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Defending A. J. Klien from the National Media Hacks

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Posted 12-15-2017 at 11:22 PM by hagan714
Updated 12-24-2017 at 07:12 AM by hagan714

Defending A. J. Klien from the National Media Hacks

I just finished reading some articles screaming about how they were right about AJ Klien being a free agent mistake the day we signed him and paid him as a starter. Granted I was a bit surprised at the contract and believe it was the results of a bidding war. Dennis Allen wanted him big time I guess and the way the contract is written Klien wanted to be here just as bad. Here are the links

Bust is too harsh a word, but A.J. Klein is close for Saints
https://whodatdish.com/2017/12/02/bu...-close-saints/

Who Dat Dish sent me to Bleacher Report

Bleacher Reportís NFL1000 ran a story on each NFL teamís worse off season moves
NFL1000: Every NFL Team's Worst Offseason Move | Bleacher Report

They talk about him being "hit or miss and getting lost in the flow in coverage. The problem is he does not show the awareness and sharp decision-making to complete plays."

What amazed me as I read this it left me pondering what player I have been watching. When I got to the end of the article Who Dat Dish was singing their praises about their wish list in the 2017 FA for the saints. Zach Brown was the man to sign not AJ Klien.

Who Dat Dish and Bleacher Report used PPF to justify their opinions which is acceptable

PFF has Klien graded at 36.7 and Craig Robertson is grading out a 78.4. Grading wise sure Craig is a bargain at $1.63 million a year as we all know. Klien signed a 4 year, $24 million contract. 6 million a year and these ratings do not look good at all, I agree. Craig Robertson was a steal.

Lets look at Zach Brownís numbers. Through 12 games in 2017, 117 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2 passes defended. A.J. Klein? 49 tackles, 1 sack and 4 passes defended. Thatís playing nearly 100% of the defensive snaps in 10 games started for the Saints. Zach Brown is playing on a 1-year, $2.3 million deal Vs Klien 6 million a year. Once again, This does not look good at all I have to admit.

Now I could stop here and draw my conclusion. But statistics only tell you so much and I just can not be so shallow. If this is as deep as your going to go to declare a player "Close to a Bust", stop reading here. For those that want to dig more lets dive into this a bit.

Apples and Oranges my friends.

Klien is playing a 2 down 43SLB and nickle package 43MLB. Were as Brown is a 3 down 34ILB. Besides the differences in positions there is the difference in the 34 vs 43 defensive philosophy. 34 ILB are always set up to rack up the tackling stats.

Back to AJs contract statement.

The nice thing about his contract is this; 2019 and 2020 has a built in out or a good set up for extension talks. Dead money of $2 million and $1 million in 2019 and 2020 was a smart move for both parties. So basically it was a 2 year 16 million dollar deal. The saints are gambling he works out and they will get those numbers in line in 2019 if he does work out. Klien is gambling on his performance as starter for 2 years also. But he was not stupid about it.

Iíve brought this up before, but for a refresher:

Alex Okafor and Tyler Davison are both responsible for keeping the MLB and SLB clean from the strong side of the OL in the second level. This is what Klien has to work with. Craig Robertson has Cam Jordan and Sheldon Rankins to work with on the weak side. Think Craig has the better set up? I do

Then you have the CB required to turn plays back into the middle if they get to the edge. Ken Crawley is AJs man and Marshon Lattimore is Craigs man. While Ken has come along way, his run support is lacking compared to Lattimore. That does not mean you cut Ken? No, you keep on coaching him up. I will get into the "cut" comment a little bit later. I found it rather funny myself

The biggest issue AJ has to deal with is Tyler Davison. I really like Tyler as a rotational 43 DT but not as a starting 43 NT. A role he was forced into with the heart issues of Nick Fairley. He has done a fair job all in all. But he is not a double team requirement type of player offenses plan for. Neither is Rankins.That is a huge issue for LBs. Once again you do not over react cut Tyler.

The lack of a player requiring double teaming results in teams having an extra lineman and backs running around at the second level picking off players. Not only would a 43NT help keep LBs clean but it would help Rankins and Okafor. if he is resigned, to be all they can be,

My #1 Big "Ugly" Bang for the Buck is a 43NT in 2018 FA
DaQuan Jones DT/DE Titians 6036 322 5.35 #90 R4 2014 - $2/4 M
https://www.profootballfocus.com/nfl...nes/8747/stats

Simply put AJ has his work cut out for himself.

At this point I have to agree with them that a 3 down MLB is needed.

Remember in the 2017 draft, Reuben Foster was the player we just missed on. So is MLB still this high on the list going into the 2018 draft? I am betting on it and SLB is were Dennis wants AJ to play.

Possible players we should be watch in the 2018 draft are?
Rashaan Evans MLB/OLB Alabama 6021 232 4.73 #32 Sr
Malik Jefferson SLB/MLB/WLB Texas* 6015 238 4.57 #46 Jr

Lets get back to what we have just added.

Gerald Hodges 6010 243 4.70

He played OLB in Minnesota's 43 and ILB in San Fran 34 defense. Can he be a piece to this puzzle Dennis Allen is building? Could he be that the very least be that nickle MLB to keep AJ at SLB? Remember he is a converted SS. Hodges most impressive trait is his ability to cover. He is a sneaky type of Craig Robertson signing that goes mostly over look. I am excited about this signing and hope Dennis can put another feather in his FA steals cap.

Nowt back to the "cut" comment that made me fall out my chair LMAO and defend AJ.

Then the writer went as far as suggesting the idea of cutting AJ and taking the dead hit of $6.4 million when his cap hit is $5.4 million would be a smart move. A Negative cap savings of $1 million "wouldnít hurt badly". With about $26 million in cap space before the adjusted cap set is pretty bold. We have Drew Brees, Kenny Vaccaro, Alex Okafor and maybe Gerald Hodges to sign. Even if the adjusted cap gives the Saints an additional $10 million, I would think every million would count.

So let me get this straight. They are saying

You cut your SLB for a 34 ILB to convert into 43 MLB leaving a glaring need at SLB once again?

Sounds like a Rob Ryan move to me.

I do not see the logical in the move. As we learn with Stephone Anthony it is rare that player can play either as a 43MLB or a 34ILB no matter how talented they maybe. Even Vilma failed at making the switch and that is the reason we were able to get him.

So comparing AJ to Zach Brown seems a bit self serving to make ones self look good. No matter how far I bend over and stick my head up my to see eye to eye with this view point, the logic just seems full of .

In AJs first year as a starter he was on pace to have his best year ever despite the drop in the quality of the defensive line he had with the Panthers. Now that he gets a shot finally at being a starter he is asked to be a 2 down SLB and nickle package MLB. Plug some holes first. Let AJ play one position. Then go off the handle.

AJ at SLB is what the saints are banking on not MLB.
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