If You're a Game Re-Watcher
Posted by Derek
Check out the difference between our first and second half defensive philosophies.
In the first half, we played a very run-focused defense. Lots of base personnel and then both safeties really close to the line of scrimmage. (They may have been just deep enough that you could say they weren't truly in the box, but they were close.) One CB usually played deep middle.
This worked. Not every play (stop me if you've heard this before), but "if you take away the one big run" in the first half, our guys were actually pretty good.
In the second half, once we got the big lead, we changed what we were doing. Our safeties started playing back, we took linebackers off the field, and we tried to play coverages inside with (primarily) our $10 million slot corner. This gutted a run defense that really needs all the help it can get. You saw the result.
This gets to a larger problem. Lots of people -- me included -- have been trying to figure out why we don't just solve the opposing tight end problem by letting Nnamdi shut the guy down. The issue is that while that works great when the other guys try to pass, it's not so awesome when they try to run.
I know this will come as a shock, but it turns out our megabucks shutdown boundary cornerback isn't really all that comfortable mixing it up inside as a quasi-linebacker. Nor are DRC, Joselio or even, frankly, Nate Allen.
Unfrotunately, these were all guys we stuffed into the box at the end of the game when we went into "play with the lead" mode.
A number of people have asked me to make some more constructive suggestions about what we should do with the defense. Honestly, I think it's pretty clear at this point. Three steps:
1) You're not stopping the run with just the front seven or especially a front six. Unless we're just getting absolutely strafed, we need a perma-box safety.
Nate Allen can't fill that role. Jarrad Page looks the part, but I've never seen a guy take so many bad angles in run support. Kurt Coleman is ... something I'm not going to repeat in a public forum. That leaves one other guy:
Jarrett can play FS or SS. I think he’s okay in space. I think he really shines when he plays in the box. He is a good hitter, but I’m real impressed with him as a tackler ... Jarrett goes low when he tackles and pretty consistently is able to wrap up his targets ...
I happened to re-listen to Greg Cosell of NFL Films talking about him to Dave Spadaro. Greg loved Jarrett. I think he said Jaiquawn was his highest rated Safety in the whole draft ...
Jarrett played in the Senior Bowl. A dedicated Temple fan put together a video of Jarrett’s snaps from the game. He played both SS and FS. He looks so much more natural in the box. The thing to watch for in this video is just how physical he is with guys who try to block him. You’ll also see him in man coverage in some sets. That isn’t his strength, but he’s also not completely lost.
At some point, you have to try him.*
2) Wish the guys on the outside luck. Tell them this is why they make eight figure salaries.
3) There is no step 3.
* Speaking of guys you have to try ... we watched Danny Watkins in the preseason, so we know just how, er, unpolished he is as a player, but every day he can't beat out Kyle DeVan at the top of the depth chart is a day Howie Roseman should be forced to run 10 laps. DeVan struggled mightily last game.