New scheme won't keep Law under cover


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Jan 22, 2006
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New scheme won't keep Law under cover
The Kansas City Star

RIVER FALLS, Wis. | You could argue the Chiefs wasted money signing Ty Law if Herm Edwards is intent on installing the Tampa 2 Defense.
Sorry for not mentioning that before spending the entire offseason whining about the importance of acquiring Law, the league’s most complete cornerback.

Pure Cover 2 is not a defensive or coverage scheme that requires big-time playmakers at corner. In the run game, Cover 2 corners actually are facilitators more than playmakers. They don’t attack the football until the back bounces outside the numbers. Law and Patrick Surtain, two sturdy, physical corners, will force the runner inside so Kansas City’s linebackers and safeties can make the tackles.

In the passing game, Cover 2 corners stop the wide receivers from getting a free release and force the quarterback to throw the ball over the middle of the field. If Cover 2 is effective, the Chiefs safeties — Sammy Knight and Greg Wesley — should make monster hits in the passing and running games.

Realizing all of this and understanding how much money Lamar Hunt has invested in Surtain and Law, I sat down with Edwards after lunch Tuesday afternoon and wanted to debate him about the wisdom of restricting Surtain and Law to Cover 2.

The Chiefs’ two best defensive players are going to be setup men for nine other defenders. No way that can be true, can it?

“No,” Edwards told me. “I’m not going to give them all that money and then not let them make plays.”

Edwards spent the next 30 minutes schooling me on the nuances of the Tampa 2. He was animated and passionate. You can tell he believes deeply in the defensive scheme that turned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from laughingstock into perennial playoff team and Super Bowl champion. Edwards helped then-Tampa coach Tony Dungy install the scheme. Edwards watched the Tampa 2 turn Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Ronde Barber and several other Buccaneer defenders into multiple Pro Bowlers.

He’s confident the same thing could happen to Jared Allen, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Kawika Mitchell, Kendrell Bell and the Chiefs’ young safeties, Wesley, Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page.

“I’m not worried about our defense,” Edwards said. “We’re going to be better on defense.”

And the Chiefs will be diverse on defense. Cover 2 will be their base defense, but it won’t be KC’s only defense. The Chiefs will blitz. They’ll play man to man in obvious passing situations. They’ll play Cover 3. It’s all going to start with Cover 2, which Edwards believes will help KC stop the run and allow KC’s front four to get to the quarterback.

“The perception is we had an awesome front four in Tampa,” Edwards said. “We didn’t. We had Warren Sapp. We have better defensive ends on this team than we had in Tampa.”

Edwards is talking about the Buccaneers before they acquired Simeon Rice. And Edwards is right. The Bucs had athletic, workmanlike defensive ends in the early years of Tampa 2.

Cover 2 is designed to make the quarterback hold the football an extra count. The corners disrupt the outside receivers early and make the quarterback find alternate targets. It’s critical that Law and Surtain re-route receivers in the first five yards.

But what’s most critical is that the Chiefs stop the run on first down. The key to Cover 2 is stopping the running game and disabling the opposition’s play-action-passing game.

This is where Ryan Sims, Lional Dalton, John Browning and free-agent pickup Ron Edwards are crucial. The Chiefs have to get strong play from their defensive tackles or KC’s swift linebackers won’t be free to fill running lanes.

Coach Edwards likes Ron Edwards as a gap-plugger over the center. Finding or creating a Sapp-like gap-disrupter is new defensive line coach Tim Krumrie’s job. The Chiefs hired Krumrie to motivate and/or locate a replacement for Ryan Sims.

If the Chiefs stop the run on first down, Law and Surtain will make just as many big plays as James Hasty and Dale Carter used to, and Lamar Hunt’s money will be well-spent.

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