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The Cluer

In a followup to Paul’s informative post yesterday, we want to discuss another aspect of Perry Fewell’s scheme that prevents the Giants from beatiing the best teams. 

Pete has spent time last offseason discussing how the Tampa 2 is a flawed defense.    Notably, the Tampa 2 was created to leverage the skills of a fast Lber who could cover in space (Brooks), thereby allowing more Safety help for their weaker corners. 

Paul and I have discussed how the use of off-coverage diminishes the productivity and DELEVERAGES the physical press skills of Thomas and Webster.

A third element of Fewell’s scheme is the use of the Secondary’s eyes to look into the backfield for where the ball was going.  The Giants defensive backs discussed this in training camp.  Fewell openly instructed the DBs to keep an eye (or two) on the QB for clues to where the ball was going.  The goal was more interceptions.  The problem with this strategy is that it works fine vs the weaker QBs who cannot manage the entire field.  But against the best QBs in the NFL, the scheme backfires. We saw how the DBs were beaten like a drum on the Nelson TD by a QB who toyed with the defense.  Yes, Rolle was victimized by play action, but if Fewell has these guys focused on their assignments instead of the backfield, the TD certainly does not happen.  

What Rodgers did on this play was nothing new.  This is what good Quarterbacks do.  They watch film and they study what the tendencies of the DBs are.  If the QB sees that certain DBs are prone to the play action, the pump fake or the eyes of the QB following a certain WR, they will use that against them.  Why?  Because they can.  

As a Giants fan, I suffered through the 70’s, when the Skins and Boys dominated the NFC East and toyed with the Gmen.  Those were lean years, but they taught us a lot about football.  The Cowboys studied a lot of film.  Roger Staubach was one of those artists who might have been one of the smartest to ever suit up behind Center.  Spare yourself some pain (do not re-live the nightmare of Randy White et al), Fast Forward to 33:25 of the Video link, and watch what Staubach does to Vikings CB Bobby Bryant.  In short, Staubach preys upon the CB’s tendency to look into the backfield for clues, hence Drew Pearson’s nickname for him, “The Cluer.”  

Aaron Rodgers reminds me very much of Roger Staubach in many ways.  Both were/are very cerebral.  Both QBs can scramble out of a jam despite being consistent pocket passers.  I would go as far to say that Rodgers’ trajectory if his career continues is for more accuracy than Staubach.  

But this discussion is not about how good Rodgers is.  It is about what your defense needs to do to win a title.  And right now, Perry Fewell’s schemes will not beat the best QBs.  The Tampa 2.  The lack of press.  The eyes in the backfield.  These schemes beat bad QBs and they fail against the best.  Everyone right now has lowered confidence about our CBs, and they welcome the addition of Prince Amukamara.  The problem with the defense last year may look like bad Safety play or bad CB play, but it is a function of them playing bad schemes and being forced to play quasi-LBer.     

Borrowing from Pete- who was the leading tackler for the Giants last year?  Terrell Thomas, with 81.  Who was 2nd?  Another member of the Secondary, Antrel Rolle, with 76.  Who was the 3rd leading tackler?  Yet another member of the Secondary, Kenny Phillips with 60, tied with LBer Michael Boley.  Maybe if these guys take their eyes off the backfield and keep their eyes on their assignments, they’ll make a few less tackles and the Lbers will do what they have to do.  Oh wait, we don’t have any LBers, scratch that idea.