Monday, September 3, 2018

A short note explaining why John Simon and Ryan Delaire were cut, and why Margus Hunt was kept.

I have studied the preseason tape closely and the John Simon and Ryan Delaire cuts were really about speed - just like Ballard said.  

And before I go on, Ballard made it perfectly clear that he is the one that kept Simon here in the first place so he could compete at DE - leaving unsaid that our current DC Matt Eberflus did *not* want to give him that shot. This is the only reason that John Simon did not get cut on the same day as Hankins.

But didn't both Simon and Delaire make some nice plays rushing the passer? Yes, especially Simon - and his were against the starters. 

So, what gives? 

Well, only one of the jobs at DE in this scheme is rushing the passer. It is important, but other aspects are important too. Those other aspects are what Tarell Basham and Kemoko Turay bring: Pursuit. 


For this defense to be great, it has to feature fast, relentless, and violent pursuit of the QB (especially once he leaves the pocket), running backs, and wide receivers on short to medium routes. 

The Colt's defenses under Tony Dungy were never great other than a few spurts, and I think it is because of compromises. They never really went all in on speed. Maybe it was due to Bill Polian's influence, maybe it was due to putting most resources into supporting and protecting Manning.

I think what we are seeing here, is that our new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, is not interested in compromise - and in that he is being fully supported by Ballard and Irsay. 

Anyways, say John Simon is rushing the passer from Left DE (LDE) and pressure from the inside tackles causes the quarterback to roll out to his left - away from Simon. 

So, John Simon takes his rush wide and turns the corner, now seeing that the QB has rolled away from him, so he busts his ass chasing him down towards the sideline while the QB looks downfield to make a throw. 

In this specific scenario, Basham and Turay would get to the QB about a half to a full second faster than Simon. 

In this example with Simon, the chances of him sacking the QB on that play would be low. So, the QB might run, throw a pass for a big play - who knows? 

But getting to him that half second fater? That could easily be a strip sack for a TD. 

So. Many. Fumbles. are created in the Tampa-2 defense from pursuit. Pursuit from behind, where the runner is looking ahead to make a play and someone who he had no reason to expect to be there is suddenly punching the ball out from behind.  

So many fumbles were created in this exact way during the Dungy years. 

So, from Eberflus's point of view, every play that a player like Simon or Delaire is on the field, represents a lost opportunity for this sort of turnover.

And a side-note here: Kemoko Turay is like a physical clone of Robert Mathis. The bend is there, along with the explosive burst - something very rare. Is the intelligence and drive there too? Time will tell on that.

So, what about Margus Hunt?

Well, he's no speed demon at defensive end, but he will only be playing DE on running downs.

No, the reason Hunt is on this team is that he provides excellent inside rush when playing DT with Ridgeway on passing downs. 

I believe that we will have a good pass rush this year if we stay somewhat healthy. The Dungy era defenses here never had two good inside rush tackles for passing downs. Never.

Sacks by our tackles back then were generally garbage sacks after Freeney or Mathis flattened the sides of the pocket. 

Cutting John Simon is an investment in what "could be" in terms of direct pass rush: maybe it will pay off, maybe not. But we are already more than making it up in pursuit opportunities - and the turnovers and hesitancy that causes in the opponent.