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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; This one question should be the entire focal point of the Saints defense. Down the stretch we're going to play 7 games against teams whose offensive strength is running the ball (KC, Denver, SD, Carolina twice, and I'm throwing in ...

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Old 10-28-2004, 08:36 AM   #1
The Professor
 
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

This one question should be the entire focal point of the Saints defense. Down the stretch we're going to play 7 games against teams whose offensive strength is running the ball (KC, Denver, SD, Carolina twice, and I'm throwing in the Falcons who are currently in the top 3).

So there are two questions that need to be addressed:

Why can't the Saints stop the run?

What can be changed to improve the run defense?

I have some vague ideas about the first question. Run defense seems to have three major elements: talent, scheme, and attitude. The Saints seem to fail on the latter two. I simply am not saavy enough to know if we have the talent to do the job.

Let's presume that the talent pool is fixed. We're not going to get anymore players on defense. Also let's presume that attitude will come with some success.

So on to the second question: what can be changed about the scheme to improve the run defense? Conventional wisdom says to bring a safety into the box, creating an 8 man front. Do the Saints do this? Does it help? What about run blitzing?

I'm just looking for some answers. I believe that in the next 5 games, that the defense's attitude is going to have to be stop the run at any and all costs. Even if it means giving up 300+ yards in the passing game. Which BTW I think that with McKenzie and Brown won't necessarily happen.

Can the Saints find a way to do it? If so then how?

I found a post in Google Groups that talks about the Chiefs and Broncos former defensive coordinator: Greg Robinson. It spoke to the type of defensive run scheming that works with a complementary offense that has big scoring ability. Check it out here:

http://tinyurl.com/7x4n8

SFIAH
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Old 10-28-2004, 02:12 PM   #2
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

I\'m bumping this post so that I can get some commentary.

I know the problem is perplexing, but someone has to have an idea. Right?

SFIAH
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Old 10-28-2004, 02:37 PM   #3
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

We could line up 2 bulldozers side by side at DT. Run a trip wire in front of the linebackers. Dig a trench at the line of scrimmage.

Really I have no idea how to fix it. We\'ve spent more time trying to fix this than anything else under Haslett and it\'s still just bad.

Generally, I\'d rather not blitz. Blitzing requires more than the defense can do. I\'d rather try to avoid over pursuit, try to keep the gap assignments and try to take away the short/intermediate passing game. Easy to type, but seems impossible for this defense to do.


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Old 10-28-2004, 02:38 PM   #4
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

My humble opinion is that the way our defenders play the game is the root of the problem. I don\'t have the luxury of watching game tape with the coaches, but I can watch recorded games in slow motion. The saints defensive lineman don\'t take on blockers well enough, leaving them access to our linebackers, who in turn rarely shed the blocks. The times that the blockers are held at the line, our linebackers are often slow at hitting the holes. Our tackling has improved this year over the past two years, but the agressivenss of our linebackers is lacking. They rarely punish the tight ends, or fullbacks who are lead blocking, and try to run around them often taking themselves out of the play, and leaving the blocker to take on a defensive back. With that said I think it\'s up to the coaching staff to recognize these problems and correct them.
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Old 10-28-2004, 03:09 PM   #5
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

I have two suggestions:

1. Commit only one DE to the pass rush - ever (well at least on 1st and 2nd and short yardage 3rds). Charles Grant ought to focus on getting to the QB on every play. Sure, he can make tackles against the run, but why bother. What is happening now is that the DL is being opportunistic rather than effective as a group. That is, there are too many guys trying to get deep in the backfield. Our problem is that we have good pass rushers - Young, Howard, Smith, and Grant. However, we don\'t have any run stuffers. I suppose Green is ok, but whopee. The idea here is to have the other linemen focus on gaps (or run slides or shifts) - either way, those other guys ought to free up our tacklers (ha ha) the LBs.

2. Blitz the SLB or SS more frequently - run blitz them though. This guy\'s job is to come in shallow on the line. This will enable him to diagnose the run on his way and blow up the blockers or slide down them to the point of attack. If it isn\'t a run, then he gets a shot to the backfield.

This should shore up the run. Who knows what it\'ll do to the pass. Of course, this is the problem for scheming that was mentioned earlier. It would be helpful to diagnose the run better - this way my suggestions could be implemented when they\'d help (rather than just haphazardly).

I\'m also of the opinion that if Rogers is any good at SLB they ought to move him there (Hodge and Allen are liabilities most of the time). This way, we can have Ruff play the middle, Watson the WLB, and Rogers and have them all on the field at the same time.

"... I was beating them with my eyes the whole game..." - Aaron Brooks :cool:
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Old 10-28-2004, 05:56 PM   #6
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

We could line up 2 bulldozers side by side at DT. Run a trip wire in front of the linebackers. Dig a trench at the line of scrimmage.
Funny!

Really I have no idea how to fix it. We\'ve spent more time trying to fix this than anything else under Haslett and it\'s still just bad.
And true. Jacksonville fixed it. Didn\'t Billy post a defense 101 link this summer to that article?

Generally, I\'d rather not blitz. Blitzing requires more than the defense can do.
My figuring is that blitzing can\'t do any more damage than what has already been done. We\'re giving up huge chunks of yards and points by the bucket full now. Why not try to be disruptive?

I\'d rather try to avoid over pursuit, try to keep the gap assignments and try to take away the short/intermediate passing game. Easy to type, but seems impossible for this defense to do.
Yup. Maybe that requires too much thought.

I think that\'s part of the issue. Venturi and Haslett (and not Pease) keep trying to train the players to fit within their system. It\'s not working, and you\'re stuck with the players. Why not try to find a system that fits the talents of the players?

SFIAH

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Old 10-28-2004, 07:21 PM   #7
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

Does anyone believe that it might also be personnel? Our ends overpursuing in the pass rush? DT\'s not taking on double teams well and opening up gaps? LB\'s who can\'t sustain a block and then make a good tackle?

Coaching could easily be the main problem, but do the players deserve some of the brunt for bad execution?
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Old 10-28-2004, 08:18 PM   #8
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

SFIAH,

I\'ve been agreeing with you a lot lately, but I have to disagree with you on the blitzing point.

When you blitz, you are commiting guys to areas of the field before the play even starts (with the exception of delayed blitzes) - this is why zone coverages are better against the run than man (which you are usually forced into when you blitz). In a zone coverage your defensive players are facing the attack almost the entire time; in man, you turn your back at some point. A blitz is very much like that in that you have a planned gap and you go there - not going there will cause the blitz to fail; however, if the play goes the other way, your blitzers may well get too deep to make a play.

Furthermore, regular blitzes require the player to head for the QB, so if it is a run, the player will be off target at the outset of the play. This is why I\'ve been advocating run blitzes, where players close to the line rather than the backfield. It is my belief that our front line can be disruptive on its own and sending one LB to the line isn\'t going to hurt us too much, since they\'ve not been too strong in pass coverage so far.

Thus, in principle blitzing more is a somewhat good idea, but I think whether it is or isn\'t depends A LOT on game planning (i.e. anticipating run or pass) and on whether or not the blitz is of the right kind (this is a lot more complex than most fans think).

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Old 10-28-2004, 08:48 PM   #9
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

Nice knowledge, JKool. And if we were to commit the linebacker, why not make Will Smith that guy.
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Old 10-29-2004, 12:06 AM   #10
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Question of the bye week: How to stop the run?

SFIAH,

I\'ve been agreeing with you a lot lately, but I have to disagree with you on the blitzing point.
Actually it isn\'t a agree/disagree type point. I started this thread to ask questions that I really don\'t know the answer to. Just throwing out suggestions...
When you blitz, you are commiting guys to areas of the field before the play even starts (with the exception of delayed blitzes) - this is why zone coverages are better against the run than man (which you are usually forced into when you blitz). In a zone coverage your defensive players are facing the attack almost the entire time; in man, you turn your back at some point. A blitz is very much like that in that you have a planned gap and you go there - not going there will cause the blitz to fail; however, if the play goes the other way, your blitzers may well get too deep to make a play.
So a blitz forces you to commit. And if the play doesn\'t coincide with the committment then you have additional problems. OK. I can see that.
Furthermore, regular blitzes require the player to head for the QB, so if it is a run, the player will be off target at the outset of the play. This is why I\'ve been advocating run blitzes, where players close to the line rather than the backfield. It is my belief that our front line can be disruptive on its own and sending one LB to the line isn\'t going to hurt us too much, since they\'ve not been too strong in pass coverage so far.
So that\'s the difference between a run blitz and a pass blitz. New question: does a run blitz still cause the same committment problems? i.e. a player is out of position if the run bounces to the outside?
Thus, in principle blitzing more is a somewhat good idea, but I think whether it is or isn\'t depends A LOT on game planning (i.e. anticipating run or pass) and on whether or not the blitz is of the right kind (this is a lot more complex than most fans think).
I see. I guess I\'m just frustrated watching the defense struggle. It just seems like on the vast majority of plays, both run and pass, that the linebackers are moving away from the line of scrimmage at the snap. This just doesn\'t seem conducive to good run defense.

SFIAH

The Saints have three consecutive 10 win seasons and a SB championship.

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