Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    RamsFan16 Guest

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006: Nicks Mailbag

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Derek Atkinson, Atlanta: Even with the Rams recent free agent signings, do you feel we've taking a step back in our run defense? It seems like we'll have to rely on Kennedy, and not Pickett, to plug the middle. Glover is more of a "shoot the gap", pass rushing DT. Chavous is a sure tackler, but probably not as much of a force around the line of scrimmage as Arch was. Finally, Witherspoon is certainly a play-maker, but he's still undersized at MLB.

    NW: I believe this has to be a legitimate concern considering the way things have gone down. Obviously, size is an issue in stuffing the run. The players added are probably more sure tacklers in that they won't miss as many. But as you correctly point out, Glover is more of a pass rusher and Chavous is probably a better coverage safety than he is a run stopper. Witherspoon has played in the middle before, but is a bit undersized as you say. I believe Witherspoon will be fine in the middle. From looking at these three additions, it seems there is improvement on the big picture of the defense, but the run defense might leave some to be desired. It's only fair to wait and see what happens the rest of the way before we determine how things will shake out. Nobody knows exactly what kind of schemes defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has in mind. It would certainly help to add another big, physical presence somewhere on the defense whether it be at tackle, end or linebacker.

    Sandeep Bains, Saskatoon: I understand that we have made 3 significant additions to our defense in terms of signings. But, is it not really a matter of only one true addition in terms of adding Will Witherspoon to a linebacking corps that needs help? Why I ask if it is one addition is because it is likely Glover for Pickett's spot (perhaps an upgrade but not an addition) and Chavous for Archuleta (again perhaps an upgrade in coverage but I wonder about overall effect). If that is so, how can we reasonably fill our needs for starters in terms of another linebacker, another DL, and another DB (safety or corner)? Would it not be too much too expect 3 starters from the first 3 rounds of the draft for those positions?

    NW: Again, this is logical reasoning and a big part of why you can't get too excited just yet. Not only are these addition replacing players as opposed to supplementing them, but you then wonder how much of an upgrade they are. There is no doubt that Witherspoon is an important addition and I believe he's a serious upgrade. As you say, though, if you look at it from the standpoint of getting Glover and Chavous for Archuleta and Pickett, you wonder how much of a change has been made. Clearly, Glover and Chavous have their advantages over Archuleta and Pickett, but you could make the same case the other way around. There is probably not enough money left to sign top-tier players at the other positions, but there is enough to add another impact player and then there is still the draft. It seems that it's not out of the question for the proper complements to the three additions can be found. It's also important to remember that these players are being brought in to fit a system, Haslett's system. That system will best utilize these types of players. It would probably be expecting too much to expect three starters from the first three rounds, but you might only need one. You get another starter in free agency, a starter in the first round and then let another of your youngsters (a Ron Bartell perhaps) develop. The aggressiveness in free agency has been a positive, but it's always important to wait and see how things develop before passing judgment one way or another.

    Matt Tinker, St. Louis: With Pickett getting attention from other teams and then Coach Linehan's desire to retain him, what do you see happening to him? I personally would love to see Pickett and Glover on the defensive line next year; I think they would make a great team.
    Also do you think Witherspoon will perform well at Middle Linebacker even though he is a little small for the position?

    NW: Keeping Pickett is clearly a priority, but it doesn't look great for his return right now. He did leave Green Bay without signing, which is surprising in these days of free agency. He's in Buffalo now and it wouldn't be a surprise if the Bills made an offer. The Rams' offer to Pickett is still on the table and I believe the more trips he takes without signing, the better the chances of a return. A tackle rotation of Pickett, Glover and Jimmy Kennedy would potentially be very good.

    I do believe in Witherspoon. It would be different if he had never played there before, but he has experience and he seems to have the skills to get it done. He is a bit small, but looking around the league, it's not impossible for smaller middle 'backers to have great success. Lofa Tatupu in Seattle is a perfect example and you could argue that Witherspoon is more athletic. There's a reason he was one of the most highly thought of players on the market.

    James Mitchell, Jacksonville, Fla.: So far in free agecy the rams have got three very good players on defense do you think that will increase the chances of the rams drafting vernon davis who I think would be a great addition to the rams offense.

    NW: I think the fact that the Rams have added three players on defense could increase the possibility of getting an offensive player in the draft, but I still don't believe that Vernon Davis will be on the board when the team picks at No. 11. As stated above, there are still plenty of needs on defense and it would be a surprise if those needs weren't addressed early and often in the draft. That said, if, somehow Davis did fall to No. 11, he would be awfully hard to pass on.

    Aaron Lorton, Greenville, Ill.: Don't you think it's logical for the Rams to trade out of their #11 spot at this point?

    NW: It's extremely logical Aaron and it's something that isn't out of the realm of possibility. A move in either direction makes a lot of sense. Say they decide they want one of the top defensive players, they could make a move to get an A.J. Hawk or Mario Williams. If they want to get a strong side linebacker, a move back for a Bobby Carpenter or Manny Lawson might be in order. Eleven seems like a difficult spot to be in right now because the top guys should be gone by then and the positions of need for the Rams don't have many players that would meet the value of the 11th spot. One scenario that would make sense would be to see Green Bay trade down to get a running back and that could put the Rams in a spot to move up for a top defender.

    Timm Kiewel, Arcata, Calif.: I haven't played organized football but love to watch the game. Can you explain what weak side, strong side and middle linebackers are expected to be able to do if they do their job well? Also, what size is ideal for each position? And what about the 3-4? Would there be the equivalent of two middle linebackers in the middle or is one expected to go into coverage or....?

    NW: Fair enough, here goes the explanation... As you know, in a normal 4-3 defense, there are three linebackers covered by four defensive linemen up front. The weak side linebacker is the player on the side opposite the tight end. The weak side backer is often referred to as the "Will" and is usually your fastest player at the position. He has to be able to cover the pass well, often against a running back and sometimes even a receiver. A good way to look at the weak side linebacker is to think of him as the roamer. He has the freedom to chase the ball as much or more than any defender on the field. The middle linebacker usually has the most responsibility. More often than not, he is looked at as the guy to call the plays and signals to the defense. He has to be versatile, meaning he needs to be able to drop into coverage and play the run. It's preferable to have a big, physical presence in the middle, but the more athletic he is, the better. That's why a guy like Brian Urlacher is so successful. The strongside linebacker essentially has to be the most physical presence among the linebackers. He doesn't do as much pass coverage as the other spots and is generally the player asked to blitz against the pass. Speed off the edge and the ability to hit are most important for the strong side backer. He usually has to take on the tight end.

    In a 3-4, there are two outside linebackers and two inside linebackers. However, you are looking at at least one of the linebackers being expected to rush the passer consistently, almost like another defensive end on the field. This player is almost always one of the outside guys. The other three take on more normal tasks that the middle and weak side backer in a 4-3 would have.


  2. #2
    HUbison's Avatar
    HUbison is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Kentucky
    Age
    40
    Posts
    13,707
    Rep Power
    145

    Re: Tuesday, March 14, 2006: Nicks Mailbag

    As you know, in a normal 4-3 defense, there are three linebackers covered by four defensive linemen up front. The weak side linebacker is the player on the side opposite the tight end. The weak side backer is often referred to as the "Will" and is usually your fastest player at the position. He has to be able to cover the pass well, often against a running back and sometimes even a receiver. A good way to look at the weak side linebacker is to think of him as the roamer. He has the freedom to chase the ball as much or more than any defender on the field. The middle linebacker usually has the most responsibility. More often than not, he is looked at as the guy to call the plays and signals to the defense. He has to be versatile, meaning he needs to be able to drop into coverage and play the run. It's preferable to have a big, physical presence in the middle, but the more athletic he is, the better. That's why a guy like Brian Urlacher is so successful. The strongside linebacker essentially has to be the most physical presence among the linebackers. He doesn't do as much pass coverage as the other spots and is generally the player asked to blitz against the pass. Speed off the edge and the ability to hit are most important for the strong side backer. He usually has to take on the tight end.
    This is a pretty good explanation on the different roles of the different LB positions. It's quite the misperception to think there are two types of LBs....MLB and OLB. As Waggoner points out, just saying OLB is not a good description of the position. Think about it like this. In general terms (not always, but usually), the stat leaders at LB should break out like this:

    Will (WOLB) - passes defended (Spoon led the league in this last season, by the way, and Pisa was 9th)
    Mike (MLB) - tackles (8 of the top 9 tacklers among LBs last season were "Mikes")
    Sam (SOLB) - sacks (8 of the top 10 sack leaders for LBs were "Sams")
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  3. #3
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
    RAMMAN68 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Escondido, CA
    Age
    46
    Posts
    2,714
    Rep Power
    15

    Re: Tuesday, March 14, 2006: Nicks Mailbag

    Will (WOLB) - passes defended (Spoon led the league in this last season, by the way, and Pisa was 9th)
    Mike (MLB) - tackles (8 of the top 9 tacklers among LBs last season were "Mikes")
    Sam (SOLB) - sacks (8 of the top 10 sack leaders for LBs were "Sams")
    I think Pisa will be even better this year in coverage.
    I hope we can address the "SAM" position via the draft; or maybe Chillar steps up and becomes the man. You never know.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •