THE 12: #6 ANOINT A LEADER

Posted March 11, 2013

 

WHO speaks for the Defense on the rare occasions when a defensive player gets to speak for the unit? On most teams that guy is usually the heart and soul of the unit. Around here (for years now) there hasn’t been a heart and soul of the Defense. As a result, the Defense’s public face has been a weird mixed bag that has rotated between: a captain (Trent Cole);  the guy who calls the signals (DeMeco Ryans); sometimes the soft-spoken, high priced FA (Nnamdi Asomugha) gets a crack at it; and even the flake with no lenses in his glasses (DRC) has had a go.

The Defense needs an anchor. I’m not just talking about a loudmouthed, rah-rah guy, or an emotional leader. I mean a guy who can provide answers in the huddle and has enough experience to trust what he knows and act accordingly. A guy who will get in your face if you keep screwing up, but will also talk a coach into giving you a second chance out there.

We need a Field General.

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THE MEAT:

It’s easy on Offense. The starting QB is expected to lead his side of the ball, and is given carte blanche to yell at teammates, change plays at the line, and even sway the HC on who starts at WR. In most organizations this is done with the backing of the coaching staff.

It’s stickier on Defense. For example, Brian Dawkins was this team’s unquestioned emotional leader, but it was Quintin Mikell that made all the calls and got guys in position. While Dawkins role was understood (and likely appreciated) by the coaches, the guy they handed the actual responsibility to, was Mikell. For as much as the former coaching staff owed to what Dawkins did, there was never any sort of public acknowledgement of what he was to the organization, not just the team.

 

THE MOVE:

Look, the guy who calls the signals will always be a LB or a S. That’s just football. A DE or a DT simply doesn’t have enough of a view to see the full formation, and CB’s may not be heard past the MLB. So it’s going to be a S or a LB, probably for as long as you live or until they put radios in every helmet.

DeMeco Ryans is (by any account that you’ll read), the guy who barks the most on the field AND the guy gets guys into proper position. Players are used to him in those roles.  It would make no sense to change that. What does need to change is the public recognition by the coaching staff that Ryans is the Defense’s leader. The Defense’s leader also needs to have the HC’s ear, so that when he barks, the other players know his words carry real weight.

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