5. The defense finally has the scheme down
This seems to be the tune sung by the coaches every year. Those defensive backs who seemed to constantly make mental mistakes? They’ve come a long way in their understanding of the defense and how to read the offense (Max Redfield, everybody). Those linebackers that always seem to get caught in blocks or too slow reading the offense as plays develop? They’re really flying to the ball and showing great physicality and decision making.
Be especially wary of this myth with Brian VanGorder’s defensive scheme. Two years have only proven that defenses can actually get worse as their time with a coach goes further, and with the loss of various veteran stars and player-coach Joe Schmidt, the 2016 defense will be lacking in various areas (looking at you, safety and probably linebacker and pass rushers).
So when, at the end of spring, Kelly and VanGorder praise where the defense is in their third year with their coordinator, remember Ezekiel Elliott eviscerating the Irish in Arizona or Boston College’s horrific offense making a game of things at Fenway. If there is any improvement (without Smith, Day, Russell, Okwara, Shumate, Farley, and Schmidt, no less), it will be minimal, and it will be disappointing.
Next: Deep line gets deeper