Washington Commanders Tampa 2 Rotations
Against the Giants, Jack Del Rio and Co. used post-snap rotations to attack Daniel Jones.
Though much has been said about the explosion in split-field coverages and two-high alignments in the NFL, the league is still firmly entrenched in the single-high universe. The rise of Quarters usage since ‘18 marks a transition in how defenses approach attacking offenses, but it isn’t a wholesale change in attitude.
The Spread Revolution that started in ‘18 is about to cycle back; it always does. I wrote in Hybrids there is a natural cycle within football. Offenses jump ahead with a new concept, forcing the defenses to adjust. Defenses gain a slight advantage, and the offenses recalibrate their philosophies. The timeline of the “lag” is what separates great defensive coaches from the average.
In the past five years, we have seen NFL offenses explode in efficiency and scoring; last year, average points scored in a game dropped. Defenses have adjusted by playing hybrid players and coverages from a two-high shell.
Hybrid players are nothing unique. We saw this same evolution happen back in the late ‘90s early-’00s with the Tampa 2; when defenses started to go “light,” offenses returned to heavier personnel groupings. 2022 looks to be the year where the pendulum swung back in the defense’s favor. Now comes the adjustment.
Naturally, we saw teams like the Chiefs turn to more 12- and 13-personnel packages. The larger bodies forced defenses to make a choice. Stay in a hybrid defense and get muscled off the line, or go big and get run by down the field. Offenses now have the tools from the Spread Revolution amplified by the manipulation of space with larger personnel groupings. A reminder that being a defensive coach is not fun!
So, what does this have to do with coverage? First, the Spread has won. We are not going back. Offenses now understand how to manipulate and use space like never before. Football has become increasingly about throwing the ball. A five-yard run is a five-yard run, but a five-yard pass could go for 50 and a touchdown. I like to phrase it, Spatial Darwinism.
As offenses begin to mesh Spread concepts with hybrid players and larger personnel groupings, defenses must live within lighter units, where game planning and schematic evolutions occur. Stopping the run is still a premium, though.
How do defenses stop the run with coverage? Utilizing a top-down mentality and baiting QBs into RPO/“blind” play-acton throws into coverage is exactly what we are seeing from many NFL teams. The counter will be to beef up the run game to get the defense to over-commit. Thus the cycle continues.
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