Tampa-2 Defenses Go 0-2

For Vikings fans wondering how their new defense might operate in 2006, the remaining two playoffs teams most often using the same concepts were Chicago and Indianapolis. Both lost this weekend, but a look at the season averages and rankings show that three teams employing the Tampa-2 defense all fared better than the Vikings in 2005.

In the world of NFL analysis, ratings mean a lot.

If defense is supposed to win championships, then a look at which teams remain in the playoffs and where they ranked in 2005 is worth a second glance, especially when it comes in the context of the Vikings' new "Tampa-2" defense that defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin will implement.

Tampa Bay, where Tomlin coached the defensive backs in 2005, finished with the league's top-ranked defense, sixth against the run and sixth against the pass. While defense got the Bucs to the playoffs, they were promptly bumped by the ninth-ranked defense, the Washington Redskins.

"Everybody has got some kind of form of what they call ‘Tampa-2,'" new Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "(Tomlin) is from Tampa and they started the Tampa 2, so it's all in the details. It's all in the details. People can say that that's what they are playing, but the specifics and the attitude and how you approach the football and how you practice it, how you implement it, and how you coach it, to me, that's the key. Those are the things that I am sold on."

During his tenure in Tampa Bay, the Bucs finished first in defense in 2002 and 2005 and never ranked worse than sixth. That defense became the hallmark of Tampa Bay's Super Bowl championship following the 2002 season.

The other teams running the so-called Tampa-2 defense in this year's playoffs didn't fare well this weekend.

Chicago, like Tampa Bay a believer in the Tampa-2 style of defense that the Vikings are going to implement, was also on the short end of its divisional playoff game against Carolina, which incidentally has the league's No. 3 defense. The Bears uncharacteristically gave up 434 yard to the Panthers, 123 on the ground and 311 in the air in a 29-21 loss.

In the AFC, the Indianapolis Colts, with Tampa-2 creator Tony Dungy as their head coach, couldn't get it done either. The Colts hosted Pittsburgh, who pulled off the upset of the weekend with a 21-18 thriller in the RCA Dome. Indianapolis finished the season with the 11th-ranked defense in the league. The Colts defense, however, wasn't the problem so much as their third-ranked offense, which averaged 362 yards during the regular season but was held to 305 at home. The Colts played their usual stout defense, yielding 112 yards rushing and 183 yards passing.

So the three NFL playoff teams referenced as running a style of the Tampa-2 defense – Tampa Bay, Chicago and Indianapolis – all lost out in the playoffs over the last two weekends. Even so, all three made the playoffs and were among the league's top-11 defenses, according to yardage. The Vikings of 2005 can't lay claim to being a playoff team or a top-11 defense.

Instead, the Vikings had the 21st-ranked defense, giving up an average of 323.3 yards per game – 115 rushing and 208 passing.

In the regular season, Tampa Bay yielded only 95 yards rushing and 183 passing. Chicago, sporting the second-ranked defense, averaged giving up only 102 yards rushing and 180 passing. The Colts' averages were 110 and 197.

As the playoff teams found this year, it truly is a game of inches, but the Vikings are the team hoping to shave many yards off their defensive averages and become one of the league elite defenses – thereby helping further the cliché about defense winning championships.

"(The Vikings players) will have to work at it, but there is no reason that they won't be able to commit it to memory and be very good executing it by the time we get to the fall," Childress said of Minnesota's new defense.

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