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When a team loses a quality playmaker on its roster, outside of younger players stepping up to help fill the void, it's up to the coaching staff to adjust to best serve the team.
It's common knowledge that innovation is something the NFL thrives off of.
From the New England Patriots incorporating some of Chip Kelly's offensive theories into their game to the installation of the now infamous read-option, NFL coaches are always looking for new ways to improve their teams.
But even though it's talked about less, innovation is not just an offensive thing.
Talking about the changes in the game, last season speaking to Albert Breer of NFL.com, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said:
The offenses have spread the field a lot more; you have more formation variations, empty-backfield sets, teams going three or four receivers every time and tight ends that are good receivers, there's more audibling, you have the rule changes. It's a little bit of everything that's made it more offense-friendly than it was in the late 1980s through the late '90s. And so if you have a good quarterback, you can play good offense with average personnel around him. It's much harder now to play good defense with average personnel.
For Minnesota this means head coach Leslie Frazier and defensive coordinator Alan Williams need to find ways to get creative and improve on their Tampa 2 scheme.
Whether it's developing more of a hybrid way to allow cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Chris Cook to utilize their man coverage skills, or mixing more pressure outside of the historic four-man rush, this team will need to adapt in order to not just replace Winfield but move forward as an elite defensive unit.
When it comes down to it, financially it was a great decision to let Winfield walk. But even at 36 years old, he is still producing at a high level.
Replacing him will be a daily grind that this team needs to focus on if it wants to grow and improve in 2013 and beyond.