Wednesday, August 25, 2010
In order to truly evaluate whether a player played well or not you have to first know and understand what they were supposed to be doing in the first place.
It seems to be the case with Barrett Ruud that he is going to be the media's and fans' whipping boy whether he play's well or not. I have seen and heard from several different places where he had a horrible game against the Chiefs.
No he didn't .
As a matter of fact he played pretty well.
It wasn't a Pro Bowl performance but it was more than serviceable.
Let me point out three different plays and break them down.
First I've heard people complain about the play early on where Kyle Moore made Thomas Jones fumble. We were in a 3-4 alignment and the Chiefs ran a lead draw. That means the fullback leads up on the linebacker and the running back makes a cut off that block. Ruud's job is to attack the fullback with his inside shoulder leaving his outside arm free to make the tackle of the tailback cuts outside.
Annnnnnd. Ruud came downhill, attacked the fullback in the hole with his outside arm free and made Jones cut back to his help. Some how some way some people are saying he didn't something wrong on this play. I watched it at least 10 times just to be sure. He gave the fullback a nice pop and if you slow it down you will see the fullback's helmet rattle around. He made it cut back and he even ran to the ball after he did his job. But hey if you don't know what he was supposed to do on that play I guess you might not understand that.
Another play I've heard about was on a counter. The offensive tackle came off the ball and Barrett gave ground to get outside of him. The problem is we teach our defensive ends to spill the play on a counter and make it go outside. For that reason the middle linebacker has to get over the top of any blocks so they can make the tackle when it bounces outside. If they try to go underneath the block they get washed inside and the play is out of the gate. Aside from turning into the Incredible Hulk and running directly through an offensive lineman there wasn't much else Ruud could do if he wanted to do his job.
The last play was on 3rd and 1. We had one of our short yardage packages in (which I do not like) and the Chiefs ran a simple full back lead stretch weak. Ruud had to track the fullback because if he slips out to the flat that's who he has in coverage. The ball should have never gotten outside but our defensive end didn't get far enough up the field to turn it back so it bounced out. At that point Ruud has to get outside leverage on the fullback so Jones couldn't continue up the sideline.
Annnnd that's exactly what he did. He gave a little bit of ground and got outside leverage on the fullback. Jones cut it back in to the help and other guys made the tackle.
Now I have said this before and I will say it again. Barrett isn't necessarily what I would want as a prototypical middle linebacker. He doesn't explode into his tackles the way I would like and yes sometimes I would like him to come down hill more. But he isn't some cupcake who isn't physical or doesn't do his job. For most of the game we played some form of Tampa 2 when we weren't blitzing. In that situation in our defense the middle linebacker can't always come down hill immediately because of their pass responsibilities and their run fits. In Tampa 2 the linebackers have to play more than one gap at times. And that's something I bet most people don't know.
Tell you what, I know I said this would be quick but let me tell you about another play. On I believe the third drive the Chiefs ran a simple one back zone play. The ball started strong and then cutback. Now had we been in Cover 3 or any other coverage where the Safety is down in the box this would be a chance for all the linebackers to fly through their holes as soon as they saw a run threat because against that formation with the Safety down they all only have one gap that they are responsible for. But they didn't have a safety in the box (couldn't see the coverage because of the camera angle) so they still should have slow played it a little and then ran through their gaps.
Geno Hays, as he is won't to do, instead flew right through his gap. Unfortunately the guard blocked him. Barrett read it correctly and started towards his strong side A gap. The problem was that Roy Miller slipped and fell down so he wasn't in position to make the tackle when the ball cut back in his weakside A gap. Now had Barrett run through his strongside A gap as Geno ran through his backside B gap, the running back would have had a clean look at our safety about 7 or 8 yards up the field and would only have to beat him for a major gain. Instead Barrett throttled it down, came back and helped make the tackle.
Now some folks will look at that play and say "Look at Barrett making plays 5 yards down the field again" never realizing that he was doing his job AND somebody else's job so that we didn't end up having a breakout run against our defense. And its mostly because, again, people just don't know what he is supposed to do on any given play.
The funny thing is that as people are dogging Ruud for his play against the Chiefs his head coach slash defensive coordinator pointed him out as a guy who played well and was all over the field during press conference yesterday. Of course he has this little thing called film, but what does he know?
I recognize that some folks won't take this post well but I'm not trying to call anybody out specifically. My ultimate point is if you don't know then you can't really criticize someone's play fairly. You just can't. Now I answer pretty much any question when it comes to what happens on a football field so you an feel free to ask me as long as its not something ridiculous. Or you can go and ask someone else who is knowledgeable. Hell you can even go and buy some books and read up on different positions and their responsibilities. But this situation where people complain about stuff that isn't actually happening on the field has to end. And if I have to be the one to end it then hey, so be it.