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For the defensive coordinator:

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I believe that Bill Walsh was and always will be correct that the key to success is a sustained fourth quarter pass rush. I have also always inferred that the pass rush should ought to be good from the first to the third quarter as well.

How to do this? Depends on your guys. If you have gifted pass rushers, great. If you don, then you need to hire Dick LeBeau. Or at least incorporate a variety of blitz packages, both zone blitz wherein the pressure comes heavy from a hopefully unexpected direction with other guys filling, to a Gritz Blitz tactic wherein you bring ten guys after the QB.

As with everything I want my team to do, rely on the talent available and don't hang the players out to dry. I will again use the Bills as an example. In the secondary, Leodis McKelvin is an excellent player in straight up man to man coverage. Too often under Dick Jauron he was asked to fit into a zone scheme. That made him look like a bust. With the current team, they have a bevy of gifted pass rushers, and they have too often asked them to drop into zone coverage. Outsmarting themselves week after week.

It is great to do the unexpected, as long as you have a good reason for it. If the only reason you are doing it is because it is so ridiculous they would never expect it, that ain't good enough. If you are dropping Lawrence Taylor into coverage you had better believe that the other team is better than 90% likely to throw the ball where you are sending him.

Stop the run. Right. You can do it.

1. First priority is do not let them convert any third down longer than six yards to go.
2. Hit the quarterback and any receiver who catches the ball.
3. Hit the running back, too.
4. Train your pass rushers to recognize a screen. At they very least if a blitzed or other edge rusher is being blocked by a TEorRB on the dye of or outside the line and the QB is going straight backwards, let someone else get the QB. Do not let that TE or RB let go of you. They run funny when it is a screen, except for Dan Fouts. The backpedal is not in the current playbook under any other circumstances.
5. Back to number 1, again using the Bills. I highlight Jauron, but it has happened too often for years under ever coordinator between Wade Phillips and Mike Pettine. On third and long the other guys were routinely allowed to run the routes they wanted, usually the required yardage to convert plus one, in the hope they will drop it, but at least you didn't let them get behind you. This has led to fifteen years of no playoffs. First, hit the receivers when they try to get off the line of scrimmage. Not every play, perhaps, but more often than not. Interrupt their timing. Alter their spacing. Better odds of success than hoping they drop it.
A. If the guys doing the covering are playing off the line, they better be planning to jump a specific route or two. E.g., on third and 16, the CB better be expecting a slant, hitch, in, or out at 17 yards and get to the ball first. Trust the safety to have your back on the hitch and go
6. If you are playing a Gronkowski type and don't have someone with a prayer of covering him, make him be a blocker if he is in the tight end position, and slow him at the snap, EVERY TIME. By make him a blocker I mean whoever he blocks does not let go of him. Push him back if you can, but don't be a hero. If it is a run force the play wider and trust your outside guy to help. If it is a pass you aren't getting a snack on this play and that is OK.

I have theories about changing positions. One is this: you can move a guy closer to the middle of the field, but it is rare that you can go the other way. On defense, try your second tier corners at safety, and turn your second tier defensive ends into defensive tackles. Also outside linebackers into inside linebackers, IF You don't have really good players at those interior positions.

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Updated 11-22-2015 at 08:31 AM by ScottDCP

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