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 Post subject: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:50 pm 
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I thought might draw some interest on Falcfans. I was saw this posting on the Falcon board and falconsroost and I think this was an excellent post. The poster was M Salmon to give credit for the information. It is certainly something to think about come free agency and the draft on what players the Falcons may look to acquire. Since Nolan now will be here for 2 yrs and I would suspect he'll have alot more say on who the players are the Falcons acquire.




The type of Defensive Linemen Mike Nolan Looks For

All the talk about Aaron Donald and different guys in the draft is awesome. But we have to ask ourselves as draft-nerds—what type of defensive linemen does Mike Nolan prefer? While it’d be great to ask him this question, odds are we would get no reply. That said, as we all know, managers of all ilk tend to be creatures of habit and wed to their scheme. So for fun, I went all the way back to Mike Nolan’s career coaching record as a DC or HC at San Francisco, and listed his defensive linemen. In my research I went towards the end of his tenure (starting at year 3 where applicable) in my look at his roster. The reason for this, is like any DC, Nolan “inherited” players from other DCs. Don’t forget this tidbit, as in year 3 here, we have much expiring Defensive Linemen contracts. Here is what I found:
New York Giants (defensive coordinator)
--Interesting to note, they started out under him as a true 43 alignment and became more and more hybrid as he continued to coach and acquire players.
DEFENSIVE LINE ROSTER
Erik Howard 6’5” 275 lbs
Mike Strahan (yes he was drafted when Nolan was in town!) 6’5” 275
Robert Harris 6’4” 295 lbs
Keith Hamilton 6’6” 295 lbs
Mike Fox 6’8” 285
• Interesting note, he also had a bunch of LB/DEs averaging 6’2” to 6’4” 240-260 lbs
• AVERAGE HEIGHT: 6’5
• AVERAGE WEIGHT: 285 lbs
• NOTE: NO LARGE NT; but remember this was the 90s—this was a big roster for it’s time
Washington Redskins (DC)
Dan Wilkinson 6’4” 350 lbs
Anthony Cook 6’3” 295 lbs
Kenard Lang 6’3” 280 lbs
Dana Stubblefield 6’2” 300
Marco Coleman 6’3” 286
• NOTE: Had all world NT in Wilkinson, all DL were long armed or had great leverage and again LB/DEs similar to NYG roster
• Average Height: 6’3”
• Average Weight: 302 lbs
BALTIMORE RAVENS (DC)
Marques Douglass 6’2” 286
Kelly Gregg 6’0 315
Kemoeatu 6’5” 340
Abrayo Franklin 6’1” 320
Dwan Edwards 6’3” 315
Jarret Johnson 6’3” 285 (also played LB believe it or not)
• NOTE: Note big NTs are present again, all DL were long armed or had great leverage and again LB/DEs similar to NYG roster
• Average Height: 6’2”
• Average Weight: 310 lbs
49ers (Head Coach)
Abrayo Franklin 6’1” 320
Ray McDonald 6’4” 276
Isaac Sapoaga 6’2” 321
Kentwan Balmer 6’5” 298
Justin Smith 6’4” 285
• NOTE: Note big NTs are present again, all DL were long armed or had great leverage and again LB/DEs similar to NYG roster. Also note Nolan had complete control here; and arguably the reason the niners defense is so good is the players and philosophies he set in place. 3-4 base all the way at this point
• Average Height: 6’3”
• Average Weight: 300 lbs
Denver Broncos (DC)
Ronald Fields 6’2” 310
Vonnie Holliday 6’5” 290
Darrell Reid 6’2” 288
Ryan McBean 6’5” 277
LeKevin Smith 6’1” 310
Marcus Thomas 6’3” 314
• NOTE: Note big NTs are present again, but note Nolan only had one season in Denver. Not sure the sample size is relevant, but I’ll include anyway as there was a flurry of defensive FA on that team. 3-4 base all the way at this point
• Average Height: 6’3”
• Average Weight: 298 lbs

Miami Dolphins (DC)
Randy Starks 6’3” 312
Jared Odrick 6’5” 301
Paul Soliai 6’4” 344
Kendal Langford 6’5” 285
Tony McDaniel 6’7” 295
• NOTE: Note big NTs are present again, Notice trend of loading up on 5 tech type guys? Long and strong and can move inside in 43 sets. 3-4 base all the way at this point
• Average Height: 6’4”
• Average Weight: 307 lbs

Atlanta Falcons (DC) * used 2013 season
Peria Jerry 6’2” 295
Jonathan Babineux 6’2” 300
Corey Peters 6’3” 305
Cliff Matthews 6’4” 270
Maliciah Goodman* 6’4” 275
Travian Robertson* 6’4” 305
Adam Repogle* 6’3” 294 (on and off roster)
• *= Acquired while Nolan was DC
• NOTE: Note no big NTs are present. Notice trend of loading up on 5 tech type guys (goodman and Robertson)? Repogle is a stout player known for his leverage and strength like Kelly Gregg was. Weird hybrid
• Average Height: 6’3”
• Average Weight: 292 lbs
So the average Heights and weights of Nolan’s past rosters in 6 stops were 6’3” and 300 lbs. Keep in mind this number is skewed by counting the weights of his NYG and Washington Rosters when average weights of players were considerably lower than now. But more than just average height weight what can we glean from this statistical information? Here are things that I noticed:
• Predominance of long tall DEs with great strength and length
• Move towards 5 tech DEs that could also move inside on 43 sets
• Big NTs with great leverage and clogging ability
• Long Arms seem to be a focus. We see that in Goodman. Marques Douglass by the way while only 6’2” had grape vines for arms
• Lots of hybrid OLB/DEs (I didn’t list them) that ran behind physical and long DL
• Very few UT types
o Here’s where the height/weight can be confusing. If you look at his Redskins Roster and even Baltimore you see guys that height/weight ratios of UTs. But remember this from late 90s-early 2000s players were decidedly smaller—particularly in weight. The NYG roster was amazingly long and tall for that time period; but note no 320 plus NT
• Our 2013 roster was decidedly the smallest of Nolan’s teams
• We have a bunch of expiring DL contracts
So what does all this tell us? Well for one, last year’s DL doesn’t look like a Nolan DL. Two it gives us an idea, particularly from Nolan’s squads from Ravens forward, an idea of what he looks for in Defensive Linemen. I noticed these things:
• Goodman is a typical Nolan type of DL at 6’4” 276 with long arms
o Most of Nolan’s squads had at least 2 players in this size and type
• Nolan typically has at least 2 true NTs
• Nolan typically has at least 1—most times more—6’5” to 6’7” 300-305 lb 5 techs that can move inside in a 43
• Almost all are known for their physicality and tend to be good athletes
Most importantly, this may be a way we can gauge Defensive Line prospects in upcoming draft and FA. Me personally, I think we’ll focus on getting at least a true NT or 2 and maybe 2 5 techs. Not sure how Donald fits into this, as I view him as a true 43 UT. Could he work? Yes, but not really seeing a player like him in past Nolan schemes.
DRAFT DL PROSPECTS I SEE US INTERESTED IN:
J. Clowney 6’6” 270
R. Hageman 6’6”315
S. Tuitt 6’6” 310
Josh Ellis 6’2” 340
Ryan Carruthers 6’1” 330
Brent Urban 6’7” 295
D’Qaun Jones 6’3” 318
There are others of course
FA DL I SEE US INTERESTED IN:
Linval Joseph 6’4” 325
Michael Johnson 6’6” 270
Paul Soliai 6’4” 340
Not sure I’m seeing Babs, Peters or Jerry being in our radar.
Well, long read; but I hope you find it interesting. Thoughts?


I also got this from a poster named RYNE
QUOTE
I heard something from a friend that there was a big thing on NBC sports network last night about us. It was an NFC south draft preview. Did anyone see it?

Apparently they said on there that Nolan didn't want to resign with atlanta because he was very unhappy with the personnel on defense. And it was only after TD agreed to draft and bring in through free agency Nolan type players that he resigned. Then they went through a list of players that we will look at. Basically suggesting Nolan wants a 3-4

I've been trying to look for this video but can't locate it. My friend has no reason to lie. He was texting me telling me to turn on the channel but I wasn't home at the time. Anyone see it?

My friend isn't a falcons thing but he said the piece they did on atlanta was incredible. Said they were talking about getting a huge anchor for the Dline maybe even in the form of Terrance Cody.

They said that Clowney wouldn't be traded up for because he doesn't really fit a 3-4 but we would draft him if he was at 6.

Said we won't go after Michael Johnson contrary to all the other reports.

Said we like Louis nix after a small trade back




A lot of confusion is still going on around this place in regards to what kind of defense we run, what Nolan prefers and what the "4-3 Leo" defense is. I want to start a thread to help clear the air

For starters, there is nothing called a 4-3 Leo defense. The Leo is the name of a position unique to the 4-3 Under. It's also called the Elephant. This is primarily what we run. Not a plain 4-3 like Chicago/Minny and not a 3-4. That's why the Big Tackle looks became a big part of our defense once Ray Edwards left. He was manning the 5T role, but wasn't a fit skill wise nor attitude wise. But the normal fan saw him as a traditional left end in a 4 man front.

Here is a breakdown from The Fifth Down of the 4-3 Under and the Elephant Rusher:


Quote

[Pete] Carroll worked on the same staff with Kiffin at Arkansas and with the Minnesota Vikings and claims Kiffin as his primary defensive influence. Along with the 4-3 Under, Carroll will be using a pass-rushing variation that was first popularized by George Seifert in San Francisco. Looking to create mismatches anywhere he could against opposing offensive lines, Seifert allowed his weakside defensive end to move around his defensive formation to rush the passer from either side of the defense from a two-point stance. Players like Charles Haley, Chris Doleman, Rickey Jackson and Tim Harris filled this “Elephant” role with great success.

With the Elephant rusher in a two-point stance and the strongside linebacker usually near the line of scrimmage as another capable pass rushing option, these defenses look like a 5-2 or 3-4 front.



It’s somewhat of a semantic argument because there will be four players in a two-point stance behind three down defensive linemen, but this front is more like a 4-3 than a 3-4 because of how the three linemen line up. The lineman to the inside of the Elephant rusher is aligned as a 3-technique, something that you won’t see in a base 3-4 set. This look is essentially a 4-3 Under with a standup defensive end.

The confusion is this looks like a 3-4 or 5-2, like the article says, to the untrained eye. You have 3 DL with their hands in the dirt, normally bigger guys, and 2 players standing on the ends in pass rush stances. Where the distinction comes in is the personnel. Our 3 DT looks made since to be labeled a 3-4, except when looking at assignments. 3-4 defense have two 5-Tech ends and a NT. 4-3 Under has one 5T, a 1T and a 3T. Primary players in the draft that can fill these positions are Hageman (5T), Nix (1T) and Donald (3T). Those three players on the same line together would not be a 4-3 nor a 3-4 straight up. But they would be perfect fits in a 4-3 Under together.

Here is more information on eat individual position, broken down at FieldGulls.com, the Seahawks SBNation site (I added players from the draft that fit the positions as well):


Quote

The SAM linebacker comes up closer to the line to play hard contain and the weakside LEO is pushed out a bit, maybe a yard off of the weakside tackle. The LEO's main job is to control the C gap while rushing the passer like a wild banshee and the SAM plays contain against the TE, runs in pass coverage with him, or rushes the passer in some situations.

Here is the basic description of each position in the 4-3 Under.

The LEO can be a little bit smaller than a normal DE and tends to be a more athletic and versatile body type for this Elephant position; a guy that can speed rush the QB but also react quick enough to control his gap. Must also be able to drop back into coverage occasionally in zone blitz situations. (Perfect Fit: Kahlil Mack).

The strongside defensive tackle can be short and squat but must be able to take on a double team consistently. (Perfect Fit: Louis Nix).

The weakside defensive tackle, the 3-tech, must be your premiere interior pass rusher and have an explosive first step. His main job is to pressure the QB and stop the run in his weakside B gap. The 5-tech defensive end can be a bigger guy and must be great against the run. This is why you saw Red Bryant move out there in 2010. (Perfect Fit: Aaron Donald).

The SAM linebacker needs to be athletic and rangy; great against the run but able to run with tight ends and running backs in pass coverage. (Current Players: Bartu; Biermann/Perfect Fit: Kyle Van Noy).

The WILL linebacker is going to get a lot of tackles and in this system is typically a faster, smaller linebacker with range. (Current Player: Spoon/Perfect Fit: Ryan Shazier).

The MIKE linebacker needs to be the field general; very instinctual and savvy. He needs to be quick enough to drop back down the middle third of the field in pass coverage in the Tampa-2 coverage. (Current Player: Paul Worrilow/Perfect Fit: CJ Mosley).

The free safety is a guy that's going to move around a lot and be very instinctual as well. He's going to come up to the line a lot and will get a lot of tackles. (Current Player: Decoud/Perfect Fit: Calvin Pryor).

The strong safety has to be good against the run but like the free safety, will move around a lot and have to defend against the deep pass a lot. He will need to be fast and have some ball skills. (Current Player: WillyMo/Perfect Fit: Deone Bucannon).

Finally, the cornerbacks need to be physical and long. They will get involved in run defense a lot so they must be good tacklers. They are protected over the top a lot of the time so typically they're not all-world defenders but need to be pretty fast. (This is where our defense defers. Trufant, Alford and McClain aren't long and only moderately physical, but they can cover. Enables more blitzing for Nolan's touch.)

So now that we have laid the foundation for what we are looking for with our defense, this explains why a player like Goodman was added and where he fits in our defense. It also explains how Bartu and Worrilow were such good fits. Worrilow isn't an all-world LB, but he is very instinctual and savvy. 100+ tackles in half a season says so. Bartu is highly athletic and rangy in the short to medium range. He's also strong against the run and a good pass rusher. I don't agree with labeling him a SLB, but he fits it.

FAs like Arthur Jones and Tyson Jackson make perfect sense to add. Think about Seattle's defense without Mebane or Red Bryant or even Alan Branch when he was there. Not the same team. That's what those guys would bring that we don't have. They already have experience in the role and wouldn't break the back. Obviously, guys like Joseph and Soliai fit the 0-1Tech role to a T. A player I see worth paying a decent contract for is Lamarr Houston. He's similar to what Wilkerson provides in NYJ at the 5T. Michael Johnson would be the more expensive option but could move from the 5 to the 3 to a big Leo.

The defense could see a big shift in talent to make the change from 4-3 BVG style to 4-3 Under Nolan style. Paired with MSalmon thread, and I think a lot of confusion will be cleared up on what players we will be looking at in the draft and FA.
#2MSalmon

Yea I didn't agree with the Goodman pick until the season started. He is very good in run defense and is a solid interior pass rusher. Adding another player like him would give us depth there vs playing a squatty DT like we had to do. I knew Maponga and Mass were ideal fits as edge rushers, but I didn't think Bartu was an ideal SLB but he fits the description and characteristics.

Also, I think this ends any trade up talk for Clowney if it costs too much. He can only play limited snaps because he can't cover. Kahlil Mack is the ideal Leo at 6 and could even play the SAM. That's also why we would be interested in Barr as well. I think Donald is the perfect 3rd & long 3T in this defense as well. A guy like Cox will be screaming for him if he is there. It's also the perfect draft for DTs because they all won't go in the first. One of the top 5 will be there at our second pick (Nix, Tuitt, Hageman, Jernigan, Donald). I also think this NT class is pretty deep (D. Jones, Carrethers, Ellis) excluding McCullers, who doesn't require double teams despite his size. It's a match made in heaven draft for us.
Clowney I see because of his extreme rarity of skills...not sure trading up makes sense either. I'm torn. Tuitt is ideal addition. Nix, if healthy, is perfect nose and end. Donald is too big a cost for a situational guy. If he's in 3rd--sure. A first for a situational guy? Or early second? I'd pass. If we chose to let OL pass or fill in FA...I'd go this route in draft:
First round:
Tuitt
Nix
Mack (maybe as I'm still wondering about small school effect)
Mosley potentially--crazy athlete and scheme diverse
Clowney (depending on if available)
Barr--not fan favorite but tantalizing athleticism
Round 2:
Hageman
Van noy
Trent Murphy
Possibly D'Quan Jones (depending on combine)

Free Agency:
Linval Joseph
Soliai (forget Miami crap...he goes to get paid)
Tyson Jackson
Terrance Cody
Raji
Lamar Houston
Michael Johnson

The tricky part is how our existing OL fit into tice's plan. Does adding a beadle suffice? Do we need to add an OT early in first or second rounds?

Lastly, safety is issue. A guy like Malcom Jenkins fits perfect in Nolan's scheme

If I'm GM I'm signing:
Michael Johnson
Beadles (G Denver)
Linval Joseph
Soliai or Cody (or other NT)
Tyson Jackson (cheap 5 tech)
Malcom Jenkins

Before folks say too many FAs, remember in past we re-signed our guys. In this case we have expiring contracts. Also you basically exchange Assante and Decoud contract for an interior guy like Jackson and Jenkins.

Then I go first round:
Tuitt
Nix
Mack
Barr
Or OT

Second:
Add either OL or 5 tech or OLB/DE depending on what we draft in first

Third and beyond:
Ellis or Jones or carrethers girthy but Athletic interior guys

4th and beyond
Ed Stinson, Brent urban or other 5 tech

I'm not liking Donald due to his cost and snaps he may play. If I want UT type, bring Babs back cheap or look later
#8vel



Said we want big athletic pass rushers

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:56 pm 
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That was some good analysis, thanks for sharing. I'd love to get some bigger DL guys, freeing up our LB's to roam the field more and make plays.

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:05 pm 
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Just reiterating the above post was from MSalmon and Ryne from Falcon message board. I normally don't like to take other fans posts and repost them on another site but felt this was an exceptionable post and deserves credit. All the talk has been about Clowney which he would fit nicely in a 4-3 defense but if the Falcons move toward a 3-4 it would certainly put doubt if the Falcons really want him. A player like Mack would be a better fit in a Nolan defense. Also depending on what the Falcons do in free agency at def tackle I would think Louis Nix might be high on their board even coming off surgery.

If the Falcs use free agency and the draft correctly they could fix a number of holes with stop gap and long term pl ayers. The key is for TD to wise up and pick the right players which I have my doubts since we have seen the current team after 6 yrs.Hopefully Pioli can help in finding the better players.

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:23 pm 
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Thanks for sharing.

I liked the Nolan hire when it first happened. I liked it a lot. Maybe I expected too much out of him or his schemes for our average to below average talent on defense, but I still feel.......disappointed.


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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:30 pm 
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I'll be happy if it's true that Nolan got TD to agree to get him NOLAN players rather than the hybrid crap that this defense has been running for the past several years. I don't care if it's 3-4 or 4-3, we need to pick a base defense and stick to it. I still believe that the 3-4 is the better way to go, especially since we need to retool the defense at this point.


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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:45 pm 
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I'm sorry RobertAP, but I once again vehemently disagree on your dislike of the hybrid scheme. THe hybrid scheme is great. It's just the Falcons don't have the players to run it.

Getting a guy like Mack, who can do multiple things, as can players like Lamarr Houston, Michael Bennett, and Greg Hardy is the key to the success of any hybrid defense. The Falcons need more players like Biermann and Babs that are multiple in what they can do, which has been their problem. They have too many guys that are good at just 1 thing and can't be moved around to create a multitude of different looks.

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:15 pm 
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I think that the players that we have are a direct consequence of the scheme that we're trying to run. Just about every player on our defense has been put there by the current staff. As such, we are seeing the fruit of their labors. This is the kind of defense that they wanted. It just so happens that they were wrong.

I'm totally cool with disagreeing with you on this, and you might be correct that a hybrid scheme can work if you have a coaching staff and front office that have a very good idea of how they want to implement their scheme, and how to find players that fit said scheme. But we don't have that. We have a defensive coordinator who gravitates towards running a base 3-4, and that's what we should focus on building.


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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:07 pm 
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Current staff, what do you mean? Mike Smith, or Mike Nolan. Because you do realize that Nolan runs a different scheme than what Smith originally intended to run under Van Gorder right?

BVG's scheme was a very vanilla 4-3 scheme that was effective but not good. Nolan runs a hybrid multiple scheme that is far less vanilla and can be very aggressive at times, but was not very much this past year because the Falcons were trying to avoid giving up early leads (they failed for the most part in this regard). Most of the defensive players on this roster were acquired for BVG's scheme, not Nolan's.

Including practice squad players, 18 of 29 defensive players on the current roster have been added since Nolan took over, roughly 60 percent. But more importantly, only 3 of the 11 starters entering this year were players that were added under Nolan, and by year's end that number had increased to 6 of 11 due to the injuries and youth movement.

As the top post states, this defense isn't really built for Nolan's scheme. They have a few pieces, but what they mostly have are the backups for Nolan's scheme, not the starters.

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:19 pm 
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I'm referring to Mike Smith. It is obvious that Smith and Nolan have very different views on defense. I also realize that Nolan has not been able to get, "his starters," in here. Again, if the rumor is correct, Nolan was ready to walk unless changes were made. He's been here for two years, and the front office has not gotten him players. They've screwed around by wiping out the secondary and having to rebuild it. They have gone out and grabbed a DE that isn't a fit for Nolan's scheme. (Osi) Nolan and Dimitroff are on different pages... Hell, Dimitroff seems to be on a different page from everyone else in the organization, grabbing whatever players he feels like grabbing rather than paying attention to what the team actually needs. And at the end of the day, THAT is why we run the hybrid scheme. We can't get the players we need to run a proper scheme, so Nolan is doing his best to try to take the garbage that he's been given and make it work.

The problem here is Dimitroff. I said before that I'm not happy with Mike Smith, but Dimitroff would be the first to go if I was calling the shots. Dimitroff just doesn't seem to have it together when evaluating the roster and determining what the team actually needs.


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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 6:10 pm 
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Hopefully things change which I think they will since Nolan has decided to stay for 2 yrs. TD must have been convinced in order to keep Nolan he better get the kind of players Nolan wants. Will see soon enough come free agency and the draft. I really enjoyed the analysis this guy MSalmon put in for the post at the top. A player like Clowney could work but isn't a prototype fit in a Nolan scheme. Still will be interesting to see how things will go in the draft.We haven't even talked about the offensive side of the ball yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:24 am 
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I'm kind of sorry Nolan is staying....... I don't believe Thomas D. will get him the players he wants,
If Nolan has been unhappy he should have walked. I believe Nolan has been a consistent average coach his whole career!!

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:07 am 
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RobertAP wrote:
Hell, Dimitroff seems to be on a different page from everyone else in the organization, grabbing whatever players he feels like grabbing rather than paying attention to what the team actually needs. And at the end of the day, THAT is why we run the hybrid scheme. We can't get the players we need to run a proper scheme, so Nolan is doing his best to try to take the garbage that he's been given and make it work.

No, the reason we are running a hybrid scheme is because it makes the most sense given where the team thought they were/are. The Falcons had been a strict 4-3 team for 9 seasons before Nolan arrived in Atlanta. All of their personnel had been geared towards that scheme. But Nolan is predominantly been a 3-4 guy throughout his career, but has also had plenty of experience running a 4-3 scheme. What Nolan can bring to the table is a much more multiple defense that can be far less vanilla than BVG's scheme, which wasn't helping the team all that much.

The team is in the midst of trying to win a championship, and thus starting from scratch on defense doesn't jibe well with that goal. Instead, bridging the two schemes makes a ton of sense.

The issue isn't the scheme, it's the complacency the team has shown over the past 3 or so years where they seemed to be in a mindset that they were just a hop, skip, or a jump away from winning a title. The powers that be overestimated the talent level of this team in the belief that they were prepared to win a championship. But then again, so did you, as you said several times over the past 2 years that you believed this team was one of the most talented teams in the NFL and their inability to win had to do mostly with (poor) coaching. At least I know that's the stance you were basically taking last spring/summer.

The mistake you keep making is your belief that the reason why the Falcons don't have good players on defense is because they don't have a firm identity of what they want to do defensively. Defense doesn't work quite the same way that offense does, where an identity really matters. Defense is really all about having good players, and the reason why the Falcons don't have good players on defense isn't because of their confusion over their scheme, but simply they haven't done a good job managing their personnel.

The scheme wouldn't have made Osi into the player he was 3 years ago when he was still good. Nor would it have made Ray Edwards into a more committed or effective pass rusher. Playing more press could have made Dunta Robinson a more effective starting CB, but at the end of the day the fact that the team overpaid and gave him $57 million really had more to do with his downfall than the amount of press coverage he was (not) allowed to play. Scheme didn't stop Lofa Tatupu from suiting up with the team. That's four consecutive misses on free agents that had very little to do with scheme. You're going to pay for that when you can't add quality talent in free agency.

Missing on Peria Jerry was catastrophic to the lack of success of the defensive line. The team's insistence on drafting mid/late round pass rushers also was a major contributing factor to the suckiness of the defense, not the fact that they couldn't find players that fit a particular scheme. The reality is that most of the pass rushers they did draft were versatile enough that they could have played in either scheme (Sidbury, Massaquoi, Biermann, Maponga). The problem was that Sidbury didn't develop into the player that the team hoped he would be, and the Falcons put a lot of eggs into that basket because it took them 3 years before they made any notable investments in another pass rusher in the draft (Massaquoi). The miss on Jamaal Anderson was equally catastrophic as the Jerry miss. That's 2 1st round picks that are basically NFL scrubs. That's going to hurt you long-term. When you miss on pretty much any 1st round pick, you're going to pay for it for like 5 years. That's basically a decade's worth of setbacks that the Falcons suffered in a 3-year span with those 2 misses.

Akeem Dent wasn't ruined by the scheme. When I watched him at Georgia, he projected as a career backup in the NFL that I had a 7th round grade on him (in the same ballpark that most had). The Falcons obviously thought differently and reached on him in the 3rd round. And through 3 years, it appears my evaluation was more accurate than theirs.

It wasn't the scheme that caused the team to whiff on all of their CB draft picks until Trufant. It's really just basic history and numbers that tell you that a very small percentage of CBs taken after the first 50 or so picks turn into good NFL players. Now that is changing somewhat in recent years, but unfortunately instead of getting Lardarius Webb and Keenan Lewis, we got Chevis Jackson and Chris Owens.

This team simply wasn't getting good players and had little to do with the GM and/or coaches being on the same page (or not). It's a bottom line business when it comes to personnel, and the bottom line was that the front office wasn't doing their part to sustain success here. And the issue is that like many on this forum, the team got lulled by the amount of wins they had into thinking they were doing a much better job than they actually were.

Which is the definition of complacency.

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:03 am 
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To be fair, when I said that the Falcons are one of the most talented teams in the league, they still had Clabo, Grimes, Robinson, and Abraham on the roster. That the front office decided to completely rebuild the secondary and let our best pass rusher go and best offensive lineman go is sheer lunacy.

Look, I think we're saying the same thing here, we just have a little bit different take on it.


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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:37 pm 
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RobertAP wrote:
Look, I think we're saying the same thing here, we just have a little bit different take on it.

No, not really. You seem to be of the belief that the Falcons have to decide whether to be a strict 4-3 or 3-4 team first before they can become a better defense, and I simply don't believe that. In fact, I think trying to be one or the other would be counter productive to becoming a better defense.

Now we both are critical of the front office, but you appear to believe that their failures are tied directly to the defensive scheme (or lack thereof), and I think their failures are completely independent of the scheme.

The criticisms I have for the Falcons are fundamental problems that this organization suffers from that have to deal with poor self-evaluation, bad personnel decisions, and complacency. All this talk that you and others have had about how the Falcons problems center on a bad offensive line or an inferior defensive scheme are ultimately red herrings to the real issues that this is struggling with.

If TD & Mike Smith ultimately fall flat this season and get axed, the reason will be primarily because of 1 thing, and it was the same thing that brought about Rich McKay's downfall when he was GM: the belief that the team was a lot closer to winning than they actually were. McKay failed because he got off the "5-year plan" pretty early on, namely in 2006, where he opted instead of building towards long-term success but to spurn the draft and get veteran pieces to get over the hump.

Dimitroff did the same thing in 2011 with the Julio trade, because he made the mistake in believing that after 2010 this Falcon team was legitimately the best team in the NFC, reflective of their record and seeding. And thus he too got off the 5-yr. plan and stopped accumulating talent in the hopes that this team was 1 or 2 players away from being a Super Bowl winner.

Unless the Falcons get these fundamental flaws fixed within the organization, what's going to wind up happening is that they could fix the OL, but then the skill positions will be neglected because they'll stupidly believe that a player like Harry Douglas can be an integral part of the offense. Or if they upgrade the pass rush and DL, then the secondary gets neglected because the team will continue to play DeCoud at FS and/or gamble wrong in thinking that someone like Alford is going to be an effective starter sooner rather than later.

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:32 pm 
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Well you are correct that we disagree regarding trying to build a, "hybrid defense." But we've already debated the heck out of that one. Obviously, I'm not going to change your mind on the hybrid defense. I have said that under the right circumstances it could work, but I also believe that you're much better off picking a standard base 3-4 or 4-3 and building around that.

I believe that we agree that Dimitroff has screwed us. I also agree that the authority held the belief that we were in good shape. However, the authority has allowed a lot of talent to walk out the door, and has not adequately replaced that talent. I cannot call that, "complacency." It's more like, incompetence.


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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:13 am 
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Dimitroff did the same thing in 2011 with the Julio trade, because he made the mistake in believing that after 2010 this Falcon team was legitimately the best team in the NFC, reflective of their record and seeding. And thus he too got off the 5-yr. plan and stopped accumulating talent in the hopes that this team was 1 or 2 players away from being a Super Bowl winner.


It sure appears this is what Dimitroff did!! The truth is he's had about 3 terrible drafts and I can't say I have loyalty to him now. I don't really feel like we have a unit on offense or defense;
and I think 9 wins is about the best we can hope for........

Do you think Blank expects more than 9 wins??

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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:43 am 
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That was excellent analysis! Thanks for posting it Scout!

I'm probably in the "hybrid" camp, so I'll just state that up front. Multiplicity has definitely advantages, but you need the personnel to make it happen. Scheme isn't as important to my eyes. Look at arguably the two best defenses in the NFL, SF and SEA, and you will see two vastly different schemes. The key is they both have quality talent at every position. SEA brought multiple pass rushing DEs at you in their 4-3 and applied constant pressure. SF had such a dominant front 7 that made their scheme work so well they didn't have to do anything special to hide what they did. A good defense is made more simple because they have the talent to read/react. I think if you are able to combine the hybrid style with "REAL" talent, you are going to be extremely difficult to score on.

I'm hoping that Pioli and Devaney will help this team get back on track with scouting. We need to get some players in here who bring the talent level up significantly, especially on defense. I think this year is a unique opportunity to retool between the draft and FA because of who will be available. Luckily, we have some cap room to play with too. It may take a couple off seasons to get things back on track, but I am optimistic they can get some better talent in here and get this team back on top.


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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:44 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
Unless the Falcons get these fundamental flaws fixed within the organization, what's going to wind up happening is that they could fix the OL, but then the skill positions will be neglected because they'll stupidly believe that a player like Harry Douglas can be an integral part of the offense. Or if they upgrade the pass rush and DL, then the secondary gets neglected because the team will continue to play DeCoud at FS and/or gamble wrong in thinking that someone like Alford is going to be an effective starter sooner rather than later.


This is my largest concern. The lines are definitely the prime issue, but we've all been aware that RG was a critical flaw for 3+ years, yet it seemed to be perceived otherwise from the FO.

Upgrading the lines will help dramatically, but if the FO thinks "we have great offensive skill players, so the line is the last piece," they're looking in the past. Right now, we have a good but injured receiver, an older solid receiver...and that's it. The rest are scrubs or UDFAs who are ok special teamers but not legit players. We don't have TG anymore. We don't have Roddy in his prime. We don't have several midtier guys who we've developed (3rd to 4th rounders) at WR to take pressure off.

They need to take a hard look, and understand the things that can cripple you (horrible interior OL play if you're based on the pass) and things that are simply needs, but not crucial needs.

On the lines, it's obvious. But at this point, trait players (decent players) at receiving positions is also a major need. The FO needs to understand the difference in a need (a 3rd round guy who can beat a safety in coverage at WR) and a "nice to have" (a 1st round guy who can be a 1 receiver) within the same position grouping. They've not been very cognizant of this difference thus far, and it makes them overpay, and therefore lose depth, elsewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Great long post about Nolan's philosophy on players
PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:50 pm 
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On defense, this can easily show up as getting worldbeaters at DE/DT instead of trait players.

I want a nasty DT...but we need a number of pocket collapsers, because that has been the primary lack, and our 3rd and long defense has been dreadful in large part to that (as well as poor S/LB play).

If they try to get the rangiest DE, and the run stuffingest DT, they could manage to get 2 elite players that actually don't make us that much better. If they get a collapsing DT, and a DE who can bull rush as well as speed rush, they can make the team much better, even if those guys aren't quite as good as the original 2.

At this point, I'll be ecstatic with good DL players, period, but if they really looked to needs, not in terms of players, but traits and situational football, and how those tie into the way the rest of the team plays, they could make a surprising amount of change in a single year.

That's the optimistic part. The part that makes me pessimistic is they haven't really cottoned on to this thus far.


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