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Patrick Willis... Sackmaster?

I think Wodwo's point is that Willis is special player, a VERY special player. Does it warrant him being moved to the outside, even if for only a play or two a game? I really don't see why not... Teams that run the 3-4 aggressively run complicated blitz stunts regularly and with great success, and none of them have a talent like Willis. So on say, 3rd and 15-20, why couldn't we put Lawson in the middle and run him straight back into coverage (the way we do with Willis even though it's not a strength of his) and swap Willis to rush off the weak edge? Willis obviously has a nose for the ball, and with his immense talent could learn the nuances of edge rushing. We wouldn't have to necessarily line up that way, or we could. Either way it would confuse the offense which is supposed to be the point of the 3-4, and something we rarely do. I'm basically all for any defensive scheme which puts Willis in a position to make a play, and running him 15 yards straight back away from the ball 10 times a game is not the way to do it.

Our defense this year has been entirely too vanilla, and yes, I think it has everything to do with Singletary. His philosophy of "we're not trying to fool anybody" has infected every part of our team and it shows. We only beat teams when we are physically more dominant, and in today's NFL, that doesn't happen very often.
  • SaksV
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 1,421
Many great points already stated. It's obvious we are not maximizing our talents on D as well as sad.

I think a great example of what our Defense is capable of is when you look at our games versus Minnesota in recent years and how we are able to completely shut down Adrian Peterson, and the Colts game last year showed how we can cause Peyton Manning to have fits. The 2008 Minnesota game and the 2009 Indy game, to me are excellent examples of what we can do defensively when we line guys up all over the place and don't show our hand to the opposing QB. Having Justin Smith standing in two-point, acting like he's going to blitz the Center like he did many times last season is just as effective as any "scheme" Manusky has drawn up this season.
  • Wodwo
  • Veteran
  • Posts: 8,439
Originally posted by PopeyeJonesing:
Originally posted by Wodwo:
Originally posted by PopeyeJonesing:

Wait a second, you're saying that because Willis is fourth in the league in tackles this year instead of second you want to move him around and put him on the outside? You do realize the other LBs you compared him to have less tackles because they play OLB, right? You do realize Willis being a sideline to sideline player is one of his greatest strengths, and you want to cut him off from half the field, right?

And you're saying you want to take a tall and lean OLB who has trouble holding the point of attack at the edge because he's not strong enough, who disappears for large stretches of the game and have him play ILB?

Yes, I did read what you wrote. It's just batty.


You again.

Ok, look. You must not be following the full conversation or something. We're talking about moving players around to create confusion some of the time. Not permanent position switches.

Again, you aren't reading everything. Please read everything before you respond to me next time.


So every time I disagree with you it's because I'm not reading what you wrote, huh? Interesting way to try to defend yourself without ever having to defend your ideas. Neat trick.

You do realize that I even used the phrase "move him around" in my first sentence to make it absolutely clear I didn't think you were talking about permanent switches, right?

TO BE CLEAR: I think the idea is idiotic. I think sometimes moving Manny Lawson around to play ILB is idiotic. I think sometimes moving Willis around to play ILB is idiotic. If Willis was on one side of the field I'd audible and run to the other. If Manny was in the middle I'd audible and run up the middle.

Willis has 5 sacks because we're calling stunts and having him blitz through the A gap. He's good at it because a) Franklin is good b) willis is fast and c) we don't do it that much.

Have you noticed that Willis is coming untouched? Does that tell you anything? Do you know that blitzing from the outside requires a different skill set than what Willis has been displaying? He hasn't had to swim, or rip, or drive the corner once. You think unlike everyone else he won't need to practice these things to be good at them simply because he can blitz the A gap? Really?

Look, I think you're clearly a passionate fan. I don't think, however, that you have that clear of a grasp on the ins-and-outs of how the game is actually played, or how the organization functions (in the last thread). All that said I think your passion is commendable (truly).

As for dismissing every criticism of every idea you've had as someone "not reading" what you wrote, I don't find that cute, not even slightly.

You should change your name to PoopeyeJonesing.



Sorry for being an ass.

Now I've read your post. Now let's discuss these ideas!

Yeah, I totally goofed reading your post. Just bad comprehension.

Ok, now I'm gonna pwnzor you for making me look stupid with your pwnage.

Lawson is fantastic at holding the point. That's why he's in on running downs. He's great at setting the edge. He comes out on passing downs because he's been a one trick pony pass rusher.

Check out Football Outsiders stats on our defensive line. In a 3-4 the OLB needs to set the edge, especially in our one gap scheme, so they are basically linemen when the run play is on their side.

We are obviously a good run stopping team just looking at the overall ranking for our defensive line. What I want you to look at is the second table that lists success rates based on the direction of the run. Notice that in the column for runs to the right end, we are ranked third overall. It's the best area of our line. This is Manny setting the edge. In any case, your point about calling an audible to run away from or towards one player is moot. These kinds of confusing scenarios are designed for obvious passing situations.

Now, all you have to do is go check out the overall defense section and look at the second table to see that we are ranked 3rd covering TEs and in the 20s covering everybody else. Lawson is the guy who normally covers the TE.

These are two of the reasons that I think it would be interesting to set Lawson in the middle and you can either have him play a zone, which will create a problem because he does have speed and cover skills and he has height and a serious wingspan, so it would present a problem for a QB finding a throwing lane in the middle... or you can have him blitz the same A gap that Willis has been blitzing... Lawson is fast, too.

As far as Willis blitzing from the outside, I'm not saying he can do that like a normal OLB. I'm talking about moving people around to create confusion and to set up stunts. If you blitz Willis from the outside just once in a game, they have to account for his speed. He's far faster than any other pass rusher in the league. Just run one overbalanced blitz and try to get someone else on the tackle. That would be enough to give the offense pause if you line him up there again. Then you can set up stunts or show blitz from one side, but drop that back and delay blitz from the other. Also, you said yourself, Willis is fast... he has sideline to sideline speed. He can be lined up outside and shift back inside very quickly.

My whole point here is that in our one gap scheme, we either need an OLB that can beat a tackle one on one or we need to scheme blitzes better. One of the biggest advantages of the 3-4 defense is it's unpredictability. The less vanilla you get, the harder it is for offenses to call protections to pick up your blitzes and read your coverages.

Now, the original point of this thread was that Willis is having success with his blitzes. He's had 4 sacks in the last three games. What I was asking originally is whether you think it's an anomaly or if it's a trend. If it is a trend, do you think he can keep it up at this pace? Then the conversation got on a tangent about being more creative with blitzing schemes.

I really do have a pretty solid handle on the basics of defensive schemes. However, I think I know just enough to know how little I actually know. That's why discussing this stuff is fun.
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