CONCERNS ABOUT THE FRONT SEVEN.

Posted June 19, 2013

FUNNY how something can be the same and yet change so much. We're still going to be running a 4-3 (Under/Over) scheme, but the EMPHASIS will be different this year.

Gone is last years focus on getting the DT's (Richard Seymour/Dez Bryant and Tommy Kelly) to the QB. This year the focus is on controlling the gaps. Enter FA additions Pat Sims and Vance Walker. Defending the run has been a problem for us the last few years, and I'd say it's the biggest culprit in our loss to win ratio over the last few seasons. Yards surrendered on the ground yield long drives, yield tired defenders, yield points surrendered late in games. 1+1+1=3. Simple math. Seven times last year we surrendered 120 or more rushing yards, and EVERY one of those games was a loss. 3 of those losses were blowouts and only ONE of them (122 yards in a 17-20 loss vs the BROWNS!) was close. Neither Sims nor Walker is a pass rush specialist. Their job is simply to clog lanes to force the action to the DE's. Stats will be a bonus for these guys. Stats isn't why they're here.

Lamarr Houston may be the most underrated DE in football. He's a throwback player, and if there is one area it's great to have a throwback, it's near the line of scrimmage. His game is power based, and as an actual 300 (not 290+) pound DE, he excels in setting the edge of the Defense. This is awesome because that is EXACTLY what the DE's will be called on to do in this scheme. Set the edge and work outside arm to both occupy blockers, and box in the run or force it high and out to the (mostly) unblocked LB's. This works in both running AND passing situations. It also frees up the LB's to blitz, as we don't have a dominant pass rusher on the line. So instead of forcing a square peg into a round hole, DC Jason Tarver simply cut some additional square holes. The question is, can we generate a decent rush without blitzing?

Our LB's are a question mark. First of all I have no real idea of who is playing what. FA signee Nick Roach was initially thought to be Rolando McClain's replacement at MLB, but during the OTA's Roach was moved around a lot, landing (it seems) at SLB. Miles Burris was alluded to as possibly switching to MLB, but has not been able to participate yet as he's still recovering from knee surgery earlier this year. So right now there doesn't seem to be a solid answer at MLB, despite several players who can man the spot competently. FA Kaluka Maiava seems to be the guy for the moment.

At OLB, rookie Sio Moore has apparently caught the eye and the imagination of area scribes, despite being listed as a back-up. Ahead of him is FA Kevin Burnett. Burnett has been a steady (if unremarkable) pro over the last few years. Again, Nick Roach has also seen some action on the edge in OTA's, but I have no idea what to make of him at OLB or MLB for that matter, as GB and Detroit, didm't feature strong running games last year when he played in Chicago. 

All in all I think we're going to have a slug-it-out style Defense, that will force teams to beat us with the pass. If we can manage to find a way to generate consistent pass rush, we should shorten drives, and be in a lot of games at the end. If we don't find a way to get heat on the passer however, our Secondary is going to get shelled, and we will see an uptick in the number of blowouts we suffered last year (4 total). Pass rush will be the key.

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