ESPN.com’s John Clayton notes that NFL defenses are blitzing much more often in preseason games this year, which should make for a more interesting and wide-open game this fall if the trend continues. Clayton writes:
I’ve never seen this much blitzing in the preseason, and it tells me to expect a year of weird, wacky defenses. Normally, defenses are pretty basic in the first two preseason games. Not this year. Defensive coordinators are testing the timing of their blitzes. It’s not that they are going with a lot of exotic stuff, It’s just that they are sending extra defenders. What’s really noticeable is how much more they are doing it on the running downs. The tendencies have been to see teams blitz more on first and second down and rush only three or four on third down, dropping more defenders into coverage. The ability to blitz is causing more teams to have hybrid defenses. Several 4-3 defenses, such as Baltimore, the New York Giants and Miami, have an end standing up and either rushing or dropping into coverages.
That’s a very interesting observation, especially the use of blitzes on running downs. It’s a big risk, big reward situation. Blitzing can backfire, of course, especially on running downs, but when it works, it puts the offense in a big hole. As offenses adjust to this defensive strategy, a bit more creativity may be in order, which could make for more variety among NFL offenses, which have been converging in recent years.