West Coast 11 Personnel Shotgun Offenses And Elite Modern QBs Have Negated The "Need" For Elite Edge Rushers:
It comes down to collapsing the pocket vs blindside sacks off the edge. I think defensive tackle has overtaken edge or personally because the last four Super Bowls (including this one) have featured dominant interior linemen on both sides of the ball... Chris Jones 2x, Vita Vea &Suh, Aaron Donald (2x if you count the 2018/2019 Super Bowl). I think the modern QB such as Josh Allen and Joe Burrow (PM II is in a class by himself and is irrelevant mostly due to his 1 of 1 skillset) are too good at beating the EDGE. First of all the modern elite QB is doing a lot of lining up in shotgun with 11 personnel. It simply comes down to RANGE OF VISION out of shotgun. Lining up in shotgun gives the QB a more enhanced spectrum of the pass rush from a more enhanced periphery as opposed to the traditional under-center 3 step drop with eyes being mostly focused on your dominant hand's side. This allowed the great edge rushers of old to off with timed ferocity on a QB who had to have MuH PeRFeCt MeCHaNiCs while reading his progressions. What gave EDGE (really the blindside edge) a premium in the past is the fact that QBs in the NFL of yesteryear took most passing snaps under center, where mechanics stressed keeping your non-dominant side "blind," which gave both the blindside tackle and blindside edge rushers massive premiums in both positional importance and market value $$ in the game after QB. However, the data suggests that shotgun, 11 personnel and the revolutionary mechanics of a PMII or even Josh Allen is the way to go.
Enter Lou Anarumo = "U Shapes" Create Too Many Opportunities Out Of 11 Personnel For Both Trad-Pocket QBs And Mobile QBs... The Benefits and Liabilities Of Anarumo's Ingenious Modern System Of Flattening The Edges:
This is really a matter of the right personnel to run the system ideally according to the designer and also the level of play of the quarterback opposing you. The other reason is that if your DEs give you a premium but your interior D-Line is average, this leaves open lanes which the elite QBs step through to extend plays. Lou Anarumo is revolutionary and a modern defensive savant because his defensive philosophy is less about talent (the Cincy D-Line is more well-coached than it is an elite premier unit in terms of talent) because Anarumo coached his defensive line, really his defensive ends to not over-commit and thus form the concave U shape when edge rushers beat their man because of these lanes that one of the modern elite QBs can step through. Also if there is no additional help on the edges, he also does not want his defensive ends to beat their blockers by rushing on the inside. This is almost a result of having to game plan for Lamar Jackson 2x a year in addition to Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Instead Anarumo stresses the need for a more flattened wedge shape to keep these these lanes from opening up. This like any system has both its benefits and liabilities. The benefit is yes a Josh Allen like we had seen does not indeed have those gaps that overly committed edge rushers will cause but also a system can give a QB more time because it's heavily dependent on 1.) Defensive Tackles inverting the Interior Blockers or collapsing the pocket and 2.) Inside blitzers to aid an average D-Line. Needless to say Cincy's defensive line is good but not elite and is heavily dependent on blitzers bringing extra help to assist the defensive tackles in collapsing the pocket. Ostensibly it's a beautiful concept that is begging to be beat by QBs who can beat the blitz but it is almost the premier concept defensively in the modern NFL in stopping the modern mechanically revolutionary QBs who can throw on the run, by keeping those step through lanes closed tightly.
The Sharpened V > Than The Loose U... The Premium Now Is On Elite DTs While Stressing Leaner and Speedier EDGE/OLB Types
However, the draw back is if this system can't be assisted through the blitz because of elite QBs who destroy the blitz, it stresses the need for high elite premier defensive tackles. Anarumo's defensive system is almost based on stressing to his defensive ends the end to go at about 75% off the edge and fall back to keep the near flat wedge shape in form. Also if your DTs are average, it places a preponderance of elite play on your secondary in holding NFL receivers who are normally taller than DBs and average 4.4 in the 40 yard dash to covering their man beyond the normal capacity of most NFL DBs. Needless to say whether it's Lou Anarumo or not, the evidence that DTs are starting to hold more value in the modern game is beyond there, because over commitment on the edge rushers still gives pocket QBs and mobile QBs an advantage, a concave U-Shape edge rush gives a pocket passer more of a defined pocket to step in to and a mobile QB the option of a pocket to step into or lanes to escape from. Again it comes down to disrupting the QBs RANGE OF VISION. The evidence is there that inverting the pocket with a sharp V from the interior is far more disruptive in the modern game than rushing off the edge.
Again every system has it draw backs. The only draw back from the modern defensive system spearheaded by coverage sack king Lou Anarumo is that it is almost tailor made to get gashed and brutalized by an old-school running game with a bruiser such as Derrick Henry due to the trade-off defensive coordinators will make trading size for speed at EDGE/OLB. However, this is a trade-off worth making in the modern game because teams fielding elite passing attacks and the defenses looking to adjust are thinking you aren't going to beat us 4 Quarters rushing the ball consistently especially if their own team has a Joe Burrow, Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. I think the Chiefs should look at adding another DT in the draft over an edge rusher. In fact the modern game should perhaps stress a leaner EDGE rusher (dare I say Frank Clark!) to chase the QB down once he runs from the collapsed pocket than the plodding Bruce Smith bull-rusher of old. I think two elite Interior Defensive Lineman gives us a premium in the modern game, another elite DT to pair with CJ95 inverts the pocket (collapsing it) to the point where opposing QBs are going to have to run to the edges or make hasty throws. We honestly don't need our EDGE rushers to be a Bosa brother, but we only need someone to seal the edges and mop up collapsing pockets. Luckily for us, Chris Jones and Aaron Donald's agents haven't figured out that premium DT is indeed more valuable than premium EDGE in the modern game.