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Found 3 results

  1. The Falcons rarely make the obvious move. At every turn during Dan Quinn’s tenure—and heck, all the way back to Mike Smith—they sign the guy you don’t expect, the guy you didn’t want, or the guy who you’d never heard of. Sometimes these moves really work out, but if it’s a no-brainer, it doesn’t tend to happen. That’s why it may not be worth my time to bring up Deone Bucannon, but the pieces fit so neatly I can’t really help it. Why do I think Bucannon will be on the team’s radar? A couple of reasons: He was a player they were reportedly interested in all the way back in the 2014 NFL Draft. While that team was looking for something different at safety than this current Falcons team is, Bucannon ticks the boxes for Dan Quinn because he’s a plus athlete, can and has played both safety and linebacker, and can pitch in on special teams, where he played 50% of the snaps for Tampa Bay this season. The Falcons have needs at both safety and linebacker, arguably. They seem incredibly reluctant to play Sharrod Neasman on defense and haven’t gotten Jamal Carter involved yet at safety, either, while Foye Oluokun has fallen out of the rotation at linebacker and Jermaine Grace is getting zero run. Getting an established veteran who can do both feels like something Quinn is after, even if (as it appears) Kemal Ishmael has a starting gig locked up. Like Johnathan Cyprien before him, Bucannon is not going to seriously challenge incumbents at either position for a starting gig. He was misused in Arizona and isn’t quite the same player he was in 2015, with yearly declines that showcase both the caliber of the defensive staffs he was playing with and the limitations of his own ability. He could still fill in as a reserve third safety and part-time linebacker, because unless the team is ready to finally give Carter a shot, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll be turning to Neasman or T.J. McDonald, George Iloka, and the other available safeties on the market, given their light interest there. For a lot of reasons, then, Bucannon would likely make sense as a flier and reserve in a defense that needs safety help. If he can return to the position where he showed so much promise early in his career, he might actually be a contributor for Atlanta, and his availability at this fraught moment for the Falcons makes him an interesting candidate. But, as is the case with all moves where the pieces fit for these Falcons, don’t count on it.
  2. In an earlier post, we discussed Dan Quinn's defense. It received such a positive reception that I wanted to look at Todd Bowles' defense, one of the other candidates the New York Jets are heavily considering for the open head coaching position. Unlike Quinn, Bowles' defense is much harder to nail down. Quinn's defense is relatively straightforward. Although there are variations, there aren't many and they are easy to identify. That isn't the case with Bowles. To begin with, it's unclear what he would bring over to the Jets. He has operated multiple schemes, both 3-4 and 4-3, and is willing to change schemes completely to fit his personnel. Despite losing Karlos Dansby to free agency, Daryl Washington to a season-long drug suspension, Darnell Dockett to an ACL tear, John Abraham to IR, Tyrann Mathieu for a few weeks, etc., Bowles managed to have the fifth best defense by points allowed. You can compare this to the Jets, who ranked twenty-fourth. That said, Bowles' defense in Arizona most closely resembles none other than the organized chaos of Rex Ryan. But not the Rex Ryan that we saw the past few years; the Rex Ryan that went to the AFC Championship in 2009 and 2010. It's aggressive. As Greg Cosell stated, "Now, you could argue that they don't have a pure pass-rusher, but this is where Bowles comes in. This team blitzes more than any team in the NFL, and they blitz more on first down than any team in the NFL, and they're creative with their pressures. They're also very good with disguise." It adapts to the opponent. When the Cardinals played the Dallas Cowboys, Bowles switched from a predominately 3-4 scheme to a 4-3, simply because it was a better matchup. They won that game 28-17, and ended DeMarco Murray's streak of 100-yard games. It adapts to the players. To quote Dockett, "This defense is based on guys and what their ability allows them to be good at. What they were drafted for." When Bowles found that he didn't have an elite pass rusher, he balanced it out by adding more safeties... sometimes up to four on the field on any given down. This allowed him to cover athletic tight ends for longer, and had the added benefit of confusing offenses. Bowles doesn't force a round peg into a square hole... he finds another solution. Unlike Quinn, I can't show you one formation to give you an almost complete understanding of Bowles' defense. It's far too complex and mutates too often to simplify into one article. Instead, what I can do is give you several examples of the type of scheme you'll see under Bowles. So, this is a good play to show you that not is all it seems from where the players are initially lining up. Here, you have a nickel package. Three down linemen, three linebackers, and five defensive backs. There's an OLB standing up at the top of the formation, and he's going to rush the passer, looping around the right tackle. You have a three-tech defensive end stunting into the A gap, and another linebacker looping down and presumably past the left tackle, who is engaged with the six-tech defensive end. Meanwhile, in the secondary, you have mixed coverage. The outside corners are in man, and you have two safeties, the extra defensive back, and a linebacker in zone. As I mentioned, this may remind you of Rex Ryan. It's a lot of mixed coverage with a core of man coverage, blitzes from unexpected places, and disguised scheming. This is the game I mentioned where they changed their scheme completely. Bowles uses a decent amount of 4-3 looks, but this game was an almost wholesale change. In this play, only one lineman actually goes where they're showing. To avoid some confusion in this play, anyone that is in man coverage has a yellow line. On this play, you have some over the top safety help, and an overload blitz on the weak side. It results in a five-yard sack. I wish I could give you a simple breakdown of everything Bowles will do, but the fact that I cannot gives you an idea of what kind of defense he runs. It's multiple and confusing as ****. It changes based on what his players can and can't do. On a Jets team that has struggled with players being forced into roles they can't handle, that may be what's needed going forward.
  3. Great article about last night's game, but what really stood out to me wasn't so much the article itself, but the comment section underneath. Like this one from BromleyTown: "I came to Atlanta 23 years ago from the UK. The beer was rubbish and soccer culture didn't exist, except in immigrant communities and as a novelty sport for little kids. The local newspaper sports columnists never reported on soccer, unless they had to during the World Cup, and then they were utterly dismissive of the sport in which "nobody scores." How things have changed. The soccer and the beer are now both excellent. I'd like to take some credit for that, but I'm afraid it's merely coincidence. If you want to hear a great piece about the building of Atlanta United, listen to the Men in Blazers' interview of Darren Eales. It's a fascinating story of how to build a team from nothing. With Tata and probably Almiron leaving, though, there's a good chance next season might not be so rosy. It will be interesting to see if Atlanta - known for being fair-weather fans - turns out for a team that doesn't always win. I hope so." Here's another lengthy one (warning tl;dr) that I really liked from DerkNew: "Atlanta winning is the best thing to happen US soccer in years. This year's MLS final felt more like a Superbowl, but with much better atmosphere and that is going to make soccer grow more in the US. Usually it is small market teams that make the final, so it is great for the spectacle that a big team with a big stadium and big crowd made the final elevating the importance of soccer in the US. Atlanta are the prototype of the potential of soccer in the US. The clever thing MLS new teams realised is, if you treat fans as stakeholders rather than consumers the fans will be more engaged and invested in the team. LAFC is less than 1 year old, but the owners invited the fans into their offices to help design the stadium, what food they would sell and help fans set up supporter groups and called them founders rather than fans. So because the fans feel more part of the organisation they are more passionate about the team. So when you see LAFC games the crowd atmosphere is great and this is how MLS is going to take over the American sporting landscape because US soccer games have far more passionate crowds than the other sports and that is converting many people. You can clearly see in the MLS a split happening between the older generation clubs and new generation of clubs. The Soccer Mom older clubs and Tifo young adult new clubs. Nowhere is that contrast more than Atlanta Utd and New England. Both clubs are owned by billionaire NFL owners. New England was an original club with a wacky American sports name. Atlanta like many of the new clubs taking on more European style names like Minnesota Utd, Inter Miami, Sporting Kansas, Cincinnati FC (the FC in Cincinnati stands for Fussball Club) and LA FC. Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank has an interest in soccer and he was prepared to invest in an executive with Premier League experience that brought a level of soccer professionalism not seen in any other MLS team. He then attracted a world renowned coach who would sign up and coming South American players rather than ageing players from Europe. With a top quality coach and very good players they would play the kind of football that could fill the stadium up. In contrast New England was founded when NFL owners had teams just to sell tickets to stadiums when the NFL team was not playing there. The New England owner didn't really have an interest in soccer and just wanted to make money when the NFL season was finished and because he didn't care neither did the fans. So you have an MLS team with mediocre cheap players playing in the NFL stadium that is only a quarter full because they didn't see the potential of soccer in the US when they first created the teams. So now in the MLS most of the bad teams are ones that were created earlier where they viewed soccer as soccer mom sport in the 1990s and the big clubs are now the ones founded after the millennium when the owners started to see the potential of soccer US. For soccer to truly to be big in America , they need the older generation of media gatekeepers to die out so soccer starts to get the same level of coverage as the traditional sports. That is the last obstacle left."