View Full Version : Steelers SHOULD NOT switch to Tampa-2 defense

tony hipchest
01-09-2008, 11:57 AM
ive read alot of opinions lately that the steelers need to switch to the 4-3 tampa cover 2 defense that tomlin is more familiar with and supposedly wants to install (thank God lebeau wasnt fired).

the only support i usually see of this opinion is that the 3-4 zone blitz is outdated, and has been "figured out". they also use the fact that the steelers only went 10-6 and didnt win a superbowl as support of our defenses supposed demise.

of course many of those are just calling for a change for the sake of change and ignoring blatant trends in the nfl. people said the 3-4 was figured out in the late 90's as soon as the 95 steelers defense was slowly dismantled. however the 3-4 is alive and well, with as many teams running it as ever.

the tampa 2? read for yourself:

http://www.nfl.com/kickoff/story;jsessionid=24D742847C7DBF354B2999AE203F3077? id=09000d5d8020c007&template=with-video&confirm=true

(this preseason article is still relevant today)

Each week I will discuss a trend in the game that looks to be evolving from my discussions with coaches and players, video tape study and observation. Let's start off the 2007 season with the famous "Tampa 2" coverage that has been the rage of NFL defenses for the past few years.

As the Tony Dungy coaching tree expanded so did the number of teams using the Tampa 2 as the foundation of their defense. There are Dungy disciples in Kansas City (Herm Edwards), Detroit (Rod Marinelli), Pittsburgh (Mike Tomlin), and, of course, Chicago (Lovie Smith).

It was Super Bowl XLI, when Dungy went up against his own defensive scheme in the Bears, that caused me to investigate the Tampa 2 scheme. As a background note, the Tampa 2 tries and plays the run game with seven defenders in the box instead of the traditional 8 in the box. It also asks the middle linebacker when he reads pass to take a deep drop down the middle of the field to free-safety depth. No one in the league could achieve the depth required quite like the Bears' Brian Urlacher. A former safety in college with rare size made him the perfect candidate to run the scheme originally developed by Dungy and Monte Kiffin in Tampa Bay. But Dungy wanted to win a Super Bowl with his Colts, and that meant attacking his own defensive scheme.

The Colts were challenged to attack the No. 5 defense in the NFL and the No. 1 defense in average gain per pass play. What Dungy did exposed the Tampa 2 coverage being used by more than half the teams in the NFL. He triggered that deep pass drop with a pass key. As Urlacher dropped with great speed while reading his pass key, the Colts ran a draw play vs. six in the box and the end result was a Colts offense that gained 191 rushing yards in 42 carries and another 74 yards throwing the check-down route to the backs, which essentially is a delayed draw.

No one thought the quick-strike Colts would hold the ball for more than 38 minutes in the Super Bowl, but they did. Since then every coach has gone over that game tape looking for the ways to break down Tampa 2 coverages around the league. I asked one coach if he is worried about not having Peyton Manning to carry out the plan. "Most teams," he replied, "don't have a middle linebacker like Urlacher running the scheme."

A number of defensive coaches told me they will not be running the pure Tampa 2 as much as they have in the past. Instead, they will be blending in a lot more safety-down-in-the-box looks and man schemes to change the look of the Tampa 2. As one defensive coach said, "The quarterbacks in this league are getting too many looks at the Tampa 2 coverage and they know what to do with the ball. We have to change it up more than ever."

Besides what the Colts were able to do, there are a number of teams running an over/under principle on the Tampa 2 coverage: Drive a seam route down the middle -- usually by a tight end -- and trigger the deep drop by the Mike, or strongside middle linebacker, and then run a 12-yard dig route by a wide receiver under the tight end and in front of the Mike. The big stretch by the deep route can produce a nice hole in the middle of the field.

Finally, I remember how many assistant coaches got head coaching positions by claiming to be disciples of the Bill Walsh West Coast offense and over time it was hard to recognize all the different variations of the West Coast offense. Jon Gruden's version is different than Mike Holmgren's. Brad Childress doesn't run the same version that he ran with the Eagles.

So, the Tampa 2 scheme is getting ready for a big change in the NFL this season. One team that regularly gets described as a "Tampa 2" team hardly ever plays the coverage anymore. After I watch some of the late-season game tapes from 2006, I asked the coach what happened to his famous coverage. "Can't play it anymore," he said. "It lost its competitive edge from overuse."

Sounds to me like the Tampa 2 is being phased out around the league as a core defense.

name the tampa 2 defenses that done great this year. it sure wasnt the bears or bucs. tony dungy's colts did the best. as shown above dungy is ahead of the curve though.

01-09-2008, 12:08 PM
How many of the last SB's were won with teams running 3-4 vs. 4-3?....The 3-4 well out numbers the 4-3 tampa.

I doubt with lebeau coming back that we'll switch over completely, probly some sort of hybrid or depending on personnel and situation run a little bit of both. :hunch:

I for one am glad lebeau will be back next year.

Dino 6 Rings
01-09-2008, 01:40 PM
You need the right tools in place for any defense and this season, we were missing a couple screws.

01-09-2008, 02:17 PM
If Woodly pans out we would have the best combo of out side pass rushers since the Greene/ Lloyd era. that would in turn open things up for others like Kiesel, when he is at his rushing position. Of course if's are always just that, if's.

01-09-2008, 03:57 PM
If Woodly pans out we would have the best combo of out side pass rushers since the Greene/ Lloyd era. that would in turn open things up for others like Kiesel, when he is at his rushing position. Of course if's are always just that, if's.

i agree.. woodley will have a lot to do with the success or failure of the defense next season. it will be nice too because he will have aaron smith in front of him. harrison got double teamed and held a lot this season. he needs someone on the other side to take the pressure off. haggans just wasnt doing it for him like he did for porter in the past.

01-09-2008, 07:30 PM
the day we switch to the tampa 2, 4-3 defense is when we trade hampton. he is a NT and i dont think he would be as valuable in a 4-3. he doesnt have the speed to get to the QB so i think if we switched to a 4-3 we would trade him for a shaun rogers type of guy. i also like what our D looks like with woodley, harrison, foote, and farrior as linebackers, i have a feeling that next season will be very sack plentiful.

01-09-2008, 07:58 PM
I really really want to keep the 3-4

the longer Leabuea stays the better. We have proven we can win a super bowl in the modern era using a 3-4. The steelers D is known for that 3-4 because we have great linebackers. Just because Tomlin runs a different D doesnt mean we should all of sudden switch what is a cornerstone for the steelers

01-09-2008, 08:21 PM
yeah, i remember that article by pat kerwin (i know you are a big fan). i agree with it.

i do think however, that if we begin to have defensive issues, (or as tomlin starts to draft more of his "type" def players) that tomlin will naturally gravitate towards a tampa 2. i could be wrong, however, i don't think that i have tomlin figured out yet.

i am very happy to have lebeau back, but he won't be around for ever, then what. i think tomlin will prepare for that day.

01-09-2008, 08:32 PM
The Steelers are not switching to the 4-3. They'll stcik with what they know. Woodley will be the next Kevin Greene. ..

Rhee Rhee
01-10-2008, 01:19 AM
i say stick with the 3-4... it's been working ever since cowher got here... if it aint broke don't fix it...

it would be interesting to see if there were any 4-3 supporters out there as I'd love to here your points of view...

Galax Steeler
01-10-2008, 04:40 AM
I would have to say as long as lebeau is around we will always be a 3-4 but I could see tomlin switching over when lebeau is gone.

01-10-2008, 05:40 AM
i do think however, that if we begin to have defensive issues, (or as tomlin starts to draft more of his "type" def players) that tomlin will naturally gravitate towards a tampa 2. i could be wrong, however, i don't think that i have tomlin figured out yet.

I am happy with the 3-4 as it is now synonomous with steeler D. I see no reason to change. Plus it is all I have ever seen and known.

However I can see Tomlin trying to integrate the Tampa 2 in somewhere / somehow / sometime.

If you sit back and try to think like Tomlin I would guess it would go something like this.

I'm mike tomlin. I love the Tampa 2. How can I audible the 3-4 into a Tampa 2 to cover certain situations when I see the need?

Lets see for 2008 ... Woodley shifts from LOLB to LE into a 4 man front. Harrison stays at ROLB and acts in coverage. Timmons drops back into the middle of the field. The other MLB shifts to LOLB

The only question he now has is who will man the other MLB to convert to the LOLB to drop back in coverage int the Tampa 2 Farrior or Foote?

As I have only seen a couple of games this year my knowledge of what happened in 2007 is limited so my questions are

Q1 Has this kind of look been shown at anystage in a game this year (with Foote and Farrior on the field) therefore running a Tampa 2 by accident?

Q2 Has the 2007 Steeler D in some way actually run a few Tampa 2 plays intentionally?"

Or do I totally suck when it comes to trying to think like Coach Tomlin?

01-10-2008, 08:29 AM
If Tomlin were gonna switch to 4-3/Tampa 2 defense, wouldn't it have been smarter to have done so immediately? That way he could have made draft investments that fit his system of play. It makes absolutely zero sense for Mike Tomlin to wait 2 or 3 seasons for Lebeau to decides to retire, and invest 2 or 3 years worth of draft picks that fit a mold that Tomlin won't be using long term. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a 3-4 team. They will remain a 3-4 team. Tomlin wouldn't waste draft picks, and the Rooneys wouldn't waste money. Common sense people, common freakin' sense....

01-10-2008, 09:43 AM
Actually, watch what kind of offseason moves we make defensively, and that will speak volumes as to what the long term plans of the Pittsburgh Steeler defense will be. If we are drafting 275 lbs. defensive ends, we are switching over to a 4-3.

Personally, I think we'll keep the 3-4 and continue to add elements of the Tampa two, running a hybrid version of it situationally.

01-10-2008, 11:26 AM
i think that tomlin is becoming more in love with the 3-4 and sees how good it is.. i agree with Aussie that in some situations that 4-3 would suit better that they could just audible in to it during the play.. and really mess up the off..

01-10-2008, 01:42 PM
maybe I'm totally wrong here but didn't Dungy get the "Tampa 2" philosophy from Chuck Noll? I thought Lambert played the Urlacher role and that's where Dungy got his "Tampa 2" from?

01-10-2008, 01:57 PM
Personally, I don't care whether we use 3-4 or 4-3.

However, i have been saying for quite some time that the Zone-fire blitz scheme that is ran from the 3-4 base is outdated, as teams have learned how to adjust to that in the same way they have learned to adjust to the Tampa 2.

Heck, we have strong D coaches... I want them to put their heads together and come up with something new. I don't care 3-4 or 4-3.

I did start a trhead about 4-3, but that was examining the players and concluding that we COULD run it if we wanted to.