Monday, November 12, 2007

New Poll: Your Thoughts Wanted

I'm reconsidering my "the sky is falling" position when it comes to Navy's defense. As you know, there are two schools of thought when it comes to the present state of affairs, and I realize I've been on the side that's been very critical of both the players and coaches. I still think there is more than good reason to view the defense as a colossal disaster, but my question to you is whether or not you think my analysis of the defense has failed to take into account all the factors which have led us to this point, and if perhaps I've overlooked the most obvious factor that we are in fact dealing with a very young defense at a service academy. I could sit here and give you my reasons why I still think the defense should still be performing better than what we're seeing, but I thought it more productive to engage in a conversation about something which has at one point or another left us all searching for answers to a weekly question. Please leave your thoughts below, and yes, it's all for your reason to be that I'm just a blogger who has no idea what he's talking about.


rob said...

I think that the problems with the defense revolves around poor tackling. We've always had no pass rush and dealt with it. Our Defense traditionaly has covered the long pass and gave up the short ones with a tackle being made immediately after the catch. The linebackers filled the holes and stopped the run. Right now, I think the defense is in disarray because all the player changes has prevented the players from gaining awareness of their position on the field and the other defensive players around them. Players are also trying to gain a starting spot. This leads them to taking bad lines in order to make the impact play and they are getting burned. How many times has a receiver made a catch at the sideline only to plant the outside foot, roll inside, and juke his coverage man trying to make the big hit. The defensive player should slow down a tad and cheat inside in those cases. If the receiver rolls inside, he can be met and brought down. If he rolls outside, the defensive player could get enough on him to push him out of bounds. It's like Navy is not using the sideline as a defender and instead looking for the big hit. Similarly, on the the quick pass to the wide receiver, the Navy defender is crashing the wide out full spead, head on. He will get juked 100% of the time playing like that. He should slow down and hold up the receiver and let the rest of the defense converge. Give up 2 yards instead of 8. Plenty of other times, on short crossing routes, Navy is playing the big hit or the INT and when they miss it is turning into 15 yards. Give up the catch and make the sure tackle. Give up 5 yards and move on. This would free the ILBs to fill holes and stop the run. Tackling is problem is a problem because they are not playing smart. They are not playing like they know where the other defenders are and using them to cut off angles and make tackles. This level of play comes with a tight knit defense that plays together. Something we are lacking this year. On Ram's missed sack against Notre Dame, He came in to fast and a shade behind the QB. The QB stepped up and evaded the hit. A seasoned player would have probably slowed down a little and attacked a shade forward of the QB. To evade, the QB would have had to step backwards. It is much harder to throw while backpeddaling, plus, there is a chance the QB gets spooked and tucks the ball. These are the little things Navy is not doing. It will come with time, but honestly, players should have figured some of these things out in high school. This brings me back to the pressure to make big plays and increase playing time. It's possible we'd be better off picking a defensive roster and going with it.

Jay Floyd said...

I believe that missed tackles often come down to athletes more than technique or desire. I coach high school football and more often than not, our better athletes are the ones who miss tackles less.

Gary said...

This is very ironic as I was thinking about this very issue driving into the wonderful Meadowlands area traffic this AM.
You know perhaps we are being too tough on these kids- we here all know what they have to go through on a daily basis and its so much more than any other D1 program ( especially a big time - Nebraska like one).
Lets face it those guys wouldnt last 10 minutes after wake up call at what 5AM?
They are trying and Buddy is coaching and through it all we are WINNING and have accomplished every goal for this year despite what we see as a Custer like defense..
Hey we will win CIC- Got the Bowl game- BEAT ND!
You know me personally have been a bit harsh on them (sorry Kaipo)and the D and yet when I think about it..we can be 9-4 when its all said and done.
Now many others oustide of the program will say..hey you sign up to play D1 so stop whining about what your guys have to go through every day-you/they cant handle it?
Then join the Ivy league.
So its a tough line to cross when any of us who love this team-do complain about some shortcomings.
I tend to treat us like a major college team and always have Top 25 in my sights (which nicely most of the players have that same desire- as we have seemed to get over the old- beat Army only and season is a success attitude).
Yes we know the importance of beating Army...but thanks to PJ and Chet the program is so far beyond that while at the same time keeping its importance in focus too.
I am tending to look at this as a major D rebuilding preferring to say that some major injuries ahave cripled us and that the playing time the underclassmen are getting will only prove valuable for upcoming years.
We had a great trio of linebackers the years before this that knew each others every move and were the key-it was all new this year.
I still think we need to get better on causing turnovers and of course getting a pass rush...
Again the pass rush was never an academy strength and thats where the LB`s came in so there should be hope for next year.

football dad dan said...

After "waxing eloquently" through the first half of your post, ... I believe you made some excellent football points to close it out. We obviously can't get those "blue-chipper" athletes here at Navy, so the onus is on finding smart guys who have some semblence of talent & football savy, ... then developing them to play as a mutual supporting unit, within a designed system that minimizes the impact of NOT being "big & fast" like most of the 3/4/5 starrecruited athletes are. Like you said, ... the Linebackers (and a stud nose-tackle) are the key to make this work. Caldwell, Mahoney & Tidwell formed an outstanding nucleus and defined the BG defense the past few seasons, ... but unfortunately (in my opinion) it didn't seem that anything was done to find/teach/develop upcoming underclassmen to quickly/smoothly take over that LB unit, leaving a glaring vacuum at the beginning of this season. No doubt early injuries to Sovie & Dielz were critical to the disarray we have witnessed thusfar. It seems we just have 11 "average-ability" and inexperianced players running around trying to make individual plays. As earlier stated, bigger & faster athletes do tend to tackle better, ... because their physical gifts allow them to better react/catch up to a play & thus make a surer tackle, ... vice being in the full-out chasing from behind mode.
If Navy can just be spared further injuries, ... our defense will gel and improve considerably by the end of this month, and going into next season. Despite the size difference, Navy actually matched-up fairly well with Notre Dame's offensive scheme ... so we made some plays. Against the 5-WR spread offense of NTU, our "lets keep it basic" defenders had no chance (especially with the NT bench audibling in plays every down based on how Navy lined up)... and it got worse due to missed tackles.

Anonymous said...

i look at it this way. the mids d is going through the same experience that notre dame is going through this year. we knew they would struggle but didnt think it would be this bad. i happen to think that most criticism of college athletes is uncalled for. they are kids. yes, they may more athletic ability than past navy defenses, they are also VERY young and extremely inexperienced. they want to make plays. they just dont have the experience necessary to make them. that makes a huge difference. they will learn. i think we need to let the COACHES handle this. thats what they're paid to do. there are too many coaches in the stands and watching on tv at home. let's let the REAL coaches coach.

Phil said...

fdd hit it right on the head. The key to the 3-4 defense is the NT and the LBs. This year, they aren't as strong and the same unit hasn't been together too much. Injuries have played a part but so has the lack of experience these guys had coming in to the season. Overall, young defense beset by injuries which eliminates continuity equals a struggle on defense.

Anonymous said...

I think all of you have some great points. I still feel that the blame lies more with coaching than anything else. The constant shuffling of players and changing of positions exacerbates the unit's inexperience. The sophomore class has many outstanding football players on the defensive side of the ball yet we consistently look bad. Are they inferior athletes to what we recruit on offense? Absolutely not. They need to be coached better, period. I know several of the sophomore defensive players are playing not to make a mistake because their coaches are threatening to pull them if they make one mistake. Mix in bizarre substitution patterns and an overall lack of continuity and you create a nightmare. That's exactly what has happened. Paul Jouhnson is a great coach and I'm surprised he has let his assistants go this far in their ineptitude. They might have a lot of the sophomores opt not to sign their "2 and 5's." That would be a shame. They will be losing some great players and, more importantly, the Academy will be losing some fine young men.

Steve said...

I think Navy's defense and Tennessee's defense have shared some of the same issues this season... youth and inexperience. A lot of it has to do with tackling technique... or the lack of it. Another is being a step or two behind the older, faster player... and the last and possibly most important point is that inexperienced player tend to play "not to mess-up." A defense has to play with reckless enthusiasm and fly to the football... not being out there trying to think. UT's defense came out of it's funk for the Arkansas game and you could see the results of eleven guys flying all over that field trying to take it to the Razorbacks. I've only seen Navy play ND this year, so I can't comment to how good or bad they played with respect to the earlier games. I think time on the field and time in the weight room are the two things that will get the Navy defense back on track. No team is going to be a complete "hoss" every season. But I'll also bet that Coach Johnson gets Navy back on track by the beginning of next season.

Congrats on the huge win at ND...


ps. Adam, I haven't forgotten about what we discussed a few months ago, but this year was a huge cluster-you-know-what concerning my coaching situation. I will be updating Veersite in the coming weeks and I'll shoot you an email soon. - Steve

Jordan Reagan said...

A lot of your (all of you) insights are fairly astute and correct. Our tackling is poor (average about 20 a game), we miss assignments left and right (average about 13 a game), we don't make the big plays (average about 10 a game), however, we do play hard (our efforts keep coming down and down into the 11's and 10's). Is it fundamentals? I don't know. As a player I refuse to comment on the coaching staff and just to get it out there I will only give my personal opinion on games played and will not answer questions about future games (beyond, yeah, I think we'll win), coaches, personal player aspects, or injuries. That being said, I think out struggles revolve around losing the core of our defense to graduation last year. As of right now, we are starting 0 players who started a year ago, and very few of them have any previous significant game time experience. Sovie's down, our defensive captain Deliz is down, we have 2 seniors starting (Kuhar-Pitters and Irv Spencer) and a bunch of young guys rolling in. I'm telling you, this is the worst you will ever see. Trust me. We have athletes at all positions, guys that can make plays and stop offenses, and I am confident that the defense will only get better (yeah, I know in some respects it can't get any worse). As far as fundamentals go, some are trained and some are ingrained and when the defense matures to the point where they know their assignments without thinking twice about it, the fundamentals will take over and tackling, breaks, coverage, and technique will improve. I know you fans hate to hear it but give it time.

Adam said...

Good thoughts all. To give you a little background on where this post came from, I got to thinking the other day that while it's been hard to watch, the team is still winning and above all we're still watching young guys mature. Like Jordan said, the defense is starting ZERO guys as of right now that were starting last season, and unlike other schools Navy's players just don't have to time to devote to football that other player's from regular schools have. At one point or another we've all at least questioned the job Coach Green is doing, and I don't know if that's fair. It may be, it may not be, but for the time being I’m willing to give Coach Green the benefit of the doubt and see what he can do with these guys in the off-season. This is after all the Naval Academy, a place where everyone strives to get better.

I want to thank you for sharing your observations with us. I think I speak for virtually all Navy fans when I say we realize the challenges you guys face, and despite the struggled on defense this year we're all still very much behind the players and coaches. Good luck this weekend and thank you for all the time and effort you've put into the program.

Gary said...

I think we all agree as Navy fans its been a "tough love" attitude on the D.
Sometimes I am most guility of losing perspective for wanting that much better for our team.
When I think about it -when all is said and done this year-what more could we have accomplished after slaying the dragon (ND) that we have all been chasing down so elusively?

football dad dan said...

Adam ...,
Not to break up this "hug fest", ... but a reasonable man might just ask: "What had been done during the course of last season's play, and during this past off-season to develop players so we wouldn't be in this dilemma now?" ---> It's not like anyone didn't know that the Firsties were going away come May, 2007. So, ... it's certainly a "fair question" to question the coaching staff's responsibility/accountability.

GO NAVY ... Beat NIU!!!

Justin said...

I think I can sum all this up by once again stealing this quote from a wise old man I like to call DAD: "Some of the best lessons learned come from getting you A$$ whipped!!!"

football dad dan said...

Amen to that Justin!!!


Gary said...

The we are passing our lessons with flying colors if getting our butts kicked correlates to that (and I believ in that theory too).
Unless if next year Towson puts up 50 on opening day-then all the niceties are over.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the defense is terrible, you're right there.

No, you shouldn't be as critical because they are a service academy.

So basically, you are right in saying that the defense sucks because they aren't great, but you are being too harsh on them because you can only do so much with service talent.

football dad dan said...

Beg to differ, but "one can only do so much with service academy talent" has historically been significantly better than currently being ranked at/near the bottom of just about every defensive catagory in Div 1. This season is an aboration compared to any I can remember, ... and especially during the current PJ/BG "reign". Adam just wants to get a gage on "why" that is ---> Certainly understandable.

GO NAVY ... Beat NIU!!!

Anonymous said...

As long as BG feels it is more productive to use a defender 20 yards behind the line rather than rushing the passer, we will have a pass defense nightmare.

football dad dan said...

Won't argue with you on that one. It's been a "trying season" as a fan for sure. Can only hope that the "Dee" will be a focus during the spring.