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Beef

Defensive Package Breakdown 2017

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I know I'm not perfect at doing this, but I did this last year on another site and was fairly accurate with my breakdown of our defensive formations.  I welcome any input from any of you folks so we can try to get this as accurate as possible.  I know it's hard to be "accurate" with projections/predictions, but if nothing else this helps paint a better picture in everyone's mind of how our defensive scheme really runs and what we envision happening.

Too many people (and sites like Ourlads.com) don't properly separate our depth chart by proper positions, terminology, or DL techniques.  Calling Beasley a SAM or SLB, for instance, just isn't accurate.

Now based on all the games I've watched an analysis and discussions I've participated in, I have broken down our Base vs Nickel packages, as well as our NASCAR package (what Quinn calls his pass rushing package, exclusively used on 3rd-and-7+).  I have left out Dime and Goal line because we literally run those less than 50 plays a season on average combined.

Here is a reference for gaps and techniques:

D-line-alignment-and-gaps-copy.png

 

BASE:

The Falcons had 1,059 total defensive snaps in the 2016 season.  I'm just going to use 1,000 snaps just to make all the numbers round and easier.

We spend about 30% of our snaps (~300) in our Base package, almost exclusively on 1st downs, and only a bit on other downs.

Our Base package is what's called a 4-3 Under.  Which is essentially a 5-2-4 front-loaded look, but the 1T plays a 2-gaper between the OC & OG, the 3T (under-tackle) plays a 1-gaper just outside the OG, while the 5T looks like a typical 3-4 DE 2-gaper straight up or just outside the OT.

The WILL and the MIKE float between the two gaps on either side of the 1T.  They either shoot the gaps on inside runs, or drop into coverage assignments in middle zone, or break towards outside zone runs.

The SAM, tends to stand up and slightly off the line, most of the time running with the TE, or run containment of the strongside flat, or dropping into middle zone.  Occasionally the SAM will edge rush the passer or stunt if it's a pass play.

The LEO/Elephant has weakside run containment and edge rushing on pass plays.

4-3Under_medium.jpg

And this year's likely depth in Base, approximate snap count, and assignment priority at each of these will possibly be:

LEO/7T: Clayborn (150) | McKinley (100) | Reed (50) - 1. contain edge run, 2. rush passer
WDT/3T: Jarrett (150) | Upshaw (150) - 1. B-gap contain run, 2. B-gap rush passer
NT/1T: Poe (200) | Jarrett (100) - 1. A+A-gap contain run, 2. A-gap rush passer
SDE/5T: Crawford (200) | Hageman (100) - 1. B+C-gap contain run, 2. B-gap rush passer
SAM/9T: Campbell (250) | Beasley (50) - 1. contain edge run, 2. pass cover TE/RB, 3. rush passer
WILL: Riley (200) | Ishmael (100) - 1. contain run flow, 2. pass coverage
MIKE: Jones (250) | Reynolds (50) - 1. contain run flow, 2. pass coverage
SS: Neal (250) | Neasman (50) - 1. follow run flow, 2. middle coverage
FS: Allen (250) | Poole (50) - 1. follow run flow, 2. high coverage
RCB: Trufant (250) | Olatoye (50) - 1. follow run flow, 2. zone/man coverage
LCB: Alford (200) | Collins (100) - 1. follow run flow, 2. zone/man coverage

Notice Campbell moving over to SAM in the Base package, which will replace Wheeler and Spoon snaps.  Riley will then move into Campbell's WILL spot.  It doesn't get much more ideal than this.  This will be a tremendous upgrade over the situation we had last year.  Also, McKinley is extraordinary against the run and may ultimately get more snaps at LEO than Reed.  McKinley only missed 2 tackles all of last year and a huge chunk of his tackles were within 2 yards of the line of scrimmage.

I know it seems surprising Hageman is getting fewer snaps than Crawford, but Hageman was a healthy inactive half the games last season and I don't think that's going to change much just because he got a shoestring sack in the playoffs.  I hope I'm wrong and he comes on strong finally, but I'm not giving any benefit of the doubt until I see consistency.

=============================================================

NICKEL:

We spend about 60% of our snaps (~600) in our Nickel package, pretty much every 2nd down and 3rd down and short (6 yards or less).

Our Nickel package is quite different from our Base package in that instead of a 5-2-4 front-loaded look, it is flip-flopped to a 4-2-5 with a heavy secondary presence and a typical 4-man pass rush that utilizes the quickness of the edge rushers and LB's for stunts and creative blitzes, sometime incorporating a safety, nickel LB, nickel CB, or even outside CB on a blitz.

There is no LEO, SAM, or NT.  There's 2 DT's who each line up in the 4iT, a RDE who sticks to the wideside 9T, and a LDE who sticks to the shortside 9T.  (if ball is on left hashmarks, the right side is the wideside, etc.)  The reason Beasley typically plays the RDE is because he's simply much faster than any other DE and can cover the wider field.  However, with the addition of McKinley, who is also very fast and great against the run, it's quite possible that Beasley and McKinley might swap sides purely based on preference.

This is our typical Nickel alignment.  The only change that occasionally happens that the nickel-CB is sometimes swapped out for a nickel-LB/S depending on if we're playing a run-dominant team or a pass-dominant team.  Good news is, we have the LB's to do this.  LB's that can cover a RB who slides out into the slot receiver position or if we're facing multiple pass catching TE's in heavy sets.  We struggled mightily with this before, but we've corrected it with these last two drafts.

440px-NickelbackFB.svg.png

And this year's likely depth in Nickel, approximate snap count, and assignment priority at each of these will possibly be:

LDE/9T: McKinley (350) | Reed (250) - 1. edge rush passer, 2. contain edge run
LDT/4iT: Jarrett (400) | Shelby (150) | Upshaw (50) - 1. B-gap rush passer, 2. A+B-gap contain run
RDT/4iT: Poe (400) | Hageman (100) | Crawford (100) - 1. B-gap rush passer, 2. A+B-gap contain run
RDE/9T: Beasley (500) | Clayborn (100) - 1. edge rush passer, 2. contain edge run
WOLB: Campbell (300) | Riley (200) | Ishmael (100) - 1. zone coverage, 2. pass cover TE/RB, 3. strongside containt run
MLB: Jones (550) | Reynolds (50) - 1. middle zone coverage, 2. middle contain run
NCB/NLB: Alford (300) | Poole (200) | Ishmael (100) - 1. zone/man coverage, 2. follow run contain
SS: Neal (550) | Neasman (50) - 1. middle/high coverage, 2. follow run contain
FS: Allen (500) | Poole (100) - 1. high/middle coverage, 2. follow run contain
RCB: Trufant (550) | Olatoye (50) - 1. zone/man coverage, 2. follow run contain
LCB: Collins (400) | Alford (200) - 1. zone/man coverage, 2. follow run contain

I think it's possible that the new kid, Kazee, might get some snaps at FS, but for now I'm puting Poole behind Allen since Quinn has specifically mentioned Poole will get both NCB and FS snaps.  Obviously if we have any injuries in the secondary over the course of the year, and we surely will, Kazee has a better chance of making it in.  There's also a chance that Neasman goes back to the PS to open up a spot for someone else.  Ishmael can obviously fill in at the SS position if needed.

=============================================================

NASCAR:

We spend about 10% of our snaps (~100) in our NASCAR package.  Quinn's NASCAR package is basically our Nickel package except with all our fastest pass rushers and LB's on the field, and the box is crowded up to the line of scrimmage appearing as if there could be 8 or even 9 blitzers, even though there's probably only 6 or maybe even 7 at the most.

In 2016, Atlanta had the fewest 3rd downs to defend, only 178 (https://www.sportingcharts.com/nfl/stats/3rd-down-efficiency/2016/), and only 75 of those 178 were converted.  About 100 of these plays were pass rushes from our NASCAR package with essentially 4 DE's on the field like below.

nascar_thumb.jpg

And this year's likely depth in Nascar, approximate snap count, and assignment priority at each of these will possibly be:

LDE/9T: McKinley (100) - 1. edge rush passer
LDT/4iT: Shelby (100) - 1. B-gap rush passer
RDT/4iT: Clayborn (100) - 1. B-gap rush passer
RDE/9T: Beasley (100) - 1. edge rush passer
WOLB: Campbell (50) | Riley (50) - 1. blitz/stunt rush passer, 2. zone coverage
MLB: Jones (100) - 1. blitz/stunt rush passer, 2. zone coverage
NCB: Alford (50) | Poole (50) - 1. zone/man coverage, 2. possible blitz passer
SS: Neal (100) - 1. middle/high coverage
FS: Allen (50) | Poole (50) - 1. high/middle coverage
RCB: Trufant (100) - 1. zone/man coverage, 2. possible blitz passer
LCB: Collins (50) | Alford (50) - 1. zone/man coverage, 2. possible blitz passer

McKinley and Beasley are no-brainers, but then I suspect Shelby and Clayborn would get the inside rushes since they are big enough to be DT's but also speedy enough to play DE too.

=============================================================

Now I'm going to add up total snaps for each player as projected, and then what they're snap count was last season in parenthesis for perspective.

LDE/LEO: McKinley - 550  (for perspective, Beasley got 554 snaps his rookie season)
LDE/LEO: Reed - 300 (425)
RDE/LEO/RDT: Clayborn - 350 (583)
RDE/SAM: Beasley - 650 (671)
SDE/RDT: Crawford - 300 (530 @ Dallas)
SDE/RDT: Hageman - 200 (265)
NT/RDT: Poe - 600 (820 @ KC)
NT/LDT: Jarrett - 650 (630)
LDT: Upshaw - 200 (310)
LDT: Shelby - 250 (245)
WOLB/SAM: Campbell - 600 (547)
WOLB/WILL: Riley - 450 (for perspective, Wheeler & Spoon combined for 529 snaps)
WOLB/WILL/NLB: Ishmael - 300 (310)
MLB/MIKE: Jones - 900 (896)
MLB/MIKE: Reynolds - 100 (138)
SS: Neal - 900 (920)
SS: Neasman - 100 (41)
FS: Allen - 800 (1,101)
FS/NCB: Poole - 400 (835)
NCB/LCB: Alford - 750 (1,080)
LCB: Collins - 550 (424)
RCB: Trufant - 900 (591 - injured)
RCB: Olatoye - 100 (81)

 

Okay so does this look about right?  Where does it need correcting?  Anything else anyone wants to add, please do.

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Is there any way to favorite this? I want to study it when I have more time. I guess I'll just copy/paste it. Great job. Thanks. I think Hageman will play more than you've predicted, but maybe not. Great job again. Thanks.

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Loved this! Great job.

I think the biggest omission is Shelby featuring in the base package and if not just more overall. His snap count last year was 245 but he missed half the season, I expect him to play around 400 snaps this season so needs to go somewhere else. 

I know you haven't listed the goaline package but I'm really interested to see the changes they make to that this year. Also just our redzone D overall. Last year it really let us down at points and it's so important in this system. 

Would love to see that addition :)

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Very good post.

I think Shelby and Clayborn will likely get more snaps (pending injuries) both at DE and DT.  It seems that both of them have more impact than Reed, so they may try to incorporate them more, minimizing him a bit.

Think this looks pretty good overall, and it highlights our depth, but also really makes me wish we had Willis or Rivers at the Reed spot...giving us a lot of potential upside at pass rusher  (and could take over if Takk is slow to develop or anything).

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22 minutes ago, D.B.N. said:

Weren't you the one who hated the idea of Riley starting at WLB and Campbell moving to SAM. 

Oh yeah that was you 

I didn't like the idea of drafting Riley in the second or having a 6'0 LB cover 6'5 TE's.

We got Riley in the 3rd, and Campbell covering TE's is what I have shown up top.

Nobody got this draft correct.  Did you have a mock with Takk in the first and Riley in the third?  No?  Then you're not perfect either, bro.

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1 minute ago, Beef said:

I didn't like the idea of drafting Riley in the second or having a 6'0 LB cover 6'5 TE's.

We got Riley in the 3rd, and Campbell covering TE's is what I have shown up top.

Nobody got this draft correct.  Did you have a mock with Takk in the first and Riley in the third?  No?  Then you're not perfect either, bro.

Never said I was but you were b****** about Riley being the potential pick and that his film was horrible. Don't make me bump the thread. 

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Just now, D.B.N. said:

Never said I was but you were bitching about Riley being the potential pick and that his film was horrible. Don't make me bump the thread. 

The first few minutes of the video that was posted was ugly.  It definitely got better though and I'm good with the pick.

Is this what you like to do?  Are you insecure in real life so you come to sports forums to try and demean and shame people?  Grow up.

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Just now, Beef said:

The first few minutes of the video that was posted was ugly.  It definitely got better though and I'm good with the pick.

Is this what you like to do?  Are you insecure in real life so you come to sports forums to try and demean and shame people?  Grow up.

Ah, the good ole personal attack. Gotta love it. 

Anyways, I just find it interesting how you hated the idea of Riley playing WLB and having to move Campbell calling us clowns for proposing it. You specifically stated that Campbell shouldn't move and there's no need to replace him with "some 6' guy we have to draft in the 3rd round" direct quote from you bud. And then you said you dont want to see a LB corps of Riley Debo and Campbell. FOH man. 

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1 minute ago, D.B.N. said:

Ah, the good ole personal attack. Gotta love it. 

Anyways, I just find it interesting how you hated the idea of Riley playing WLB and having to move Campbell calling us clowns for proposing it. You specifically stated that Campbell shouldn't move and there's no need to replace him with "some 6' guy we have to draft in the 3rd round" direct quote from you bud. And then you said you dont want to see a LB corps of Riley Debo and Campbell. FOH man. 

Kind of hard to change it now since we did actually draft the guy.  I'm not some fan that spends weeks whining about our picks.  He's a Falcon and nothing is going to change that.  So this is what I believe we're going to do.

Are you going to contribute to the thread or just take your insecurities out on me?

Again, guys like you are why I spend so little time here.  Know-it-alls who live to belittle other people online.  Get a life.

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Good post overall. I think you have your RDE and LDE mixed-up. Beasley is our LDE, who plays against the opposing team's Right Tackle. I think Shelby gets some snaps in the Base Defense.

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1 hour ago, Beef said:

I didn't like the idea of drafting Riley in the second or having a 6'0 LB cover 6'5 TE's.

We got Riley in the 3rd, and Campbell covering TE's is what I have shown up top.

Nobody got this draft correct.  Did you have a mock with Takk in the first and Riley in the third?  No?  Then you're not perfect either, bro.

 

58 minutes ago, D.B.N. said:

Never said I was but you were b****** about Riley being the potential pick and that his film was horrible. Don't make me bump the thread. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Beef said:

Kind of hard to change it now since we did actually draft the guy.  I'm not some fan that spends weeks whining about our picks.  He's a Falcon and nothing is going to change that.  So this is what I believe we're going to do.

 

This is my stance on a lot of this.

Takk isn't the pass rusher I wanted (and I was fine with 5).  Saubert isn't the TE I wanted (again fine with several).  I didn't think we needed a LB until the 5th as developmental depth.  Wanted a different OG than we took.

But hey, we took the right positions, and now they're Falcons.  So you figure out where they're going to go, and you hope they're great at it.

I hope Takk's crazy long arms and get off make up for a 3 cone that often signals a poor rusher.

I hope Riley is giving everyone **** in base, and enables the D to do much more than another pass rusher there would have.

I hope Harlow is somehow a hidden gem and is a surprise great pass blocker who can be taught to run block.  

I hope Saubert develops and can get down the seam faster than I expect.

And I hope Kazee's "around the ball" skills translate, and though he's not optimal size or speed, he is a 6 INT/yr FS or nickel.

 

 

It's not mock draft time anymore.  Let's hope Quinn and company make these guys all into nasty bully superstars.

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Reed played nearly every snap as the LEO, and a few more as a nickel DE.

Clayborn didn't take a single snap in base defense as far as I remember. He's a nickel DE, occasional nickel DT. 

Reed was leading all of our DL's in snaps before he got hurt, primarily at nickel DT. Even with the addition of Poe and emergence of Jarrett I doubt he takes so few snaps. Probably double what you have.

Crawford will be the primary SDE, with Reed as backup, not Hageman.

The Falcons finally figured out late last year that Hageman's best position was at 1T and 3T, which is what he played down the stretch when he looked better.

As others have said, Beasley plays LDE not RDE.

In base defense the 5T and 1T are no longer 2-gap positions, as I've told you before. That should be obvious with Poe telling reporters he came here to get away from 2-gapping in Kansas City so he could be a more aggressive 1-gap player here.

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