Was Young’s hit enough to win the position battle?
You all know I love skills player positions, but today I will not focus there. We’re heading to the LBs folks! “CJ Mosely left a huge void in our defense.” This heartbreak was the storyline all offseason and trying to figure out who would be the next man up was a puzzle of a question for Ravens Nation. However, I believe the team had confidence in the depth the entire time. When looking at the depth chart, two players come to mind for the position. Chris Board and Kenny Young are competing for the job beside Patrick (Peanut) Onwuasor. There can only be one “highlander” or in this case, “Sam” Linebacker. Who will it be?
We all saw the explosive play that shook Ravens Nation the other night. The former UCLA player exploded though the A Gap untouched to take Gardner Minshew’s soul away. That backup QB will remember for this hit for the rest of his life!
OH MY 🤭
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) August 9, 2019
What are coaches looking for?
Ok, we remember the hit but what else happened in this position battle? I guess to look at the battle we have to know what we are looking for. The “Sam” Linebacker has a few responsibilities that we need to break down. First, they need to know where to line up. Sure we look at the field and see them right next to the “Mike”, but there is more to it than just sitting beside him. “Sam” stands for Strong as in the strong side of the field. Will stands for the weak side of the field. I felt that needed to be broken down before going any further.
Where do they need to be?
Anyway, to be efficient in this position, you would need to line up on the strong side of the field about eight yards off the line of scrimmage in front of the TE. However, if there is no TE then you’ll need to line up around the same distance but in between where the end of the D line is and where the slot receiver is. You want to be in a position to stop a pass but also stuff the run.
Now that you know what the two are supposed to do, here is how they both did in the first preseason game.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Displayed discipline in zones at times. Young had good coverage of HBs coming out of the backfield when it was his assignment. Additionally, I feel that by covering the middle and deterring the QB, he was a significant part of Cyrus Jones’ pick-six. Young showed he was able to seal off the edge against the run, pushing the ball-carrier back toward the middle. The 24-year-old was able to switch to “mike” without too much of a difference in the overall defensive makeup.
Cons: There were times where the second-year player was caught looking into the backfield, which caused him to be late to the ball. Hesitation is a concern when it comes to hitting the gap. Sure, the booming hit was nice, but it was a clean penetration. What I noticed during games was our friend getting gobbled up by guards and centers and not being able to be part of the tackle/sack when running downhill.
Young will improve with more reps because his confidence will grow. Hopefully, he works on eliminating the hesitation and shoots the gap with the same speed he did on the big sack. His 4-Tackles on the night lead the defense.
Pros: Discipline is Board’s major strength. When the ball was not on his side or the QB was in a scramble, #49 managed to stay committed to the area/man he was responsible for. The Orlando Florida Native also shot his gaps forcing the RB to bounce outside on a couple of plays. When Board hits a hole, the run shuts down. What I love most about Board is his intuitive nature. You could see him anticipating the run and moving to fill the gap just before the snap.
Cons: There were times in the first quarter where former Bison allowed a RB to stall him on a couple blitzes. I also saw him line up right in front of the TE and did not even bother chipping him on his way to cover the RB. Board also has trouble getting swallowed up by guards when he’s not crashing downhill against the run.
This battle, according to the team, is Board’s to lose but don’t think the team isn’t taking into consideration Young’s highlight. Unfortunately, they have to look at the entire body of work. I look forward to more of this position battle as the preseason goes forward.