August 13, 2008

The Washington Redskins Should Take No Part in the "Cover Two" Defense

Thus far in the preseason, the Redskins have employed both zone and man-to-man defenses. Anyone who has watched the 'Skins for the past year knows which one the 'Skins should embrace.

Man-to-man allows the 'Skins to get physical with wideouts and prevent them from running free through seams. It gives free safety LaRon Landry the freedom to roam the field and use his excellent football smarts to break up plays, while Reed Doughty can play closer to the line of scrimmage where he has shown himself to be much more comfortable.

The man-to-man-press scheme benefits Shawn Springs, who became a shutdown corner by the end of the year. After the first game against Dallas last season (in which T.O. torched us for four TDs while the 'Skins were using the cover-two scheme), Gregg Williams admitted that he should have put Springs on T.O.

Once the playoff push began, Springs came into his own, as Williams went at it with reckless abandon in a press coverage that mugged receivers all the way down the field.

Springs is a year older, but hasn't seemed to be a step slower. He is a viable option to shut down all challengers, and this luxury enables the 'Skins to focus on one less player on offense.

When T.O. comes to town, Springs can handle him with very little help. This leaves Landry and the others in the secondary with the task of stopping Jason Witten. When the Bengals host us, Springs will be able to single-handedly contain T.J. or C.J. With Springs, the defense has less to worry about.

Man-to-man also allows the linebacking corps to play up on the line of scrimmage. They played much of the year in zone, allowing receivers to sneak in underneath. The 'Skins were so afraid of the big play last year that they gave up a lot of big drives instead.

Overall, man coverage is the best option for the 'Skins defense. They have guys on the line that will get pressure on the quarterback, enabling the secondary to press the receivers and throw off the timing.

Cover two is not meant for this team. The scheme demands perfection and great athletes. The Redskins don't have the athletes to run the system perfectly. One breakdown and everything collapses.

Here's why the 'Skins are not suited to run this defense.

Firstly, Reed Doughty does not have the speed or cover skills to play in it. Last year, he was the reason T.O. had his way with us. Safeties are the last line of defense in the cover two, they are responsible for everything outside the hash marks, more than 10 yards down the field. Doughty can't handle that.

Next, it's a waste of cornerback talent. Corners play 10 yards downfield and then everything falls to the safeties. You do not have to possess great corners to be effective in the cover two (the Colts had Jason David and Nick Harper).

The 'Skins have a shutdown corner who can hold his own, while Landry helps out the rest. So why not use them?

Thirdly, the linebackers are at their best when swarming to the ball and playing the run. London Fletcher shouldn't be eight to 10 yards back. He is a run stopper who doesn't have the speed to play in a cover-two scheme.

Rocky McIntosh and Marcus Washington can cover, but I just don't like the linebackers playing so far off the ball. It opens up seams underneath, something the 'Skins were burned by many times last year.

Also, it fails to allow Landry to roam. Being a FREE safety was Landry's strong suit as he blossomed late last year.

The cover two doesn't bring out the best in these Redskins, so I don't understand why the coaching staff even bothers with it. We did see less of it during Saturday's game, and hopefully the increased man coverage against Buffalo is a sign of things to come in the nation's capital.

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