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Cosell Talks: The Evolving Chess Game

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Matching up to wide receivers is much more comfortable schematically. Defensive coaches have been doing that for years. Now they have a new set of challenges: tight ends and backs who can stress the defense both to the outside and vertically. What will be the response in the continuing chess match between offense and defense? Traditional linebackers will find their roles — and snaps — significantly reduced. There will not be a place for them against offenses that feature five receivers with multi-dimensional abilities to attack all areas of the field. We will likely see more teams employ the Houston Texans’ model. They played dime (six defensive backs), not nickel. That allowed them to field better athletes with more scheme versatility and greater body flexibility and agility to play in space, i.e., coverage. It was not an accident Houston had one of the best defenses in the NFL last season.

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