With the dynamic running back tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs coming to town this Sunday, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is looking to make some adjustments on his side of the ball. With the front-four and secondary established in their current roles, Castillo is relying upon his linebacking corps to be the difference-makers.
Castillo believes that the defense will be able to better defend against the run with second-year linebacker Jamar Chaney manning the middle. Third-year linebacker Moise Fokou will play the strong side, where Chaney had played the in first two weeks of the season. Rookie Casey Matthews will take over on the weak side.
"This move is all about gap responsibility," Castillo said. "We're moving our guys around so they can hit different gaps, and so we can see what we can do against the Giants. In this defense, gap responsibility is interchangeable. Sometimes, we'll even switch it up within a game. We think this group matches up well against the Giants."
Chaney made his first-career start at middle linebacker last year against the New York Giants and recorded a career-high 16 tackles in the win.
"We think Jamar is a very versatile player. He can really play all the linebacker positions and can perform at a high level in any of our coverage packages," Castillo said. "For Casey, not having to call the plays (as the middle linebacker) will make things easier. It'll definitely take some of the pressure off of him."
On whether the move would be permanent, Castillo said that it "depends upon the matchups in future weeks." The defensive coordinator is open to this being merely a one-week move to fit into the game plan against the Giants.
"There are different coverages that you use in certain situations," Castillo said. "Sometimes certain players fit better in certain coverages than in others, so you mix and match. We have different packages based on the players' strengths. There are some where a guy like Keenan Clayton gets to utilize his athleticism, and then others where you try to find players who can complement one another. Jamar Chaney has worked in certain nickel packages with both Casey Matthews and Brian Rolle."
Castillo has a lot of young, versatile pieces to work with at the linebacker position, but he knows that means nothing if he cannot find a way to utilize them to their fullest potential. He is confident that this move will put his defense in a better position to stop the run and close out games.
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