Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Dec 2005

'Simple' Scheme Nets Big Gains for Trio of Defenses

The other Michael Smith writes about the Cover 2 defense and how it's been successful for the Bucs, Colts and Bears. Opposing offenses know the weaknesses of the Cover 2, but these three teams run it so well, it often doesn't matter. The article even has a nifty graphic explaining the intricacies of this defense, something FO wrote about in February 2004. (You have to click on "comments" to see the link to the FO article.)

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 29 Dec 2005

7 comments, Last at 04 Jan 2006, 10:48am by Mr Shush


by tunesmith (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 8:50pm

Anyone know what defensive scheme the Broncos use? It seems different. They can stop the run with their front four, but don't get much pass pressure, but blitz often, and I think they're a bit reliant on talented corners.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 9:43pm

FWIW, I like OUR Michael Smith better.

This was a decent article, and focused on nuts and bolts nicely, but there are other areas where this scheme works well for teams such as the Colts: A simpler D allows them to use more rookies/youngsters (with fresher legs and therefore faster?), reducing the D cap hit and allowing them to keep their high-priced O relatively intact.

They lost D standouts such as Mike Peterson and Marcus Washington in recent years and that would have been fatal to the old, complex Vic Fangio schemes. But Dungy/Meeks have been a perfect marriage (so far) with the existing Colts setup with the superstar offense.

Now the Bucs and Bears do not have that issue, really, an out-of-balance cap structure, so they will likely be able to retain their D stars longer. Hopefully the Colts can keep plugging newer, unheralded guys like June, Brackett, Brock, and Thornton (former college safety Cato June makes the Pro Bowl in his first year starting at LB? Sanders, albeit a second rounder, makes the PB in his first full year without injuries?) and they'll do well.

One final observation: schemes are nice and all, but talent is really the key. Everybody on the Colts D looks better with Bob "The Hammer" Sanders playing safety. He didn't play much last year and Doss was hurt as well. Such a difference health makes.

by charles (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 9:54pm

This is a pretty broad article. I guess since reading FO i have become a football snob. I was expecting a more detailed analysis.

by Nate (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 10:37pm

It may be easy to coach, but I don't think it's easy to play, particularly in the front seven. It takes a while for the players to get comfortable with their gap responsibilities, and to trust the players next to them to play their proper gaps as well.

by JonL (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 11:23pm

Those teams have also done a good job finding players that fit the system, rather than try to do it the other way around.

by Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 7:57am

Dungy's right. If your corners can jam the recievers at the line, cover 2 works a lot better. I tried it in Madden, so you know it's true.

by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 10:48am

One of the reasons that as a Houston fan I am optimistic about the prospects of a substantial rebound next year is the probable replacement of Fangio with a 4-3 guy. It's not necessarily that Fangio's schemes were bad per se; it's that they were too complex for a defensive unit as young (outside the front 3) as the 2005 Texans. The lousy tackling didn't help either of course, but that is hopefully to some extent a coachable problem.