While no doubt some of you will complain about us trying to run the 3-4 defense, that's not my point here. We do OK at it, not great but OK, so I'm not going to complain about it. Not right now at least. OK is a hell of a lot better than sucking, and for now I'm willing to take that.
But I AM going to point out that we simply can NOT handle the 3-4 defense going up against our OL. Just can't do it. We absolutely suck at it. Some of our most embarrassing losses have come when we faced a 3-4 team. We lost to GB. OK that one wasn't embarrassing, but anybody else notice just how poor our run game was against the monsters of the 3-4 middle? We came entirely too close to losing to Houston. The only reason we didn't is because Lance and Drew found a weak cornerback to pick on, and because our OL actually played better with the subs in after the injuries. Tampa I pin on Kreutz, at least for now, because it's the outlier in this discussion. But once again we face a 3-4 defense yesterday in St. Louis and Long has a free shot at Drew (or the RB) all. day. long. It was a joke.
There is something about the 3-4 defense that just murders our offensive line. I don’t know exactly what, why, or how. It's probably a combination of both personnel and scheme. But if we can’t figure out a way to fix it, then it’s time for a new OL coach and probably also time for some new tackles. I focus on the tackles because while our guards have regressed if they weren't having to try to give help to the center AND the tackles on every single play they wouldn't be quite as bad anymore. And the center seems to be improving again after the disastrous Kreutz experiment was ended. So the tackles are the primary concern for me at this point, especially because against the 4-3 they are usually at least adequate. Rarely great, but good enough, and good enough actually is in this case, because when Drew even gets merely adequate protection he is one of the top QBs in the league. But when he doesn't, then he sucks too. And when you put this OL up against a 3-4 defense, they go from mostly adequate to stinking like boiled horse crap.
And this isn't a phenomenon of this year alone. Last year we lost to Arizona, Cleveland and Baltimore, all of whom ran a 3-4 defense (then, at least, Cleveland does not anymore). And we stank against it. We couldn't run the ball to the point that by the time we faced Baltimore we didn't even try anymore. Granted we were on our 50th replacement RB by then as well, but our OL got absolutely no push against those types of defenses either. Each time Drew had a poor to outright humiliating day and the OL looked completely lost. Sure some of that was injury, but not all of it. Going back to 2009, possibly the most embarrassing loss of the entire 2009 season was to Dallas, and once again this is a 3-4 defense we faced. Going back to 2008 our losses were more because we had no defense than because of times our offense sucked, but there were a few 3-4 defenses we faced who made us look like idiots then too, even in games we won. We lost to Denver (3-4) and came entirely too close to losing to San Fran and San Diego (both 3-4 as well).
Furthermore, how the hell do these idiots not realize this before this point? How many crappy teams running 3-4 defenses do we have to lose or almost lose to before it sinks into these morons skulls that we need to make changes here? When you have an OLB running free at Drew in .5 seconds on a consistent basis, it’s time to start giving help to the tackles, and I don’t give a crap what it does for your gameplan. You can’t run the ball if the guy is getting hit in the backfield, and you can’t pass the ball if Drew is getting sacked .5 seconds after he gets the ball. Period. Pull the TEs in, either to block or chip as appropriate for the playcall, and give Drew and the RB time, you morons!!!!!!!!!
But that’s just the short-term solution. Eventually, we have to figure out a way to defeat the 3-4 defense without having to adjust like that. We probably do need a new OL coach and some new tackles. But at least in the short-term we won’t have to watch in embarrassment as one of the worst teams in the league literally makes us look like a complete and total joke.
And because of this, I’m going to get the jump on our normal film study graders.
Drew – F+. He tried. But that is the ONLY positive thing I can say about him. And when AJ Feeley has a better QB Rating than you do, you know you sucked it up.
Entire OL – K-. Yes I know there is no grade K, much less K-. But they were so far beyond the normal suckiness of an F grade that all I can do is use the letter on the other end of the word most of you were screaming all game long.
Tusk – F- – He wasn’t ready to come off PUP. He should have spent another couple of weeks practicing to get back in game-shape.
Sproles – C+ – This is the ONLY guy who gets a grade higher than a D. On the entire team. And even he didn’t do that great, but he had a few nice screens and OK runs so he gets credit for how hard he tried to pick this team up and give them a chance. He also only gets a C because his special teams contributions were mostly negative.
PT – D+ – He also tried just as hard as Sproles, but unlike Darren he didn’t accomplish much.
Lance – D- He tried too. But he didn’t do much until it was way too late.
Jimmy – D+ – he had a few good catches, but also a few boneheaded plays. He very nearly tipped a bad pass to a defender for an interception. He didn’t hang onto some balls he normally would have. He too stank it up. But he wasn’t quite as bad as the rest.
Colston – F+ – he did have a few good catches in the third quarter. But I can’t remember anything else he did worthy of a good grade.
Other Receivers – F-. Do I need to explain how bad the rest of the receiving corp was? Didn’t think so.
Defense as a whole – D-. They were consistently inconsistent. One play they would do great and get a sack or a stop in the backfield. The next play they would be fooled by misdirection or other crap and give up a 20 yard play. The secondary was in position to make a nice play one play, the next they overrun the play and have to chase down the guy 20 or 30 yards downfield. The only reason they aren’t an F is the defensive score.
OL Coach – F-. He didn’t do too much that bad on the actual game day, which is why he makes the F- instead of the K-. But whatever he does during the week is obviously not working and he needs to change it. Or he needs to be fired. Either will do.
Pete Carmichael – K- – Same logic for the non-existent letter grad as before. He was the one who should have realized that we had to start bringing in extra blockers, and he didn’t do it. Even a third grader with a basic understanding of football knew we needed to do this, and he somehow didn’t. Either that or he was too stubborn to adapt to circumstances. Either way, he threw the game by his foolishness and deserves to be called out for it.
Sean Payton – K- – Since Pete didn’t realize (or was too stubborn to implement) the need for extra blockers, Sean should have called down and "suggested" it. Since he didn’t, he gets the K as well.
Rest of the Coaching staff – F- – It wasn’t their job to suggest the extra blockers that even a third grader knew we needed, but either none of them did or they didn’t try hard enough. Still, they only get an F because it wasn’t their job.