Sunday, December 11, 2011

So the Cover-2 was designed to stop the spread-option zone-read, eh?

I normally don't bite on the Tebow-baiting that goes on in the media. If I did, I would be posting rants all the time. However, with that said, I'm going to bite right now.

Once in a while, you hear an argument so fallacious, so flawed, so egregious, so odious, so counter-factual, so conspicuously bad that you just can't let it pass. Such was the case this week. A number of commentators, including my own dear Marshall Faulk, seem to think the disciplined and deep Tampa-Two defense is designed to stop the Spread-Option Zone Read offense.

Say wahhhhh...??? WTF?!?!?

Specifically, several dudes including Merril Hodge and Marshall Faulk seem to think the Chicago Bear defense can thump Tim Tebow and the Broncos today. That is the specific context we're talking about today.

Folks, nothing in the world could be further from the truth. The Tampa-Two is essentially the same defensive philosophy the 1970's Pittsburgh Steelers played. It is a base 4-3 defense in which the MLB drops back deep in the zone on passing plays. The two safeties split left and right and cover the side-lines. If you have a linebacker as great as Jack Lambert, Derrick Brooks, or London Fetcher, it works very well... against the passing offense.

The entire notion of the scheme is to stop the deep pass. Chuck Noll invented the defense because his chief enemies on AFC side of the fence were the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders ran an aggressive Gillman-Coryell vertical passing attack. They threw towards the end zone, not the sideline. A slightly shorter version of this defense has been employed very effectively by Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith to thump the West Coast offense.

Now, I can assure you that Tom Landry never had the Zone-Read Spread Option (ZRSO) offense in mind when he invented the 4-3. I know for a fact he never saw this thing in his entire life. I can also assure you that Chuck Noll never had the ZRSO in mind when he tweaked Landry's 4-3 to produce the Steel-Curtain defense. I can further assure you that Tony Dungy didn't have the ZRSO in mind when he (slightly) modified it for use against the WCO. I can assure you Tony never taught Lovie how the Tampa-Two could be employed to stop the Urban Meyer ZRSO.

No folks, the ZRSO is almost nothing like the deep-strike Gillman-Coryell offense. Neither is it the West Coast Offense. It is a option running assault in which the QB is the prime ball carrier. He can also throw, but he is primarily a runner. I cannot comprehend how this disciplined pass defense, in which the MLB is dropping back into coverage, can automatically be employed to defeat a running QB. This makes no sense.

On the contrary, I see the ZRSO as putting incredible pressure--breaking pressure--on a disciplined cover-2. The MLB cannot drop deep and handle the middle. If he does, the QB goes up the middle. If the MLB comes up to stuff the running QB, he throws the football over his head, jump-pass style.

This offense was designed to piss Brian Urlacher off like no other offense Brian has ever faced before. I think he is going to be one hell of a frustrated man today.

Do you need evidence instead of reason? How about the game last week? You know and I know that the Vikings run the Tampa-Two. You do know that right? Most of commentators showed how the Viking safeties were biting on the inside routes rather than going to the side-lines against the Broncos last week. These 'mistakes' resulted in several of Tim Tebow's big passes to Demaryius Thomas.

Unfortunately, these were not mistakes. They were trap plays. The Broncos were over-loading the zone, sending receivers on matched-pairs of deep 8 and 9 routes. That is a bitch for the Safety. He has to bite on one of the routes. He can't let them both go. If the QB is good, which ever choice the safety makes, he will be wrong. The QB will go to the other receiver. I am sure the Viking Safeties were coached to take the shorter 8 route, as the DCs of this league don't think much of Tim's passing abilities. That's what they did. Tim busted them on the 9 route.

Anyway, I am getting far too specific. Understand this: The Tampa-Two was designed to stop high-flying passing attacks. It was never designed to stop QB-Option running attack. Those who say it is are absolutely and completely crazy. It just 'taint not so.