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Green Bay Packers and Defending the Read Option

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Ogsponge, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. Ogsponge

    Ogsponge Cheesehead

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    So after watching the shoutbox on Sunday and speaking with numerous friends and acquaintances over the past couple of days who erroneously believe that "Clay got fooled over and over again on the read option" I thought I would post this because there seems to be a large amount of people who have no idea what the read option is or how it is defended. I also apologize if I come across as condescending but it is obvious to me that there is a decent sized group of people that have literally no clue what they are talking about when it comes to the read option, so without further adieu...

    1. I will start by saying if people want to say that Clay does not look like the same player this year as in previous years, I completely agree with that.

    2. The defense is always at a disadvantage in football because they are reacting to the play vs. executing a play. In other words, the offense has an advantage because they know what they are going to do and the defense has to react to that.

    3. In a somewhat contradictory statement, the defense is normally at an advantage because they typically get to play 11 vs. 10 as they do not have to account for most quarterbacks so that helps to nullify the above advantage.

    4. The read option was created for the sole purpose of allowing athletic QB's to nullify the normal 11 vs. 10 advantage the defense has and turn any given play into a 11 vs. 11 which in turn gives the advantage to the offense because they know what they are doing and the defense must react.

    5. In the read option the offense is ALWAYS going to leave one player unblocked (creating a 11 vs. 11 play where the unblocked player has to decide if he is attacking the ball carrier or the QB), the offense knows exactly which player is going to be unblocked. The QB then decides what he is going to do by READING the unblocked player. If the unblocked player attacks the running back, the QB will run, if the unblocked player attacks the QB, he will hand it off.

    6. This is the most important statement I can make about defending the read option that all of you "Clay got fooled over and over again" people need to truly understand, it is IMPOSSIBLE for one player to defend the read option. It flat out cannot be done which is why the offense was created in the first place.

    7. I am sure most of you probably know this but just in case you don't, defensive players are assigned "gaps" on plays. The middle linebacker may be assigned zone coverage on a pass but if it is run play they may be assigned the B gap. The gaps are:

    A - between the center and guards
    B - between the guards and tackles
    C - between the tackles and tight ends
    D - outside the tight ends
    E - between the outside of the tight ends and the wideouts - think naked bootlegs, jet sweeps, and bubble screens, these are examples of plays that attack the E gap.

    8. One of the easiest things to do when defending the read option is to completely nullify one part of the read option which was explained in #5, the unblocked player simply attacks one of the options and that option is nullified.

    9. One big component of defending the read option is also penetration by the front 7 attacking and getting through their assigned gaps, this is especially important when the unblocked player shows the ultimate discipline by covering the D gap and nullifying the QB run.

    10. Defending the read option requires complete and total discipline by all 11 players on the defensive side of the ball, this is something the Packers are sorely lacking when it comes to defense.

    Okay so now that I have that simple basics out of the way let's talk about Sunday's game. There were two times where Clay crashed down the line effectively eliminating the running back by nullifying the A, B & C gaps to his side. This is exactly what should be done. But guess what? No one on the defense bothered to react and cover the D gap on those first two plays which led to one big gain for the dolphins and one ridiculous gain for the Dolphins. Clay cannot defend the A, B, C and D gaps all at the same time. With Clay crashing, that responsibility should have fallen to either Hawk or HaHa but neither of them were to be found.

    Now, after getting completely burned, Clay realized he can no longer attack the ball carrier because none of his teammates did their jobs by covering the D gap. So on all subsequent plays he rushed up field, showing complete discipline by covering the D gap, which leads to the QB handing the ball off which also lead to some really good running plays for the Dolphins because of the lack of discipline by the rest of the team. The rest of the team got pushed out of their gaps, got sucked into the wrong gaps and did not get penetration at all. So again, at this point, Clay is doing exactly what he should have been doing and the failure fell on the rest of the team.

    So there you have it, I am all done, there is so much more that can be done by both the offense and the defense when it comes to the read option. I gave you the absolute least amount I felt I could give you to give some education about the read option and look how long the post is. I highly suggest all of you in the "Clay got fooled" camp Google "defending the read option" and do some more in depth reading about this so you can stop sounding foolish when you blame the failures on defending the read option on Sunday as "Clay got fooled" because you simply could not be more wrong.

    The true statement is, The Green Bay Packers got fooled over and over again because most of the team does not understand how to defend the read option.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014
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  2. Twiddlemylobes

    Twiddlemylobes Fat Tuesday Orleans

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    Thanks that was good. I found that informative cause the only "read option" I understood was the one in detention after school. I agree and I'm going on a hunch here ... if we had 4 Clay Mathews at LB we wouldn't be having this conversation.
     
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  3. Carl

    Carl Cheesehead

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    Strongly agree about regarding Clay when the Dolphins ran the read option a few times in the red zone on a second half drive. He did exactly what he was supposed to do and remained outside to play the QB. The inside guys are supposed to cover the RB if it's handed to him and they were nowhere to be found.

    Very informative and good post.
     
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  4. NOMOFO

    NOMOFO Cheesehead

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    I agree...but I would love to have somebody on this team that could consistently set the edge like an all-pro.

    In watching the 49ers all game yesterday, I saw it all game long.

    It's one thing to keep position and containment. It's another thing to blow up the play and/or at least take up one blocker. That almost never happens with the Packers these days. We're lucky if they force the guy inside. We're even luckier if we even get a hand on the runner...and almost never does that guy make a play.

    Watch the good teams play and you'll see guys pushing blockers back into the runner from the edge... you see them squirting around the block to make a tackle... you see them totally jump the play and force the runner to change direction. We seldom get any of that from our defense. It goes back to what somebody said in another thread. You have to do your job first and then trust the guy next to you to do his.
     
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  5. Forget Favre

    Forget Favre Cheesehead

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    That does it.
    Football is too complicated. :confused:
    I'm going back to baseball which is much more simple and doesn't have all these details.
     
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  6. El Guapo

    El Guapo Cheesehead

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    Here is my general breakdown of Miami running the ball when it involved the right OLB:

    On the first drive, 2nd down at the 40, Matthews played the read-option. When he diagnosed the read option he slowed his attack to find the ball carrier but was too far inside to react. He had tons of help on the inside including Hawk and Burnett at the second level. There was no help as the CB was engaged with the receiver. I would imagine that a disciplined defense would have the OLB guard against any play going to the edge, forcing either the RB or QB to go inside.

    In the 2nd Quarter on 1st & 10 from the 27 when Lamarr Miller was thrown back for a 10 yard loss, Brad Jones went up against the LT. The RB tried to bounce outside but Jones was controlling his gap. Miller then went back inside where Hawk and Perry spun him around and eventually tackled him. Good discipline and gap control on the right edge.

    At 7:57 in the 2nd Quarter on 2nd & 10 from the 32, Matthews set the edge perfectly against a designed run to the left where the center and guard pulled. Matched up against an tackle-eligible at TE, Matthews set the outside edge where Brad Jones at Letroy Guion made the tackle for one yard.

    On the well-remembered big run by Tannehill on 2nd & 5 at the start of the 3rd quarter, Clay crashed down on the RB and Tramon Williams took a terrible angle (probably underestimating the QB's speed). Brad Jones read the RB the entire way and took himself out of the play. Burnett reacted very slow to the read option, probably not able to see the play, and was 20 yards away from the ball before charging towards the wrong side of the field. Shields was nearby by never ran hard until after Tannehill was past him. Clearly most of the defense screwed up that play. Matthews was only one of many not reading it correctly. Hyde was the only one to make the play and he was responsible for the outside WR.

    At 13:38 in the 3rd quarter on 1st & 10 from the 14, Moreno got the handoff and Matthews held the outside edge on a designed run up the middle. He had no real effect except that he showed discipline by snuffing out any potential bounces to the outside.

    At the start of the 4th quarter on 2nd & 10 from the 25 yard line, Miami ran another read-option play. Matthews played the QB and forced the hand-off to the inside. Daniels got moved out of his gap and Hawk, inexplicably, dove at the left tackle's legs five yards away from the play, effectively taking himself out of it. This was another good example of setting the edge. The help should have been there but we didn't execute and allowed a 11 yard gain. Burnett made the tackle but Matthews still chased him down from behind.

    On the next play it was the same thing. Clay played the outside and this time the entire defense flowed left. Brad Jones was the one this time to run into the LT Albert. Hyde was in the area but slow reacting. Again Burnett made the tackle once Miller got down to the 5 yard line.

    On the next play, Miami ran the same misdirection play as the previous two but this time ran right up the gut.

    At 11:55 in the 4th quarter on 1st & 10 from the 46 yard line, Tannehill ran the read-option with Nick Perry on the right side. Despite Perry crashing on the RB from the start, Tannehill handed off to Miller. Had Tannehill kept the ball the only defender on the entire left side of the field was Hayward in coverage. Five yard gain.

    At 3:22 remaining in the game, Miami ran out of the shotgun. Peppers rushed from the right side and pulled up as the running back encountered traffic. The RB recognized this and decided to plunge straight ahead where Peppers then made the tackle after Miller danced around in the backfield. Great discipline.

    At 3:10 remaining in the game on 1st & 10 from the 35 yard line, Miami ran another read-option. Peppers crashed hard to the inside and got blown back by the guard. Luckily Tannehill handed off to Miller and Clinton-Dix came up quickly to make a stop for minimal gain.

    Two plays later on the critical 3rd & 9, the Packers blitzed hard to the right side which is where Miami ran the ball on a sweep. Clinton-Dix occupied the LT while Hyde broke through to slow Miller down in the backfield. Clinton-Dix and a host of others stopped Miller due to a sheer overload to the right side.

    After re-watching the game, it seemed that Miami ran most of its running plays to the right side and all of its read-options to the right. At some point around the end of the 3rd, start of the 4th quarter Capers swapped Matthews and Peppers. With Peppers on the right side Miami ran less read-options and was less successful on the ones that they did try.
     
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  7. TJV

    TJV Lifelong Packers Fanatic

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    First, I agree Clay hasn’t been the impact player he’s been in the past this season and also that his “poor play” has been exaggerated by some this season. The OP was a good description of the read option but IMO the problem with it is it lets Clay off the hook too easily. Here’s the video of Tannehill’s 40 yarder:
    http://www.packers.com/media-center...yard-run/af99add1-2d0c-4c2a-8da8-0bb99bed7e4a

    NOMOFO hit on it: One player had the responsibility to set the edge on that play. IMO when you look at this play in particular either Clay or Brad Jones had contain responsibility on the right edge of the defense. The Dolphins have three receivers wide to the right of the Packers’ D and the Packers have three DBs out to cover them. Certainly no DB had contain responsibility on that play. Of the front seven, Clay is widest right and Jones is next, behind him.
    This just isn’t true. Watch the play – Clay runs into an OG – he certainly doesn’t have the A gap covered (he’s got the B gap covered because the OT leaves him unblocked to get to the next level). And except in the case of a stunt, IMO Clay would never have A gap responsibility from where he’s lined up on that play. In the past when Clay has made plays by running parallel to the LOS he’s done so as a great pursuit play, not because that was his gap responsibility. (Imagine him lined up where he is on this play and having A gap responsibility from behind the LOS!) Either Clay or Jones have contain responsibility on this play. I can’t say for certain which one does – both are fooled by the fake – but one is guilty and if I had to guess I’d guess it’s Clay. But certainly the entire defense isn’t at fault for that play. BTW, Hawk would have had a clear shot at the RB if Tannehill had handed it off.
     
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  8. gatorpack

    gatorpack Cheesehead

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    The rest of the Lbs are to slow to run over and cover the D gaps. Why should Clay be crashing inside when he knows he wont have help outside? I think most people dont like that fact that Clay seems to end up 10 yds in the backfield behind both the QB and RB. Or he undercuts the play and it goes outside where there is only a Cb getting blocked by a wr and a S deep.
     
  9. Twiddlemylobes

    Twiddlemylobes Fat Tuesday Orleans

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    Boy. You ain't kiddin. And here I was thinking all along there can only be 5nickle packages in a quarter
     
  10. Twiddlemylobes

    Twiddlemylobes Fat Tuesday Orleans

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    :tup:
    At a boy. That's a preponderance of evidence pointing towards Clay on that one. Not even to mention at end of that play he throws his fists in frustration because he was just had. He was physically outrun by the QB. Nice homework TJV. I don't wanna even wanna mess with you anymore. If I ever need counsel would you be on my team?:tup:
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2014
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  11. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    I agree with TJV that the OP lets Clay off the hook way too easily. The best way to defend the read option is for everyone to contain his assigned gap. Clay simply doesn´t do that enough as he tries to make a big play more often than not. I´ve seen a lot of players being criticized on the forum for losing containment, I think it´s fair to do the same to the highest paid LB in the league.
     
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  12. PikeBadger

    PikeBadger Cheesehead

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    So ......... Now I feel very over-educated about all this read option stuff. Do we need smarter and more disciplined defenders, or better coaches? Or both? Perhaps draft players that have seen a lot of read option in college and shown they are disciplined as well as talented?

    Or just fire Capers?
     
  13. NOMOFO

    NOMOFO Cheesehead

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    I'm honestly starting to think it's coaching. There is simply no way that year after year under Capers we're a horrible tackling team. If it was just a few guys that would be one thing but it's an entire team. Like I said earlier, just watching much of the rest of the NFL, it's night and day compared to the Packers.
     
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  14. El Guapo

    El Guapo Cheesehead

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    Ogsponge is 100% correct about the main advantage of the read-option, it truly makes the QB a player that needs to be accounted for by a defender. That defender can play the read-option two ways:

    1) Pick either the QB or RB and go balls deep into making the tackle

    2) Shade to the outside, attack with patience, and thereby make the play on the QB or force the play inside towards your help.

    It is impossible for one person to defend the read-option alone, but that's why you force the play back inside to your help.
     
  15. El Guapo

    El Guapo Cheesehead

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    Clinton-Dix has displayed a good nose for making tackles. In the third quarter against Miami, he was probably playing too far off the ball (admittedly I don't know his assignment) but he flew in and put a big lick on Miami's RB. I took a still shot of the tackle. I remembered the play well because the RB got the first down and Clinton-Dix pounded the turf after making the play, showing his disgust. It was a great tackle though on a RB going full speed:

    Dix.jpg
     
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  16. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Another thing I don't understand is why none of our players hits the QB when he's acting as a runner although handing the ball off to the RB.
     
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  17. Ogsponge

    Ogsponge Cheesehead

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    Nice response, I am going to try and address some things you said



    For the record I am not trying to let Clay off the hook, and Clay may very well have blown his assignment on that play, that being said (and generally speaking) the unblocked player in the read option defense does not have an actual assignment, the unblocked player is generally the "Quarterback" of the defense and he must make a decision as to what he is going to do and the rest of the team must react. That being said, I am obviously not privy to the call in the huddle or how the Packers handle the read option other than to realize they do not handle it remotely right.




    This pretty good insight but let's dissect this play a little bit. To begin, if you pause this just before the snap, the Packers are either in Cover 1 or some very strange variation of cover 2 man with Tramon Williams actually playing as a safety. It is kind of hard to tell because Tramon and Burnett are not quite lined up right for a cover 2 read, Burnett is actually lined up closer to cover 1 but not quite right for that either. I am leaning towards the fact that it was cover 2 man as Tramon drops nearly 5 yards at the snap. Anyway, they are in man defense of some sort. Man defense is generally an absolutely horrible defense against the read option. Any good read option team will be salivating when they see man defense. Okay so if you pause the video right at the snap, this will tell you everything you need to know about this play:


    1. The offense is showing exactly what they are going to do on this play by the fact that left tackle is leaving Clay unblocked and moving in the 2nd level to block which is of course not allowed on passing plays so everyone on the packers should know this is going to be a run.

    2. I truly do not believe Clay had gap assignment on this play, he has to make a decision and he has chosen to attack the ball carrier.

    3. Tramon and Brad Jones should at this point realize this is run play and in this defense Tramon (as the safety in zone) absolutely has the responsibility of reading the play, and moving up to fill the D gap (the safety in an zone play needs to read the play and react to the run), instead it takes him another second and a half to 2 seconds to read the play and react. He dropped nearly 5 yards before reacting properly. In my opinion Tramon with his bad read, bad reaction, and horrible angle is at least 85% responsible for this play.

    I believe 10% lies with brad jones as he too should have seen run, seen Clay crashing and he should have scraped to the outside. If you watch the play unfold, Jones end up completely on the other side of the far hash mark from his starting point. He made a bad read and got completely pushed out of position.

    The other 5% lays on Clay's shoulders for trusting the rest of the team to make the right reads and to cover the D gap.


    You said this in reference to me saying that Clay crashed down the line effectively closing the A,B & C gaps on his side. And on this I think you are misunderstanding me. You are correct in saying he does not have the A gap covered on this play and also in saying he would not have A gap responsibility on this play. However, when I made my statement I was not suggesting he has them covered I was suggesting he has closed the gaps because as soon as Tannehill seem him coming down the line, he pulls the ball away from the RB so he can take off running.


    I was never saying that Clay was so awesome that he covered all 3 gaps, I was saying because he came down the line it causes the QB to hand off which "eliminates" all the gaps the running back could hit. I stand by what I said, the only thing Clay was guilty of on this play was trusting his other teammates to do the right thing. If the unblocked player crashes the line he has to know the rest of the team is going to do the right thing. It was this exact play where he realized the rest of the team was not going to do the right thing and started playing contain on the D gap on all subsequent plays.
     
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  18. Carl

    Carl Cheesehead

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    I've been digging online, but can't find anything.

    Anyone know a site that lists missed tackle stats?
     
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  19. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    PFF does, has the Packers at 51 for the season. Peppers, Lattimore, Brad Jones, Williams and Hayward share the team lead with 5 each.
     
  20. Carl

    Carl Cheesehead

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    How does that 51 compare to the rest of the league?
     
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  21. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    The Packers are 25th in the league with 8.5 missed tackles per game. San Francisco leads the league with 4.17, New Orleans is dead last with 10.6.
     
  22. NOMOFO

    NOMOFO Cheesehead

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    It is absolutely obvious when watching the Niners. ...and like I said earlier, it looks to me with them like it's all about scheme and trusting the guy next to you and going all in. They shoot holes and flat out pop runners. It is night and day compared to the Packers.
     
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  23. TJV

    TJV Lifelong Packers Fanatic

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    Thank goodness you’re not letting Clay off the hook: After all you find him 5% responsible for trusting his teammates! That reminds me of a politician when asked what is his biggest weakness answers, “I work too hard”. Seriously I don’t mean to make light of your post, but you teed that up pretty well!

    IMO you are missing the one crucial element needed to defend that play well: setting the edge on the right side of the defense. We agree we don’t know whose responsibility it is, but certainly on every 2nd and 5 play two defenders are assigned the responsibility to set the edge on each end of the defense.

    The reason for the unusual alignment of the Packers D is the Dolphins 3 WRs to the left of their formation. Hyde, who we would usually assume is the second safety (with C-D’s absence), is lined up directly over the WR on the LOS, with House and Williams 4 and 5 yards behind the LOS respectively. Williams is closest to the play but his first responsibility on the play has to be covering one of the 3 WRs or some combination of man and zone covering those WRs since Burnett is in the deep middle. It certainly can’t be Williams’ responsibility to set the edge vs. a run as that would leave one of the WRs wide open. Or he would leave two WRs to block two CBs on a WR screen. Also he’s too far away to set the edge unless he runs toward Clay’s position at the snap, which he doesn’t do. If it were his responsibility from where he was the O is almost assured of a first down. Williams is guilty of taking a bad angle but that’s it IMO – he’s the least responsible of himself, Clay and Jones.
    I disagree. When defending the read option the unblocked player should be coached to tackle either the QB or RB. Clay did neither of those things; he didn’t even ‘effectively eliminate the running back’ – the RB continues the fake to the other side of the OC where Hawk is waiting for him.

    If it were Jones’ responsibility to set the edge, I think he would have reacted more quickly to where Clay was lined up at the snap. Here’s what I think happened: When Philbin watched tape of the Packers he noticed how often Clay aggressively pursues down the line of scrimmage on runs going away from him. He probably figured the Packers wouldn’t be prepared for the play as they (hopefully) would be against a QB known more for running. Clay, as he has done in the past attempted to run the RB down by aggressively pursuing inside. It's not that he does so thinking another teammate will cover his responsibility to contain, it's that he does so assuming the play is going the other way and he can chase the RB down from behind. In McGinn’s review of the game, after noting Clay was only doubled on two of his sixteen individual rushes he wrote, “He also played the zone read worse than the other OLBs. Tannehill's 40-yard sprint should have been Matthews' play.” I agree.
     
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  24. PikeBadger

    PikeBadger Cheesehead

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    That's a lot for Lattimore, Jones and especially Hayward. None have probably played half the defensive snaps this year.
     
  25. captainWIMM

    captainWIMM Cheesehead

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    Lattimore at least has 30 total tackles (17 solo) while Hayward only has 15 (10 solo). I don´t even want to talk about Jones who has only 6 tackles (3 solo).
     

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