Originally posted by Wodwo:
It's hard for me to buy this idea for a few reasons:
1. Many mistakes were made early in games, before fatigue should have set in.
2. Both this season and last, there were many times that the pass rush didn't get there right away, but the secondary still held up and helped create coverage sacks.
3. Team sport. It amazes me that people can't understand the concept. No need to play the blame game.
Plus, you don't just sub someone in for Justin Smith and expect to see no drop off. Maybe there could have been less drop off, but it's hard to say because we can't change history. That said, I'm hoping Baalke drafts a good defensive lineman or two because we will have to replace Justin at some point. I just can't see us getting anyone near as good, though.
While I agree that a lot of our mistakes were made early-game, fatigue *does* still play a role. Look at our pass-rush at the beginning of the season, versus our pass-rush at the end of the season. Hell... look at our pass-rush LAST season versus our pass-rush this season. Remember when we had Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, and Isaac Sopoaga alone getting massive push from bull-rushes? They didn't seem to have that this season. I think they've accumulated a lot of mileage the last two years.
A good pass-rush can help a secondary out, while a good secondary can mask a bad pass rush. You can build both ways. We're built though, on the premise that we can rush 4 and drop everyone back in coverage. Likewise, teams like the Jets who have had strong cornerback play don't have the same level of pass-rushers we do, but blitz more. Our pass-rush just wasn't there in the playoffs, and likewise, our cornerbacks were exposed. I personally think it's better to have a strong pass-rush. We faced elite quarterbacks in the post-season, and they were all pretty red-hot. Often-times, our coverage was there, but the quarterback and receiver made perfect plays. Good QB/WR tandems *will* make their plays, regardless of the pass defender.. but a good pass-rush can disrupt a lot more, in my opinion.
That said, our secondary isn't as good as we think they are. All of our guys are solid, but there's not really a guy there that comes close to being a top-level cornerback. Again, I'm not saying we have bad cornerbacks, but they rely on a good pass-rush the majority of the time. They win their battles, of course, and help get the defense coverage sacks from time to time, but the strength of our defense is in our front 7. Obviously, we can upgrade our secondary this off-season, but I think it's easier to just get quality back-up defensive linemen.
But here's the question, how much faith do you have in Tukuafu, RJF, Dobbs, and our other back-up front 7 players? Personally, I thought we'd be fine if they ever came into the game, yet the coaching staff rarely subs them in. Are the backups not even rotation-quality players, or does the coaching staff not want to sub out our starters? Thoughts?