So, I’m not going to lie to you and say that this is going to be our next great series of smears. Admittedly, we do lose focus and go back and forth between subject, or worse yet, abandon one right when it starts to get momentum. But at the very least, we’re going to give this one a try.
If you’re a sports fan, you’re a Monday morning quarterback. Plain and simple. If you don’t think you can do the manager/coach/GM/owner’s job better than him, you’re not a real fan. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can call yourself a passive fan… or an observer. But every real fan thinks he can do it better, including Shaun and myself.
Can we? Maybe. But probably not quite to the level we think. That said, it should be universally agreed that certain strategies/moves/personnel decisions should be grounds for immediate firing. Period, end of story. Today, we start with the first.
The Offense: The Prevent Defense
The Concept: A football team deploys 7 or 8 defensive backs to try and keep their opponents from driving down the field in the final two minutes of a half. Theoretically, the offense will be throwing because time is limited. Therefore, they will be playing at least 4 wide receivers. So it makes perfect sense to throw every cornerback and safety on your roster onto the field to defend all those receivers, right? Actually, the only thing a prevent defense has ever prevented is winning. What you are telling your opponent when you line up in a prevent defense is that you want them to score. You don’t want to win. For whatever reason, you are handing them the game, or at the very least, letting them score on that drive.
Why it’s a Fireable Offense: It has never worked. Not once, in the history of football, can anyone point to “successful execution of a prevent defense” as the reason for them winning a game. Therefore, there are no logical grounds to ever deploy it.
Why it Doesn’t Work: There are two main reasons. The first one is, you are virtually guaranteeing that at least two, if not up to four, of the best players on your defense will not be on the field during the game’s most critical times. Most teams during regular downs and times will play about 4 defensive lineman, 3 linebackers, and 4 defensive backs on defense. Their 11 best defensive players, if you will. In a prevent defense, teams will play up to 8 defensive backs (though not usually more than 7) and only 3 defensive lineman. Done. That means, in the most extreme of examples, one of your best defensive linemen and your three best linebackers are not on the field in favor of up to 4 defensive backs that are not good enough to crack the starting line up. Let me repeat this. During the game’s most critical time, one third of your defensive team is made up of players that are not your best. Doesn’t that sound idiotic? But wait, there’s more. The second reason is, it’s virtually impossible to generate any pressure on the quarterback from a prevent defense. Essentially, you are rushing three guys against a five man offensive line and a half back who will hang out next to his QB for several seconds just in case the unlikely event occurs that a rusher gets through the line. He will then chip block the rusher, delaying him from reaching the quarterback long enough for at least one offensivel lineman to recover and reengage blocking him. The back can then leave the backfield, turning himself into a receiving option as well. In the meantime, the quarterback has had up to 10 seconds to find an open receiver, scramble for yards and get out of bounds, or wing the ball into the bench to stop the clock in the unlikely event that the pass defense comprised mostly of non-first stringers has managed to sufficently cover all the receivers. Are you telling me that a quarterback who plays on the professional level cannot find an open receiver in ten seconds? If you are, you’re wrong… and most likely brain damaged. If a team needs to drive, say, 70 yards in the final two minutes of a game, and can average just ten yards for every two plays (remember, the clock stops on an incompletion), and has even one of their three timeouts left, they can do that in 140 seconds. Just over 2 minutes. If all they needed was a field goal, game over. And the reality is, every team can accomplish that standard in way less time with way greater yards per play.
The Latest Offender: The new coach of my beloved Rams, Jeff Fisher. Just judging by how close the Rams kept the high powered Lions shows that they are indeed improved under Fisher. However, he should be fired. The Rams could have won after taking a 3 point lead with less than 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Fisher deployed a prevent defense, allowing the Lions to drive 80 yards in 1 minute and 50 seconds for the winning touchdown. The icing on the cake, the only other time the Lions were able to successfully march down the field ALL GAME against a young and untested Rams defense was at the end of the first half when the Rams were in, you guessed it, a prevent defense.
To conclude, a prevent defense is, in essence, a concession. What owner in their right mind would ever employ a coach who concedes victory? If the answer is “not a single one,” then Jeff Fisher should be fired because he essentially conceded the Lions the game from a position of victory. Could the Lions have driven down the field against a conventional defense? Maybe. Sure. But they handn’t done it all game. Why not sticks with what works. Will Fisher be fired? Of course not. And he will probably improve the standard of the Rams’ play over the next couple of years as coach. But make no mistake, he’s not a winner. And here is your proof. And yes, I am a Rams fan and I am bitter.