A thought about Dawkins

I read on Yahoo today that he is willing to take a paycut to stay in Denver which I think is great news.  He's lost a step and certainly can't handle a full workload as a starting free safety anymore but his intangibles and the heart that he plays with are what the Broncos value most.  Rookie safety Quinton Carter commented after the Broncos drafted him that it was a "dream come true" to play alongside and learn from Dawkins.

Having said all that, I had this crazy thought last night...

Brian Dawkins at MIKE in a Cover 3 package.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  John Fox has traditionally run a cover 3 out of a 4-3 base as his primary defensive attack.  Without diving into to much X's and O's the cover 3 is a zone defense where the 3 linebackers all take a step away from the line of scrimmage at the snap and the strong safety takes a few steps toward the line of scrimmage.  The design is to take slants and other quick passes away from the opposing QB and give the front 4 time to get into the backfield.  A similar version of this cover 3 was featured in Carolina by Fox with the SAM moving toward the line of scrimmage (not a blitz still in zone looking to cut off a backfield pass and redirect running backs) with the MIKE having more zone to cover in the middle of the field.  This defensive attack maximized the talent of Jon Beason and his range. The strength of this defensive attack (both variations) is taking away the quick west coast passes in the middle of the field.  The weakness of the defense is against interior runs where the linebackers stepping back becomes a problem and the DT's are the only hope of stopping runs between the tackles for no gain.  This is where Dawkins could really shine...

In the Cover 3 the MIKE's primary responsibility is to prevent tight ends, slot receivers and running backs from getting catches in the middle of the defense by laying anyone who comes across the shallow middle out. 

What do we know about Dawkins? The guy likes to hit!  Using him this way could also mask his biggest hindrance, his loss of top end speed through the last 2 years.  The rare instance when he would have to turn his hips and run down field with a receiver the FS is supposed to provide over the top support provided a receiver split wide has not blown by a corner. 

Dawkins weakness would be against running plays that feature a fullback trying to block up the MIKE.  Dawkins is not a premiere block shedder and would be dependent on the SS for help on interior run plays that break through the line, an unfortunately frequent occurrence in Denver the last few years.  But the league as a whole is more pass centric and surely the Broncos will have better production against the run from the front 4, so I feel the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. 

The end result would look almost like a hybrid Nickel/4-3.  Instead of a 3rd CB or LB the new defensive player in the formation would be a safety.  It could depend on how much Fox et. al. trust Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter/Reynaldo Hill to be on the field at the same time BEHIND Dawkins in the formation.  It could be fun to watch anyway.

What do you think?


This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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