The "Tampa Two" Defense:

As football fans know, the Superbowl will match two teams with head coaches who are products of the "Cover Two" or "Tampa Two" defensive schemes. Although watching the games last weekend, I recognized it much more in the Bears than in the Colts, especially with the way they are using Bob Sanders to try to shore up against the run, but I may just not be as familiar with the Colts as the Bears as I saw the Bears play many more times this year than the Colts.

Anyway, this fall Sports Illustrated had a brilliant article analyzing the Tampa Two defensive scheme (I had never heard it referred to by that moniker until reading the article), its history, how it works, and how to attack it. It really opened my eyes as to what they are trying to do out there. Must-read material in anticipation of the Super Bowl. And if you are a casual fan invited to a Super Bowl party, if you read this one article you'll be able to drop many an insight sure to impress your host.

The article may be for subscribers only. The article was printed in the November 27, 2006 issue if you want to try to locate it somewhere else.

The online version of the article appears to omits some of the supplementary material that was in the print version, especially a fascinating sidebar on the "prototypes" for each of the the various positions. Of particular interest to me was the observation that Jack Lambert was the prototypical middle linebacker in the Cover Two scheme (because of his speed and athleticism) and Mel Blount was the prototype cornerback (because of his size and physical play). If the sidebar is somewhere on the SI website and I just missed it, please post it in the Comments if you find it.

I recall reading once that there are only two types of sports magazines--Sports Illustrated and everything else. I think this is a good example of that observation.