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    Marrdro's Avatar
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    Who Will Our Starting LB'rs Be (Marrdro's Analysis - Guess)

    Positional Analysis


    SAM – Strong Side = Chad Greenway, Tyrone McKenzie, Marvin Mitchell

    The strong side linebacker, or Sam Linebacker, is a versatile run and pass coverage backer in a 4-3 defense. He needs to provide strong run support and fill his gap on the run, but he also is required to drop in short zones in both cover 2 and cover 3. At times, he will also play man-to-man coverage on either the tight end or the number two or three receiver. Depending on the tendencies of the teams you play, your Sam linebacker might be more of a pass coverage guy, or more of a traditional "linebacker" type. Either way, versatility and speed are critical traits for a good Sam Linebacker.


    The Sam linebacker will line up on the strong side of the formation, about seven to eight yards back from the tight end, if the offensive formation has one. If there is no tight end, the Sam linebacker will essentially split the space between the end man on the line of scrimmage and the inside slot receiver. This allows him to be in close proximity to stop the run, and in good position to drop in pass coverage if necessary.



    The Sam's responsibilities are to fill his assigned gap (which will be different if the play flows towards him or away from him) on the run. He can't waste any steps in his pursuit of the football. He also has pass coverage responsibilities which vary from covering the tight end, or the back out of the backfield, to dropping to the deep hook/curl zone.

    Mike –Middle = Possible candidates - Erin Henderson, Michael Mauti, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges


    The middle linebacker, or "mike" linebacker, is a central anchor point in any good defense. He's the key run stopper, and should find himself involved in almost every tackle on running plays. He epitomizes the football player persona, because he's big, strong, and hard-nosed. He is a key vocal leader in most defensive schemes, calling out formations and strengths, and communicating adjustments. He also is a key communicator for all the linebackers and defensive linemen, as he calls out formation strength and signals.



    The mike linebacker lines up about 4-5 yards deep, and head up on the center, in most cases. This alignment allows him to step quickly to the left or right to fill gaps to stop the run.



    The mike linebacker is assigned as primarily a gap destroyer and a run stopper. He will take on any lead blocks and spill the back to his teammates if need be. In the case of a pass, he will drop to his appropriate responsibility, depending on the coverage called. For example, in cover 2 zone, he will drop, read the quarterback's eyes and break on the football. There are also times where the mike linebacker is assigned to cover the running back out of the backfield on either side.



    Will – Weak side
    = Possible candidates - Gerald Hodges , Erin Henderson, Audie Cole,


    The weak side linebacker, or "Will" linebacker, is one of 3 linebackers on a standard defensive crew. Like the other two linebackers (Sam and Mike), he's primarily concerned with stopping the run. But, he quickly transitions into a pass defender as needed, and often ends up assigned to slot receivers, even more than the Sam. The will linebacker has to be quick and agile, and able to move laterally with the ball carrier to force the run inside, but because he lines up on the weak side of the formation, he is often pursuing the play as it goes away from him.


    The will linebacker lines up five or six yards deep, and he usually splits the "B" gap on the weak side of the formation. This puts him in a nice position to stop the run if it comes his way, but also gets him leverage to be able to drop in coverage, or cover the back out of the backfield. If he has a slot receiver to his side, in most cases, he'll widen his alignment to be in position to cover the slot.

    The will linebacker is responsible for forcing any outside run to his inside, as well as cutback and reverse plays. He also has a great deal of pass coverage responsibility.



    Linebacker descriptions provided by
    Will Linebacker: How To Play Will Linebacker


    Player Analysis - History - Scouting Reports

    Chad Greenway -
    Lock to start at the the SAM, no analysis provided.

    Erin Henderson – Shifted from QB to LB the 2004 season at Maryland. Has little to no experience at the Mike position having spent his time at the WILL. He is a smart football player who once converted from QB to LB in his first collegiate season and has done a pretty good job for the Vikings at the WILL position. Knowledge of the scheme and natural abilities tend to make me think he is the leading candidate to take over at the MIKE and should get the life of his two year contract to settle in at that position.


    Erin Henderson, Maryland, NFL Draft - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com

    Marvin Mitchell – Big strong bodied LB’r who probably isn’t fast enough to play the Mike (4.86-5.02 40-yard dash times). Marvin will struggle at times shedding blocks as well as with reading pass recognition. No shot at playing the Mike this year for the Vikes. Marvin should wind up on the 53 man roster providing depth at the SAM.


    Marvin Mitchell, Tennessee, NFL Draft - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com

    Tyrone McKenzie – Played the SAM predominantly at the collegiate level and was projected to go in the second round but was ultimately selected in the third round by the Patriots. Reason for slide was thought to be related to how many schools he played for at the collegiate level and not because he lacked talent. More of a IB/OB than a true MIKE or SAM but projected to play SAM at the next level. Joined the Vikes in 2012 and should stick with the team to add depth at LBr as well as on ST’s.


    National Football League: NFL Draft 2009 - Tyrone McKenzie


    Audie Cole – No experience at the Mike, however, he did play the SAM in college and was expected to move to the Mike but that was delayed because he broke his hand. Good at read/recognizing run and pass plays. Outside shot to start at the Mike for the Vikes this year.


    Audie Cole, ILB, North Carolina State, NFL Draft - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com

    Gerald Hodges – No NFL experience. After switching from S to LB, Hodges started 26 of 44 games for Penn State at strong side linebacker and had 249 tackles, 21 of those for losses, 5˝ sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Projected as a WILL in a 4-3 C2 but could also make the move to the MIKE if he can add some extra weight, however, that is highly doubtful because of the extra weight he added when he shifted from S to LB. My guess is he will make the 53 man roster as either the starting or backup WILL.


    Michael Mauti – No NFL experience. Played mostly as the MIKE at Penn St. when he could stay healthy. Labeled as a good but not great athlete who relies on natural awareness and great read/react skills. He is a hard-nosed, “lunch pail” kind of guy that has had repeated knee injuries that is working hard at being ready for the 2013-2014 season. My guess is that he was drafted by the Vikes as insurance for the 2014-2015 season if Erin doesn’t work out at the MIKE and will be allowed to work back to slowly this year to ensure his knees are completely healed. Not sure what roster spot he will get but I assume it will be IR related.


    Michael Mauti, OLB, Penn State, NFL Draft - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com


    Anticipated starting LB'rs

    SAM – Chad Greenway

    MIKE – Erin Henderson

    WILL – Gerald Hodges
    Many many thanks to my talented friend Jos for the new Sig.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v343/josdin00/Vikings/Marrdro_sig.jpg

  2. #2
    tastywaves's Avatar
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    I suspect your right if we don't bring any other players in, the starting lineup will be Greenway - strong side, Henderson - middle and Hodges - weak side if he can prove himself in training camp. With us playing nickel 3/4 of the time the focus will be on 2 LB'er sets anyways. Although it seems the league is mixing up nickel packages quite a bit these days with all kinds of deviations on DL and LB like the 3-3-5.

    The thing I've always found a little strange with Greenway and Henderson is that they appeared to be playing the wrong position. Greenway is always given as a prototypical weak side linebacker while Henderson reads more like the prototypical strong side LB. Yet we put them in reverse roles. Maybe it's due to all the athletic TE's demanding better strong side LB coverage or maybe it's due to the fact that we run a nickel defense 75% of the time that only utilize 2 LB'ers. That is, on passing downs with slot receivers, we typically have a nickel corner in the game rather than ask Henderson to pick him up. Either way Henderson does not have the usual traits expected for a weak side linebacker. I question his pass coverage at middle as well, but I suspect we will cheat with the safeties to help him out like we did with Brinkley, putting more pressure on the corners. Another reason why Rhodes was a good pick.

  3. #3
    HEY's Avatar
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    Nice breakdown, Marrdro! Can't say anything else than I agree on the starting lineup.

    Although the odds are small, the joker in the current situation is Michael Mauti. He can drastically change the landscape if he recovers before training camp and plays at the best he did in college. In that case, he might take the middle spot and Erin moves back to the outside.

    However, I really like Gerald Hodges and I think he's perfect as the weak outside linebacker in the 4-3 defense. He has great cover skills for a linebacker. I like his athleticism and he makes plays on the ball that would truly impress a defensive back. I can tell he used to be a safety. Only thing he lacks a bit in the passing game is top-end speed, but he has great explosiveness and quickness to make up for it.

    A linebacker with Hodges' type of cover skills are truly rare. What I'm a little skeptical about is how he'll hold up against elite blockers. Maybe the base package will feature Greenway, Mauti, and Henderson, while Hodges plays in the nickle with Greenway.

  4. #4
    digital420's Avatar
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    Good read Marrdro!

    I think it's way to early to be slotting in who's going where, but I think you did a good job covering who's currently in the flock, and what we can do with that.

    I still think part of the Kluwe move was to open some cap space to get maybe a Mike FA in. either 1 or 2 year contract, and help us bring in Mauti. Hodges I think will replace Erin, and Chad will anchor his Sam.


    though like i said.. many things can happen between now and Mankato.. (which i hope we have the Mike solidified at least by then...)

    DiGiTaL

    "We tried to stick with it, but there was a point where we were beating our head against a wall," Seattle Coach Mora talking about running at the Williams Wall

  5. #5
    Marrdro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tastywaves View Post
    I suspect your right if we don't bring any other players in, the starting lineup will be Greenway - strong side, Henderson - middle and Hodges - weak side if he can prove himself in training camp. With us playing nickel 3/4 of the time the focus will be on 2 LB'er sets anyways. Although it seems the league is mixing up nickel packages quite a bit these days with all kinds of deviations on DL and LB like the 3-3-5.

    The thing I've always found a little strange with Greenway and Henderson is that they appeared to be playing the wrong position. Greenway is always given as a prototypical weak side linebacker while Henderson reads more like the prototypical strong side LB. Yet we put them in reverse roles. Maybe it's due to all the athletic TE's demanding better strong side LB coverage or maybe it's due to the fact that we run a nickel defense 75% of the time that only utilize 2 LB'ers. That is, on passing downs with slot receivers, we typically have a nickel corner in the game rather than ask Henderson to pick him up. Either way Henderson does not have the usual traits expected for a weak side linebacker. I question his pass coverage at middle as well, but I suspect we will cheat with the safeties to help him out like we did with Brinkley, putting more pressure on the corners. Another reason why Rhodes was a good pick.
    I should have included this data in the analysis.... Right now, using Ourlads FA tracker......

    2013 NFL Free Agent Tracker | Ourlads.com

    ,,,,the following MLB'rs are on the board.

    Kirk Morrison Stats - ESPN
    Keith Brooking, LB for the Denver Broncos at NFL.com
    Omar Gaither Stats - ESPN
    Mike Peterson Stats - ESPN
    Brian Urlacher, LB for the Chicago Bears at NFL.com

    Not alot to chose from when it comes to Vets so I'm not to sure they would/are bring someone else in.

    As to your Greenway/Henderson analysis. I agree 100%. Said it quite a few times since Singletary showed up but no one seemed to want to discuss or agree so I let it go.

    Maybe they now have the right players to actually put a new twist on the old scheme this year. Time will tell, but I think it was a dumb move to let Brinkley go.
    Many many thanks to my talented friend Jos for the new Sig.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v343/josdin00/Vikings/Marrdro_sig.jpg

  6. #6
    Marrdro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HEY View Post
    Nice breakdown, Marrdro! Can't say anything else than I agree on the starting lineup.

    Although the odds are small, the joker in the current situation is Michael Mauti. He can drastically change the landscape if he recovers before training camp and plays at the best he did in college. In that case, he might take the middle spot and Erin moves back to the outside.

    However, I really like Gerald Hodges and I think he's perfect as the weak outside linebacker in the 4-3 defense. He has great cover skills for a linebacker. I like his athleticism and he makes plays on the ball that would truly impress a defensive back. I can tell he used to be a safety. Only thing he lacks a bit in the passing game is top-end speed, but he has great explosiveness and quickness to make up for it.

    A linebacker with Hodges' type of cover skills are truly rare. What I'm a little skeptical about is how he'll hold up against elite blockers. Maybe the base package will feature Greenway, Mauti, and Henderson, while Hodges plays in the nickle with Greenway.
    I'm not sure why, but I have the sneaky feeling that their plan all along was to go with Erin at the MIKE and look for a outside guy. Thus the 2 year contract this time.

    That will allow them the lattitude of two years to find a eventual replacement at the MIKE. My guess, based on all of that, is they won't push Mauti to get on the field this year. Sometime soon I think you will see him moved somehow (IR sort of thing) so he isn't taking up one of the 90 roster spots.

    Only thing I worry about Hodges' is that he is maxed at weight. I think he is big enough now, but I'm a firm believer that a player shouldn't max out like that as it puts to much wear and tear on his legs/knees.
    Many many thanks to my talented friend Jos for the new Sig.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v343/josdin00/Vikings/Marrdro_sig.jpg

  7. #7
    Marrdro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by digital420 View Post
    Good read Marrdro!

    I think it's way to early to be slotting in who's going where, but I think you did a good job covering who's currently in the flock, and what we can do with that.

    I still think part of the Kluwe move was to open some cap space to get maybe a Mike FA in. either 1 or 2 year contract, and help us bring in Mauti. Hodges I think will replace Erin, and Chad will anchor his Sam.


    though like i said.. many things can happen between now and Mankato.. (which i hope we have the Mike solidified at least by then...)

    DiGiTaL
    The problem with all that Dig is there aren't any options out there at MIKE in the FA world. None that make any sense that is.
    Many many thanks to my talented friend Jos for the new Sig.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v343/josdin00/Vikings/Marrdro_sig.jpg

  8. #8
    tarkenton10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marrdro View Post
    Positional Analysis


    SAM – Strong Side = Chad Greenway, Tyrone McKenzie, Marvin Mitchell


    Mike –Middle = Possible candidates - Erin Henderson, Michael Mauti, Audie Cole, Gerald Hodges


    Will – Weak side[/B]= Possible candidates - Gerald Hodges , Erin Henderson, Audie Cole,


    Linebacker descriptions provided by
    Will Linebacker: How To Play Will Linebacker


    Player Analysis - History - Scouting Reports

    Chad Greenway -
    Lock to start at the the SAM, no analysis provided.

    Erin Henderson – Shifted from QB to LB the 2004 season at Maryland. Has little to no experience at the Mike position having spent his time at the WILL. He is a smart football player who once converted from QB to LB in his first collegiate season and has done a pretty good job for the Vikings at the WILL position. Knowledge of the scheme and natural abilities tend to make me think he is the leading candidate to take over at the MIKE and should get the life of his two year contract to settle in at that position.


    Erin Henderson, Maryland, NFL Draft - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com

    Marvin Mitchell – Big strong bodied LB’r who probably isn’t fast enough to play the Mike (4.86-5.02 40-yard dash times). Marvin will struggle at times shedding blocks as well as with reading pass recognition. No shot at playing the Mike this year for the Vikes. Marvin should wind up on the 53 man roster providing depth at the SAM.


    Marvin Mitchell, Tennessee, NFL Draft - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com

    Tyrone McKenzie – Played the SAM predominantly at the collegiate level and was projected to go in the second round but was ultimately selected in the third round by the Patriots. Reason for slide was thought to be related to how many schools he played for at the collegiate level and not because he lacked talent. More of a IB/OB than a true MIKE or SAM but projected to play SAM at the next level. Joined the Vikes in 2012 and should stick with the team to add depth at LBr as well as on ST’s.


    National Football League: NFL Draft 2009 - Tyrone McKenzie


    Audie Cole – No experience at the Mike, however, he did play the SAM in college and was expected to move to the Mike but that was delayed because he broke his hand. Good at read/recognizing run and pass plays. Outside shot to start at the Mike for the Vikes this year.


    Audie Cole, ILB, North Carolina State, NFL Draft - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com

    Gerald Hodges – No NFL experience. After switching from S to LB, Hodges started 26 of 44 games for Penn State at strong side linebacker and had 249 tackles, 21 of those for losses, 5˝ sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Projected as a WILL in a 4-3 C2 but could also make the move to the MIKE if he can add some extra weight, however, that is highly doubtful because of the extra weight he added when he shifted from S to LB. My guess is he will make the 53 man roster as either the starting or backup WILL.


    Michael Mauti – No NFL experience. Played mostly as the MIKE at Penn St. when he could stay healthy. Labeled as a good but not great athlete who relies on natural awareness and great read/react skills. He is a hard-nosed, “lunch pail” kind of guy that has had repeated knee injuries that is working hard at being ready for the 2013-2014 season. My guess is that he was drafted by the Vikes as insurance for the 2014-2015 season if Erin doesn’t work out at the MIKE and will be allowed to work back to slowly this year to ensure his knees are completely healed. Not sure what roster spot he will get but I assume it will be IR related.


    Michael Mauti, OLB, Penn State, NFL Draft - CBSSports.com - NFLDraftScout.com


    Anticipated starting LB'rs

    SAM – Chad Greenway

    MIKE – Erin Henderson

    WILL – Gerald Hodges
    Great job, Marr, my prediction is:

    Greenway - SAM

    Cole - MIKE

    Henderson - WILL by the end of the year Hodges will play more and more.

    There s only two things stopping you - fear and common sense!! The Truth you CAN"T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tarkenton10 View Post
    Great job, Marr, my prediction is:

    Greenway - SAM

    Cole - MIKE

    Henderson - WILL by the end of the year Hodges will play more and more.
    I sure want to slip Audie in there someplace, but I just get the feeling that the staff went out and drafted 2 LB'rs for a reason.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up on Audie. I just think he is going to mature a bit slower than they thought is all.
    Many many thanks to my talented friend Jos for the new Sig.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v343/josdin00/Vikings/Marrdro_sig.jpg

  10. #10
    tarkenton10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marrdro View Post
    I sure want to slip Audie in there someplace, but I just get the feeling that the staff went out and drafted 2 LB'rs for a reason.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up on Audie. I just think he is going to mature a bit slower than they thought is all.
    My choice was just a gut feeling and the fact he's had a year to absorb the playbook and should be a step faster than the rookies, nothing more.

    There s only two things stopping you - fear and common sense!! The Truth you CAN"T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!!!!!!

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