Things for Sunday: Part II
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With Hightower out for the season, The signing of David Harris looks like
genius. "David? You get about the same from him every week. He works
hard. He's very professional. He's always engaged, always in tune with
what you're doing," BB said. "He doesn't miss anything. You
don't have to tell him the same thing multiple times. He hears it, tries
to do it. I mean, he might make a mistake on it like we all do but then he
corrects it and understands it, but he's a football guy. He's got a lot of
experience, very into the game, understands situations, understands I'd
say all of the things that we're doing or that we ask him to do. He's got
a lot of experience. Again, he's as professional as anybody in that locker
room." He has also shown he can be the leader in the middle.
is a very important week for this defense. A lot of changes are going on,
and they are facing a veteran offense, and a veteran QB who knows how to
exploit every mistake a defense makes. Missing Hightower hurts the brains
of this defense, and some of the clutch big plays. They have to find a few
guys to step into his role.
defense is going through a lot of changes this week with Gilmore maybe
back, and Hightower gone. "It's a part of the game. When a guy gets
hurt for a year, I never kind of look at it like, ‘Oh, man, what are we
going to do defensively?' Like my instinct is to feel bad for that guy. We
all give a lot of time, sacrifice time with our families and doing
different things, so when your season ends and now you're back and the
only thing you have to look forward to is rehab and recovery, that's what
I think about first," McCourty said. "As a team, we'll always
figure it out I firmly believe. Our coaching staff spends a lot of hours
in here figuring out what we need to do personnel-wise, who needs to play
here, what works, what won't work, so we'll figure it out. Whether that
takes a quarter or two quarters, it'll happen. We'll figure that out, but
High's been through a lot this year of trying to get back on the field. I
think he was actually starting to feel good and feeling better, so it's
just a tough blow for him." The defense has been evolving so far this
season, and were great last week against Atlanta for the first time this
they need a little more continuity to continue the progress. "With
the game plan each week we try to do what we feel like is best against the
team we're playing against," BB said. "Some of it is matched up,
some of it isn't. Some weeks it is, some weeks it isn't. Not every play is
man-to-man. Not every play is a matchup play. Based on what we have called
and we don't know where they're going to come up, but based on the
location of the receivers and who's in the game we have adjustments to
play the way we feel it gives us the best competitive chance for that
call, for that situation." It is tougher to match up when it seems
they have a different team on defense every week.
Hightower the week they have to match up against the Chargers two big TEs
Henry and Gates is not going to be easy. "Offensively, this is a very
big skill group: [Tyrell] Williams, Inman, obviously Allen, Gates, Hunter.
They're kind of receiving tight ends. They have a lot of size at those
positions and then Benjamin gives them kind of the explosive catch-and-run
player to go with that group," BB said. "Big receivers, good
players after the catch. Allen's very, very good with the ball in his
hands. Hunter Henry is a tough guy to tackle. And they use their backs
quite a bit in the passing game, as well: Gordon, [Austin] Ekeler. Their
backs are very productive in the passing game, as well. It's a
well-balanced attack." Losing Hightower also hurts the run defense
is great against the run at ILB and OLB. "Of course, the running game
with Coach Lynn is always a challenge. They do a lot of different things.
They probably run as many different running plays as any team that we will
face or have faced," BB said. "They do: multiple groups,
multiple formations, multiple schemes, and all of the complementary plays
that go with it: the boots, the reverses, the misdirection plays."
When they get Gordon going the offense can look like a top five offense.
then they break out the play action, and we all know Rivers has a great
accurate arm. "They really challenge you in the running game and then
they have a very explosive passing game down the field," BB said.
"Rivers throws a great deep ball and they have a lot of good
catch-and-run players with their skill guys, and their skill guys, again,
are big so they do a good job of blocking in the run game so a lot of the
plays that get to the perimeter with this group, really they have a
mismatch with the size and the aggressiveness of their receivers. They're
tough to handle there." So as the defense is forced to change again,
it only makes things more difficult against a very good offensive team.
are going to be very reliant on David Harris to step into Hightower's Mike
role. "He's had a good comfort level. I think it's because he's very
knowledgeable of what's going on, but the more reps he's gotten, obviously
he's done better," McCourty said. "The thing is, like he came in
there Sunday, there was no panic from anybody. He was very calm, played
fast, was running around hitting. So I think anytime you get veteran
players, playing football is not new to them. Obviously, the scheme and
all those different things when you go to a new place, but once you get
out there and you're playing, I think you just go play football.
think he's a guy that can play different roles because of his knowledge of
the game. I think he's stepped up and showed he's ready to go. I think the
thing that I have tremendous respect [for] is he's like one of those true
pros. He's in here the same time every day, he knows everything, he's been
on the sideline [during] games where he's inactive, he's pointing things
out of what's going on in the game. He's a guy, I think for players, you
can tell whenever his number gets called, he's going to be ready to go
because you can tell he studies what we're doing and what the opponents
doing, week-in and week-out, for whenever he's called upon, to be ready to
step up and play well." They are going to need him to help stop
Gordon in this game.
Helping Brady- As inconsistent as the defense has been with
personnel, the offense has been worse. The O-line has been inconsistent,
and now Cannon is injured. Malcolm Brown, Hightower, and Rowe are out.
Gilmore and Cannon are both listed as questionable. This is not a good
week for Cannon to be out.
and Ingram have already combined for 16 Sacks. "Fast. Definitely.
Bosa and Ingram, they've got a really good group of pass rushers,"
Brady said. "They get to the quarterback and they do it a variety of
different ways and some of it's blitz but a lot of it is just beating
matchups and those guys are very good one-on-one and it's a big challenge
for our offensive line.
faced a lot of good pass rushers and it seems like we say that every week,
‘man, this team's got a good rush, they're coming after us’ and this
is another team that really has it. It's just what we're dealing with
every week. So hopefully we can use some of the experience we've had these
first seven games and really put it to work versus this group, which is
really good. They really get after you. I'm not going to be able to stand
back there and hold it forever. It's just a real good rush." Ingram
usually lines up on the Blindside.
usually lines up on Cannon's side. "He plays really hard. Every play
he's all out. He makes plays from the back side, chase, outstanding pass
rusher," BB said about Bosa. "He's got good strength but he's
got good quickness and he knows how to use both of them. If you are
over-aggressive on him he's quick enough to get by you. If you sit back
then he is explosive enough to power the blockers into the quarterback or
into the backfield. He's a very disruptive player.
got a lot of length so he gets to a lot of plays, tackles, tipped balls,
can reach out and get the quarterback. He's a hard guy to throw around or
over. He's really just good at everything but he's got a great motor so
you've got to deal with him every play. You can't run away from him;
that's not the answer because he'll chase down plays." Their two
D-ends have really changed their defense this year.
just in the passrush, but stopping the run as we. "Running at him is
not the answer either because that's a problem, too, so to say 'Well,
let's just run away from him,' well A- you're running into Ingram, and B-
these guys, Ingram and Bosa, will both make plays from the backside,"
BB said. "They're good. They're really good. Good in the running
game, good in the passing game. They create a lot of long-yardage
situations and then they just kill you on third-and-long." So the key
to this game is the O-line again.
has been sacked 18 times, so the O-line is the Offense again this week.
"I mean, we're putting in the work every day trying to get things
right and those guys are working really hard. You couldn't ask any more of
them, what they've done and what they're continuing to do on the practice
field and the games," Brady said. "Everyone has contributed. I
think everyone has made a lot of plays. It's been a lot of fun. We've had
a good group. Obviously, losing Jules is not ideal but a lot of the guys
have rallied around and stepped up and tried to do a really great job for
us and we just have to keep fighting through it. We're at the, obviously,
close to the midway point and this is when we've really got to hit the
accelerator because that's what the good teams do."
getting injured last week really worried me. They only have four WRs on
the active roster right now. If he goes that leaves three, with Dorsett
still in a limited gimmicky role. So we will see what the O-line brings
this week. They have to be as good as they were against Atlanta, or it
could go bad real fast.
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