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So, let’s just say that this isn’t the year for Brandon Mebane to start his inevitable decline.
At this middle stage of the pre-season, I couldn’t have less confidence in the defensive tackle position than I do right now. Granted, I understand this team employs a lot of 3-4 schemes, but those schemes are primarily on passing downs, in nickel situations. The base defense is strictly 4-3. This is what you see on those first drives where the defense is getting murdered up and down the field. Dinked & Dunked 2 Death, as I like to call it.
When this defense is at its best, the three big guys (Mebane, Bryant, & whoever shakes out in our search for a 3-Technique defensive tackle) are clogging up lanes, getting push up field, and letting our linebackers and LEO ends take care of business. This really requires there to be no weak link between the big guys in this scenario. Considering this team is REALLY struggling to fill that 3-Tech role (with McDaniel thus far unable to play or practice thanks to injury, with rookie Jesse Williams being overmatched thanks to injury and being a rookie, with rookie Jordan Hill being more of a pass-rush 3-Tech than a run-stuffing 3-Tech, and with the rest of our tackles being non-descript at best), the onus on this D-Line is going to fall on the combination of Mebane and Bryant.
So, I say again, this is NOT the year for Brandon Mebane to start his inevitable decline (“inevitable” in the sense that decline is inevitable for every athlete, not to say I’m unnecessarily knocking the guy; I generally like Mebane and always have).
Red Bryant has always had a tough time staying healthy. Which, really, comes with the territory. Big, over-weight dude, plays along the line where you’re just getting attempted murdered on every play; I don’t understand how ANYONE stays healthy for a full season, truth be told. Mebane, however, has been relatively healthy throughout his career. He’s been our rock. And if this team is going to do what it hopes to do on defense again this year, he’s going to have to be our rock again. Because what’s behind Mebane isn’t necessarily inspiring a world of confidence. Clinton McDonald? God, I guess …