BIG UGLIES NEEDED
Our defense is struggling because our front four are not creating much resistance for the opposing o-line and are not keeping blockers off of our mediocre linebackers. Consequently, our mediocre linebackers are getting blocked and are doing absolutely nothing to get off of the blocks. It is like they are wearing velcro and can't get un-stuck from the blockers. Or, they think they are playing freeze tag and once a blocker engages them, they are "out" for that play. Anyway, I suspect the linebackers would be more involved in the pursuit of tackling the ball carrier if the play of our front four, and particularly the two tackles, was better.
I had the opinion that Jeff Owens, Kade Weston and Geno Atkins would be as good or better than many of the tackles that preceded them: Gerald Anderson, Jonathon Sullivan, Kedric Golston, Ray Gant, Dale Dixson. It is not as if they were replacing Richard Seymour and Marcus Stroud. When you look at the size and potential of these tackles, there is reason for optimism that they would be able to anchor the center of the line for us and keep our linebackers free to make plays. It is not working out that way and I think the primary problem starts in the middle.
But, maybe the absence of a dominator at the end position has made it much easier for the offensive lines of our opponents to handle all of our front four since you really don't need to double team any of our guys. Charles Johnson drew many double teams and Pollack even drew some triple teams at times to keep him from ruining the play as he was so apt to do. Now, we do not have any ends that inspire any fear in the hearts of our opponents so they can scheme us straight up, mano to mano. When you couple that with the fact that our linebacking corps is mediocre at best, then you really have a mushy front seven that is easy to attack. I think that our defensive backs have been above average this season otherwise, we would have surrendered even more points and would have lost to Alabama.
The first step in improving our defensive performance is to get more out of Owens, Weston and Atkins. They have shown flashes of greatness, but it has not been consistent. This is where it all starts. If these big uglies can get more pissed off and create a big push inside, then even our smallish ends will have a better chance to make plays. But if the big uglies get flattened or put on roller skates on every play, then we can expect to give up no less than 5 yards per snap. Somebody needs to get inspired in the middle if we are to have any chance to win more than we lose this year.