Ian Boyd has an interesting post up about pass coverage in this new era of offense. It boils down to one rule for him:
You have to have three good coverage players on the field to survive against the better passing teams.
Now I would come back and argue that there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat, but Boyd has an answer for some of that, too.
In the modern era teams can often get by while just having solid players along the DL but there’s no escaping your doom if you don’t have some good players in the defensive backfield. An opponent will get their good receivers and passing game fixed on your poor DB play, run the ball well enough to keep you from diverting resources, and shred you.
Try to blitz them and you can just exacerbate the issue by short-manning the coverage against quick game staples that QBs can execute in their sleep. Unless you have players that can hold up long enough to take away the quick throws and buy an extra second for the blitzers, yes the rule of three makes for a better blitzing team.
Most opponents don’t stack their two best receivers on the outside, 2014 West Virginia excepted, but will often put their 2nd best or even best receiver in the slot where they can counter-balance the outside receiver and help a team execute a quick passing game to march down the field.
How many college defenses these days can put three good secondary coverage guys out there? (And if you’re Georgia, how many great in state defensive backs are there in a recruiting class?)
It would be nice to have them, but I think a top flight defensive coordinator gets paid the big bucks to figure out ways to hamstring a passing attack even when he doesn’t have the numbers. Or he has to manufacture the numbers.
When a team can match up with the offense’s top three receivers with solid to good coverage players, it really complicates things and can send a collegiate QB to a dark place, mentally. Some teams will do this with tight pattern-matching, most all are trying to do it by recruiting and developing as many good coverage players as possible, and perhaps more will try to match cross-trained receiving studs with cross-trained secondaries and “Ace” DBs.
Kinda sounds like what Pruitt’s up to.
In the end, it all comes back to something we’ve heard every DC at Georgia say. You’ve got to confuse the quarterback just enough.
That’s where Boyd winds up, too.
At the end of the day, defenses that want to survive in the modern game will have to get back on the offensive and attack the quarterback’s ability to quickly deliver the ball to open targets by either observing the rule of three or finding another cheat.
Ain’t no cheat like a monster pass rush.