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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reading the Tea Leaves: Who Lines Up Where in Week 1?

A few more bits of insight on scheme and personnel, courtesy of Todd Grantham:

On playing with an undersized nose tackle…
“There’s two types of 3-4. There’s the traditional 3-4, which is New England style, big, massive nose guard. When we were in Dallas, Jay Ratliff made the Pro Bowl, and he’s an undersized nose tackle. We’re going to be more of a one-gap team, so you can play with guys that are like that, and I think that’s critical. So as we move forward, we’ll have a standard for what we’re looking for down the road, but right now I think it’s important to take the players you have and find ways to fit them into your system.”

On what he's looking for in his inside vs. outside linebackers...
“Your inside guys are your inside guys. Inside backers in a 4-3 and a 3-4, they’re going to have similar characteristics. When you start talking about outside guys, those body types can be different, too. … There’s always going to be special circumstances for each player, but your edge guys, you’re looking for guys that can set the edge in the run game, can play over tight ends, can generate pass rush. Your inside guys you’re looking for guys that are a little bit better at blitzing as opposed to rushing and are a little bit better at covering, have a little bit better man coverage skills. That’s the basic differences, but as far as body types, everybody’s going to want to have a guy with this length or that length, but players make plays and find a way to get it done, so I think it’s important to take the players you have and fit them into your system.”

On the effectiveness of a 3-4 against multiple-formation offenses...
“In the 3-4 you can be balanced. You really don’t have to declare your rusher until you see the formation sometimes. I think it gives you a better advantage over teams that are multiple formation-wise because you don’t get outflanked. You basically adjust your backers and you can still be solid against the run. And you also aren’t telling them who’s coming. The thing with the 4-3 is, the guys who put their hand in the dirt are the guys rushing. In a 3-4, I can tell you that the three guys with their hand in the dirt are coming, but one of those other outside backers is going to be coming 95 percent of the time. So they’ve got to account for all four of those guys on every snap, yet only one of those guys is going to be coming. So I think it gives you more position flexibility relative to the formations and I also think it’s a little bit tougher for quarterbacks.”

On creating winning matchups individually...
“In pro ball, the biggest thing is you have to find a way to take away the players that can beat you. As you do that, you’ve got to find a way to find the weak link in who they have, and then you’ve got to create matchups. I think there’s no question that for the last 11 years, we’ve been dealing with matchups. Very seldom do you get a guy running free to the quarterback in pro ball. The best thing you can do is create one-on-ones. You try to get the guys that can win for you against the guys that can’t win for them. I don’t think there’s any question that can be an asset for us, and I think that some players will thrive because of that. I think some guys will enhance their careers because of that because we’re going to find ways to make guys in protection – whether it be a back or a freshman guard or tackle – we’re going to find ways to make those guys block.”

OK, so reading what Grantham has said about the defensive line and linebackers, I'm still not sure we can make too many educated guesses at this point about how the depth chart will shake out.

That said, I think a player like Cornelius Washington can be a stud at outside linebacker. I think Abry Jones or DeAngelo Tyson could fill the nose tackle spot well. And I'd guess the inside linebacker positions might be best filled by Marcus Dowtin and maybe Darryl Gamble.

My best guess on a starting front seven -- and this is completely a guess at this point -- might be Justin Houston, Tyson, Demarcus Dobbs up front with Washington and Nick Williams at OLB and Dowtin and Gamble at ILB.

Of course, that leaves guys like Jones, Montez Robinson, Akeem Dent, Kiante Tripp, Christian Robinson and a bunch of the new guys coming in up in the air still, so really the bottom line is… I have no clue.

But I'll put it to you… What do you think the front seven will look like at the end of spring practice? How about Week 1? How might Richard Samuel fit into that picture? What would you prefer to see, best-case scenario?

Also, I have a story on Grantham's early work (all three days' worth) in today's Telegraph that you can check out HERE.


jferg said...

here's your starting lineup week 1:

Jones DE, Geathers DT, Tyson DT (but look for K Tripp to FINALLY find a place he can use his size and athelticism--and a coach who can coach it up)

Houston OLB, Gamble ILB, Dowtin ILD, Dent OLB

But, my sleeper at LB, just as I predicted Dowtin would be 2009's surprise... C. Robinson will be the surprise for 2010. I also think Montez finds his place this year and has a break out year "proving himself".

My biggest worry is CB opposite Boykin--b/c the CBs in a 3-4 have to be able to stop the run and B Smith's lack of size concerns me.

Josh said...

I trust you'll get after the intern that identified Grantham as the new "offensive" coordinator in the opening sentence first thing this AM! A good read.

Anonymous said...

Justin Houston is the PERFECT 3-4 OLB. No way he stays at DE. He will be the OLB that plays the DeMarcus Ware/Mike Vrabel/James Harrison role...should have AT LEAST 12 sacks next year.

Also, Abry Jones was born to play 3-4 DE. He and Dobbs are great because they are both 280+.

Anonymous said...

jferg - you are funny...and so wrong.

OLB - Houston, Washington
ILB - Gamble, Dowtin
DE - Dobbs, Jones
NT - Tyson

Anonymous said...

Huh. Tough question. First I do not see Harman or Geathers in the middle. They are both too tall for the nosegurard. I will plus Tyson 1st and then Wood. The DE will by Jones strong side and Houston weak side (Houston is strong enough and quick enough for this position or LB), if not than Dobbs. Your outside LB's must be the quickest on the team and able to fight off blocks and make tackles. I think this will be C.Robinson and Nick Williams.
To me the inside backers will need to be big and mean. Gamble is one of those. The other is Dent. I look for Dowtin to fill the two OLB positions as a backup. As far as Cornelius Washington or Montez Robinson. You can pencil either in as backups on weakside DE or LB

Now who wants to tackle the Secondary? Besides Boykin and Rambo. Lakatos may lose some sleep over our CB's Cuff and Sanders and Smith. I say let Smith play corner fulltime as Wooten can fill his role on offense. Smith has got to realize his future is at corner in the NFL. Let's all hope Q Banks can stay healthy and Ogletree may be an answer as well.