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Rolni

Raiders Defense

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So we are closing on the 2017 regular season and I thought we should start talking about this defense.

Based on the 2 pre-season games we will have a long and hard season again on that side of the ball.

I can't really see the improvements and while it was "just" two preseason game, ideally we should see an organized team and no mental errors...at least not from the first team D.

I don't get why Norton plays that much zone with our man cover CB's and I can't really see the benefit of having Pagano on board. Maybe his blitz packages will kick in when the season starts...

The frustrating part is that we have a defensive minded HC and we continue to struggle with the mental and fundamental parts of defensive football.

 

On paper the Edwards-Jelly-Vanderdoes-Mack DL is a pretty solid one both against the run and the pass. If we add Irvin to this group as a rush OLB we get a pretty rough front 5.

We should be able to contain the EDGEs with Mack and Irvin, while we should be able to keep and push the middle with the interior. I think with Autry, Latham, Hester and Ward we have a solid group at interior DL behind the first unit, so we should be able to stay fresh and strong. We have Cowser, Calhoun and maybe Lewis as EDGE depth, which is not that strong, but if Mack and Irvin stays healthy should be enough.

That LB group is a scary one and pretty fluid. M.Lee seems to be to slow to cover yet, maybe he never will be able to, but hopefully when the game slowes down for him he can be at least servicable. C.James seems like a solid option at WLB/ILB2, I think he can build on his 1st year and be a solid option. Jenkins looked good against depth this last game and could sneak into the starting line up, which was expected after his signing, but the fact, that after TC the staff wanted Lee ahead of him has to be a bit alarming IMO.

It could be that the staff wanted him at WLB, but James was better and now finally they try him at MLB in Lee's place, where he might be an ok option. There was some hype around Adams, but that died down and now Morrow seems like the story, however I think he is more of a back up at WLB and ST player then anything else.

Sean Smith is struggling big time, Nelson seems to be late here and there just like last year and Amerson really needs to play bump-n-run to be effective. He is just not a zone CB and when we try to use him as one he struggles. Carrie is also more of a man CB. Conley is better also as a man CB, so I really don't get why we play zone. Karl seems to be a lot more comfortable, but alone he will be not enough. We need Conley and Obi to have impact early on and we need the coaching staff to finally start calling schemes and plays where our players can be good. After all that is the coaches job right?

Obi's injury sucks on multiple fronts IMO. He should be able to rotate in at S especially against TE's and he also could be a nickel LB/S next to James. That could have a really good impact on our pass D overall IMO. 

Luani is the only DB not named Joseph who looks really good. He could push for rotational S duties IMO. He would be a better option as a single high S then Nelson with his speed. His tackling looks solid based on this small simple size and that was the big knock on him if I'm correct. 

It is interesting that in camp there we report about Borders, McDonald, Hamilton and also Durden being pretty good...where are they now? 

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I'm glad we're restarting this topic in the new thread..........your old ones Rolni were great and had many productive and interesting thoughts!

Anywhoo, to respond to the above points and some thoughts:

 

5 hours ago, Rolni said:

So we are closing on the 2017 regular season and I thought we should start talking about this defense.

Based on the 2 pre-season games we will have a long and hard season again on that side of the ball.

I can't really see the improvements and while it was "just" two preseason game, ideally we should see an organized team and no mental errors...at least not from the first team D.

I don't get why Norton plays that much zone with our man cover CB's and I can't really see the benefit of having Pagano on board. Maybe his blitz packages will kick in when the season starts...

The frustrating part is that we have a defensive minded HC and we continue to struggle with the mental and fundamental parts of defensive football.

 

Agree that we've not shown much improvement thus far - though it is pre-season and we may have a cunning plan (hopefully). It is somewhat concerning when we did talk in the media about improving certian things that seem to have not improved and brought in a specific coach for just that reason.

 

5 hours ago, Rolni said:

On paper the Edwards-Jelly-Vanderdoes-Mack DL is a pretty solid one both against the run and the pass. If we add Irvin to this group as a rush OLB we get a pretty rough front 5.

We should be able to contain the EDGEs with Mack and Irvin, while we should be able to keep and push the middle with the interior. I think with Autry, Latham, Hester and Ward we have a solid group at interior DL behind the first unit, so we should be able to stay fresh and strong. We have Cowser, Calhoun and maybe Lewis as EDGE depth, which is not that strong, but if Mack and Irvin stays healthy should be enough.

For right or wrong, I'm going to think of us as a 5-2 as Mack and Irvin will be rushing an awful lot of the time. They are clearly not the issue and so long as healthy will be playing at a very high level. The Edwards/Jelly/Vanderdoes trifecta will be the key here. So far they've been decent/good in the first game I thought and very quiet and handled relatively easily in the second game. Whilst I'm going to give Vanderdoes leeway as he's a rookie who's missed some time due to collegiate rules the other two should really be playing a little better. It's unfortunate that Ward hasn't been around as he desperately needs the coaching and I also haven't seen much of Latham when I was expecting a step up from him. I've always liked Cowser and think he is our primary backup at OLB/Edge at this stage which is very concerning with regard to Calhoun. There was a lot of talk about Calhoun getting bigger and stronger but I haven't seen that thus far in his play - though again we have to take it in context of pre-season. This unit has a lot of variables and IF one of Edwards/Ward/Latham step up and Ellis can be at least serviceable we will have a good unit. Maybe I'm an optimist but I think one of these guys will have an impact this year.

 

5 hours ago, Rolni said:

That LB group is a scary one and pretty fluid. M.Lee seems to be to slow to cover yet, maybe he never will be able to, but hopefully when the game slowes down for him he can be at least servicable. C.James seems like a solid option at WLB/ILB2, I think he can build on his 1st year and be a solid option. Jenkins looked good against depth this last game and could sneak into the starting line up, which was expected after his signing, but the fact, that after TC the staff wanted Lee ahead of him has to be a bit alarming IMO.

It could be that the staff wanted him at WLB, but James was better and now finally they try him at MLB in Lee's place, where he might be an ok option. There was some hype around Adams, but that died down and now Morrow seems like the story, however I think he is more of a back up at WLB and ST player then anything else.

I tend to think the success of the LB group will be in large part reliant on the DL in front. I'm a little confused as to what we want these guys to do as James, Jenkins, Adams etc. are smaller faster backers that need to be kept clean and can fly about and make plays but then we drafted Lee who is a little old school in his play, more of a stack and shed type who can blitz well. We haven't seen enough yet of Lee to make an informed assessment but James has certainly impressed me with his range and no little skill. We certainly have no All Stars here but it may be just enough with good line play in front.

 

6 hours ago, Rolni said:

Sean Smith is struggling big time, Nelson seems to be late here and there just like last year and Amerson really needs to play bump-n-run to be effective. He is just not a zone CB and when we try to use him as one he struggles. Carrie is also more of a man CB. Conley is better also as a man CB, so I really don't get why we play zone. Karl seems to be a lot more comfortable, but alone he will be not enough. We need Conley and Obi to have impact early on and we need the coaching staff to finally start calling schemes and plays where our players can be good. After all that is the coaches job right?

Obi's injury sucks on multiple fronts IMO. He should be able to rotate in at S especially against TE's and he also could be a nickel LB/S next to James. That could have a really good impact on our pass D overall IMO. 

Luani is the only DB not named Joseph who looks really good. He could push for rotational S duties IMO. He would be a better option as a single high S then Nelson with his speed. His tackling looks solid based on this small simple size and that was the big knock on him if I'm correct. 

It is interesting that in camp there we report about Borders, McDonald, Hamilton and also Durden being pretty good...where are they now? 

I'm not sure communication is the main reason for our ineffectiveness in the back end as has been said many times by the FO - it looks to me like we have players not playing to their strengths exactly as you say - Sean Smith is a very specific type player who struggles when he has to play off and close on the ball (as we all in the forum seem to know) and has never been a great closer or ball hawk. He's simply not a zone CB and should be the epitome of a bump and run corner trying to disrupt at the line. I hope (though I'm not convinced) that we know this and will play more bump and run man in regular season. I'm expecting Joseph to be a player that breaks out this year - absolutely love him as a player. Nelson I'm afraid looks plain old back there, hope he can be serviceable at least - but it's more hope than expectation based on the evidence.

Very disappointing to not see Obi and Conley yet as I think the FO was counting on them for an impact even as rookies, particularly in the slot and covering TEs as you have said. Luani has been the star of camp and pre-season but we've seen that many times and then the player fades into obscurity. I don't think this will happen with him and i think he'll have a major role on STs and a small role on D in multiple safety sets. Simply haven't seen enough of any of the fringe players to think they'll make an impact just yet. I've just written a whole heap and basically agree with everything above :D

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Thanks for the answers!

I still hope somewhere deep that we just play totally vanilla D in the pre-season to come out and shock in the regular season :)

 

We have so much potential...I expect Mario and Eddie being very angry and aggressive once the season starts, which should help. Latham and Ward needs to step up.

I think we drafted Lee to play Perry's/Lofton's role, which would be the run stopper MLB, who can shoot the A, B gaps when blitzing and can cover some ground in the middle of the field. He might be good for that role, but he is a rookie, the game must be too fast for him right now. From now on I think Jenkins has a good chance there to get the starting job and try to keep Lee on the bench as long as he can.

James seems like a nice fit at WLB/ILB2. He is a really quick, athletic guy, who can cover good ground. I like his potential.

I hope we will play lot more man-to-man as the season starts with our CB's. I also hope Obi and Conley can step in as rotational pieces by week 1.

 

There is one more element that I'm cautiously optimistic about. That is Pagano's blitz packages. I think we are totally hiding these packages and keeping them for the regular season. That could help a lot against not elite QB's. James, Obi, Karl, Luani, Carrie and even Lee could be really dangerous IMO.

Let's see what happens in pregame3 with Obi in the lineup and maybe some basic gameplanning.

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Yeah good article there!!

 

The Defense was pretty much the same against the Boys. No TE coverage, poor tackling in the back end, minimal pass rush, missing LB level...

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Outsider here.  It was my understanding that, heading into last year, Edwards was going to be bulking up to 285-290 and play a lot of DT on passing downs.  Is that still in the cards, was I misinformed, or...?

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23 minutes ago, Castiron said:

Outsider here.  It was my understanding that, heading into last year, Edwards was going to be bulking up to 285-290 and play a lot of DT on passing downs.  Is that still in the cards, was I misinformed, or...?

I think in their system he operates as a third DT because Irvin comes off the edge so often. It hasn't really been effective however. 

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Honestly covering the TE seems to be a scheme thing that the coaches just don't understand. We could have Kam Chancellor on this defense and they still wouldn't cover the TE. I mean there where several plays where Witten was just plain open which is a problem with zone. People will always be open at some point in a zone scheme. Now I don't think Dak is a bad QB but I shutter at the thought of smart QBs like Rivers Smith Rosthberger and Brady who will exploit those cracks. This defense is too talented frankly to be this bad. 

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27 minutes ago, Chali21 said:

I think in their system he operates as a third DT because Irvin comes off the edge so often. It hasn't really been effective however. 

Thanks, appreciate the info.

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13 minutes ago, Chali21 said:

Honestly covering the TE seems to be a scheme thing that the coaches just don't understand. We could have Kam Chancellor on this defense and they still wouldn't cover the TE. I mean there where several plays where Witten was just plain open which is a problem with zone. People will always be open at some point in a zone scheme. Now I don't think Dak is a bad QB but I shutter at the thought of smart QBs like Rivers Smith Rosthberger and Brady who will exploit those cracks. This defense is too talented frankly to be this bad. 

Every team in the league plays zone coverage at points over the middle like we do. The fact that the guys that will have primary coverage responsibilities are young (Lee, James, Obi and Joseph) and are still learning the nuances of the coverage in the NFL plays to why we are seeing bigger openings tho. They'll get better with experience. Witten has made a career out of finding the soft spots in zones and has consistently been in the top TE in the league in yards and targets.

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