The Cleveland Browns Draft Phil Taylor: What does it mean for our defensive scheme?

There is one thing that really jumps out at you when you are looking at Phil Taylor, and that's obviously his size. Taylor wasn't rated highly on draft boards (26th on ESPN's) because of his outstanding quickness, he was rated that highly because of that size.

Taylor is huge, a good athlete for his size, and he's a nightmare for the OL in the running game. So where does he fit in our defense? And what does this pick mean for our defense? Take a look below the jump for my hypotheses.

Possible scenarios for the Cleveland Browns 2011 Defense:

 

1. We will run a 4-3 in the style similar to Dick Jauron's Tampa-2 a la his coaching stint with the Buffalo Bills, and Athya Rubin is on his way out of a starting role

Jauron previously ran a "Tampa-2" in Buffalo, a defense which requires 3 key players to be successful:

  • A disruptively quick, penetrating 3 technique (think Warren Sapp) who can rush the passer from the DT position
  • A great pass rushing DE. Between this guy and the 3-tech, the Tampa-2 wants to be able to get pressure on the QB with 4 defensive linemen
  • A smart, athletic MLB

Both Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor are best in the 1-technique role in this defense. Neither is a quick, penetrating 3-tech. Because of this, I believe that if we played a "Tampa-2," Rubin would be on his way out of the starting lineup or off of the team. Considering many believe that Rubin is a young, talented player I do not think this scenario is ideal.

 

2. We will run a 3-4, where both Rubin and Taylor can play at the same time.

A 3-4 uses big, two-gapping linemen. In both Romeo and Mangini's defenses, we saw two linemen over 330lbs on the field together a solid % of the time.

I wouldn't be entirely happy with this scenario, either. Don't get me wrong, I love a good 3-4 defense.

But coaches always run what they know for a reason--especially in the NFL. When opposing coaches are pulling all-nighters looking for ways to attack what you do, you have to know your scheme inside out. You have to how people will attack you and what adjustments to make. Then you have to know the adjustments to the adjustments. And you have to know all of this well before gameday--if not before the season.

Would Jauron be able to deviate from his previous experiences as a head coach, learn a 3-4 defense to that kind of depth, and trust himself on gameday? The thought doesn't exactly comfort me.

 

3. We will run a 4-3, but not a true Tampa-2, and we'll utilize both Rubin and Taylor at the same time.

This is my favorite scenario.

  • The first rule of winning in the AFC North is you must stop the run. The second rule of winning in the AFC North is you must stop the run.
  • Jauron has some experience running this type of defense with the Chicago Bears. He used Ted Washington (6'14", weight unknown) and Keith Traylor (6'2", 340) at the same time. 
  • This type of defense has been successful for other defenses in the history of the NFL, as Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa were used in a similar fashion for those f*&^@ that stole our team the Baltimore Ravens in 2000.
  • The "two NT" route would involve either aligning both at 2-techniques right over the OG and leaving the Center uncovered, or aligning them at the usual 1- and 3-technique pair. Either way, the goal would be to tie up interior linemen, clog the middle from B gap to B gap with just two players, and get speed and athleticism at other positions to flow to the ball.
  • I like this strategy because it allows us to play a 4-3 that Jauron is comfortable with, yet would create the possibility of bringing pressure from any- and everywhere. With bigger interior players, we could afford less run stopping/more pass rushing everywhere else. We could drop DEs into coverage and rush LBs. We could rush all of them. We could drop all of them. We could continue to bring the secondary on blitzes. If we do it right, it could be awesome.

Here is a clip of the two monster Chicago DTs and how they functioned against double teams in 2002:


 
In the above video, look at how little two OL are able to drive the DTs backward on the runs. Schematically, an offense will count a double-team as a slam dunk at the point of attack. When you can play two monster DTs like this, the double-teams don't move the defense, and they turn into a big clog right where the offense wants to go.

Huge h/t to Brophy (who writes a phenomenal blog) for the video.

 

Picking a nose tackle is never flashy, but smart teams and coaches build a defense inside-out for a reason. A great nose can mean everything to a defense.

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