Fields has crushed us on the ground. But I have noticed that he tends to do the most damage running up the middle. I realize that basic football is to lock down the edges and force the player inside. That doesn’t seem to be as effective when the timing of the play is “off” and there are people back in coverage. Against a runningback its basic football. Against a QB it has a flaw.
I think the best strategy is to NOT lock down the edges. Lock down the middle and force him to run to the outside. The further he runs towards the sideline, the less field that is available for him to throw to. And the further sideways he has to run, the more time is available for other guys to get involved. Additional logic to the strategy is that we can put our hands on his receivers once he breaks the pocket. And lastly, we seem to get killed on playaction rollout passes from the athletic QBs. If we are already intending to push the QB outside of the pocket and positioning our guys to attack that way, we would already be set up to attack that play. In some cases they would be literally playing right into the teeth of where we were going to force him to go anyways.
I think you’re probably right. At the very least it needs to be part of our approach, even if we switch it up play to play. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line after all, him getting free up the gut is always gonna be more dangerous.
But I also think defending guys like Fields, Lamar, Dobbs, Anthony Richardson, etc… is different from guarding a typical running QB. We’ve done OK against Mahomes, Love, Ridder, Lawrence, Danny Dimes and the other more typical mobile QBs. But those aforementioned guys are freaks. Best athlete on the field types. We really struggle against them, but a lot of teams do. We have to get better and I think your suggestion is definitely one way to go about it. But sometimes all you can do is throw up your hands.
Part of our strategy against QBs is to lay a lick on them early in the game as they try to get out of bounds. The way we go out of our way to try to do it early in games makes it obvious that is what they have been told to do. Several guys have hesitated to run after taking that shot. I’ve noticed that we tried to do that to Fields but he was simply too damn fast to catch up with to make it happen.
Barnes is athletic enough that even when Fields beats him, Derrick can push him far enough towards the sideline that it limits how much he can do from there. When slower guys are chasing Fields it allows him to turn upfield sooner, so he has a “2 way go” on the next defender. Fields is so ridiculous that he can still do damage even when he has limited options. But football is about making things tougher on the opponent in every way possible. Having someone like Barnes chasing Fields helps.
The last play- the commentator mentioned how far Hutch lined up outside. Roughly wear Thibz, Burns, TJ Watt do on every play.
If we put Hutch and JO well outside the tackles in a 2 point, then lateral movement would be far easier and they be more likely to impact plays inside as they’d have the space to get inside.
Instead the Pats get their hands on our undersized DEscand quickly run the beyond the pocket so their QB can climb up- the 3 interior OL are blocking Alim and practice squad fodder…. It’s not hard to find lane
Try putting McNeill, Bohannon, and Paschal from the inside shoulder of the LT, over C, and interior shoulder of the RT…
With JO/Harris and Hutch with contain on edge- it gives a sec for AA and Barnes to read and react.
Someone earlier mentioned a 5-2 set as a way to handle running QBs. If we did that I would put Bro-Mart head up over center, Buggs and Jones head up over guards and Commish and McNeil on tackles. At nothing going up the middle. Use Hutch and Houston to rush from edges (good luck using TEs to block them) utilize Sutton, Jacob’s, Branch, and Kerby in coverage. Should effectively eliminate scrambles up the middle and will almost guarantee Hutch and Houston (or whoever) are coming free. If they counter with more TEs to help block that means fewer WRs in pass routes and more eyes on QB. This would only really be effective against QBs like Fields, or Jackson where their legs are their best weapon. Truth be told I want those two sitting in pocket trying to beat me with their arms.