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Why does Nink get used as a DE (instead of Anderson in the Nickel?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Shockt327, Dec 6, 2011.

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  1. Shockt327

    Shockt327 Rookie

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    Disclaimer: I'm strictly talking about Nink as a DE. Not as a LB. This is not a hate thread for Ninkovich. I think he's a good LB. He's tough and scrappy and can make plays...

    But he really can't line up in a 3 point stance and get constant penetration. He just can't. He frequently gets stonewalled. Badly. I frequently look for Anderson during the games (he's quickly becoming my favorite player on D). But when he's not out there, it's almost always because Nink is in his place when they go to a Nickel D.

    I believe it's a holdover from the 3-4. BB used to use his LBs, like Vrabel or McGinest as DEs in the Nickel; and they were a threat to drop into coverage. It's good in theory, but with Nink it really doesn't work well. He just doesn't have the quick burst, power, and moves to be an effective pass rusher out as a DE in the 3-pt-stance.

    I really think Anderson's lack of playing time is a huge reason why the D isn't consistent. The guy needs more reps.

    EDIT: Yeah, I know Nink had a sack last Sunday. I feel like someone will throw that in my face. But really, if you watch him play as a DE, he's really getting no penetration at all.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  2. Sciz

    Sciz PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    We're best off not questioning anything Belichick did on Sunday, because we probably won't see a lot of it ever again.
  3. Shockt327

    Shockt327 Rookie

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    This has kinda been a year long thing, though....

    Except it wasn't just last Sunday; Nink has seen pretty consistent reps as a DE in the Nickel this season.

    It seems like Anderson will occasionally get a series or two to do his thing. When he does, I think it's a major step up. The KC game was the only one where it seemed like Anderson got a bulk of the snaps.

    The pass rush looks so good when he gets consistent reps. I notice that the oppositions will frequently shift coverage to his side, and it really does free up Carter. Having two legit pass rushers makes the D so much better.
  4. TheTruth3402

    TheTruth3402 Rookie

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    My guess is that it has to do with 'scheme diversity'. When you see Carter on the field as an offense, you know he is going to rush. The same applies for Anderson. With Ninkovich, he has some skill in coverage, so he represents a wild card.

    If this is the logic, I don't like it. Ninkovich is certainly not a terrible rusher, but I do not feel that he is as good as Anderson in pure pass rush ability based solely on the eye test. IMO, given the choice excelling in the pass rush outweighs versatility on the edge. But, seriously, what do I know?
  5. JFK

    JFK Rookie

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    Nink is a terrible pass rusher. I notice it too.
  6. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    Ninko's job as the hybrid DE in the nickel package (on pass plays) is to occupy the lineman. If he manages to get loose and get to the QB, that's icing on the cake, but his primary job is to tie up the blocker, to contain the pocket, seal the edge or prevent the kick out block.

    Yes it's that same old prevent D that a lot of posters love to hate, but statistically speaking, over the long run, that strategy will win out more often than not. And especially so, since I can count on one hand, the number of QB's in this league who have the mental toughness, patience, and accuracy to defeat this type of system.

    You can tell that by what he does with his hands when occupying the lineman; he frequently squares up to his man, and doesn't use moves that one-gapping players would use (swim, rip, spin, etc) to get by his man and get to the QB.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  7. Shockt327

    Shockt327 Rookie

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    Except he really is.
  8. TheTruth3402

    TheTruth3402 Rookie

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    Not many good statistics available to back up these arguments.

    Here is what I've found: (snaps are through 11 because I couldn't find info from the Fins game)

    Ninkovich-
    646 snaps (11 games)
    54 tackles
    2 fumbles recovered
    0 fumbles forced
    1 run stuff
    4.5 sacks
    9 QB hits

    Anderson-
    264 snaps (11 games)
    18 tackles
    0 fumbles recovered
    1 fumble forced
    0 run stuffs
    7 sacks
    9 QB hits

    There is no way for me to determine how many snaps Ninkovich is a pass rusher vs linebacker, but if we divide his snap count in half, that would give him about 60 more snaps at rush end. That would lead me to determine that Anderson has been the more effective player when given the opportunity, but that is purely conjecture.

    Does anyone else know where I might find some better stats?
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  9. robertweathers

    robertweathers Rookie

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    No but nice work. I think 99.9% of the posters would say that Anderson is a better pass rusher than Nink.

    What they would also say that Nink is a more well-rounded defensive player.

    However, for those that say Nink is a terrible pass rusher I think it a bit of an overstatement. Pass rushing isn't all about moves. It also about using good body leverage to collapse the pocket, your hands to slide the defensive player in the direction you need (sometimes to re-route a running play to someone like Wilfork) and lastly, have an understanding of where the QB NEEDS to go (up, left, right, etc). While I would agree that Nink isn't on the same tier as Anderson or Carter, I think by evidence of 4 sacks last year and 4.5 this year, the guy knows somewhat how to get to the QB. He just doesn't have the explosiveness or the quickness that the Julius Peppers of the world have.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  10. Shockt327

    Shockt327 Rookie

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    I hate it when people do this. This post makes no sense. You are taking terminology, misusing it, and then applying a whole new definition to it.

    1) No it isn't the "same old prevent Defense." That's not what a prevent is at all. You are using the term as if it is somehow synonymous with another signifier like "2-gap." That's not what a prevent is. It's not a season long strategy.

    2) "Occupy a lineman" on a pass play? Again, that makes absolutely no sense. I'm sure you've come across the phrase "occupy the gap" in your time on these boards. Again, you're incorrectly regurgitating it.

    3) Occupying the gap (not a lineman!) is not an excuse to avoid rushing the passer -- nor is it "icing on the cake." If you seriously think there that little emphasis on rushing the passer; then you are just totally clueless. This isn't even up for debate. As before, you are making some semblance of sense when you talk about the need to "set the edge" as a DE.....and then totally abandoning logic when you continue to explain. Never in a million years does that somehow mean there isn't a need for a DE to rush the QB. That's just patently absurd.

    EDIT: Putting all the pieces together; you are actually attempting to argue that only elite QBs can beat a defense that plays a prevent in regular situations, and would rather have both DEs "occupy a lineman" rather than actually pressuring the QB. LOL.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  11. jsull87

    jsull87 Rookie

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    I'd be very interested to see how many snaps it's Nink's sole responsibility to just go out and rush the passer.

    Even when he is rushing alot of the time it is his 1st responsibility to pick the RB or TE and take them off their route's timing then rush.
  12. TheTruth3402

    TheTruth3402 Rookie

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    I agree that defensive strategy differs from game to game, but on a whole, I believe you'll find that the strategy is very conservative.

    The need to set the edge and 'occupy a lineman' or 'gap' still applies in sub packages. We just played the Eagles and we will soon play Tebow. Don't you think the coaches mention things like that when a QB is a threat to take off an grab the 1st? It also applies against teams that excel (or used to excel) at running draws out of 3 and 4 WR sets, like the Colts.

    I think PatsPsycho was trying to point out Ninko's ability to excel in these areas, and I think he is right. OTOH, I'm such a fan of the pass rush that I would rather sacrifice the small advantages in these areas to put fear into the minds of opposing QBs.
  13. Trocadile

    Trocadile Rookie

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    Except for the 2d Jets and KC games, they have avoided using Carter and Anderson together in the nickel. I assume it has something to do with keeping them fresh. However, in those two games the two of them combined for 7 sacks, so I think there is evidence that they should be used as a tandem in obvious passing situations. I also think Nink is pretty good as a zone pass defender, and would rather see him in that role than as an edge rusher.
  14. robertweathers

    robertweathers Rookie

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    Correct. Seeing that the team plays in a sub-package 65% of the time and lets say thats 70 defensive plays pg thats almost 46 times rushing the passer. Thats a lot.
  15. Shockt327

    Shockt327 Rookie

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    Awesome. But, being "conservative" is not even remotely the same as running a prevent D. Not even close. That's what the other guy was trying to argue. A prevent is something that is limited to usually the very last series -- when the game is all but over. When the Patriots do it, they often just use 3 down linemen and 6 or 7 DBs -- which has nothing to do with Ninkovich, really.

    The "prevent" isn't the same, or even comparable, to a scheme; like a 2-gap 3-4, 1-gap 4-3, Tampa-2, uh, 46 Bear....whatever phrase you want to throw in there.

    Again, "linemen" and "gap" are not interchangeable terms in this case -- really, please do not follow that example. "Occupying" the former has some semblance of logic that is being badly misused. "Occupying" the latter term is just made up stuff. The previous poster was trying to argue that on pass plays, it is the role of a DE to merely occupy the lineman; and rushing the QB was "icing on the cake." He's confusing terms and jumping to bizarre conclusions. Generating a pass rush is never an afterthought...even when you run a 2 gap 3-4 (which isn't a prevent!)

    Anyway, I understand that containing a mobile QB within the pocket and looking out for a draw are things that cannot be totally ignored. But that doesn't mean rushing the QB is "icing on the cake." You won't see mobile QBs every week. You also wont see more draws than passes. So, rushing the passer is the top responsibility of a DE in pass rushing situations. With that being said, I can't help but think that: 1) Anderson's strength as a pass rusher greatly outweighs any weaknesses he might have in the above areas and 2) Nink's weaknesses as a pass rusher greatly outweigh his strengths in the above areas and 3) 9/10 times it'll be a pass anyway -- so those above areas are further downplayed.

    I think PatsPsycho was badly abusing some pretty standard football terms and coming to false conclusions.
  16. Shockt327

    Shockt327 Rookie

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    A fair point. But isn't Anderson only getting around 25% of the reps? Compare that to Carter or Nink.

    That's what concerns me. Anderson is badly underused.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  17. robertweathers

    robertweathers Rookie

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    Fair point in return. My belief is that Anderson is sub-par in the running game thus the reason why he is not used more often. Couple that with the flexibility Nink has in pass defense (4 picks in 2 years so hes doing something right) I think thats the answer.
  18. satz

    satz Rookie

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    Because he gives you flexibility.
    He plays OLB in the 4-3 ,sam and DE who due to injuries play ILB .He sets the edge good. so when you have carter rushing most downs and 2 DT your 4th guy needs to be able to do a few things giving you flexibility.Ninko stays on a ILB or 4-3 OLB even when Anderson comes in.

    He is the one jamming the TE or covering shallow zone, when a TE is kept to block or a RB if the ILB are dropping he rushes . so he is always going to look slower than say anderson who puts his hands down and rushes.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  19. Shockt327

    Shockt327 Rookie

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    I get what you're saying.

    But I don't think Anderson is nearly as bad as people think against the run. I've watched him on virtually every play since week 8 or so, and he has often dominated his guy against the run.

    Ironically, Nink's best play against the Eagles was when he tackled the ball carrier behind the LOS. Why? Because it was a stretch play to Anderson's side; where Anderson totally dominated the LT at the point of attack, forced the RB to change direction in the backfield, and run right into Nink.

    EDIT: Also, how often do we actually see Nink drop into coverage when he's in the role of the DE in the Nickel? It's really not very often at all.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2011
  20. NinjaZX6R

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    He used to be a DE in college for 4 years. I've noticed that when he rushes, he seals the right side of the pocket of the QB while Carter comes around.
  21. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    Isn't it a fact that in our two-gap system, the offensive linemen are tied up so that the backers can make a play through the gaps? Sometimes they do, sometimes they drop back in coverage, right?

    First, I don't think we "occupy the gap" because the defensive philosophy has always been two-gap, which means responsibility for more than one gap. So primarily, the defensive lineman occupy the offensive lineman so as to either push him back or disengage (if needed) to fill either the gap on his left or right, if the play appears to be directed to either of those gaps, right? If he occupies a gap right off the bat, he can't cover the other gap.

    Also, perhaps you would explain to me that if it was Ninko's sole goal to get to the passer, why he rushes his man straight up instead of pulling one of the countless tricks that a one-gapper would use, such as a swim, spin or rip? I'm not trying to be clever here. Just a question- if you know better than me, feel free to correct me.

    Also, I don't mean that it is Ninko's job to never touch the QB. If he manages to get there, great. What I was trying to say was that I didn't think that was his sole task, because then he'd be one-gapping, correct?

    No. I was only trying to point out that playing a prevent type of defense may seem frustrating at times, but it does win out in the long run, statistically-wise because very few games are relatively mistake-free. Not sure how you translated that into having DE's only occupy linemen when we've obviously seen Carter and Anderson beat their man quite a few times.

    I may have messed up on the terminology and if so, I apologize. I never pretend to be anything other than an educated amateur fan and so stand to be corrected at any time. But that isn't going to stop me from learning more about the game through discussion, and making my fair share of mistakes along the way.
  22. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I have never seen Ninkovich play DE in nickel and try to occupy a blocker. I have only seen him use everything he has to rush the passer, although its clear that he is asked to keep his pass rush lanes.
  23. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    2 gap is run D, not pass rush. By the way, as you listed below quite clearly each front 7 player 2 gaps, the DL are not tying up players for the LBs each one is playing both sides of his man so every gap has 2 players assigned to it.


    Again though this doesnt happen on 3rd down nickel.

    He does use these pass rush techniques, every pass rusher does, but our defense does value rush lane discipline and does value draw responsibility so you won't see him spinning around like Freeney. He uses what works for him.

    Also, I don't mean that it is Ninko's job to never touch the QB. If he manages to get there, great. What I was trying to say was that I didn't think that was his sole task, because then he'd be one-gapping, correct?



    If there is one thing that is blatantly evident in the history of the NFL is that winning teams are much more often generally conservative in philosophy.

    The only point I would object to is that 2 gap wouldn't come into play on a pass, and especially in a sub package obvious passing down.
  24. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Come on. Thats just not being honest. First of all, he rarely plays on running plays, and secondly he either shoots a gap that is away from the play (which equals blocked) or gets blown off the line when he is blocked by an OL. He simply cannot hold the point of attack to save his life. But thats not his job here.

    I
  25. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    Yes, you're right, especially in a 3rd and long. That one is on me for not thinking clearly.
  26. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    It is overlooked though, what the 2gap does to the pass rushers in the base.
    Even though as soon as they read pass, they go into pass rush mode, their first step is always into the blocker, while the 1gap DLs first move is in avoidance of the OL, so he has the chance to get a step.
  27. satz

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    He is the guy who is responsible for TE jam and RB getting not a free release being the guy who plays on the right with most right handed QB. His first job is not give a TE/RB free release. If TE/RB are not a factor then he rushes.

    with the recent injury he was playing behind the LOS in nickel packages.
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