Lack of pass rush. A different point of view

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  • There's something about this lack of a pass-rush that has gotten me thinking a lot. We are not a great pass-rushing team, obviously, yet here we stand, #1 scoring defense in the league...where's the correlation? A poor-pass rushing team does not lead the league in the categories it does unless it is by some sort of design..

    Here's a few ideas I've come up with our reasons for a lack of pass-rush, right or wrong.

    - Bend but don't break philosophy: Besides turnovers, big plays are one of the most likely contributor to a win or loss and I'm willing to guess that our defense is near the top in the league in minimizing big plays. Part of the reason why is that our style of play of keeping the offense in front of the defense and force them to eke out every yard, and every first down. Of course heavy blitzing would create more pressure, but it allows for more big plays to be giving up, too.

    - Stop the run first: i don't know the stat now, but a few weeks back, we lead the league in longest-yards-to-go on 3rd down. A big part of that is Red and Alan Branch. So, adding this fact to our Bend But Don't Break philosophy, it means opposing team's QBs have to make a long 3rd down play multiple times in the same drive, which is pretty tough to do. Those two guys don't provide much pass-rush, if at all, but they stop the run which is goal #1.

    - Lack of pass-rush by our 3rd down defense: Jason Jones is out (and has been somewhat of a disappointment), Irvin has hit a wall, and Scruggs and McDonald have not provided much of anything else..just recently Pete commented on areas of concern and it wasn't our base D he mentioned, it was the 3rd down D, and its been that group of we guys who need to step it up. Not the Base Defense.

    - Limited Blitz: We don't blitz a lot, so considering that, it's no surprise we are actually quite successful at it when we do. We catch teams off-guard with it. So, if we increase our blitz package, do we see an equal increase in success or would we lose the element of surprise, opening ourselves to big plays. That's one I have no idea on.

    Now, don't get me wrong, there's a lot of room for improvement. We need to create more pressure on the quarterback, especially 3rd downs, but I'm not on board with what seems to be a call for dramatic change with the defense, as if it's either 'Blitz more or get a traditional defensive end besides Red' or 'Do whatever it take to get a new 3-tech'. So far, the defense is mostly doing what is asked of them, and so far it's working damn well.

    I'm a believer that the "eye-test" can tell us more than stats do, but our lack of pass-rush issue feels like our eyes are failing to see something that the stats are telling us to be true, and that is that we are a top defense because in our scheme, we don't need an elite pass-rush. This may sound crazy, because of the state of the NFL right now, but we may be overvaluing the importance of sacks and pressure instead of focusing on what has gotten this defense into the position they are in now, which is their bend not break defense, run-stuffing d-line, a limited successful blitz package, and overall, a defense that works by playing unconventional.

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    Last edited by Recon_Hawk on Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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    Recon_Hawk
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  • you may be on to something
    EastCoastHawksFan
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  • It's hard to argue with the numbers ... we end the regular season as the #1 (anti-)scoring defense in the NFL.

    Still, it's frustrating as a fan to see some of these nail-biters. Although I will say I mentally predicted a Sherman INT to end the Rams game. It just seemed the most likely outcome.
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  • Funny, I called an INT at the end of the game too (not anyone specific, though). I think part of the reason us fans sense that sort of stuff is that we know how this team plays. we'll sit back and give the opposing team those short passes but as soon as they start pushing, we capitalize on their mistakes.
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    Recon_Hawk
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  • U made some good points, but I still think we should either get a 3 technique in free agency like Henry Melton or draft one early in the draft to play on 3rd downs and to help in the base d to take some of the workload away from Clemons because he is our sole pass rusher in our base d. I think if they draft a good pass rushing dt in round 1 or 2, they could rotate him in with branch in the base d and play him on 3rd down.
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  • I looked at the Seahawks and I saw that the Seahawks have 28 sacks in 11 wins and only 8 sacks in 5 losses so sacks/pass rush make a big difference. Then I looked at player by player stats and saw that Clemons has 9.5 sacks in wins and 2 in losses and Irvin has 8 sacks in wins and 0 in losses while the other players were basically had no difference between wins and losses so When Irvin and Clemons play good so does the hawks d.
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  • My theory- our pass rush declined late in the year which convieniently for us came at the same time when we were facing a mediocre slate of QBs. Tannehill tore our defense to shreds in the 4th quarter, as did Matt Stafford. If we had faced top 15 QBs every week down the stretch, the story of our defense would be very different.

    Earlier in the year we did face some elite QBs and did reasonably well- but Seattle brought the pass rush in those early games and wasn't afraid to blitz. I really, really, really hope that our lack of blitzing/pressure in the last month is a calculated risk by Carroll, choosing to keep a few state secrets intact while still providing enough defense to beat some flawed QBs in the final few weeks.
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    kearly
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  • I think there's some truth in Carroll taking a calculated risk by holding back the blitz against some teams, but IMO I don't think it's to hid any secrets. To me, it's almost as if Pete believes even if we play seemingly basic defense, we can beat these teams we've played recently, but, if we take our chances in the blitz game, and risk big-plays against us, than that would really be the only way we can lose. So why risk it if he believe we can win taking the safe approach.

    A little off-topic theory of mine, but I've wondered the same thing about the starting of Trufant and Hill instead of Lane and Smith as being another calculated risk. The latter two are easily more physical and talented at their age, but come with more risk of giving up big plays which can have a huge affect of the game, whereas the former two have a minimal effect on the game, either negative or positive, but they aren't a huge liability for game altering plays. Almost like Pete feels the rest of the defense can win the game even with Hill and Tru being average.

    But it all goes back to keeping the big plays to a minimum.
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  • When we're on D, I often keep my eye on Irviin if he is in. Halway through the season Irvin said that the D Line coach had a word with him about coming off too slow at the snap and being hesitant, so he concentrated on coming off quicker. The last couple of games it looks like he is back to playing half speed again. Oftentimes he justs stands up at the snap and fakes sideways movement. For Irvin, everything needs to start with the speed rush. He needs to fly off the line at the snap a few times to get the OT in the habit of going backwards and wide before he can even think about an inside move or a bull rush.
    Even if he's getting pushed behind the QB on a speedrush, it makes the QB step up into the pocket, and as Chris Long showed yesterday you can still come from behind for a sack if you keep the motor running.

    He has also been fairly successful on stunts to the inside, but yesterday he was practically jogging through some stunts and looked like he was taking a rather indirect loop to the hole. I would be interested in hearing from someone who knows a bitmore about lineplay than I do (Kearly, are you there?), as it looks to me that Irvin is getting hesitant in his play again.
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    cdallan
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  • I think, for at least yesterdays game, that Pete played it pretty vanillia on D. And on O for that matter. We know we are in the playoffs, but we do want to win without showing to much.
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    samwize77
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  • Interesting and IMO accurate points.

    Regarding pass rush in general, a key sack here or there in fourth quarter situations could have turned losses to wins for us.
    Our pass rush is not "bad", just not "complete". Without blitzing we almost never have pressure up the middle.

    Irvin has done well, even if he did not finish with double digit sacks. My eyes go to him on almost every play he is in (old d-end).
    Bruce gets free and "gets there" incredibly often. Problem when he gets there is that half a step up puts the qb out of reach. He will get better. Any interior pressure would increase our sack/hurry numbers dramatically IMO.

    Look at pass rushers around the league. It is really tough for any one player to keep an effective rush going all game long- it simply requires an incredible energy expenditure and no one can do it effectively every play or all game long.

    Also look at careers of top pass rushers. Most are not on top for long. Its a tough job, and only an elite few can string together more than two or three high sack years before they slow down and eventually breakdown.

    Basically, I see no need to worry about pass rush. Although the monster 3-tech would help tremendously.
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  • Recon_Hawk wrote:I think there's some truth in Carroll taking a calculated risk by holding back the blitz against some teams, but IMO I don't think it's to hid any secrets. To me, it's almost as if Pete believes even if we play seemingly basic defense, we can beat these teams we've played recently, but, if we take our chances in the blitz game, and risk big-plays against us, than that would really be the only way we can lose. So why risk it if he believe we can win taking the safe approach.

    A little off-topic theory of mine, but I've wondered the same thing about the starting of Trufant and Hill instead of Lane and Smith as being another calculated risk. The latter two are easily more physical and talented at their age, but come with more risk of giving up big plays which can have a huge affect of the game, whereas the former two have a minimal effect on the game, either negative or positive, but they aren't a huge liability for game altering plays. Almost like Pete feels the rest of the defense can win the game even with Hill and Tru being average.

    But it all goes back to keeping the big plays to a minimum.


    Spot...on. Play to the defensive strengths, LB and DB's.
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