means he's got little to no coverage responsibility. He has one job on pass: Get after the quarterback.

 

The other linebacker is referred to as the SAM or the DROP linebacker. Their primary responsibility is to cover. They typically aligned to the strong side of the formation, shaded on a TE. He would be in coverage a good portion of the time. His strength is coverage.

 

Yes, both the JACK and the SAM can do both jobs, and at times they will be called to do so in order to keep offenses guessing a bit. However, keeping that in mind, they had pretty clearly defined roles:  Get after the QB or  get into coverage.

 

Many defenses, with the advent of the zone blitz, started to change that basic tenet of the old school 3-4. They looked for OLBs that could do both jobs exceptionally well and inside linebackers who could rush the passer, cover and fill their gaps. Those inside guys didn't necessarily have to be as big because in the 3-4 the defensive linemen protect them. But the backers all needed to be more well rounded.

 

Dick LeBeau was the father of the zone blitz. He always made sure that his defenses had four linebackers that were fairly well rounded. Sure he had guys that could do some things better than others, but they didn't have a glaring weakness, persay. It was necessary to have good players surrounding the OLBs so that he could allow them to both get after the quarterback. That's why those inside backers (and other positions) had to be sound in all aspects of the game. He didn't necessarily want to use the JACK/SAM in their traditional RUSH/DROP roles. He wanted guys who could do it all, and that meant needing the overall personnel to achieve that goal.

 

WHY THE REDSKINS STRUGGLE WITH TWO RUSH TYPE BACKERS

 

The Redskins are struggling with two rush type backers for a reason. And it's not quite as simple as some believe it to be. It's not because "Brian Orakpo is overrated". It's more because we don't have the guys surrounding them to make the system work the way it's being used.

 

Using those two guys in a majority of rushing scenarios means that we're bringing five man pressures fairly often when in our base (3-4) front. Five man pressures mean that you've got six players left in coverage. (This is partly why you see a lot of the two man defensive lines for us, by the way, it leaves seven guys in coverage and allows Rak and Kerrigan to go after the QB).

 

The only way you can run five man pressures is to play a variation of man, likely cover 1 (all but one safety is in man coverage) or with 3-seam coverage (Fire Zone concept).

 

Here's the issue: Unless your other LBs or safeties are total studs in coverage, the 3-seam allows the ball to get thrown to an open receiver a lot easier. Without getting into the intricacies of the 3-seam coverage, here's the simple version: It's 3 under, 3 deep variety of coverage. The LBs in the box often have to get out to a slot receiver to pattern match them/anything coming their way. That allows for a quick throw to possibly be completed. The idea of the zone blitz is to create pressure on the quarterback, but if the quarterback is good and has even remotely adequate protection, the quick pass is a major problem for the defense.

 

Let me say that again: The quick pass is a major problem for the defense.

 

Again: The quick pass is a major problem for the defense.

 

This is part of the reason that opposing teams gameplan quick throws. The inside linebackers, if they are responsible for the curl zone, can't just cheat out to it or the run inside is open. They have to respect the run. The other inside backer is the hook player and a safety is usually the other curl player in a basic coverage.

 

The corners typically play off coverage when in cover 3, especially if it's 3-seam. Why? Because if they play too far up and bite on a double move, they only have one safety over the top to help. It's the safety valve that's necessary to prevent big play after big play.

 

And this isn't even beginning to mention our tackling woes. If you miss a tackle, the receiver has a lot more room to run before they're met by another defender.

 

All of this factors in to our problems.

 

To prevent being completely transparent in scheme, they have to drop Orakpo and Kerrigan into coverage either together or separately from time to time. Sometimes that means a 3 man rush (just the DL) and 8 man max coverage behind them. Sometimes that means Riley and Fletcher can go. Sometimes that means one ILB and one OLB can go. But that DOES put Rak and Kerrigan into coverage, which is both of their weak points.

 

So our lack of ability to cover anyone prevents our pressure from getting home, which completely negates the advantage of having two outstanding pass rushers coming off the edge.

 

WHY WE RUN 2 MAN DL FRONTS

 

Simply put, it helps us in coverage. It allows Orakpo and Kerrigan to play more of a "4-3 defensive end" role. Hand in the dirty or not makes very little difference. When we rush four, it's usually a lot easier to see and understand which four are coming. That's one of the main advantages to the 3-4 defense. Disguise. You're not disguising much in that look. Yes, you can blitz the ILBs in place of or with the OLBs. That's always a possibility, but the major advantage of only rushing four is that now you have 7 guys in coverage. Likely 5 under 2 deep or 4 under 3 deep coverage shells. That completely helps your ability to cover, but negates your ability to catch the offense off guard with your pass rush.

 

Having two great pass rushers comes into play there. It helps dramatically. They can both beat their man/double even if the offense knows what's coming.

 

But the problem is, once again, that even with seven guys in coverage we're still not doing a great job covering up receiver. The quick releases are still coming out of the quarterback's hand before the pass rush even has a real chance to get there.

 

WHY OUR DEFENSE WAS BETTER DOWN THE STRETCH, AND WHY ROB JACKSON WAS SUCH A PLAYMAKER

 

Rob Jackson benefitted greatly from Ryan Kerrigan's presence last year with Orakpo down. That's not to say Jackson isn't a skilled player, but he's a different player than Orakpo. He's a better coverage guy and more of a DROP/SAM backer. I think, honestly, that Jackson would have done just as well across from Orakpo as he did Kerrigan. Why? His skillset fits our personnel.

 

He seems to have a relatively high football IQ. It allows him to get into coverage and see what's happening. He intercepted passes last year because he saw the opportunity. Some of the balls shouldn't have been thrown, but against two rush outside backers, those same passes may have been completed. That's the game of jeopardy you play when you have two outstanding pass rushers and a below average coverage unit. When you have a drop OLB and a rush OLB, you get a little bit more flexibility and can hide coverage issues by playing games with your drop guy. Jackson, in my opinion, is no where near the caliber of Kerrigan or Orakpo as far as pass rush goes. But he's effective sometimes when he does because he doesn't always come. And when he drops, he's not a major liability in coverage. Schematically, he fits the personnel on the field and allows us to use more tricks/games because of his skillset. He's a more well rounded player than Orakpo, and maybe even Kerrigan (although for my money, Kerrigan is the best overall OLB on the team).

 

PERSONNEL IS AN ISSUE FOR US

 

A lack of flexibility with our personnel continues to be an issue. We don't have the guys on the team, right now, to properly utilize those two rush OLBs. With the cap penalty, it's extremely difficult for us to have gotten in that position. With those restrictions lifted, it's possible that we can upgrade our defense to fit what we have. At that point, if we can somehow manage to upgrade positions such as safety, and keep Rak, Kerrigan and Jackson on the roster, we become much more dangerous. The same can be said for the remainder of the 2013 season.

 

Rak isn't great in coverage, but he can drop in it from time to time and not be an issue. With any combination of those three on the field, you really can't know what to expect. That hides some coverage deficiencies because now the offense has to guess where the rush is coming from and who's dropping where into coverage.

 

It's my theory that our coverage unit is more to blame for the overall defensive woes of this team than any other single person. And it's the coverage unit as a whole, not just one player. A top notch safety would help change that quite a bit, but it's not the only position that would need an upgrade. Corners next year (and even this year) will be upgraded by the simple fact that Amerson will be gaining valuable experience. If we shore up our coverage, the use of the three OLBs will really begin to make us a much tougher match up.

 

WHAT ABOUT THE DEFENSIVE LINE?

 

I strongly feel like our rush backers may also benefit from a DL upgrade if we can't upgrade our secondary accordingly. How? Re-establishing the line of scrimmage in the backfield. If our DL did a better job at moving the pocket into the QBs lap, our pass rushers would have much more success as well.

 

When the pocket collapses directly back into the quarterback, he realizes it and his internal clock skips a few counts. The good ones will take a hit and get a good throw off anyways, but some of the more skiddish ones become more prone to mistakes just because the OL is in their lap. Now add to that the pocket collapsing from the sides as well with no where to step up. Sacks and pressures are the result and that results in interceptions and forced fumbles.

 

Barry Cofield is a tremendous player for us. One that I feel is a key cog for our defense. But I think he can make that impact as a DE far better than he can a NT. Bowen and Jarvis Jenkins are good DEs. We miss having Adam Carriker. If we were able to get a solid, tough, nose tackle... That would allow us, if healthy, to rotate Carriker, Bowen, Jenkins and Cofield at the ends. Fresh legs and man beasts across the board.

 

SO WHAT'S THE REAL PROBLEM?

 

The lack of proper surrounding talent to utilize our two rush linebackers properly. The additions of Jenkins and now Rob Jackson should help us, if they are up to form and utilized correctly, but personnel is still the primary concern for us. We don't have a pocket collapsing DL. We don't have a great coverage unit. Those are major issues when going to bat with two rush outside backers.

 

I would guess we'll see some kind of improvements moving forward, but until we're able to upgrade safety or DL significantly, we'll see the same issues if we keep the same philosophy.

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Great post!  I love to read posts like this because it helps me understand the game. Best part of Extremeskins by far.  I sincerely hope getting back Jackson and Jenkins helps our defense out.  I have no idea what else we can do about the secondary except wait for the rookies to develop or pick up some good free agents (though it seems like the FO isn't too interested in the latter).

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Awesome, awesome stuff. 

 

What I love about this write up K is now I have something I can look for next game, with my child football IQ, and feel a little smarter!

 

How would you rank our needs, from most to least important? 

  • DL that can push the pocket
  • Safety to help compensate for two rushing OLB
  • Corners to get better quick or upgrade?
  • A true or at least more traditional SAM …
  • Any other I missed …

Also, just by the eye ball test I always thought Ryan and Rak were OLB’s in 4-3 DE’s clothing, they just seem to “stiff” when standing up and trying to rush, even though they are still damn good at. 

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KD,

 

First, great write-up.  I know you've been working hard on this the past several days and this is a good, no-**** write-up that encompasses a lot of issues.

 

I would argue that we have the personnel to be successful in many schemes (3-4 and other hybrids of it) but I don't disagree that the way we play the current scheme is not stirring the kool-aid.

 

The three step game has been our killer for years now.  Starting with that game in St. Louis against rookie Sam Bradford and continuing up to two weeks ago against the Lions.  Some adjustments were made.

 

I know you touched on it, but you really didn't hit on it... much of this is on Haz and to me it's lazy coaching to expect Orakpo and Kerrigan to go in there and create havoc when you don't have a compatible back-end coverage called.  It's been going on for years now and I'm tired of it.

 

So I guess I'm asking you to elaborate on whether or not you think a coaching/philosophy change would assist the current personnel?  I know it obviously did last year, but I truly think we have the talent to be a top 15 defense this season... it's just not being put in the correct position at the moment.

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This is great. I really think it all comes down to a great NT and two safties. Amerson is going to be a baller and Hall is in his prime and having an outstanding season. With better safties, it allows our aggressive corners to play closer to their man and play their game. We can't do that now. I also think we need to get Jax on the field with KO ( kerrigan Orakpo), even if it puts one of them in the dirt. Riley has looked solid in coverage, but London has a target on him. I wouldn't be shocked if opposing teams told thier TEs to just chip a rusher and then get behind London.

Thanks for the write up!

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the way I look at it is, for every offensive play, there is a counter defensive. if the coordinator calls the wrong play, the scheme looks bad. if he calls the right play, it looks good. its all up to haslett to call the right plays based on what he's seeing from the offense.

if the quick pass is killing us, then we need all of our players up close to the line to create congestion. after the offense sees this, they may take a shot deep. its up to haslett to know when to back off and when to show one look and execute another. its a chess game between offensive and defensive coordinators, and haslett is playing checkers.

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Awesome, awesome stuff. 

 

 

What I love about this write up K is now I have something I can look for next game, with my child football IQ, and feel a little smarter!

 

 

How would you rank our needs, from most to least important? 

  • DL that can push the pocket

     

  • Safety to help compensate for two rushing OLB

     

  • Corners to get better quick or upgrade?

     

  • A true or at least more traditional SAM …

     

  • Any other I missed …

     

Also, just by the eye ball test I always thought Ryan and Rak were OLB’s in 4-3 DE’s clothing, they just seem to “stiff” when standing up and trying to rush, even though they are still damn good at. 

 

 

I mean, I don't know how many of those things are more glaring than another.

 

If you have a better DL, you don't need as great of a coverage unit. If you have a great coverage unit, you don't need as great of a DL.

 

With our current personnel, a true 3-4 SAM is important, even if it's spot duty. But in the future, it's more about definitively upgrading either DL or safety and moderately upgrading the other spot.

 

 

KD,

 

I would argue that we have the personnel to be successful in many schemes (3-4 and other hybrids of it) but I don't disagree that the way we play the current scheme is not stirring the kool-aid.

 

The three step game has been our killer for years now. 

 

So I guess I'm asking you to elaborate on whether or not you think a coaching/philosophy change would assist the current personnel?  I know it obviously did last year, but I truly think we have the talent to be a top 15 defense this season... it's just not being put in the correct position at the moment.

 

 

 

To be honest, I think a philosophy change would help us a bit. I'd like to see us use a bit more cover 2, even if it's in compliment to our cover 3 looks. Who knows, maybe we will. There's GOT to be a reason Haslett hasn't been fired besides loyalty/ego. He may have a good plan. Shanahan obviously knows good football and a good offensive mind is usually a good defensive mind. I'm eager to see what we look like after the bye week.

 

The three step thing has been a problem for us, but for different reasons. Blache's off coverage with the corners was different than Haslett's. Just seems its always what we revert to. I have no idea why.

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Nice that you see the same thing I keep arguing about Cofield Coach to anyone that will listen.

 

Great, informative write up as always but I would say those talent deficiencies could be masked and utilized FAR better with better coaching and game planning. The DC is a continued, MAJOR blight on his unit IMHO regardless of the personal at his disposal and their perceived weakness or not. 

 

Hail. 

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the way I look at it is, for every offensive play, there is a counter defensive. if the coordinator calls the wrong play, the scheme looks bad. if he calls the right play, it looks good. its all up to haslett to call the right plays based on what he's seeing from the offense.

if the quick pass is killing us, then we need all of our players up close to the line to create congestion. after the offense sees this, they may take a shot deep. its up to haslett to know when to back off and when to show one look and execute another. its a chess game between offensive and defensive coordinators, and haslett is playing checkers.

Your solution just creates more issues when your personnel won't allow you to do it.

 

You're right that an offense will see it and take a shot deep. But plays aren't set in stone. The advent of the packaged play makes defenses life miserable. Plays are designed to attack multiple variations of defenses. You don't need to have a 5,000 page play book to be successful. You need to be good at the things you do to be successful and allow for some variation.

 

It doesn't necessarily matter what defense is called, offenses can still attack you. They have route combinations that attack different levels/areas. Horizontal stretches, vertical stretches, hi/lo, moving hi/lo, all in, all option, boots, roll outs, ect.

 

That doesn't mean that play calls aren't important, they are. But there needs to be a stress on fundamentals, and being responsible for your 1/11th more than anything. I don't care who you are, you're going to lose on some plays. Things like a lack of ability to tackle are enraging.

 

I don't disagree with the general premise behind what you're saying though. Haslett needs to find a way to make what we have work to the best of its ability. It shouldn't be THIS bad. But I do think he is lacking proper talent (but I also refuse to believe that's still a valid excuse).

 

Basically, I think a defense needs to scheme to their strength and mask deficiencies. You'll NEVER be able to totally hide them, but you can try to make them much more manageable.

 

But what's the strength of our defense? I'd argue the front 7 in its totality despite some weaknesses. But then you have to disguise your front seven to make the scheme really work due to a few factors, including two rush olbs. So how do you do that? We don't have a dominant group on the field besides our two rush OLBs. Therein lies a LARGE issue.

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Excellent post KD. Thank you for breaking that down. 

 

I am hoping this is something they were working on this offseason. Moving Kerrigan to the DL with Cofield and Jenkins/Bowen on the other side and Rak, Riley, Fletch and RJax behind them. It sounds like that would make us more deceptive in our blitzes and coverages on passing downs as you have explained. 

 

Hopefully some tweaking with the depth we have coming back can help get back on track. 

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To be honest, I think a philosophy change would help us a bit. I'd like to see us use a bit more cover 2, even if it's in compliment to our cover 3 looks. Who knows, maybe we will. There's GOT to be a reason Haslett hasn't been fired besides loyalty/ego. He may have a good plan. Shanahan obviously knows good football and a good offensive mind is usually a good defensive mind. I'm eager to see what we look like after the bye week.

 

The three step thing has been a problem for us, but for different reasons. Blache's off coverage with the corners was different than Haslett's. Just seems its always what we revert to. I have no idea why.

 

I think it's safe to assume that he was gone this past offseason if not for the 7 game winning streak.  An in-season firing wouldn't be detrimental in my opinion, but finding that one-year stop gap or just giving it to Rah would be the issue.  Who gets the defense and what the plan is going forward are bigger questions that need answering over should Haz be fired or not.  That is an easy one, again, in my opinion.

 

When you have two teams (Packers and Lions) basically tell you "We knew what they were going to do" and even going back to the Bengals last year with the Sanu TD pass... it's less on the personnel and more on the coach.

 

I don't want to deviate too far from your intent of the OP, but I think it's a reason that we don't get home and we don't have reliable coverage.  When Haz got creative with his blitzes late last season the defense played much better. 

 

Just telling Orakpo and Kerrigan to get collapse the pocket is lazy.  ESPECIALLY when he doesn't compliment it with press man or cover 2 as you've mentioned above (and shameless plug, I've been saying for 3 weeks now).

 

I'm not saying we are world beaters on defense, I think the youth prevents us from being top 10, but for the life of me I am honestly floored we aren't middle of the pack 15-20.  I know a lot of that had to do with the Eagles game and the offense and the Packers game where we were still shell-shocked and got drug... but man.  There is a lot of toys to play with on this defense that another DC would have more success with.

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Excellent post KD. Thank you for breaking that down. 

 

I am hoping this is something they were working on this offseason. Moving Kerrigan to the DL with Cofield and Jenkins/Bowen on the other side and Rak, Riley, Fletch and RJax behind them. It sounds like that would make us more deceptive in our blitzes and coverages on passing downs as you have explained. 

 

Hopefully some tweaking with the depth we have coming back can help get back on track. 

 

I don't really see how putting Kerrigan on the DL (Or Rak) would help. They are NOT built to play 3-4 DE. And Cofield still isn't the guy we need at nose even with that scenario.

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Excellent post KD. Thank you for breaking that down. 

 

I am hoping this is something they were working on this offseason. Moving Kerrigan to the DL with Cofield and Jenkins/Bowen on the other side and Rak, Riley, Fletch and RJax behind them. It sounds like that would make us more deceptive in our blitzes and coverages on passing downs as you have explained. 

 

The only OLB (in my opinion) that I'd be willing to put at DE in Okie would be Tapp.  He's really short but he's heavy (270lbs) and has played DE before. 

 

But I also don't think if it's a passing situation, that an offense is going to allow us to line up in Okie.  The personnel will force us to be in some kind of a nickel package more than likely.

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Agree with DC here. No offense is going to allow you to come out in a personnel package like that and not spread you out and test your man coverage ability.

 

If you rush five, I should theoretically be able to block it (5 OL/5 Rushers). If you send six, you only have five in coverage, which would mean there is no one over the top. If you're playing an even remotely athletic QB he can run or test you deep. I'd isolate Riley and Fletcher in man coverage with slot receivers and take a shot. Oh, and packaged plays on 3rd and 5-7 still leave the run as a threat. Zone read, Zone read bubble, Zone read seam, etc.

 

You could play 3-seam as well. But that means the quick hitter will be open. Therein lies the issue with packages like that. You still need to be able to cover. As a Defensive Coordinator, you have to weigh that out in your brain and figure out if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

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I don't want to deviate too far from your intent of the OP, but I think it's a reason that we don't get home and we don't have reliable coverage.  When Haz got creative with his blitzes late last season the defense played much better.

 

But how much of the creative blitzes were caused/required because Jackson was playing.

 

I think the rush difference between Jackson and Orakpo and Kerrigan are smaller than KDawg, but I do think they are better rushers and rushing less and being better at coverage makes Jackson more affect when he does rush.

 

Last year, we did something pretty unusual in the context of a 3-4.  We put our better pass defender at the rush spot and our better rusher at the strong spot (Kerrigan).

 

From there then, you do different things, including blitz out of different positions with the knowledge that your rush OLB is probably better in coverage than he is rushing so dropping him and bringing somebody else isn't a drastic difference.

 

I don't think Haz forget what worked at the end of last year (we did a good job of shutting down Seatle and sacked them 5 times with sacks from (0.5 Bowen, 0.5 Fletcher, 1 Riley, 2 Reed, 1 Wilson).  You'd have to be monumentally stupid to have forgotten that.

 

I think the difference between having Reed in coverage (or one of the of the ILB) vs. Reed (or one of the ILB) rushing as compared to having a coverage scheme with Jackson in coverage vs. Jackson rushing isn't that great, especially when you consider the surprise element of the blitz.

 

Drawing up a reasonable coverage scheme where Orakpo is in coverage is much weaker than a safety or an ILB (as compared to Jackson), and the safety isn't as good a rusher as Orakpo so your dropping your weaker cover guy and bringing your weaker rusher to a greater extent than last year.

 

I like Kerrigan and I agree that he's probably better than Orakpo, but you have to ask, I think then, given that you had Orakpo was drafting Kerrigan (and not trading Orakpo when you did) a mistake?

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Not full time but for specific packages even? Isn't that what we were messing around with this preseason that people were so excited about?

 

That was a 2-4-5 nickel look with Kerrigan and I think Bowen/Tapp inside as DL and Jenkins and Orakpo outside.  The rest of the defense was the same as our normal 2-4-5 nickel package.  We basically just put Kerrigan inside of Orakpo, which I think Kerrigan can do but I also think it exposes his legs to injury being in that part of defensive alignment.

 

What you're suggesting above sounds like our normal 3-4 package (with 4 DBs) and replacing one 3-4 DE with Kerrigan and having Jackson play LOLB. 

 

Most teams come out with at least 3 WR in passing situations, so you are either going to let them identify the defense or you are going to have a S or LB covering a slot receiver.  Not good.

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Not full time but for specific packages even? Isn't that what we were messing around with this preseason that people were so excited about?

 

It could be effective. But you have to weigh the positives and negatives. An offense isn't going to help you. If you come out in a personnel package like that, the offense will know it and adjust accordingly. But it could also be used to force the offenses' hand in personnel as well. It's all in how it's utilized/why it's utilized/knowing the risks.

 

 

PeterMP, sorry, I broke the quote box. I still don't know how to properly use the damn thing.)

 

 

 

Last year, we did something pretty unusual in the context of a 3-4.  We put our better pass defender at the rush spot and our better rusher at the strong spot (Kerrigan).

 

And it was quite amazing. It really allows you to toy around with what you do. I don't really think it matters much where your rush/drop guys align nowadays. The spread formations mean they are useful to both sides. But having a rush/drop guy makes quite a difference in a defense that doesn't have the horses surrounding your OLBs.

 

 

 

 

I don't think Haz forget what worked at the end of last year (we did a good job of shutting down Seatle and sacked them 5 times with sacks from (0.5 Bowen, 0.5 Fletcher, 1 Riley, 2 Reed, 1 Wilson).  You'd have to be monumentally stupid to have forgotten that.

 

Even when we got good last year, I wasn't sold on Haslett. And I'm still not. But he is NOT stupid. He knows football quite well. I tend to agree with you Peter. I honestly think Jackson's suspension impacted our plans for him/the defense as a whole more than we'll ever be told.

 

 

 

I like Kerrigan and I agree that he's probably better than Orakpo, but you have to ask, I think then, given that you had Orakpo was drafting Kerrigan (and not trading Orakpo when you did) a mistake?

 

This is a good point and question. But I still think that drafting Kerrigan and Orakpo were good choices. Even with Orakpo already on the team filling that role. We drafted him prior to any cap penalties. Had our cap been in tact, I think you're looking at a defense that is much better due to upgrades, and thus able to utilize the two of them in conjunction with Jackson to really keep offenses guessing. The problem isn't necessarily either one of them...

 

It's the total design/structure of the defense due to the cap penalty, suspensions, injuries and scheme to mask deficiencies.

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Orakpo reminds me a lot of Andre Carter. Carter was an excellent pass-rushing 4-3 DE, but when Nolan came in and switched to a 3-4, he was a fish out of water. Seems to me and my feeble mind that even after 4 years, we're still better suited to a 4-3 scheme, with Cofield and Bowen at DT and Rak and Kerrigan at DE....but I'm probably wrong.

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But how much of the creative blitzes were caused/required because Jackson was playing.

 

That's a fair point, but one I wouldn't subscribe to whole-heartidly (as much as I like Jackson). 

 

What we were doing was being creative and inconsistent with where the pressure was coming from and in pre-snap looks.  Forcing the QBs to make quick decisions... sometimes the hole they wanted to throw to was there, sometimes it wasn't.  But more often than not the checkdown that was open was between the hashes about 3 yards down the field and our LBs and Ss all ran to the ball and tackled when it was there.

 

This year we aren't doing that.  Haz is asking Orakpo and Kerrigan to put pressure on the QB and offense know exactly what is open on the 3 step game and our tackling is horrible.  So it takes away that extra "thinking" offenses have to do pre-snap and there really is no secret as to what is going to be open and what isn't.

Orakpo reminds me a lot of Andre Carter. Carter was an excellent pass-rushing 4-3 DE, but when Nolan came in and switched to a 3-4, he was a fish out of water. Seems to me and my feeble mind that even after 4 years, we're still better suited to a 4-3 scheme, with Cofield and Bowen at DT and Rak and Kerrigan at DE....but I'm probably wrong.

 

We don't have the LBs to play 4-3 anymore.  And I think Orakpo is too small to play RE in a 4-3 as well.

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So technically, is Orakpo and Kerrigan better suited for a 43 instead of a 3-4? And if so, why did we do what we did when drafting Kerrigan? Should have just let Orakpo there and get a coverage OLB on the other side? Would it be beneficial for us to switch to a 4-3 now?

OR

Would it make sense to trade Orakpo, keep Kerrigan and Jackson, and stay in the 3-4? I know a lot of people love Orakpo, but we definitely can get a 1st rounder for him. I dont think its such a bad idea.

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