I'll say this once, so pay attention. EVERY TEAM IN THE NFL HAS A COVER 2 DEFENSE (and many now have the Tampa 2) IN THEIR PLAYBOOK. First off, sorry for shouting, and secondly, that CAPTARD moment wasn't for everyone, just the stubborn bunch that constantly criticize the Bears pass defense ‘for sitting in the cover 2'. Yes, we all know where the holes in the standard Cover 2 are, and yes, by now we all know how the Tampa 2 variation of the Cover 2 (in theory) helps take away the holes, but what a number of fans are not realizing is the Bears DO NOT (ok, that's the last of my Kayne caps moment...) sit in their Tampa 2 defense all the time. Actually... the season they ran the Tampa 2 the most was the Super Bowl season under defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. The reason? The players they had in 2006 were far superior than the players they've had since.
The scheme is sound if you have the players that can make it work, which is why they haven't run it as often, they don't have the players that can make it work. If the defensive line is getting constant pressure, the zone defenders have less time to cover their zones. Any NFL QB with time to find holes will. That 3 Technique tackle collapsing the pocket coupled with a pass rushing defensive end would solve damn near most of the Bears problems. Even though I think the Tampa 2 defense can still be an effective base defense to build a playbook around, that doesn't mean it's a be all end all. Like I said unless you have the correct personnel to run the scheme it has problems, and it could use some tweaking.
Quick tangent... the "new" way to defeat the Tampa 2 is to throw to a receiver, short over the middle, and many times a running back, directly where the middle linebacker would be in a normal Cover 2. Brett Favre did this numerous time in the Monday Nighter a few weeks back. The QB simply waits for the MLB to streak back to his deep middle Tampa 2 responsibility then he'll dump it to the back over the middle. Again, any push up the middle would help thwart this. OK, now back to my post...
The part of their defense that can irk me on occasion is the one gap aspect of it. Don't get me wrong, I like the one gap attacking defense, in fact I've used it the last few years on the team I coach (we run a 5-3 and the kids are 8th graders, but you get my point). It's a defense that requires so much discipline and the right kind of player. If one player doesn't maintain their cap control, the defense could fail. In theory the speed of the defensive players should be able to make up for a breakdown in gap containment (one reason the weak-side linebacker makes so many tackles), but again so much falls on the defensive line. If the four down lineman are quick enough to penetrate and smart enough not to over-pursue, you end up with running backs having to stop and start again or cut before they want to. If you disrupt the timing in the run game your players then can allow their natural athletic ability to take over and make plays.
It's apparent the scheme isn't going anywhere, but they need to offer up some changes to how they get into their defense. Lovie Smith started to bring in some zone blitzing principals by dropping his defensive ends into coverage a bit more than we've been accustomed to seeing, something I briefly touched on in a post that was lost in the all the commotion of yesterday (Bears Still Mugging Up To The A Gaps, check it out!), but I'd like to see even more of this creative stuff.
They could still utilize a Tampa 2 look, but use a corner and a safety as the two deep guys while having the other safety come up and take the corners zone responsibility. The CB dropping deep could give the illusion of a Cover 3, or the safety coming up could give the illusion of a Cover 1 or maybe even cause the QB to read man to man. The Bears may alreadyhave some variations of this in their playbook for all I know, it just isn't touched on much by the media or during game broadcasts.
Also, would it be so bad to rush three and drop eight once in a while? Just to give a QB a different look and something else to think about. Three deep with five under, or better yet, two deep with a traditional Tampa 2 look with the extra defender taking away the aforementioned short middle. Or maybe even a two deep, four under, with your two corners playing man to man.
The point is, who ever comes in as defensive coordinator will need some fresh ideas on the Tampa 2 scheme. He'll obviously know the shortcomings of his new team, and their strengths. Yes, they will have some strengths. And even if he is a Lovie "guy", he'll need to have the confidence in his knowledge of the scheme to be able to add his imprint to the defense. Unless the Bears can plan on a healthy Brian Urlacher, a top flight free safety, a Pro Bowl caliber Tommie Harris, and a 12 sack performance from one of their defensive ends, the Tampa 2 as we know it MUST evolve.