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All things defense


ThomasRoane
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It's obvious that JDR needs help from the ES brain-trust to fix the Defense and then to keep it performing up to our expectations.  I chose the title all things because I'm sure they'll need our help for the playoff run to come 😜  Also, the defensive side of the ball is so interdependent.  You have to look at the unit as a whole.  

 

I remember a clinic with Bob Shoop who was DC of William & Mary at the time.  Later he was DC for James Franklin at Vanderbilt.  He took W&M's defense from being ranked in the bottom 100s and coached them up to become a top 10 defense.  Even had a couple of players drafted by the NFL.  Which is unheard of because the joke about W&M was (and is now) "hey, did you hear W&M scored 45 yesterday?  Oh yeah?  Did they win?"  The secret he said was alignment and fits.  That's half the battle.  The offense is trying to poke holes in your scheme.  You have to minimize how many holes there are.  Most big plays for offense occur because a defender was out of place (whether moved by a blocker or freelancing).  I was at another clinic where Nick Saban gave a presentation.  He was all about fits and alignment too but he is so creative at using every player on his team (especially the safeties) to occupy gaps that an offense doesn't anticipate.  

 

First problem is lack of player discipline.  Specifically Collins and Chase Young.  Too often they are trying to make the great play and end up giving up a big play.  RR will have to get mean about it.  Those break downs are making the defensive side of the ball look bad.

 

Second issue is talent.  I got to hear Bud Foster from VT give several clinics.  BF was all about getting your best 11 on the field.  Regardless of size or measurables.  Get your best 11 athletes on the field because players on offense have so many advantages.  Knowing where they're attacking, rules that favor the offense, etc.  It's time that JDR and RR make the tough decisions no matter who gets their feelings hurt.  

 

Dline:  The front four is fine.  You can't take CY off the field but you have to drill it into his head that he has to play within the scheme and stop freelancing.  The sacks will come.

 

LB's:  Davis needs to be on the field.  I don't care if he's not there yet as far as understanding the scheme; he'll get there.  If they need to be in a 4-3 then I'm fine with Bostic on the field.  Bostic may know the defense like the back of his hands but he's nowhere near as talented an athlete as Davis is.  (BTW:  Did anyone else see Davis just stonewall Barkley near the goal line?!?!)  I don't care if Davis doesn't know the scheme well enough yet.  The coaching staff needs to think about where they want to be as a unit in November & December.  Take a step back to take two forward.

 

Secondary:  If they're in a 4-3 the corners should be Jackson and BSJ.  Safeties should be McCain at FS and Curl at SS.  I don't want to see Collins on the field unless he's blitzing.  He can't cover and just isn't a great athlete in the open field.  I'd trade him to a Safety needy team for whatever I could get and bring up Forrest from IR vs Atlanta.  I like LC but I just don't think he's very talented.  He's certainly not worth the big contract.  Especially when he's undisciplined.  The Danny Jones big run was all him.  He has the QB on that RPO.  Also bailed out the NYG when he grabbed Rudolph.  In a passing situation or if the offense dictates a 4-2-5 then Bostic should come off and then (and only then) can Fuller come on the field.  As a big Hokie fan it pains me to say it but Fuller is a liability in any type of man scheme.  If he struggles even then you have to go with McTyer or Roberts.  

 

So ES experts.  What other changes need to happen?  Especially interested in what @KDawg thinks the defense should do.  

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I think a lot of it is personnel related. Collins just doesn’t fit in with the defense. He has no coverage ability and isn’t s good tackler. He could be an edge rusher but… why? We have edge rushers. What does he add?

 

Curl, on the other hand? Can cover, tackle and pressure. He does everything Collins does… but better. That alone is a significant upgrade because he can cover slots and tight ends.

 

Get Jamin in over Holcomb or Bostic. Take your pick. He doesn’t understand it? Give him

simple stuff and tell him his assignment and let him go do it. 
 

I’d do a lot less zone drops with Young/Sweat and utilize them in more movements and games. Align in a gap, bounce out and show a blitz to the gap he was originally aligned in.

 

At the same time roll coverages. Keep offenses on their toes. It’s the NFL so they can figure it out… but I don’t care how many studies come out… Uncle Mo is very real and teams with momentum are hard to slow. 
 

I’d try to get creative with scheme to mask the LB deficiencies. The LBs and safeties are pretty big pit falls right now.

 

Our corners are under performing as a whole. Though I think WJ3 is playing well. St Juste is coming along nicely and is in the right places so I think he will work out. But Fuller is a liability. 
 

Thing to think about is Bostic, Holcomb, Fuller and Collins are liabilities in coverage. That’s 4 of the back 7. McCain isn’t great. So make it 4.5 of 7 are total liabilities in man coverage. That limits what you can do from a blitz package.

 

Get Curl in for Collins, Davis in for someone and you’re down to 2.5 liabilities in coverage. Now, swap Curl downlow for Fuller in 2 receiver sets. You’ve now put Fuller in a spot he is better (zone). You’re now down to 1 liability. The other linebacker. 
 

Now you can bring more heat while covering receivers in man more reliably. 
 

I’d scour the waiver wire for man corners if we don’t feel we have any others in house as well. Is Moreland free? I honestly have no idea. I don’t think he’s amazing to be fair, but I think the guy can fare better than Fuller. 
 

And everyone in that group is adequate in zone. 
 

If you insist on Young zone dropping (I wouldn’t but hey…) move him. Line him up as an inside linebacker and get another pass rushing DL in (say… Ioan with Jon Allen moving to end once in awhile). Most of the time bring Young. If you can rush from a 3 point you can probably rush from a 2 with a head of steam. 
 

I wouldn’t do that a lot but it makes teams have to find his ass. Once we get adequate LBs (We need to do this) you stop doing that forever and let Chase play DE and never even think about dropping him again.

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As you said @ThomasRoane, one of our problems on D, is guys freelancing.

You just can't have that in any team sport.

 

If you can't play within the scheme, you're not helping the team. And thus, it's up to the coach to bench those guys, for a series, Quarter, game, whatever. Just let them know.

I'd rather have a less talented guys that plays within the scheme, that is on position that someone that is not. Saint-Juste is exactly what you want here. Guy is doing his job. He gets beats more than often, because he's a rookie and has to learn, but he's doing the job.

 

Which leads to Bostic. Guy know the scheme and what everyone has to do on each play. Still, after the first game, he was one of those guys that was the most out of position. That's kinda weird...

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2 hours ago, ThomasRoane said:

Second issue is talent.  I got to hear Bud Foster from VT give several clinics.  BF was all about getting your best 11 on the field.  Regardless of size or measurables.  Get your best 11 athletes on the field because players on offense have so many advantages.  Knowing where they're attacking, rules that favor the offense, etc.  It's time that JDR and RR make the tough decisions no matter who gets their feelings hurt.  

Agreed.  Here's hoping Rivera and JDR can get the best guys in order to nip this in the bud before this becomes a season long problem.  I definitely agree that Collins only asset is when he's blitzing otherwise leave him on the bench.  

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30 minutes ago, KDawg said:

 

I’d do a lot less zone drops with Young/Sweat and utilize them in more movements and games. Align in a gap, bounce out and show a blitz to the gap he was originally aligned in.

 

 

If you insist on Young zone dropping (I wouldn’t but hey…) move him. Line him up as an inside linebacker and get another pass rushing DL in (say… Ioan with Jon Allen moving to end once in awhile). Most of the time bring Young. If you can rush from a 3 point you can probably rush from a 2 with a head of steam. 
 

I wouldn’t do that a lot but it makes teams have to find his ass. Once we get adequate LBs (We need to do this) you stop doing that forever and let Chase play DE and never even think about dropping him again.

 

Good stuff.   We're both in complete agreement on the back 7.  They're not very good right now.  (At least not as they are being forced to play)  Their weaknesses are hurting our D-line because QBs don't have to hold the ball.

 

You're especially on point about Young dropping in coverage.  Why?!?! Just why?! Cause it looks cool?  The previous staff used to do that with Kerrigan.  All that big guy is gonna do is cover grass.  They won't match up with people crossing their zone.  They're not gonna scare a QB from throwing in that direction.

 

The best philosophy a coach can have is to find out what his players are good at and be creative enough (and humble enough) to adjust the scheme.  The great coaches puts their players in situations that set them up to be successful.  It really is that simple.

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14 minutes ago, Renegade7 said:

Sweat and Young need to get home more, and Fuller needs to play better.  This is a defense that is supposed to be getting consistent pressure with just 4.  That line will figure it out.

 

I hear ya.  I watch them tho and they are trying.  Chase is freelancing because he's frustrated.  The back end is not holding their own so I believe Chase feels like he has to make something happen.  Usually, that backfires.  Buffalo is going to be a challenge because they can go quick game and also have a QB who can run RPO packages.  On average, your secondary should make the QB hold the ball for at least 2.5 seconds.  Three plus is really want we want.  Hell, QB's are throwing at 1.5 seconds many times.  Factor in that there is usually some holding going on by oline on every play and the pass rushers just don't have a fair chance.   

 

I want so badly for Fuller to stay on the field.  He's got a great attitude and man he's giving effort!  I just don't think he's very good.  He's the Ryan Grant of defense.  He doesn't make a lot of plays but man he really knows the scheme!  

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6 minutes ago, ThomasRoane said:

 

I hear ya.  I watch them tho and they are trying.  Chase is freelancing because he's frustrated.  The back end is not holding their own so I believe Chase feels like he has to make something happen.  Usually, that backfires.  Buffalo is going to be a challenge because they can go quick game and also have a QB who can run RPO packages.  On average, your secondary should make the QB hold the ball for at least 2.5 seconds.  Three plus is really want we want.  Hell, QB's are throwing at 1.5 seconds many times.  Factor in that there is usually some holding going on by oline on every play and the pass rushers just don't have a fair chance.   

 

I want so badly for Fuller to stay on the field.  He's got a great attitude and man he's giving effort!  I just don't think he's very good.  He's the Ryan Grant of defense.  He doesn't make a lot of plays but man he really knows the scheme!  

 

p.s.  We should never, ever take a leftover or engage in a trade with Andy Reid again!  

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17 minutes ago, zskins said:

What I want to know why is there such a drop from last year's D. I think we had like top 5 D. Right now it looks like a dumpster fire, okay maybe not that bad. What the hell happened? Did Tampa break our D and they are still stuck in that mode?

Collins. 

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19 minutes ago, zskins said:

What I want to know why is there such a drop from last year's D. I think we had like top 5 D. Right now it looks like a dumpster fire, okay maybe not that bad. What the hell happened? Did Tampa break our D and they are still stuck in that mode?

 

KDawg is right about Collins.  He's just ... not good.  

 

The other thing is that teams are going quick game against us.  JDR wants to keep everything in front with a bend but don't break defense.  Teams spent the off-season to look closely at who we have.  The NYG used the RPO packages against us moreso than quick game.  That causes your pass rushers to hesitate just enough.  

 

Neither team has had success running the ball.  Not consistently (as Dexter Manley would say).  Take away the big runs from Ekler, Barkley, and Danny and we've been stout vs the run.  It's the Patton philosophy.  He was so successful because he wouldn't let the third Army get bogged down in useless battles.  The Germans wanted to hold a certain city?  Screw em!  We'll go around and then cut off their supply lines.  

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2 hours ago, ThomasRoane said:

 

I hear ya.  I watch them tho and they are trying.  Chase is freelancing because he's frustrated.  The back end is not holding their own so I believe Chase feels like he has to make something happen.  Usually, that backfires.  

 

I keep seeing him way behind the qb on his pass rushes, he's still a 2nd year player, they need to get in his ear

 

2 hours ago, ThomasRoane said:

 

I want so badly for Fuller to stay on the field.  He's got a great attitude and man he's giving effort!  I just don't think he's very good.  He's the Ryan Grant of defense.  He doesn't make a lot of plays but man he really knows the scheme!  

 

Fuller was fine last year, not buying that he's really regressed this badly, jus two games

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The last play of the 2020 season for Collins was a sack on Dalton when he was playing for Dal@ss.  This is what he's good for and unfortunately not his coverage skills.  Getting him off the field will do wonders for this defense.  I trust Rivera and JDR a lot more than the clown shows of the past to get this right.

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Chase is the leader of this defense and has been arguably our least effective member of the front 4. For a #2 pick with the swag he carries, he needs to be a difference maker. Often. Does he even have a qb hurry so far? Way too many 3rd down passing plays converted because the qb has all day. I said it after the TB game where our front 4 was embarrassed that now the blueprint on how to beat our D is out there… on paper the talent has improved, so part of me thinks this really may be the case. 

 

Collins is the glaring hole but this is what many of us expected. When SIP mentioned that collins and curl were playing together in camp I commented about how this is a recipe for disaster. Sure enough, not working. Mccain + curl, do it for the love of god.

 

If the front 4 isn’t going to play like a studs then the defense is average at best. 4 1st rd picks should afford the team the luxury to not have to blitz to generate pressure. Every play one of them should be winning their battles. We’ve faced two really bad OLs and looked like we had backups on the field against them.


10 days to gameplan for the juggernaut offense of the bills. A LOT has to change if we’re going to have any shot.

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Is landon Collins that bad right now?..or does our defense just need more practice?...I think we are seeing great things from wj3...I realy don't wanna throw In the towel on the defense yet...and what's up with chase young..is it just me or does it seem like he...not necessarily gives up on plays but if he knows he.wil be dominated he dosent go 100..

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I think Del Rio went into the season expecting our guys to win more 1 on 1 matchups, but it just isn't happening. Guys we've invested a lot in(whether it be draft picks or salary, if not both)are simply not performing up to their ability/expectations, so for that I won't fault Del Rio. But now its on him to adjust. Its one thing to get lit up by the Chargers, we all expect them to be a really good offense with a stud QB. But to give up 26 to the Giants?(I'm not putting the last 3 on them since that was directly off the pick and they did force a 3 and out)That is unacceptable.

 

We need to design a more creative scheme. From what I've heard/read we're playing super vanilla, which again makes some sense when you assume you have a lot of talent(the great Seahawk Ds that were the back bone of back to back Super Bowl appearances were the simplest D in the league but had tremendous talent everywhere). But right now we don't have that talent, or they're not playing up to it for whatever reason. So Del Rio just needs to work under the assumption that we have bottom 5 personnel and work from there, and maybe once the guys start winning their matchups more we can readjust.

 

Specifically I'd straight up bench Collins and start Curl in his place with McCain at FS. Fuller should be on the slot full time and I'd play a lot more man coverage since that benefits WJ3, St. Juste, and Davis from LB as well(who early season struggles aside does appear to already be pretty good in coverage). I'd like to see more of the 5 DL formation as well since Ion is still probably our best pass rusher from a technique standpoint. And I think we absolutely need to blitz more. Not all out, but at least send a 5th if not 6th rusher.

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5 hours ago, Renegade7 said:

Sweat and Young need to get home more, and Fuller needs to play better.  This is a defense that is supposed to be getting consistent pressure with just 4.  That line will figure it out.

I don't even know if this is really possible but is Chase the kind of player we can move inside to take advantage of a weak link? Can he play defensive tackle or is he too small? Maybe just on passing downs? I'd like to see him moved around so defenses can't plan on where he'll be...the NYG used to do this with Lawrence Taylor and the Eagles did so with Reggie White. If the offense doesn't know where Chase is gonna line up that's got to give them some cause for pause. 

I also am going way out of the box here and want to see Reeves play with Curl. I like Reeves and think we need to put him on the field...every time I've seen Reeves play he has done well.

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6 hours ago, Renegade7 said:

Sweat and Young need to get home more, and Fuller needs to play better.  This is a defense that is supposed to be getting consistent pressure with just 4.  That line will figure it out.

And we need to show different looks....if we're not getting home just rushing 4 guys then clearly our opponents know how to block us...5 on 4. JDR is going to have to figure this out and I'm sure he and RR will. We got 10 days to fix this thing. Buffalo is a big game for us.

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It doesn’t seem like in the first half the defense was all that bad when you consider they were on the field for basically 20 minutes straight because of our offenses woeful 3 and out **** fest to start the game. Third quarter was a bad quarter for them so maybe the “adjustments” they made didn’t go well with the adjustment the giants made, but in the clutch it seems like they were able to perform and get bale the offense out after a nasty turnover deep in our own territory. 
 

Defense has got room to improve and I’m sure it will, but it wasn’t necessarily as bad as I thought it was watching the game.

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Philosophically, I think we can agree that Del Rio doesn’t want to run a vanilla scheme. 

 

I think Del Rio had a few goals/thoughts this offseason.  He thought his front 4 would bring adequate pressure (but liked Collins as an additional blitzer).  He wanted to incorporate more man coverage (press in particular) to help the front 4 get home/wreak havoc, maybe in part as a response to watching Brady pick apart our zone D.  He wanted an improved LB group.  He wanted to see the the D improve vs the run.

 

I could be way wrong, but IMO all of this - including the personnel changes trying to address those areas - have made Del Rio his own worst enemy.  It seems like he might be caught between man and zone, 1 gapping and 2 gapping, stacking the line vs dropping extra in coverage, etc.  If I happen to be right, it makes sense that the entire D is suffering - assignment issues, communication problems, coverage problems, questionable DL play, etc.  Fits that he’s keeping a vet LB in over Davis, that he’s experimenting with a 5 man front, and so on.

 

Maybe I’m way off base though…

 

 

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6 hours ago, CousinsCowgirl84 said:

It doesn’t seem like in the first half the defense was all that bad when you consider they were on the field for basically 20 minutes straight because of our offenses woeful 3 and out **** fest to start the game. Third quarter was a bad quarter for them so maybe the “adjustments” they made didn’t go well with the adjustment the giants made, but in the clutch it seems like they were able to perform and get bale the offense out after a nasty turnover deep in our own territory. 
 

Defense has got room to improve and I’m sure it will, but it wasn’t necessarily as bad as I thought it was watching the game.

I can see that argument, but the defenses job is to produce some three and outs themselves. They have to generate stops. Now, the refs helped with some awful calls, but any defense that allows a 90% third down conversion rate is awful.

9 hours ago, bakedtater1 said:

Is landon Collins that bad right now?

It's hard to tell, but it feels like a ton of our pass difficulties boil down to Bostic and Collins. They either can't get to their spot or are freelancing and getting caught a lot.

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