Data Points: Giving up big pass plays

Recently we delved into the clubs that were penalized most frequently, with an errant finger pointed toward discipline. Maintaining “football” discipline will be much more challenging with players organizing team workouts during the lockout. Adhering to fundamentals, as much as following the rulebook, might be adversely affected by such informal practices. So can pass defense.

As much as play-by-play guys assign blame for big pass plays to a burned cornerback, more often deep balls are completed because of miscommunication in the secondary. Knowing where to be in a zone blitz scheme, or Cover 2, or whatever a defensive coordinator is running, is as integral to a defensive back’s career as being able to cover man-to-man.

Last season, the bottom five teams that gave up long passing plays also did poorly in the standings. In fact, none of them had a winning record. Meanwhile, the league’s best team at communicating and staying organized in the back four, the Pittsburgh Steelers, made it to the Super Bowl.

— Elliot Harrison

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