Era of 'defense wins championships' is over-Rex Outdated?
Era of 'defense wins championships' is over
January, 14, 2013 11:45 AM ET
By DJ Gallo | ESPN.com
Rest in peace, defense. We’ll miss you. You had a good run. You gave us a lot of memories. You were responsible for great nicknames like the Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain. You even gave us a cliché -- “Defense wins championships” -- that had the added benefit of being true ... for a time. But that time is over.
The Broncos scored 35 points in the divisional round in single-digit temperatures. And lost. The Packers scored 31 points and lost. The Seahawks and Texans both scored 28 points and saw their seasons end. The losing teams in the second round of the playoffs averaged 30.5 points per game. The winners averaged 38.5. This is not the NFL you grew up with. These are closer to Big Ten basketball scores than traditional playoff football scores.
But adapt or die. Die like defense has died. NFL teams must learn to play “defense” -- or whatever new name it is eventually given -- in modern times. Here’s how.
Bend and break
Look, you’re going to give up points. That’s a given. But does it have to be instantly? At least make your opponent go on a three- or four-minute scoring drive so your offense can rest a little bit between its scoring drives.
Don’t spend money on “defense”
Why spend big money on a pass-rusher or defensive back (REVIS) that could instead be budgeted for an extra tight end or dynamic third-down back? Your defense is going to get torched regardless, so why waste money on it? Oh, look! Your $10 million linebacker got to the quarterback! And now he’s being penalized for roughing the passer. Money well spent.
Don’t commit penalties
Most forms of tackling are now outlawed. Defensive pass interference is called approximately seven million times more than offensive pass interference (rough estimate). This is not going to change. Don’t fight it. And don’t give your opponent free yards with your penalties. Why are you jumping offsides? Did you want to get a head-start on your fine for hitting the quarterback? No, it’s better to avoid penalties and just try to gently angle your offensive opponents out of bounds after they break into the secondary. Getting them out of bounds can stop the clock and give your offense more time to catch its breath.
Give up fast late-game scores
Your team is winning by four points with 90 seconds left in the game. What do you do? Try to stop your opponent from scoring a touchdown? AHHHHHHHHHHHahahahahahaha. Stop living in the past, man. Chances are you’re not going to stop them from scoring a touchdown. What you need to do is practice smart defensive failure clock management and let them score a touchdown immediately. That way you get the ball back in the hands of your offense with enough time to win the game with a touchdown of its own.
Know your role
Look, you play defense. Not everyone can be important like offensive players or even kickers, who score points. You are now regarded as the equals of punters: something that has been part of football for decades and no one can figure out how to completely get rid of. But you still have some worth. Because sometimes a quarterback will accidentally throw you the ball and you can catch it and run with it and score a touchdown, and for that brief moment you will know what it’s like to be relevant. And it will feel amazing.