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BillyCarpenter1 06-14-2003 12:13 PM

Saints Defens Article
June 13, 2003) -- Given the choice between improving with potentially great new players or potentially great new strategy, any rational NFL coach would say there is nothing to choose.

Talent always comes first.

Yet even in areas their teams have addressed with high draft picks and/or high-profile free agents, coaches will still seek ways to maximize their productivity. They will still tinker, adjust, modify and perhaps overhaul. They will do anything and everything within the realm of their playbooks and philosophy to make certain they are getting the most out of the players they have.

Five prime examples can be found in the offseason workouts of teams trying to upgrade their defensive lines:

New Orleans Saints: They made a bold move in the draft, trading up to select Johnathan Sullivan. Now Jim Haslett and his defensive assistant coaches are showing some creativity in utilizing his ample size (6-foot-3 and 313 pounds), strength and quickness.

Sullivan has been lining up at nose tackle, a position usually associated with the lone occupant in the middle of a three-man front. The Saints still employ a four-man look, but their tackles aren't designated in normal left-right terms. Sullivan is on the nose, directly across from the center, and a "three-technique" tackle lines up on one side of Sullivan or the other in an effort to exploit certain blockers or blocking schemes, or just to create confusion.

The Eagles targeted Jerome McDougle to help create a strong defensive presence.
The Saints coaches believe Sullivan is an ideal fit at nose tackle because he has the strength to overpower centers and hold his own against double-teaming, and the quickness to penetrate as a pass rusher and against the run. They are less certain about whom should be the "three-technique" tackle, although the leading candidate is Kenny Smith, who is entering his third season. Other possibilities are Willie Whitehead, who like Smith has also played end, and Martin Chase. The coaches are particularly impressed with how far Smith seems to have developed his game since joining the Saints as a third-round draft pick in 2000.

ssmitty 06-14-2003 12:49 PM

Saints Defens Article
i think come aug 11 we\'ll see what kinda raw talent sullivan has......if he impresses there even though just a pre-season game, look out......also, if bouman impresses, look out....smitty

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