What is keeping Wake off the field?
Some possible reasons:
He is more comfortable with his hand on the ground, inexperienced covering TEs (not like the other safeties and linebackers have been doing that great anyway), and maybe raw versus the run.
Is there a way to get Wake on the field playing to his strengths and hiding his weaknesses? What if the other team passes on first down? That's not a clear passing down, but if Wake gets a sack on first down, then all the other downs become passing downs and he gets more opportunities. Talk about a drive stopper.
My idea: Go to a 5-man Defensive line. The defense would play like it would in a Nickel set up only with a 5-man line instead of 4. The defense is basically a 5-1-5.
Take Bell and Wilson out and put Culver and Clemons at Safeties.
I put Jason Taylor/Quentin Moses at LOLB/DE and put him over the TE. If the TE switches sides, then Taylor/Moses switches with the TE and Wake/Anderson swaps to the other side. Therefore Wake stays out of pass coverage. I don't advocate Taylor/Moses always on the TE, since the TE could also be covered by one of the nickel linebackers or strong safety. The five man line (at least on paper) looks great if all five rush and should be able to hold up against the run even if Wake may be weaker/smaller in size (is Joey Porter that much better against the run anyway?)
You automatically lose pursuit to the edges, so I would advocate inserting Fast/Good Tackling Jason Allen as a nickel linebacker/rover and back him up with Erik Walden who is also a fast-athletic guy (as proven on special teams). There are teams that run their nickel 4-2-5 full time, so this is not completely revolutionary. It would be a challenge stopping the run with just the front 6, but the advantage is that you would be able to get Randy Starks (and the other D-Linemen) into more one-on-one isolation matchups and that's a plus for pass rush as well as tackles for losses in the run game. We have above average D-Linemen (including OLBs) and mediocre linebackers, so it makes sense to use more D-linemen and less linebackers if possible. Replacing Bell and Wilson with faster players Clemons and Culver should provide sufficient pursuit to the edges of the defense which is the main weakness of a 5-man D-Line. The intermediate pass coverage should improve with Jason Allen helping out in coverage on the TE or backs out of the backfield instead of Crowder or Ayodele.
Here's my lineup/assignments:
OLB-DE Taylor/Moses (following
LB - Torbor/Ayodele/Crowder
Rover LB - Jason Allen / Erik Walden / Ayodele
We get more WAKE UP in our Defense. Get to actually use Jason Allen's (and Erik Walden's) more athletic/speed talents as an impact player-maker. Improve the pass rush and free Randy Starks to make more plays one-on-one.