Is Front 7 the Next Reconstruction Zone?

Hargitt01

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Big difference is the team we were playing last year was an historical juggernaut, this is a patchwork Patriots team almost void of talent other than a couple OL, an aging Gilmore and the QB, which is why some of us expected a better performance.
I get what your saying brother. On the flip side though, we also were historical through the first 3 weeks of last year.... Just not in the way that Baltimore was historical. That was only a year ago. While our opponent was let's say less challenging in the opener this year. We can't forget that we fielded a team that was the worst to ever do it. Giving up 21 points after having 3 turnovers is a blessing. Yes we looked bad. But we've also looked worse than this. Not sure what the expectations are for this year for you personally, but I'd temper them slightly. Just one dudes opinion.
 

Awsi Dooger

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I think I made the same post in every defensive thread, but we need a true NT. I don’t care if the guy has zero sacks every year. We need someone who can consistently take the opponent’s C and an OG out of every run play.
I was hoping for Davon Hamilton in that role. They went for Raekwon Davis instead, with a pick that may have been somewhat too early for Hamilton.

I get the need for a big run stuffing guy who can also get upfield, especially since Wilkins is already somewhat of a liability in terms of upfield mobility. The early returns on Raekwon were not promising. The wait and see aspects are somewhat valid because not only is that a difficult position to impact immediately but also New England is going to be very well coached and prepared on both interior lines. I don't care who the players are. They were well versed on Raekwon Davis and everyone else.

I expected Davis to be big and imposing. That's what shocked me. I always acknowledge that these guys will look somewhat different in a pro uniform than college. But with Davis I didn't expect the variance to be skinny with slumped shoulders. Then as hoops mentioned he did a heck of a lot of jumping onto piles.

I kind of wish this next game were at Buffalo and not at home. The Dolphins would figure to be very intense physically on the road coming off a defeat. It would evolve as a defensive game. Defenders who struggled last week would likely be considerably more energetic and intense. But at home there are far greater permutations, and likely a more wide open game.
 

1Dolfan

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on our run stopping packages why is Ogbah a DE? hes 280 lbs as a DE in a 3-4 taking on double teams, trying to stop the run. Why not Slide him to SLB and slide Van Noy to ILB. This was just a terribly coached game, i don't blame the players yet.
 

DolfanDuBbZ~

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I was hoping for Davon Hamilton in that role. They went for Raekwon Davis instead, with a pick that may have been somewhat too early for Hamilton.

I get the need for a big run stuffing guy who can also get upfield, especially since Wilkins is already somewhat of a liability in terms of upfield mobility. The early returns on Raekwon were not promising. The wait and see aspects are somewhat valid because not only is that a difficult position to impact immediately but also New England is going to be very well coached and prepared on both interior lines. I don't care who the players are. They were well versed on Raekwon Davis and everyone else.

I expected Davis to be big and imposing. That's what shocked me. I always acknowledge that these guys will look somewhat different in a pro uniform than college. But with Davis I didn't expect the variance to be skinny with slumped shoulders. Then as hoops mentioned he did a heck of a lot of jumping onto piles.

I kind of wish this next game were at Buffalo and not at home. The Dolphins would figure to be very intense physically on the road coming off a defeat. It would evolve as a defensive game. Defenders who struggled last week would likely be considerably more energetic and intense. But at home there are far greater permutations, and likely a more wide open game.

Frankly they just need to show up and do the basics at a decent clip.

That defensive front laid a egg.
 

Digital

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Well there are a lot of items to discuss on this topic, but here are a few of my higher priority ones:

1. Today's NFL is more of a front 6 than a front 7.
With nickel becoming the new base, it is going to be harder no matter how you line up since you will only have 6 guys. This leads directly to the benefit of multiple defenses that can shift guys into DL and back to LB, as well as the current trend of playing S as LB and allowing them to flex back into S spots on a play by play basis. The high versatility guys, hybrids, and guys who used to be called "tweeners" are back in vogue, especially with this defense. In fact, they're at a premium, so they're hard to acquire now.

2. I predicted 2021 would be our draft for edge rushers.
The front and back ends need to work together, and Coach Flo has heavily invested in DB's (2 highest paid CB's [Xavien Howard and Byron Jones] and drafted a 3rd CB in round 1 [Noah Iggy], and that is just the CB's!). For us to get a good return from those DB's, we need to get a pass rush. The 2019 draft was--correctly--about building a base, with high investment in DL (Christian Wilkins) and a mid-round investment in OL (Michael Deiter). I was on record as believing we needed to invest in more OL, but we didn't. We also passed on a pass rusher (Chase Winovich) to take a flyer on a QB, and while I was against that and it did not work out ... I can't blame the staff for taking a shot. There simply were not any pass rushers in the 2020 draft except for the exceptional Chase Young--who we were never going to get because we correctly targeted a QB. That meant that bypassing pass rusher in 2019 meant we were not going to find one until 2021. If the goal was to stay bad until we reached the 2021 draft, then not investing in pass rushers made a lot of sense. This allowed us to pick high in all thee drafts (2019, 2020, and 2021) to maximize all those great draft picks. But in 2021, make no mistake about it, we NEED to draft 2 stud pass rushers. Our current guys suck.

3. We now see that the scheme does NOT generate the pass rush.
The consensus about the Patriots defense had always been that the scheme generates the pass rush. I love that concept, but was always skeptical of it. The Patriots may not be able to pay and keep elite pass rushers who all seem set to leave for richer pastures in FA so they get traded. It makes the roster more manageable when there are no players with high sack numbers, so the Patriots like to spread that around. But make no mistake about it ... it requires more than just scheme. Our scheme has produced the worst pass rush in the NFL. Without talent ... it isn't going to work.

4. Shaq Lawson and Emannuel Ogbah are stopgap players.
These guys have potential, and in this multiple system they might find a home, but they need to prove that they get to the QB, AND perform other roles in this defense well also. So far they've done neither. But, it was always clear that the NFL did not rate their ability as pure pass rushers, which is why they were available at the price they commanded. Either they prove to be versatile defenders, or they're short term Dolphins.

5. Our DL is not good enough.
Christian Wilkins is starting to blossom, and I have hope he can be part of the solution. After that we have nothing but role players. Most NFL teams invest heavily along their DL these days, and our role players need to be just that ... role players, not starters. We need at least 1 more cornerstone DL to pair with Wilkins. If/when we draft pass rushers, don't be surprised if one is a DL who can flex inside and outside, and another is an edge guy who can flex DE and OLB. We need those players to generate a pass rush and utilize our investments at DB.

6. We still have one of the worst LB corps in the league.
Our LB corps is improved. While the Patriots may have Kyle Van Noy's number and know exactly how to neutralize him ... I'm confident that he will prove a major asset for the rest of the year. Baker seems to have made some significant strides, although he still needs to master his playbook and learn his run fits. Those two things alone make our LB corps better, but it still is not enough. It seems clear that swapping Raekwon McMillan for Elandon Roberts simply traded a pass coverage weakness for a run stopping weakness ... so we still do not have the answer there. It will be interesting to see how that develops over the course of this season.

7. If we lose the trenches we lose the game.
Improvement is not always a satisfying process, but we saw some pass pro improvement along our rebuilt OL. Our rebuilt defensive front 6 looks quite shaky with less improvement, but it did show some improvement. If any coaching staff knows how to attack the Patriots defense ... it's Belichick and the Patriots, so let's not jump to conclusions too quickly. This season is NOT about going to the Super Bowl. This season is NOT about going to the playoffs. This season is about building up our base, developing new players, and providing a platform for our new young QB to learn and develop for a 15+ year career as the starting Miami Dolphins QB. So, let's keep our eyes on the ball, and focus on improving in those trenches. I firmly believe we will draft a pass rusher or two very high in the 2021 draft. That should help shore up our defensive woes. And, by 2021, I think our OL will have settled.

Coach Flo's work is best viewed through the lens of the long-term. It's less about wins today and more about building for wins tomorrow. We had a plan, and so far we're following it and it is mostly playing out as we planned. We got Tua, we got young OL, we got elite CB's, we even got a young WR and several young TE's for Tua. We added veteran leaders/teachers/role-models for hte locker room like Fitz, Karras, Rowe, Van Noy and Roberts. Things are headed in the right direction. Let's not get derailed by a speeding hype-train that overestimates our timetables.
 
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Etuoo33

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Imagine if you will sitting in the game planning meeting for the opener with Bellecheat. We have a Defense that has 8 or 9 new starters with no training camp. They have a 280 pound DE, a first round castoff at the other DE, starting in a 3-4 with no true NT and smaller coverage LB's. We have a veteran OL and a 255# QB who likes to run but is a liability when it comes to processing or throwing, what do we do? Run right at them until blood runs out their ears. That's what they did. Out coached? For sure. Insurmountable? IMO too early to tell. You can cry that Grier did this to us, but really? We didn't have enough early draft choices to fill all the holes on this team. 21-11 is better than 59-0.
 

PSU Cane

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I was hoping for Davon Hamilton in that role. They went for Raekwon Davis instead, with a pick that may have been somewhat too early for Hamilton.

I get the need for a big run stuffing guy who can also get upfield, especially since Wilkins is already somewhat of a liability in terms of upfield mobility. The early returns on Raekwon were not promising. The wait and see aspects are somewhat valid because not only is that a difficult position to impact immediately but also New England is going to be very well coached and prepared on both interior lines. I don't care who the players are. They were well versed on Raekwon Davis and everyone else.

I expected Davis to be big and imposing. That's what shocked me. I always acknowledge that these guys will look somewhat different in a pro uniform than college. But with Davis I didn't expect the variance to be skinny with slumped shoulders. Then as hoops mentioned he did a heck of a lot of jumping onto piles.

I kind of wish this next game were at Buffalo and not at home. The Dolphins would figure to be very intense physically on the road coming off a defeat. It would evolve as a defensive game. Defenders who struggled last week would likely be considerably more energetic and intense. But at home there are far greater permutations, and likely a more wide open game.
I was thinking the same thing. It appears they went with a guy who's more scheme diverse in Davis but we already had Wilkins, who can play DT/DE in the multi-front system but cannot play NT. Davis is the same.

If they wanted a NT, Hamilton was on the board in the 2nd/3rd. If they wanted a pass rushing DT, Elliott was there (Madubuike as well but i liked Elliott). They chose to go with Davis. I had the other 2 guys rated higher. Maybe it pays off in the long run but i said on draft day and will say again, i was not a fan of the Hunt and Davis picks as i felt both were a half round or more too early with better players still on the board. It will be interesting to see how the next few years pan out.
 
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ThePeopleShow13

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I was thinking the same thing. It appears they went with a guy who's more scheme diverse in Davis but we already had Wilkins, who cant play DT/DE in the multi-front system but cannot play NT. Davis is the same.

If they wanted a NT, Hamilton was on the board in the 2nd/3rd. If they wanted a pass rushing DT, Elliott was there (Madubuike as well but i liked Elliott). They chose to go with Davis. I had the other 2 guys rated higher. Maybe it pays off in the long run but i said on draft day and will say again, i was not a fan of the Hunt and Davis picks as i felt both were a half round or more too early with better players still on the board. It will be interesting to see how the next few years pan out.
I liked Hamilton as well. I think the issue is that very few guys come straight out of college ready to be an elite NT. The position requires vision and awareness that can take time to acquire. Guys like Vita Vea and Dexter Lawrence are few and far between and usually end up mid 1st round picks. Raekwon Davis is not an NFL NT; he is 6’7” and ~315lbs. He is much more suited to playing DT/DE depending on the formation (as is Wilkins).
 

Digital

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The concepts of this multiple front defense is that almost every player can play multiple roles, and the combos are such that the defense itself can morph from play to play without situational substitutions. When that works, it makes pre-snap reads extremely tough for QB's, and allows defenses to avoid getting locked into bad personnel matchups with things like hurry-up (no-huddle) offenses.

But, for that to work, we need to stop thinking about guys as playing position X or Y. We need to find and develop guys who can play positions X and Y. For example, Christian Wilkins can play DT and DE effectively, and he's a guy that fits this system. Coupled with him on one side might be Kyle Van Noy who can play DE and OLB. This allows for a quick switch from a 34 to a 43 instantly, and back again. It allows us to show a 43 look to the QB pre-snap, and then have Van Noy drop back at the snap into coverage, wrecking the play call of the QB, unbalancing the OL blocking schemes, and making the QB hesitate or make a mistake. It allows us to overload the other side without sacrificing coverage underneath as the coverage LB's simply roll to one side to fill the gaps.

Those are all great things. But, we need versatile players. Baker is a LB with speed, but he can in no way ever play DE, nor can he play MLB, he is strictly a speed OLB. For him to gain versatility, he needs to become an OLB/SS hybrid, and until he fully learns the playbook and his assignments, he is not ready to take on a hybrid role--it is very study intensive. Van Ginkel is the guy who might have a chance to succeed Van Noy in the OLB/DE role, but clearly Van Ginkel isn't ready yet either ... and may never be physical enough to compete at DE. Davon Godchaux is too light to be a legitimate NT, but he can play DT at a passable level. He does not have the skills to effectively be a DE. Essentially, he is not a hybrid, but merely a role player. The goal is to make Emmanuel Ogbah (DE/OLB) and Shaq Lawson (OLB/DE) those guys on the other side ... but so far it has not happened. If those guys cannot play both of those roles effectively, they will be replaced. Their contracts allow for us to move on from them if it does not work out.

While it is not outside the realm of possibilities that we draft/sign an NT, I find it unlikely. That player would be a NT/DT with no other real positional flexibility. More likely we find a guy like our old Dolphins legend Randy Starks who has flexibility as a DT and DE at a high level. Then we back him up with someone in the mold of a Jason Taylor type (talk about Legends!) who can play DE and OLB to complete the defensive front. The only other position we would need along the front 6 would really be a MLB, and that is a tough position to fill. I'd say it is a lower priority than the edge types, but we definitely need one.
 

1972forever

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Its early. Just one game in the books
But the play of the front seven was easily the biggest disappointment in the opener.

Wilkins and Baker looked good, but that was about it. Maybe those two are the building blocks.

Again its early. I liked the Lawson addition and think he is emerging. Davis is a rookie I'm higher on than most. Ogbah looked good in KC. Godchaux probably fits in the average at best category. Van Noy was a really good player in New England.

Should the front seven be the next rebuilding focus?
I was as disappointed as many on here by the play of the front seven last week. Yet it was only one game and therefore I am certainly okay with seeing how this group evolves over the next month or two. If they continue to have issues stopping the run throughout the season then I will be concerned. At this point I am willing to give the players and coaches the benefit of the doubt simply because they have so many new players and with no preseason games and only limited practices, a lack of cohesion on the defense Is no great surprise.

I think it is probably a bit too early in the season to have a thread like this but if the play of the front 7 doesn’t improve dramatically over the coming weeks I am sure another thread like this will appear. Hopefully instead there will be a thread in the near future praising the improvement of the front seven if their play improves.
 
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