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Article-Early look at Saints 2012 linebacker core

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Out with the old and in with the new — defensive coordinator Gregg Williams left for the Rams — and the New Orleans Saints replaced him with their former head coach, Steve Spagnuolo, whom they hope can inject some pass ...

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Old 02-19-2012, 06:13 PM   #1
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Exclamation Article-Early look at Saints 2012 linebacker core

Out with the old and in with the new — defensive coordinator Gregg Williams left for the Rams — and the New Orleans Saints replaced him with their former head coach, Steve Spagnuolo, whom they hope can inject some pass rush life into a rather limp squad.

Obviously there are fundamental differences between Williams and Spagnuolo.

Starting with the most obvious, Williams loves to utilize the blitz, sending “the house” after quarterbacks far too often.

In his three seasons as the Saints defensive coordinator his game plan became well known, as he blitzed more than any other d-coordinator in the league — in fact last season nearly 60% of the time.

That left some defensive players in compromising one-one-one pass coverage situations, that often times lead to big gains for opposing offenses who were able to exploit these miss-matches.

Even though they blitzed more than any team in the NFL it failed to generate the sack totals one would expect with that much pressure — registering only 33 last season — which ranked 19th in the NFL.

Regardless of whether Williams chose not to leave the Saints for the Rams, the team likely would have looked elsewhere this off-season in an amicable split as the defense has been the primary reason New Orleans was bounced from the playoffs the last two years.

Spagnuolo on the other hand is not afraid to blitz, but chooses instead to generate a pass rush with his front four while dropping his linebackers and safeties into coverage with a more balanced attack.

Under his direction the Giants defense, utilizing the “fire zone blitz”, was among the best in the NFL at generating sacks in both the 2007 (58 sacks) and 2008 (42 sacks) seasons.

It was this defense that also helped win the Giants a Superbowl title (XLII) over the New England Patriots in 2007, as they were consistently able to pressure quarterback Tom Brady throughout the game after sacking him five times.

But with fundamental scheme changes comes personnel changes, and the unit likely to see the most shake-up under Spagnuolo is the linebacker core.

No longer will they be fired at the line of scrimmage, but dropped into coverage, and you need ultra athletic linebacker’s who can cover well to make the scheme work.

Last season the Saints primarily used Jonathan Vilma at middle linebacker, as well as Scott Shanle and Jo-Lonn Dunbar at outside linebacker, with some help from Jonathan Casillas, Will Herring, and rookie Martez Wilson on the edges.


An early look at the New Orleans Saints 2012 linebacker core

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Old 02-19-2012, 06:54 PM   #2
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I still want a MLB or OLB in FA or the draft. Competition will be great. Cass. just can't stay healthy and Vilma is to much money for his lack of production. I do think Spags. will bring in 1 maybe 2.
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:18 PM   #3
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Solid write up. Not trying to beat a dead horse but under his Spags theory, why would we still have Shanle? He doesn't cover well and is slow. Goes against him stating that Spags defense requires athletic Lb's to make it work.
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:24 PM   #4
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Martez Wilson will play his balls out at OLB this year.
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Old 02-19-2012, 07:27 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by gandhi1007 View Post
Martez Wilson will play his balls out at OLB this year.
I agree Martez should be able to get onto the field a lot more this year.
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Old 02-19-2012, 08:48 PM   #6
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Let it shine, Let it shine, Martez Wilson let it shine.
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:03 PM   #7
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That's what I like to read right there!

Shanle is to athletic... what "Special" is to Olympics.

LOL

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Old 02-19-2012, 10:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AlaskaSaints View Post
That's what I like to read right there!

Shanle is to athletic... as what "Special" is to Olympics.

LOL

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Too funny
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Old 02-20-2012, 01:54 AM   #9
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I do think the Saints have a group of really promising LBs in Casillas, Wilson, Bussey, and Hunter (who I think might surprise many of us next season), but those young guys need some veteran guidance whether it be from Vilma or someone else.

I don't agree with some of the other things stated in the article:

Last season Dunbar filled in for Vilma when he missed five games with a knee injury, and he did not disappoint. One could make the argument that there was no drop off in the defense’s effectiveness, and Dunbar excels in pass coverage.
In my opinion, pass coverage was Dunbar's weakest area on the field this past season, and that is what he has to work on the most in order to become a better MLB.

Wilson, a third round pick in last years draft out of Illinois, is a superb athlete that boarders on getting the “freakish” label. At 6 foot 4, and 252 pounds, Martez has blazing speed being clocked at a 4.49 in the forty — fastest at the NFL Combine in 2011.

Martez compares favorably to New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre Paul measurmentally.
First of all, I don't know why he would compare a DE with a SLB, since they play a different role on the field. And Jason Pierre-Paul is listed as 6 foot 5, and 278 pounds, so I don't understand how Wilson "compares favorably" to him?!

If he meant in terms of a LB compared to a dominant DE, then I guess he might have a case that Wilson is a relatively big SLB, but no way is he the biggest (or one of the biggest) in the league. And in any case, what is that comparison supposed to tell us?

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Old 02-20-2012, 03:09 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by FinSaint View Post

First of all, I don't know why he would compare a DE with a SLB, since they play a different role on the field. And Jason Pierre-Paul is listed as 6 foot 5, and 278 pounds, so I don't understand how Wilson "compares favorably" to him?!
I think he was comparing his athleticism and speed to that of Jason Pierre-Paul. 6'4" and 252 lbs is not that far off from 6'5" and 278 lbs. He's actually faster than Paul & has a similar build & wingspan.
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