Those of you complaining about Chaney’s second-half playcalling in the national title game, okay, fine. Just explain something to me, first: how would you scheme around Da’Ron Payne, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Rashaan Evans?
Evans finished tied for the lead in total tackles with 74 including eight run stuffs and in pass defense he added six sacks and three pass break-ups. Fitzpatrick was third in tackles, had seven pass break-ups and an INT, and also made six run stuffs. Payne’s impact was quiet statistically (one sack, seven run stuffs) but he was the heart of the defense and regularly clogged up the interior for the Tide’s athletic backfield.
The result of Evans and Fitzpatrick being so good in coverage and versatile enough to each play two primary positions had the effect of making Alabama “matchup-proof.” Both of them could man your typical slot WR or TE without being overwhelmed and needing an in/out bracket from a down safety. That then freed the Tide to play both safeties over the top to help the corners or to bring extra defenders on the blitz. It was also nearly impossible to find a favorable angle or matchup inside with Da’Ron Payne owning the interior and rag dolling opposing centers.
Georgia was able to throw on guys not named Fitzpatrick and Evans and also ran the ball well on a few key third downs when Alabama got caught playing man coverage with our two heroes turning their backs to the backfield (until the Tide started dropping a safety to eliminate that problem).
The good news is they’re gone.