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Vic Fangio's second year defenses and beyond

Originally posted by NCommand:
Valid concerns and this has been talked about a lot in Official Defense thread.

That said, I will need to see some scheme growth this year now that we have every player back from last year's record setting defense. VF played a Nolan/Manusky vanilla defense all year...essentially, straight up and won with individual talent and dominance. This year, the opposition will have a full year's tape on our D so it's time to up the ante and install more scheme. Last year, there were a few things that concerned me:
1. Had a tendency to play his S's VERY deep (sometimes 30 yards deep)
2. Had a tendency to play his CB's way off WR's on 3rd and shorts resulting in easy pitch-n-catches
3. We saw in the NFCCG, when Brown went down, he left a cold CB off the bench in single coverage with zero S help. The CB actually had good outside coverage but with no inside S help, the result was an easy TD. People forget this but THIS was the turning point of the game.
4. He didn't sub much last year unless there were injuries (McDonald, Willis, Brown, etc.)
5. Our S's have very poor range from sideline to sideline and I honestly can not remember one time either S provided help over the top on the sidelines. They were solid in the middle of the field and esp. playing down hill and around the LOS. But better scheme will need to be utilized to ensure our CB's don't continue to get beat down the sidelines and this starts and ends with the front 7

2012:
I'd like to see VF improve upon the aforemetioned. In addition, I'd like to see him expand the playbook and utilize the talent of the front 7 better (which as we all know, benefits the back end more than anything). For that, you have Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith who can line up anywhere along the front 7. I'd like to see better game planning and using these guys to attack weaknesses better along the OL. Any "gaps" left by their pass rush will easily be picked up on by Willis/Bowman and the S's and CB help in run support. To add, Bowman and Willis need to be utilized more in the pass rush and playing off Brooks/Smith. I'd like to see a better rotation along the DL as well. More CB and S blitzes. Both Whitner and Goldson are technically, the same SS player and play best as another LB in the box. Teach these guys how to time delayed blitzes and play more up at the LOS blitzing like some of the best in the game have been used. Both Brooks/Smith are athletic enough to drop back and provide underneath/outside coverage on any of these blitzes. They just need to have ensure the CB's are providing over-the-top and inside coverage at the same time. The best D's exploit weaknesses and never stop attacking them until the game is over (see Ravens against us last year).

So here is to VF for adding these new wrinkles to a record setting D in 2012. With a full team of returning starters and better, more experienced depth (save for S for now), his work is CLEARLY cut out for him.

I'd recommend watching these key points to see if he is addressing this next level or if we employ the same strategy and as a result, start to fall off some as the opposition starts to exploit the holes better for 2012.

I don't know, N. He may have played the Safeties deep at times but I recall a lot of 3-deep with Goldson moving forward and to the right (offenses perspective) which positioned him right into that prime 12-20 yard playmaking range where QB usually throw a lot of drag/seam timing routes. I also wouldn't say Goldson was poor at getting to the sidelines. He broke up a few passes on the sidelines. The ones that hurt us the most were the broken plays down the sideline (Eli to RB) or if Culliver/Rogers were man-on-man with tight coverage but just didn't find the ball.

All else I agree with as I do with most of your Defenses analysissesss.

I think the key to 2012 will be exactly the same as 2011: Stuff the run. If we can do that, then blitzing often will not be required. I do think we are going to see Aldon used in an expanded role and I don't mean reps. I think once we establish the run stop, then Aldon will start moving inside like he did in college. All of our DL are versatile to move anywhere on that line and I think that wrinkle alone will cause some major issues for the opposition.

Let's also hope Patrick Willis will have improved on his coverage even more. That can be a huge asset.

I also think the pick up (in the Draft) of one more LB or DB, being that we hit on that pick, can really help in specialty situations. I'm also excited to see what we do with Culliver and Brooks.
  • Chico
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 2,092
[ "This year, the opposition will have a full year's tape on our D so it's time to up the ante and install more scheme"]

this is as far as i read...good teams figure out what our defense and offense is doing after 4-5 games and should have it figured it out mid-way through the season. By playoff time, every team knows the other teams strategy, tendencies, weaknesses & strengtths...if they don't, they're drafting early the following year.

What i liked about VF defense is that when one person was injured, the next man up, stepped in and we didn't miss a beat (Larry Grant for Patrick Willis) -

Our defense is stacked and they will continue to dominate for years to come
Originally posted by Joecool:
I don't know, N. He may have played the Safeties deep at times but I recall a lot of 3-deep with Goldson moving forward and to the right (offenses perspective) which positioned him right into that prime 12-20 yard playmaking range where QB usually throw a lot of drag/seam timing routes. I also wouldn't say Goldson was poor at getting to the sidelines. He broke up a few passes on the sidelines. The ones that hurt us the most were the broken plays down the sideline (Eli to RB) or if Culliver/Rogers were man-on-man with tight coverage but just didn't find the ball.

All else I agree with as I do with most of your Defenses analysissesss.

I think the key to 2012 will be exactly the same as 2011: Stuff the run. If we can do that, then blitzing often will not be required. I do think we are going to see Aldon used in an expanded role and I don't mean reps. I think once we establish the run stop, then Aldon will start moving inside like he did in college. All of our DL are versatile to move anywhere on that line and I think that wrinkle alone will cause some major issues for the opposition.

Let's also hope Patrick Willis will have improved on his coverage even more. That can be a huge asset.

I also think the pick up (in the Draft) of one more LB or DB, being that we hit on that pick, can really help in specialty situations. I'm also excited to see what we do with Culliver and Brooks.

I could have missed those break-ups along the sidelines (going from straight memory here) but I certainly don't recall a single breakup by any Niner S last year. I may need to go back and "watch the tape." Haha. The S's almost always seemed just a second late despite good underneath coverage. But I also remember some pretty fantastically thrown balls thrown and catches too where there isn't a whole lot a CB could do to cover better. I saw Goldson playing a lot of 30 yards deep, ala Taylor Mays-like, in the playoffs. It seemed like we were trying to keep everything in front of us and not give up the big plays. Where we did give up the big plays was with no S coverage in the end zone, being late to the ball (or hesitant) or blowing an underneath coverage for an easy TD. All three are on the S's IMHO in combination with the scheme VF called.

Loved your other points esp. about Aldon being moved around including along the DL and esp. about Willis in coverage. The middle of the field was a big weakness in coverage all year and has been for several years esp. against good TE's and RB's who can catch in that space. Some of that is a result of playing a 3-4 as every defense has its soft spot. But the bigger issue is that Willis was in coverage WAY too much IMO last year and that really, by far, is his weakness. I'd like to see him closer to the LOS, bumping off receiving routes, roaming, spying, tackling and playing down hill and even blitzing more (even from the OLB spots). I don't want to see Willis in coverage in 2012 like we did in 2011. In those cases, take him off the field (or Bowman) and move a CB or S to cover the TE's more. I don't know who you'd match up against a 6'6" TE though in the RZ. Goldson? He's 6'2". Move Aldon Smith to the strong side (where the TE lines up) and match him up with the taller TE's?
Originally posted by NCommand:
Valid concerns and this has been talked about a lot in Official Defense thread.

That said, I will need to see some scheme growth this year now that we have every player back from last year's record setting defense. VF played a Nolan/Manusky vanilla defense all year...essentially, straight up and won with individual talent and dominance. This year, the opposition will have a full year's tape on our D so it's time to up the ante and install more scheme. Last year, there were a few things that concerned me:
1. Had a tendency to play his S's VERY deep (sometimes 30 yards deep)
2. Had a tendency to play his CB's way off WR's on 3rd and shorts resulting in easy pitch-n-catches
3. We saw in the NFCCG, when Brown went down, he left a cold CB off the bench in single coverage with zero S help. The CB actually had good outside coverage but with no inside S help, the result was an easy TD. People forget this but THIS was the turning point of the game.
4. He didn't sub much last year unless there were injuries (McDonald, Willis, Brown, etc.)
5. Our S's have very poor range from sideline to sideline and I honestly can not remember one time either S provided help over the top on the sidelines. They were solid in the middle of the field and esp. playing down hill and around the LOS. But better scheme will need to be utilized to ensure our CB's don't continue to get beat down the sidelines and this starts and ends with the front 7

2012:
I'd like to see VF improve upon the aforemetioned. In addition, I'd like to see him expand the playbook and utilize the talent of the front 7 better (which as we all know, benefits the back end more than anything). For that, you have Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith who can line up anywhere along the front 7. I'd like to see better game planning and using these guys to attack weaknesses better along the OL. Any "gaps" left by their pass rush will easily be picked up on by Willis/Bowman and the S's and CB help in run support. To add, Bowman and Willis need to be utilized more in the pass rush and playing off Brooks/Smith. I'd like to see a better rotation along the DL as well. More CB and S blitzes. Both Whitner and Goldson are technically, the same SS player and play best as another LB in the box. Teach these guys how to time delayed blitzes and play more up at the LOS blitzing like some of the best in the game have been used. Both Brooks/Smith are athletic enough to drop back and provide underneath/outside coverage on any of these blitzes. They just need to have ensure the CB's are providing over-the-top and inside coverage at the same time. The best D's exploit weaknesses and never stop attacking them until the game is over (see Ravens against us last year).

So here is to VF for adding these new wrinkles to a record setting D in 2012. With a full team of returning starters and better, more experienced depth (save for S for now), his work is CLEARLY cut out for him.

I'd recommend watching these key points to see if he is addressing this next level or if we employ the same strategy and as a result, start to fall off some as the opposition starts to exploit the holes better for 2012.
Good points as usual. I think one reason Fangio isn't overly exotic with the blitzes is b/c you usually have to play zone behind that. And I don't think either Whitner or Goldson can hold in coverage in terms of having to turn and run with wr's in there zones.

And let's give a special praise for Fangio finally getting this team to read and react to screen passes.
Originally posted by lamontb:
Good points as usual. I think one reason Fangio isn't overly exotic with the blitzes is b/c you usually have to play zone behind that. And I don't think either Whitner or Goldson can hold in coverage in terms of having to turn and run with wr's in there zones.

And let's give a special praise for Fangio finally getting this team to read and react to screen passes.

Thank you! We sometimes focus on the areas we can/need to improve upon that we forget to praise the accomplishments. And we had a TON last year on this record-setting defense. It was so nice to see guys like Bowman, Brooks, Brown, Culliver, Smith, McDonald, etc. get into the action FT and grow and develop. Here's to building upon it for 2012!
Fangio never had a defense like this... if everyone stays relatively healthy, they should be a top 5 defense again.
Originally posted by SportsFan:
I expect Fangios defense to kill 2 or 3 opposing players this year.
It's amazing how people like you have the nerve to complain when the news of Saints bounties broke out. Unbelievably hypocritical.
It would be interesting to see the players lost year over year during his previous coaching stints. Most likely after improving the defense in his first year it got torn apart during free agency and he had to put in lesser talent. Still with our front seven, not even worried. This has been a top run D ever since Willis was drafted, and will become a better pass D now that Aldon will get the starting spot. The problem with Manusky is he didnt want his ends to get upfield in fear of sacrificing run support which put even more pressure on the OLBs. Fangio came in and saw that Willis and Bowman dont need that extra run support help and let his ends attack more knowing that our ILB's can clean up any misreads by the ends basically adding two more rushers to our base D if they sense a pass play.
  • krizay
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 14,919
well, total defense is just yards allowed.

FWIW Carolina and texans were expansion teams

in 95 they gave up 325 points (8th)

96-218 (2nd)
97-314 (13th)
98-413 (27th)


colts

99-333 (17th)
00-326 (15th)
01-486 (31st)

texans

02-356 (20th)
03-380 (27th)
04-339 (15th)
Second year of this defense being together = BOOOOOM!!!

I look forward to improved numbers all across the board with the exception of takeaways. It will be hard to repeat such an historic +- in takeaways. Not allowing a single rushing touchdown for the majority of the season isn't a realistic expectation either. But I do believe we will see an increase in sacks with Aldon improving and getting increased snaps. Our secondary will perform at a higher level. We will lead the league in fewest PPG allowed. Which in my opinion is the most important defensive stat.
am i the only one who thinks aldon smith should have stayed a DE?
If there is a fall-off in the D's performance in 2012, it will most likely be more attributable to the injury bug, than coaching. The club was extraordinarily fortunate during the 2011 season, regarding defensive injuries. I can remember previous seasons, when they were down to their 7th or 8th CB, signing guys off the street. Yes, all the defensive starters are back and that's great. They should be able to ratchit-up the sophistication of the scheme.

But, there are still some very thin positions, that make the club, as currently consituted, vulnerable to injury. My sense of where the defensive depth needs further improvement:

OLB - Haralson will be an experienced and savvy back-up for either SAM or WILL, but his strength is as a run-stopper, not as a pass rusher or in coverage. Another OLB pass rusher needs to be added in this draft. Smith and Brooks simply can't play every down. Keeping pass rushers fresh is a key 4th quarter ingredient for success.

CB - Need at least 5 that you can believe in, because, unlike some other positions, CB's just can't be effective with leg injuries. And there is so much running, that muscle pulls and strains are inevitable. The club has only 3 proven CB's (Rogers, Brown, Culliver) , maybe a 4th (Brock). Cox is a long shot to keep his nose clean and possibly won't even make the Final Roster. Need to find 1, maybe even 2, new talents at this position.

FS - There is nothing behind Goldson. Whitner and Spillman are strictly SS-types. Colin Jones, while a terrific ST'er, does not appear to be viewed as an NFL-caliber safety. And Goldson may/may not have attitude issues, after being franchised. Need a smart, fast, heavy-hitting newcomer to add to this mix.

I envision at least 3 of the club's 2012 draft picks to be used for the above positions.
Good post.

Depends on the draft. If we pick up a performer/producer in the draft like a CB who makes interceptions and covers well or a situational OLB, then we'll be even better. We definitely to improve the DL rotation to give them a bit of rest during a long season.

We won't be sneaking up on anyone this year. We basically out-performed people last year on D. We didn't necessarily out scheme them. This year Fang will have a full off season to introduce more schemes and make improvements right out of the gate.

We have a much tougher schedule and if there is a drop off - it won't be by much.
stats are sometimes mis-leading, for example i dont believe the expansion panthers 1995 D was actaully better than the 96 one that took the to the nfc title game, even though statistically they gave up more yardage
Originally posted by crabman82:
stats are sometimes mis-leading, for example i dont believe the expansion panthers 1995 D was actaully better than the 96 one that took the to the nfc title game, even though statistically they gave up more yardage

That expansion D beat us at the stick 13-7

First defending champion to lose at home to an expansion team.

Naturally, the week later, we go into Texas Stadium and completely smash the world champs
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