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Author Topic: Is our oline a zone blocking scheme?  (Read 1505 times)
polishpower
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« on: Feb 13, 2009 at 22:15 »

I've been seeing this a lot in message boards or talk of that we may be switching to it.  A couple questions. 

Are we?  Will we?  Is this label overrated?  Can a Max Unger, Alex Mack succeed in power running (man blocking) schemes? 

If anyone has a good technical knowledge, I would like you to explain the difference btw zones and man and what teams run what.  My guess is that most teams run hybrids and the whole distinction was media created for a story to write about the Broncos. 
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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 14, 2009 at 10:42 »

For better or worse, this team is changing.  Tomlin seems to have gotten LeBeau to run a hybrid 3-4 cover-3/cover-2 mix, with that cover-2 hybridization coming from his Tampa days under Kiffin.  So far, so good there.

On offense, we're no longer a power running team.  On one hand, when you have a QB like Ben Roethlisberger, who is capable of doing more than just managing the game as Bettis plows behind Kreider for three and a pile of dust, that's a good and proper evolution.  Where it breaks down is having dumbass spread play-calling that Arians runs, with all the finesse of Diplodicus sinking at La Brea.  Part of the problem, too, is that Arians can't run the offense he envisions with Larry Zierlein's blocking scheme, which, in turn, is not fully functional with our offensive line personnel.

Starks and Hartwig are mostly capable of doing their assignments; Kemo can do straight-line blocking, but can't pick up stunts and twists, and is utterly lost in space or with complex assignments; Stapleton, did fine in Zierlein's scheme but regressed badly and inexplicably; Colon is, at best, a guard whose best schema would be a power blocking system, although I'd be willing to see what he does with Z's system.

Now, others can probably break down what Z is running better than me (Preacher?), but we're not a Russ Grimm PBS any more.  Sorry.  And we're not the proto ZBS a la the Broncos.  We're definitely evolving in that direction, but really any change at all would necessarily mean you're moving toward ZBS.  I see it as something of a hybrid scheme; we get no push running power blocking, and our short yardage shows that.  And with a motley bunch of players drafted as backups and bargain payers for the PBS, we can't run any zone with any efficacy: holes close before the backs hit them, complex pulling and trapping seems to take too long, with our backs caught before they hit the LOS.  The pass-blocking improved as we hit the playoffs, but there are still gaping lacunae in the blitz pickups and assignments.

I think given the fact that we don't have a 275-pound halfback and a game-managing QB, it's fine to evolve as we are trying to do.  But as move to the draft, and obviously OL is a need, we need the kind of personnel who can do what we're asking them to do.  That's why I really like Eben Britton and William Beatty as LTs who might be around at 1.32, and why I'm a bit hesitant to get on board with, say, a Herman Johnson, the massive LSU guard (6'7", 365#) who might be too slow of foot, like Kemo.  I think we ought to still find big, muscular IOL (OG and C) who can force the power rushing when called to do so -- short yardage situations -- but we need more fleetness from the IOL and especially the tackles.  Our lead-footed perimeter guys are just... getting... killed. 

Beatty in R1 and C Eric Wood in R2 would fit that bill beautifully, especially if we move Colon and Hills to RG and LG, respectively, and then hunt up some RT value in R3-5.  JMO.
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 14, 2009 at 11:12 »

You know, it's like the AFCN is in some sort of arms race.  Of course the whole NFL is but stay with me here. 

The Steelers are the good guys of course - the good 'ol US of A.  The other guys are doing everything in a reaction to what the Steelers put out there, they're trying to beat the Steelers.  Naturally, the Ravens are the evil empire, the USSR.  They've built a hideous defense to stop the old Steelers power running game and have developed a bigger hammer to smash against the Steelers brick wall.  The Bengals are like the Chinese circa the 70's and 80's.  They have weapons but nobody really knows what they're up to anyways.  Yeah, they can hurt you but do we fear them yet?  That leaves the Browns as the European union of sorts.  The eternal whipping boy for whichever bully on the block is baddest at the moment, generally the Steelers or Ravens, usually the Steelers.

But now the Steelers have changed their plan.  Just what the fuck are they up to?  I dunno.  I think Finny has it though, they're trying to go in a direction on offense but don't have all the raw materials they need to get there.  And they might not be quite sure what that direction is at the moment - or at least you have to wonder if they're all reading the same map.

Hopefully, more will be revealed through the moves they make this off season.

I like this analogy though, you could really keep running with it.  We have an inept leader depleting our greatest resource, e.g., Bruce Arians potentially shortening Big Ben's career by years.  It's time for a new offensive administration!  Have hope, fellow fans!
« Last Edit: Feb 14, 2009 at 11:18 by jonzr » Logged

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polishpower
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 15, 2009 at 10:49 »

The fleetness of foot makes me worry that Britton and Beatty will jump up after the combine.  What do you think of Meredith?  From what I've seen of Wood, I agree with you and think he can just flat play.  Starks getting beat by a one armed Suggs isn't sitting well with me in light of a big upcoming contract. 

It is funny how teams are copying the Steelers.  How bad is the Denver 3-4 going to be? 

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« Reply #4 on: Feb 15, 2009 at 17:27 »

The fleetness of foot makes me worry that Britton and Beatty will jump up after the combine.  What do you think of Meredith?  From what I've seen of Wood, I agree with you and think he can just flat play.  Starks getting beat by a one armed Suggs isn't sitting well with me in light of a big upcoming contract. 

It is funny how teams are copying the Steelers.  How bad is the Denver 3-4 going to be? 


Don't know how much Britton and Beatty will jump.  There's four guys ahead of them, and we had 8 OTs taken in R1 last year (I count Branden Albert as such), so there may be some saturation, or more succinctly, there may be less of an impulse for teams to "need" to draft an OT.  Here's the question: which playoff teams desperately need OTs?  Eagles and Steelers come to mind.  I don't know how desperate other teams really are for it, and the Eagles have two R1 picks, so can pick a tackle (Andy like the beef guys) and whatever, presumably TE.

I think Wood's a guy who might not last to our R3, and would certainly be a good value past Mack and Unger in R2.  Could probably play OG a season and then transition to C, once he has a better head for calling changes at the line.  Very high on him right now, even if he looks a tad goofy.

I still see Starks as a RT.  He's out of position trying to handle LT speed.  He has the longer legs to stride out a bit at RT, moreso than that rhino Colon.

IMO, the Broncos switching to 3-4 because that's what Nolan ran is a big assed mistake.  Their guys aren't very good at the 4-3, but will be worse at the 3-4.  Who's the nose?  No one.  Who are the DEs?  Their current DTs?  Who becomes the OLBs?  What a mess.  Their best bet would be to trade up for Raji, or trade down for Brace, and start building the line.  Spend the whole draft on defense, really.

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« Reply #5 on: Feb 16, 2009 at 07:24 »

Oh and Jampon Meredith = OG, not OT.  Nice consideration for that position, but likely gone by R2 and not worth R1 IMO.
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polishpower
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 16, 2009 at 20:25 »

I had about two hours in a Chinatown bus today so I got to put a lot of thought into this.  The more I think about it the more I like the draft picks, Finny. 

So here is my attempt at the offseason line upgrades. 

FA Goff, Marvel Smith
Let Walk: Starks, Kemo
Draft: Beatty, Wood

Line 09
LT  Smith/Beatty/Essex
LG  Goff
C    Hartwig/Wood
RG   Simmons/Stapelton
RT  Colon/Hills/Smith

Line 10
LT  Beatty
LG  Goff
C   Wood
RG  Stapelton
RT  Hills

Why not spend the money on a sure thing, something Starks and Kemo are not?  Plus, I don't think Goff breaks the bank, he could maybe be a Hartings type FA.  Also, the line is surprisingly pretty deep.
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 17, 2009 at 14:49 »

I would be curious as to what type of line Mendenhall would prefer.  I think one of things will happen with FWP this year - he will turn in another year like this year and give the appearance of being a platoon style back, or he will be healthy, very productive and price himself out of town.  Either option seems to shift the running back position towards Mendenhall.
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 18, 2009 at 11:02 »

Quote
Now, others can probably break down what Z is running better than me (Preacher?), but we're not a Russ Grimm PBS any more.

Actually, my biggest "frustration" in watching the Steelers run the ball (or try to run it) the last two seasons is this:  I can't figure out what the hell they are doing up front.

Sometimes, it looks like we're running ZBS.  Others, it looks like power/man schemes.  Ultimately, BEFORE THE DRAFT, I think we have to pick one and go with it.

The other thing is that we have to find a way to be more creative in the running game.  I'm not holding my breath on this, but we should do that.  We can't run that stupid pulling trap w/Kemo every friggin' play and hope to get anywhere.  A lot of teams who run zone schemes use that as their power play, and it seems to have typically mediocre results.  If we're going to be a zone team, then run straight zone:  Step right, step left, lock up and drive.  Add in the stretch play and mix that with some straight-up, quick-hitting zone plays and you might work your way back to respectability.

Perhaps jcharding had the best question:  What works best with our current backfield personnel?  Can FWP work within a zone scheme?  Or does he need to be in a quick-hitting power scheme, where he can use his ability to get upfield in a hurry?  That might be the question for the 2010 draft/free agency period.
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 19, 2009 at 06:11 »

I am finding the tone of this thread very depressing.

I'm getting the vibe that everyone who understands the intricacies of OL play thinks we are screwed.
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