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News: PFW: Stopping the Run

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by Hostile, May 31, 2004.

  1. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

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    Teams that stop the run have a fighting chance for success
    By Mike Wilkening (mwilkening@pfwmedia.com)
    May 28, 2004





    One of the reasons the Raiders should be considered contenders for the AFC West title is a big factor in why the Dolphins will continue to be competitive in the AFC East, no matter what off-field drama the team endures.

    It is a major discussion point for anyone who wants to argue the Cowboys will be in the mix in an improved NFC East, or that the Steelers and Jaguars will compete for division titles.

    What do these teams have in common? All should be among the league’s better teams at stopping the run in the upcoming season. The Cowboys, Steelers, Jaguars and Dolphins all finished in the top 12 vs. the run in 2003, and the Raiders have made major improvements to their run defense in the offseason. In a league where stopping the run has become more difficult of late, it will give them a fighting chance to make the playoffs.

    Seven of the 11 best run-stuffing teams made the postseason in 2003, including Super Bowl entrants New England (fourth vs. the run) and Carolina (11th). Two seasons ago, Oakland and Tampa Bay played strong run defense, and it helped propel both teams to the Super Bowl.

    A stout run defense isn’t necessary to make the playoffs, but it helps. Teams that can’t stop the run have that much less margin for error — and an offense that much more burdened. Case in point: The Chiefs won the AFC West a season ago with a powerful offense — and in spite of a run defense that finished second to last, surrendering 146.5 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry.

    As much trouble as the Chiefs had stopping the run, the Raiders were worse — the league’s worst, in fact. When injuries started to ravage Oakland’s offense, the elements were in place for a 4-12 finish.

    But the Raiders have to be optimistic about their chances at a turnaround in 2004. The addition of former Giants QB Kerry Collins has something to do with it, yes, but the signings of DTs Warren Sapp and Ted Washington are really what should get Oakland supporters excited. Sapp and Washington have the ability to help turn the Raiders back into a top-10 run defense. If that happens, the Raiders are going to give the Chiefs a run for the division title.

    When Oakland plays the 3-4, Sapp will play defensive end — an ideal fit for his ability to get to the passer and hold up at the point of attack. Washington will play nose tackle. In a 4-3 alignment, Sapp and Washington might line up together at tackle. Nice flexibility for new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to have, don’t you think?

    The Raiders have the bulk to combat Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson and Chiefs RB Priest Holmes, whom they potentially will face twice in the regular season. Oakland also must contend with whoever emerges as Denver’s featured back; that player, no doubt, will be formidable in the Broncos’ offense.

    But the Raiders ought to be up to the task, just like the Cowboys will be up to stopping new Redskins RB Clinton Portis. The Dolphins' run defense remains stout. No AFC North team will make Jamal Lewis work as hard for his yards as Pittsburgh will. And don't forget about the Jaguars, who allowed only 3.2 yards per carry in 2003 — a full yard less than the league average. That average has increased by three-tenths of a yard in the last five years.

    Stop the run? It is easier said than done. One of the few teams that has had success consistently pulling this off has been the Titans, who were the league's best in this category a season ago. But Tennessee's run defense almost assuredly will not be the league's best in 2004 after DE Jevon Kearse and DT Robaire Smith left via free agency. It is the loss of Kearse that may have the most profound effect on the team's ability to hold up vs. the run.

    “The one thing about Jevon is, [for] a lot of people looking from the outside in, they didn’t know what type of run player he was," Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said in March. "And Jevon was really good against the run. Jevon weighed 245 or 250 pounds for almost every single game he played and was never knocked off the ball by a 300-pounder. He was strong, he had great leverage, he could chase, he could make great plays against the run. I mean, he was really, really good against the run.

    “... The average people out there think of him just as a pass rusher, but he was, without a doubt, one of our best run players and was never knocked off the ball, regardless of whether he was giving up 70 pounds. I just got done yesterday watching the Baltimore playoff game, and he gave (Ravens OLT Jonathan) Ogden all he could handle. He was inside and never got knocked off the ball by Jonathan Ogden. And Ogden’s one of the premier left tackles of all time, not just in the NFL right now. So we’re going to miss that."

    If the Titans falter this season, take a close look at how the front four has held up. Its success may well tell the tale for Tennessee.
  2. TheHustler

    TheHustler Active Member

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    didnt really mention why he thought dallas should be able to stop the run. guess he figured the upgrade of wiley over ekuban in the front 7 was enough.
  3. hockix

    hockix Active Member

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    hmmm but Ekuban was in fact pretty good against the run, and Wiley is an upgrade for the pass rush, not against the run.
  4. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

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    The one thing I thing Zimmer does well is funnel things to the MLB. Dat stepped up. Ellis, as much as I dislike him for his draft position, is a good run stopper.
  5. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    Ya know, Ellis is one of those guys you keep thinking, "Man, this is going to be his year." but never really happens. He has some good moments, just enough to make you keep thinking he is going to be real special. BUt it never does. He is what I call an NFL tease. I am still waiting and maybe this year will be his year, again.
  6. Hostile

    Hostile Tacos are a good investment Zone Supporter

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    If he were a 2nd or 3rd round draft choice I would love him. He's a solid citizen and contributes to the team.

    Him being the #8 pick in the draft makes him a terrible disappointment to me.
  7. mkelly71

    mkelly71 Member

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    no worries amigo at least his extension is not one of a superstar. very reasonable rate we got him to reup at considering the rediculous overpriced contracts out there
  8. TruBlueCowboy

    TruBlueCowboy New Member

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    When you look at Grant Wistrom's contract, we got a bargain. :cool:
  9. AJM1613

    AJM1613 New Member

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    Boy is that good to hear.
  10. TheHustler

    TheHustler Active Member

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    hahaha. u guys are going to need more than kearse to improve that run D.
  11. The Curly One

    The Curly One New Member

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    I agree with much of that. He has been decent at times but certainly not the dominant player we had hoped for or drafted for. For whatever reason we are not getting a much needed pass rush. Curly
  12. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    This does help for overpaying him during his first contract. But it doesn't make up for the fact he was a top 10 pick and should be dominating. Those type of players are called 'impact' players and Ellis is certainly not that. :(
  13. Nors

    Nors Benched

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    Highlights why Eagles regressed last year and are down and out this year. Can't stop the run!
  14. AJM1613

    AJM1613 New Member

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    Hollis Thomas and Jevon Kearse...
  15. Nors

    Nors Benched

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    Corners hasta la vista

    Lb CORE ON DECLINE AND NO DEPTH!
  16. AJM1613

    AJM1613 New Member

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    Havent we been over this already?

    Personally I think Trotter will come back. I don't really want him but I think he will be back. Then what will you say is our weakness? Sheldon Brown is a question mark. Sheppard will be great.
  17. Danny White

    Danny White Winter is Coming

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    How is it that so many threads get hijacked and turned into Eagles threads???

    I don't mind AJM coming to defense of his Iggles when someone attacks them, but turning legit Cowboys threads into Eagles threads? Come on now, aren't there Eagles boards out there for that?
  18. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    NO KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  19. Sarge

    Sarge Red, White and Brew... Staff Member

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    Ellis is Ellis. What you see is what you get. Solid, serviceable, good player.

    Was he worth the 8th pick? Probably not, but he's been consistent.

    He'll never get the 12 sacks you want but he is indeed a solid DE.

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