One of the truisms about the NFL is that its a copycat league. What sucks about that is that once you've had success with a particular scheme, all sorts of similar off-shoots start sprouting up all over the place and you all start cannibalizing the available talent pool in the draft and free agency. Its hard enough to hit on a draft pick. Its harder still when more and more teams are all looking for similar types of players. One of the things I like about New England, at least offensively, is their to buck the trends and load up on talent in places that aren't en vogue. One year, they're stacking TEs. Another year, its RBs. They take the talent and mold their system to allow it to flourish. With Sutton and Pettine defecting and setting up their own shops elsewhere, and with Rex's brother and teams like San Fran and New England and Miami and many others running 3-4s as their base defense, I think its time we considered re-molding our phalanx to accommodate our guerrillas. And I think its time we considered shopping for different kinds of guerrillas than everybody else.
If you look at our defensive roster, there seems to be a lot of the pieces already in place to run a Tampa 2 type of defense. We have a set of havoc wreaking DTs in Mo and Sheldon, Sheldon being perhaps the most suited to play under-tackle as any DT I've seen in years. Coples seems to be much more suited to play with his hand in the ground than standing, and he would look good as a strong side DE. As Xs&Os has shown us, Dee looks like a natural playing in a zone. Kyle Wilson looks better playing zone too. Davis seems like a good enough athlete to play backer in a Tampa defense. But let me ask you this, how often does anybody play in their base defense anymore?
A while ago I wrote a piece where I posited that Rex might be one of the first to switch to a 4-2-5 base defense. The premise being the use two SSs in a sort of S/LB hybrid role. I think that this is something that should be considered. Too many teams are shopping for hybrid DE/OLBs. Rex already seems to have an affinity for SSs to begin with. We should revamp our defense and shop for hybrid safeties. Guys that can fly around with speed, but thump in the run game. Safeties a little too big to be assigned to cover a lot of ground on the back end, or backers that are a little too small to make a living in the box. We could shop for premium talent, lower in the draft and cheaper in FA. We already have a couple of good candidates on the roster in Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett.
In another thread (forgive me, I forget which), lots of smart comments were bantied about explaining how it makes much more sense to play for more turnovers than it is to play for allowing less yardage. Xs&Os has been banging this drum for a long time. I agree. Create pressures with your front 4 and unorthodox blitzes from hybrid safeties. Zone up behind that and fly to the ball for ball-jarring hits and interceptions. The other benefit of being more zone-based, is that you're a lot less likely to be caught with your pants down when an opponent goes no-huddle.
We'd still have to fill a few more spots, but I think we'd be in a better position over the long haul. David Harris would have to go because he lacks speed and coverage ability. We'd need an inside backer like CJ Mosely, a guy that can cover and cover ground. We'd also need a speed rusher on the edge. However, most of the pieces are already in place.