There's been some debate lately about whether our critical take on the Alabama defense thus far is justified. Both OTS and I have said several times that we believe the defense still has a ways to go, that we aren't as dominant at the point of attack, aren't affecting the quarterback as much as we would like, and that the tackling in the secondary still needs work. The team made some strides in those areas yesterday, but I stand by my assertions from the past few weeks and even consider them problems that still need to be corrected.
"But we've only given up one touchdown in three weeks! Who cares if teams are moving the ball on us?!"
Nick Saban cares, that's who. From his comments heading into the half yesterday (emphasis mine):
Saban: "The biggest concern that we have right now is we're not playing well on defense, we're not playing very well on third down, and we're not creating enough plays to get off the field. They moved the ball the last two or three times they've had it, so we're not dominating the game like we need to on defense."
Jenn Brown: "So allowing that first touchdown on defense...what are you going to say to the defense in there?"
Saban: "We don't care about giving up a touchdown, we just want to play to a standard. We're not playing to a standard of being a good football team."
And that, my friends, is the entire point summed up in one tidy little soundbite, that good enough is not good enough. I've never said that our defense isn't a good one, because it is. There is too much talent both on the field and on the coaching staff for it not to be. And I'm not saying that they won't get better as the season rolls on for the same reasons. But I'm also not the type to stick my head in the sand and say that everything is fine when there are obvious mistakes and issues that need to be addressed. You can point at the scoreboard all you want but the scoreboard is history, that game has already been won, and if you think "scoreboard" is going to fix anything moving forward then you are sorely mistaken. Just because a mistake was not exploited by one opponent doesn't mean that the next won't be able to, and thank God our staff knows it:
"As fans, maybe you look at it as, ‘Well, we gained this many yards, we did this well on third down, we didn’t give up that many points and we scored a lot of points,’" Saban said.
"But as a coach, you look at potential areas of exposure based on things not being done correctly. Whether they were taken advantage of or not, really is not what you’re concerned about."
We've shown plenty of positives so far this season. Our offense is the best Tide offense of my lifetime, and it's a true joy to watch them play. The defense has superstars in the making at literally every position. The special teams units are better than we expected, and watching both Richardson and Julio returning kicks is already making me forget about the loss of Javier Arenas. But there have also been negatives, and as long as there are negatives we will continue to point them out because, at Alabama, we play to a standard. We don't win because we are "good enough," we win because "we play fast, we play strong, we go out there and dominate the guy we line up against and make his ass quit. That's our trademark. That's our M.O. as a team. That's what people know us as." If that standard is too high for you, then maybe you should trade in your crimson and white for some purple and gold. Roll Tide.