This post will address two questions:
- What is wrong with our defense?
- How to improve their performance?
The first question is much easier to answer than the second.
First, our run defense sucks – especially up the middle. This starts with our defensive tackles getting pushed off the ball as well as poor linebacker play in support. Even with Chris Jones, the numbers are not good against the run. The obvious play would be to replace the tackles. To simplify, our big fat guys are being pushed around by the opponents big fat guys. Try athleticism on the inside – KPASS, Okafor, and Ogbah as well as Jones when he returns and attack the run. Attack with a safety and a middle linebacker. Might be burned on some longer runs but should have more stops for losses or short gains to compensate. Would at least save some longer time of possession drives. Run blitzes can be drive killers. Our outside run defense is much better – solid tackling by our corners this year.
Second, our pass rush sucks – specifically on four man rushes. Jones is the only player we have that is worthy of a double team and his absence hurts here. Not sure what is up with Clark. The easy answer here is to blitz more often – effective in some earlier games but not against Houston. When we do blitz, it is imperative that the defenders play the short pass – something we have done inconsistently. We need Clark on the field but maybe move him to the inside for some pass rushes. It certainly would not hurt to try him there. I also like crowding the line of scrimmage whether blitzing or not.
Perhaps we can play some five man lines with two linebackers – might have an impact, hopefully some positive, to both the run defense and pass rush. This could possibly confuse their blocking schemes.
Third, our pass defense is inconsistent. Breeland, Ward, and Fuller have all made some good plays and some bone-headed ones. Claiborne has looked decent so far. We have spent a good deal of time with two deep safeties. If this is the strength of the defense, and it appears that it is, we need to put the onus on them and play a single deep safety more often. We need that extra defender.
Finally, the coaching has been sub-par. Not as bad as Sutton but not reminiscent of Buddy Ryan either. Not just talking Spags but all of the assistants as well. There has been some good but a crap load of bad as well. Maybe firing Spags would fire up the assistants. Not anti-Spags like I was anti-Sutton and I think he has done decent with the limited personnel but letting him go might put a fire under everyone else.
What do you think?