I don't know how many of you listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning but I heard an interesting take this morning from Mike Golic regarding run defense. He was analyzing the Patriots successful run game and made mention of a referee switch that I had not considered previously. He posits that, since the umpire has been re-positioned from his previous spot behind the linebackers to behind the quarterback, the instances of uncalled holding on second-level blocks against linebackers has increased dramatically. He feels the umpire is unable to see blatant holding because of his new position on the field and this has led to a lot of longer gains between the tackles in the run game.
I wonder if this correlates to Buffalo's problems this year against the run. Particularly in light of Alonso's (relative) lack of size, it would seem very plausible that our second-level defenders could either a) be overwhelmed by a bear hug during second-level blocking or b) be running out of the play attempting to avoid linemen holding them. My question is this: do you feel this scenario contributes at least in part to Buffalo's problems giving up big gainers on the ground or do you believe it is a schematic flaw in Pettine's defense? This leads to my second question: do you feel it impacts Buffalo's draft and free agent strategy regarding linebackers, meaning they need to tend more towards a Spikes-style backer?
My opinion is that Buffalo needs to expend a high pick (1st or 2nd) or solid FA money on a three-down LB who is capable of solid tackling in the run game, covering TE/RB in patterns, and blitzing/rushing the QB. Does this referee dynamic and the necessity of being capable of shedding a holding lineman on a regular basis affect that?