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michael89156

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: January 06, 2009, 12:49:53 AM



 
The Bears, the Blitz and the Tampa 2
Posted Jan 5th 2009 7:32PM by Michael David Smith (author feed)


The phrase "Tampa 2 Defense" is one of those phrases that has been used, re-used and mis-used in football so often that it's almost lost its meaning. Much like the "West Coast Offense," the "Tampa 2 Defense" has elements that are used by every team and isn't used exclusively by any team.

But one of the aspects of the Tampa 2 that is supposed to be a fairly hard and fast rule is that Tampa 2 teams generate their pass rush almost exclusively from the four down linemen, and not from blitzing with linebackers or defensive backs. So it's a little surprising to look at the numbers and see that in reality, one of those Tampa 2 teams, the Chicago Bears, actually blitz a whole lot.

My friends at Football Outsiders were nice enough to let me have a look at their game charting numbers, and they show that the Bears blitzed on 38.6% of their defensive plays in 2008. Only two teams, the Cowboys and Redskins, blitzed more often than that.

The other three teams most closely associated with the Tampa 2 -- the Buccaneers, Lions and Colts -- were all over the map in terms of how often they blitz. The Lions blitzed 31.1% of the time, the Bucs 21.5% of the time and the Colts a league-low 11.4% of the time.

So what is it about the Bears that made them blitz so much? My own view, from watching them over the course of the 2008 season, is that the front four did such a lousy job of generating a pass rush that Lovie Smith thought he had no choice but to blitz. Unfortunately for the Bears, bringing the blitz didn't do a lot: They were tied for 22nd in the league with 28 sacks last season, and only four players on the team had more than two sacks all season.

That the Bears blitzed so often shows how little they used the Tampa 2, at least as that term was originally defined. That they blitzed so often and had so little to show for it demonstrates that their otherwise stout defense has one very big flaw.

jerseybucsfan

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#1 : January 06, 2009, 12:53:45 AM

If I had Freeney, I wouldn't need to blitz as often either. But whatever the scheme, it didn't help the Bears much against us nor in the closing seconds vs. Atlanta.

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botosnipa

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#2 : January 06, 2009, 04:49:28 AM

The Bucs will need to blitz a lot more if they decide to keep the same front four as last year.  However, picking up Haynesworth or Suggs may be the remedy to fix the problems with generating pressure. 

BucsGuru

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#3 : January 06, 2009, 08:25:38 AM

It sure seemed the Colts blitzed a lot more against the Chargers in the playoff game.

Tampa once seemed to use the blitz more when they had the effective pass rush of Rice/Sapp/etc.  Hasn't been the same since, and for very good reason as noted above.
It seems as though the Bears were a much better blitzing team while they had the services of Tank Johnson.  Although he isn't as good as he once was, he allowed the 2008 Cowboys to be a much better blitzing team as well.
The bottom line is that we, or no one else, will be effective in the blitzing department without the effective four man rush.

The Eagles are one of the most effective blitzing teams I have seen in the last decade.
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