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GumboBC 07-08-2004 12:03 AM

The Need for Speed
The Need for Speed.

It used to be that teams used big 260-pound middle linebackers to stop the run. But, the trend now is to play with smaller, faster, athletic linebackers. Some coaches have concerns about the smaller, athletic linebackers being able to be effective stopping the run.

Well, here’s what Herm Edwards has to say about the subject….

Herm Edwards, for one, says “damn their lack of size, full speed ahead.�

But, Herm goes on to explain what must take place for those linebackers to be effective.

“The protective camouflage must be supplied by a pair of stout defensive tackles, who can occupy space and more than one blocker apiece so the linebackers are free to flow to the ball and make plays.� – Herm Edwards

Which cuts to the double-edged task awaiting teams wanting to use the smaller, faster, athletic middle linebackers.

The primary need is a run-stuffing defensive tackle to help shield the blockers off of the linebacker. If they can't do that, does it matter who plays linebacker?

"The way the league is anymore, the way opponents formation you and spread the field, it becomes a passing game," he said. "And if you go nickel every time they come with a third or fourth receiver, it puts you at a disadvantage because then they'll start running the ball.

"If you have some athletic linebackers, you can still play your base defense."

The Super Bowl champion Buccaneers did it with 6-foot-1, 225-pound Shelton Quarles at middle linebacker. The Miami Dolphins have been doing it for several years with 5-11, 235-pound Zach Thomas in the middle.

"What most coaches don't do anymore, you don't discard anyone because he's a linebacker who's 225, 230 pounds," Edwards said. "Instead, you devise a way to play with him, especially if he can run."

It can work if you have bigger defensive tackles in front, and active, athletic linebackers on either side.

Which brings me to my question. Do we have the defensive tackles to keep blockers off our linebackers so they can make plays with their speed?

[Edited on 8/7/2004 by GumboBC]

[Edited on 11/7/2004 by GumboBC]

[Edited on 11/7/2004 by GumboBC]

saintz08 07-08-2004 12:29 AM

The Need for Speed

It can work if you have bigger defensive tackles in front, and active, athletic linebackers on either side.
Great the Saints can go with \" The Lunch Bunch II \"

Soon to be playing at a football stadium near you .....


The primary need is a run-stuffing defensive tackle to help shield the blockers off of the linebacker. If they can\'t do that, does it matter who plays linebacker?
Get the lineman in the backfield and disrupt the hand off and it really don\'t matter who blocks the linebacker , when the RB is on his backside ..... ;)

GumboBC 07-08-2004 12:40 AM

The Need for Speed
08 -- Man, I\'m trying to figure some stuff out here... ;)

Seriously, though ... I agree with you that if the DT disrupts the play in the backfield it doesn\'t matter. But, that\'s not going to happen enough.

I\'m convinced that our defensive hopes are going to depend on our DT\'s. I think our linebackers are going to be able to make plays. But, I\'m concerned whether or not our DT\'s are going to keep blockers off of them and allow them to use their atleticism.

In my mind, it\'s going to come down to how effective Jonathan Sullivan, Brian Young, and Rodney Leslie are.

If those 3 guys can hold their own, then I think we\'ve got the making of a good defense.

I\'ll get this thing figured out yet!!!! :P

saintz08 07-08-2004 01:18 AM

The Need for Speed
Depending on the receiver set , 2 corners are usually run clueless . 9 men on defense all check off on the run , get 9 helmets on the ball carrier every play and the only thing left is heart and position .... ;)

WhoDat 07-08-2004 08:50 AM

The Need for Speed
I think this may be somewhat oversimplified, but...

No, I don\'t think we have DTs that can occupy a lot of space and more than one blocker. Sullivan may come into his own. Leisle has the ability to do the same. But in our base with Young inside - no, both guys won\'t be getting doubled.

That said, they may occupy 3 O-linemen, which puts your DEs one on one with tackles - which allows all of your LBs to flow to the play. The other thing, like 08 said, is penatration - if Young can be disruptive and redirect plays or affect their timing an fluidity, then it will greatly improve our run D.

Finally, no matter what, a linebacker needs to be able to shed blocks. The 260 pound big boys are usually still 40 pounds lighter than offensive linemen. It\'s got nothing to do with overpowering them. It has to do with avoiding or shedding them. If our linebackers can get around, under, over, or through blocks, we\'ll be OK.

JKool 07-09-2004 11:55 AM

The Need for Speed
I agree mostly with WhoDat here.

Our DTs could be run stoppers: Sullivan COULD be, Young isn\'t, and Leisle could be. However, the point that 08 makes that I can understand is right. To occupy space, you don\'t simply have to hold up the Gs - you can get them turned or off balance or force a double team - this is what Young CAN and will do. I think he\'s going to be good.

I do think that our DTs are the team\'s biggest weakness right now (since the linebackers will only matter against the run IF these guys can get something done in front of them).

WhoDat, I do think that a 260 lb linebacker as opposed to a 230 lb one at Mike can make a huge difference. While I do think the smaller, more agile linebackers serve a very good purpose inside, a bigger backer can also hold up a guard so that an OLB or SS can make a play. The point is being oversized by 40 lbs and a few inches is VERY different from being oversized by over half a foot and 70-80 lbs when you are merely trying to stand up the blocker!

However, I also think that our DTs won\'t have to do as much work as some other teams, becuase simply going one on one with our DEs will be suicide for some teams. Howard, Grant, and Smith are going to be able to make plays at the point of attack if they are not properly blocked - this means less pressure on Sully and Young to cover the middle of the line.

Final thought: I really like teams who use the smaller linebackers in the middle, the defense against the pass and outside runs really benefits - but I\'m just not sure if we have the personnel; look what happened to Urlacher after Washington left - he got hammered A LOT. I\'m not sure a rookie or an injury prone MLB will be able to handle that for a whole game. I think Ruff makes the squad, and we see some sort of rotation inside.

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