FanPost

A paradigm shift in defensive personnel

Over the past few years there has been a clear shift throughout the league from the conventional running game to the air it out spread offense and tandem tight ends. Those of us who have watched our beloved Steelers move from Jerome Bettis hammering the ball down opponents throats at will to Big Ben airing it out to Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown fully understand this pattern.

Some have watched this transition and embraced it, others (including many that post comments on this site) have adamantly protested their disdain that their respective teams have "lost" their way and identity.

Independent of whether we are willing to accept these changes or not, the NFL has morphed over the years. The Power T and Power I formations have given way from everything to double receiving tight end set (Patriots) to five receiver sets (Packers) to the spread option (Broncos).

I believe that the Steelers have stumbled across the future of defensive systems( which is actually a re-visitation of an older scheme) to combat the evolution that has occurred without fully realizing it.

Against the Patriots the Steelers moved Troy, who I personally feel is a better "Rover" than cover safety, was playing a middle linebacker role, keeping his eyes on RB's and TE's. Against the Ravens and Bengles, he often lined up (as he has done in the past) outside the OLB and stormed the edge to reach the running backs before they got started. When he had his famous strip-sack of Flacco last year it was from this position. The difference this year over previous ones was that the Steelers used 3 safety's (Mundy, Troy and Clark) when Troy moved around, which provided more speed that LB's and more size than CB's.

Imagine actually being able to match up against these RB's, TE's and larger WR's in both speed and physicality. I believe that when Troy plays that style that is exactly what we see.

In a conversation with my father this week, we talked about a new mold of player based on the "Rover" position of old. There are so many athletes today that conventional wisdom can and should be challenged and more hybrid players and defenses should be employed.

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Consider the following standard alignment against the Pats or the Pack or even the Ravens (to keep Ray-Ray in check)

3  down linemen - (Hood - Hampton - Keisel)

2 OLB - (Woodley - Harrison)

1 ILB - (Timmons) - another hybrid of sorts as he was an OLB to start

2 CB - (Taylor - Lewis (or C. Allen)) - Sizable fast CB, no one under 6'

2 S - (Mundy - Clark) although I'd love to see a Ed Reed style ball hawk here to complement Clark's hard hitting

1 Rover - (Troy) I could see a smaller quicker linebacker or larger 6'4" slightly slower CB play this role just the same

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For passing formations

ILB comes off and a 3rd CB comes in or ILB come off and 2nd Rover comes in

 

3  down linemen - (Hood - Hampton - Keisel)

2 OLB - (Woodley - Harrison)

3 CB - (Taylor - Lewis - C. Allen) - Sizable fast CB, no one under 6'

2 S - (Mundy - Clark)

1 Rover - (Troy)

or

3  down linemen - (Hood - Hampton - Keisel)

2 OLB - (Woodley - Harrison)

3 CB - (Taylor - Lewis - C. Allen) - Sizable fast CB, no one under 6'

1 S - (Clark)

2 Rover - (Troy - ?) I don't think we have a true 2nd rover on the roster right now

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Can you can always go conventional where S comes off and a 3rd CB comes in

 

1 ILB - (Timmons)

3 CB - (Taylor - Lewis - C. Allen) - Sizable fast CB, no one under 6'

1 S - (Clark)

1 Rover - (Troy)

 

or S & Rover come off and 4th CB comes in  - Quasi nickel formation

 

1 ILB - (Timmons)

4 CB - (Taylor - Lewis - C. Allen - Brown) - Sizable fast CB, no one under 6'

1 S - (Troy)

 

or ILB comes off for a Quasi dime formation

 

4 CB - (Taylor - Lewis - C. Allen - Brown) - Sizable fast CB, no one under 6'

1 S - (Clark)

1 Rover - (Troy)

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Just imagine seeing Troy or another "Rover" doing more of this?

85369667_display_image_medium

via cdn.bleacherreport.net


I think that size and speed are critical moving forward, the days of 5'9" CB are disappearing. Fortunately we have the personnel to start this transition, but one or two pieces are still needed for full implementation.

Please keep in mind that these formations were all based on our current staffing, but looking at future drafts and UFA's more hybrid type players may prove to be fruitful investments.

I'd be very curious of everyone's thoughts about this concept -- be blessed

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