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supersteeler
01-23-2013, 06:22 PM
High picks not wasted on DL
Posted 1 hour ago

Bob Labriola
Steelers Digest

@BobLabriola

aaFinding Brett Keisel on the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft with the 242nd overall pick, grabbing an Aaron Smith in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft – those are the player personnel equivalents of hitting the lottery. And while it’s true that somebody wins the lottery every day, very, very, very rarely are you that somebody.

Because defensive linemen in a 3-4 scheme have come to be seen as complementary pieces, and because the Steelers had such grand success with Smith and Keisel, can the argument be made that spending high draft picks on this unit is a waste?

“Yes, you can get lucky in the seventh round,” said General Manager Kevin Colbert. “Any time a late (drafted) player develops into a starter, you got lucky because if you thought that player was that good, you should’ve taken him earlier. It’s a credit to the player and it’s a credit to his coach that they exceeded our expectations.”

Clearly, Smith and Keisel exceeded expectations. But does that then make the No. 1 pick used on Casey Hampton back in 2001 a waste? That seems to be a ridiculous contention to make about a player who was voted to five Pro Bowls – more than every defensive lineman in franchise history except for Ernie Stautner, Joe Greene, and L.C. Greenwood, by the way – and was a starter on teams that were 2-1 in Super Bowls during his career here.

“Defensive linemen are a premium in this league,” said Colbert, “and so if you want to have a good defensive line, you do have to invest higher picks because, traditionally, the big guys are going to be picked higher. You look at the Pro Bowl numbers, 70 percent of the guys voted to the Pro Bowl are picked in the first three rounds. I believe it’s 56 percent are picked in the first round. So, there’s no great mystery to it. Whether or not a guy lives up to that expectation, we’ll see.”

Here’s another question to ponder: who are the best 3-4 defensive linemen in the NFL right now? There could be some disagreement, but J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Justin Smith of the San Francisco 49ers are two of the players who must be included on any such short list.

Smith was a first-round pick in 2001, the fourth overall selection in the same draft where Hampton came to the Steelers 19th overall. And Watt was a first-round pick as well, 11th overall in the same 2011 draft that brought Cameron Heyward to the Steelers 31st overall.

And with Steelers fans, that’s really the crux of the matter. Did their favorite team waste first-round draft picks on Ziggy Hood in 2009 and in Heyward in 2011?

As is to be expected, Colbert doesn’t believe that to be the case with either Hood or Hayward, and it’s not that difficult to come up with some facts to support his opinion.

Hood will play his fifth NFL season as a 26-year-old in 2013, and after learning behind Smith for most of his first two seasons he now has started 39 games. In 2012, his first full season as a starter, Hood finished with 40 tackles, three sacks and 17 pressures, second among the team’s defensive linemen to Keisel in all three categories. Certainly the Steelers need more from Hood, and they will expect more from him as soon as the 2013 season, but those are not the numbers of a bust.

Heyward will play his third NFL season as a 24-year-old, and because he came into the league during the lockout he missed out on the entire offseason of his rookie year. Playing behind Keisel, Heyward has not made an NFL start as yet, and he finished 2012 with 22 tackles and 1.5 sacks. And don’t be so quick to criticize Heyward for not being take Keisel’s starting job, or Hood for finishing second to Keisel in those primary statistical categories, because Brett Keisel remains highly productive, with 58 tackles, 4.5 sacks and 40 pressures in 2012.

“Collectively that group of defensive linemen, we’re happy with them because they’re part of a productive defense,” said Colbert. “Productivity for a defensive lineman in the 3-4 is based as much on plays that he creates as it is plays that he makes, because in all honesty, the playmakers in the 3-4 are designed to be the linebackers. There may be a time where a defensive lineman doesn’t look like he’s making the play, but he is creating a play for another guy.

“Traditionally, 3-4 linemen aren’t going to be great playmakers, but they should be capable play-creators, and you do have to draft them high.”

fezziwig
01-23-2013, 07:52 PM
I get what he's saying but I'm not sold on it. Too many times I see Ziggy getting pushed around, slapped around or bowled over. I can't say too much good about Heyward either because he's hardly given a chance. Kiesel and Smith were a steal and they have done excellent. I don't know of any Steeer fan that feels Hampton was a waste at a number one pick. I'd take a Hampton every time given the chance. Maybe one season Hood will do well and maybe even get to a pro bowl but I highly doubt it but if hat happens, people will forget how much he truly sucked and then they'll say he was great.
Let's look at from the positive side and say they are doing their jobs. If they're doing their jobs then who isn't performing at their own job.

I guess Lamar Woodley could have fingers pointed at him and the lack of James Harrison. So with that, our defensive line needs Harrison and Woodley to be at their best, top physical condition so the defenseive line can look good. It's already known Ziggy is a first round pick along with Heyward and Hampton. You have and had Kiesel and Smith playing like high number one draft picks and yet, all this number one talent and we can't get to the qb, create turnovers etc.
If the d-line was getting the job done, our backups and or average starters should be making more progress along with our starters.

Slapstick
01-23-2013, 09:18 PM
Our D-Line is doing their job and that's part of the why the defense was #1 in yardage and #6 in points allowed...

Guys like Woodley, Harrison and Timmons need to be healthy to make the splash plays...the guys who aren't as talented as those three make tackles, but not splash plays...

supersteeler
01-23-2013, 09:20 PM
The injuries to Lamar and James hurt us big time. No player stepped up when given the opportunity like James did when Joey Porter was injured and he replaced him back in the day.

Carter did squat and Worlids only made a few good plays but inconsistent. Its going to tough to find a player like James Harrison should he not be here next season. Our D-line never was that good getting sacks, it isn't designed that way, they are supposed to eat up blocks opening up lanes for our LB's and stopping the run.
Aaron Smith was the last D-linemen I can remember that had 8 sacks which is damn good considering our scheme, but a healthy Harrison and Woodley all year would of made a difference.

fezziwig
01-24-2013, 08:55 AM
No joke that the defense does better with James Harrison. How many James Harrisons fall from the trees these days ? Th d-line needs to improve also because they can't always have a super star in the wings. Woodley has turned into an over weight mouth that he can't backup. Being out of shape doesn't help his injury problems and are probably the cause of his injuries. I thought Joey Porter was over hyped but I will say, the guy came to play and was always in shape as far as I remember.

Jooser
01-24-2013, 09:51 AM
Supports exactly why I say we need to get a complimentary ILB that's a stud next to Timmons. The LB's are your stars in this defense, everything revolves around them making plays. The LB's were inconsistent this past season, and we gave up points when we shouldn't have.

Slapstick
01-24-2013, 09:52 AM
No joke that the defense does better with James Harrison. How many James Harrisons fall from the trees these days ? Th d-line needs to improve also because they can't always have a super star in the wings. Woodley has turned into an over weight mouth that he can't backup. Being out of shape doesn't help his injury problems and are probably the cause of his injuries. I thought Joey Porter was over hyped but I will say, the guy came to play and was always in shape as far as I remember.

And that's why guys like Ovi call for the 4-3 incessantly...

If you want your d-linemen to get after the QB, then you have to scheme to send them...

Yes, Aaron Smith had an 8 sack performance in a season...statistically, that was an outlier...more often than not, the DEs in this scheme get less than 5 sacks...

Remember this?:


More of an issue is Ta‘amu getting used to the switch from defensive end to nose tackle in the Steelers‘ 3-4 scheme.

Ta‘amu is required to occupy blocks with his wide frame and stay gap-sound rather than use his athleticism to make plays. He found out at minicamp that‘s not as easy as it might seem.

“I got to the quarterback on one play, but the coaches told me that we are a gap team and we don‘t need a Superman,” Ta‘amu said


Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/1452321-85/amu-steelers-pounds-pick-senior-camp-college-freshman-issue-round#ixzz2ItupRQNk

Mister Pittsburgh
01-24-2013, 01:21 PM
When is Ta'amu's sentencing? We need to find out what use he will be to us.....

If he has to spend, say, 30 days in jail and could start in February though March....do we cut the guy?

steelz09
01-24-2013, 01:32 PM
When is Ta'amu's sentencing? We need to find out what use he will be to us.....

If he has to spend, say, 30 days in jail and could start in February though March....do we cut the guy?

Hopefully not. I'm not ready to give up on the guy.

Mister Pittsburgh
01-24-2013, 02:11 PM
Hopefully not. I'm not ready to give up on the guy.

Something like that, his crime, seems like a big fine, 30 days locked up, alcohol counseling, losing license for a year, and probation, would be enough to get the point across.

Oviedo
01-24-2013, 02:46 PM
And that's why guys like Ovi call for the 4-3 incessantly...

If you want your d-linemen to get after the QB, then you have to scheme to send them...

Yes, Aaron Smith had an 8 sack performance in a season...statistically, that was an outlier...more often than not, the DEs in this scheme get less than 5 sacks...

Remember this?:

Thank you Slappy. The ability to replenish talent in the 3-4 is exactly why I support the 4-3.

phillyesq
01-24-2013, 03:02 PM
And that's why guys like Ovi call for the 4-3 incessantly...

If you want your d-linemen to get after the QB, then you have to scheme to send them...

Yes, Aaron Smith had an 8 sack performance in a season...statistically, that was an outlier...more often than not, the DEs in this scheme get less than 5 sacks...

Remember this?:

KVO and Ray Seals were also guys that had 8+ sacks in a season and could push the pocket. On passing downs, Heyward does seem to have some ability to create pressure, but I haven't seen it from Ziggy Hood.

Oviedo
01-24-2013, 03:25 PM
KVO and Ray Seals were also guys that had 8+ sacks in a season and could push the pocket. On passing downs, Heyward does seem to have some ability to create pressure, but I haven't seen it from Ziggy Hood.

Those high sack seasons are outliers for DEs playing in our scheme. They are once, maybe twice, a decade occurences.

Slapstick
01-24-2013, 03:46 PM
The other thing is, and I've said this quite a bit before:

JJ Watt and Justin Smith play in one-gap 3-4 schemes...the Steelers and the Patriots use two-gap 3-4 schemes...

Who were great Patriots D-Linemen? Richard Seymour (#6 overall) and Vince Wilfork (#21 overall)...

phillyesq
01-24-2013, 04:30 PM
Those high sack seasons are outliers for DEs playing in our scheme. They are once, maybe twice, a decade occurences.

It's about more than sacks. It's about controlling the line and getting pressure. Regardless, the point is that talented guys in the Steelers scheme do get sacks. No, they aren't putting up the numbers of a JJ Watt, but nobody really is. Justin Smith has never put up more than 8 sacks in a season, and he is widely regarded as among the best lineman in football - a reputation that he earned not in a 4-3, but after moving to a 3-4.

Oviedo
01-24-2013, 04:45 PM
It's about more than sacks. It's about controlling the line and getting pressure. Regardless, the point is that talented guys in the Steelers scheme do get sacks. No, they aren't putting up the numbers of a JJ Watt, but nobody really is. Justin Smith has never put up more than 8 sacks in a season, and he is widely regarded as among the best lineman in football - a reputation that he earned not in a 4-3, but after moving to a 3-4.

JJ Watt and Justin Smith are also allowed to go after the QB more in the way they run the 3-4 than our DEs. Not all 3-4 are the same. Some DLs are allowed to be more attack oriented than I think LeBeau has our guys playing.

ikestops85
01-24-2013, 05:42 PM
Here is an interesting article on the comparison of the 4-3 vs the 3-4 on rushing the passer.

3-4 vs 4-3 comparison (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1289011-showcasing-the-biggest-differences-in-the-4-3-and-3-4-pass-rush)

fezziwig
01-24-2013, 06:06 PM
When the Steelers were the only one or one of the few teams that did the 3-4 they had better pickings at nose tackles of need or linemen/linebackers of need at the time. So many teams now run the 3-4 we no longer have the resources that are needed. Everyone wants the giant nose tackle and the gifted linebackers that fit the scheme.
Time to trade back to the 4-3 and many teams in my opinion now have a more difficult time adjusting to the 4-3.
I know, as long as Lebeau is around the 3-4 will be around. Things go in cycles and I believe the cycle of the 3-4 will soon wear itself out do to lack of players to fill the position.

Oviedo
01-24-2013, 06:34 PM
When the Steelers were the only one or one of the few teams that did the 3-4 they had better pickings at nose tackles of need or linemen/linebackers of need at the time. So many teams now run the 3-4 we no longer have the resources that are needed. Everyone wants the giant nose tackle and the gifted linebackers that fit the scheme.
Time to trade back to the 4-3 and many teams in my opinion now have a more difficult time adjusting to the 4-3.
I know, as long as Lebeau is around the 3-4 will be around. Things go in cycles and I believe the cycle of the 3-4 will soon wear itself out do to lack of players to fill the position.

Like I have been saying. Be the change leader not the change follower.

Chadman
01-24-2013, 06:43 PM
Like I have been saying. Be the change leader not the change follower.

Moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 is hardly leading change. :)

The DL/pass rush struggles have gone hand-in-hand with the decline of Casey Hampton. NT is the key. Get a guy in there that commands a double team on every snap, and somewhere along the line you'll have either a DE or LB that is one-on-one or better, uncovered. If Cam Heyward plays up to his physical skills, then he'll also draw double blocking. That opens up everything.

Steelers DL at their prime had Hampton taking up 2 blockers, Smith taking up 2 blockers & Keisel taking 1 OT. No wonder the LB's were so dominant.

NT is the key to the 3-4, always has been.

phillyesq
01-24-2013, 06:53 PM
JJ Watt and Justin Smith are also allowed to go after the QB more in the way they run the 3-4 than our DEs. Not all 3-4 are the same. Some DLs are allowed to be more attack oriented than I think LeBeau has our guys playing.

And despite that, Justin Smith has never had more than 8 sacks in a season. And in a base defense, yes, a DE in a single gap 3-4 will attack more. But on passing downs, the DEs are sent after the QB. At some point, you need to have the talent to get there.

Slapstick
01-25-2013, 07:22 AM
And despite that, Justin Smith has never had more than 8 sacks in a season. And in a base defense, yes, a DE in a single gap 3-4 will attack more. But on passing downs, the DEs are sent after the QB. At some point, you need to have the talent to get there.

He has had more than 8 sacks, but not by much...

In five years in SF, he has averaged over six sacks per year...not unheard of in a single season for Steelers 3-4 DEs, but never such an number over the course of several years...Keisel averaged less than half that number over the last five years...

aggiebones
01-25-2013, 10:31 AM
More than 5 sacks by a DE In our system is rare more than common. And if you look at all of the sex, there's probably a few quarterback fall downs or blown assignments to get +5. Keisel has been very good but not out of the gate. He was a backup for years I think. Are the young DEs getting better?
Yes, but Hood may never reach Smith status. And while he was regarded as very good, how many pro bowls did he win in his first 10yrs? He did his job quietly. Sacks and pro bowls aren't much notice of us having good DEs.

phillyesq
01-25-2013, 10:33 AM
He has had more than 8 sacks, but not by much...

In five years in SF, he has averaged over six sacks per year...not unheard of in a single season for Steelers 3-4 DEs, but never such an number over the course of several years...Keisel averaged less than half that number over the last five years...

I stand corrected - he has never reached 9 sacks in a season. Apparently he has 2 with 8.5:

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/S/SmitJu20.htm

phillyesq
01-25-2013, 10:34 AM
More than 5 sacks by a DE In our system is rare more than common. And if you look at all of the sex, there's probably a few quarterback fall downs or blown assignments to get +5. Keisel has been very good but not out of the gate. He was a backup for years I think. Are the young DEs getting better?

Hey now - this is a family board!! ;)

flippy
01-25-2013, 12:39 PM
Keisel's a good athlete for a DE, but he's still nowhere close to as good as Aaron Smith was. In that context, we've lowered the standard of performance on the DLine. We're comparing Hood and Heyward to Keisel's performance which is a step down from Smitty.

And we picked Hood and Heyward with first round picks. These guys need to be better than Smitty, otherwise, we're always gonna view them as a bit of a bust.

Slapstick
01-25-2013, 12:51 PM
Keisel's a good athlete for a DE, but he's still nowhere close to as good as Aaron Smith was. In that context, we've lowered the standard of performance on the DLine. We're comparing Hood and Heyward to Keisel's performance which is a step down from Smitty.

And we picked Hood and Heyward with first round picks. These guys need to be better than Smitty, otherwise, we're always gonna view them as a bit of a bust.

Huh?

So, is any LB we draft going to be a bust because he isn't as good as James Harrison?

Smitty was an all-time great 3-4 DE...period...

hawaiiansteel
05-18-2013, 03:04 PM
Ed Bouchette's Steelers chat transcript: 5.14.13

TUESDAY, 14 MAY 2013 WRITTEN BY ED BOUCHETTE

Dsf: Last week I asked about Cam Heyward playing in a similar 3-4 at Ohio State, and you said that Heyward has not been playing b/c Keisel has been so good, but Gerry has commented that Heyward frequently looks lost and confused. Do you see that in Heyward as well?

Ed Bouchette: I've been told that Heyward is better than Ziggy Hood and will get a chance to unseat him this year.

dave: Do you know if Casey Hampton wants to keep playing? Would he be willing to come back as a backup?

Ed Bouchette: I believe Casey does want to keep playing, at least that is what he said at the end of the year (but then, so did Hines Ward at the end of 2011). I don't think the Steelers want him back.

Zack: If we don't play on resigning Ziggy, because he would be better in a 4-3 scheme, couldn't we look to trade him

Ed Bouchette: First, I don't know that they don't plan to re-sign him and, second, trades don't happen very often in this league, especially by the team you are talking about. I suppose they could trade him, but I don' t think they'd get a high pick for him.

JamesinNYC: Any chance they could flip Hood inside with McClendon moving to DE?

Ed Bouchette: I think Steve McLendon could do that, but I don't think they will at this stage of Ziggy's career.

http://plus.sites.post-gazette.com/index.php/pro-sports/steelers/121190-ed-bouchettes-steelers-chat-transcript-51413