June 18, 2013

BEING UPFRONT ABOUT THE DEFENSE.

DESPITE having to install the Defense THREE times in THREE weeks, I still like the ATHLETES that make up our front seven.

On the D-Line Issac Sopoaga is a rock in the middle. Against the run he'll control opposing Centers and cause runs to 'spill' one way or the other. The gashing up the gut that we've become accustomed to since we started getting our a** widened by the 9, should all but disappear. Soap is not a pass rush threat as far as recording sacks, but his work against Centers prevents then giving 'help blocks' inside to Guards facing dominant DT's. That is where Fletcher Cox comes in.

Cox moved semi-inside at 3-4 DE should be able to set up opposing Guards with a mix of simple bull rushes and crashing the "A" gap on obvious passing downs as there will be no help block from the occupied Center. I expect Cox to be dominant.

With the other DE spot, the only name I really hear there is Cedric Thornton. Vinny Curry's name comes up as does Clifton Geathers, but the prevailing notion is that we don't have a clear guy there.  A weak 3-4 DE is like a wide open wound. Everything just behind it is as good as exposed. This needs fixing more urgently than even the QB position. If the line doesn't work, this Defense will be no better than the Wide 9. 

At OLB we have some pretty impressive pass rushers in Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, and Connor Barwin. They also play the run well, and I can envision them stopping backs on the OTHER side of the line. The thing is, NONE of them is known much for their coverage skills and that's not a minor thing in this division. The Steelers and Ravens have been blessed with playing in The AFC North where it seems the Bengal and Browns stupidity is required by law. We one the other hand play in a division where Victor Cruz is a slot receiver. So coverage matters and we need an answer.

At ILB if the line is straightened out, we have enough talent to send two guys to the Pro-Bowl this year. DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are both complete LB's. In fact, if Kendricks was moved out to OLB I'd feel much better about the coverage out there. But again this comes down to how well the line functions ahead of them. Also, I noticed that Casey Matthews is back down in weight. He came in at 232-237, last year was up to 245, and now has gotten back to 240. Having played for Kelly before, I wonder how he'll look in the new system.

All in all it's a solid mix of guys, most of whom are hold-overs. They'll be doing different things this year however, and in that we see the challenge.

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