Nov 22, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) is sacked by Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (97) during the first quarter on Thanksgiving at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Debunking the Myths of Monte Kiffin: Jason Hatcher and the Tampa 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Debunking the Myths of Monte Kiffin. In Part 1 we looked at the common myth that Monte Kiffin only runs the Tampa 2 defensive scheme. Here in Part 2 we will debunk the myth that the Tampa 2 is the same as a the Cover 2 and the myth that Jason Hatcher will fill the role of Warren Sapp as the dynamic 3-technique defensive tackle.

May 10, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin talks with reporters after the rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Irving, TX. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Myth #1 The Tampa 2 is the Same as the Cover 2

Many people are guilty of making broad statements like, “Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 is the same thing as a Cover 2.” As you probably know that is incorrect. Next week we will spend more time discussing the different coverages Monte Kiffin employs in greater detail. For now we will just touch on the obvious differences.

The Tampa 2 defense holds 2 deep safeties back in zone coverage They are each responsible for a third of the field, laying claim from their respective hash mark to their respective sideline. The Tampa 2 requires an athletic MIKE (middle linebacker) to drop back in coverage and cover the remaining deep third of the field. Because of this, if anything the Tampa 2 is a version of the Cover 3.

The Cover 2 has the same two deep safeties, this time splitting the field in only two. The MIKE covers a shallow portion of the field in zone coverage therefore is not factored into the deep coverage. In fact, the Cover 2 can be either zone coverage or man coverage. It can even be a combination of zone and man on the same play. More on that next week when we break down the coverage responsibilities more.

As you can see the Cover 2 and Tampa 2 are different enough that they should be thought of as completely different defensive schemes.

Truth: The Tampa 2 is NOT the Cover 2

Myth #2: Jason Hatcher will fill the role of Warren Sapp as the dynamic 3-technique defensive tackle

From the day Monte Kiffin was hired people have been wondering who the “Warren Sapp” of the defense will be. Obviously Demarcus Ware will fill the role of WDE held by Simeon Rice but what about the 3 technique tackle?

Monte Kiffin had something very special in Tampa that the Cowboys could only dream of. He had two massive defensive tackles in Booger McFarland and Warren Sapp, who were able to beat double teams, hold ground, plug holes, and execute splash plays. The Dallas Cowboys have Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff who are both undersized (for Defensive Tackles) and while quick, they are unable to take on multiple blockers and still consistently make plays in the way Warren and Booger could.

What the defensive line looks like, what technique each will play, and what responsibilities each will have, are generally unknown. What is known is these players are so incomparable it would be unfair to think they will even attempt to play the same way Kiffin played his front 4 in Tampa.

An actual comparison will be done next week between the full defensive line of Dallas and Tampa Bay to help illustrate this. Also, enough nuggets of information have been dropped to predict some of the schemes and assignments we will be seeing this season. Just don’t expect them to replicate the Buccaneers here.

Truth: Jason Hatcher will not be asked to play the role of Warren Sapp

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Tags: Booger Mcfarland Dallas Cowboys Jason Hatcher Jay Ratliff Monte Kiffin Warren Sapp

  • BradAustin

    Great article. You are correct about the unfair comparison to the unique traits of Sapp and McFarland. Ratliff fits between the two in talent pecking order, yet with a different set of strenghts/weaknesses. IMO, Ratliff was a more natural DE in the 3-4 than a nose. He didn’t grow into the nose naturally, it was a forced transition. Either way, he was in a defense that didn’t utilize his ability to the fullest. As a 4-3 3-technique, Cowboys fans will get a unique view of what he can do when in the correct position to maximize his skillset.

    If Jay can stay healthy, which he has no significant injury history beyond non-career threatening injuries in 2012, he will find his way back to the Pro Bowl as one of the best DT’s in the league. Should be fun to watch as his main talent is forceful, abrupt explosion and penetration. This position will unleash his fury.

    • Reid Hanson

      Thanks Brad! I also have high hopes for Ratliff. I think they will be running a ton of 1 gap penetration and will be alternating the tough responsibilities from snap to snap. By that I mean Rat would attack while Hatcher sat back on a double-team and then they would switch roles the next snap. Without size no single Cowboy could sustain McFarland’s role throughout an entire game.
      But I love the depth of the D-line and cant wait to see what kind of rotation we do throughout the season.

      • BradAustin

        I agree they will rotate some between the two spots as Hatcher does have a burst for his size. I have a feeling they will also give Hatcher solid spells of rest and most of the rotation will come between Hatcher and Lissemore at the “1″.

        Something many tend to forget and we should all very much keep an eye on is camp additions. Towards the end solid players or guys with big upside who barely slipped through the cracks are added almost yearly. As well as a few surprise cuts take place by Dallas. Its the norm. How this relates is I feel our scouts are especially on the lookout for a quality DT who hits the wire. I have a very strong feeling there will be another promising DT joining the mix by September.