It's the time of the NFL off-season when rosters are being picked apart, scrutinized and optimized as teams head into training camp. That must be why there is a buzz surrounding the Bills' defense currently - more specifically, its apparent shortcomings. Here's two little tidbits that I found interesting this past week that have a lot to do with each other:
Chris Brown's blog has an interesting statement about the Bills' plans in the secondary this season:
Whoa, wait a minute. Don't we talk all the time about Buffalo's Cover-2 (zone) scheme? It's true that after a few bad games last year, the Bills turned to a lot of man coverage to keep defenses from picking too much on Terrence McGee. But that was with Nate Clements - and he is now obviously gone. I don't really see a purpose to using more man coverage than last season when the current CB personnel is probably better suited to playing short zone coverage (i.e., these guys are solid tacklers but not so great staying with receivers, with the possible exception of McGee). Perhaps it has to do with...
... the lack of a consistent pass rush. Connor Byrne has written a good article with the following thesis: Aaron Schobel is overrated. I found this particular statistic interesting:
Schobel is the only player on the Bills' roster who can say that he is a pass rush specialist. Playing a defense that depends so heavily on quarterback pressure (the Cover-2) is a bad idea when your star defensive end isn't as reliable as most think. We've been saying this for a while here at Rumblings - a more consistent pass rush is needed to make this defense work. Without that feature, we need to find a way to tighten up our coverage. That means more man defense.
So for now, it seems, the only defensive position that has the ideal personnel to succeed in Perry Fewell's scheme is linebacker. Go figure.
I'll have much more on the secondary tomorrow morning. For now, I'd love to hear what everyone thinks about the man vs. zone coverage argument.