On Lovie Smith, Leslie Frazier, Darrelle Revis and Cover 2

Adam Bettcher

Cover 2 and Tampa 2 aren't dead, but it's not what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be running under Lovie Smith, either.

With Lovie Smith as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new head coach and Leslie Frazier likely to be his defensive coordinator, you'll hear the terms "Cover 2" and "Tampa 2" a lot over the next months. You'll often hear them coupled with unflattering descriptors as "soft zone", "outdated" and even "ineffective". The days when the Tampa 2 dominated the NFL are long gone, if some can be believed.

According to those narratives, Leslie Frazier and Lovie Smith run a Tampa 2 defense, which means they only ever call defenses with two deep safeties and a soft zone underneath. That is a bunch of nonsense. If you actually ventured a look at Leslie Frazier's and Lovie Smith's defenses over the past years, the latter being run by Rod Marinelli who's now in Dallas, you won't see Tampa 2 as more than an occasional call. On passing downs especially, you'll see predominantly single-high safety looks with a mix of Cover 1 Zone, Cover 1 Man and Cover 3 calls, as well as a variety of blitzes.

No one in the NFL plays Tampa 2 or Cover 2 zone on a majority of snaps anymore. Not Lovie Smith, nor Leslie Frazier, nor Rod Marinelli. Not even Monte Kiffin did that. They may be Tony Dungy disciples, but they have long since evolved with the times. Every single NFL team has Cover 2 zone and Tampa 2 plays in its playbook, however, and they most often show up as the base defense in two-minute drills, and on long-yardage plays. You'll see some of it from Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier (if hired). But it won't be the totality or even the majority of their defense.

This also has implications for Darrelle Revis. Over the past few days I've seen some suggestions that he would be cut, because the Bucs are moving to a zone scheme and that means Revis is useless and overpaid. While that would be true (kind of) if the Bucs were moving to a zone scheme, that's not actually what they're doing. Lovie Smith used Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings extensively in man coverage, and to great effect on Calvin Johnson. He'll have no problem using Revis in a similar way.

If Revis is cut, it won't be because he played poorly. It won't be because he doesn't fit the scheme. It won't be because Lovie Smith won't use him 'right'. It won't be because they need cap space. It will be for one reason, and one reason only: that the Bucs decide that $16 million per year is not the kind of money any cornerback, no matter his skills, should earn.

So the next time you hear someone talk about Darrelle Revis or the Cover 2 defenses the Bucs will now run (again), please make sure to scoff. Loudly.

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