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Running Game - Offense And Defense


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Unfortunately I can't provide pictures to back up my reasoning for this post, but the reason our ground game on both sides of the ball is poor is because of Turner and Dent, mostly. On a few runs while watching the Saints game on replay, the OLine would be pushing their men to the sideline, opening a crease for Turner to hit. Instead of hitting the crease and following his FB, Turner proceeds to continue outside where the defenders are. One particular play was in the first quarter. McClure got to the second level early, Reynolds sealed the DT and Cox came in the secure the hole. The play was there for Turner to hit it but he didn't play the hole, instead opting to continue outside and gaining only 4 yards. Yes 4 yards is a decent gain, but he had 5 easy before the closest defender would have touched him. Basically, when the play is well blocked, Turner isn't trusting them. That's understandable when half the time your Center is getting blown up, but if Turner hits the holes that ARE there when they are there, our running game looks at least a little better. The reason we have started to run a lot of delayed handoffs and draws is because it allows McClure to let his man to get upfield and the RB just run underneath him for decent gains. Again, we are compensating for shortfalls in our OLine's running blocking instead of fixing it.

As for Dent, his pursuit and awareness/instincts are severely lacking for the NFL level. He has no clue where he is going half the time. Prime example is Mark Ingram's first down run at 14:30 in the second quarter before Graham's first TD. It's apparent the ball is supposed to be ran inside between the guard and center as that's Ingram's first step but it's not there. Then Kroy crashes the next hole between the tackle and guard. But Dent proceeds to shoot a nonexistent hole and of course goes nowhere. The next hole is between the TE and LT. Since Dent unnecessarily ran into a wall of linemen for some reason, no one is there to meet Ingram in this hole and he rumbles for 8 yards and an easy first. It's actually pathetic to watch and more frustrating than not. He is lost out there. Point blank. He is not an NFL caliber MLB. Even when he had Ivory dead to rights in the backfield, after avoiding blocks for the first time all game, he chases Ivory's front hip instead of his back hip (Pursuit 101 mistake) and of course Ivory just stops and lets Dent fly passed him, adding a missed tackle to his tally in the process. Of course it's not just on Dent, but he is a VERY BIG part of the problem. Here are a few points from draft profiles from when he was drafted that still persist:

A high cut linebacker with a broad upper and thin lower half. Isn't real physical initially off the snap when asked to play over the tight end in the run game. Gets a bit too upright at the point of attack, loses the leverage battle and can initially be driven off the football vs. the in-line run game. However, exhibits good balance on the move, is sudden on contact and displays a violent set of hands when asked to shed blocks. Does a nice job fighting to string out plays on the perimeter and eventually will work himself free vs. the in-line game. But, most of his tackles still come five-plus yards down the field when run at.

Is stiff in coverage and lacks the ability to quickly redirect/open up his hips and get back up to speed quickly. Isn't real coordinated when asked to press off the line, lacks the lateral agility to slide his feet and get a good punch on tight ends and consistently gives up too much initial separation out of their breaks. Isn't real sharp or explosive when asked to change directions. Is routinely forced to round off his breaks and it takes him awhile to get back up to speed. And even than, lacks the natural range/closing burst to consistently put himself in position to make plays on the football.

Impression: Lacks ideal power vs. the run and fluidity/range vs. the pass. Doesn't look like an NFL draftbale prospect to me.

Negatives: Not particularly fast... Has some problems eluding blockers and getting through traffic, will get pancaked when eyes are locked in the backfield, does not protect legs very well against cut blocks... Needs to take better angles when moving laterally toward the ball carrier, lack of speed makes taking good angles a necessity... Missed some time prior to the start of the 2010 regular season after undergoing surgery on his foot after an "off-field accident," missed some games in 2009 as well... Not much of a threat in coverage, mostly a run-stopping linebacker, has not recorded a single interception in college... Lacks elite instincts, will get out of position and can be fooled by misdirection plays... Limited upside, is not a complete player at this point.

The impression is from National Football Post, easily my favorite scouting group out. They didn't even feel Dent was a draftable prospect. Those are pretty harsh words, but he hasn't proven why he was worth drafting in the top three rounds. Hopefully he can progress and develop, but it's not looking too promising in my opinion.

With TD hellbent on getting us a Super Bowl, I wouldn't be surprised if we see two new starters in these guys places next year if they don't step up.

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The only drives I will be scrutinizing after recording the replay tonight are the last 2 drives in the red zone. The 1 yd line plays that got us nothing. I want to see what the oline and or Turner did there again and again.

The Saints DLine just sold out on penetration and it worked because it's been working in spurts all season. The very first play, they ran a double stunt right at McClure and dropped Turner for a loss of 3. It's obvious Lofton told them who the weak link on the line was, not like they needed him to point it out. They challenged McClure to be stout and he couldn't do it.
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