What kind of defense are we trying to build? Long post for discussion (1 Viewer)

guillermo

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I think there is no doubt that coach Payton have decided that this is the time to build a defense. Even when there have been some personel additions during this administration, I think both Payton and Gibbs are considering that they will starting to build from square one.

Now, this is the time when we get excited by the physical abilities and playing of different free agents and rookies. I think however that it is important to understand the design of the defense to then recognize which pieces fit the puzzle better.

For what we have seen during Gibbs' tenure, the scheme is based on stopping the run the first two downs, then to press mainly with linemen and to keep linebackers in support at passing downs. On running downs the safeties are play more on left and right side instead of the classic alignement of strong and free safety. On coverage the safeties play based on assignements more then one playing outfielder and the other supporting the linebackers in the middle. The corners should be aggresive attacking the receivers, and able to keep man coverage, sometimes without much support on first and second downs.

Based on all that I have some questions to ask:

1) On the defensive line, what is more important, to get a disruptive tandem of takles or big ones that can protect the linebackers and safeties to make plays?

2) What kind of linebackers do we need? If we opt for a disruptive tackle is it better to get a big strong middle linebacker who will be able to shed blocks?, If we get a big body can we leave with a MIKE like Vilma (even Rivers who is a WILL) that are not as big but are quick to hit the runner? With relatively small tackles how much a guy like Lance Briggs will really contribute to our defense?

3) Is it really a priority to spend a first rounder on a safety? I know Phillips is a playmaker but will he be able to shine in a scheme where he won't be as free to roam all over the field as an outfielder?

4) Since our defense is not based on attacking from different positions, even when we have a lot of money invested in our ends, wouldn't it make sense to bring a pass rush specialist, even when he would play only in second and third downs?

Payton has said that he finished the evaluation of players. Obviously he also have done the same with his coaches. I really hope that Loomis, Payton and Gibbs have a very clear idea on where to spend the free agency money and then to draft according to players that fit the design of the scheme.
 

zorro37

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Good post, and good questions.

Our coaches cannot just bring in lots of very different players and expect our defense to improve, we need to bring in players depending on the direction we want our defense to go.

In terms of defensive line I think we need to get some disruption in there. We have the ends for it, but as demonstrated when Grant and Smith had an 'off' year, the push up the middle rarely achieved much in terms of disrupting the offensive play. This problem was solved when Grant was rotated inside a few times which is something I would like to see more often now.

With our Linebackers, the example I want us to follow is the Pats. They have built maybe the smartest group of linebackers ever. Vrabel, Seau, Bruschi and Thomas may not be getting in on every play, but they always know why they are in, where they should be, and what they should do. That helps a lot, and was something I saw too often in 2007, Saints LBers looking a bit lost, and not realising where the ball carrier was. We need smart players. I think our defense worked better when Simoneau was quick to swarm the ball in the middle. Fujita is massive, 6'5 250 lbs. Shanle is 6'2, around the same weight, but without the frame Fujita has. I think having someone like Shawn Crable, who looks around the same size as Fujita, on the opposite side, our defense would impose themselves more, and generate more help when rushing the passer and chasing the ball carrier.

Safety is not a first round priority, but is quite a big one. I think Bullocks isn't as much a liability as he is made out to be, but that said he is not the best fit for the way we like to use him. I think Dallas' Ken Hamlin, who isn't a superstar by any means, would get the job done here as he is used to knowing where his place is on the Cowboys defense and gets things done in his space.

I think it would make sense to bring in a pass rush specialist. It is always better to rotate than be one dimensional for us IMO, and if we did rotate Grant inside with Thomas, then we could have 2 great pass rushers generating pressure from the ends, and would get to the QB much quicker and with more speed, as Grant sometimes is very good at just separating the O line away from his teammates, and giving them more room to work.

I would imagine it is clear to our team that we are not at a stage where we are improving our defense, we are essentially building a new one from the ground up, just like we did with our offense when Payton came in. This offseason will be key to our defensive success in the years to come.
 

rlemieux

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1) On the defensive line, what is more important, to get a disruptive tandem of takles or big ones that can protect the linebackers and safeties to make plays?
I think with Gibbs he really wants to try to get pressure with 4 down linemen. He blitzed last year, but he definitly isn't Joe Johnson of Philly bringing blitz every down. I think if you want to get pressure with your front 4 you need 4 things.

- A DT that can hold 2 at the point of attack (Hollis Thomas can be that man at least for a little while)
- A DT that can rush the passer and get into the backfield. While I love Brian Young, and he can do this, he only does this because of his motor not talent. I would love to bring Brian back, but IMHO he needs to be part of a rotation to be sucsessful.
- A DE that can beat single blocking. Both Smith and Grant can be that guy, IMHO they just need to be in better shape to do it consistantly
- A good rotation. If you are depending on 4 guys to stop the run and rush the passer they need to be fresh. You need to get players that can come in and not have so much of a drop off to keep everyone fresh

2) What kind of linebackers do we need? If we opt for a disruptive tackle is it better to get a big strong middle linebacker who will be able to shed blocks?, If we get a big body can we leave with a MIKE like Vilma (even Rivers who is a WILL) that are not as big but are quick to hit the runner? With relatively small tackles how much a guy like Lance Briggs will really contribute to our defense?
I think with the linebackers main responsibility being the second level you need linebackers that can run. You need guy that fly to the ball and that have good cover skills. You don't have to be big and slow to be strong at the point of attack. We need linebackers with speed and that can react just as fast.

3) Is it really a priority to spend a first rounder on a safety? I know Phillips is a playmaker but will he be able to shine in a scheme where he won't be as free to roam all over the field as an outfielder?
Phillips isn't as good as most here think and Bullocks isn't as bad as most think either. Personally, I liked the play of Bullocks (minus about 3 games). I also think that Harper was the much bigger problem. However, each are talented guys and I don't see them trying to replace them next year. I also like having Keasviharn as depth. We have three promising safeties, we have much bigger issues.

4) Since our defense is not based on attacking from different positions, even when we have a lot of money invested in our ends, wouldn't it make sense to bring a pass rush specialist, even when he would play only in second and third downs?
I think you will see an honest effort, either through the draft or free agency, to bring in a DE that gets after the QB. If you're going to pressure the QB with 4, you need a guy like a Mark Anderson that has speed to get around the edge and push the pocket from the back to the front.

Payton has said that he finished the evaluation of players. Obviously he also have done the same with his coaches. I really hope that Loomis, Payton and Gibbs have a very clear idea on where to spend the free agency money and then to draft according to players that fit the design of the scheme.
I think they have a clear plan on who they want to bring in, who they wanto bring back and who they hope is around when they draft. However, I think our success depends on being able to sale New Orleans to big time free agents. I think some of our best sale tactics will have to come in the form of players. Guys like Drew and Reggie need to be active in recruiting for us to have any success. I think they realize that last years sit back and wait approach (pretty much what we are known for) hasn't worked and probably won't work again. The one year we have had what I would call success was Payton's first year, and they were very active. We need to front office active and we need to include everything we have to attract possible free agents.
 
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DarkBuddha

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wont it break your heart when we draft a WR in the first ?
 

BigDSaintsFan

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I think the most important thing is to get players to fit your scheme and fit what you want to do. After watching this defense for 2 years I'm not sure what the defensive philosophy is.
 

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DT: one of each: gobble up space/stuff the run/keep our LB's clean with the big one; collpase the pocket and take away the step forward into the pocket from the QB with the fast one.

LBers: keep Fujita, add a day one rookie and a FA... they must be fast and strong, capable of covering TE's and absolute sure tacklers.

CB's yes add a day one pick, not a first round pick. In fact we need youth and a TOP SHELF FA aquisition. So take another one day #2 for youth too.

S's... KK seems good enough... Josh seems confused... and Roman may have experienced the sophomore slump. However they do it they must have safeties that are capable of run support when needed (this goes to the linebacker improvement... if they do their job better than our safeties won't need to be so run/play action fake susceptible) but are deep pass big play stopping machines. On that aspect coaching needs to be better and the players need to find a way not to look so clueless. Our safety play was pure crap IMO. I think it was the weak link in our D.
 
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DownWithDisease

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1) On the defensive line, what is more important, to get a disruptive tandem of takles or big ones that can protect the linebackers and safeties to make plays?

2) What kind of linebackers do we need? If we opt for a disruptive tackle is it better to get a big strong middle linebacker who will be able to shed blocks?, If we get a big body can we leave with a MIKE like Vilma (even Rivers who is a WILL) that are not as big but are quick to hit the runner? With relatively small tackles how much a guy like Lance Briggs will really contribute to our defense?

3) Is it really a priority to spend a first rounder on a safety? I know Phillips is a playmaker but will he be able to shine in a scheme where he won't be as free to roam all over the field as an outfielder?

4) Since our defense is not based on attacking from different positions, even when we have a lot of money invested in our ends, wouldn't it make sense to bring a pass rush specialist, even when he would play only in second and third downs?
Good post and evaluation. :9:

1. As far as the DTs go, I think we need to add another big bodied guy (in the mold of Hollis Thomas) and a guy that can provide a pass-rush up the middle. So my answer would be... we need one disruptor, and one big body.

2. "What kind of LBs do we need?" The simple answer is, better ones. IMHO though, that really is the case... We need more talented guys manning the WLB and MLB spots. Shanle and Simoneau are simply not starting quality players.

3. I really don't think that a FS should be a 1st round priority, but an upgrade at FS is needed. I'd be happy if they just gave the job to Kevin Kaesviharn for next season, and see what he could do for a full season as the starter. Bullocks just isn't the guy.

4. I don't think we would need a "pass-rush specialist" per say... but it would be nice. If we can make the needed upgrades and DT and LB, our pass-rush should improve. Our DEs were able to get upfield consistently last season (yes,they could've been better) but the fact that we had no push up the middle really hurt us. That coupled with the fact that Simoneau and Shanle couldn't even cover a blocking FB spelled disaster.
 

bobad

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I think there is no doubt that coach Payton have decided that this is the time to build a defense.

That's fine and good until Payton drafts 3 offensive players in the top 5 choices. :banghead:



1) On the defensive line, what is more important, to get a disruptive tandem of takles or big ones that can protect the linebackers and safeties to make plays?
Good question. Dilemma here. The D/L currently plays a disciplined gap filling run defense, and it's working. Problem is, it takes away from an all-out pass rush. I guess a pair of strong run-stopping LB's would allow our DL to concentrate more on the pass rush without being vulnerable to the run.

2) What kind of linebackers do we need? If we opt for a disruptive tackle is it better to get a big strong middle linebacker who will be able to shed blocks?
LB's in that category are just as rare as "cover corners". I'm sure Payton would love to have one, but good luck finding one!

3) Is it really a priority to spend a first rounder on a safety? I know Phillips is a playmaker but will he be able to shine in a scheme where he won't be as free to roam all over the field as an outfielder?
The patriots could plug in any average NFL safety, and he would look great. That's because of their DL and LB's. For the most part, I think the DL and LB's should be top priority. That said, if you run across an exceptional safety, it's hard to pass him up.

4) Since our defense is not based on attacking from different positions, even when we have a lot of money invested in our ends, wouldn't it make sense to bring a pass rush specialist, even when he would play only in second and third downs?
The Saints apparently agree with you. That's what Young was intended for. :dunno:


Payton has said that he finished the evaluation of players. Obviously he also have done the same with his coaches. I really hope that Loomis, Payton and Gibbs have a very clear idea on where to spend the free agency money and then to draft according to players that fit the design of the scheme.
Loomis and Payton are very bright people. They know exactly what the team's needs are. Sometimes their decisions don't make sense to us, because we don't know all the details that led to their decision. On top of that, even bright people make a few mistakes. I'm hopeful we will do a lot better than last year.
 
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guillermo

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http://www.kffl.com/static/nfl/features/freeagents/fa.php?option=DL&y=2008

Interesting points all around. I checked the link of the free-agents from this offseason, and to be honest, I am not sure where the saints will spend the money. I think most of the big names will be franchised (Allen, Suggs, Trufant, maybe even Haynesworth) so after that it is not clear on the best prospects to sign.

If you follow the example of the best ones, I would try to sign several linebackers to compete. I am not talking about stars like Briggs, but others that for some reason have not been able to shine with their current teams. specifically I would bring Teddy Lehman and Dontarrius Thomas (and yes, maybe even Bobby Carpenter), all great linebackers in college that had less the stellar careers in the NFL.

Finally, one quick observation. It seems interesting to me that coach Payton, being as aggressive as he is, will not demand from his defensive coordinator a more attacking approach on defense. I think the reason is that they are trying to force 3-and-outs instead of going for the quick take-away or sack.

My point is that they are not looking for a dominant defense, but a reliable one.
 

saintmdterps

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Good post, Guillermo! I tend to agree with atceagle in that until we correct the turnover ratio, all is nought, and we will hover around .500. In order to do this, we need playmakers, which sounds cliche but is true. We need help at linebacker so we can run more linebacker blitzes. Same with the secondary. Until we have 2 serviceable corners, there can be no safety/corner blitzes.

None of this works without the correct coaching scheme. I just hope Gibbs knows his **** well enough to correct the mistakes of the last two years.
 

bobad

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I think the reason is that they are trying to force 3-and-outs instead of going for the quick take-away or sack.

My point is that they are not looking for a dominant defense, but a reliable one.

I think you hit the nail on the head. Thus the disciplined run defense approach. It's almost like the Saints try to make their opponents abandon the run and play a long passing game. If they score, so what? If we can make a few defensive stops, we will score more. :covri:

That being the strategy, DL aren't a great need. Instead, we will need to sign cover corners and LB's that are agile enough to stop the short and intermediate passing game.
 
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NCSaint

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Hopefully one not led by Gary Gibbs. I swear I really do believe he teaches our guys to NOT hurt the QB. I have seen where our guys could have at least pushed the boundary at least slightly in getting licks in on a QB but not our guys. We rarely even sniff the QB's jersery. I am a firm believer in a kill the QB defense...at least make him self pick his butt up on every play. Even run into him and let him hold you up...it wears on them over the course of a game.
 

Taurus

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Since we seem wedded to the 4-3 for now, even though Gibbs' experience is primarily with the 3-4, I wouldn't mind seeing us go with a defense like Seattle uses.

The front four are tasked with getting upfield instantly after the snap. Get after the passer or redirect/tackle the tailback. They can afford to do that because they have three good, fast linebackers to clean up on running plays.

Seattle also zone blitzes fairly often, dropping Tapp or Kerney into coverage while one or more of the LBs brings the heat.

Obviously, Seattle's secondary is lightyears ahead of ours, but we need another corner no matter what defensive philosophy we go with. We also need at least two more LBs no matter what.

With Smith, Grant, Thomas and Young as our mainstays on the line, I think we can implement the Rhodes/Marshall type of defense with a minimum expenditure and with the greatest success.

With the right LBs and secondary acquisitions, we might even be able to do Seattle one better, since Smith is a much more accomplished end than Tapp.
 

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Since we seem wedded to the 4-3 for now, even though Gibbs' experience is primarily with the 3-4, I wouldn't mind seeing us go with a defense like Seattle uses.

The front four are tasked with getting upfield instantly after the snap. Get after the passer or redirect/tackle the tailback. They can afford to do that because they have three good, fast linebackers to clean up on running plays.

Seattle also zone blitzes fairly often, dropping Tapp or Kerney into coverage while one or more of the LBs brings the heat.

Obviously, Seattle's secondary is lightyears ahead of ours, but we need another corner no matter what defensive philosophy we go with. We also need at least two more LBs no matter what.

With Smith, Grant, Thomas and Young as our mainstays on the line, I think we can implement the Rhodes/Marshall type of defense with a minimum expenditure and with the greatest success.

With the right LBs and secondary acquisitions, we might even be able to do Seattle one better, since Smith is a much more accomplished end than Tapp.
I think we are alot closer to have a Seattle like secondary then it appears. If we pick Rivers in the first and Mayo in the 2nd our LB troubles are solved (on paper at least). Then hopefully MM can return, we pick up a Safety and a CB in FA to compete with who we have, and maybe draft a corner in the 3rd round.

This defense could have a totally different look next year.
 
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guillermo

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Great post Taurus. I think the first step in the construction of the defense was made this week with the hiring of Orgeron. Next step is the selection of a new coach for the secondary. If they bring someone like Dennis Thurman or Vic Fangio of the ravens, the we can think that maybe the system will change.

I am not expecting the same system with different players for next season. I think we can see a total change of the approach and Seattle can be a model to follow.
 

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