There are few terms in football that make a fan wince more than “prevent defense”. If you polled a hundred fans, you might not find one that agrees with the use of this dreaded strategy. After years of outcry, blown games, busted spreads, and broken hearts the prevent defense must finally answer for its crimes against humanity in our court. Today it is charged with “preventing your team from winning”. The prosecution is headed up by Nathan Raby, and Ben Van Iten will be handling the defense.
Below you will find the transcript of the attorney’s closing statements as documented by our court reporter.
Nate: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Do you remember NFL Gameday 99? You don’t? Wow, do I feel sorry for you. Best sports game ever, in my opinion! The Phil Simms commentary, the graphical glitches, playing the Saints with Billy Joe Tolliver under center. It was a marvelous piece of gamecraft. Anyway, in this game, I often played against my brother, who was older and a bit more savvy than me. And since I know nothing about football…
He stops and thinks, then laughs.
Knew. Knew nothing about football! I’m clearly an expert now. Anyway, I knew nothing about football, so I picked the one play on defense that made the most sense to me. Prevent. It made sense, right? I wanted to prevent my brother from scoring. So naturally I selected it every time. My brother quickly found that a run to the outside would leave me without any way to stop him, as my linebackers and safeties were back in coverage and my corners were busy becoming a weird glob of color with the wide receivers. My brother ran up the score, and for the longest time I never learned.
Now, you may be asking yourself what this has to do with the actual prevent defense. After all, defensive schemes aren’t run by a fifteen year old, are they? WELL YOU COULD HAVE FOOLED ME, MIKE NOLAN! Because two weeks ago, that is EXACTLY what the Miami Dolphins did for the last 4 minutes of the game. Up by 15 points, which for all intents and purposes should be enough of a cushion in the final fifteenth of a football game, the Dolphins used the prevent defense. Against Tim Tebow.
If you will recall our previous trial, ladies and gentlemen, we have established that Tim Tebow is a slightly more effective quarterback than Gumby. If it wasn’t proven last week, it was certainly proven against the Detroit Lions. Like the week before, Tebow looked horrible for 56 minutes. Against the Lions looked horrible for the last 4 as well.
But for those 4 minutes inMiami, Tim Tebow looked like a young Danny Wuerffel. He looked like a superstar. He actually completed some passes. And it wasn’t just because his receivers made great plays. It wasn’t just because Tebow was feeding off of the energy of the crowd. It was because the Dolphins were using the prevent defense. And while Denver didn’t run around the edge like my brother did, they exploited it for 15 points in 3 minutes. Ladies and gentlemen, the prevent defense made Tim Tebow look good. THE PROSECUTION RESTS.
Ben rises from his chair and surveys the court room.
Ben: Your honor, let the record reflect that I only play Madden football. And I am very good at it.
He casually flips Nate the bird as he approaches the juror’s box.
Now I know what you’re thinking, this scum bag here is actually going to defend the prevent defense? The most maligned strategy in the history of pro sports? Well, I was there when no one would defend Kyle Orton’s grotesque neck beard! That’s just the kind of phony defense attorney I am. Every one and every defensive scheme has a right to a fair trial; it says that in the constitution! And the more I researched this case, the more I realized that I was on the right side of things. A lot of what you heard from Nate is true. The Miami Dolphins did play a prevent defense against Tim Tebow, and that plucky rascal burned it for 15 points in four minutes. Do you know what else the Miami Dolphins did earlier in that game? They ran plays out of the I-formation that didn’t work. Why not scrap that too? Curtis Painter sucked at the no-huddle offense, so I guess we should just remove that from everyone’s game plan? The point I’m making here is like any scheme in football, there is a right way to do it and a wrong way. Let’s say you are playing an explosive offense like the Green Bay Packers.
Nate rolls his eyes.
Say you are up by ten points with 3 minutes left, what are you going to do…play man to man with no safety help and blitz a bunch? You’re not, because that would be suicide. The last thing in the world you’d want to do is give Rodgers a chance to make it a one score game without taking up any of the clock. You are going to give up some big plays to him during the course of the game because you can’t always guard the whole field, but you can’t give up those plays when that’s their only chance to win! New scenario. You’re up by a touchdown against the Steelers late and they are on their own 20 yard line. If Mike Wallace gets behind your defense in that spot, someone might very well lose their job. Why? Because its inexcuseable.
Is the prevent defense too lax sometimes? Of course it is. Are some defense coordinators spineless? Of course they are. But my client has probably saved tons of games, we’d just never think of it that way. Offenses have a much greater chance of making big plays against a base defense, not even the prosecution can dispute that. Instead of hating my client, an upstanding member of the defensive community, we should be asking ourselves why some coordinators don’t understand situational football. Some QBs can’t do anything with pressure, so you blitz them. Some signal callers will inevitably get impatient and go for the home run when its not there, so you sit back and let them make a mistake late in the game and tighten up as they get closer to the end zone.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I hope the ramblings of drunk football fans, concussed announcers, and the hate mongering prosecution will not “prevent” you from making the correct decision. Holy crap that line owned. The defense of the defense rests!
The jury may now deliberate in the comments section.