FanPost

Deep Thoughts from The County – I Spy the Wrong Way to Handle Running QBs

The Dolphins defensive gameplan for the Bears was obvious, and you could have laid it out for all to see before the first snap of the game happened. Since Justin Fields is more of a runner that happens to throw the football than a QB, the team was going to bring pressure (even if it was just the front 4) with the intent to "rattle" him. And they’d play a "spy" to "contain" any scrambles. With the speed of Phillips and Chubb, there were high hopes for multiple sacks and a lot of rushed, poor passes. And with Tindall as the Spy, there was (apparently) no concern regarding Fields and his running ability.

So, what did we end up with?

In their haste to get to Fields, Phillips and Chubb (and everyone else) abandoned their lanes and completely broke down all discipline. The best example was in the fourth quarter when Phillips took an outside speed rush. He was indeed beating his man, and if Fields had any intention of taking a 7-step drop and pausing in the pocket while the passing routes developed, he’d probably have been sacked. But Fields had already run for around 140 yards by then, and was looking to run at any opportunity, so when Phillips went wide, it opened up a perfect lane for a QB run for an easy bunch of yards. Then, a few plays later, Chubb’s "almost sack" took the exact same route and yielded much the same poor result. And that’s pretty much how the game played out all day.

And what about the Spy?

I’ve never been a fan of the Spy. Sitting in the middle of the field, by definition, you’re not in position. It’s pure speed that tries to make up for the simple fact that the scramble could go either way. I remember a play early in the game where the replay commentation even pointed out how futile Tindall’s effort was. Look at it this way. His job is to chase a guy that is already running away from him. A classic case of reacting, versus dictating. And Baker and Roberts aren’t known for their coverage skills, and that’s what containing scrambles essentially means.

So, what should they have done?

Lane discipline would have gone a long way. The fervor with which the rushers attacked allowed them to be Judo’d out of their lanes. The O-line didn’t really need to push in any particular direction; as long as they took the rushers' momentum, and moved them anywhere, Fields would be able to escape. And escape he did.

If you wanted to invest another body (as the Spy), I’d have rushed him, too. With discipline, this would have clogged up five lanes (instead of four) and hopefully maintained contain proactively. I’m pretty sure our backfield could have easily feasted on a 40-pass-attempt-day from Fields.

And if I were being paid handsomely to be a DC, I’d have baited the young QB by intentionally breaking contain on occasion, with a "lane filler" surreptitiously waiting to plug the hole and lay a lick on him. Send Phillips wide, have Fields think "here’s my way out", and then have Tindall come flying in for the hit (knowing that was exactly where the play was being herded).

Again, if I am being paid as an NFL DC, after my offense only sees the ball once in the entire first quarter, I’d like to think I’d start making adjustments. Why didn’t Boyer?

Fingers crossed for the future. And, of course, Go Dolphins!


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.