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JG and Nick Rallis Set to Unveil 52 Monster?

Syndication: Arizona Republic Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Background: December 12, 2022; Glendale, Ariz; USA; Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons (9) screams as he enters the field to play the Patriots at State Farm Stadium. Nfl Cardinals Patriots 1213 New England Patriots At Arizona Cardinals. Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Anyone here ever play in a 52 Monster defense? For decades it was the most popular defense in high schools and colleges across the nation.

When I have studied Jonathan Gannon’s defense in Philadelphia, what jumps out to me is how often he morphed his base 4-3 into a 52 Monster. This would account, in part, for the reason why OLB Haason Reddick was used to rush off the edge 512 times, which was tied for the highest number of pass rushes on the team with DT Javon Hargrave.

The fact that thus far during the Cardinals OTAs and mandatory mini-camp that Zaven Collins is being employed on the edge and that Isaiah Simmons is practicing exclusively with the defensive backs, appears to be a sign that Cardinals’ new DC Nick Rallis intends to use Collins in Haason Reddick’s rush edge role and Isaiah Simmons in Chuancey Gardner-Johnson’s monster back safety role.

A Monster back is typically one of the team’s best athletes who is used to line up to the strong side of the offensive formation. Seeing as TE typically dictated the strong side of the formation, the Monster back lines up directly across or to the outside shoulder of the TE. But, because of Monster backs’ supreme athleticism, DCs like to move him all over the formation to mix up blitzes, run supports and pass coverages.

In this 52 Monster video, Coach Mac explained precisely how a 52 Monster is actually a tweaked forrm of a 43 defense —- quite similar to the way JG adapted it in Philly. Furthermore, Coach Mac astutely points out that we shouldn’t be fooled by the alignment numbers because what they really indicate is the DC’s intention of maximizing the strengths of his personnel. Here have a good listen and look:

Thus, in Philly whenever JG dropped OLB Haasn Reddick down to the edge, he was crating a 5 man front —- which is akin to the 5 man fronts that DC’s can create out of the 34. Now, the thing is, even though DCs set up a 5 man front, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all 5 men on the front are going to be rushing the passer, as some are given pre-snap gap responsibilities to stop the run first.

What’s great about the 5 man front is how creative the DCs can get with slants, twists and fills—- because of the added defender to the front, the disruption that the 5 man front can cause to a 5 man offensive line can be dynamic. In essence, adding a 5th defender to the front is one of the best ways for a defensive line to attack the edges and create havoc in the A,B and C gaps.

While the Cardinals’ defensive personnel is obviously not quite as veteran and star-studded yet as the Eagles’, here is a guess at what roles the Cardinals’ defensive personnel will have in the 52 Monster that JG ran in Philly.

  • Edge: Haason Reddick —- Zaven Collins
  • DT: Fletcher Cox —- Rashard Lawrence
  • NT: Jordan Davis —- Carlos Watkins
  • DT: Javon Hargrave —- Cameron Thomas
  • Edge: Josh Sweat —- Myjai Sanders
  • MLB: T.J. Edwards —- Kyzir White
  • WLB: Kyzir White —- Owen Pappoe
  • Monster: Gardner Chauncey-Johnson —- Isaiah Simmons
  • LCB: James Bradberry —- Garrett Williams
  • RCB: Darius laly —- Rashad Fenton
  • Monster: Marcus Epps —- Budda Baker
  • NCB: Avonte Maddox —- Kei’Trel Clark

Did you notice that I listed both safeties as Monsters?

The reason is —- JG loves to interchange his safeties —- he loves that kind of box/deep versatility as a cunning way to keep OC’s and QBs guessing.

Both Isaiah Simmons and Budda Baker bring top level Monster back qualities, in different styles and packages. The same could be said of Jalen Thompson if he improves his pass coverage as a deep safety. Thompson’s coverage in man-to-man and underneath in zones is consistently strong. That’s why, if it were me, I would play him at RCB where I believe he could shine.

Last year, When the Eagles made the trade with the Saints for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, CGJ was in a similar situation as Isaiah Simmons in that he was coming off a year of struggles with trying to cover the slot.

However, in Philly, JG took CGJ away from the slot and employed his versatility as a highly versatile box and deep Monster-type safety. When you read this article about how JG transformed CGJ’s game last season, think of how similar and potentially more auspicious the transformation could Beth's season for Isaiah Simmons.