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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Chris Draft article from the Sporting News

    STAYING HUNGRY FOR A SACK ATTACK

    Posted: December 13, 2007

    When I first started playing football I was an offensive lineman and a defensive tackle. Obviously I'm not that same player now and I got a lot thinner compared to other guys as I got older. But just because I'm not a defensive lineman, it doesn't mean I've lost that itch to want to sack the quarterback.


    Growing up, the guys I looked up to the most were players such as Reggie White and Bruce Smith. Man, did those guys know how to get to the quarterback. Same with a couple of linebackers at the time, such as the Patriots' Andre Tippett. And, of course, there was Lawrence Taylor. Anybody who grew up around that time was watching L.T. Now that's a bad man.

    I've played a lot of inside linebacker during my NFL career, and you usually don't get as many chances to rush the passer from that spot. My biggest sack season in the NFL came in 2006, when I had 5 1/2 sacks with the Panthers. Honestly, I think the biggest reason I put up my top numbers was the coaches simply knew what I did well and put me in situations to make those plays.

    I'm not about to give away any secrets about my own rushing style. I will say that, as linebackers, we do work on our pass-rush moves a little, but that's mostly reserved for training camp. We don't rely on moves as much as defensive linemen, though. Instead of coming on straight rushes, we tend to come after the quarterback off of pressure packages where we're disguising our looks as a defense.

    When the play call comes in and your number is called to rush the passer, there are a few things going through your mind. Linebackers don't get as many chances to rush the quarterback, so we are extra eager to make our opportunities count.

    When the call comes in, I just keep telling myself, "Man, I've gotta get to him, gotta get to him." I also focus on not tipping my hand and letting the offense know I'm the guy rushing, or which way I'm coming from.

    One of the biggest things in the back of any defender's mind on the blitz is, "How am I going to hit this guy?" With the rules the way they are, you really have to be careful with quarterbacks and have a plan of attack when you hit 'em.

    The way I was taught is that, when you're looking to hit the quarterback, you need to follow the same strike zone they do in baseball -- well, the same strike zone they're supposed to use in baseball, even though they never seem to call it. The target area is between the chest and the knees.

    Don't go too high or too low, and don't hit any part of the QB's head or lead with your own head. You know that if you hit a quarterback the wrong way, you're going to be lighter in the pockets, possibly to the tune of $10 grand.

    Refs are a little more apt to throw the penalty flag if you hit a QB the wrong way, too. And that can be just as bad. Here you've been given this opportunity to make a great play and put the offense back, and all of a sudden, you're assessed a 15-yarder and they get new life.

    The rules on hitting quarterbacks can make things a little difficult for us defenders: The quarterback is an athlete, too, and we have to bring him down. But as far as whether the rules on hitting QBs are too strict, well, that's a tough call. As a defender, you'd love to hit the other team's quarterback, but with your own quarterback, you want them to be protected.

    And when you do get to the quarterback? My rule of thumb is you've gotta act like you've been there before. Even on my first sack, against the Bucs' Shaun King in 2000, I can't remember doing anything to celebrate. You want to project an attitude that says, "Sacking the quarterback? This is old hat for me."

    Closing thoughts


    A few things about our loss to the Bengals last Sunday. I thought Brock Berlin came in and managed the game well, especially for having just come in fresh last week and only getting a few days of practice. He did a great job of handling that.
    For all the things that have been going against us, especially in terms of injuries, we were down 16-10, with five minutes left. We were fighting, we were getting close. If we stop 'em and make 'em punt, we give ourselves a chance to win. Fakhir Brown had our only touchdown of the day - unfortunately, we just weren't able to get the stop where we needed it.

    Speaking of Fakhir, even when we lose, our team still acknowledges guys who play well, even if we don't give out a game ball after a defeat. And Fakhir Brown had a great game, and not just because of the touchdown. He's played great all season since missing the first four games. He's a cornerback, and he's also a cornerstone of our defense.

    The weather in that Bengals game was a little ugly, although the rain slowed down by the time we started, so it wasn't too bad, especially because the FieldTurf keeps it from getting too sloppy. I mean, it's Cincinnati in December; that's not exactly a recipe for good weather. Things could've been so much worse. The FieldTurf helps keep the playing surface from getting too sloppy, and the Bengals' grounds crew did a great job of tarping up the field before the game. That helped keep it from turning into a quagmire, like what the Steelers and Dolphins played in a couple weeks ago.

    Bad weather definitely favors the defense, though, and it takes the offense more out of their game plan than it does us.


    * On Monday our team's president, John Shaw, publicly offered his support of Coach Linehan. I think that really indicates how we've stuck together as team this whole time.
    It's pretty obvious that we've been battling through a lot of injuries, and when key guys get hurt, as much as you want to say you'll push through -- don't get me wrong, you have to believe that -- the reality is it's still hard to compete like that.

    If you look at our list of guys on IR, it's like, oh my goodness. But just as obvious as our injury problems is the way we've stuck together, the way we're practicing just as hard as we would if we were in the playoff hunt. That's got to be a huge factor, because it would be something altogether different if it didn't seem like we were playing for our coaches.

    When you see a team staying together through that much adversity and still fighting hard on the field, you know the players are behind the coach and the coach has a pulse on the team.


    * Looking to our game this Sunday against the Packers, at this point in the season, people like to talk about teams like ours as potential "spoilers." After all, we're out of the playoffs, while the Packers are already in and looking to secure a top seed. For us, it adds a little bit of motivation, but it's just one little part of our motivation for the week.
    Every game has its own little drama to it, everybody has something they're playing for. And in our case, playing the spoiler is something we can do. More than that, though, we want the win. Sure, people can say Green Bay is rolling, but we're not going to just roll over and accept that.

    People also talk about players or teams bringing their "A" game at big moments. Well, because of all our injuries and people being shuffled around, we always need to bring our "A" game, because our margin of error is small.


  2. #2
    bruce4life's Avatar
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    Re: Chris Draft article from the Sporting News

    And This Is The Reason Why He Should Be With Us Next Year Or Until His Contract Exprires... This Guys Is A Stud

  3. #3
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Chris Draft article from the Sporting News

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Draft
    On Monday our team's president, John Shaw, publicly offered his support of Coach Linehan. I think that really indicates how we've stuck together as team this whole time. It's pretty obvious that we've been battling through a lot of injuries, and when key guys get hurt, as much as you want to say you'll push through -- don't get me wrong, you have to believe that -- the reality is it's still hard to compete like that.

    If you look at our list of guys on IR, it's like, oh my goodness. But just as obvious as our injury problems is the way we've stuck together, the way we're practicing just as hard as we would if we were in the playoff hunt. That's got to be a huge factor, because it would be something altogether different if it didn't seem like we were playing for our coaches.

    When you see a team staying together through that much adversity and still fighting hard on the field, you know the players are behind the coach and the coach has a pulse on the team.
    A second strong statement of support for Linehan from Chris Draft that emphesizes the two main reasons I would like to see our coach get a third year, injuries and the fact that he has kept the respect and backing of his players in the face of the most extreme circumstances.

    Is there any question after the repeated player statements that Scott Linehan has not lost his team?

  4. #4
    RamOfDenmark Guest

    Re: Chris Draft article from the Sporting News

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    A second strong statement of support for Linehan from Chris Draft that emphesizes the two main reasons I would like to see our coach get a third year, injuries and the fact that he has kept the respect and backing of his players in the face of the most extreme circumstances.

    Is there any question after the repeated player statements that Scott Linehan has not lost his team?
    I'm usually quite skeptic when it comes to player statements in the media about the coach, most times what you see is a canned answer that sounds exactly like something they know they should say regardless. But here it does sound more honest, probably because he elaborates a little bit on the point instead of just giving a more automatic one-liner and then moving to another subject. But when it comes down to it, players giving up or not giving up on Linehan has never been a part of my arguments for firing Linehan, so it does not in any way change my opinion.

    Credit to the original poster for this excellent article, I really like this personal story told directly by a player instead of the usual short choice quotes and then the rest of the article is written by the reporter with various half-truths and opinions interwoven and "anonymous sources" saying this or that. Refreshing perspective.

  5. #5
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Chris Draft article from the Sporting News

    I love his attitude. He needs to be back next year, even if we get Pisa, Spoon, and Chillar all back 100%. He'll fight for playing time, no doubt.

  6. #6
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Chris Draft article from the Sporting News

    I would love to see the "upset" here. It's great to hear that the players are still giving their all.

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