From the FanPosts. Thanks for the history lesson, Aiken_Drum. -Joel
In doing some research on the different ways that the 3-4 defense has been used in the NFL, I have come across an interesting story of how the defense worked for one team in one instance that was awesome.
The defense itself is so versatile that every coach who employs it stamps it with their own style. I started thinking about how that may be playing out right here, right now with our own Kansas City Chiefs. I mean, the draft from the last two years has been controversial to say the least. Why so much controversy? Well, it is because Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has not chosen to use his highest draft picks and off season acquistions to fill the biggest position(s) of need that conventional wisdom say the defense needs -- The NT and the LBs. OK, he did draft Tyson Jackson, but a lot of folks think that was a reach and a poor choice (I don't think that but you see it out there a lot).
That being the case, the question that begs is why? Why was most of this years off season emphasis (outside of Eric Berry of course) on offense and special teams? After the jump, I will explore one possible reason and the story that I found in my research.
Anybody around here remember the Kardiac Kids? They were the 1980 Cleveland Browns. So named because they kept their fans on the edge of their seat for the entire season that year.
12 of their 16 regular season games were decided by seven points or less and 10 were still in doubt in the final two minutes of regulation. Talk about a fan pleaser! They won 11 of those 12, went 11-5, won their division for the first time in nine years and went to the AFC playoffs for the first time in 8 years. Their fans were rabid for a chance, just like ours are now. They sure got their money's worth that year.
The Browns DC that year was Mary Schottenheimer. Their HC was Sam Rutigliano. Sam had a lot of faith that his offense was going to score a lot of points that year. In fact, he was convinced of it. Well, after all he had some of the most famous players in NFL history on his team.
What? You can't name those offensive players off the top of your head? Surely you remember Dave Logan and Reggie Rucker their starting WRs? You certainly must know of their RBs Greg Pruitt and Charles White. And of course we cannot forget about their fantastic FB in Mike Pruitt. OK, OK, I was facetious, but you will know the TE, Mr. Ozzie Newsome. Their QB was the infamous Brian Sipe. Brian looks a tad like our very own Matt Cassel, but Cassel is a lot bigger and stronger that Sipe ever dreamed about being.
Anyway, this was the offense that Rutigliano was convinced was going to score a lot of points. Pruitt and White in the back field were a bit of thunder and lightning of the time (Jones and Charles--nah! couldn't be!), and both Pruitts caught the ball well out of the back field (again, nah!!). Sipe was undersized but a never-say-die fan favorite (Cassel--nah!!!). He, like Cassel, wasn't a Roger Staubach classic pocket-type passer. He was willing to adapt, improvise and overcome on every play from scrimmage. Newsome turned out to be a very good TE, but Logan and Rucker were never known for their prowess.
Does this sound a little like the 2010 Chiefs offense (nah!)? If you give the nod to Moeaki, I think so. Hell, if Dwayne Bowe played up to his potential, our offense is BETTER than what the Browns put on the field.
So what does this have to do with the 3-4 defense? Well, the coach's confidence in his offense actually shaped his idea concerning what kind of defense he needed to get his team in the playoffs.
Sam had so much confidence in his offense to score points, he went to Marty and asked for a specific kind of defense.
"I knew that that 1980 team was going to score a lot of points because of the great offense we had, and it did (357 overall, or 22.3 per game)," he said. "So with that knowledge, I talked to Marty and told him I wanted a defense that would bend but not break. I wanted a defense that, with four minutes to go, would allow us to be in position to win the game.
"I didn't care about statistics, about how many yards we gave up, how many first downs we gave up, and so on and so forth. Statistics are for losers. The only statistic that counts is how many points you give up.
"And that's exactly the way it worked out, because 13 of the 16 games were decided in the final two minutes."
How many times have you heard Haley talking about being in the game late with a chance to win? This is the essence of our off season moves this year. If the offense can score points, we can be in those games late if the defense is a "bend but not break" type defense.
The big difference is that our secondary was more the culprit of big plays that hurt us last year. Granted we gave up way too many rushing yards, but the big plays against us seemed to come in the air.
The Browns were much better against the run than the pass. They were sixth against the run giving up just over 110 yards per game on the ground but dead last against the pass, giving up an average of over 241 yards in the air. Remember now, this was 1980. There were only 28 teams in the league and giving up 241 per game made them the worst their was.
Even worse than that was that they only gave up 12 TDs on the ground versus 23 to the pass. With the league being more of a pass happy league today, I think that Pioli is applying what was learned from that Cleveland defense by trying to slow down the passing game first. The addition of Berry and the lack of a really solid NT or LB in the draft would seem to indicate this. If Crennel can just get our defense up to average against the run, we stand a heck of a chance to dupulicate what the Browns did.
That Cleveland Browns defense was not great. They were solid against the run but dead last against the pass, yet somehow they were able to do just enough to get the offense in position to have a shot in the last four minutes. It worked that season for 11 wins. The biggest loss though, was the playoff loss to none other than the Oakland Raiders. True to form, the Browns defense bent but didn't break in that game as well. The Browns defense made a heroic effort and gave the ball back to the offense with enough time on the clock to shock the world.
Well, see it for yourself below. This is a really cool video:
Kardiac Kids "the 1980 Cleveland Browns" (via kevlarunderwear22)
Wouldn't it be cool if the Chiefs had that kind of season? Wouldn't it be even cooler if they pulled off a post season win? At least the Browns had the opportunity. They were a team of the right 53. Given the status of the AFC West this year, there is no reason that the Chiefs couldn't do this. This is the stuff dreams are made of baby, and I don't think it is that far fetched.
I don't know, did I drink too much Koolaid?