Originally posted by NCommand:
He's also become pretty darn slow over the years (e.g. screen passes), a result of putting on a lot of weight and perhaps, b/c of the injury and motivation?
Also remember most LBers ARE good against the run and sealing the edge...Brooks had more TFL's, Haralson isn't as bad as some say (though he was a college DE originally). Manny is easily replaceable esp. in this new 3-4.
I will say this again, the best 3-4 defenses, the OLB's generate 1/2 of the teams overall sacks - the SAM and WILL are your PLAY-MAKERS! The best 3-4 defense hover around 60% and that is what every 3-4 team aspires too (except Manusky and his vanilla schemes); good luck in San Diego!
Then we get into the scheme? You put a Manny Lawson on Green Bay or Pittsburgh, he would be benched like he was his rookie year in SF when he was playing the WILL and couldn't get to the QB. Ppl claim we haven't USED him properly in the pass rush? Are you kidding me...go to FootballOutsiders and review his whole career esp. in 2009 when we hired a pass rushing specialist coach, Manny was almost exclusively used to pass rush...but eventually, whether it was Nolan or Manusky, it was obvious, he just couldn't do it. Period. And now we are going to a Dom Capers defense and you want to retain Manny b/c suddenly THAT will make him a great pass rusher? Laughable! Face it ppl, Manny is a liability in the 3-4 and if you really like his skill-set, you'll wish him the best when HE chooses to go to a 4-3 defense, ala Julian Peterson.
And why throw in Haralson into the mix? He's already signed LT and he's going nowhere? And he has shown that when focusing on just pass rushing (e.g. the #1 responsibility of the WILL/SAM and really, all four LBers), he did very well coming in off the bench, oddly enough.
In the end, make no mistake about it, it will be MANNY who chooses to leave, just like with Alex.
Ppl need to let go of the old Nolan/Manusky 3-4 hybrid vanilla defenses and the players who played in it. That is ancient history and the philosophical shift has already taken hold...it may take a few years to acquire all the right pieces but those pieces will be hand-picked to fit this new philsophy, a proven one at that (e.g. watch the Superbowl)!
Excellent post, as always.
A little long, so I cut it down to the points I want to address. Hope you don't mind.
Each numbered section will be in response to the paragraphs in order, so that it'll be easier to understand what I am referring to and reply. Damn, I'm really not type A, so this is hard.
1) He has lost speed, I agree. I don't think he is slow, though. He still has enough speed to cover tight ends one on one... unless it's Vernon Davis. Covering a screen pass has very little to do with speed and more to do with recognizing it as it develops. If you are in the correct position, you will be fine. Nose tackles cover screen passes quite often.
2) Sealing the edge is not about making a tackle. You know that as well as I do. The main responsibility is to force the play back inside by pushing and turning the blocker on the edge so that there is no running lane. Manny Lawson is better at doing this than any player on the team, IMO. We've discussed it before and you know that our weakness against the run is... on the weak side. Wow, that sounds silly. Hehe... Anyway, Haralson is awful at setting the edge. If I had to take a guess, I would bet that a majority of his TFL are a result of a cutback by the running back made after they realized the strong side edge was sealed. The most run plays against us went to the strong side, but we stopped the run better there than anywhere else.
3) In Green Bay Clay Matthews had 13.5 sacks. Erik Walden was the only other OLB to record a sack... he had 3. The Packers had 47 sacks as a team on the season.
In Baltimore Suggs had 11 sacks. Jarrett Johnson had 1.5. Ravens only had 27 sacks on the season.
The Patriots OLBs are even worse than ours, but their defense isn't exactly good. Tully Banta-Cain was their best with 5 sacks.
In Kansas City Tamba Hali had 14.5 sacks. Andy Studebaker had 2.5. Chiefs had 38 sacks on the season.
The Jets OLBs are much like ours and the Patriots. Bryan Thomas was the best with 6 sacks.
The only 3-4 team that has two dominant OLBs rushing the passer is the Steelers.
4) Ah, scheme. Check out the last set of stats. Would you say Lawson could be a viable option in Dom Capers defense now? Personally, I'll let Fangio decide if Lawson fits the scheme. If he does, then they can decide what he's worth. Pretty simple. To say that changing scheme will make no difference is just plain wrong, though. Put Clay Matthews in our scheme last season and see if he gets 13.5 sacks. You know that he is a good pass rusher, but that he is helped out by Dom Capers scheme. He's put in position to run free to the QB because of creative blitzes and this increased his sack totals. In our vanilla defense, he'd be at a huge disadvantage. Will Lawson put up 13.5 sacks in Capers defense? I doubt it. He'd be the "other" OLB. The guy that keeps contain and pressure so that the best pass rusher can get the QB. That's scheme.
5) Haralson was the weak link in our front seven last season. If you can't recognize that from just watching the games, I'll find statistics for you. Will a change of scheme help him? I'll let Fangio decide.
6) We'll see what happens. I don't know what this coaching staff wants. Neither do you.
7) Yes, let go of the soft serve vanilla defense! Wait... we already did. Hooray! Now let's see if the players do a better job with a better scheme. With Lawson or without him, our players will be used differently. They might even be used in a way that emphasizes their strengths! Wow, what a concept!
The Steelers and the Packers both run the same base alignment, the 3-4. They both have coordinators with similar schematic philosophies. However, they are very different defenses. If you want to watch the Super Bowl and get an idea about the scheme we will run next season, I think you should focus on the Packers.
My final point: Consider this... Baalke has said that he believes a 3-4 OLB should #1) Rush the passer. #2) Set the edge. #3) Play a little coverage. I agree, personally... but the question is, will Fangio?
Clay Matthews did not fit Baalke's mold at USC. He's been pretty successful in Dom Capers defense. So, we're going to have to wait and see what happens....
I think we can at least be pretty confident that our defense will be aggressive next season.
If there is a season....