After reading a variety of things about the reasons for the horrific FAIL in defensive coaching, and, most of all, after watching dismal performance after dismal performance this year, I've noticed one common theme in the defense's problems -- consistently bad decision-making by almost everyone on defense. Defensive linemen and linebackers don't fill the correct gaps; linebackers overrun the play (often, this is a variation of the first problem); defensive backs aren't in the correct zone or decide to cover the less dangerous receiver in their zone; defensive backs and linebackers take bad pursuit angles. Etc.
I find it endlessly frustrating to watch the same mental mistakes made over and over again, by the same players and, even more disturbingly, by different players. It's one thing if Obi Ezeh is a really bad decision-maker. But the bad-decision disease seems to be spreading to the whole defense.
Although GERG bears a lot of the responsibility --probably most of it -- I don't think it's all his fault. I think Rich Rodriguez has shown an insufficient tolerance for bad decision-making. In some respects, this is the principal flaw in his coaching at Michigan.
It's not just bad defensive decision-making that hurts the team. Other parts of the team are infected. Look at Jeremy Gallon. He has made bad decisions from the beginning of the season on kick returns, but he's put out there again and again. Players on both sidess of the ball make the same kinds of dumb penalties week after week. The kicker puts two consecutive kickoffs out of bounds at crucuial times.
I know the team is young and that young players make mistakes. But should they always be making the same ones over and over again? It would be one thing if the defense was thwarted by poor decisions on backside contain one week and by poor decisions about zone drops in another week. But the team keeps making the same bad decisions over and over.
This kind of problem is really attributable to the head coach. He could make it clear that he won't tolerate stupid mistakes made over and over again. But I have not heard anything from Rodriguez along those lines. He just seems to keep blaming his team's inexperience. And he allows his coordinators and position coaches to put the same guys in the same situations where they've made bad decisions before -- and then they keep making them. I'm sure that the coaches are telling the players about how to make the correct decisions. But the message does not seem to be getting through. Only the head coach can really do anything about making sure that his coaches are communicating effectively.
If this really is a flaw of Rodriguez's, firing GERG or even the entire defensive staff is not going to solve it. I like Michigan's offense. I think there are few coaches who could have seen the potential in Denard Robinson as a quarterback and then brought that potential out of him, with spectacular results. I want Rodriguez to succeed. But I'm really starting to wonder if he can -- especially if he's not doing enough to prevent bad decision-making by his coaches and players.