Apologies again for the slower content the last few days. Just to explain again, I’ve been sick with some kind of vicious stomach virus that was making its way around New York and New Jersey that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. I’m just about getting back to normal, but the last few days (Friday in particular) were brutal. On the bright side, I lost 11 pounds, so there’s that. Anyway, I only bring it up again because the Kiffin news is old, but news I’ve yet to comment on:
• Monte Kiffin was of course made the new defensive coordinator of the Cowboys. The more I think about the transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3, the more I don’t like it, in terms of personnel. Much of the focus in the media has been the following:
- Do the Cowboys have the personnel to match what the Kiffin’s Bucs teams had in Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch?
- Are the Cowboys CBs physical enough tacklers to hold up against the run, which they be asked to do more of in this defense?
- What happens with Anthony Spencer?
- Are the safeties going to be thoroughly exposed in this scheme?
Those are all good questions, and could probably merit their own posts, however, one question I don’t think many people are asking is, “How does this affect DeMarcus Ware?” I think most people just think, “DeMarcus Ware is awesome. He can do anything.” I’m not so sure he’ll be as effective putting his hand in the dirt. Here was Rich Gosselin’s take on Ware:
The 4-3 scheme also will add a player up front and remove a linebacker. Logically, DeMarcus Ware would move to end and put his hand on the ground. He’s a great pass rusher. What’s the difference between a rush end and a rush linebacker?
I saw the difference in 1993 when the Kansas City Chiefs switched from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 and asked their Hall of Fame-bound pass rusher Derrick Thomas to put his hand on the ground. His sack count fell from 14 ½ to eight in one season. In his first four years as a 3-4 weakside linebacker, Thomas collected 58 sacks. In his next four years as a 4-3 end, he managed only 40.
Thomas had to become more involved in the run game up front and found himself engaged in more direct skirmishes with offensive tackles. Physically, it took a toll on him. And Thomas made the switch to end when he was 26 years old. Ware would make the switch in 2013 at the age of 31.
Gosselin is dead on. Way back when I was teenager I followed those 90′s Chiefs teams closely. Loved Christian Okoye and Derrick Thomas. Thomas was built very similarly to Ware, and their playing styles very closely resembled each other. Derrick Thomas is listed at 6’3, 255, Ware at 6’4, 254. I remember Thomas’s career begin to dull when the Chiefs went to a 4-3. He went from one of the top 5 defensive players in the game to a guy that was the 2nd best DE on his own team, behind Neil Smith. The transition from 3-4 OLB to 4-3 DE isn’t quite as seamless as some people seem to think.
• I’m heading down to check out the East-West Shrine Game week of practice early tomorrow morning. It’s the lesser of the two big college “All Star games,” behind the Senior Bowl, but there’s certainly talent there as well. Last season, there were 5 players that participated in the Shrine Game that were drafted by NFC East teams, three Redskins and two Cowboys:
- DE Tyrone Crawford, Cowboys, 3rd round
- OG Josh LeRibeus, Redskins, 3rd round
- LB Kyle Wilbur, Cowboys, 4th round
- OT Tom Compton, Redskins, 6th round
- RB Alfred Morris, Redskins, 6th round
That Alfred Morris guy turned out to be OK. Oh, and Josh LeRibeus… Have I ever mentioned that he has a second career as a male model?
37 Shrine Game participants were drafted in total, and 8 in the first 3 rounds. So there’s talent there. I’ll be getting my learn on.
• Peter King took a fairly obvious shot at the Eagles today:
Owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a club statement: “There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job. We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts. We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.”
Fine. But would three premier college coaches say no to the Steelers? The Giants? The Packers? Don’t think so.
No shit, Sherlock. Of course those three teams wouldn’t strike out with all three coaches. They all have great QBs and will all be in the mix to contend next season. It’s going to take some time in Philly. What exactly does King take issue with in Lurie’s statement?
Anyway, I’ll leave Tommy Pudding Pops to handle King’s comments. He also breaks down where some of the national NFL “insider” get their info. Good read.