By John Turney
We've seen precursors to lots of things that were credited to one coach or another done prior to them entering the NFL.
Don Shula is has been called the godfather of Cover-2 not because he invented it but because he ran it (then called double zone) with the Dolphins a lot and it took them to a lot of success the early 1970s.
When Bud Carson became the Steelers defensive coordinator in 1972 he was credited with a lot of the changes, especially when Jack Lambert became the middle linebacker in 1974. Lambert was athletic enough to run with a tight end or run "the pipe" or the "hole" in the middle of a Cover-2 defense, protecting the safeties that each had one-half of the field in the deep zones.
That was the roots of the Tampa-2.
Tony Dungy was on those Steelers teams and always credited Carson with the scheme even with any tweaks Dungy may have added when he became an NFL coach and especially when he became the
head man with the Buccaneers and the moniker of "Tampa-2" stuck.
But last year we showed an example of a Tampa-2ish coverage from 1951 that was interesting. It even had a zone blitz component to it.
Today we are sharing an All-22 shot of the 1971 Rams playing Tampa-2 against the division rival the San Francisco 49ers.The Rams run it (Tom Catlin was the play caller, a holdover from the George Allen staff) from an overshifted front.
The 49ers run play action and it causes the outside linebackers to bite but when pass shows they fall to their underneath zones, Isiah Robertson and Jim Purnell have the hook/curls and the middle linebacker Marlin McKeever has the hole. Once pass shows he turns and runs to the middle of the field, deeper than the corners in the flats and the LBers in hook/curl.
Brodie hits the split end Gene Washington in what Jon Gruden calls the "turkey hole" for a nice gain on an out-and-up route. The flanker ran an out to the far flat and the running backs and the tight end block ... so it turns out to be just a two-man route.
Because of that Purnell the Sam 'backer (Stub in Rams terminology) stays on the tight end, fighting off the block since the fullback and running back are coming his way ... he drops a little late, more than likely.
Even before this teams ran this on occasion prior to the Carson-Lambert marriage but it wasn't yet a "thing"—something a team does often as a predominant call. They'd do it on occasion not a regular call so it takes nothing away from Carson's contributions to football, it's just that there were some who did similar things earlier than he did.
Nothing wrong with that -- but before Carson it was just a change-up, something to make the quarterback think a little bit, to make it look a little different than the usually Cover-2 (double zone) or even Cover-2 latch—which is four under and two deep but the Sam linebacker takes the tight end man to man everywhere he goes . . . he "latches" to the tight end.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this nugget.