Ironically, this fashionable style of methodical, patterned defensive play, based on zones of responsibility, has in some respects cut down the Dolphins as a striking power. Although helping the runners on all teams, zones have diminished the superstar wide receivers, among them Paul Warfield, whom many experts consider the finest deep threat in football.
Warfield, who sat out the Jet game with a sprained ankle and a sore arch, is philosophical about it. "I spent a lot of time learning moves," he says. "When just about everyone played man-to-man pass defense, I used to study the defensive back who would be on me before every game. I rehearsed my patterns until they were perfect to the inch. Now, with zone coverage, it doesn't make any difference. I can put all the moves I want to on a back or a linebacker; they don't pay any attention to me. When I leave them, someone else will take me. So you have great athletes who spend an afternoon patrolling nothing more than about 10 square yards of ground. The duels are gone and the long passes are gone and I think that's what excited people."
Of course, winning excites people, too, and most fans do not really care how you manage it. If you can do it with Warfield outmaneuvering a defensive back man-on-man, fine. If you do it with runners such as Csonka and Morris and Kiick, fine. And if you have to do it with defense, they will take that, too. Just ask the Dolphins' attorney for the defense about his No-Names.
P.S. They do have names.
THE FRONT FOUR: Manny Fernandez (75), Vein Den Herder (83), Bill Stanfill (84), Bob Heinz (72).
THE LINEBACKERS: Buoniconti, Doug Swift (59), Mike Kolen (57).
THE CORNERBACKS: Tim Foley (25), Curtis Johnson (45).
THE SAFETIES: Dick Anderson (40), Jake Scott (13).
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]