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» Scramble Over/Unders: the Norths

The league's northern divisions pose a number of meaty questions, such as: "Is the Bears' offense due for a repeat performance?" "Why do the Lions have such pronounced splits?" and "Has Johnny Manziel made the Cleveland brass even crazier?"

21 Nov 2007

Every Play Counts: How Not to Cover Terrell Owens

by Michael David Smith

Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens had the most productive game of his career on Sunday, and that's saying something, considering that this is the guy who owns the NFL record for catches in a game, with 20 against the Bears in 2000.

Owens had the third-best DPAR game ever in Sunday's 28-23 win over the Washington Redskins. (His 20-catch game is the fourth-best DPAR game ever.) But he was also aided by a Redskins defense that seemed particularly ill-prepared to cover him, providing something of a blueprint for how not to play against T.O.

Tony Romo threw 11 passes to Owens Sunday, and Owens caught eight of them, for 173 yards and four touchdowns. Here we examine each of those 11 passes, looking at what worked for the Cowboys and what didn't work for the Redskins.

First quarter

First-and-10, Dallas 39-yard line
Owens was split to the left, with Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs covering him, lined up about five yards off the line of scrimmage. Owens ran a curl route and was at the first-down maker when Romo hit him, with safety Reed Doughty coming over to help Springs. It was a 10-yard gain and a first down, but at least Doughty and Springs kept Owens in front of them and tackled him as soon as he got the ball. As you'll see, that would make it one of the better plays the Redskins had against Owens.

First-and-10, Washington 40-yard line
This was the best result of the day for the Redskins on a pass to Owens, but it was more a bad play by Cowboys center Andre Gurode than a good play by the Redskins' defense. Gurode sent the shotgun snap over Romo's head, and Romo ran back to pick it up. The play broke down, but Romo grabbed the ball and scrambled outside the pocket. Incredibly, Owens broke into the clear and was wide-open downfield. Romo saw Owens and heaved the ball, but it came up well short, and by the time the ball got there, Springs had caught up to Owens. They both jumped for the ball, it was deflected into the air, and Redskins linebacker London Fletcher intercepted. If Romo had been able to get everything into the throw it would have been a touchdown for Owens, and opposing defenses will need to learn that just because the play breaks down in front of them, that doesn't mean Romo can't find Owens.

Second-and-3, Dallas 42-yard line
This is how you cover Terrell Owens. Owens was lined up to the right with Springs in coverage, about seven yards off the line of scrimmage. Romo saw how far off the line Springs was and threw to Owens immediately, but Springs made a nice move to get to Owens and tackle him short of the first-down marker. If you're a cornerback matched up with Owens, you need to do two things: Keep him in front of you and make sound tackles. Springs did both.

Second quarter

Third-and-4, Washington 43-yard line
This play made the highlights because Gurode's shotgun snap again went over Romo's head, but Romo still managed to pick it up, run outside the pocket, and hit Owens for five yards and a first down. But while it was a great recovery by Romo, the play wouldn't have worked if it hadn't been for Owens recognizing that Romo was in trouble and breaking all the way across the field to get open along the left sideline. Springs appeared to briefly give up on his coverage, and you can't do that against Owens.

Third-and-15, Washington 32-yard line
Romo rolled out to his right, felt the Redskins' pressure, then turned around and threw across the field off his back foot. It was a great throw. Springs was matched up one-on-one with Owens and seemed to think Owens was going to break to the inside, but Owens got a step on Springs when he cut to the outside. Owens caught Romo's pass to set the Cowboys up with first-and-goal.

Second-and-goal, Washington 4-yard line
Owens was split out to the left, on an island with Springs. Did anyone not know what was coming? Owens took one step to the inside and then released to the outside, and that was all it took to have a step on Springs and force him to turn his back to the ball. Once that happened and Owens was getting into position in the end zone, Springs probably should have just given Owens a hard shove and pushed him out of bounds. There's really no way to cover Owens when you're in that position, and a pass interference penalty is better than a touchdown.

Third quarter

Third-and-3, Dallas 44-yard line
Owens was flanked to the right with Springs right on top of him, but Springs did a very nice job in his backpedal and kept Owens in front of him. Springs wisely didn't try to get a jam on Owens; jamming Owens at the line is usually futile because Owens is stronger than just about every NFL defensive back. Instead, Springs just tried to keep up with Owens, step for step. It worked. Springs did need to turn his back on the play when Owens released upfield, but he stayed so close to Owens that Owens never had a chance at the ball. This was Springs' best play.

Third-and-19, Washington 31-yard line
Owens was lined up to the left and the Redskins were in Cover-2. Fletcher really tipped his hand by turning his back on the play before the snap, making it obvious that the deep middle of the field was his responsibility. Owens ran right down the seam, between a huge hole in the coverage of safeties Leigh Torrence and LaRon Landry, who bit on Romo's pump fake. By the time the ball Owens caught in the end zone, Springs was actually the closest defender to Owens, but that was just a good athletic play by Springs trying to get there to help out; the coverage breakdown wasn't Springs' fault.

Fourth quarter

Second-and-13, Washington 46-yard line
The Redskins were in the standard Tampa-2 coverage, with two deep safeties splitting the field and Fletcher dropping back at the snap and responsible for the deep middle. (This time Fletcher was in correct position at the snap and didn't have his back to the play.) Owens, in the slot to the right, ran 10 yards downfield and turned inside to sell the crossing route. That caused Fletcher to turn, thinking Owens would break right in front of him. Instead, Owens turned it upfield and was gone, easily running past Fletcher and between the two safeties, catching Romo's pass in stride inside the 10-yard line and strolling into the end zone. If you're going to play the Tampa-2 and the other team has a receiver as good as Owens in the slot, you've got to have your safeties closer to the middle of the field. The Redskins' safeties were outside the hashmarks, and that gave Romo and Owens an easy target. The Redskins' best safety, Sean Taylor, was out Sunday, and the two safeties on the field for the Redskins on the play were Landry and Doughty. Perhaps if Taylor had been there, he could have gotten to Owens as the ball arrived and drilled him, but without Taylor it was an easy defense for Romo and Owens to dissect.

Second-and-10, Dallas 48-yard line
This was Owens' fourth and final touchdown. Owens was split to the right with Springs on him and John Eubanks providing safety help up top. The biggest problem for the Redskins is that Springs was looking in the backfield, and he appeared to bite on Romo's play fake to Marion Barber. Why Springs would bite on a play fake when he wouldn't have been able to get there to make the tackle anyway I don't know, but it got Owens past Springs for Romo to hit him, and then Eubanks missed the tackle. I actually blame Eubanks more than Springs; sound tackling is an absolute must when you're playing against Owens, and the Redskins didn't have it on that play.

First-and-10, Dallas 19-yard line
This was Romo's last pass to Owens, and it fell incomplete. The blame lies mostly on Romo, who underthrew Owens on a curl route, but it was a good play in coverage by Springs, who kept Owens in front of him.

The primary conclusion we can draw, I think, is that opposing defensive coordinators can't just go out there thinking they're going to run a standard defense, especially a Cover-2 defense, and make no adjustments for the fact that Romo-to-Owens is such a phenomenal passing combo. I was reminded a bit of Steve Smith running wild for 12 catches against the Bears in the playoffs two years ago, when the Bears steadfastly refused to change their game plan and were beaten as a result.

Of course, stopping Owens is easier said than done. There may not be a blueprint for how to cover Owens. But the Redskins provided the blueprint for how not to do it.

Each week, Michael David Smith looks at one specific player or one aspect of a team on every single play of the previous game. Standard caveat applies: Yes, one game is not necessarily an indicator of performance over the entire season.

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 21 Nov 2007

36 comments, Last at 14 Dec 2007, 6:46pm by Chad Dukes

Comments

1
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:53pm

"The biggest problem for the Redskins is that Springs was looking in the backfield, and he appeared to bite on Romo’s play fake to Marion Barber"

That looked to me like Springs was trying to hand Owens off to the Safety, but the safety was nowhere to be found.

It seemed to me like Springs played a decent game, but whenever he was supposed to get help, it didn't show.

2
by i get bread (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:59pm

i can't help to think with the big seasons owens and moss are having, and the relative ease at which they're doing it, the nfl won't deemphasize the illegal contact rule in the offseason. That would be the way to slow down receivers allow them to jammed at the line of scrimmage a la pre 2004.
as far as the redskins cover 2 defense, it stinks because they get no quick pressure on qbs. London fletcher can only cover the middle zone for so long. But honestly, the giants and eagles couldn't stop owens either the last two weeks. he's had 8 tds the last 3 weeks against nfc east opponents.

3
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:07pm

According to TMQ, the way to top TO and Moss is to play man and hope for the best.

4
by Herm? (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:17pm

Kudos to TO for shedding his image (for now) and actually getting a column about his ability to play football.
It would seem that keeping him in front of you, coupled with his 58% catching percentage will yield bend-don't-break success.

I've also noticed that it's no coincidence that the ball gets snapped over Romo's head and it usually turns into a positive play. This has to be on purpose. We're watching you, Dallas!

5
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:19pm

#2: I thought he advocated shooting him with mind bullets. It's pretty obvious. Then you can write "game over" in your ubiquitous notebook.

6
by Lee Gibbons (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:20pm

The Redskins defense has become big-play central since Sean Taylor got hurt. In the 8 games and three quarters they've played with Sean Taylor they gave up one TD over 30 yards, in the five quarters since Taylor got hurt, they've given up 5 TD's over 30 yards.

7
by Expatbayern (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 1:30pm

The Steve Smith two years ago comparison is what strikes me as well, but I always think of the next game, when the Seahawks completely shut him down. They lined up a linebacker right across from him to jam him, who then handed off coverage to a DB about 7 yards deep. Why doesn't any team try this with Owens or Moss?

8
by Sergio (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:05pm

re:6

Probably because the Cowboys and the Patriots have a lot more weapons at their disposal than the Panthers did, plus their QBs actually look elsewhere when their #1 is covered.

Still, it's probably the best suggestion if you can handle the other guys with the rest of your defense...

9
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:05pm

Re #6
I presume that with Moss, it's because if you concentrate on him, it leaves Brady a chance to throw to Stallworth, Welker, Watson, Gaffney, etc., and with TO, you have to contend with Witten, Crayton, and also Barber out of the backfield. It's easier to concentrate your coverage on a single player when the alternative are instead Ricky Proehl, Keary Colbert, Kris Mangum, and Drew Carter. Note also Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster missed that 2005 NFC CG, and Nick Goings had 5 carries for 2 yards and a first quarter injury, so the running game wasn't a threat at all.

10
by irreg (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:21pm

To those with better memory, how has T.O. responded in the past to physical bump and run coverage like he'll face next week against Al Harris and Charles Woodson?

I know Harris and Owens have faced each other before to mixed results under different coaches/teams but I'm not sure what to expect. Harris loves the challenge of playing against T.O., and even offered him a private jet to Green Bay after the fall out with philly.

Considering that T.O. eats up zone coverage, Green Bay's bump and run should at least have better success at covering him than did KC. But with all the man to man coverage, Harris vs Owens will likely be the match up that decides the game.

11
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:34pm

This is ridiculous. Two words Sean Taylor. That's all you need to say... Sean Taylor. Maybe you can add Reed Doughty, Pierson Prioleau (I believe he was the one who missed the tackle, not Eubanks), and Laron Landry as well. The 2 younger ones look more suited to play SS, and Prioleau has isn't fast enough. Leigh Torrence is also more of a CB than Safety. It was Landry who bit on the fake on 3rd quarter play 2. Fourth quarter play 1 it was also the safeties (Doughty and Landry) out of position and unable to adjust to the pass.

Let's review Terrell Owens stats vs. the Redskins since he has been in the division (courtesy of pro-football-reference).
2004 Game 1: 2 rec, 24 yards, 1 TD
2004 Game 2: 6 rec, 46 yards, 0 TD.
2005 - DNP vs. Redskins.
2006 Game 1: 3 rec, 19 yards, 0 TD. One injured hand thanks to Sean Taylor
2006 Game 2: 7 rec, 76 yards, 1 TD.

So maybe this game and 2006 game 2 from 2006 are a trend, but the Redskins have shown previously that they are very good at covering Terrell Owens.

You'll also note that the Redskins held Randy Moss to 3 catches, 47 yards and 1 TD (with a clear uncalled OPI)... and also the Redskins were without Carlos Rogers.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how they cover Joey Galloway this weekend and how Tampa Bay tries to exploit the obvious weakness at the safety position. A few weeks ago in TDZ, Tanier wrote about Jacksonville trying to stop Galloway and failing... and this scares me as both Redskins safeties were biting on every play fake and not in the correct position when the pass was thrown. Kudos to Tony Romo as well.

Why no one is mentioning that despite of his 4 TD catches, I think the Redskins offense blew this game by not taking advantage of numerous good drives to come away with points.

Thanks for rubbing salt in the wound again, as if it wasn't done by every effin writer in the universe, every highlight show, audibles, as well as an Xtra Point... war Sean Taylor much better in coverage than Roy Williams.

12
by B (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:43pm

Strategy for covering Owens:
Step 1: Make the Center hike the ball over Romo's head
Step 2: Cover Owens man to man and don't give up on play.
Step 3: intercept under thrown desperate heave by Romo to Owens.

13
by Temo (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:53pm

11. The throw was clearly underthrown, but by no means was it desperate. For some reason, when Romo is stumbling after a bad hike, defenses think it's ok to stop playing. Owens was wiiide open that play. And Romo had time to set his feet to make the throw, but didn't.

14
by Costa (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 2:59pm

9:
I'm shaking in anticipation for that game. :)

15
by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:08pm

this is just a terrible conclusion. Dont play cover 2 against Owens? 8 catches, 4 TDs, 173 yards. of those 4 TD catches, I'd say at least 3 of them could have been stopped completely if Taylor was in the game. Holding Owens to 5 catches 1 TD isnt bad at all. Also note that many of those throws Romo had a LOT of pressure on him, and was extremely close to being sacked. I think that Owens's success was a combination of luck, Taylor AND Carlos Rodgers being injured (and thus leaving us with 1 complete garbage saftey), and Owens pure skill. I dont even think he had an exceptional day. Owens didnt play great, and as for redskins defensive play calling, they clearly didnt take into account for Taylor's injury, but beyond that I'd say it could have slowed Owens down. As for the whole 3rd best DPAR ever, thats probably because according to DVOA he was ripping up an exceptional pass coverage, but in reality he was ripping up a team that has its best and 4th best pass defenders injured, and thus isnt even close to as good as DVOA thinks they are. (I realize it doesnt seem that Rodgers matters in relation to Owens, but if he wasnt injured, Rodgers or Smoot could have played saftey)

According to this play by play analysis Springs covered him well all night, with only 1 slip up (when he bit on the play action), and most of the problems were from either our crappy backup saftey not being in position or our crappy backup saftey not tackling Owens.

16
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:21pm

Re #9
I think physical corners can do a good job of harassing TO and getting him off his game. Pacman did a very good job against him in what was otherwise a mostly dreadful defensive performance for the Titans against the Cowboys last year. This year, though, I haven't seen TO go out and stink like he did at times last year-this hand is quite likely part of this, but his mental attitude also seems to be much better.

For anybody tuned in to the Cowboys, how's the return of Terry Glenn looking? Is he going to play this year? I thought he was better than TO last year, so if he's able to come back and perform at a high level, that'd be good for the Cowboys.

17
by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 3:50pm

Regarding cover two, this is what I've never understood about it -- maybe someone more football savy can explain it to me:

If the safeties are responsible for keeping things in front of them and each covering half the defensive back field, and the cornerbacks are responsible for the receivers short and out patterns and for the flat, but also must move up to help in run support....

WHY ARE THE SAFETIES PLAYING BACK AND THE CORNERS PLAYING UP?

Why don't they get switched? Corners in cover 2 seem to be using more safety-related skills -- shorter distances and more run support; conversely, safeties in cover two have huge amount of ground to cover and less frequently come up in run support unless there's a blitz and it turns into cover 1 (in which case it's not cover two anyway).

Can someone explain this to me?

18
by sloop (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:05pm

#16

Terry Glenn has yet to practice with the team. Still rehabbing the knee. I am starting to doubt he will play this season.

19
by Cosmos (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:22pm

Good to see the Redskins fans are pissed off. To #11 and #15...take your beatings like men!

20
by Harris (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 4:31pm

#17 Interesting question. My guess is because the corners would be a liability on runs up the middle and, in theory, safties are better than CBs at tackling in space. If the CB whiffs, the presumably better tackler is behind him. But that's just a guess.

21
by Pippin (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 5:13pm

Re: 16.

Terry Glenn is theoretically coming back at *some* point, as he declined to have season-ended surgery on his knee in order to be able to. There's never really been a solid time-table on his return, though. The only news I've got is that he's hopefully starting to jog soon and from there might be able to get back to practice in a couple of weeks? Who knows.

22
by TomC (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 5:42pm

Springs and force him to turn his back to the ball. Once that happened and Owens was getting into position in the end zone, Springs probably should have just given Owens a hard shove and pushed him out of bounds. There’s really no way to cover Owens when you’re in that position, and a pass interference penalty is better than a touchdown.

Maybe in college, but given the NFL rule, do you really think it's worth it to give a team the ball on your 1-yard line in order to break up a pass that you don't know for sure will be caught? And if your back is to the ball ("you" being the DB in coverage), you don't even know whether the pass is anywhere near on the mark, or even whether T.O. is just faking you out by making his eyes go real wide and starting to jump for a ball that isn't actually there.

23
by Frank (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 6:02pm

Too many negative Bears references in that article. Now I'm sad.

24
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 7:54pm

It isn't just Owens. If you have a pass rush Romo maybe doesn't get the ball away. If you trust your linebackers to cover Witten then maybe the safety can provide more help. Obviously if the front seven are stout the dbs would ignore any play fake as they would be thinking of only pass defense leaving the run to others.

First GB has to deal with Detroit who has a few good receivers of their own.

Should the Packers pass that test then one can ponder a GB/Dallas matchup.

By the way, starting free safety Nick Collins of GB is out for a while replaced by rookie Aaron Rouse who really hasn't been tested in pass coverage due to the quality of opponents. Tomorrow will be the first real test. The other safety Atari Bigby has been horrible in coverage regularly biting on the first move or letting someone running right past him. He's athletic and loves to hit but has no clue how to pass defend.

Harris isn't what he was two years ago but is still feisty. Woodson has been solid. As I have written multiple times, the two flagrantly flout the rules and DARE refs to throw the flag multiple times a games. Woodson and Harris have stated in interviews that by the time a ref throws a flag most receivers have stopped running hard as they have wearied of getting manhandled.

Owens won't stop. If he lines up outside Harris will take him. In the slot Woodson. Why? No idea. It's what those two do. They kind of run their own thing and right now nobody's complaining.

The top nickel guy is Jarrett Bush who has improved a lot over the season. He is faster than Harris and stronger than Woodson. He just doesn't have their technique or experience. Don't be surprised if he is on the field early to "beat up" on Owens. Harris preaches that a receiver with sore arms short arms.

So sayeth the Al.....

25
by Takao (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 8:16pm

re: 24. Don't forget the Packers also have to face off with Jesus when they play the Lions. Also, I would like to put an end to the idea that press coverage is a good way to slow down Owens and Moss. If you try to press Moss it might work as much as 6 out of every 10. The problem is the other 4 are gaurenteed TDs. You play off Moss because if he gets a step it's over. The same is true in Owens case except that he's strong enough that press coverage is going to work maybe 1 out of every 10 pass plays. This is the reason the Skins Tampa 2 failed so miserably. In an ideal Tampa 2 the corner will bump the reciever enough to disrupt any timing route and allow the safety time to get over the top to prevent the deep ball. Since it's virtually impossible to bump TO you get 8 catches 173 yds and 4 tds.

26
by angus (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 9:38pm

26: Badger, I just wanted to say that reading your weekly updates on the independent CB kingdom of Woodson/Harris has been one of my favorite things this season. I rather enjoy the idea that they're functioning as a kind of autonomous microstate, the Lichtenstein of football so to speak. Also, watching older DBs whose entire strategy consists of messing dudes up and deliberately messing with the glut of shady PI/illegal contact/etc. rules is definitely my idea of a good time. On a a related note I'm actually kind of enjoying/rooting for the Packers this season after years of not being able to stand the Farvemania. It's kind of like John Huston said in Chinatown - "Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough" - I'd like to respectfully add cats like Woodson, Harris and Farve to the list. Plus I'd take Brett's grizzled, weathered 2,000 yr old visage over Jerry Jones' hideous monstrosity of plastic any day. Anyways, please continue to impart upon us the sagacious wisdom of Al and Charles.

27
by erebia (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 10:09pm

RE: 21 & 16

i think that Terry has started running this week and could "possibly" be available on or after the Philly game on Dec. 16:

Injured Terry Glenn tests leg on practice field
BY MAC ENGEL
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER

IRVING -- Receiver Terry Glenn might have made his first real step toward returning Wednesday.

While his teammates practiced at the Cowboys indoor facility, he walked out to one of the outdoor fields with a team trainer. He's been running for a few days, and the Cowboys hope these are the first steps to building his leg strength back so he can return.

28
by The Boilermaster (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 11:11pm

@21:

You really make me want to watch that game even more, now.

Good work, I must attempt to see this so-called Lichtenstein of football more often.

29
by The Boilermaster (not verified) :: Wed, 11/21/2007 - 11:12pm

oops. meant to be @24, not @21

30
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 12:37am

What HAS been amusing is during coach interviews where someone asks about the defensive coverage since it neither resembles zone or man in strict terms and the coach in question changes the subject somehow. Or better yet when an extra db comes on the field and either Harris or Woodson point to who the guy has and the player pauses with hands up as this clearly isn't what the defense called and one or both cornerbacks wave him off.

As background, neither Harris nor Woodson practice all that much. This started last season with Woodson under the pretense of "saving wear and tear on Charles" as Woodson also returns punts. Harris apparently had to have the same handling beginning the season.

When asked about it all Woodson says is, "Coach Mike and I have an understanding".

It's clear McCarthy has made a deal with the devil. So far nobody has come calling for his soul. But it's pretty clear the clock is ticking.

31
by Carlos (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 1:27am

They lined up a linebacker right across from him to jam him, who then handed off coverage to a DB about 7 yards deep. Why doesn’t any team try this with Owens or Moss?

I have the same question. Yes, Owens is strong, but it'd get pretty annoying to get popped by an even stronger LB on every single play. And yes, this would weaken your defense, but it sounds like the best strategy to me. At least until they move Owens into the slot, but oh, well.

I agree that this article could be paraphrased by "the way to stop Owens is NOT by having 2 of your top 3 DBs, including your best defensive player, injured."

32
by hwc (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 4:36am

Speaking of how not to cover:

The NFL site has a terrific video analysis of Randy Moss' first TD catch against the Bills.

The Bills rushed 2 and dropped 9 into coverage. Brady had all day in the pocket and, despite having 9 in coverage against 5 receivers, they managed to leave Moss uncovered deep down the sideline!

The real kicker is that there were at least two other Pats wide open on the play!

Click my name for the link. This one is hilarious.

33
by hwc (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 4:40am

Carlos:

The answer to your question is that you've just tied up three guys on Moss or Owens: the LB at the line, the DB 7 yards deep, and you sure better have a safety playing deep center field. Who has Welker, Stallworth, and Watson? The Redskins effectively took Moss out of the game by playing Tampa 2 rolling a safety to his side to back up aggressive man coverage off the line. Moss didn't kill them, but Welker did.

The other problem is that the Pats (and the Cowboys) will start moving Moss or Owens around (putting them in the slot) if defenses try to assign a designated mugger.

34
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 9:36am

#17: Why don’t they get switched?

My guess? Angles. An important safety skill is, after identifying the play, taking the right angle to the ball. At speed, this is hard to do. Corners usually don't develop this skill.

Domonique Foxworth, the Broncos nickel who also plays safety, has talked about the difference. If I remember correctly, taking the correct angle to the play was one of the things he said was a major difference.

Second, cover 2 defenses require corners who are sure tacklers, so in that regard, there is less difference between a CB and a safety.

35
by Bjorn (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2007 - 12:54pm

@30

Well if you can find a corner that has the talent, speed, athletesism and skill to hang with a good to elite WR1 most of the time I think that using that back in a "whatever the call, you got #81" role isn't such a stupid idea...

I'm not saying that he shouldn't have help, the rest of defence should still more or less follow the standard rules.

The problem I have is that I don't think either Harris or Woodson is that guy. (In fact I doubt if there is such a guy in the NFL right now.)

36
by Chad Dukes (not verified) :: Fri, 12/14/2007 - 6:46pm

Thank you #11.

It's true that the Skins got torched in this game. But during the other games when they stopped him why was no one writing a "How to Cover TO" article? Or how about when they shut Randy Moss down without Shawn Springs on the last game of the season in 2004. The Skins secondary was.....was...very good. With an aging Springs, injured Rogers, and (god rest him) dead Taylor I don't think you can blame that day on the coaching staff. I think you blame that on injuries.