kearly wrote:I'm guessing it will remain the same as last year, with Irvin and Smith platooning the SAM LB position. I'm sure "compete" is the word coach Carroll would prefer but both guys are situational players who each shine in different kinds of situations.
I think there are a few issues with that. For one, Smith played 1000x better at WLB in those final six games than he did in those first 13 games at SLB. He is not a natural SLB by any means because he lacks the bulk to get off blocks against the run or the length to consistently match up against TEs in the passing game. In six games at his natural WLB position, Smith had 6.8 tackles per game, 7 TFL, four INTs with two returned for TDs. Why would they move Smith back to SLB when they now have three natural SLBs on the roster (Wright, Irvin, and Morgan)?
The second issue is with Wright. At 6'4, 246 lbs, he is a natural SLB who can fight through blocks and cover taller receivers. He took a step back last year after being moved to WLB, where his lack of quickness in space was sometimes exploited.
The third issue is with the change in circumstances at the LEO position. They now need someone to replace Chris Clemons' contributions at LEO. Irvin had eight sacks his rookie season while playing primarily out of the LEO or Spinner position. Even though one of his strengths is as a pass rusher, Irvin had just two sacks last year because he had little opportunity to blitz from SLB.
It seems if the coaches were to play to everyone's strengths this year, Smith would stay at WLB, Wright would be allowed to move back to SLB, and Irvin would get more opportunities as an edge rusher.
This is pretty close to spot on. I do think that Irvin will get reps at SLB, but he'll likely also be our right side pass rusher on 3rd downs too when Avril switches to left.
It's funny, in the 2012 draft I had been scouting MLBs and wanted Wagner more than any other LB in the draft. However, I also thought it would be nice if Kendricks fell and we somehow snagged him for WLB playing right next to Wagner like a 3-4 backer in our Under scheme.
We basically have that same exact player in Malcolm Smith. Go figure.
Going back to how those ILBs or MLB and WLB line up, it's really semantics between 4-3 Under and 3-4. One is just predominantly odd alignments (one gap) and the other is even (two gap). Last year, we sometimes deployed a defense that was completely hybrid in that our 1 and 5 where then playing 0 and 4, essentially two gapping while everyone else was one gapping.
I had never seen this before.
Going back to some 3-4 principles now, Lebeau was a guy who said that you want that NT having to require 2 blockers to control him. Thus there was the big NT that could overpower 1 blocker even if just enough to get directly into the QBs face, but be a wall against the run. Lebeau states that since that player is taking up 2 blockers it frees up another defender to get to the ball faster.
What we did was essentially double up on that concept. Red was part of that, but I think we can still do it with McDaniel. And particularly if we get a player like Hageman.
How does this relate to the original thought I had? Well, Avril likes to play on the left side. He's more productive there and that's not a secret. He's not too shabby in a zone either. That said, while I think we'll still be more 4-3 Under than anything else with KJ back at SLB, you'll also see a larger percentage of plays that look like a 3-4 with Irvin and Avril in at the same time. We did it here and there last year and then we also threw in the hybrid 1/2 gap. With Bane, and Bennett and McDaniel back, we have an added luxury to emphasize either 4-3 concepts or 3-4 concepts depending on how we want to attack the offenses respective running and passing games.
And I'm not even going to get into the other nickel & mutant 3rd down stuff....