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Vander Esch Discusses Move To Middle Linebacker

Discussion in 'Fan Zone' started by Doomsday101, Aug 6, 2020.

  1. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    FRISCO, Texas – It sounds like Leighton Vander Esch is the new man in the middle.

    There haven't been many details on how Mike Nolan plans to employ his defense in the first year of the Mike McCarthy Era, but the Cowboys' star linebacker provided one on Thursday afternoon.

    While speaking to reporters from the team's training camp at The Star, Vander Esch confirmed that he'll be making the move to middle linebacker this season, while Jaylon Smith slides over to his former place on the weak side.

    Though, to hear it from Vander Esch, the transition shouldn't be too difficult.

    "In today's age of playing football, MIKE and WILL are pretty much identical," he said. "I guess if you want to call me the MIKE, you can call me the MIKE and Jaylon obviously is playing the WILL."

    One of the main difference between middle and weak side linebacker comes down to alignments. Moving to the weak side could free Smith up for a more varied role, such as blitzing and covering outside the numbers. Moving to MIKE likely puts Vander Esch in charge of calling the defense, as well as covering the middle of the field – though obviously the responsibilities are similar.

    "Obviously, he might get pulled out the box a little more and the Mike says in the box a little more," Vander Esch said. "But as far as techniques and how you play, they're the same thing."

    If it sounds vague, it's probably because the Cowboys aren't exactly keen to divulge what exactly their new-look defense will do. But it is interesting to note that, on the two occasions Vander Esch was asked about this new scheme, he brought up similar talking points: this defense will be multiple, and it might not be so obvious.

  2. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    Phase one complete - LVE in the middle and Jaylon out.

    Phase two - Jaylon at strongside linebacker.

    I'm wondering if they're just talking about nickel stuff or if they're actually going to have Lee on the strongside on a regular basis?
    dogberry and buybuydandavis like this.
  3. CATCH17

    CATCH17 1st Round Pick

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    Nickel stuff..

    Nickel has become the base defense for teams.
  4. quickccc

    quickccc Well-Known Member

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    wasn't lee already the strong side LB in a regular basis ?
    while it seems more obvious to have the weakside LB go to the guy that is far more suited to coverage and playing off, which clearly
    favors Lee,,, while Jaylon seems more suited to strong side.a limited coverage guy that you don't want exposed in coverage
    But two things may factor,
    1) Lee still has to be snap- limited to best preserve and protect his 34 year old body ,
    2) and even in Nolan's D' could the SLB see less field and reps?

    But in nolan's scheme could we see jaylon blitzing from various spots and angles and stunts while LVE and Lee patrol the
    passing lanes for INTs, '

    in their base 4-3 scheme and while jaylon has certain coverage responsibilities as an OLB, the better offensive teams are gonna
    scheme and move their personnel around to try to take advantage of him in isolated coverage.

    the coaches are likely gonna have to counter scheme and limit jaylon's coverage responsibilities to hide his flaws.
    drop him in zone lanes only, limit his read keys, ..maybe similar to what team did with bruce carter who was a top athlete but
    short in instincts, That coach scheme allowed Carter to grab 5 INTs. .
    Proof likes this.
  5. GMO415

    GMO415 Well-Known Member

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    Who's Lee's backup because he'll be a starter by week 2.
    65fastback2plus2 and lwehlers like this.
  6. quickccc

    quickccc Well-Known Member

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    while i do still worry about the neck issues with LVE, and not totally discarding the notion that it's over, i am excited about LVE move to
    the middle mike role.

    he's much improved his shed skills that was in question his collegiate years and he definitely has the frame and bulk needed
    and totally assuming he'll have the big biscuit boys can clog the trench traffic to keep interiors off the LBs , it's promising that
    the instinctive LVE should do well vs run,

    where i think LVE will really stand out is dropping in the passing lanes to jump breaks on the QB, plus with his enormous
    length and wingspan, he's gonna get his hands on several passes whether that be INTs or deflected tips that will get into
    other teammates INT hands.

    plus not surprisingly the signal calls and direction will go more into LVE rather than jaylon. truth be told i thought the leadership
    role was gonna eventually go to the more instinctive LVE anyway ,pending upon the coaches.

    so long as lee is healthy, and he can be preserved with limited snaps, he's gonna make his share of plays vs quickly reading the run and anticipating pass lanes.. at some point the ideal heir apparent is gonna have to found for him,
  7. Future

    Future Intramural Legend

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    The only way this makes sense is if they're going to have Jaylon blitzing a heck of a lot more, because you certainly don't want him further out in coverage.

    Doesn't matter much outside of that.
    buybuydandavis and Kolemmitt like this.
  8. NorthTexan95

    NorthTexan95 Well-Known Member

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    The MIKE has to cover the entire middle of the field so ideally you want your best coverage backer in the middle. At WILL you have the sideline to help with coverage. I think the switch is a great idea.
    Proof and Cowboyny like this.
  9. quickccc

    quickccc Well-Known Member

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    he may not be on the roster yet, as thomas himself will end up getting the usual bang up job himself. :oops:
  10. Cowboyny

    Cowboyny Well-Known Member

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    As we all discussed over the summer, Nolan's SOLB is more of a stand-up DE in the base. You would think Lee plays more of a weakside backer when he is on the field.
    817Gill and buybuydandavis like this.
  11. Cowboyny

    Cowboyny Well-Known Member

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    Lve should be excellent in coverage manning the middle of the field. Excellent length, instincts and ball skills should have him getting his hands on many balls in his area.
    Cover 2, 817Gill and buybuydandavis like this.
  12. quickccc

    quickccc Well-Known Member

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    then this is the closet visual image i can get to what jaylon might be in this nolan scheme.
    dogberry and Cowboyny like this.
  13. gimmesix

    gimmesix Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life

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    I hope this staff is smarter than that. In three-LB sets, Jaylon needs to be SLB and Lee WLB.
  14. Clove

    Clove Shrinkage

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    Looks like Jaylon is going to be rushing the passer a lot.
  15. DCBoysfan

    DCBoysfan Hardwork and Dedication

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    I can’t not wait to see the new looks on offense and defense this year.
    Proof likes this.
  16. ItzKelz

    ItzKelz Well-Known Member

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    Nolan is already making better decisions than Kris. Both players will be moving back to their natural positions from college. Coach the player....not the scheme!!!
  17. buybuydandavis

    buybuydandavis Well-Known Member

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    Another win for the new coaching staff, putting LVE at his proper position.

    I agree with your Phase Two as well. Jaylon at SLB, Lee at WLB, LVE at Mike when we have 3 LBs.

    Lee was an All Pro at WLB, *deservedly* so, and largely for his diagnostic skills, which should be as strong as ever. He's not physically what he once was, but he's surely his best at WLB.

    Meanwhile, Jaylon makes the most sense on the edge, and where he's the designated blitzer - SLB.

    Having said that, Jaylon looked increasingly hobbled through last year. We never got the story on it, but it was obvious. I wouldn't be surprised if his snaps start decreasing, or he even retires in the next couple of years. He didn't look right to me.
    Floatyworm and stasheroo like this.
  18. buybuydandavis

    buybuydandavis Well-Known Member

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    Hope not. Just a waste of a guy who is a genius at WLB. Lee is not the All Pro he once was, but WLB run defense is clearly where he can contribute the most.
    stasheroo likes this.
  19. stasheroo

    stasheroo Well-Known Member

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    Yes. He definitely had his best games last year when playing WLB.
    buybuydandavis likes this.
  20. buybuydandavis

    buybuydandavis Well-Known Member

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    Sad that Jaylon is now considered a liability in coverage, while he was considered elite in coverage before his injury.

    With Jaylon, Lee, and LVE all on the field, I'd rather have LVE and Lee playing underneath zone, and Jaylon blitzing.

    In nickel, we're probably best off with LVE and Thomas, unless it's a short field, as Lee can be a liability now too if he gets isolated in coverage. Just doesn't have the athleticism he once had in man coverage.

    We're getting weak in coverage LBs. Maybe we should go dime more. We need to find a young guy to pair with LVE in nickel. I just don't see it in Jaylon.

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