I have followed/read APC for 2 years or so now, but this is my first time posting… so take it easy. But the point I wanted to bring up was that of "moving" Clay to the inside linebacker position. I am sure some have thought of this, and maybe there has been discussion on here, but I just haven’t seen much.
The thoughts I have behind this are that it will allow us to get our best players/athletes on the field. I don’t know who would be replaceable (Jones/Hawk), but do feel that Clay would be a major upgrade over either. It would then allow us to start Perry at one OLB and either Neal/Peppers/Bradford at the other, depending on if we are in an Elephant formation or not.
I am sure that many people will argue that Clay will not be as effective from the ILB spot, but I would strongly disagree with that. Maybe not being as effective simply means that his sack numbers will decrease. While this would happen, I do believe that it would make our defense better as a whole unit. So if all Clay cares about are his numbers, then he might not be up for it, but I think he is more of a team-first kind of guy. Clay has excellent vision and instincts to play the position, as well as good speed. He can make all the plays that are needed from an ILB, and flow side-to-side with ease. He may not be the best in coverage, but he can’t be worse than Hawk, Jones is a decent coverage LB (not sure if he is better than Clay though). And when he is asked to blitz from the middle, I can see him being pretty effective. Not only because he is already a great blitzer, but also due to the attention being paid to the outside rushers.
While it isn’t as likely, at least this year, it could lead to a starting ILB duo of Clay and the rookie Bradford. This would make it so that we have more athletic (and faster?) players on the inside, which is what McCarthy was preaching all offseason. One possible formation I could see being utilized is their "Psycho" package, or something along the lines of that. Picture the following lineup for the front 7:
On the line- Jones, Daniels, Peppers
OLB- Perry and Neal ILB- Matthews and Bradford
Just think of all the combinations you could have with those 7 out there. They could all be standing up, or any of them could possibly have their hand in the ground for a traditional D-line look. The Offense would have no idea who would be rushing, since all of them are, at least, average pass rushers.
I know I have said a lot, but it all kind of went together well. I would love to get some feedback from the APC community. Discussion in 3…2…1…