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In Blache's Philosophy, Corners Are Key


There's a famous football picture, at least within the NFL coaching fraternity, that has appeared in the Green Bay Packers' media guide in recent years.

It's a photo of the Packers' 1992 staff under then-head coach Mike Holmgren, who was in his first season in Green Bay.

Over the past decade and a half, that photo has come to represent something of "Who's Who" in terms of NFL coaching talent.

A youthful Jon Gruden and a smiling Steve Mariucci are up high in the photo. Andy Reid, looking fit and trim, and Ray Rhodes, appearing determined, are in the middle of the picture. Dick Jauron, facing forward with his legs crossed, is off to the right.

And then, in the left-hand corner of the picture is a mustached-sporting, fifth-year NFL assistant by the name of Greg Blache.

It's appropriate that Blache is at the corner of the photo. To this day, Blache thinks corners are important to a defensive scheme.

Blache, placed in charge of the Redskins' defense last Saturday, is reluctant to speak about his plans until the team names its next head coach, which isn't expected to take place until after Super Bowl XLII.

But in an interview with Larry Michael on TV last year, Blache made it clear that he places a great deal of emphasis on cornerback play.

Said Blache: "I've always felt that in order to be a good coach you have to be flexible and do what your people allow you to do.

"I like to be as aggressive as possible but in order to be aggressive you have to be able to cover on the corner.

"A lot of people disagree with me on this but I firmly believe that in order to be successful on defense in today's football it starts with your corner position."

That's a surprising--and revealing--statement from a long-time defensive line coach.

But Blache knows that, in today's NFL, having a top cornerback gives defensive linemen more time to get to the quarterback, even on three-step drops.

A top cornerback also allows the strong safety to play less in coverage and more closer to the line of scrimmage to help defend against the run.

The 2008 campaign will be Blache's 21st as an NFL coach. He was the defensive line coach in Green Bay (1988-1993) and Indianapolis (1994-1998) before really making his mark in the league as the defensive coordinator in Chicago for five seasons (1999-2003).

Asked about his defensive philosophy, Blache went on to say: "Basically, I would tab myself as a very aggressive coach. Over the years, I've adjusted based on what personnel I had.

"One year in Chicago we were strictly--almost--a Cover 2 team. We couldn't cover outside. So, we had to give our corners help and play with a seven-man box.

"Other years, when we could match up and cover people, then we could become a lot more aggressive and get after them with blitzes, like the zone blitzes we're become known for around here."

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