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The Great Defensive Snap Count Debate...

 
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Apollo Stallion


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:47 pm    Post subject: The Great Defensive Snap Count Debate... Reply with quote

I'm sick of rehashing this point in every thread that attempts to justify ILB as a primary draft need, so here's my definitive analysis of the situation.

It never goes to script, but just for fun, let's use round numbers using defensive snaps using last year as a guide while backing out injuries.

SLB - 1,000
WLB - 750
OLB3 - 400
OLB4 -50

ILB1 - 1,000
ILB2 - 400
ILB3 - 150
ILB4 - 50

For comparison with safeties, recognize Manning/Quin played an extraordinary 2,074 snaps themselves last year, with Demps, Nolan, Keo, kicking in another 500.

SS - 1,000
FS - 900
S3 - 500
S4 - 100

Lets go ahead and dispense with where NT & DE factors in recognizing both of our DEs often kick inside in 4-3 and even play NT on occasion in 3-4.

NT1 - 400
NT2 - 250

DE1 - 900
DE2 - 800
DE3 - 300
DE4 - 100

Finally, lets explore the CBs again eliminating health, but recognizing the injury prone nature of the position.

CB1 - 1,000
CB2 - 1,000
CB3 - 500
CB4 - 200
CB5 - 50

Putting all that together, you basically have a defense featuring 9 full-time players (2DE /2OLB /2 CB /2 S / 1ILB). The final 2 positions really are a floating combination of 5 shifting positions:

S3 - 500
CB3 - 500
OLB3 - 400
ILB2 - 400
NT1 - 400

and deeper depth
DE3 - 300
NT2 - 250
CB4 - 200

Sure there are plenty of holes that can be poked in this analysis which ideally would be tested against 2011 snap counts, but historical snaps are "premium." Logic dictates that there are plenty of scenarios where we will line up with only 2 or even 1 LB on the field, no NTs, but NEVER less than 4 in the secondary or 5 DL/OLB. Don't think talent is the driver as Demps/Nolan/Keo played as many snaps as Mercilus last year.
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Apollo Stallion


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now what does the above indicate in terms of priority...

Since our starting 9 are clear, the way I see it S3, CB3, OLB3, ILB2, NT1 must be evaluated looking at relative upgrade over existing options and vulnerability of the starter to injury.
S3 - Keo (Manning, E. Reed)
CB3 - McCain/Harris (Joseph/Jackson)
OLB3 - Braman (B. Reed / Mercilus)
ILB2 - Dobbins/Sharpton (Cushing)
NT1 - Mitchell (McClain)

For me, what jumps off the page when looking at it that way is that ILB is probably our STRONGEST from depth standpoint. Cushing never missed a game before last season and at the very least we know we can survive with Dobbins and some street FA at #2. Meanwhile, just look to Jacksonville/Detroit to see what life with an injury to Joseph looks like. While Manning and Reed have been relatively durable in their careers, we are definitely pushing our luck with 31 year old & 35 year old starters and the dropoff from them to Keo is arguably the largest on the defense. Mercilus to Braman isn't pretty either especially considering Mercilus limitations vs run and in coverage. A final consideration would be contract status knowing the top 9 are all locked up and Cushing will be. Potential 2014 decisions will come at FS, DE/DT, NT, CB2-CB4.

All of that adds up to the following priority order:
1. FS (could replace key 9 by 2014)
2. CB (year 1 contributor / vital insurance / potential to push KJ to nickel)
3. OLB (year 1 contributor / vital insurance / rotational improvement vs run)
4. NT (year 1 contributor / potential improvement over Mitchell)
5. ILB (year 1 contributor / insurance / rotational improvement vs. pass)

SAFETY is the only defensive position that combines the potential to supplant one of starting 9 in 2014 and it's worth arguing that DE2 (Antonio) is the next starting 9 spot that could be in play if we need his cap room. The talent gap from 2011-2012 OLB also dictates OLB receive some attention, but I would argue that unlike last year, we are really looking for rotational depth, not a potential starter. Then we get to NT/ILB who are starters in name only. Sure, I'm all for finding 3rd/4th round upgrades much as we did with Brooks/Jones/Crick last year, especially since this is where the value at those positions often lies. The way I see it, other than that, S/CB is the only defensive position that warrants 1st or 2nd round consideration, especially if we can find a taller rangy CB that may eventually transition to S.
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dsorc


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your analysis is flawed by ignoring the effect of injuries though the main conclusion is sound. Additionally we have no clue if we will continue with the similar approach to pass D (ie. will we play primarily nickel or dime). I looked at the defensive snaps over the regular season a little while ago to see what formations we play. The results are close to yours:
Base (4DB) = 46%
Heavy (3DB) = 5%
Dime (6DB) = 41%
Nickel (5DB/No NT) = 5%
Nickel (5DB/No ILB2) = 3%

Essentially, we play ~50% base and ~50% pass-set and that was primarily dime with Quin. We have no way of knowing if we will stick with that with Ed Reed instead.

You overestimate OLB3 and DE3 due to the injuries to Brooks Reed and Shaun Cody since Crick played at NT. Similarly, while Cushing was healthy, ILB3 barely saw the field but we increased the rate of rotation at ILB after the injury. When healthy the only area we had a rotation was on the D-line, where the NTs split time almost evenly while the DEs where closer to an 80-20. The rest of the variation is primarily due to injury.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apollo Stallion wrote:
Now what does the above indicate in terms of priority...

Since our starting 9 are clear, the way I see it S3, CB3, OLB3, ILB2, NT1 must be evaluated looking at relative upgrade over existing options and vulnerability of the starter to injury.
S3 - Keo (Manning, E. Reed)
CB3 - McCain/Harris (Joseph/Jackson)
OLB3 - Braman (B. Reed / Mercilus)
ILB2 - Dobbins/Sharpton (Cushing)
NT1 - Mitchell (McClain)

For me, what jumps off the page when looking at it that way is that ILB is probably our STRONGEST from depth standpoint. Cushing never missed a game before last season and at the very least we know we can survive with Dobbins and some street FA at #2. Meanwhile, just look to Jacksonville/Detroit to see what life with an injury to Joseph looks like. While Manning and Reed have been relatively durable in their careers, we are definitely pushing our luck with 31 year old & 35 year old starters and the dropoff from them to Keo is arguably the largest on the defense. Mercilus to Braman isn't pretty either especially considering Mercilus limitations vs run and in coverage. A final consideration would be contract status knowing the top 9 are all locked up and Cushing will be. Potential 2014 decisions will come at FS, DE/DT, NT, CB2-CB4.

All of that adds up to the following priority order:
1. FS (could replace key 9 by 2014)
2. CB (year 1 contributor / vital insurance / potential to push KJ to nickel)
3. OLB (year 1 contributor / vital insurance / rotational improvement vs run)
4. NT (year 1 contributor / potential improvement over Mitchell)
5. ILB (year 1 contributor / insurance / rotational improvement vs. pass)

SAFETY is the only defensive position that combines the potential to supplant one of starting 9 in 2014 and it's worth arguing that DE2 (Antonio) is the next starting 9 spot that could be in play if we need his cap room. The talent gap from 2011-2012 OLB also dictates OLB receive some attention, but I would argue that unlike last year, we are really looking for rotational depth, not a potential starter. Then we get to NT/ILB who are starters in name only. Sure, I'm all for finding 3rd/4th round upgrades much as we did with Brooks/Jones/Crick last year, especially since this is where the value at those positions often lies. The way I see it, other than that, S/CB is the only defensive position that warrants 1st or 2nd round consideration, especially if we can find a taller rangy CB that may eventually transition to S.


So you'd like the Texans to select David Amerson or Darius Slay preferably in the 2nd round?
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And the final reply to my own post:

WR2 is the only position on the roster where we lack a clear starter and even a serviceable backup if the #1 starter goes down, better yet the #2. Martin is one of the worst #3's better yet a #1. Injury history at the position is significant as well with AJ, Posey, and Jean the past two seasons. I would argue that the Posey injury and Martin's limitations should not rule out WR in the 1st/2nd AND 4th/5th. Jean/Maehl should NOT be on this roster in 2013 even with Posey Pup'd.

RT is the other big one as Newton is not only a weak link, but if he is successful will require resigning to a significant raise in 2015 anyway. If we we were comfortable elevating a 7th round 2nd year player into a position held by a leader like Winston, bringing in a 3rd/4th round RT still presents an opportunity for upgrade without forcing a big salary into a spot that needs to be cheap with Brown and Myers at top of the cap. Harris/Newton are both ill-suited for LT backup, so even if we love Newton and think stability between him an RG will present improvement, swing tackle could easily warrant 3rd/4th round attention.

That gets me to a scenario that could ideally have us as follows:
1st - FS/CB or WR
2nd - WR or FS/CB
3rd(a) - RT

3rd(b) - OLB or ILB or NT
4th - same or WR3/4
5th - same or WR3/4

That is all. My need/priority board is set with gravy at ILB3 / DE4 / RB2-3.

Don't want to go off on a 4th tangent, but that 3rd COULD be used as an appropriate place for a dropping QB value pick like Barkley, Glennon, Manuel, or Bray which happens every year. RT could theoretically be postponed to a 2014 top priority (Matthews). The only way I see ignoring FS/CB is if we have our eyes on a 1 year plug in amongst vets (Rhodes, Mickell, Sensabaugh, Woodson, Clements) but I don't see any way around speed in the secondary remaining a major problem, especially if Reed/Manning age before our eyes.
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Apollo Stallion


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dsorc wrote:
though the main conclusion is sound. Additionally we have no clue if we will continue with the similar approach to pass D (ie. will we play primarily nickel or dime). I looked at the defensive snaps over the regular season a little while ago to see what formations we play. The results are close to yours:
Base (4DB) = 46%
Heavy (3DB) = 5%
Dime (6DB) = 41%
Nickel (5DB/No NT) = 5%
Nickel (5DB/No ILB2) = 3%

Essentially, we play ~50% base and ~50% pass-set and that was primarily dime with Quin. We have no way of knowing if we will stick with that with Ed Reed instead.

You overestimate OLB3 and DE3 due to the injuries to Brooks Reed and Shaun Cody since Crick played at NT. Similarly, while Cushing was healthy, ILB3 barely saw the field but we increased the rate of rotation at ILB after the injury. When healthy the only area we had a rotation was on the D-line, where the NTs split time almost evenly while the DEs where closer to an 80-20. The rest of the variation is primarily due to injury.


Quote:
Your analysis is flawed by ignoring the effect of injuries
- Reading comprehension, I did compensate for them. Took Reeds snaps per game and reallocated over 16 weeks. I weighed LOB down to 400 from Merci's 5 which were aided by Reeds injury. Several other throughout.

Interesting theories. Checked playoff games figuring theoretically those would be our best lineups, right?

Cinn / NE
The Big 8 (with James as Cushing)
Bradie James 100% / 94%
B. Reed 75% / 76%
Ruud 69% / 27%
Cody 39% / 16%
Keo 31% / 80%
Harris 31% / 80%
Mitchell 30% / 12%
Mercilus 25% / 24%
Crick 15% / 2%
Ball 10% / 0%

If you don't see the problem here, you are blind. Belichick (and Payton, and McCarthy, and Arians...) have figured out that the best way to beat the Texans is to get Harris and Keo on the field (80% Dime!). Apparently Wade missed the Giants memo to the league that the way to beat Brady is with inside pressure as Cody/Mitchell combined for 26% of snaps and Mercilus (our 2nd best pass rusher played 1/4 snaps. A reminder that we were playing from behind the entire game, Gronk got hurt on the 8th play, Woodhead not long after and, NE still RAN 24 times. We essentially lined up Barwin/Smith/Watt/Reed up front with James holding down the middle and Joseph, Jackson, Harris, Quin, Manning, Keo, in coverage. If memory serves, Quin was basically manned up on Hernandez all day, Joseph had Lloyd, leaving Jackson/Harris to get totaled be Welker and Keo/Manning or Barwin/Reed/Ruud/Harris getting killed by Vareen and Ridley. I guess someone had to cover Hoomanwanui which may have been the greatest break ever considering it could have been Gronk. Devin Branch played all of 9 snaps, so the pats played straight up 2 WR / 2 TE game. What the friggin frack was Shiloh Keo going to bring to this game other than get toasted by Rb? Weeks earlier we watched Drunke Stallworth kill Harris for his only completion of this season.

Yes, going back to the Bengals game shows us using ILB2 Ruud much more than usual, but the Bengals are a throw back to teams that run first. The numbers show the Bengals lined up with 3 WR & Gresham quite often & Hawkins logging 78% of players as WR3. I don't quite see what great need there was for Keo/Harris to be pushing 62 minutes in a close game. I also fail to see how we can get Whitney Mercilus on our field more than 25% of snaps in these games.

So, Barwins 100% gone, presumable replaced by Merci
25% of snaps for OLB3 in play (Braman?)
James gone replaced by Cushing
69/27% snaps replaced by Dobbins/Sharpton
Cody 39/16 gone presumable added to Mitchells 30/12
McCain for Harris 31/80%, but I suspect a platoon there
KEO is the one still slated for 80% minutes. This CANNOT happen.

Side note response of Crick. He didnt play NT. He subbed in for Watt who only played 88% of snaps and A. Smith who played 75% Crick got 20% which leave 8% for Jamison before he got hurt.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apollo Stallion wrote:
dsorc wrote:
though the main conclusion is sound. Additionally we have no clue if we will continue with the similar approach to pass D (ie. will we play primarily nickel or dime). I looked at the defensive snaps over the regular season a little while ago to see what formations we play. The results are close to yours:
Base (4DB) = 46%
Heavy (3DB) = 5%
Dime (6DB) = 41%
Nickel (5DB/No NT) = 5%
Nickel (5DB/No ILB2) = 3%

Essentially, we play ~50% base and ~50% pass-set and that was primarily dime with Quin. We have no way of knowing if we will stick with that with Ed Reed instead.

You overestimate OLB3 and DE3 due to the injuries to Brooks Reed and Shaun Cody since Crick played at NT. Similarly, while Cushing was healthy, ILB3 barely saw the field but we increased the rate of rotation at ILB after the injury. When healthy the only area we had a rotation was on the D-line, where the NTs split time almost evenly while the DEs where closer to an 80-20. The rest of the variation is primarily due to injury.


Quote:
Your analysis is flawed by ignoring the effect of injuries
- Reading comprehension, I did compensate for them. Took Reeds snaps per game and reallocated over 16 weeks. I weighed LOB down to 400 from Merci's 5 which were aided by Reeds injury. Several other throughout.

Yeah that's not enough compensation. If we eliminate the two games where Reed got hurt, OLB3 played 15% of the snaps. That includes 4 games where the OLB basically didn't see the field (<5 snaps).

Apollo Stallion wrote:
Interesting theories. Checked playoff games figuring theoretically those would be our best lineups, right?

Cinn / NE
The Big 8 (with James as Cushing)
Bradie James 100% / 94%
B. Reed 75% / 76%
Ruud 69% / 27%
Cody 39% / 16%
Keo 31% / 80%
Harris 31% / 80%
Mitchell 30% / 12%
Mercilus 25% / 24%
Crick 15% / 2%
Ball 10% / 0%

I would argue that our first 2 games would be better examples of what the expected plan for the year was. Players are not at a 100% by the playoffs.
Apollo Stallion wrote:
If you don't see the problem here, you are blind. Belichick (and Payton, and McCarthy, and Arians...) have figured out that the best way to beat the Texans is to get Harris and Keo on the field (80% Dime!). Apparently Wade missed the Giants memo to the league that the way to beat Brady is with inside pressure as Cody/Mitchell combined for 26% of snaps and Mercilus (our 2nd best pass rusher played 1/4 snaps. A reminder that we were playing from behind the entire game, Gronk got hurt on the 8th play, Woodhead not long after and, NE still RAN 24 times. We essentially lined up Barwin/Smith/Watt/Reed up front with James holding down the middle and Joseph, Jackson, Harris, Quin, Manning, Keo, in coverage. If memory serves, Quin was basically manned up on Hernandez all day, Joseph had Lloyd, leaving Jackson/Harris to get totaled be Welker and Keo/Manning or Barwin/Reed/Ruud/Harris getting killed by Vareen and Ridley. I guess someone had to cover Hoomanwanui which may have been the greatest break ever considering it could have been Gronk. Devin Branch played all of 9 snaps, so the pats played straight up 2 WR / 2 TE game. What the friggin frack was Shiloh Keo going to bring to this game other than get toasted by Rb? Weeks earlier we watched Drunke Stallworth kill Harris for his only completion of this season.

Yes, going back to the Bengals game shows us using ILB2 Ruud much more than usual, but the Bengals are a throw back to teams that run first. The numbers show the Bengals lined up with 3 WR & Gresham quite often & Hawkins logging 78% of players as WR3. I don't quite see what great need there was for Keo/Harris to be pushing 62 minutes in a close game. I also fail to see how we can get Whitney Mercilus on our field more than 25% of snaps in these games.

A lot of empty words here. The decision was to use dime as our primary pass defense and they stuck with it. However, you provide no evidence that will do the same next year in part because nobody has a clue if that will be the case. Maybe it was a bad idea to go dime against New Engalnd, but that is the formation they had been using all year.

Apollo Stallion wrote:

So, Barwins 100% gone, presumable replaced by Merci
25% of snaps for OLB3 in play (Braman?)
James gone replaced by Cushing
69/27% snaps replaced by Dobbins/Sharpton
Cody 39/16 gone presumable added to Mitchells 30/12
McCain for Harris 31/80%, but I suspect a platoon there
KEO is the one still slated for 80% minutes. This CANNOT happen.

Side note response of Crick. He didnt play NT. He subbed in for Watt who only played 88% of snaps and A. Smith who played 75% Crick got 20% which leave 8% for Jamison before he got hurt.

Crick played some snaps at NT against Chicago and Jacksonville, when Cody was hurt. While Jamison was healthy he was actually getting more snaps than Crick. Further sidenote here, Mitchell also subbed in for Watt/Smith, specially after Jamison got hurt. You overrate OLB3 but I've already gone over those numbers. Further proof would be that our OLB that stayed healthy all year, Barwin, played 94% of defensive snaps.

Again, the big thing is going to be the percentage of snaps going to S3 versus ILB2. I do not discount that CB3 will likely take ~50% of snaps next year. But Reed is not Quin so we cannot assume that we will go back to Dime as our primary pass defense.

EDIT: I'm probably being too much of a contrarian. Overall, we have very similar assessments. I think the biggest difference in our views is that I'm not sold on us going back to dime as our primary pass defense. If we did, then you would be perfectly correct that S3 should be one of our highest priorities. Because I think we might go to nickle, a coverage-capable ILB2 would be about equal value to the S3. Our pass-D formation would then be dependent on which one we get.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not convinced our personel at NT didn't play a role in being in the dime so much. Without a competent NT we were forced to kick Smith and Watt inside in 4 man fronts leaving Barwin and Reed to come down and James as the only LB. That was necessary when we needed the extra people in coverage as none of our LBs could do it.

With the lack of coverage ability among the linebackers we had 2 choices.
1. Go a 4 man front with our NT and 1 of Smith or Watt kicking in. The other stays as a DE and either Barwin or Reed come down. The other plays LB with James and we go Nickel.
2. We go a 4 man line with our DE's kicking in and OLBs coming down and leaving a lone LB with Dime coverage.

We went with 2. The question is whether this is a "philosophy" of Wade or he felt it was necessary.

Choice 1 gives us better run stopping ability, but a poor pass rush as our NTs were non existent. It would be basically 3 people rushing the passer. Couple that with decent but not great coverage ability from either Reed or Barwin and bad from James and we are setting ourselves up to get abused in the passing game. Especially by a team like NE.

That leaves choice 2. The problem is we aren't stopping anyone in the run game with that front. That allows guys like Vereen and Ridley to abuse us. All a team needs to do is get us into this formation in a non-clear passing down.

Against a team like NE and Denver we're screwed. Because they have enough receivers to force us into this unwinable situation. And their QBs can just do work.

A CB3/S would certainly help, and I agree it is a 1st/2nd round need. But a good NT (not a massive space eater mind you-one that has some pass rush moves but can hold his own in the run game even if not dominate it) does too. Because in that situation Choice number 1 becomes available as the pass rush would hopefully be good enough that 4th rusher that Reed's coverage ability (along with Cushing's as he's back) would be enough that we don't need to go to Dime all the time. Nickel would suffice in many situations. This prevents us from being gashed in the run game.

Mercilus-Smith-Watt-Reed with Cushing at Linebacker and 6 DBs (especially with Quin gone) cannot stand up to a running play. It just can't. It's fine if its a clear passing down, but not if the run option is available.

Mercilus-Smith-NT (that is able to rush the passer and stand up to the run enough)-Watt with Cush and Reed as LBs and 5 DBs can stand up to the run and be good enough against the pass is most situations.

Unless you can show me that Wade has a clear preference to go to dime regardless of front 7 personel (I'd like to know what he did in Dallas with Ratliff available to him) then I can absolutely see the right type of NT being a 1st/2nd round need as well.

To sum
CB3/S is definitely a 1st/2nd round need. Not disputing that
NT, with the information we know, can still easilly be a 1st/2nd round need
That NT should not be the Vince Wilfork type. It should be a Ratliff type.
Honestly it should almost be a guy seen as a 3tech, that can be stout enough against the run.

In this draft I'm thinking of guys like
Kawann Short
Sylvester Williams
Sheldon Richardson

Even with a NT, like I said, CB3/S is a necessity for our Nickel package and when it is a clear passing down and we can safely go to Dime. I would prioritize that over the NT, but I do think you are being to kind on our NT need or at least the effect our personel we've had there affect Wade's formation decisions.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't buy the NT need. We gave up 5 rush TDs all season with all of them coming after Cushing got hurt. We were also top10 in rush yards per game and average yards per rush. I also don't buy Reed as a standup LB in a nickle set. He's better suited as a pass rusher in that situation and I am seriously afraid of him having to man up a TE.

The choice to go dime also has nothing to do with Bradie James. We were playing primarily dime even with Cushing healthy.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dsorc wrote:
I don't buy the NT need. We gave up 5 rush TDs all season with all of them coming after Cushing got hurt. We were also top10 in rush yards per game and average yards per rush. I also don't buy Reed as a standup LB in a nickle set. He's better suited as a pass rusher in that situation and I am seriously afraid of him having to man up a TE.

The choice to go dime also has nothing to do with Bradie James. We were playing primarily dime even with Cushing healthy.


But he was it. There was no other LB that could cover except for Barwin or Reed. The only way to have that is with the NT in.

Reed would be perfectly fine standing up and he is decent in coverage. I wouldn't man him up on Gronk or Hernandez, but as an underneath zone coverage or man up on a lesser TE, he'd be fine.

Most teams don't have the receivers/TEs to get us into Dime outside of clear passing downs. When we went up against NE they did. And you saw the results. Vereen and Ridley abused us all game. Cushing in there instead of James would not have changed that. And they are not good enough backs that they should be able to do that. Denver adding Welker means they'll likely be able to do it too. We have zero chance of stopping our two biggest competitors. We can only win if we out score them, even with a better 3rd corner or safety.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some really good points made in here in both directions. I agree more with mse that the formations were a function of personel over preference. We have more holes we wish we could address with the 1st pick so someone will be unhappy regardless of how it goes. I would prefer a WR in some form or fashion in the 1st/2nd. Then either a DB(prefer CB)/NT in the combined with either remaining pick. Bigger fan of what can be had late in those two positions if forced to make a tough choice.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
To sum
CB3/S is definitely a 1st/2nd round need. Not disputing that
NT, with the information we know, can still easilly be a 1st/2nd round need
That NT should not be the Vince Wilfork type. It should be a Ratliff type.
Honestly it should almost be a guy seen as a 3tech, that can be stout enough against the run.


A few things:
1) If I've learned one thing about Wade it's that it's not just a cliche that he tailors defenses around the strengths of the personnel so Dallas & SD and rest don't necessarily translate. Antonio & JJ kicked inside throughout 11 & 12 so I don't think Cushing / Cody injuries were a major factor. As I've said many times, Antonio's flexibility to play anywhere on the DL regardless of base formation was the KEY in implementation of Wade's system which doesn't disguise much, but shifts gap responsibilities on the fly especially on 2nd/3rd down. He's the "Ratliff" of the d-line. When Mario was the "Demarcus Ware" he rushed the passer regardless of base, but when Barwin/Reed shift happened it was much more balanced. Last year Watt was essentially the "Ware/Williams" as his job was to pick his gap and get to the passer with everyone else adjusting to his path. I suspect with Mercilus as a starter, it will revert back to WLB rushing the passer every play as he's just not a run stopper and will be exposed in coverage. I'm not going to be shocked if some form of pass rusher is our #1 pick, but it could be anything from a penetrating DT type, DE, or another traditional 3-4 OLB.

2) Since I mentioned Ratliff, it seems like a forgone conclusion that he's a goner in Dallas, I'm wondering if Wade is anticipating bringing him in as at least on paper, it would create further flexibility in the front 7 if his skills have held up.

3) I think bringing in Ed Reed was partially in response to our vulnerability to getting beaten deep in nickel/dime, but bringing him in will require another shift in Wade's philosophy as his safeties have always been interchangeable between strong and free while Reed is clearly best used as the deep center fielder with Manning having more responsibility vs run and TE coverage. Part of me can see how a guy "like Keo" makes some sense as essentially a glorified LB in passing situations covering the short stuff to RBs/TEs in a 3rd down Quin role, but it also scares me as it doesn't take a genius to just send Gronk/Hernandez, Welker/Tamme, Hilton/Fleener down the seams and make Reed choose a side to help. I just don't think Keo is big enough to hang with the TEs especially with us lacking speed to cover slot receivers that go deep.

However it plays out, I'm pretty certain that some answer to the condundrum vs. Broncos/Colts/Pats (Saints/Packers, etc). will be addressed in the 1st two rounds as just swapping out Quin for Reed and Mercilus for Barwin not only leaves us vulnerable to a more critical mess than having Bradie James playing too much did in case of injury, but it just gets us back to zero. I've come to trust Rick's ability to not be reactionary and grab long-term value (Mercilus & Watt picks look truly inspired now vs. the obvious needs in those drafts (CB/NT/WR) as well as Wade's ability to integrate the talent into his defensive strategy. I just would prefer that substandard players like Keo, Sharpton or others were bumped down a peg or two in the pecking order as like with Demps/Keo/Nolan/Harris/Ball/James/Dobbins/Ruud/ last year, there is a point at which the design won't hold up if the talent isn't there.
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dsorc


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apollo Stallion wrote:

That gets me to a scenario that could ideally have us as follows:
1st - FS/CB or WR
2nd - WR or FS/CB
3rd(a) - RT

3rd(b) - OLB or ILB or NT

4th - same or WR3/4
5th - same or WR3/4

That is all. My need/priority board is set with gravy at ILB3 / DE4 / RB2-3.

Well, you had the first 4 picks right. I wanted to revisit this topic now that the draft has given us more info on what the plans are for next year. The big take from the draft is that the FO trusted Keo as much as we did. Swearinger should be taking all of his snaps as we will likely once again be playing dime as our primary pass defense. I think the draft further enforced that NT is not as big a deal as fans think.

The other interesting storyline is the impact Montgomery and Williams will have on the role of Reed. I don't imagine either pick will be ready to contribute at SOLB from the start of the season simply because I don't trust them to be able to do more than rush the passer. But there is the looming possibility of Reed moving inside. There is also the possibility that Reed only plays on base sets and we use either Montgomery or Williams as dime-pass-rushers. It will be interesting to see the usage in preseason of both Montgomery and Williams as it may foreshadow what the expectations for each for the season.
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