The other day it was supposed to snow. Instead, we got a little rain. Later that night, we got some ice and the roads were terrible. Worst of all, the ice on the roads were the black ice type, which is the thin layer of ice that is virtually transparent, that allows the roads to be seen through the ice so drivers aren’t aware of the dangers.
I mention this because, snow, rain, ice are all of the same material. Yet each has its own characteristics. So is it with football players. We should be aware of the differences in characteristics of players that might not be apparent. Teams should look for players that fit their needs.
There are several aspects to team fit. As we go into free agency and the draft, a good team should keep in mind fit when adding/subtracting players to the roster. There has been tremendous roster turnover in the last few years to fit the Garrett model.
We see the top ___ [pick a number] lists of players available and who would not want the best ___ [fill in the blank with position of your desires]. Yet all players are not the same even at the same position. Some are the differences are obvious and some are not.
On some level this discussion has started. No one disputes that the 3 4 requires different players skill sets than the 4 3. At the minimum, there is a tradeoff of a LB for another DT.
There are different supply and demand for 3 4 versus 4 3 players. Tom Ryle noted this in
One can have a decent argument on the merits of the 3 4 versus 4 3 on football terms but that is for another day. Yet the impact will be felt in other ways too. Some have speculated on how the move with affect the special teams. Just one example is having one less starting LB might affect the number of backups available for ST duty.
While the 3 4 OLB is similar to the 4 3 DE, they are not quite the same position. The prototypical sizes are different to take into account their slightly different responsibilities. Thus, we see articles on how player A is gaining or losing weight.
We have seen many articles on how players A, B, and C fit the new 4 3 defense as opposed to the 3 4. Lee and Carter are both fine 3 4 ILBs, but is one is better suited for the 4 3 Mike as opposed to Willie? And we all will try to guess is who will be the Sam.
In the last few years, some of the draft sites are beginning to separate out the skill sets of a 3 4 OLB versus a 4 3 OLB and 3 4 DE and a 4 3 DE and DTs. Drafttek is just one example if you go to this page you will see categories for many types of players. This site also tries to show how a player might be seen with a higher rating for one position than another.
1 tech versus 3 tech DT
Then the additional DT is not identical to having two 3 4 NT. MosesArt notes the need for a one gap and discusses explain the importance of the 1 Technique, his responsibilities, and which current NFL players thrive in this position.
Archie tries to answer where Lissemore will play:
Who is the 1 gap and who is the 3 gap is not the only major discussion this spring. Just one example is KD Drummond asking who is the DE and is the strong side different than the other.
Regardless of the configuration of the front seven you pick, the secondary has its own issues. Pick an article on Kiffen and the Tampa 2 and its variants.
Do you want a press cover or a zone coverage back, let alone the slot versus outside? Carr and Claiborne were picked because of their size and press coverage skills. We kept Scandrick for a reason.
Or perhaps we should get a safety who is a ball hawk or leader. Elam was brought to the team several years ago. Individually he did not have great personal accomplishments and left the next year. Yet his ability to install the Ryan D, especially in the lockout year, was very valuable. Additionally, his leadership meant that the secondary did not have the lost look. Further, he allowed Sensabaugh to focus on his own individual play. We have moved on from both.
Nor is this limited to defense. We have the OL with two types of blocking – the mobile and the mauler. Questions of which is the better draft pick, Cooper or Warmack reflect this discussion. OCC has just one of several articles on guard availability and the comments discuss fit.
Other characteristics include
There should be a comprehensive article on what constitutes a RKG, but it does not mean choir boy, but instead a player whose enthusiasm for the game is manifested by his work ethic, teamwork, and dedication.
Witten defines the RKG, Bennett did not. Dez had some maturity issues, but he has dedicated himself to improvement.
The new CBA places limits on number and types of practices in the off-season and during the season even the bye weeks. This will place a premium on players who are self-motivated. Lee is a film room warrior in the best sense. Further, he took it upon himself to learn Ryan’s defense and became a leader.
He took Carter under his wing. During their off-season workouts, he would make Cater call out his responsibilities. They worked out their mental aspects not just their bodies. The growth was apparent.
There are more variations on the type of players than meets the eye. We are seeing a lot more detailed information than in the past. Hopefully as the team roster is further shaped, the team will get players that better fit their needs.