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Author Topic: Positional Preview: Defensive Line  (Read 453 times)
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« on: May 08, 2022, 03:13:09 AM »

Positional Preview: Defensive Line - Ed Tait

Let's begin today with a hot take, and then let the hard-core members of Winnipeg Blue Bombers nation agree or disagree: Jackson Jeffcoat and Willie Jefferson combine to form the most ferocious and talented defensive end duo in franchise history, a span that goes back decades to 1930.

Now, hear me out as we attempt to back this up... There have been some spectacular ends in this team's records - remember, we're talking about ends, not tackles - from Herb Gray to Tony Norman, Elfrid Payton to Gavin Walls to Mike Gray, Tom Canada, Jamaal Westerman and so on.

Yet no Blue Bombers squad had ever placed two defensive ends on the Canadian Football League All-Star Team, dating back to 1962, until last year with Jeffcoat and Jefferson.

In fact, consider this: dating back 60 years, the Blue Bombers have only placed two defensive linemen on the CFL All-Star squad in one season on four occasions, with Jeffcoat and Jefferson the first end duo to be recognized in the same season. The other instances saw tackle John Helton and end Pete Catan honoured in 1982, tackles Doug Brown and Denny Fortney in 2002 and Brown and end Phillip Hunt in 2010.

All of this is just to reinforce the role Jeffcoat and Jefferson played in Winnipeg?s 'Dark Side' defence in 2021, the most formidable force in the entire CFL. The two men combined for 16 sacks, 45 tackles, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles. Oh, and countless migraines for quarterbacks and offensive coordinators across the land.

The dynamic duo will once again anchor a defensive front that figures to be just as dominant in 2022, even with the departure of Steven Richardson to the B.C. Lions. Casey Sayles, who stepped up for Richardson in the half season he missed due to injury, contributed with five sacks - third-most on the team. He'll be partnered on the interior with Jake Thomas, who is coming off a year in which he posted four sacks - one of his career best - in a pandemic-shortened CFL season. Ricky Walker, who had a sack and eight tackles in seven games, could also be a tackle to keep an eye on as he heads into his second season.

The front will be impacted depth-wise by the departures of Richardson, as well as Jonathan Kongbo to the Denver Broncos and Thiadric Hansen, who is currently a free agent and uncertain if he is going to continue playing. Tobi Antigha, a veteran depth guy, also left via free agency to hook up again with Chris Jones, this time in Edmonton. Landing promising Canadian tackle Cam Lawson in a trade with the Montreal Alouettes earlier this week certainly helps offset some of those losses.

That said, Blue Bombers personnel types have a proven track record of discovering or drafting talent along the D-line, and any number of the half dozen new faces could begin making an impression when camp opens in a few days. They'll have a high standard to try and meet on the 'Dark Side' defensive front.

TRAINING CAMP 2021 PREVIEW: A LOOK AT THE DEFENSIVE LINE


The Returnees:

DE Willie Jefferson, Jackson Jeffcoat; DT: Jake Thomas*, Casey Sayles, Ricky Walker
CFL free-agent/trade additions: Acquired DT Cam Lawson from Montreal in draft-day trade.
Departed: Steven Richardson (B.C.); Jonathan Kongbo (Denver); Thiadric Hansen, Tobi Antigha (Edm), Ezekiel Rose
2022 CFL Draft picks: Cole Adamson (4th round, 38th overall); Jeremy Kapelanski (6th round, 56th overall).
CFL newcomers: Jordan Berner, L.B. Mack III, Inoke Moala, Cedric Wilcots II, Kenneth Randall, Jojo Wicker

IMPACT NEWCOMER: CAM LAWSON


The Blue Bombers liked him during his draft year, 2020, but only had one pick in the Top 35 and used it on Noah Hallett. And so when the club started talking about a draft-day deal with Montreal earlier this week, Lawson's name came up in a trade that saw Winnipeg ship its first and second-round picks - 9th and 18th overall - to the Als for Lawson and the 13th overall selection.

Lawson provides some experienced depth behind veteran Jake Thomas and should be part of a rotation along the D-front.

X FACTOR: CASEY SALES


Sayles posted a 'quiet' five sacks in 2021 and by that we mean any production along this defensive line was often swallowed up and over-shadowed by the work of Jeffcoat and Jefferson. But Sayles was hardly new to the pro game, having spent time in the NFL, AAF and XFL before arriving in Winnipeg.

If he can grow his game in his second year - as so many players in the past have - the club's interior push could continue to be dominant.

NOTABLE NUMBER: 6

The Bombers kept opposition quarterbacks to under 200 yards passing in six of 14 regular-season games last year. Granted, pass defence relies on all 12 men, but the pressure up front was critical in the unit surrendering an average of just 216.4 yards passing per game - best in the CFL.

https://www.bluebombers.com/2022/05/07/positional-preview-defensive-line-6/
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DM83
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2022, 07:05:42 PM »

Those men are good. I love our D line.  Thomas is an all-star stud Cnadian.  He occupies a couple O linemen, he stuffs his gap, and even gets pressure on the QB.
He came. To one of our practices a couple years ago, and you would be surprised at his size..

The DEnds are the best in Canada.

New guy from Montreal?  No idea.  But Bombers must like him.

LBs second to none.
DBS in place from last year, plus extras.

How can we go wrong?
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2022, 08:14:42 PM »

Those men are good. I love our D line.  Thomas is an all-star stud Cnadian.  He occupies a couple O linemen, he stuffs his gap, and even gets pressure on the QB.
He came. To one of our practices a couple years ago, and you would be surprised at his size..

The DEnds are the best in Canada.

New guy from Montreal?  No idea.  But Bombers must like him.

LBs second to none.
DBS in place from last year, plus extras.

How can we go wrong?
I have met Thomas in person a few times. The guy is not that imposing at all aside from a barrel chest. He must have just great raw strength. No idea on Lawson as well. Hopefully he is worth the pick switch up?

Great LB Corp though Darby could be missed. Hopefully Maston can stay healthy. Briggs I thought was very  good last year.

It will be be interesting to see have all these many Canadian DBs play out? By my court we have 8 deep including the Hallett brothers.

Must be a long term plan to have a starting safety and or corner Canadian.
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Throw Long Bannatyne
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2022, 11:15:47 PM »

I have met Thomas in person a few times. The guy is not that imposing at all aside from a barrel chest. He must have just great raw strength. No idea on Lawson as well. Hopefully he is worth the pick switch up?

Great LB Corp though Darby could be missed. Hopefully Maston can stay healthy. Briggs I thought was very  good last year.

It will be be interesting to see have all these many Canadian DBs play out? By my court we have 8 deep including the Hallett brothers.

Must be a long term plan to have a starting safety and or corner Canadian.

I believe the last Canadian corner that started for the Bombers was Matt Bucknor, can anyone name any Natl. DB's who started in a secondary for other teams, other than at Safety?  They are as rare as hen's teeth, even stretching back to the 70's the only one I can recall is Merv Walker.
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2022, 11:18:51 PM »

Dave Donaldson did for a bit.
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2022, 01:08:09 AM »

Our DL will dominate
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2022, 01:29:50 AM »

That was my impression of Thomas as well.  I figured at his lack of size he must be incredibly strong, quick tough and smart to be as good as he is.  Very motivating for big Canadian kids.
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Blue In BC
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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2022, 11:56:42 AM »

I believe the last Canadian corner that started for the Bombers was Matt Bucknor, can anyone name any Natl. DB's who started in a secondary for other teams, other than at Safety?  They are as rare as hen's teeth, even stretching back to the 70's the only one I can recall is Merv Walker.

D. Sampson was another Bomber that played in Winnipeg before eventually in Ottawa. He was an all star at DHB.

D. Sanchez played safety and CB

D. Donaldson played CB in BC then Winnipeg. Also played as a receiver at times.
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2022, 05:56:34 PM »

D. Sampson was another Bomber that played in Winnipeg before eventually in Ottawa. He was an all star at DHB.

D. Sanchez played safety and CB

D. Donaldson played CB in BC then Winnipeg. Also played as a receiver at times.

Right, still extremely rare, I can't see Hall replacing any of his all-star secondary wth a Natl. though.  Once Alexander returns I bet they'll revert to 5 Imports and adjust the ratio elsewhere, ideally along the D-line. 
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2022, 06:58:17 PM »

It will be interesting to see the dynamic change in SAM/WIL, field and short side CB/HB's and FS...

There are going to be new alignments.. I can see 3 down linemen, 2 Mikes, 2 SAMs as a front 7... with Jefferson/Jeffcoat on the edge, and when they get the doubles, Bighill or Wilson up the middle...

2 SAMs can be Maston / Alexander.. with Ford at FS...

Hall will have a lot of new scheming to do... as will Buck...
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« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2022, 12:47:37 AM »

I believe the last Canadian corner that started for the Bombers was Matt Bucknor, can anyone name any Natl. DB's who started in a secondary for other teams, other than at Safety?  They are as rare as hen's teeth, even stretching back to the 70's the only one I can recall is Merv Walker.

Hakeem Johnson spent some time at field corner for the Lions last season.  Hinds, Bucknor and Stephen all played corner for the Ti-Cats.  Campbell played Cornerback for the Al's.
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Sir Blue and Gold
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« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2022, 02:52:07 PM »

It will be interesting to see the dynamic change in SAM/WIL, field and short side CB/HB's and FS...

There are going to be new alignments.. I can see 3 down linemen, 2 Mikes, 2 SAMs as a front 7... with Jefferson/Jeffcoat on the edge, and when they get the doubles, Bighill or Wilson up the middle...

2 SAMs can be Maston / Alexander.. with Ford at FS...

Hall will have a lot of new scheming to do... as will Buck...

It is absolutely not as big a deal as you're making it. The field size is the same and wide side throw is still far, it's not as far. Defenses still covered that field space before in different ways, and will continue to, because, get this, receivers still ran into that space prior to the moving of the hashmarks. What it will do is put in play that field side receiver a bit more which is usually a token Canadian of varying talent around the league. It's just that now, from the pocket, the pass out that way is a little more doable without rolling out, etc.
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theaardvark
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2022, 03:08:47 PM »

It is absolutely not as big a deal as you're making it. The field size is the same and wide side throw is still far, it's not as far. Defenses still covered that field space before in different ways, and will continue to, because, get this, receivers still ran into that space prior to the moving of the hashmarks. What it will do is put in play that field side receiver a bit more which is usually a token Canadian of varying talent around the league. It's just that now, from the pocket, the pass out that way is a little more doable without rolling out, etc.


When the rule change happened, OC's ad DC's immediately commented on having to make new plans/plays.  Not being able to "hide" a weak NAT WR or your weakest DB out in the boonies changes the game.  Scheming to take advantage of that, and the difference of which LB's are dropping into coverage makes a big difference, and things like jet sweeps change, the whole dynamic of the field changes. 

Will teams be able to continue with the current playbook and be effective?  Sure, depending on their level of talent.  Will OC's and DC's who use this change to modify their playbooks gain an advantage?  You bet...
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2022, 03:19:04 PM »

When the rule change happened, OC's ad DC's immediately commented on having to make new plans/plays.  Not being able to "hide" a weak NAT WR or your weakest DB out in the boonies changes the game.  Scheming to take advantage of that, and the difference of which LB's are dropping into coverage makes a big difference, and things like jet sweeps change, the whole dynamic of the field changes. 

Will teams be able to continue with the current playbook and be effective?  Sure, depending on their level of talent.  Will OC's and DC's who use this change to modify their playbooks gain an advantage?  You bet...

There will be some adjusting but we see won't a huge increase in 3-4 defenses with 2 middle linebackers, which was your suggestion. The field side receiver will still be the 'weakest' one in every single sense of the word on most plays. It is still the hardest/furthest throw and the further downfield you go the longer it gets with more reaction time for the defense. Field side corner has never been a place where defenses could hide anyone with a lot of regularity or success.
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2022, 03:53:41 PM »

I don't know about the real-world implications, but Aards is right, several big-wigs commented on the hash change in the draft TSN show and other web pressers (including our own).

I think it was C.Jones that specifically mentioned it causing big changes and teams moving to having in essence 2 "SAMs".  Also, thoughts about putting 4 receivers to one side.  And the idea of there being no "strong side" anymore.

I'm not entirely convinced, but it was interesting to hear their thoughts.
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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2022, 06:41:25 PM »

Went to the Blue Bomber store today to get some Merchandise  and boom there was Big Willie J. Looking quite fit and primed to go I must say. He kindly signed my 108 GC champs hat. He said Lawson is a big man in person.
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