I’ve been reading a coach’s blog recently, since Blitzology has clued me into this resource, and on Coach Hoover’s blog are clinic notes for a Bill Belichick clinic. Not often guys like me get to hear  the words of a football genius, even in truncated form. To quote the article:

Football – all starts up the middle. Is played from the inside-out (Off, Def, Special Teams).

I’d  argue that’s true when you put a team together too. You put it together from the inside out. You need the right kind of defensive tackles, or in 3-4 setups, nose tackles. Miami thought so much of their up and coming nose tackle Paul Soliai that they franchised him.

When looking at the history of the Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry always had a superb defensive tackle to anchor the defense, whether it was Bob Lilly or Randy White. The decline of the Cowboys defensively in the late 1990s can be tracked by the loss of decent tackles; they really had no answer for the loss of Chad Hennings. Dallas struggled until Bill Parcells acquired Jason Ferguson. 1980s Chicago had Dan Hampton. The New York Jets have a tackle I’m a huge fan of, Kris Jenkins. Pittsburgh? The Texas ex, Casey Hampton. The Green Bay Packers? B. J. Raji. Pittsburgh thought so much of Hampton they drafted him a full round above where the draft pundits placed him that year.

You need your anchor in the middle, whether he be supernaturally quick and penetrating (Lilly) or the rock of Gibralter (Hampton).

Can you name the defensive tackles of  the Atlanta Falcons? Their offense seems good enough to me to win it all. I don’t get the same warm fuzzies from the Atlanta defense. Atlanta head coach Mike Smith has a defensive pedigree and I wonder if he’s just getting it all accomplished with coaching mirrors. Some defensive studs would make me feel that they have the foundation to be more than a playoff Cinderella. Question is, while poised on the last third of the first round, how do they dig out, say, the next Ed Reed or even the next Patrick Kerney.