Steelers Took Advantage Of Eagles Inexperience On The Last DriveBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, General News, News Monday, October 8th, 2012
On the last drive of the game, the Birds made the mistake of telegraphing the coverages they were in to an experienced quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger to make it easy for the Steelers. Big Ben is one of the best third down quarterbacks in the NFL because he’s quick to recognize the coverages. You have to disguise what you’re in, just like a pitcher in Major League Baseball can’t just continue to throw his fastball to good professional hitters, even if he’s throwing a 100 mile an hour fastball.
They were playing two coverages, one is a called two-man, which is a man-to-man coverage with the two safeties sitting deep over the top of five players in man-to-man coverage. They were in the two-man coverage, when the Steelers ran a brush or pick play with tight end Heath Miller and another outside receiver, picking rookie Brandon Boykin who was lined up inside in man-to-man on wide Emanuel Sanders. Sanders, who was lined up inside, ran a short route outside. Miller and the receiver didn’t run into Boykin, so the refs couldn’t call a pick. They just made sure they made Boykin run around them, so that Sanders would be open on the play.
Pittsburgh knew the Eagles were in that two-man coverage, so it was an easy call. All of the Eagles defenders came up to the line of scrimmage and focused on the man they were covering. Roethlisberger was sure of what coverage they were in before he snapped the football. This play occurred on third and four on the Philadelphia 38-yard line and the completion went for seven yards for the first down to Sanders, which put them in position for an easier field goal attempt.
Boykin and the rest of the secondary must learn to make the two-man coverage look like the Tampa two-zone coverage. If they were to stay off of the receivers until the last split-second before the ball is snapped, it would make the quarterback think they’re in the Tampa-two zone. They should be moving around before the ball is snapped, so that you don’t telegraph the coverage. You can’t let a guy like Roethlisberger know what you’re going to play.
Veteran defenders could also sense the brush or pick play was coming and play an “in and out” on the play, which would have let Boykin switch and take one of the receivers who was coming inside and the corner, who was outside would take Sanders, who was coming outside on the play. It would have fooled Roethlisberger and resulted in the outside corner getting the chance of an interception. They must learn from this because they’re going to see it again.
The only way you can accomplish this, is from communication and experience. You anticipate the play and communicate by yelling “in and out” or a code word like “banjo”, which was our word for “in and out” coverage. As linebackers, we had to play in and out coverage on bootlegs with the tight end coming inside and the fullback going outside, so we made a banjo or in and out call. A veteran like Joselio Hanson would have recognized that situation and made the adjustment. Boykin will recognize that the next time.
On the other conversion which took place with the Steelers in a third and 12 from their own 18 yard line. The Eagles were in the Tampa two-zone on that play, and again they didn’t try to disguise what they were playing. In addition, the two rookies Boykin and outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks didn’t look up the receivers, who were running routes over the middle. They just dropped into their zone, didn’t lock down the receivers in their area. It looked like they had no idea where the receivers were after the ball was snapped.
When you play the Tampa two-zone on the NFL level, you’re really playing man-to-man in a zone. That means you clamp or move right next to anybody, who comes into your zone. With the rifle-armed NFL quarterbacks, it’s not good enough to simply try to read the quarterback’s eyes. Yes you must do that, but you also have to move next to anybody who comes into your zone or with these strong-armed quarterback, you’re only going to get their late unless you clamp on the receiver once he comes into yor area.
The two rookies, Boykin and Kendricks, were unaware of where the receiver, Antoine Brown was on the 3rd and 12, where he caught the ball for a 20-yard gain. They weren’t aware of where the receivers lined up and where they were coming from. You must have your head on a swivel and be looking to your right and to your left, back and forth, in the Tampa two-zone as you drop, so you know who is coming into your zone.
This is the key. You must focus on the quarterback’s eyes, while using you peripheral vision to see the receivers coming into and through your zone. It’s not an easy coverage, but something these youngsters must master.
Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and secondary coach Todd Bowles must sit down with these youngsters and teach them how to make sure they know where the receivers are located. They have to get more depth in a situation like that and keep the receivers in front of them. They must clamp onto any receivers in their area, while simultaneously focusing on the eyes of the quarterback. Again they must use their peripheral vision to see the receivers in their area.
Castillo and Bowles like to play the two-man most of the time because their young defenders don’t play the Tampa two-zone nearly as well as they play the two-man coverage. The youngsters must learn from this loss.
Castillo and Bowles must mix in some blitzes in situations where the defensive line isn’t getting to the quarterback. For the second week in a row, the Eagles defensive line failed to register a quarterback sack. You have to send your linebackers after the quarterback because all the running backs are helping the offensive tackles out, by blocking the end on their way out on their routes.
You stop that by sending a linebacker on an inside blitz and pounding the quarterback. The Birds are living in the wide-nine so much that teams aren’t unafraid of them coming on a blitz.
I hear that Castillo was sitting motionless in the locker room after the game. You must learn from your mistakes. Castillo must change up the coverages and teach his young players how to disguise the coverages.
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