Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shutdown Corners are Overrated

Champ Pictures, Images and Photos

Don't believe me? Check this. None of the teams that played in this years AFC and NFC Championship games started a "shutdown corner". Let's review, shall we?

Baltimore started Fabian Washington and Samari Rolle down the stretch. And their defense played championship ball. Granted, Ed Reed is in an area code by himself but still this team has no "shutdown" corner. You could argue that Reed can play a shutdown roll but I'd argue that safeties don't line up on WRs and "take away half the field" unless you're looking to throw over the top frequently.

Pittsburgh has historically played team defense and stayed away from shutdown corners. Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend don't scare anyone on paper, but when they pop you with their physical style the game indeed changes. Ask Willis McGahee. They too have an all world safety but like I said earlier, you can avoid safeties if you don't go over the top. If you are looking to throw underneath, there may not be a duo in the league that will hit your receivers harder.

On to the NFC, Arizona starts Rod Hood and DRC. Cromartie's a rookie who is coming into his own, but hardly a shutdown corner at this stage. They too have a great safety over the top but Arizona plays great team defense and get a lot of pressure from pass rushers Laboy, Hayes, and Okaefor.

Philly has Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown. Brown and Samuel may be the closest thing to shutdown corners in the Championship round, and yet Kurt Warner had a field day against their defense. Brian Dawkins is a tremendous run support safety but at this stage in his career Kurt Warner showed that "Weapon X" is not to be feared when going over the top.

So what does all this mean for the Broncos you may ask? Simple. We are clinging on to an early 2000's style of defense when the game has clearly changed. Of the 4 teams I profiled, 3 run a 3-4 base defense. Last season Denver ran a 4-3. All four teams have a Pro Bowl safety. Denver started a rookie and a journey man and subsequently were in the bottom third of the league in total defense and rushing defense as usual.

Other Bronco fans have suggested that we trade Champ Bailey and/or change personnel to run the base 3-4. It seems that Mike Nolan will bring the 3-4 but what about the players. You need players to run the system. A 3-4 does not need a corner to "take away half the field". In reality it looks as if the opposite works better. The teams that made it to their Conference Championships all started at least one physical corner, with a mammoth nose tackle, and run supporting safety. Denver lacks all three of these things. Should we trade Champ Bailey to fulfill the requirements needed to run a 3-4? We may have no choice.

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