My dad died more than four years ago, but even he knew the only thing the `prevent’ defense actually prevented was winning.
He used to ask me about it all the time. Here was a 60- and eventually 70- something accountant who could never comprehend how NFL coaches would go balls-to-the-wall all day and then meekly surrender and let an inferior opponent drive for the winning points.
I miss him terribly, but I said the same thing then as I do now _ they wouldn’t be employing that kind of strategy if there wasn’t a good reason for it.
For what it’s worth, Raiders coach Dennis Allen, a relative youngster in the head coaching profession at age 40, said he’s never even once heard the term `prevent’ during a meeting.
Still, what possible excuse could there be for employing a strategy that is so universally reviled outside of the coaching profession?
– It works more than you think it does.
– It’s a better option than blitzing the quarterback, then allowing a receiver to run free and catch a long one for a sure-thing field goal attempt or touchdown.
Coaches with skin thick enough to understand this shrug off the criticism. I was pretty impressed with how Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver dealt with the issue this week after the Atlanta Falcons moved into position for a 55-yard field goal.
The easiest thing in the world is to sit back on a couch with a beverage and say you should have blitzed.
But I remember the Raiders giving up a key third-and-long to the Chiefs in Arrowhead once _ it helped lead to a loss _ where an inactive Rich Gannon approached and suggested I should be damn well be asking the defensive coordinator about how he could have called such a thing.
Defensive coordinators were off limits at the time, so the question went unasked that day.
Yet it illustrated the point that the calls aren’t nearly as important as the players who are supposed to carry out the mission. In theory, every play works.
In the Raiders loss to the Falcons, Allen said the Raiders used only three rushers twice on the final drive. Tarver cited a big completion to Roddy White the previous week against Carolina and not wanting to duplicate that error.
The Raiders pressured on some downs, backed off on some others, and in the end Gonzalez made a catch deep enough in Raiders territory to set up Bryant’s game-winner. A 55-yard field goal was a tossup at best, yet the end result was as if it was a 25-yard chip shot.
The unexciting truth _ no defense brings the heat every down because it doesn’t make sense. They study this stuff a lot more than the guy sitting on the couch or the media member at his computer. It’s their livelihood.
Success is determined as it always has been _ through execution of a plan rather than the design of the plan.