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Fixing this D: down the middle is the answer

Discussion in 'Steelers Talk' started by Watt Wack, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. Watt Wack

    Watt Wack Well-Known Member

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    A lot of sports concepts talk about "taking care of the middle" to approach a good unit. The Steeler 3-4 is no exception.

    Everyone knows you need pressure on the QB to succeed and that tends to come from edge rushers, generally speaking, and we need those too.

    BUT....think about when our D has been good in the modern era...what has it alway had and what has it not had when it is poor? A dominant NT first and foremost, followed by pro bowl ILB and a quality, if not great safety.

    The D in the the 90's was formidable. Our NT was Steed, and he was immovable. ILBs Kirkland and Brown were great. And SS was Lake, a perennial pro bowler in his own right. By 2000, the D regressed, as Steed was gone, and without that beast in the middle, that D won't fly. Kirkland was still here, but way too heavy to play like he once did. And our safeties were "Burn't" Alexander and Bell, not exactly pro bowlers.

    But the D started to be its old self (or at least show improvement) with the 1st round selection of Casey "Big Snack" Hampton. He was born to play NT. He wreaked havoc. No one could run the ball vs. us. And, oh by 2005 we had Farrior at ILB (heavilly valued by the team) and at S some guys named Troy and Hope, oh, and we won a ring.

    So, now, no more Hampton, no more Farrior or Shazier (from injury) and a pair of safeties that might be the dead last S unit in the NFL. And, are we surprised - without the middle of the D in good hands - that the unit is not getting it done? Why should we even be surprised? Hargrave was a decent value for where he was drafted, but he is no where near what a Steed and Hampton were. Having a NT who can get to the QB once in a while is nice, but the core job of NT is to gobble up space so the opponent can't run the ball. Until we get a NT of that caliber we will continue to struggle and our ILBs got to be upgraded in a significant way. And the safeties need an even bigger upgrade.

    If the team notices these trends, I could see us draft all D for 3-4 rounds, looking to upgrade all the middle spots: look for NT, ILB and S to all go early.
     
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  2. Blast Furnace

    Blast Furnace Staff Member Mod Team

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    You can have the best NT in the world and he wont help when his fat ass is on the sidelines.

    They need a box safety that can come up and stuff the run when in their nickel defense. Davis misses too many tackles, hopefully he can improve on that or get someone that can and move Davis to FS and cut Mitchell.
     
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  3. groutbrook

    groutbrook

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    I agree, middle of the D line is key. Who do you have in mind at NT coming out in the draft, considering where the Steelers are picking, other teams NT needs, ect?
     
  4. steel1031

    steel1031 Well-Known Member

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    There are 2 guys at the safety position in this draft. Have a shot at both. Plug and play guys. Ronnie harrison. Quin blanding
     
  5. Da Stellars

    Da Stellars Well-Known Member

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    I feel like Heyward and Tuitt are good, but they do need some other guy right next to them who is a force in their own right.

    But with the current D it won't be a NT. I feel we need to either have another BIG DT in the mold of Fletcher Cox or Warren Sapp, or a BIG defensive end like a Michael Strahan or Osi Umenyiora. Emphasis on BIG, so they can not only rush, but also stop the run.

    Not sure who we land a guy like that in the draft?
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  6. Blast Furnace

    Blast Furnace Staff Member Mod Team

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    Or Kyzir White. I like Harrison havent checked out Quin yet.
     
  7. mac daddyo

    mac daddyo Well-Known Member

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    I agree about the slightly used NT. I still prefer a stout DT that can run down the line and also make plays when in the hybrid. I am one that thinks Davis is not the guy that should be playing SS but FS. He, to me is more of a coverage guy than a near the line run stopper. I do agree with the OP and have talked before about our down the middle weakness. Yes we need run stopping Ilb but they all have to run and be good tacklers. Even our corners have to tackle better. We have always had good tackling corners. The thing about this hybrid is everyone has to be able to help out in the run, pass rush and pass coverage as well. They all have to run well too. Speed has always made the best defenses.:cool:
     
  8. Jammasterc

    Jammasterc Well-Known Member

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    Man how this D has fallen.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. stompin69

    stompin69 Member

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    I definitely agree!!! We need an enforcer in the middle, someone that can pass rush and stop the run!!! Flushing Brady out comes through the middle, he is too good to try to rely on edge rushing (although we completely underestimated Harrison's game this year). But Ben and Brady aren't 30 anymore, they just step up and release. If we had the penetration up the middle that prevents a lot of Brady's easy third looks.
     
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  10. mac daddyo

    mac daddyo Well-Known Member

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    Tyler Lancaster from northwestern is a DT at the top of my list.

    Trayvon Henderson at SS or FS from Hawaii. He's quickly moving up the boards from even a week ago,where he was an after thought. Good speed too.

    Nick Off S from TCU. This kid makes plays.:cool:
     
  11. AskQuestionsLater

    AskQuestionsLater Writing Team

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    Do not forget Justin Reid either.


    He reminds me of Ha Ha Clinton Dix; not flashy but very consistent in tackling with solid range to boot.
     
  12. NY STEELERFAN

    NY STEELERFAN Well-Known Member

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    I know it was only one game but wasn't impressed with Henderson at the Senior Bowl, Jeremy Reaves had a nice game and is one to keep an eye on as well.
     
  13. steel1031

    steel1031 Well-Known Member

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    I like reid. Imo he is top of the second tier. I wouldnt be disappointed with him at all. I dont like him in the first though.

    I am still hoping fitzpatrick runs slow and sucks up combine so we can do polamalu trade and get him. One can dream
     
  14. CK 13

    CK 13 Well-Known Member

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    The real issue folks is the defense getting to cute, to many looks that are not working. I feel that Hargrave could stay on the field all 3 downs. Continuity lacks. To many substitutions, to many different looks and it just isn't working. And don't give me numbers. Smokescreen.

    The loss of Shazier was a blow, but the defense was never close to being dominate even with him. Actually they were regressing before he was injured.

    A true young legs free safety is needed. Someone to cover, help over the top. Things that have been lost in a hitter mentality. Ryan Clark was a better player then Mitchell, but still was exposed for his lack of true coverage skills. If a rookie starts at the position, Haden should be calling the secondary signals which I would welcome. Without doubt Davis needs to learn the skill of tackling. To me all's not lost on Davis.

    A stud ILB is needed. 1st pick? Free agent? If they franchise Bell I would doubt they go out and sign a quality free agent. So cap strapped now. So the draft it is. Maybe with Dirty Red taking care of the injury he can come back and man the position but please Spence is a shell.

    A DT/Nose is going to be needed for back up. The Big Dan experience is over.

    Can't leave out Dupree. I wonder if they will give him the 5th year? May 3rd deadline. Here is the thing, they can renege on the option after 2018 if they want to. Or draft another OLB and decline the option. He has not lived up to the billing so far.

    So the first 3 picks should be ILB, FS, OLB. Then Nose and fill in the blanks. Defensive mentality. Defense is the priority.

    Time to simplify the Defensive game plan. This hybrid 3-4 just isn't working.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  15. mac daddyo

    mac daddyo Well-Known Member

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    he had the best week of practice there of any safety i read. nfl draft scout had him ranked as a 7th rounder a week ago and now a 4th. he may move higher. from what i watched of him on tape, the kid can play. i watched him at ohio st. a year or so ago. he's got good numbers, size and some speed, all pluses to transfer to the pro game. reaves is a good player as well. henderson averaged 6.5 tackles a game last year. nick orr is another guy to keep an eye on. he's got some good film. not to mention his team mate travin howard at LB. TCU had a pretty good defense and these two are part of the reason why. :cool:
     
  16. Diamond

    Diamond Well-Known Member

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    Here is a couple of day two NTs who will be later round picks:

    • Tim Settle*, NT, Virginia Tech
      Height: 6-3. Weight: 335.
      Projected 40 Time: 5.30.
      Projected Round (2018): 1-3.
      1/13/18: Settle put together a strong 2017 season and was one of the better defenders on a tough Virginia Tech defense. The big nose tackle totaled 36 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, and one pass batted for the year. That was a big improvement over his 2016 season when he had 17 tackles and no sacks. The physical defender is probably more likely to be a second-day pick in the 2018 NFL Draft given how nose tackles are downgraded.


    • [​IMG] Harrison Phillips, NT, Stanford
      Height: 6-4. Weight: 295.
      Projected 40 Time: 5.24.
      Projected Round (2018): 2-4.
      1/13/18: Phillips turned himself into a NFL prospect with a tremendous senior season. He had 103 tackles with 17 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for the year. In speaking with a director of college scouting who was scouting at Stanford, they felt that Phillips is a mid-rounder. They said that Phillips struggles with double teams and has limitations as a pass-rusher for the NFL that push him down, but they think Phillips is a good run stuffer for the next level. They said his game is similar to former Stanford nose tackle David Parry. Others will probably grade Phillips higher.

      As a junior, Phillips had 46 tackles with 9.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks. He missed his sophomore season with an injury after backing up as a freshman.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  17. NY STEELERFAN

    NY STEELERFAN Well-Known Member

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    He did have a very good week of practice and over at Steeler Depot there is a good write up on him. However in the game he didn't look good, on the long rec TD by Penny, Henderson was the one who wiffed on the tackle. I remember that one but there were a few other plays he didn't look good in. Like I said one game don't mean anything, just what I have watched on him so far.
     
  18. mac daddyo

    mac daddyo Well-Known Member

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    i look at those all star games as the first preseason game. always sloppy. :cool:
     
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  19. NY STEELERFAN

    NY STEELERFAN Well-Known Member

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    As far as DT some that impressed me last weekend were, Justin Jones and BJ Hill both NC ST, Poona Ford Texas and Andrew Brown Virginia. Brown the whole game was super fast on the snap and showed strength.
     
  20. FootballAnalyst98

    FootballAnalyst98 Well-Known Member

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    Need a mix of free agency and draft. Strictly the draft which is the only choice this team has isn't going to help improve the defense significantly like they need to be.
     
  21. NY STEELERFAN

    NY STEELERFAN Well-Known Member

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    Maybe but what I see is guys playing vs other players of their skill level. The speed and strength shows also coverage skills I feel really show up here. jmo
     
  22. NY STEELERFAN

    NY STEELERFAN Well-Known Member

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    Agreed but we have never been big spenders however the last few years we signed a few guys.
     
  23. TheSteelHurtin2188

    TheSteelHurtin2188 Well-Known Member

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    You can’t run a 3-4 without a beast in the middle of the line. Do you really think Farrior or Foote would have done nearly as well without Big Snack eating 3 blocks up in the middle? How was Foote in Detroit? How about Farrior with the Jets? Now Farrior did technically change positions but still. Timmons fell off after Hampton left and the was with Mac in the middle of the line and he was no Hampton but as a true NT I still think he did his job. I don’t see Hargrave eating 2 blocks let alone coming close to needing 3 guys. Look at how long Wilfork played for. Always the same a 3-4 defense in the middle. Why because even old and slow it still took 3 people to move him.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
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  24. pjgruden

    pjgruden

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    And this is why I don't understand why McCullers didn't work out. The dude is a mountain. Does he just have no technique at all? He played in 5 games and only had one tackle. How is that even possible?
    I say bring in someone (if he's re-signed, that is) who could work on his technique and see if they can unlock his enormous potential.
     
  25. Blast Furnace

    Blast Furnace Staff Member Mod Team

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    This is what Ive been thinking. KISS. These guys are thinking too much out there, way too much miscommunications.
     

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