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Old 12-04-2010, 02:35 AM    (permalink
Sportsfan486
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Default Rank Defensive Pos. Importance

I'm sure this has been done at some point here but I'm really curious to hear some opinions on it. Basically, if you were starting a defense in what order would you pick your positions?

For me..

3-4.
1. DT
2. OLB
3. MLB
4. CB
5. CB
6. END
7. Safety
8. OLB
9. MLB
10. Safety
11. End

4-3
1. DT
2. END
3. MLB
4. CB
5. CB
6. END
7. DT
8. OLB
9. OLB
10. Safety
11. Safety
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Old 12-04-2010, 05:03 AM    (permalink
Mr. Goosemahn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sportsfan486 View Post
I'm sure this has been done at some point here but I'm really curious to hear some opinions on it. Basically, if you were starting a defense in what order would you pick your positions?

For me..

3-4.
1. DT
2. OLB
3. MLB
4. CB
5. CB
6. END
7. Safety
8. OLB
9. MLB
10. Safety
11. End

4-3
1. DT
2. END
3. MLB
4. CB
5. CB
6. END
7. DT
8. OLB
9. OLB
10. Safety
11. Safety
I think these rankings will vary depending on each team's individual scheme, so I'll do Pittsburgh's scheme (my opinion though).

1.a) ROLB
In Pittsburgh's scheme, the LB's are the most important unit. Out of those, I believe that ROLB is the most important position. The large majority of the pressure applied on the QB comes from the OLB's, and ROLB brings it from the blindside. The equivalent of guys like Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, and Julius Peppers, James Harrison specializes in rushing the passer and is pretty good at it. On top of rushing the passer, the ROLB has to hold his own vs. the run and do well in coverage. James Harrison has done a great job as the ROLB in the past years, and he's actually having an excellent season this year, but it's all being overshadowed by the flags and fines.

56 solo tackles, 19 assisted tackles, 75 total, 10 sacks, 2 INT's, 6 forced fumbles, and 4 passes defended. Pretty damn good if you ask me, especially when compared to the stats posted by the other elite 3-4 OLB's such as Matthews and Ware. Around 35 more tackles than Matthews, two sacks less, one INT more, 5 more forced fumbles, and 1 more pass defended. Compared to Ware, Harrison's got about 30 more tackles, same sacks, 2 more INT's (Ware has none), 5 more forced fumbles, and 3 more passes defended. Again, pretty good season.

1.b) LOLB
Basically the same thing as ROLB, except it's not from the blindside. OLB's are crucial to our success, and Harrison and Woodley are a great pair of players. Both are good vs. the run, are great pass-rushers, and are simply great fits for our defense.

2. DE
The defensive ends are the next more important piece to our defense, IMO. Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel are in charge of holding gaps in the run game, as well as clearing up lanes for the ILB's to get to the RB's in running plays or the QB if they blitz. Also, they need to take up the guards and center (sometimes also the tackle) when our OLB's are blitzing. The only reason why I have OLB above DE is because I believe that our defense fares better with a great LB unit and mediocre D-Line than a mediocre LB unit and great D-Line. When Smith goes down, the defense definitely takes a hit, but as long as the OLB's keep their game up, the drop-off shouldn't be too big.

3. SS
The only reason SS is so high is because we have Troy Polamalu and the defense is modified to take advantage of his skills and abilities. Troy is the glue that holds things together, IMO. Aaron Smith is the foundation of the defense, while Polamalu is everything above. Polamalu roams the field in an incredible way, and while this hasn't been his best year, he still makes good plays. Definitely not your prototypical safety with his non-traditional way of tackling, but that's just the way he is. He has great instincts, and I'm pretty sure that on the majority of calls, there really isn't a defined action for him to take, just "go with his gut instinct." Example, look at my avy. Pretty sure that play isn't designed to have him jump over the O-line but, hey, he did it and it worked. He's also essential to our pass-defense. We don't have great CB's, which is why Polamalu always has to be on his game and make plays.

4. ILB
These two guys are also important to our defense. They have to blast through the lanes our D-Line creates to stop opposing RB's, as well as dropping back into coverage vs. TE's and RB's. The Buck (Timmons) has to take on opposing blockers, be it fullbacks, TE's, or linemen, to ensure that the Mack (Farrior) is open to make plays. IMO, Timmons should be the Mack due to the fact that he's got superior physical abilities and is a flat out playmaker, even as a buck. He's had a monster year for us, finally breaking out. For the past years, Foote was the Buck and did a great job.

5. NT
Some may consider this too low for a 3-4 defense, but that's just the way I see it in our system. Not taking away anything from Hampton, he's a phenomenal NT, but it's just that the role of the NT has actually been decreasing in our defense. We usually use a NT only in the first two downs, as we only go with 2 DE's in passing downs, and he's had decreasing playing time since we've had a better rotation with Chris Hoke there. Hampton and Hoke are critical at stopping the run, which is why I wish I could place them higher, but they don't do much on passing downs. Again, didn't really place them down here because they don't do much, it's just that I placed the others higher because I think they do more.

6. CB
We don't need great CB's in our system, even though it would be amazing to have an elite CB for a change. Ike Taylor is somewhat underrated, but that's due to the fact that he's got the worst hands in the freaking world. Bryant McFadden is average, and Gai is inconsistent. Was the best nickel corner in the league back in 08, had a pretty poor 09 season as a starter, and has been both good and bad this year as a nickel corner. Again, we don't really need elite corners in our system. With the OLB's generating enough pressure, and Polamalu roaming around somewhere on the field, the CB's usually are in good position to prevent the catch or make an immediate tackle.

7. FS
Clark basically has to cover a deep zone, while helping CB's with deep routes. Rarely moves up to the line of scrimmage, and while he's a good tackler (and hard hitter), he's not an elite safety by any means. He's a good complement to Polamalu because he does his job and doesn't miss many assignments, but he's not a playmaker either. One could say he plays off of Polamalu. He's a smart guy too, and likes playing for the team. Not everyone will agree with this, but he does his job pretty well and I like having him on the team. FS is #7 for me because I think it's the easiest position on our defense to plug someone in and feel the least negative impact.

So that's my take. Again, not a big fan of NT at #5, but that's how it is. NT's are a big piece of a successful run defense, and that's exactly what Hampton is for us. I also feel that our DE's carry very similar duties to those of NT's, with other assignments on top of them, which is why I have them much higher. If I could, I'd simply put D-Line at #2, but I decided to break it down.

Hope other Steelers fans give their input on this, as well as having fans from other teams elaborate on their schemes.
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Last edited by Mr. Goosemahn : 12-04-2010 at 05:09 AM.
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Old 12-04-2010, 05:31 AM    (permalink
Gay Ork Wang
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Bears Scheme:

1. DEs
2. UT
3. MLB
4. NT
5. OLBs
6. S
7. CBs
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Old 12-04-2010, 05:45 AM    (permalink
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The Bears and Bucs are very similar, although I think corners are valued higher in the system the Bucs are running now.
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Old 12-04-2010, 06:08 AM    (permalink
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i just know that our CBs are crap and are only good at tackling
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Old 12-04-2010, 06:16 AM    (permalink
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i just know that our CBs are crap and are only good at tackling
You guys need your very own Aqib!
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Old 12-04-2010, 06:50 AM    (permalink
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43 (not all that scheme specific but assuming corners follow the receivers around and not just cover 1 side like the raiders do)

1 WDE
2 UT
3 MLB
4 CB1
5 SDE
6 WLB
7 FS
8 CB2
9 NT
10 SLB
11 SS
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:14 AM    (permalink
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Pass rusher (DE/OLB) and CB are the most important in general.

I think the importance of the 3-4 NT is diminishing somewhat given how much teams pass and spread you out nowadays.

And the role of the traditional 34 NT is changing as well. But that discussion is for another day.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:08 AM    (permalink
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For New England's scheme, best guess:

1. Nose tackle

This guy is the anchor vs. the run and the guy who frees up the secondary to make plays. The team invested a first-round pick in Vince Wilfork and gave him a $40 million contract this offseason to show his importance.

2. Inside linebacker

New England's defense is based around adjustments based on film, so they need an extremely smart, organized "quarterback" to lead the defense and make the reads. The team drafted Jerod Mayo in the first round, and last year drafted Brandon Spikes in the second.

3. Safety

These guys are making all the reads in the secondary, and are the last line of defense. New England invested a first-round pick in Brandon Meriweather and a high second-round pick in Patrick Chung recently, and Eugene Wilson a few years ago.

4. Cornerback

Recently, the league has become much more pass-happy, so the Patriots like to try and build depth here. They signed Leigh Bodden to a $22 million contract, and have spent multiple first and second-round picks on corners (Devin McCourty, Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley.)

5. Defensive End

These guys are responsible for two gaps each, so there is an increased premium on being big and strong with a nice wingspan. Their job is to disrupt rushing lanes and free up the linebackers to make plays. The team has drafted Richard Seymour, Ty Warren, Marquise Hill, and Ron Brace in either the first or second round during Belichick's tenure.

6. Outside Linebacker

The only defensive position the team hasn't invested too heavily in during Belichick's tenure. New England's defense looks for big, smart outside linebackers who can set the edge and drop into coverage, but an elite pass rusher is needed. Drafted Jermaine Cunningham in the second round last year.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:36 AM    (permalink
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For me if I ran my defence:

1. UT
2. LCB
3. RCB
4. SLB
5. RE
6. SS
7. NT
8. LE
9. WLB
10. FS
11. MLB
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:29 AM    (permalink
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The 34 DE is way under-rated. Richard Seymour was a cornerstone for a 3 championship dynasty. Aaron Smith is what makes Pittsburgh's defense, not Troy Polamalu. Haloti Ngata? Yea, when he's in the game, you get Ngata.

For a 34 defense:
ROLB
RDE
RCB
NT
LOLB
LDE
LCB
MIKE
WILL
SS
FS
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:57 PM    (permalink
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If I were to start and implement my own scheme with my beliefs, it would probably be something like :

FS
DTs
CBs
The rest in no particular order.
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Old 12-04-2010, 03:02 PM    (permalink
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In a 4-3:

DE
DE
DT
CB
CB
DT
CB
S
DE
S

MLB
WLB
SLB
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Old 12-04-2010, 03:13 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by Mr. Goosemahn View Post
I think these rankings will vary depending on each team's individual scheme, so I'll do Pittsburgh's scheme (my opinion though).

1.a) ROLB
In Pittsburgh's scheme, the LB's are the most important unit. Out of those, I believe that ROLB is the most important position. The large majority of the pressure applied on the QB comes from the OLB's, and ROLB brings it from the blindside. The equivalent of guys like Jared Allen, Dwight Freeney, and Julius Peppers, James Harrison specializes in rushing the passer and is pretty good at it. On top of rushing the passer, the ROLB has to hold his own vs. the run and do well in coverage. James Harrison has done a great job as the ROLB in the past years, and he's actually having an excellent season this year, but it's all being overshadowed by the flags and fines.

56 solo tackles, 19 assisted tackles, 75 total, 10 sacks, 2 INT's, 6 forced fumbles, and 4 passes defended. Pretty damn good if you ask me, especially when compared to the stats posted by the other elite 3-4 OLB's such as Matthews and Ware. Around 35 more tackles than Matthews, two sacks less, one INT more, 5 more forced fumbles, and 1 more pass defended. Compared to Ware, Harrison's got about 30 more tackles, same sacks, 2 more INT's (Ware has none), 5 more forced fumbles, and 3 more passes defended. Again, pretty good season.

1.b) LOLB
Basically the same thing as ROLB, except it's not from the blindside. OLB's are crucial to our success, and Harrison and Woodley are a great pair of players. Both are good vs. the run, are great pass-rushers, and are simply great fits for our defense.

2. DE
The defensive ends are the next more important piece to our defense, IMO. Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel are in charge of holding gaps in the run game, as well as clearing up lanes for the ILB's to get to the RB's in running plays or the QB if they blitz. Also, they need to take up the guards and center (sometimes also the tackle) when our OLB's are blitzing. The only reason why I have OLB above DE is because I believe that our defense fares better with a great LB unit and mediocre D-Line than a mediocre LB unit and great D-Line. When Smith goes down, the defense definitely takes a hit, but as long as the OLB's keep their game up, the drop-off shouldn't be too big.

3. SS
The only reason SS is so high is because we have Troy Polamalu and the defense is modified to take advantage of his skills and abilities. Troy is the glue that holds things together, IMO. Aaron Smith is the foundation of the defense, while Polamalu is everything above. Polamalu roams the field in an incredible way, and while this hasn't been his best year, he still makes good plays. Definitely not your prototypical safety with his non-traditional way of tackling, but that's just the way he is. He has great instincts, and I'm pretty sure that on the majority of calls, there really isn't a defined action for him to take, just "go with his gut instinct." Example, look at my avy. Pretty sure that play isn't designed to have him jump over the O-line but, hey, he did it and it worked. He's also essential to our pass-defense. We don't have great CB's, which is why Polamalu always has to be on his game and make plays.

4. ILB
These two guys are also important to our defense. They have to blast through the lanes our D-Line creates to stop opposing RB's, as well as dropping back into coverage vs. TE's and RB's. The Buck (Timmons) has to take on opposing blockers, be it fullbacks, TE's, or linemen, to ensure that the Mack (Farrior) is open to make plays. IMO, Timmons should be the Mack due to the fact that he's got superior physical abilities and is a flat out playmaker, even as a buck. He's had a monster year for us, finally breaking out. For the past years, Foote was the Buck and did a great job.

5. NT
Some may consider this too low for a 3-4 defense, but that's just the way I see it in our system. Not taking away anything from Hampton, he's a phenomenal NT, but it's just that the role of the NT has actually been decreasing in our defense. We usually use a NT only in the first two downs, as we only go with 2 DE's in passing downs, and he's had decreasing playing time since we've had a better rotation with Chris Hoke there. Hampton and Hoke are critical at stopping the run, which is why I wish I could place them higher, but they don't do much on passing downs. Again, didn't really place them down here because they don't do much, it's just that I placed the others higher because I think they do more.

6. CB
We don't need great CB's in our system, even though it would be amazing to have an elite CB for a change. Ike Taylor is somewhat underrated, but that's due to the fact that he's got the worst hands in the freaking world. Bryant McFadden is average, and Gai is inconsistent. Was the best nickel corner in the league back in 08, had a pretty poor 09 season as a starter, and has been both good and bad this year as a nickel corner. Again, we don't really need elite corners in our system. With the OLB's generating enough pressure, and Polamalu roaming around somewhere on the field, the CB's usually are in good position to prevent the catch or make an immediate tackle.

7. FS
Clark basically has to cover a deep zone, while helping CB's with deep routes. Rarely moves up to the line of scrimmage, and while he's a good tackler (and hard hitter), he's not an elite safety by any means. He's a good complement to Polamalu because he does his job and doesn't miss many assignments, but he's not a playmaker either. One could say he plays off of Polamalu. He's a smart guy too, and likes playing for the team. Not everyone will agree with this, but he does his job pretty well and I like having him on the team. FS is #7 for me because I think it's the easiest position on our defense to plug someone in and feel the least negative impact.

So that's my take. Again, not a big fan of NT at #5, but that's how it is. NT's are a big piece of a successful run defense, and that's exactly what Hampton is for us. I also feel that our DE's carry very similar duties to those of NT's, with other assignments on top of them, which is why I have them much higher. If I could, I'd simply put D-Line at #2, but I decided to break it down.

Hope other Steelers fans give their input on this, as well as having fans from other teams elaborate on their schemes.
James Harrison was an UDFA passed between the Ravens and the Steelers til he roided up enough to stick with one of them. As important as the LB position is for the Steelers defense, they never put that much of an investment into it. They have guys like Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Chad Brown, Joey Porter, etc etc etc all come and go and not really miss a step.

They put a substantially larger investment into their defensive line as well they should. Guys like Hampton and Aaron Smith make that defense go. Having Nose Tackle 5th is just unbelievable.
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Old 12-04-2010, 07:45 PM    (permalink
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James Harrison was an UDFA passed between the Ravens and the Steelers til he roided up enough to stick with one of them. As important as the LB position is for the Steelers defense, they never put that much of an investment into it.
Seriously? In the past five years, the position the Steelers have addressed the most in the draft has been LB, with seven picks. Add in some free agents like Keyaron Fox, and UDFA like Patrick Bailey and Donovan Woods, and LB is easily the position the Steelers invest in the most. Just look at this past year. We already have great starters in Harrison and Woodley, and we still drafted two more OLB in the first four rounds. I'll still elaborate further down.

Also, the only big defensive FA the team has signed in the past decade was a LB, James Farrior. We invest heavily in LB, and it shows. As for investing heavily in the D-Line, again, I'll talk about it later on, but neither Smith nor Keisel were early picks. Aaron Smith was a 4th round pick and Brett Keisel was a 7th rounder. Only Hampton was an early pick (1st).

Quote:
They have guys like Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Chad Brown, Joey Porter, etc etc etc all come and go and not really miss a step. They put a substantially larger investment into their defensive line as well they should.
James Harrison wasn't going to be the long term answer at OLB though, he just happened to play like a monster when Porter was released. Timmons was drafted in the first and Woodley in the second, and I believe the original plan was to have both guys play outside.

Yes, our scheme is very LB-friendly, but that doesn't mean you can simply plug in any guy and have him play at a high level. What James Harrison does for our defense is huge. And the reason there are always great guys playing OLB is because we need great guys at OLB.

And no, I don't believe we put a substantially larger investment into the defensive line. Yes James Harrison was an UDFA, but LaMarr Woodley was a second rounder, Jason Worilds is also a second rounder, and there have been other recent high picks at OLB. Thaddeus Gibson in the 4th (no longer with team), Bruce Davis in the 3rd in 08 (no longer with team), etc.

In the past five years, here are all the defensive linemen Pittsburgh has drafted:
- DT Orien Harris, Fifth Round, 2006
- DT Ryan McBean, Fourth Round, 2007
- DT Evander Hood, First Round, 2009
- DT Ra'Shon Harris, Sixth Round, 2009
- DT Doug Worthington, Seventh Round, 2010

Out of all of these, the only guy who was drafted to play NT was Orien Harris. Ra'Shon Harris was also used at NT during training camps, but didn't lead to much. Only Hood remains with the team.

In the same years, here are all the linebackers Pittsburgh has drafted:
- LB Lawrence Timmons, First Round, 2007
- DE LaMarr Woodley, Second Round, 2007
- DE Bruce Davis, Third Round, 2008
- LB Mike Humpal, Sixth Round, 2008
- DE Jason Worilds, Second Round, 2010
- LB Thaddeus Gibson, Fourth Round, 2010
- LB Stevenson Sylvester, Fifth Round, 2010

Out of all of these, five were originally drafted to play OLB, even though Timmons slid inside. Four remain with the team (Timmons, Woodley, Worilds, and Sylvester).

In both situations, we have good players at NT, DE, and LB, yet we still draft more LB's than DL's. Even with the average age of our defensive line being higher than the average age of our LB group.

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Guys like Hampton and Aaron Smith make that defense go. Having Nose Tackle 5th is just unbelievable.
I know defensive linemen are important to our defense, trust me. And I believe that, ultimately, Aaron Smith is more important to our defense than Hampton is, hence the DE at #2. NT's just don't play as much in our defense as the DE's do, let alone the LB's. Some more evidence of this:

In the past five games, here is the individual defensive participation of each player (stats from Steelersdepot). Participated plays out of entire defensive snaps.

Casey Hampton - 139/323 (43% of plays)
Chris Hoke - 76/323 (23%)

Ziggy Hood - 270/323 (83%)
Nick Eason - 263/323 (81%)

James Harrison - 320/323 (99%) (only game where he didn't play every snap was vs. Raiders, same as Woodley)
LaMarr Woodley - 320/323 (99%)

Out of all the starters, Hampton is the one who plays the least. Nick Eason alone has more snaps than both NT's combined.

So no, having NT at #5 isn't unbelievable, it's just the way I see things and this is the evidence explaining my reasoning. Like I said, I'd like to simply put D-Line at #2, but breaking it down, DE is more important than NT, IMO.
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Old 12-04-2010, 08:47 PM    (permalink
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So cause you are more successful when drafting lineman and you have to draft more linebackers because: a. you have one more position to fill and b. because you cant strike gold on them, makes Linebackers more important?
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:08 PM    (permalink
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I started to think about what positions are more important than what after what I said earlier today about wide receivers. I can only think of a few positions on EITHER side of the ball that I could honestly say are substantially more or less important than others.

In the 3-4, I'd say the most important position is nose tackle as that is what anchors the defense. After that, I just don't know. In truth, if you have a weakness anywhere, the opposing team is going to try to exploit it.

Unless they're the Jets against Baltimore.

Look at the Giants secondary last year with quality corners but the league's worst safeties.
Look at the Jets top 3 ranked defense that hasn't had an elite pass rusher since John Abraham left.
Look at what Phillip Rivers has done with the cast of receivers in San Diego. And then follow that up by looking at what has happened to the Colts with their injuries at WR.

I'll take that one step further.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson a few years back was considered to be a near bust. He complained that it was because he had to cover for a terrible left guard. So the Jets replaced their lackluster left guard and right tackle with Alan Faneca and Damien Woody. What happened? The Jets OL went from being well below average to one of the best in the league almost overnight and suddenly Ferguson is a pro bowler.
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:50 PM    (permalink
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So cause you are more successful when drafting lineman and you have to draft more linebackers because: a. you have one more position to fill and b. because you cant strike gold on them, makes Linebackers more important?
I was just saying that we invest more in LB's than in D-Linemen, countering this statement:

"As important as the LB position is for the Steelers defense, they never put that much of an investment into it."

And I wouldn't say we're more successful at drafting defensive linemen, at least not recently.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:10 PM    (permalink
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I was just saying that we invest more in LB's than in D-Linemen, countering this statement:

"As important as the LB position is for the Steelers defense, they never put that much of an investment into it."

And I wouldn't say we're more successful at drafting defensive linemen, at least not recently.
Casey Hampton is in his 10th season, all with the Steelers.

Aaron Smith is in his 12th season, all with the Steelers.

Has Brett Keisel ever played anywhere else?

Meanwhile, they recycle linebackers all the time

And this is a team that does not hand out much money in terms of keeping players in Pittsburgh, so it shows you just how much they think of Hampton and Smith.
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:02 PM    (permalink
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4-3 team (not modeled after a certain team)

1. DT
2. DT
3. DE
4. DE
5. CB
6. CB
7. MLB
8. FS
9. SLB
10. SS
11. WLB
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:21 PM    (permalink
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Casey Hampton is in his 10th season, all with the Steelers.

Aaron Smith is in his 12th season, all with the Steelers.

Has Brett Keisel ever played anywhere else?

Meanwhile, they recycle linebackers all the time

And this is a team that does not hand out much money in terms of keeping players in Pittsburgh, so it shows you just how much they think of Hampton and Smith.
I see what you're saying. For what it's worth, Harrison also got a huge deal last year.
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