Eye In The Sky Report: Not Understanding Coyle’s Secondary Rules.
I try as much as I can to understand the formation, play calls and more importantly the pre-set reads. I watched the Houston game a few times last night, and I cannot seem to understand what our new Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle is doing with our players.
First of all, I have to give respect where respect is due. Our front seven contained the run perfectly. Randy Starks should be resigned soon as this would only increase player morale in our locker room. Leading by example is what Starks has been doing since we signed this player from the Titans a few years back. Starks dominated the line of scrimmage and was a force that caused opposing offensive linemen to double team him thereby opening up the A. B and C gaps for Paul Soliai and Cameron Wake. Coyle is doing a great job with our front seven with respect to run containment. This was evident throughout the entire game; however I cannot blame our starting defense for Adrian Foster two touchdown runs as they did not turn over the ball. 4 straight times, I might add, which would make any unit tired, end of discussion.
With respect to our secondary, based on the game tape that I reviewed last year, I thought Coyle would be implementing the Zebra technique, as his base read, much like Mike Nolan implemented the Robber technique. However, I did not see Clemons or Jones playing this technique at all during the Houston game.
I am not sure I understand why? Perhaps it’s due to Coyle not having the right players to not trusting his players, but this much is evident from our game tape, we played a very simple cover 0 man base. What do I mean by a cover 0 man base? Cover 0 is straight up man to man, matching every WR against a CB. Man Base is simple split area coverage for the Free Safety and the Strong Safety. Think of it as the Free Safety takes one side of the field and the Strong Safety is responsible for the opposite side. Now the reason why I bring this up is due to the fact that this is easy coverage to recognize for any starting NFL quarterback. You understand that any cuts or double move patterns are going to free up one on one coverage thereby dropping your appropriate safety into an isolated coverage which then leads to single coverage for one of your Wide Receivers. This is baiting 101, and was most likely the reason why Andre Johnson once again schooled our secondary.
Speaking of which, you can watch the game tape again and notice one alarming factor, and which also provides evidence that my above analysis is true, is that Andre Johnson was single covered by our cornerbacks. In Johnson touchdown catch you can see cover 0 called with Sean Smith going against AJ. Furthermore in the 3rd quarter where Matt Schaub connected with AJ, you once again see single coverage, however this time it was Jimmy Wilson playing the cover 0. Where was the over the top help? Great question as Schaub baited our safeties with his eyes and other opposing wide receivers were running cut or double moves thereby leading to our safeties moving to help contain.
My concern is that, if I can notice this watching our game tape, what happens when an experienced offensive coordinator see this? That is what scares me. If we are going to be playing a vanilla cover base man, then I can tell you regardless if we had Brock Marion and Louis Oliver as our starting safeties we are still going to be in for a long day.
My recommendation is to switch it up and start more disguises. This was the best part of watching Mike Nolan as our Defensive Coordinator the past few years. Nolan would disguise his coverage with ninja techniques or shadow. I understand that Nolan is not our DC anymore, but I thought Coyle was supposed to be a secondary guru, as he mentored former questionable players into pro ball caliber players (Reggie Nelson is a perfect example).
I was disappointed with what I saw with our secondary on Sunday afternoon, however, it did not seem that it was our players that were responsible, rather the positions to where they were directed. But at the same time, you should never leave Andre Johnson in single coverage and Chris Clemons stop tackling from the shoulder pads. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you, stop trying to tackle someone in the NFL by their shoulder pads, you need to hit their waist, (Sorry had to get out a little vent there).
I look forward to our next match up against the Raiders, and I hope we can see a few more coverages that will at least trick Carson Palmer, if we don’t, I foresee a huge day for Darrius Heyward-Bey….now if only I drafted him.