TiCats Defence

Great article by Jacob Dearlove

[url=http://ticats.ca/film-room-why-the-ticats-lead-the-cfl-in-takeaways/]http://ticats.ca/film-room-why-the-tica ... takeaways/[/url]

Film Room: Why the Ticats lead the CFL in takeaways

It’s based on a small sample size thanks to an early bye week, but the 2015 Tiger-Cats are off to an impressive start on the defensive side of the ball.

Through two games against West Division teams, the Ticats’ defence has been a takeaway machine, producing more interceptions than any other team in the league (6), while maintaining a league-high +8 turnover ratio.

The team is second in the league in total defence (272.5 yards allowed per game), passing defence (228.5 yards allowed per game), and opponent completion percentage (59.4%).


The defence hasn’t just been limiting opponents’ production though, they’ve been finding the end zone on their own too. Despite scoring just three touchdowns on offence, the team leads the league with 75 points scored through two games. This has been in part due to Brandon Banks’ two special teams touchdowns on punt returns, but it’s also due to the team’s three early-season defensive touchdowns.


In fact, the Ticats defence has scored three times as many points on interception touchdowns (18) as they’ve allowed on passing touchdowns against (6).

Where has this success come from though? What has allowed the Black & Gold to produce so many turnovers early in the 2015 season?

Quarterback Pressure:

[b]For one, the Tiger-Cats have been aggressive in their pass rush, forcing quarterbacks into hurried passes.

Through the use of multiple defensive fronts and blitzes, defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer has made it difficult on opposing offensive lines.

It is no mistake that the Ticats own the top spot on both the interception and sack lists; the pressure on the quarterback has allowed the defensive backs to ball-hawk.

Whether it’s Ted Laurent, Adrian Tracy, Simoni Lawrence or Craig Butler, on nearly every interception the ‘Cats have made sure there is a defender right in the opposing quarterback’s face.[/b]


This pressure, first and foremost, causes quarterbacks to rush through their progressions and make poor decisions with the ball more frequently.

Rather than setting up at the top of their drops and progressing through their reads, quarterbacks are forced into rushing those reads and making faster decisions with the football.

On Emanuel Davis’ pick six in Week 2 against the Blue Bombers, it was Lawrence and Laurent who got pressure on Bombers quarterback Brian Brohm, collapsing the pocket from the front, forcing the quarterback to make a hurried and ill-advised pass.


Without the pressure in his face, there’s a much better chance that Brohm would have seen Emanuel Davis lurking in the area of Denmark. However, because he was hurried, the Bombers quarterback went with his first read and threw right into traffic.

Defensive pressure generated through the interior of the defensive line also makes it easier for the Ticats’ safeties to make plays on the ball.

Interior pressure can make quarterbacks drop their eye level to focus on the incoming blitzers, rather than using their body and eyes to move the opposing safety. By taking this tool away from quarterbacks, pressure from the inside makes it easier on Ticats deep safeties and defensive backs in zone coverage to read the play and make breaks on the ball.


On this particular Week 1 play against the Stampeders, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell does not look off safety Craig Butler once. Butler sits back in his deep zone, reading Mitchell’s eyes and stepping in front of the pass with ease. This is an example of how interior pressure can impact a quarterback’s rhythm, removing valuable tools–such as the discipline to look off the safety– from their arsenal.

Ball Skills

Another reason behind all the turnovers has been the ball skills–or the ability to make plays on the football in the air– by the Ticats defenders.

The Emanuel Davis interception is yet again a perfect example of this.


In most cases, even with pressure provided by the defensive line, this play turns into an incompletion and nothing more. Davis makes an exceptional break on the ball, though, and finishes off the play strong.

He muscles Denmark off the ball, getting his body in between the ball and the receiver, then tracks the ball in the air, coming down to the ground with it.

Both of Johnny Sears’ Week 1 interceptions showcased his abilities to make plays on the ball in the air. On his first of the game, the veteran defensive back made a perfect break on the ball, beating the receiver to the pass at the end of his route. On the second, he gets in good position across the middle before high-pointing an errant pass over the head of a Stampeders receiver.


The consistent pressure generated on the quarterback and the ball-hawking ability of the defensive backs work in cohesion to create turnovers.

The strong pass coverage allows Coach Steinauer to send more heat at opposing quarterbacks, while the added pressure generated from these blitzes force more poor decisions, opening up opportunities for picks. This is where the ball skills of the defensive backs are integral to seal the deal on the takeaways.

The team focused heavily on forcing turnovers throughout the training camp practices, and it appears that this focus has paid off over the first couple games of the season.

Pressure has a compounding effect over the course of a football game; when a football team consistently generates pressure, the quarterback can start to feel that stress, even when it’s not there on a particular play. He will quicken the pace of his reads when it isn’t necessary, and will make hurried, poor decisions with the ball.

If the Tiger-Cats defence is able to continue to generate this level of pressure as the season progresses, it won’t be surprising if they maintain their spot atop the turnover leaderboard.

That is an a great article, really like the .gif's they included, makes it easy to understand the breakdown of the plays.

I was just posting in the Rider forum about Hamilton's interior pressure being a key component of their defense. I don't think any other team in the league gets consistent pressure inside like Hamilton does.

Great article,thanks for posting it Grover :thup: The scary thing is that the D is still without Rico Murray and Eric Norwood and also had Stephen as a late scratch last game as well. The team also lost basically all our depth in the interior of the Line with Bulcke and Gaydosh gone for the season and Evan Gill on the 6 gm and Atkinson being on the 1 gm IL. I honestly can't remember the last Ti-Cat team to have 3 pick 6's in a season let alone in the first two games of the year. I'm going to have to guess that you might have to go back to our Grey Cup "99" season to match that stat when we had the likes of current D-Coordinator Steinauer,Gerald Vaughan and Rob Hitchcock patrolling the secondary.

Prediction: a little later in the season, a DB from another team will get a TD on an interception return and ride that play to a spot in the Top 3 Stars of the Week or whatever it's called now. However that will not be considered a sufficient feat for a Ticat defender to make the list.

Some more praise for the Ticats' D-line, plus a little colour on Coach McPhee's philosophy:

McPhee has Ticats defensive line looking to land knockout punch


The FILM ROOM is a GREAT feature!!!

I hope they keep on doing this. This helps a LOT in learning the intricacies of the game and how much co-ordination and timing is involved in a successful play.

I hope they keep these in archive, so we can refer to them from time to time.

Thank you to those responsible.

And to think that during Kent Austin’s first year in Hamilton that was one of our weaknesses. The D line has come a long way in such a short time.

Between scouting and Orlondo’s leadership and coaching, this is becoming a strength.

And yes. Dennis McPhee!!!

I,d like to see Big Dan Molls get into a game. :cowboy:

I have never seen a CFL team with this much quality depth at DT. I mean, this is all happening despite injuries to players on the D-line. :thup:

Another nice article by Jacob Dearlove about Coach "O"

Ticats defence confident behind Steinauer’s leadership

[b]The Tiger-Cats defence has jumped out to a very impressive start in 2015, and the players are giving all the credit to their defensive leader on the sidelines.

The unit has been a force over the first two weeks of the CFL season, creating more turnovers than any other team in the league, while limiting the oppositions’ offence to minimal production.

Each position group has had a hand in the early productivity, each fulfilling their individual duties. The front seven have consistently produced pressure on opposing quarterbacks, while the defensive backfield has turned that pressure into turnovers with some savvy plays on the ball.

And while the its’ the players who are receiving recognition for their efforts, they’d much rather give credit to the football mind behind the it all, defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer.

“You’ve got to give credit to Coach O [Orlondo Steinauer],? said defensive tackle Ted Laurent, “he’s the one behind all this production we’re having.?

The Ticats’ high level of effort and production early in the season is a realization of the vision that Steinauer had for the unit when he signed with the team. From the very start, he demanded a defensive culture that was focused on making plays and forcing turnovers.

“It was something that needed to happen on the defensive side of the ball,? said Steinauer, “and we tried to find the right guys…it’s just about putting them in a position to make plays.?

Steinauer is a laid back and friendly guy, but his approach to the game of football is meticulous and no-nonsense. He preaches a heightened attention to detail and assignment awareness, while stressing the importance of keeping the defensive focus internal.

“The biggest thing I emphasize to our men is to focus on ourselves,? explained Steinauer, “it’s about focusing on ourselves and letting the score take care of itself.?

That mentality has hit home with the Ticats’ defensive players, who refuse to acknowledge individual opponents; instead, focusing on what they must do as individuals and as a unit.

“We don’t worry who we’re going against,? emphasized defensive tackle Hasan Hazime, “we focus on what we can control in the defensive room.?

The internal focus does not completely erase the opponents from the picture, there’s still a matter of preparing for each individual opponent, but Steinauer would prefer to do the game planning and leave the on-field execution to the players.

“Every week teams game plan to your weaknesses and try to exploit certain things,? explained Steinauer, “we know that they’re going to come after us, and I’m really looking forward to see how our men respond.?

The culture throughout the entire Ticats team is consistent with this approach. Head coach Kent Austin emphasizes the role of coaches to put their players in the best position to succeed, while the players are in charge of executing the game plan.

“It comes down to effort and execution,? said Austin, “and our guys are pretty diligent in their preparation and being ready to play.?

It is this effort and execution that Steinauer points to when asked about the early season success, putting the emphasis on his players over himself.

“It’s just about the players making plays,? said the defensive coordinator. “To their credit, they’ve made some plays, but we’re two games in and we’ve got a long way to go.?

The trust and confidence that the defensive coordinator has in his players is impossible to ignore, and it’s a trust that is wholeheartedly reciprocated by the players, who are all more than happy to play for a coach like Steinauer.

“I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to play defence for Coach O,? said defensive leader Ted Laurent, expanding when asked about this week’s match-up against Montreal.

“I know Coach O [and] how he’s strategic with the defence, we’ll be ready to go.?[/b]

[url=http://ticats.ca/defence-confident-behind-steinauers-leadership/]http://ticats.ca/defence-confident-behi ... eadership/[/url]

TSN Radio 1150 ?@TSN1150 15m15 minutes ago
#Ticats lead #CFL in Sacks (6) & Ints (6). No player has more than one sack and only DB Johnny Sears has more than one interception

This is with only 2 games played! When most other teams have 3 games