Watching NFL Playoffs, Sacks Are Decisive; Alabama should adopt same Strategy

Jkl0802

1st Team
Apr 9, 2015
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Jess touched upon Bama’s defense after the Auburn loss....After watching the NFL’s best teams in the playoffs, I agree change is needed in our defensive philosophy due to the rule changes that make passing easier and more attractive for more and more teams to adopt.

Over the years, I’ve heard CNS state (words to the effect) that sacks don’t mean anything significant and pass rushers can get great effect pushing the pocket. I’m no longer on the “I believe side” of this theory; believe it is no longer true in today’s passing first style of offenses. I don’t see any NFL defensive lines satisfied with pushing the pocket in the playoffs...they are twisting, crossing, crashing the line of scrimmage to make the pocket a very chaotic place to be. Almost as if the defensive line and LBs #1 aim is to sack the QB, or make the QB throw the ball as soon as he gets it. Added benefits of this type rush are the ends who circle around and sometimes sack and sometimes strip the balls for fumbles as well as linebackers and DBs blitzing to create further chaos. Also, on long passes the QB must throw early leading to less accurate passes and DBs can back pedal and play zone defense on occasion. NFL is also also looking for these type defensive players high in the draft so it would enhance defensive line and rush end recruiting. I guess I am saying that smaller, quicker and faster defensive ends who can get sacks (and sometimes set the edge) are better against today’s offensive passing style of football than 260 pound defensive ends who can set the edge against the runs (and sometimes push the pocket).
 

rgw

Hall of Fame
Sep 15, 2003
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I tend to agree that the game has changed a great deal. In 2008 or 2009 when Saban first ranted about “affecting the QB” being more important than sacks, I think that argument was mostly true. The offense just has so many built in advantages now that betting you can keep offenses from gaining 10 yards in 3 downs at a good enough rate to win the game is probably a bit foolish. You need to be creating negative plays to turn those 10 yards to keep a drive alive into 15 to 20. You need turnovers to end drives. To do these things, you gotta be hitting the QB before the ball is out of his hands or batting balls at the line of scrimmage. Also, a DE simply can’t afford to just be there. The QBs are too athletic, so they need to be in the dirt instead of on their feet before the pocket breaks down for a scramble.

Now, more than any time in the history of football, sacking the QB is key.
 

AlexanderFan

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Jul 23, 2004
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Did Saban say anything about “affecting the qb “ when we led the country in sacks? I think he might have been deflecting a little. I’m sure he would love to have an all pro line, but typically flying bodies have adversely affected performance. We haven’t been making the guys pick themselves up off the turf lately, honestly, we haven’t affected anyone recently.
 

Bamabuzzard

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You need both. It's not realistic to expect a sack on every pass play. But getting pressure and disrupting the space the QB has to throw can lead to Int's, pick 6's, incomplete passes etc. Technically there are plays that can result from disrupting the QB that are more productive than a sack. Pressuring the pocket forcing a bad throw that results in a pick 6 is better than a sack.
 

bamaga

Hall of Fame
Apr 29, 2002
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Have you watched Alabama football the last 5 years? I don’t have the stats, but I’m sure that while 2019 was a down year for sacks, Bama is in the top 10 in sacks over that period. Jennings and Lewis will be drafted in the first couple of rounds in the NFL draft as EDGE rushers. Anoma , IMO, would have been a difference maker off the edge this year with his speed.
The biggest difference this year though, was the lack of a Jonathon Allen or Quinnen Williams or Da’Ron Payne on the inside . opposing Guards didn’t need a lot of help on the inside . Couple that with the lack of experience of the Mike and Will backers and you have a problem indeed. I noticed Jennings in the Jack dropped in coverage more than maybe his entire 3 previous years combined. Due to lack of coverage experience at Will.
 

TIDE-HSV

Senior Administrator
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You need both. It's not realistic to expect a sack on every pass play. But getting pressure and disrupting the space the QB has to throw can lead to Int's, pick 6's, incomplete passes etc. Technically there are plays that can result from disrupting the QB that are more productive than a sack. Pressuring the pocket forcing a bad throw that results in a pick 6 is better than a sack.
There is an obsession with the sacks stat, as if it's the only true measure of a defense. I think that's what gets under CNS's skin. QB hurries are also important...
 

JustNeedMe81

Hall of Fame
Sep 30, 2011
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Jess touched upon Bama’s defense after the Auburn loss....After watching the NFL’s best teams in the playoffs, I agree change is needed in our defensive philosophy due to the rule changes that make passing easier and more attractive for more and more teams to adopt.

Over the years, I’ve heard CNS state (words to the effect) that sacks don’t mean anything significant and pass rushers can get great effect pushing the pocket. I’m no longer on the “I believe side” of this theory; believe it is no longer true in today’s passing first style of offenses. I don’t see any NFL defensive lines satisfied with pushing the pocket in the playoffs...they are twisting, crossing, crashing the line of scrimmage to make the pocket a very chaotic place to be. Almost as if the defensive line and LBs #1 aim is to sack the QB, or make the QB throw the ball as soon as he gets it. Added benefits of this type rush are the ends who circle around and sometimes sack and sometimes strip the balls for fumbles as well as linebackers and DBs blitzing to create further chaos. Also, on long passes the QB must throw early leading to less accurate passes and DBs can back pedal and play zone defense on occasion. NFL is also also looking for these type defensive players high in the draft so it would enhance defensive line and rush end recruiting. I guess I am saying that smaller, quicker and faster defensive ends who can get sacks (and sometimes set the edge) are better against today’s offensive passing style of football than 260 pound defensive ends who can set the edge against the runs (and sometimes push the pocket).
Hmmm.... Lot of valid points here.

I think Saban is already practicing what most NFL team is doing, but he has an different idea how to affect QB. He does practice what he preach and if players does things the right way, then good things will happen for defense, whether it's a sack, turnover or forced 3 and outs. It worked for him until this season. This season wasn't great because we had certain players shooting wrong gaps, wrong personnel on the field, etc. This season was abnormal and I don't think it is enough to warrant a call for Saban to change his philosophy. Look at the stats for national and conference in last three season for Alabama.

National-
2019 - #48,
2018- #5,
2017-#13
Conference-
2019 #6,
2018- #1,
2017 #2

I think we are okay.
 

B1GTide

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Apr 13, 2012
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I believe that the plan on 100% of the snaps on Defense is to affect the quarterback, preferably by putting him on his arse.
Generally, though that is not the case with really mobile QBs. Saban absolutely uses a mush rush against those QBs, and the goal is not to sack him but to affect him while containing him. If a sack occurs, that is a bonus, but not the goal.
 

JustNeedMe81

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Sep 30, 2011
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How many times we've seen sack on 1st and 2nd down resulting in a long down where they manage to convert a 1st down on a 2 and 15, 3 and 30, etc? We've seen that many times. Sacks doesn't always benefit us if we can't get off the field on 3rd downs. What we can do is try and affect QBs in many way where they make mistakes.
 

B1GTide

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How many times we've seen sack on 1st and 2nd down resulting in a long down where they manage to convert a 1st down on a 2 and 15, 3 and 30, etc? We've seen that many times. Sacks doesn't always benefit us if we can't get off the field on 3rd downs. What we can do is try and affect QBs in many way where they make mistakes.
We need to change the game and only allow 3 downs to travel 10 yards.
 

CoolBreeze

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Sep 18, 2002
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Generally, though that is not the case with really mobile QBs. Saban absolutely uses a mush rush against those QBs, and the goal is not to sack him but to affect him while containing him. If a sack occurs, that is a bonus, but not the goal.
Hence my use of "preferably" in the affecting the quarterback by putting him on the ground part.
 
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Ole Man Dan

Hall of Fame
Apr 21, 2008
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In the last couple of years college Offenses have seen the rules liberalized to help them.
Defenses are beginning to adjust to them. We need to add a few wrinkles to ours.
 

Jkl0802

1st Team
Apr 9, 2015
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I believe a sack in today’s college football game is somewhat like a dunk used to be in college basketball (before everyone could do it). A sack is a TFL just like slam dunk is a lay-up worth 2 points.
However like a dunk, a sack generates much more positive energy and is a huge catalyst to changing momentum. A sack also creates significant negative yardage. I would think a sack also results in an increased probability of a fumble, and finally hitting a QB from front , sides and back impacts the QBs mind and football is a mental game as much as it is physical. To say sacks are not significant elements in the defensive game...that a sack is similar to getting close to the QB and making him move, that a sack is similar to a push the pocket tackle where the QB breaks and starts to run towards the line and is tackled for no gain... I’d simply ask, “then why are NFL teams prioritizing guys that can do it really good in the draft?”
 

gtgilbert

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Aug 12, 2011
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Hmmm.... Lot of valid points here.

I think Saban is already practicing what most NFL team is doing, but he has an different idea how to affect QB. He does practice what he preach and if players does things the right way, then good things will happen for defense, whether it's a sack, turnover or forced 3 and outs. It worked for him until this season. This season wasn't great because we had certain players shooting wrong gaps, wrong personnel on the field, etc. This season was abnormal and I don't think it is enough to warrant a call for Saban to change his philosophy. Look at the stats for national and conference in last three season for Alabama.

National-
2019 - #48,
2018- #5,
2017-#13
Conference-
2019 #6,
2018- #1,
2017 #2

I think we are okay.
and i'd bet in 2016 we ranked really well also, as that's when we had Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams pushing the edges along with Allen.

2017 was R. Davis and Evans, with a lot of others getting a little

2018 was Q. Williams, Buggs and Miller.

in 2019, we had Jennings do his part with 8, but then not much else. Lewis chipped in 6. Lee and McKinney are next on the list, and when your safety has more sacks than any DL, that's an issue. Barmore was the only true DL with more than one. Losing Ray hurt us really bad here I think.
 
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