spoiler alert: i linked this
Chait not a big fan of our inside linebackers
Jon Chait is a smart man.
The hardest thing to figure out is how we got here. There are enough bodies and enough experience at inside linebacker that the group ought to be able to field functional players at every position. Coaches don't always play the best players - they're not infallible - but they usually do. If a group of Ezeh, Mark Moundros, Kenny Demens and J.B. Fitzgerald can't produce one decent middle linebacker, then either Michigan has had an extraordinarily unlucky run of recruiting busts, the wrong player is starting, or the position coaching leaves much to be desired.
Not the most comforting statement I have read in a while
But there must be something that he is overlooking. Perhaps someone will step up in the middle of the season, or Obi will improve
I dont think a guy that is in his 4th year is going to improve much. If this was his 2nd year, maybe. Ezeh just isn't very good and it won't change now.
Safe to say he's not part of an exclusive club or anything.
Chait can see, think.
And reiterate what we already know.
that we have the equivalent of Nick Sheridan at MLB...Ezeh, as with Sheridan, is a likeable guy, and that's about the best thing you can say about either of them as football players.
I think you're wrong.
I'm not asking that in a fight-y sort of way. You know more about football than I do...
Sheridan was handicapped by his lack of physical abilities (speed, arm strength, size, etc.). Ezeh has all the physical tools to be a really good MLB; he is handicapped by an inability to read, diagnose, and react to play.
However, you are correct that both possess that certain "AAARRRGGG WTF" factor in abundance.
I think he gets a bad rap. I commented about this in the UFR discussion, but I think Brian expects Ezeh to be Superman. When Ezeh fails to leap tall offensive guards with a single bound and fill a gap faster than a speeding bullet, Brian says "Bench him" and thousands of readers agree like lemmings because they don't know better and Brian's analysis sounds like it makes sense.
Brian does a good job with the UFR overall, but it's harsh on the linebackers, especially the MIKE.
I think Brian's concern is less that Ezeh isn't Superman, and more that on plenty of plays, Ezeh appears to do very little after the snap other than wait for a blocker to come and hit him. The plays he highlighed at the end of yesterday's UFR seem to bear that out. Perhaps those plays aren't a fairly representative sample, but in those, Ezeh doesn't appear to be doing very much of anything.
I'm certainly willing to defer to your judgment because you know far more about the intracacies of linebacker play than I do, but is that analysis incorrect? As far as you can tell, is Ezeh doing what is asked of him in the current system?
At the same time though. When the coaches are benching him in favor of a converted Fullback, on top of the carousel that was last year at the position, there has to be something to what he is saying.
It's his inability to shed blocks and tackle effectively. I mean, when MM had the RB stationary behind the LOS and Obi flew in and straight-up MISSED him... and then the guy slithers away for a 5 yard gain instead of a 3-yard loss? That was painful to watch. Most good ILBs are mean SOBs who love contact. Mouton kinda fits that description. Sorry, but OBi looks soft out there. No fire in his belly.
...but his assessment is pretty accurate: Ezeh is not a good Mike. There is no way you can look objectively at the way he plays and conclude otherwise.
Ezeh is only good if the play is easy to read, such as on a traditional stretch play, and he only has to sprint inside-out and get to the ball; or when he's blitzing. Great athlete, great guy, great person, not a great football player. I'm good with that.
He is a fine young man, a true Michigan Man. Smart, polite, a great representative of the school.
But not a good ILB right NOW. I will cry tears of joy if the light bulb goes on for him, because man, what a great kid.
Steve Sharik v. Magnus.
Did someone say FOOTBALL NERD FIGHT?!?
you had better hope they don't combine forces and fight you for calling them nerds.
It's like the 2 biggest kids rumbling after school! I get to stand in the crowd and egg them on again!! FIGHT!FIGHT!FIGHT!FIGHT!
Oh by the way, Magnus said you're a pussy and wants to meet you after school
I'm not making the argument that Ezeh is a GOOD linebacker. He's not.
But he's also not as bad as many are making him out to be. He gets blamed for a lot of things he shouldn't.
...where Craig Ross (who has almost no football knowledge) gets to go on the radio and say "Banks went the wrong way a few times," and a lot of casual fans will take him at his word (if Brian weren't there to correct him) I'll definitely buy what you said here:
He gets blamed for a lot of things he shouldn't.
You've hit the nail on the head.
Brian first of all has to realize that even Steve Sharik himself (the guy who knows more about defense than all of us put together and by a mile) has said it is IMPOSSIBLE to look at a video and PREDICT what each players assignment was and IF they fulfilled it or not.
Please for the love of god read the previous paragraph again and internalize it before you follow like lemmings whatever Brian says in the UFR's. Brian is making a valiant attempt at reading the plays and judging performance, but it is an ART not a science.
Brian's analysis boiled down to this:
The MIKE is basically supposed to have his eyes simultaneously on all 11 players in offense, process infinite information (instantaneously of course) and move at the speed of light to the ball carrier , regardless of what his actual responsibility (given to him Gerg) is. All other players on defense are basically given a hole they just fill it, so they are flawless.
I am not saying Ezeh did not made some mistakes, but the assumption/Brian's understanding of the defensie scheme really slants the number against the MIKE.
and everything to do with watching the games myself (with my admittedly non-expert eyes).
Not that my eyes saw anything pretty. My only point is there are more than 1-2 culprits here.
Before you deputize Steve Sharik into your argument, look up about three posts.
contradicted what I said. Ask him yourself if he agrees with me or not about that fact that it it impossible to gauge assignments based on video.
Ezeh did not play well, but he wasn't the only one on the defense that played poorly.
I don't debate that the UFR is tough on the MLB position generally, and on Ezeh in particular. And on any given play, it's pretty much impossible to know responsibilities.
I was pointing to the fact that Steve just referred to Brian's analysis of Ezeh's play as:
pretty accurate: Ezeh is not a good Mike. There is no way you can look objectively at the way he plays and conclude otherwise.
they may disagree on the trees, but they agree that forest points to a guy who just isn't producing as Mike.
it is IMPOSSIBLE to look at a video and PREDICT what each players assignment was and IF they fulfilled it or not.
Thank you for this - I cringe every time, which is often, someone on here says "I'll wait for the UFR before I judge a player", as if the UFR is the game. It is a mode of analysis, a way of seeing, but it is a piecemeal approach - one that looks at plays in isolation, as if the game is not a process that extends from one play, drive, quarter, half to another.
The UFR provides insights, but it also induces blinders, and folks need to keep that in mind.
As I said to the other guy, though, I'm not basing my opinion on Brian's UFR...I'll be the first to admit that I likely put too much blame on any MLB, just like a lot of people do with a QB, b/c I see the MLB as the natural leader of the defense (I'm not saying that I'm right to do that - I'm just saying I do it)...Anyway, I will certainly be rooting for Ezeh all season long.
Sharik said your moms was fat. He thinks he can take you
I don't think Brian expects Ezeh to be Superman. Were Ezeh simply an average Big Ten linebacker, it would be a substantial help to Michigan's defense. Regardless of what Ezeh's responsibilities are, there is little chance that his assignment is to allow offensive linemen to push him backwards into the secondary or to take a poor angle to the ball carrier and miss a tackle.
The issues I see with Ezeh is that he very rarely stands a lineman up in the hole or sheds an approaching lineman's block. This results in him being easily taken out of plays, Michigan having no presence left in the middle, and very little inside support for runs on the edge. It kills our defense when our LB is not there to make plays on a somewhat consistent basis.
you're better than that. Give the guy a reason on the first answer, don't just descend from the clouds, cast your judgement lightning and send him backpeddling. (FWIW, I also disagree with his opinion).
Why exactly do you think Brian's assessment of Ezeh is unfair? Is it the difficulty of the position and our expectations are too high, or is Ezeh playing better than we realize and the blame should be shared elsewhere? Is Ezeh doing more than he's being given credit for?
I've stated my reasons over and over again. I didn't really think it was necessary to reiterate them in detail, but he asked, so I explained.
I certainly get the frustration with repetition, especially on board topics that boil down to "this guy sucks vs. no he doesn't," "Why isn't/is this guy redshirting," and "why isn't (insert first or second year guy) playing."
I think they are complete opposites in this way:
Sheridan = NFL smarts, HS ability
Ezeh = NFL ability, HS reads (intelligent guy, but not in football)
Both get you poor production.
P.S. I've been critical of Kovacs, but I think he's doing an outstanding job and getting the most out of his potential. Kudos to that player.
I just meant that the chances of production out of Ezeh now seem fairly hopeless (in a Sheridan-like way)...I hope I'm wrong.
Do you think his play has been because the base scheme seems to keep him pretty close to the line of scrimmage (where he is undersized but smart, scrappy, and fundamentally sound), or has he improved in some tangible way?
...both are true.
I believe there is such a thing as "football intellect" and it is not something that can be taught. It combines inherent instinct with environmental intelligence (through repetition). The schemes and responses to what is presented can be taught through repetition, but instinct is inherent (genetic, if you will) and cannot be taught. If "football intellect" is, in fact, something that exists, does Ezeh have it? Is there any way to tell if he does or does not from watching his play?
As far as I can tell, Chait notices what 75% of the fanbase notices . . . he just writes better than 99% of the fanbase.
Does anyone think that our inside or outside, strongside or weakside, any side, really, linebackers good this week?
It sucks, but it's true.
I'm more impressed by the development of the mgoboard to not call him an idiot for criticizing the team. Nice work folks!
For sunshine pumping than anything else, these days. I'm ok with that.
I was just going to call him a piece of chait but now I can't because you made me feel guilty.
OMG chait totally ripped into our inside linebackers wtf man we should all stop reading anything he rights ever cuz its all dum lol
It probably helps that whenever poor Brian goes on WTKA and is asked about the defense, he sounds like he would rather talk about getting a catheter. I liked how they sorta apologized to him in the segment today and promised he could talk about the offense after the break.
Although, sadly diminishing said development, we have been being spoonfed the "our linebackers are not good" line ad nauseum for awhile now. But, yea, development! wOOt!
Chait not a big fan of our inside linebackers
Tell him to get in line.
I miss the days of Sam Sword, Larry Foote type LB's. I will even take Carl Diggs at this point.
Like I've said before, its time to focus a majority of our recruiting to the defensive side of the ball until we get enough talent that will stay and not transfer, etc.....
Jarrett Irons. Total beast.
He was one of my favorites growing up!!!!
Having grown up with the lineage of Anderson, Morrison, Irons, it's tough to watch the current situation. Poor MLB play is a kick right to the pride.
In all of my 30 years, I've never seen a Michigan Defense like these. We uses to win games just on Defense alone back then.
This is not the first time in the past 30 years that Michigan has had a pourous defense (and no, the other years I am referring to are not 2008 and 2009).
This 2010 team reminds me a lot of Michigan's 1999 and 2000 teams, which had outstanding offenses but were shredded by a number of lesser opponents such as Purdue, Northwestern, and Indiana. Some other years where Michigan had questionable defensive teams include 1991 (from Amp Lee to Mario Bailey), 1993 (Johnny Johnson dagger-in-the-heart), and 1994 (WTF Chuck?). Some of those teams had 10+ win seasons, even though carried by the offense.
Ahhhh, the Amp Lee/FSU game was amazing. Bowden used every trick play in the book, but our D did look slow. Our O looked real good, even with the Buckley INT.
i remember hearing that name called 17 times at my first M football game.
I loved David Harris and he is playing really well for the Jets. Did he get any time camara time on Hard Knocks?
most plays? In a 4-3 the center has to snap the ball giving a MLB a split second and an easier read on the blocking of the center. It seems like Ezeh has to decide which big hulking guard to take on. When the QB turns left and hands off right - it threw Obi vs. UMass.
In the most recent UFR...Ezeh is looking in the backfield. I'm not sure what his reads are, but I would think he would have a gap in mind on most plays. Surely he knows where Martin is going at least. I would think he would shade that way. He truly is waiting for the play to come to him. Is this the scheme? Is Gerg pulling back on the coverage to the point of not attacking? Certainly that is the plan behind Ezeh.
I always enjoy Chaits writing. It's about what you want on the field,do you want a player that plays big? or a player that makes big plays? The player with all the potential, where does he play?
Ezeh has lots of potential and he even may make a big play now and then but as of yet he does not play big... hey there is a season to play,maybe he turns it around.
I'm a big fan of Chait and his blog on The New Republic site. Obviously, the fact that he's a Michigan alum and football fan endears me as much as his politics and writings.
Howeva, he's obviously got an exclusive with Rivals and that bugs me given the fact that it's a pay site and consistently produces articles that are not newsbreaking in the least.
Having read this piece of his, I couldn't help but notice the lockstep consistency with which his points matched those of Brian's UFRs on the defense this season. If I were to compose an essay of musings to my buddies who don't follow as closely as I this very subject, I would probably be parroting Brian too. Has it occurred to anyone that Chait might actually be cribbing from this site and passing on his "opinions" to Rivals readers without crediting his source?
Chait, and Brian for that matter, are hardly alone. Many of us here seem to hold the same opinion. How much Brian's UFRs have effected that opinion is up for debate. Personally, I came to my opinion on Obi by watching the games. Brian's writings certianly backed up my impression. But to think Chait is cribbing Brian strikes me as a bit paranoid. That article was not spouting an especially rare view of the Michigan defense.
Granted, it's not an especially rare view.
The thing that eats at my craw is Chait's relationship with Rivals probably prohibits him from making any mention of Mgoblog. His blogging on TNR is very prolific. Several posts a day with lots and lots of internet scouring. Given that, I find it highly unlikely that he doesn't come here for information and yet, has never once found anything that he would otherwise have attributed to Brian (or Steve or any of the other authoritative posters here) if not for the gag order on propping competitive sites to Rivals.
Jonathan, if I'm right and you do read here, call me out on this.
Chait and I are acquaintances and before he signed on with Rivals he would guest post occasionally here; we still email back and forth. He has his own opinions that I don't always agree with, and probably vice-versa.
Also, please don't piss him off. He will kill you with verbs. I've seen it happen.
Chait definitely reads MGoBlog. He's posted here before.
I know, I know, go to the other 13 threads about this, right?!?! Well i've tried to read all those other threads in their entirety at work and i can't find anything on this so far...
Brian's idea of starting Kovacs at MLB is an interesting one to say the least. People have brought up Kovacs' size as a deterrent.
What are MRob's measurables? Would he be more apt to fill in for Ezeh and we leave Kovacs where he is?
I mean, worst case, he just stares at the OG or FB or RB and they stop dead in their tracks, drop to their knees and begin begging for forgiveness, riight?
If anyone knows i appreciate your answer. And so does my boss so i can stop looking for this and get back to work.
If you thought you were frustrated watching Ezeh try to get off blocks, wait until the MLB is 195 (Kovacs) or 200 (Robinson) pounds.
I like the idea of a pant-shit-inducing MRob on the field... but not at Mike (or Will, for that matter)
If we were to pretend that...
Ezeh is no longer an option, and..
GERG read Brian's UFR and likes putting a smaller "can read quickly and tackle guy" behind the Hulk that is eating up centers and guards...
Would it be plausible to have MRob be that guy and we would be slightly more ok with this crazy idea than if Kovacs was that guy?
Granted, MRob may not be able to read as quickly and enact super scrappiness as Kovacs would.
But i almost like this better if he could hold up more in there than we assume Kovacs would be able to.
Of course, this is all most likely a moot point. I guess it only matters if you liked/were intrigued by the Kovacs idea. In which case you could debate this alternate option.
I am a fan of our linebackers, though admittedly less than ectstatic about their play to date. Chait pretty much just reiterated things that we have known for a while, true though they may be.
anyone know why they don't play Demens instead of Ezi?? Before the season started I thought, if Ezeh stinks, well at least we have Demens. What is up with Demens?? GERG needs to roll the dice and try out Demens. Can someone please give some insight on Demens situation please??
what about Isaiah Bell?? At 6'1" 245 lbs GERG should consider him at mlb also. Anyone have any insight on Isaiah Bell??
I think GERG probably hasn't even heard of Isaiah Bell because he doesn't spend enough time on Rivals or mgoblue.com scouring the fall roster. I mean, why let what you can learn watching someone in practice get in the way of making wild ass assumptions based on internet player profiles? Let's start a letter writing campaign or circulate a petition.
Dear Kellen Jones,
Please be Linebacker Jesus.
I'm more excited about Kellen Jones as a LB prospect than I have been in several years. IMO, he'll be the best one we've reeled in since I started following recruiting closely in 2006.