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So how do you fix the defense?


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A lot has been made of the defensive struggles, and where there is smoke there is fire.  We allowed 424 yards of offense to the Chargers, and 391 to the Giants.  After re-watching the games, here are three things I think we have to do to get a better performance out of this unit:  

1.) Bench Jon Bostic.  It seems like everyone knows that except Del Rio and Rivera.  Yes, he can QB the defense, but the Giants immediately went after Bostic on Thursday.  We can not defend RBs and TE out of the backfield, and will struggle to apply a spy to a mobile QB because Bostic is on the field.  

At this point, I’d argue replacing him with Jamin Davis causes us to lose nothing.  What we might lose in knowledge of the defense and veteran poise, we can with athleticism to help cover RB/TE and mobile QBs.  Bostic is going to struggle regardless, Davis might struggle but his athleticism will keep him in those battles.  

2.) Switch safeties around.  Right now, we have two strong safeties on the field in Landon Collins and Kamren Curl.  Collins is still terrible in coverage, and I move him to the bench.  Curl, who is a much better strong safety when he doesn’t have to worry about deep coverage, moves there, and Bobby McCain takes over at free safety.  

We can’t put Collins at LB right now, because I don’t think you make that move without an off-season of preparation, but not being able to cover the middle of the field with a competent MLB and FS/SS combination is really hurting this defense right now and we will continue to struggle against the quick pass.   However, like Bostic, Rivera and Del Rio are fans of veteran players and will hold off as long as possible before benching him.  

Kendall Fuller has struggled in the slot this year, and if I recall, some of those struggles were present last year at times.  Fuller is also a candidate to move to FS as well.  

3.) We need to blitz more.  We have a great defensive line, and all of those guys can win in one on one situations.  However, there are times when we are not getting the needed push.  I am not advocating for us to blitz all of the time, but we have to be strategic.  No matter how good the coverage is, eventually things will break down, even if the opposing offense is keeping in other offensive players to scheme more protection.  We have athletes at all levels, and need to use them to bring creative pressure.

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They’re stuck with Fuller in the slot. They made their decision on that when they cut Moreland unless we are playing McTyer in the slot over a Fuller and then St. Juste doesn’t play, which doesn’t make sense to me at all.
 

How do we know that moving Fuller to FS isn’t going to be a disaster?

Your point about not moving Collins to Lb right now bc it should’ve been done in the off-season seems like a reason we shouldn’t move Fuller to FS after two games when he hasn’t played there since he was with the Chiefs and he didn’t play at FS for the Chiefs full time either, it was an occasional thing.

If we are benching Bostic for Jamin Davis entirely, who plays our 3rd LB? Who plays WLB? Are we starting Khaleke Hudson at WLB? 
 

To me it still seems the best move is to play Collins at WLB, he knows how to play around the like of scrimmage, he knows how to drop into short zones, cover the short flats & cover backs out of the backfield. 
 

The moves to me are, bench Bostic, have Holcomb call the defense, move Collins to WLB & have Collins in the game with Holcomb in the nickel at LB.

Start McCain at FS, start Curl at SS again.

 

Edited by turtle28
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2 minutes ago, RSkinGM said:

looks to me the "times" are bout 95 %

I will admit, this could get fixed if you had competent MLB coverage.  Right now, the short passing attack kills us because the middle of the field is wide open because Bostic is terrible in coverage, and Collins is a complete coverage liability too.  Improve that, and teams have to try and move up the field, which will give our DL time to get home.  Right now, though, they have to get creative and hope to get someone through the holes and create pressure early after the snap.  

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1 minute ago, turtle28 said:

They’re stuck with Fuller in the slot. They made their decision on that when they cut Moreland. 
 

How do we know that moving Fuller to FS isn’t going to be a disaster? Your point about not moving Collins to Lb right now bc it should’ve been done in the off-season seems like a reason we shouldn’t move Fuller to FS after two games when he hasn’t played there since he was with the Chiefs and he didn’t play at FS for the Chiefs full time either, it was an occasional thing.

If we are benching Bostic for Jamin Davis entirely, who plays our 3rd LB? Who plays WLB? Are we starting Khaleke Hudson at WLB? 
 

To me it still seems the best move is to play Collins at WLB, he knows how to play around the like of scrimmage, he knows how to drop into short zones, cover the short flats & cover backs out of the backfield. 
 

The moves to me are, bench Bostic, have Holcomb call the defense, move Collins to WLB & have Collins in the game with Holcomb in the nickel at LB.

Start McCain at FS, start Curl at SS again.

 

Moving Fuller isn’t my first choice, but at least he has experience at FS, which Collins does not have at LB.  That is something I am confident will not happen this year, so I don’t think it’s worth discussing.  

Honestly, anything is better than Bostic now.  I’m happy taking Hudson into the lineup at WLB, and he might actually help the pass rush from time to time as well, as that was one of his strengths at Michigan.  

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4 minutes ago, naptownskinsfan said:

Moving Fuller isn’t my first choice, but at least he has experience at FS, which Collins does not have at LB.  That is something I am confident will not happen this year, so I don’t think it’s worth discussing.  

Honestly, anything is better than Bostic now.  I’m happy taking Hudson into the lineup at WLB, and he might actually help the pass rush from time to time as well, as that was one of his strengths at Michigan.  

Well then my answer for moving Fuller to FS would be the same, I am confident that will NOT happen this year, so it’s not even worth discussing.

Also, while I definitely would love to see Hudson get the nod over Bostic, I don’t see rush happening this year either. So, why discuss it?

Oh wait, I thought that was this thread was supposed to be about… discussing the defense? But no, I can’t do that bc I want to move Collins to Lb bc he plays like a WLB? Sure ok dude, whatever…

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1 minute ago, turtle28 said:

Well then my answer for moving Fuller to FS would be the same, I am confident that will NOT happen this year, so it’s not even worth discussing.

Also, while I definitely would love to see Hudson get the nod over Bostic, I don’t see rush happening this year either. So, why discuss it?

Oh wait, I thought that was this thread was supposed to be about… discussing the defense? But no, I can’t do that bc I want to move Collins to Lb bc he plays like a WLB? Sure ok dude, whatever…

I don’t think it’s worth discussing it.  Doesn’t mean you can’t with other people.  

Not sure why you are going after me.  

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41 minutes ago, naptownskinsfan said:

I don’t think it’s worth discussing it.  Doesn’t mean you can’t with other people.  

Not sure why you are going after me.  

Bc it seems to ridiculous to me to not make a move that obviously would improve our LB play & coverage at safety by having McCain strictly at FS & Curl back to SS. I’m tired of people acting like Collins doesn’t play like a LB, when he’s always played like a Lb - even in college. He plays like a smaller version of Cole Holcomb. The move would fix our Lb issues a lot, immediately bc he could attack the line of scrimmage downhill which is his best feature as a player. He also would be an upgrade I  coverage over Bostic so, it would really fix a lot of issues on the back 7 of our D immediately IMO.

I’m 100% with you though if they’re not going to move Collins to WLB, they need to bench Bostic for Hudson. I don’t think JDR & Rivera will do it, but they need to. It was obviously this preseason that Hudson should be starting over Bostic or they needed to keep Bostic at MLB in base D & have Jamin Davis at WLB & dime LB with Holcomb/Davis together when we’re in the nickel.

Edited by turtle28
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I would say we need to trade for Jordan Hicks to improve our LB corps. He wasn’t happy after the Cardinals drafted Zaven Collins and

He said he wanted traded bc the writing was on the wall that they wanted Isaiah Simmons & Zaven Collins to be their LBs after drafting them both in round 1 two straight drafts but, last week Jordan Hicks started and he played 95% of the snaps so it seems that he’s going to be their starter and they won’t be trading him.

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8 minutes ago, turtle28 said:

Bc it seems to ridiculous to me to not make a move that obviously would improve our LB play & coverage at safety by having McCain strictly at FS & Curl back to SS. I’m tired of people acting like Collins doesn’t play like a LB, when he’s always played like a Lb - even in college. He plays like a smaller version of Cole Holcomb. The move would fix our Lb issues a lot, immediately bc he could attack the line of scrimmage downhill which is his best feature as a player. He also would be an upgrade I  coverage over Bostic so, it would really fix a lot of issues on the back 7 of our D immediately IMO.

I’m 100% with you though if they’re not going to move Collins to WLB, they need to bench Bostic for Hudson. I don’t think JDR & Rivera will do it, but they need to. It was obviously this preseason that Hudson should be starting over Bostic or they needed to keep Bostic at MLB in base D & have Jamin Davis at WLB & dime LB with Holcomb when we’re in the nickel.

I don’t think a player like Collins changes positions mid-season.  I wouldn’t have minded it in the off-season- though I also wouldn’t have minded if we decided to cut him.  As the last mistake of Bruce Allen, I would like to move on, but that’s neither here nor there.  

However, moving a guy like Collins, who also came out and flat out refused to do it earlier in the off-season, isn’t something you do right now.  May not even be practical.  At least with Fuller, he’s played there before, but “playing like a LB” and actually playing the position are two different things.  They are different positions, with drastically different responsibilities.  And, if you heard Rivera talking after the Chargers game, he wants the team to nail their assignments.  This defense is very similar to Gregg Williams and that you need disciplined players, playing in their gaps and nailing their assignments.  It is going to be impossible for Collins to make that transition here and now.  

And I even admitted with Fuller that it’s not the best option.  We are likely stuck with Fuller where he is.  

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1 minute ago, Woz said:

It is also an open question whether Jack Del Rio can actually make those in season adjustments.

I don’t think he can. He & Ron have been playing this type of defense, this exact way for nearly 20 years. They’re not making moves that would be out of the box to improve the D. They’ll keep the players where they are and play who they’re playing now, they think that’s their best 11-15 guys who play.

They’re going to coach them up like last year and expect them to improve as the season goes on as they probably will but as some of us worried about this defense was being overhyped all off-season. They’re good, but not great. It’s more than likely good to be a defense that ends up ranking in the teens rather than the single digits and that will mostly be bc of Bostic’s poor play in coverage & Collins’s poor play when he’s asked to play intermediate to deep coverage.

I do expect that our DL, all of the corners, Jamin Davis and McCain at FS will get better in this defense as the season moves on. I don’t think that’s enough to make us a top 10 D, especially vs the offenses we have to defend this year but, we’ll see.

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I’m already scouting LBs we can take in round 2 & the mid rounds next year to greatly improve our talent, speed & coverage ability at LB and there seems to be a ton of great prospects. I’m excited about them!

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11 minutes ago, Woz said:

It is also an open question whether Jack Del Rio can actually make those in season adjustments.

We were the first defense to be a top 10 defense changing schemes in NFL history.  It also happened during the Covid year.  A lot has changed since then.  We got overhyped, and our players believed it.  

We also have two very big weaknesses.  One, is the ability right now to defense RB/WR and slot WR’s, positions where you move the chains with short, quick passes.  We’ve had this weakness for a couple seasons.  The other, is that our best safeties aren’t playing right now, in the positions where they need to play to be successful.  

A couple lineup changes won’t make this defense any worse than it is.  But it does have the potential to make us better.  

But you are correct……..Rivera and Del Rio aren’t going to sit veterans this early, and they love guys like Bostic who can stick to their assignments, even if they are a weakness there athletically.  

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I would say the terrible LB corp is the reason why this defense sucks. If you’re going to run a nickel set 90% of the time then Bostic cannot be one of the two LBs out there. Holcomb is good. Davis is basically nothing right now and we have no idea what Hudson is because they won’t play him. I still cannot believe McKinney hasn’t been signed yet. 

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