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  1. #1
    bsmithberkley is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focus)

    Well, the linebacker position is a bit of a mystery going into next year. Will EJ be back at full speed? Can Brinkley fill in well if he doesn't? How do we improve against TEs?

    First, lets meditate on what the Tampa-2 scheme requires of our LB personnel. In general, the Tampa 2 requires the linebackers to 1. Cover a lot of ground and 2. be sure tacklers. More than any other coverage scheme, the Tampa-2 stretches the LBs responsibility in coverage. Now, we are lucky that our top 4 guys are all good tacklers, but, do they have the "Range" to cover the appropriate zones?

    Lets look at each position separately.

    SAM Linebacker - Ben Leber 4.62 40, 4.25 shuttle, 0.37 differential

    Leber has decent speed and above average lateral movement. I bring that up because a lot of scouts look at the difference between 40 and shuttle times as a good indicator of lateral movement for LBs which is very important for a SAM or a WILL linebacker. The other primary responsibility of a SAM is to cover the TE as he moves out of the backfield.

    While Leber has shown himself proficient over the years he isn't spectacular. And his one weakness, straight line speed, does not help him against the Top Tight Ends. Keep this in mind for later.

    WILL Linebacker - Chad Greenway 4.76 40, 4.22 shuttle, 0.54 differential

    Greenway may not have elite straightline speed, but he has phenomenal lateral mobility which is just as or more important for a WILL as he does not have primary responsibility for the TE.

    Greenway is ideally suited for the WILL position. In an ideal world he would have a touch more speed, but he has shown that he has the ability to make a play on the ball. Don't discount how important that 0.54 number really is.

    MIKE Linebacker - EJ Henderson 4.80 40, Jasper Brinkley 4.67

    In the Tampa -2 defense the MIKE linebacker is half linebacker and half safety, his primary cover duty is to drop back and create a Cover 3 zone on passing downs with the safties. Here, being able to read the play and drop back quickly into coverage is key. The MIKE LB has to be able to cover a lot of ground and is often responsible for a TE or a speedy slot receiver.

    Henderson has learned how to play this position as well as he can over the years. But the game is catching up to him. He relys on reading the offense and positioning himself. When he is wrong he doesn't have the speed to recover against the leagues new breed of Tight ends and proliferation of slot recievers.

    Just look at EJ vs the new breed of TE that is coming more and more popular in the NFL.

    EJ Henderson 4.8 40
    V Davis 4.35
    G Olson 4.51
    D Clark 4.55

    I would say 90% of pass catching TEs are faster than EJ and half of those guys are all sub 4.6 speeds.

    The target speed for a Tampa 2 ILB is 4.5 to 4.6. (EX B Urlacher at 4.57) if you expect to have success against the TE,(it helps that Urlacher is an ex safety as well).

    Summary

    I think we have some very talented LBs, but, both of our LBs responsible for TE coverage are overmatched. If a top flight TE gets past these guys the QB knows he has an open receiver. I am sure I don't have to remind anyone on this board what TEs did to us last year. Well, go take a look at your schedules for next year, and you will see about 3 times as many games against top flight TEs.

    Some people like to say that giving up yards to the TE is a weakness you have to live with. Well, I think they are wrong, just look at the other two teams that utilize the Tampa 2 effectively CHI(8th avg) and IND(11th avg) over the last 5 years and compare us at MIN(22.5). In fact CHI and IND finished as top 5 against the TE over 40% of the time. The Tampa 2 can stop the TE with the right personnel.

    It would not surprise me if the Vikings went after a top flight LB in the draft to put in the rotation and bolster the SAM and MIKE positions, they both need it. He is needed for depth as well because none of the back-up LBs have what it takes to compete at those positions beside Brinkley. Quality depth at LB will make us better as well.

    Well, thats my take on the LB situation...time to sit back and get ripped for pointing out EJs weakness.
    None

  2. #2
    midgensa's Avatar
    midgensa is offline Jersey Retired Free Kick Specialist 3 Champion
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    Re: Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focu

    Wow ... repeat yourself much?

    Just read much of this earlier.

    Yes ... saw it there ... and so did others ... I guess you need many replies to keep from double posting?

  3. #3
    bsmithberkley is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re: Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focu

    midgensa wrote:
    Wow ... repeat yourself much?

    Just read much of this earlier.

    Yes ... saw it there ... and so did others ... I guess you need many replies to keep from double posting?


    nope, just wanted it to be a separate thread to separate DBs and Linebackers...ho hum...
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  4. #4
    WINEemDINEem69em is offline Waterboy
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    Re:Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focus)

    No ripping here, i thought it was an interesting take on the lb's. I feel Leber is less of a priority to replace than EJ/Brinkley. I think if EJ can come back he is more than adequate at doing the job, but I would def agree that mlb is one of our main needs in the draft(for the future). I would love to see us get Sean Lee out of Penn St, in the second round, but i doubt he will fall that far. Also, i am not an expert on scheme's, so i have a question...in tampa 2 is it all the mlb to cover the TE or is it on the safeties too, and since our safeties are less than great, could this not be a reason for our low rating against the TE's?
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  5. #5
    bsmithberkley is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re:Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focus)

    WINEemDINEem69em wrote:
    No ripping here, i thought it was an interesting take on the lb's. I feel Leber is less of a priority to replace than EJ/Brinkley. I think if EJ can come back he is more than adequate at doing the job, but I would def agree that mlb is one of our main needs in the draft(for the future). I would love to see us get Sean Lee out of Penn St, in the second round, but i doubt he will fall that far. Also, i am not an expert on scheme's, so i have a question...in tampa 2 is it all the mlb to cover the TE or is it on the safeties too, and since our safeties are less than great, could this not be a reason for our low rating against the TE's?
    The MIKE has responsibility for the Middle Zone, which is most likely to be a TE. There are always exceptions, but, by and large the SAM would pick the TE up at the line and release him to the MIKE when they play true Tampa 2 coverage. The classic weak spot is the hole between the zones and the ability of the TE to get past the MIKE. To minimize those weak spots the MIKE needs to have great speed and cover skills that allow him to cheat closer to the line and minimizing the gap in the zones. Its also a big plus if the safties are top notch as well which would allow him to be more aggressive.

    A MIKE that doesn't have the speed to cover his zone will not make the safties look any better. But a MIKE with great speed can make both safties look good.

    The "speed of play"/"intensity on every play" has always been the big difference when it comes to what makes NFL players special. Now we see more of that showing up in this new breed of TEs. NFL offensive coordinators are also like sharks that smell blood in the water, they thrive on Match-up problems.

    It won't get any better for the Vikings until we get a MIKE that can match-up better with this new breed of TEs.

    Again, not trying to Knock EJ...he just seems like the weak link if we are going to keep the Tampa 2 scheme.

    IMO
    None

  6. #6
    Marrdro's Avatar
    Marrdro is offline Beware My Spreadsheet, Bitches!
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    Re:Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focus)

    A very interesting article my friend. Not one to critique, but it would have even been better if you would have included some stuff on our backups to the starters.

    I like to start by comparing them with respect to size....

    59 Heath Farwell LB 28 6-0 235 6 San Diego State
    52 Chad Greenway LB 27 6-2 242 5 Iowa
    56 E.J. Henderson LB 29 6-1 245 8 Maryland
    50 Erin Henderson LB 23 6-3 244 3 Maryland
    51 Ben Leber LB 31 6-3 244 9 Kansas State
    57 Jeremy Leman LB 25 6-2 240 1 Illinois
    55 Kenny Onatolu LB 27 6-2 225 2 Nebraska-Omaha

    Heath and Kenny are definately on the short end of the stick with respect to beef and ability to play the position with Kenny clearly only making the team because of his ST's skills.

    I thouht, when brought in, Erin would be a natural fit behind Ben, but for some reason the staff seems to be waffling (maybe the Noodle shit is catchy) on thier opinion on him.

    Leman, not much out there on him, but what is, seems to be a good fit behind Chad and we all saw how well Jasper did as he was thrown to the wolves last year after EJ went down.

    Long story short, I don't see Bens replacement on this roster, not unless of course, Erin pops his head out of his ass and really wows the staff. For me, I don't think he can play at this level, if he could, he wouldn't have been juicing.
    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
    bsmithberkley is offline Pro-Bowler
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    Re:Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focus)

    Marrdro wrote:
    A very interesting article my friend. Not one to critique, but it would have even been better if you would have included some stuff on our backups to the starters.

    I like to start by comparing them with respect to size....

    59 Heath Farwell LB 28 6-0 235 6 San Diego State
    52 Chad Greenway LB 27 6-2 242 5 Iowa
    56 E.J. Henderson LB 29 6-1 245 8 Maryland
    50 Erin Henderson LB 23 6-3 244 3 Maryland
    51 Ben Leber LB 31 6-3 244 9 Kansas State
    57 Jeremy Leman LB 25 6-2 240 1 Illinois
    55 Kenny Onatolu LB 27 6-2 225 2 Nebraska-Omaha

    Heath and Kenny are definately on the short end of the stick with respect to beef and ability to play the position with Kenny clearly only making the team because of his ST's skills.

    I thouht, when brought in, Erin would be a natural fit behind Ben, but for some reason the staff seems to be waffling (maybe the Noodle shit is catchy) on thier opinion on him.

    Leman, not much out there on him, but what is, seems to be a good fit behind Chad and we all saw how well Jasper did as he was thrown to the wolves last year after EJ went down.

    Long story short, I don't see Bens replacement on this roster, not unless of course, Erin pops his head out of his ass and really wows the staff. For me, I don't think he can play at this level, if he could, he wouldn't have been juicing.
    I thought I mentioned in passing that I wrote off the other LBs becuse of there lack of coverage ability/speed. I don't see any of the backups having the skill/talent to be a starter. I don't consider brinkley a backup, he is more or less in the starting rotation.
    None

  8. #8
    tarkenton10's Avatar
    tarkenton10 is offline Star Spokesman
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    Re:Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focus)

    bsmithberkley wrote:
    Well, the linebacker position is a bit of a mystery going into next year. Will EJ be back at full speed? Can Brinkley fill in well if he doesn't? How do we improve against TEs?

    First, lets meditate on what the Tampa-2 scheme requires of our LB personnel. In general, the Tampa 2 requires the linebackers to 1. Cover a lot of ground and 2. be sure tacklers. More than any other coverage scheme, the Tampa-2 stretches the LBs responsibility in coverage. Now, we are lucky that our top 4 guys are all good tacklers, but, do they have the "Range" to cover the appropriate zones?

    Lets look at each position separately.

    SAM Linebacker - Ben Leber 4.62 40, 4.25 shuttle, 0.37 differential

    Leber has decent speed and above average lateral movement. I bring that up because a lot of scouts look at the difference between 40 and shuttle times as a good indicator of lateral movement for LBs which is very important for a SAM or a WILL linebacker. The other primary responsibility of a SAM is to cover the TE as he moves out of the backfield.

    While Leber has shown himself proficient over the years he isn't spectacular. And his one weakness, straight line speed, does not help him against the Top Tight Ends. Keep this in mind for later.

    WILL Linebacker - Chad Greenway 4.76 40, 4.22 shuttle, 0.54 differential

    Greenway may not have elite straightline speed, but he has phenomenal lateral mobility which is just as or more important for a WILL as he does not have primary responsibility for the TE.

    Greenway is ideally suited for the WILL position. In an ideal world he would have a touch more speed, but he has shown that he has the ability to make a play on the ball. Don't discount how important that 0.54 number really is.

    MIKE Linebacker - EJ Henderson 4.80 40, Jasper Brinkley 4.67

    In the Tampa -2 defense the MIKE linebacker is half linebacker and half safety, his primary cover duty is to drop back and create a Cover 3 zone on passing downs with the safties. Here, being able to read the play and drop back quickly into coverage is key. The MIKE LB has to be able to cover a lot of ground and is often responsible for a TE or a speedy slot receiver.

    Henderson has learned how to play this position as well as he can over the years. But the game is catching up to him. He relys on reading the offense and positioning himself. When he is wrong he doesn't have the speed to recover against the leagues new breed of Tight ends and proliferation of slot recievers.

    Just look at EJ vs the new breed of TE that is coming more and more popular in the NFL.

    EJ Henderson 4.8 40
    V Davis 4.35
    G Olson 4.51
    D Clark 4.55

    I would say 90% of pass catching TEs are faster than EJ and half of those guys are all sub 4.6 speeds.

    The target speed for a Tampa 2 ILB is 4.5 to 4.6. (EX B Urlacher at 4.57) if you expect to have success against the TE,(it helps that Urlacher is an ex safety as well).

    Summary

    I think we have some very talented LBs, but, both of our LBs responsible for TE coverage are overmatched. If a top flight TE gets past these guys the QB knows he has an open receiver. I am sure I don't have to remind anyone on this board what TEs did to us last year. Well, go take a look at your schedules for next year, and you will see about 3 times as many games against top flight TEs.

    Some people like to say that giving up yards to the TE is a weakness you have to live with. Well, I think they are wrong, just look at the other two teams that utilize the Tampa 2 effectively CHI(8th avg) and IND(11th avg) over the last 5 years and compare us at MIN(22.5). In fact CHI and IND finished as top 5 against the TE over 40% of the time. The Tampa 2 can stop the TE with the right personnel.

    It would not surprise me if the Vikings went after a top flight LB in the draft to put in the rotation and bolster the SAM and MIKE positions, they both need it. He is needed for depth as well because none of the back-up LBs have what it takes to compete at those positions beside Brinkley. Quality depth at LB will make us better as well.

    Well, thats my take on the LB situation...time to sit back and get ripped for pointing out EJs weakness.
    This why I like Weatherspoon as a draft pick. He can play WILL, and even SAM. You plug SW in at WILL, then you can move Greenway to SAM, & I think Leber would be an excellent choce as our third down MIKE. I have said that in several threads. That would make our LB core much faster!! I think Leber can cover the TE because the main pass that hurts a tampa two for a LB is the seam route. Where the TE just runs past the LB in a straight line, Ben should be able to keep up with most of them.

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

  9. #9
    Marrdro's Avatar
    Marrdro is offline Beware My Spreadsheet, Bitches!
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    Re:Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focus)

    bsmithberkley wrote:
    Marrdro wrote:
    A very interesting article my friend. Not one to critique, but it would have even been better if you would have included some stuff on our backups to the starters.

    I like to start by comparing them with respect to size....

    59 Heath Farwell LB 28 6-0 235 6 San Diego State
    52 Chad Greenway LB 27 6-2 242 5 Iowa
    56 E.J. Henderson LB 29 6-1 245 8 Maryland
    50 Erin Henderson LB 23 6-3 244 3 Maryland
    51 Ben Leber LB 31 6-3 244 9 Kansas State
    57 Jeremy Leman LB 25 6-2 240 1 Illinois
    55 Kenny Onatolu LB 27 6-2 225 2 Nebraska-Omaha

    Heath and Kenny are definately on the short end of the stick with respect to beef and ability to play the position with Kenny clearly only making the team because of his ST's skills.

    I thouht, when brought in, Erin would be a natural fit behind Ben, but for some reason the staff seems to be waffling (maybe the Noodle shit is catchy) on thier opinion on him.

    Leman, not much out there on him, but what is, seems to be a good fit behind Chad and we all saw how well Jasper did as he was thrown to the wolves last year after EJ went down.

    Long story short, I don't see Bens replacement on this roster, not unless of course, Erin pops his head out of his ass and really wows the staff. For me, I don't think he can play at this level, if he could, he wouldn't have been juicing.
    I thought I mentioned in passing that I wrote off the other LBs becuse of there lack of coverage ability/speed. I don't see any of the backups having the skill/talent to be a starter. I don't consider brinkley a backup, he is more or less in the starting rotation.
    You might have and I missed it my friend. Its been said that I have selective reading/hearing at times.... B)
    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
    Marrdro's Avatar
    Marrdro is offline Beware My Spreadsheet, Bitches!
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    Re:Another take on our Linebackers (coverage focus)

    bsmithberkley wrote:
    Marrdro wrote:
    A very interesting article my friend. Not one to critique, but it would have even been better if you would have included some stuff on our backups to the starters.

    I like to start by comparing them with respect to size....

    59 Heath Farwell LB 28 6-0 235 6 San Diego State
    52 Chad Greenway LB 27 6-2 242 5 Iowa
    56 E.J. Henderson LB 29 6-1 245 8 Maryland
    50 Erin Henderson LB 23 6-3 244 3 Maryland
    51 Ben Leber LB 31 6-3 244 9 Kansas State
    57 Jeremy Leman LB 25 6-2 240 1 Illinois
    55 Kenny Onatolu LB 27 6-2 225 2 Nebraska-Omaha

    Heath and Kenny are definately on the short end of the stick with respect to beef and ability to play the position with Kenny clearly only making the team because of his ST's skills.

    I thouht, when brought in, Erin would be a natural fit behind Ben, but for some reason the staff seems to be waffling (maybe the Noodle shit is catchy) on thier opinion on him.

    Leman, not much out there on him, but what is, seems to be a good fit behind Chad and we all saw how well Jasper did as he was thrown to the wolves last year after EJ went down.

    Long story short, I don't see Bens replacement on this roster, not unless of course, Erin pops his head out of his ass and really wows the staff. For me, I don't think he can play at this level, if he could, he wouldn't have been juicing.
    I thought I mentioned in passing that I wrote off the other LBs becuse of there lack of coverage ability/speed. I don't see any of the backups having the skill/talent to be a starter. I don't consider brinkley a backup, he is more or less in the starting rotation.
    You might have and I missed it my friend. Its been said that I have selective reading/hearing at times.... B)
    Many many thanks to my talented friend Jos for the new Sig.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v343/josdin00/Vikings/Marrdro_sig.jpg

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