John Fox's relative denials notwithstanding, the defense has simplified. Reaction is key again; the two-gap ideals inside are gone, responsibilities have lessened and it's back to playing fast football.
The statements from camp about lightening the mental load of the defense echoes similar statements from Jon Beason's first few weeks as a middle linebacker - the team made things easier to cope. Undoubtedly, starting rookie Charles Godfrey means keeping things simpler as well. To add, the corners and SS Chris Harris are the only players besides Beason to start in the same spot as midyear last year.
So was the defense too complicated last year? Fox says no, citing the change in philosophy to add a greater role for young players. “We had some guys who'd been with us for some time – the Dan Morgans, veterans,” Fox said. “But now we have those youthful guys. You've got to simplify it some so they can operate and play. You can't be out there thinking in this league.”
Still, critics of Mike Trgovac state this as a problem. Of course, the defense has to remain fluid; the 2003 defense looked nothing like the early 2002 cover-2 of Jack Del Rio, from the same playbook. It looked nothing like the 2006 defense with two huge DTs, which looks nothing like the 2008 starting lineup or alignment.
But the team must remain at least strategic enough - nursing a next-to-last pass rush from last year, the team has to continue to rely on John Fox' trademark of disguising coverages, while bringing more blitzers than ever imagined in 2002-03.