Let me start off by saying that I believe our defense played okay yesterday. Not great, but good enough to win a football game. But I still see a ton of holes.
First off, the Redskins are running a 3-4 defense in the mold of Dick LeBeau, the father of the zone blitz. A basic zone blitz example would be something called a "fire zone". A "fire zone" is a zone blitz with three underneath defenders and three deep defenders leaving five rushers. Generally, three of those rushers will be defensive linemen (although they could drop into coverage). Basically, the fire zone is great because you're sending five guys from all over the field. It could be anyone.
LeBeau runs his 3-4 almost like a 4-3 over or 4-3 under at times. It's a 1-gap system. And when he brings pressure, stunts and blitzes, you get a very similar look to a 4-3.
So, what's the issue with Haslett's version of the 3-4? Well, for one the loss of Lou Spanos to UCLA didn't help.
But in my opinion it has less to do with pressure on the quarterback and more to do with problems getting to coverage responsbilities and poor play calls from the coordinator.
With zone blitzes (or any blitz including man variations) you are bringing people from all over the field. That means every player has to be assignment oriented. In man, it leaves players on an island, one on one with a receiver. In zone, it means some players have to come from a difficult presnap alignment to their zone drop spots (I say that for simplicities sake. Most team will probably match-up zone if they zone blitz).
I think the most glaring issue with Haslett's defense has been the lack of coverage on the backend, and not so much the rush. From the snap of the ball, it seems like there's an open receiver. I don't care how good your actual pressure package is, if you can't cover on the back end for at least a couple seconds you're completely DOA.
My assessment is, that despite my obvious disdain for Coach Haslett, I think we could be more successful with more talent in the coverage department. Where I fault Haslett, though, is the timing of some of his calls. It's difficult to cover the area 5-10 yards deep out by the numbers when you're bringing pressure and expecting a backer to get out to that spot. But I think our coverage personnel is either extremely raw in some cases, or not quite good enough.
I like the way he's utilizing Hall as a blitzer, but I'm not a fan of the use of other personnel. Hall excels playing up and sticking his nose in the play. I think he'd be a great roving safety for us, in the mold of Charles Woodson. But in order to use him in that role, we need to find a corner that can play as well as Hall does. And Hall gets dogged on quite often by this fan base, but I have yet to see a replacement. (Now, that's not to say that a Crawford or Minnifield aren't that guy, but they aren't quite there yet).
What are your thoughts?