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Let's Discuss the Secondary

We finished the year as the 4th overall defense which is measured by yards. We were 16th in passing yards on defense, 1st against the run, and 2nd in points given up. I think we were the #1 defense... to me yards is a bad way to measure defenses. Anyways, so 16th in pass defense at 230.9 per game. I'm pretty happy with that. I know most of us thought CB would be a huge area of concern even after we signed Carlos. Overall, though he did well, Brown improved tremendously and Culliver played very well especially for a rookie. We can use this thread to discuss the secondary and your thoughts on it relating to the draft, off season/free agency and anything else. My thoughts are below.

Here's a few questions to get the discussion going:

1. Who's gone, who stays?
2. Are you comfortable giving Goldson a long term big money deal?
3. Would you be comfortable going into next year with Brown, Culliver and Brock as 1, 2 and 3 if Rogers leaves? Or would you use a high draft pick to get our 3rd corner?
4. Are you comfortable with our safety depth if Williams and Reggie Smith leave? Should we sign an outside free agent? Jones and Spillman suitable backups or just special teams guys?
5. Is Culliver a future #1 or 2?
6. Is there a quick replacement in free agency or the draft that you think could fill the gap of Goldson if he left?
7. Do you like our bend don't break style? More press coverage? Do you want more or less CB/S blitzes next year?
8. If we do re-sign Rogers leaving him, Brown, Culliver and Brock do you still want to draft a CB because of Rogers age? High or low pick?
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CB:
Tarell Brown - He will be back for sure and is signed through the 2013 season. He really rejuvenated his career this year. He played well in the past but really fell off last year. This year he started off rough, gave up some long plays but played solid most of the season. His big problem though is he gives up a few big plays. He's really solid on underneath stuff. I see him as a possible #1 or #2 next year. He was put on the other team's quicker guys this year. He's faster than Rogers who was put on the bigger WRs.

Chris Culliver - Played really well but can afford to grow up a bit on and off the field. He got beat at times this year but usually was right there with the WR. He seemed over confident at times. He has the potential to be a #1 though. I see him eventually being a 1 or 2 and could even be #2 this year if Rogers leaves. So he's back and at worst is #3 next year just like he was this year.

Tramaine Brock - He hurt his hand and was out a good chunk of time. Played special teams a lot and we usually don't use 4 CBs so he didn't get much work. He looked pretty good when he was in there but what makes him look worse is he gave up two huge plays this season. One where he slipped and Austin scored right before halftime after Brooks' offside call. Two the 3rd and 15 against the Giants for a Manningham TD. Game could have been different if he didn't give that up. He was right there and kind of went for the tackle instead of the breakup. I like him as anywhere from a 3-4 moving forward... preferably 4 for now.

Carlos Rogers - I'm surprised at how many people think Carlos is looking for big money. He's been on a bad team and played for a bad organization. He wants to win, he was a #9 pick so he should have plenty of money. He loves the organization and we love him. I would give him a 2-4 year deal as I think that's about all he has left. He is slowing a bit and will be more so as the years go by. Anyone worried about the 1st half with him on Cruz I can tell you that matchup shouldn't have happened. We adjusted it at half time and fixed it. He's covered the bigger Wrs all year where Brown has covered the faster (cruz type) guys. I think more than anything though he was playing really careful and to not lose his footing. He looked worried about that... and didn't want to give anything big up. He fell once and Whitner saved a TD. I don't expect him to be getting 6 ints every year though. People will crucify him if we way over pay him and he gives up yardage without getting the pics. I would say 2-4 years at 5-7 a year. At most I'd give him about 20-22 million.

Breakdown:
Starters: Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Tramaine Brock
Starters: Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, High Draft Pick/Vet FA, Tramaine Brock
Gone: Shawntae Spencer

We hardly used 4 CBs this year so not much need for a 5th CB. If we do have a 5th we have Curtis Holcomb coming back or possibly a draft pick/FA.
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FS:
Dashon Goldson - Very small chance he isn't back next year. Worst case scenario we franchise tag him at 6.5 million. I'd like to get a long term deal out. I don't think there are any safeties out there in free agency that we could sign that would instantly make up for losing Goldson. Same with the draft. This is a pretty weak class for FS's.

CJ Spillman - He should be back for at least a 1 year deal worth 420,000 or so. Do we sign him to that or do what we did with Boone and re-up him for 4 years (or at least more than 1)? He's also done a good job at FS the few plays he has played. Not sure I would want him starting but I think he is good enough to back up Goldson. Might have to get one vet safety if Williams leaves.

SS:
Donte Whitner - Played really well his 1st season and is signed for 2 more years. Was great against the run, pretty solid against the pass. Gave up a few plays but is light years better than Roman and a bit better than Michael Lewis in his prime with us and much better than when Lewis fell off.

Colin Jones - Great special teamer but I don't think he got any reps at SS all year.

Breakdown:
Starters: Goldson, Whitner
Depth: CJ Spillman, Colin Jones
Possibly Gone: Reggie Smith, Madieu Williams

I'm a little worried about the safety depth. I doubt Reggie Smith is back and if he isn't I'm not sure I trust Jones (who's been great on ST) to backup Whitner. I think we need to draft or sign a vet who can play SS mainly and possibly even FS. Not sure if we bring back Madieu Williams but he wouldn't cost much and is a good vet presence although I wouldn't want him playing other than ST.
[ Edited by Gore_21 on Feb 2, 2012 at 6:46 AM ]
Just so the 1st post don't look as long. As for the CB/S blitzes on obvious passing downs I think we maybe did 5 all year long. 1 I think was the big play where Goldson blitzed from way to far back and didn't get there and I think Brown gave up the long TD to one of the Giants WRs. I think another was on Brandon Lloyd's long TD catch late in the last game against the Rams. I think Carlos or someone came from the left side and got blocked. Was there one against the Cowboys or Cardinals? Seems like every time we did it we ended up giving up a long play. I don't like it... we play bend don't break. We didn't really send the ILB's much this year. I'd rather send one of them then our CBs and safeties that have no practice blitzing. Maybe we practice it and get better for next year. I'd rather just not do it. Even thought he secondary is solid they are still a weak link (if you can call them that) on our great defense. No reason to take away an extra cover guy on your weakest defensive spot.
[ Edited by Gore_21 on Feb 2, 2012 at 6:34 AM ]
1. Who's gone, who stays? Williams, Smith, and Spencer are gone.

2. Are you comfortable giving Goldson a long term big money deal? I think he earned it. He's not perfect. But you should pay a guy that you draft in the 5th round and he becomes a starter and pro bowler. Give him a fair market deal for safeties.

3. Would you be comfortable going into next year with Brown, Culliver and Brock as 1, 2 and 3 if Rogers leaves? Or would you use a high draft pick to get our 3rd corner? Wouldn't be comfortable at all with that combo. Would love to see them grab Janoris Jenkins if Rogers leaves. If he stays I would still like to add a corner in the draft at some point.

4. Are you comfortable with our safety depth if Williams and Reggie Smith leave? Should we sign an outside free agent? Jones and Spillman suitable backups or just special teams guys? Really haven't seen Jones and Spillman in action to tell if they are just special team guys. They would have to add a guy for depth.

5. Is Culliver a future #1 or 2? Jury still out for me. There are time when he's in good position but he never makes a play on the ball. He should become a solid 2

6. Is there a quick replacement in free agency or the draft that you think could fill the gap of Goldson if he left? 7. Do you like our bend don't break style? More press coverage? Do you want more or less CB/S blitzes next year? 8. If we do re-sign Rogers leaving him, Brown, Culliver and Brock do you still want to draft a CB because of Rogers age? High or low pick? Markell Martin would be a solid replacement, but after him I'm not too sure how well the safety prospects look. Might have to find a guy in free agency. But I'm sure they would franchise Goldson. As far as the CB/S blitzes I would say they could be at about the same level. It's all about when you do it and who you are playing. a lot of times this year Goldson or Whitner have made tackles in the backfield on running plays. It just seems like it rarely creates a sack. Sometimes you have to take chances though. But they need to figure out how to get the linebackers involved. I need to see the double a gap blitz from Willis and Bowman. I'm not really sure they have a bend but don't break style. With all these teams passing defensively that forces you to rely more on your front 7 and drop a extra guy in coverage. So if your front 7 isn't getting it done that tends to lead to giving up more yardage. Plus I don't think they put in anything complex with the short off season. As the season went on you seen a ton of different looks in certain packages with multiple guys stunting in the front 4.
  • 9er2k
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We need a veteran CB out there besides Rogers to help out
The CBS we have now are good enough to win a sb easy....but we could always upgrade
Originally posted by lamontb:
As far as the CB/S blitzes I would say they could be at about the same level. It's all about when you do it and who you are playing. a lot of times this year Goldson or Whitner have made tackles in the backfield on running plays. It just seems like it rarely creates a sack. Sometimes you have to take chances though. But they need to figure out how to get the linebackers involved. I need to see the double a gap blitz from Willis and Bowman. I'm not really sure they have a bend but don't break style. With all these teams passing defensively that forces you to rely more on your front 7 and drop a extra guy in coverage. So if your front 7 isn't getting it done that tends to lead to giving up more yardage. Plus I don't think they put in anything complex with the short off season. As the season went on you seen a ton of different looks in certain packages with multiple guys stunting in the front 4.

Yeah, I was referring to blitzing them in obvious passing situations. They definitely creeped up or blitzed in obvious run downs a lot this year. You are right, that's where you see that hit in the backfield. That's fine... just not a big fan of them on obvious passing downs. We don't have any LeRoy Butler's that can for sure get to the QB. If you don't get there or bounce off it's usually a big play.

I meant to ask if people are happy with our pass defense and the scheme we play. Yeah, we are going to give up yards due to shutting down the run. Bend don't break is kind of what we do... it's not like Manusky's bend don't break. We actually don't break.

Here's another question... do you guys like Patrick shadowing RBs/TEs? It's seemed to work fairly well as he has taken a lot of them out of the game but some of the better TEs got their TDs even if he had great coverage. He definitely was playing great coverage for a LB but might be best to put a tall big CB on those tall big TEs especially the Graham type that are like WRs.
CB: If we lose Rogers then we need to draft a corner high in the draft or sign a good vetern. If we keep Rogers I'd still maybe draft one int he middle somewhere. I hope we keep Rogers and I think he is a top 10 corner.

S: If we lose Goldson we are in some troube. They better resign Reggie Smith if we do and i dont think he is the answer. I can see Goldson asking for a lot which he does deserve but we will probably franchise him. I can see us drafting a safety.

Our secondary is the weakest link to our defense but then again teams don't rush against us so they pass. It's hard not to give up 200+ yards passing per game if they are throwing 40+ passes.
Goldson and especially Brown played much better towards the end of the season. Culliver is very good young corner that might give Brown some competition next year. I think the team is good with the CB. Maybe add for some depth. This defense may actually be even better next year if they can keep all the guys together.
[ Edited by qnnhan7 on Feb 2, 2012 at 9:37 AM ]
I agree, Culliver did not impress me much at all this past year. I love his size and speed and loved how he started out. But once he was burned a few times, he seemed to play very tentative, always allowed his man to catch the ball (even on simple hitches or come backs) and then made the tackle. He always seemed to be that guy on 3rd down who was targeted and he gave huge, huge cushions. He was one of those guys who would consistently play 10 yards off on 3rd and 5 for simple pitch-n-catches.

Rogers started to tapper off quite a bit as the season progressed and got abused several times as well. Whitner is a nice player in the box but as we saw all year, you can throw on him rather easily in the middle of the field and has a big height disadvantage. And Goldson, while a big hitter continued to be late over the top on helping and could be burned a lot in the middle of the field even with underneath coverage by Willis/Bowman. Neither bring anything in terms of pass rushing (or weren't used much off the edges) and played 30 yards deep a ton. This may be on VF though...ironically, sort of a Taylor Mays approach but both are slower and have less range. Brown probably improved the most throughout the year but even he is suspect as well. We have a very consistent and effective pass rush all year yet we played conservatively and gave up huge yards. When they played tighter in the RZ, they were more effective so why not play that way all game esp. when you DO blitz. Some of this is on the players and some is on VF's defensive philosophy.

I originally thought we'd play an aggressive 3-4 with the front 7 we had and use bigger, more physical CB's up tight at the LOS...Spencer/Culliver-types (like how the Giants played our WR's) and utilize more Whitner/Goldson in the box and Smith for his speed/range over the top. Naturally, none of that materialized and we went in a polar opposite direction.

Brown has the speed but not the strength to play man up at the LOS (physical)
Goldson has good instincts but can get beat over the top and is always late helping over the top and esp. along the sidelines
Whitner is strong, short and quick but can also get beat deep and we were burned all year in the middle of the field
Rogers has very good technique and good hands this year but became less physical and aggressive as the year progressed; he has good speed and timing to cover in the middle of the field as well.
VF needs to implement the next level of this defense to be more aggressive and physical and play off a dominant front 7. There is no reason for our secondary to be playing so far off WR's and so deep and letting teams continually convert simple 3rd downs between the 20's.
F-tag Goldson for the 6-ish mil

re-sign Rogers to an 8-9 mil per deal for a few years... carefully structured to protect us

tender Brock at low cost and Spillman as well... Colin Jones is other S backup

trade or cut Spencer, since we refuse to play him anyway (that's a chunk of cap relief)

Coaches like Rogers, Brown, and Culliver... so just draft a mid-rd CB


done
  • sfout
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Cory Nelms is apparently a safety in training and we also have Mark Legree on the practice squad. We might invest in a veteran or late round pick but I wouldn't be surprised if Legree made the final 53 as the #3 safety.
Originally posted by Gore_21:
Originally posted by lamontb:
As far as the CB/S blitzes I would say they could be at about the same level. It's all about when you do it and who you are playing. a lot of times this year Goldson or Whitner have made tackles in the backfield on running plays. It just seems like it rarely creates a sack. Sometimes you have to take chances though. But they need to figure out how to get the linebackers involved. I need to see the double a gap blitz from Willis and Bowman. I'm not really sure they have a bend but don't break style. With all these teams passing defensively that forces you to rely more on your front 7 and drop a extra guy in coverage. So if your front 7 isn't getting it done that tends to lead to giving up more yardage. Plus I don't think they put in anything complex with the short off season. As the season went on you seen a ton of different looks in certain packages with multiple guys stunting in the front 4.

Yeah, I was referring to blitzing them in obvious passing situations. They definitely creeped up or blitzed in obvious run downs a lot this year. You are right, that's where you see that hit in the backfield. That's fine... just not a big fan of them on obvious passing downs. We don't have any LeRoy Butler's that can for sure get to the QB. If you don't get there or bounce off it's usually a big play.

I meant to ask if people are happy with our pass defense and the scheme we play. Yeah, we are going to give up yards due to shutting down the run. Bend don't break is kind of what we do... it's not like Manusky's bend don't break. We actually don't break.

Here's another question... do you guys like Patrick shadowing RBs/TEs? It's seemed to work fairly well as he has taken a lot of them out of the game but some of the better TEs got their TDs even if he had great coverage. He definitely was playing great coverage for a LB but might be best to put a tall big CB on those tall big TEs especially the Graham type that are like WRs.
Yeah I think Goldson definitely has to work on his timing on blitzes. It seems like he gets caught in that in between space where the qb recognizes him and is ready to hit his hot read. It was just hard for it to work vs Eli b/c there offense is designed for there wr's to run routes dictated on coverage on a given play. It does kill you when a guy gets burned deep on a blitz, but I think it's about not letting a qb keep overly comfortable. sometimes the offense just has the perfect play called. The scheme they play lends to Willis/Bowman covering the tight ends and backs. It gives the safeties more flexibility to help out the secondary. Especially with the influx of the 3 wide formations. Then if you put a tall corner on that tight end then who is covering the WR? It's really a double edged sword. the personnel on the Niners dictate that Willis and Bowman have better chances in coverage than Whitner. Realistically none of these linebackers in the league can check these some of these tight ends. Then you add in all the new rules and these tight ends don't fear going over the middle b/c they can't even get blown up b/c the defender will get a penalty. It's crazy but it would seem that Taylor Mays was built to be a guy that can defend these tight ends. He has the speed and size to cover these big tight ends, but doesn't have the skill set to do so. Defenses need to find guys built like Mays but with better skill set to actually cover. It's just hard to find them b/c now the offenses are scouting these guys to be the tight end.
Carlos Rogers is good short term if we want long term solution we should go after Brent Grimes always liked his aggressive style and fairly young.
I'm not exactly comfortable with any of our lbs in coverage yet. They have improved, but with TEs getting more athletic, bigger and faster, and putting up wr like stats like graham, gronkowski, they are becomming tougher to cover and are starting to require better cb level coverage with lb strength to take some of these guys down. They are getting better but coverage from our lbs is biggest thing I would like to see improvement on.
Here's another question... do you guys like Patrick shadowing RBs/TEs? It's seemed to work fairly well as he has taken a lot of them out of the game but some of the better TEs got their TDs even if he had great coverage. He definitely was playing great coverage for a LB but might be best to put a tall big CB on those tall big TEs especially the Graham type that are like WRs.

No I don't and I'm glad you brought this up! I hate that Willis isn't free in this defense to rush the passer, make TFL or rack up tackles as much. No doubt we should have a tall Culliver or Goldson covering TE's. Willis spent WAY too much time in coverage and that is an obvious weakness of his...well, actually, all of our guys in the middle of the field are average to poor in coverage (Willis/Bowman/Whitner/Goldson). I don't even think the Giants had one pass to the sideline...everything was right down the middle of the field including the TD's AND we have extra DB's back there to help d/t the effectiveness of the front 5 (to no avail). I say 5 b/c really, it's McDonald, Sopoaga, Smith, Brooks & Haralson/Smith controlling the LOS and providing consistent pressure while the back end can be devoted to extra men in coverage.
[ Edited by NCommand on Feb 2, 2012 at 12:24 PM ]