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Friday, April 08, 2005
I'm beginning to think that I understand where TT/Bates are coming from
by Mark Quarderer
First, this defense was a Top Ten defense in 2003, then slid precipitously to the bottom third, or even bottom fourth, of the league in 2004. The personnel didn't change that much, but the D coordinator did.....so connect the dots.
I think that TT/Bates believe that most of the pieces are in place and they just need to be better organized.
Additionally, there is a school of thought that says if the rest of your defense is solid, the safeties are almost superfluous. IOW, if your front seven is stopping the run, the safeties shouldn't have to be making lots of tackles. If your front four gets a pass rush and your linebackers drop into the lanes and your corners cover their man, you can get by with pretty average guys at safety.
Now, I'm not a big proponent of this theory. I think that safety is a real weakness and we should get some new ones. But it is possible that TT/Bates subscribe to this theory, and if they do (and if they're right), then all we need to fix the defense is a DE and a LB. We could make due with Roman, Franz, Freeman (if he's signed, which I think he will be) and some rookie that we draft in the middle to late rounds.
I think our defense is going to be improved this year. It is unlikely that we'll give up 40+ points 3 times this season. But we also held 10 opponents to 20 or less and I think it's unlikely we'll improve much on that.
Where I do believe we'll be better is that we'll give up fewer long plays than we did last year, when we gave up 80+ long plays. I also think we'll do better in the takeaway department because if nothing else the Law of Averages will begin to assert itself. And we may even improve our sack numbers, although we had 40 last year and were in the top ten, so I don't think we'll see a huge improvement on that even if our #1 pick is an edge-rushing DE.
But back to the safety thing........I'm just not getting the impression from TT/Bates that this is as important to them as it is to many of us. I guess we'll know in about two weeks.