The blanket defence has been one of the most debated aspects of gaelic football over the last 10 years. Whatever side of the argument you are on, it doesn't matter...What matters is winning and losing...Isn't it? And managers will do whatever gives their team the best chance.
The problem or the beauty of the "Blanket Defence" is that it is easy to coach, easy to copy, and can quickly make teams "Competitive". After all, for most counties, being competitive is all that they want to be most of the time. Just look at the break down of All Irelands by county, Roughly 20% of the counties have won 70% of the All-Irelands....In fact, if you breakdown most counties by club championships, it is probably similar....So what makes these 80% counties "competitive", will be copied by 80% of teams across the country.
Some thoughts on the blanket....
The basis of the blanket defence is what they call in basket ball, Double Team... where the defence try to orchestrate a situation where the player in possession is defended by 2 players. So the defence will "allow" the attack to work the ball to certain positions on the field, where it is easy to get a double team, or a triple team, or a quadruple team..... It just happens that most coaches think the easiest place to set this up is inside your own 45, hence players flooding back into these areas. But is this really the case...
Most people associate the All Ireland Quarter Final of 2003, Tyrone v Kerry, as the birth of the Blanket defence. One clip that is played over and over again, is where Tyrone players hunt down the Kerry players in possession for over 1 minute eventually turning the ball over. Take look at the first 2 minutes of this video entitled "blanket defence"
There are 3 majors things that are over looked in this clip.
1. There are no players dropping back into their own defensive half,
2. Tackles are high up the pitch and at the sideline.
3. The Tyrone forwards have no regard for who they are marking, they just hunt down the ball. Take a chance.
End Result: TURNOVER
In fact, when thinking about any defensive system, if we weight different areas of the pitch, in relation to scores that result from the turnover, it would seem obvious that turnovers higher up the pitch would carry more weight than turnovers further back.
So what should coaches do?
The answer is to think for themselves, and ask important questions, not just follow the ideas that made 80% of the teams "competitive"
Some questions you might ask when thinking about your own defensive system..........
Who are the oppositions weakest players on the ball?
Where do turnovers have most weight?
Where can we take a chance in leaving opponents " free", and not get hurt?
What places on the pitch limit the options of the player in possession?
What type of players has the "blanket defence" developed, and how has this weakened them and their teams?
When can we surprise our opponents? With what
The list is endless.......
If you want to be competitive...Copy what everybody else is doing, If you want to increase your chances of winning...Come up with something new