Sunday, October 13, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 48

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 48

By Gir Todafunk
Special to The Daily Magi
December 25, 2054


Happy Holidays from Gir Todafunk, who is back once again with another weekly column for the Daily Magi and Magi Football Blog. 

So I finished second to DeMarcus Washington for the Heisman Trophy, while I end up with the Bednarik, Nagurski and Thorpe. That's a bit of a bummer for me; I thought I was going to get the job done and win the Heisman, but those five touchdowns DeMarcus had put him over the top. I suppose that this is what I get for getting burned in coverage against Colorado State. 1,200 yards passing to one guy. Wow.

I want to talk a little bit about the advantages and disadvantages of the prevent defense. In the fourth quarter when there are only a few minutes left in the game and one team is winning by 7 or more points, it's common in the NFL for that team to go into a "prevent" defense. In a prevent defense the idea is to make the other team use up a lot of time. The clock is stopped when the player with the ball steps out of bounds, so the first goal of the defense is to keep everyone in bounds. The only danger to the defense is giving up a big play, for example a 25 yard or longer pass or run. It doesn't matter to the defense if the other team makes a lot of plays, and gains four to eight yards per play, as long as the clock keeps running.

In Super Bowl XXXII, Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan famously instructed his defensive coordinators to keep playing the same defense as the Green Bay Packers attempted to drive downfield in the final two minutes of the game. The Denver defense managed to stop the Packers' drive, which led to the Broncos' 31-24 victory.

The Denver Broncos famously botched the prevent defense in the 2012 AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens. With less than 40 seconds to play, the Ravens needed a touchdown to tie the game and faced a 3rd down from their own 30 yard line. Broncos safety Rahim Moore allowed Baltimore receiver Jacoby Jones to get between Moore and the endzone, where Jones caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The Baltimore Ravens went on to win the game in double overtime, and eventually the Super Bowl.

The prevent defense is rarely used on consecutive downs, or with a significant amount of time remaining, since a team with time to move downfield would easily be able to gain plenty of intermediate yardage. John Madden once said, "All a prevent defense does is prevent you from winning."

The bend-but-not-break nature of the prevent defense tends to give the offensive team many easy gains but no big play, so the prevent defense can make the end of the game uninteresting for fans. Some coaches avoid using the prevent defense, choosing instead to continue playing the same defensive schemes that ostensibly gave them the lead to that point.

Next week, I will talk about the buildup to the BCS title game, live from Arizona. Stay tuned for that. I'm Gir, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone.

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