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Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Roots of our current Defensive problems!
On the defensive line, we are playing with a 4th and 5th team nose tackles. If everybody was healthy, Jackson--Lee--Washington would be our first, second, and third options at nose tackle. I think there are very few teams that are going to have real effective defense in the same situation.
On the defensive line, we have a bunch of average guys. Now, average means you have to do things right.....and we aren't. It isn't that we're getting consistently blown off the ball; we're not controlling our gaps. And I blame this directly on Jethro Franklin. If everybody controls their gaps, the runner has nowhere to go and the backers close in, but that's not happening because we have guys not controlling their gaps.
The big running yardage we're giving up is falling into three categories:
Big runs, regular yardage, and yardage gained while protecting the lead in the fourth quarter. If we were scoring a few more points on offense, teams wouldn't stick with the run in the fourth quarter the way the Bears and Giants did. The regular yardage isn't hurting us that bad. But the big runs are killing us. Both the Bears and Giants had 50 yard runs that resulted in TDs. This is happening because our safeties are being used as blitzers, so if they break through the line (because somebody didn't control their gap) nobody is home.
I would stop blitzing our safeties. The big plays, both run and pass, are accounting for virtually ALL of the points against our defense right now.
We aren't getting very good pressure on the passer with our front four. Rather than just accept this, we've tried to compensate with the blitz. But the blitz isn't getting there, and we're giving up big plays.......which are leading to points.
I'd really dial back on the blitz, rush with 4 and cover with 7.
On top of everything else, our defensive line cannot keep the QB in the pocket. Kurt Warner is not the best running QB we'll face this year, but he hurt us on a couple of occasions with runs out of the pocket.
Listen, Jethro.......it's this simple: Your pass rushers need to stay in their lanes, keep the damn QB in the pocket, and put their hands up when he's ready to throw. If we can bat down a pass or two or make the QB reload before he throws, it's almost as good as a sack. We aren't going to get a lot of sacks this year.......don't compound the problem by letting the damn QB hurt us with runs.
Michael Hawthorne and Darren Sharper are both liabilities in the passing game. I'd replace Hawthorne with Carroll or Thomas immediately. I'd play straight cover two with Sharper and Roman providing deep help and I'd man up with the corners underneath. Remember, as a team gets closer to the goal line, the amount of territory to defend gets smaller. It was this situation that led directly to Sharper's interception.
I think that it's important to remember that although we've given up a lot of yards, we've only given up 14 points to Carolina, the Giants, and the Bears. That's not terrible defense, and if the offense had shown up for either of our home games we'd be 3-1 and a lot happier.
Grady Jackson, James Lee, and Ahmad Carroll are about to get healthier. I think the defense will play well enough to give us a shot at winning most of the rest of our games. But not if we're scoring 7 and 10 points.