Yesterday we discussed the keys to defending the spread offense. Today we will discuss adjustments made which could be a sign of DC evolving to combat the instillation of the spread offense schematics into today’s NFL. Also, we'll recap some of the Giants news leading up to SF on Sunday.
Lovie Smith, much like Perry Fewell, is well known as a disciple of the Tampa 2 base defense. The strength of their defense is their LB play with Briggs and Urlacher who can both cover. But Lovie made some adjustments to combat the speed and the spread concept offense of the Eagles. In Matt Bowen’s article on National Football Post reviewing the Bears-Eagles game Lovie’s “game plan from the Bears surprised” him. Bowen acknowledged that the Bears run “a core Tampa 2 defense” where they rush for and drop 7 into coverage. That changed Monday with Lovie, who "wanted to play man-coverage and bring pressure” versus Vick.
The Bears had a very similar play that we saw against the Patriots with zone pressure. Bowen looks “back to Vick’s INT in the red zone. The Bears sent Nickel pressure (called “Nickel Fox”). Rush five and drop six into coverage. LB Lance Briggs (“middle hook” player) will read any route that works back to the middle of the field. Briggs gets a solid break on the ball and it leads to a Major Wright INT. “ This was very similar to the Kiwi interception of Brady with Boley tipping a pass over the middle.
The Gmen have a chance to bury the Eagles next week. The gmen's chances will rise if they take a page from Lovie by playing “man coverage and challenge the speed in Philly.” Adjustments have to be made moving forward to combat the speed skill set required to run the spread. It’s interesting to see Lovie Smith, a stalwart of the Tampa 2, change his base defense to adjust to the speed of the Eagles. All great coordinators adapt and adjust or they will soon be NFL, not for long.
Back to NY Giants news...
1) Bradshaw will not play
2) Amukamara's timetable to return has not as fast as everyone expected, although he is practicing a lot
3) Nicks did individual drills and the coaches/trainers will make a determination on Friday whether he plays vs SF
4) Da'Rel Scott will be replacing Devin Thomas on kickoff returns
5) Giants are +3.5 this weekend
Some comments from the players on the upcoming game versus the stingy SF run defense on NJ.com:
“If you ask me, they’re a linebacker defense in the run game,” Jacobs said.
With Willis and Bowman, the Niners have a set of dynamic inside linebackers that make running games one-dimensional. Bowman is tied for second in the league in tackles, but Willis is a three-time First-Team All-Pro, the star of their defense.
“(Willis is) a tremendous player,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “It’s two very good linebackers that are running around making a lot of tackles. It’s such a different approach than some people that we’ve faced who are very complex. They’re just very, very well coached. They have very good players and they are physical.”
The Niners’ defense is predicated on their linemen eating up blockers so Willis and Bowman can roam free. There is no running laterally against San Francisco, only north and south.