This is not news. This is as much true now as it was back in the 70's when the Pittsburgh Steelers were riding the Cover 2 scheme to four Super Bowls. Or when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Indianapolis Colts were utilizing the Tampa 2 defense to win their respective more recent titles. That defense, and any defense for that matter, can be beat.
The National Football Post's Matt Bowen, who does great X's and O's type stuff over there, recently wrote at article breaking down a couple plays that can beat the Tampa 2. That article can be found here. It's a real good read, as is his look at the Tampa 2, which I'll link here. If you're into the chalkboard type stuff you should definitely head over and check his stuff out.
With Rod Marinelli taking over defensive play-calling responsibilities the base Tampa 2 scheme isn't gonna change. The Bears will run the same basic Lovie Smith defense that was utilized with Ron Rivera as defensive coordinator, that they ran with Bob Babich as DC, and with Lovie himself calling the plays. The difference will be in what kind of tweaks Marinelli will wrinkle in. But the most important aspect of the defense will be if the players play good.
You can diagram plays to beat the defense all day, but if the players execute properly, if the secondary makes correct and timely reads, and most importantly if the defensive line can get after the quarterback, the Bears defense will have a bounce back season.
They still do need to mix in some different things, and Marinelli will need to put his stamp on the D, but I think he'll bring something to the table that seems to be lacking in years past. Accountability.
Brian Urlacher from Mondays Chicago Sun Times (the bold is mine);
''He's right to the point,'' Urlacher said of the Bears' new defensive coordinator. ''You're going to do it his way or you're not going to play. That's the way he is. It's pretty easy. Do what he wants you to do, and you'll play if you're athletic enough and good enough and fast enough.''
And Marinelli from the same article;
''If you want to look at stats, I don't want to go there,'' Marinelli said. ''What I'm looking for is every snap we max out and there's no inconsistencies, no up and down, no waves. What I like to see is for us to play our system, play it exactly right, play it with maximum speed, effort, angle tackling and play that snap as well as we can. Then play another one."
Even though this will be his first time calling a defense, his 14 years of experience in the NFL will serve him well. And let us not forget after his stint coaching high school ball from 1973-75, he coached in the college ranks from 1976-95. I'll bet he can talk shop with the most experienced of play-callers.
But getting back to my initial thought on teams being able to beat certain defensive schemes (I kind of got off track there a bit). In Matt Bowen's PFT article he ends it on this note (again the bold is mine);
Like we talked about when we broke down the Tampa 2, it is a solid call when run correctly. But, like any scheme, it can be beat.
There are places to attack every defense. Offenses can exploit any thing a defense does if the right call is on or if the right audible is made. The Tampa 2 isn't the only zone defense that has weaknesses. There are holes in quarters coverage (4 deep or cover 4), in Cover 3, in Cover 1, there are ways to attack bump and run man coverage. A good offensive game plan accounts for anything a defense will throw at them. A defense has to have players making plays to be truly effective.
Good defenses can be helped along by some good play-calling, but I guarantee if you take a look throughout history, you'll find some damn good players on many top defenses. Last year the Jets made some great strides on defense after their new head coach Rob Ryan implemented a variation on the Bears old 46 defense. What really helped his scheme along was having the ultimate shut down corner in Darrelle Revis.
The 2009 Packers are an example of a scheme change really helping a defense. They went form the 20th ranked D in 2008 to the 2nd ranked D in 2009 after switching to a 3-4 defense, but take a look at their players. They have a really good secondary led by Charles Woodson that would be effective in most any style. Then adding an edge rusher in rookie Clay Mathews gave them that ingredient to help the scheme change along.
And speaking of the scheme, as it's been said many times, every team runs a variation of the Cover 2. The Bears, Colts, and Vikings have been running it as their base D for some time now. The Panthers went to it more last year, and this year the Giants and the Buccaneers will be putting it in. So talk of that D being a way of the past is a bit misleading. Sure the D has evolved, and it may not be run in it's truest form as much, but if you have the personnel to work it, it can be effective. Do the Bears have the players to make their D work? We've been told they do, and we've see them do so at points in their careers, but will they put it all together in 2010 is the question we need to see answered.