Cleveland Browns' Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton brought this middle overload blitz in week 17.
Will - Contain
Tackles - B gap Pressure
Nose - Midline
Mike & Safety - A Gap
The coverage could be a cover 1 variation or a 2 under 3 deep match up zone concept. Without knowing the call it is hard to tell. Either way the coverage defenders are playing very aggressively on the receivers knowing the overload pressure is going to prevent the QB from holding the ball.
The protection has the numbers (6 vs. 6) to pick up the rush. The conflict for the OL is expected threats vs. actual rushers.
Initially the OL has an easy pick up in concept. The OL handle the 5 rush threats on the LOS and the RB has the Mike backer if he rushes.
When the SS rolls down into the box to rush the A gap and the Sam drops in coverage, the clean 6 vs. 6 picture changes for the OL. The OG and OT who set to the initial threats of the DT and Sam would be forced to redirect to the inside to pick up the new rushers.
The OT could see the Sam drop and redirected inside. The Guard was already engaged with the DT and missed the redirection leaving the SS unblocked in the A gap.
Even if the Guard identified the Sam dropped into coverage, the blitz pick up is difficult. The Guard has to redirect to block a full speed blitzing SS. The OT is left alone on a 3 technique with an inside rush lane to the QB. Both blocks are difficult.
The OT has a tough situation when the SS rolls into the box as well. The OT could set to provide better body position on the 3 tech. By setting this way the OG and OT would have a better chance to redirect to the pressure. The issue is the OT doesn't know the SS is going to rush or that the Sam is going to drop. The walked up LB on the LOS is the more likely rush threat than a high safety rolling down. If the OT doesn't set the Sam, the risk of getting beat on a speed rush goes up. The percentages say the Sam is going to rush therefore giving the more likely rusher an easy speed rush is an unlikely plan for the OT.
Why didn't the QB throw hot? The protection can pick up 6 in principle but cannot block 7. Five rushers on the LOS plus the Mike & SS is 7 in the pressure picture. Once the Sam drops from the LOS the pressure picture no longer has 7 threats. The read to throw hot is not clear. There is a QB adage "If you don't know, don't throw." and in this situation the QB has a confusing picture to process.
The coverage is also designed to denying hot throws. The corners are pressed and denying anything easy to the outside. A MOF safety is over top of the inside receivers. The 2 underneath defenders are there to play any quick throws to #2 or #3.
Unclear hot read + tight aggressive coverage + immediate unblocked A gap pressure in the face = sack. Good stuff from the Browns on 3rd & 6.
Here is an interesting zone pressure run by the NY Giants this season. Giants' Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo dialed up a non-traditional 4 man rush from a Dime personnel group and backed up the pressure with quarters coverage.
The Rush: Nickel & Dime - Contain Rush Mike & Nose - A gap, Inside rush lanes The Coverage: 3 under 4 deep zone coverage Corners & Safeties - Quarters DE's - Attack the OT, Drop Will - Show pressure, Drop
The bluff of the pressure by the Will LB attracts the attention of the RG which prevents the guard from being able to help with the rushing Dime. The attack and drop tech of the DE results in the OT blocking no one. Another factor in the success of the pressure is the usage of the Nickel and Dime as outside rushers. This pressure could easily be run from a traditional 3-4 personnel with OLB's filling the role of the contain rush. The OL reacts differently to OLB's as rush threats than they do to Nickel/Dime DB players. An OLB is a 50/50 or higher percentage chance of rushing the QB. A DB is much less likely to rush and the OL are less inclined to pass set to a DB aligned at or near the LOS. Good stuff from the Giants defense. This is a creative way to generate pressure while rushing 4 and playing quarters coverage on 3rd & 9.
Here is a zone dog rushing the nickel the Atlanta Falcons have busted out several times this season.
Nickel - Contain Rush
DT - Penetrate B gap
DE - Loop to A gap
DT - Inside Rush Lane
DE - Contain Rush
3 Under 3 Deep Zone
The bluff of pressure by the Mike and Will linebackers helps control the pass protection of the Center and the RB.
Here the bluffing Mike forces the set of the Center away from the pressure. The bluffing Will attracts the block of the RB. The result is a 3 on 2 leaving the Nickel unblocked.
Here the offense motions to empty. The Center sets away from the pressure to the initial threat of the bluffing LB's. Again the result is a 3 on 2 with an unblocked nickel.
Here the looping DE beats the redirecting guard. The DE pressures the QB into sliding off his launch point in the pocket. The Nickel is accounted for by the TE. The looping DE affects the QB buying time for the Nickel to beat the TE 1 on 1. The pressure has yielded good results for Dan Quinn and the Falcons.
Here is an interesting 5 man dog from the Dallas Cowboys' Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli. The play starts in a standard 4-3 2 high safety shell look.
During the cadence the DL stems the Nose and DE into this look.
The Nose moved to a head up zero technique and the DE went from a wide alignment to head up on the OT. The defense then stemmed a 2nd time into this look.
The Nose moved to a strong side 1 technique and the Sam backer walked up on to the LOS. The stemming by the defense allows the Cowboys to create a odd front structure and bring a 50 front type of pressure.
The Rush: Sam & End - Contain Rush End - Inside Rush T&N - Delayed twist The Coverage: 3 under 3 deep
The penetration of the Nose in the A gap forces the Center's shoulders to turn. The delay twist by the Tackle is able to loop tight and pressure the midline. Using pre-snap stemming and DL alignments are creative ways to incorporate Odd front concepts into a base Even front defense.
Here is a 4 man pass rush twist Michigan Defensive Coordinator Don Brown utilized last season when he was coaching Boston College.
The DE's are slanting inside. The DT's are looping to contain opposite of their initial alignment.
A more traditional double twist from a DL looks like:
Both have the DE's going inside and the DT's looping. Crossing the DT's creates an interesting challenge for the pass protection.
The initial inside looping action of the DT, looks and feels like a DT twist.
The loop causes the guards to squeeze inside and put their vision to the opposite DT. With the Guard's attention inside the End has a 1 on 1 inside rush opportunity vs. the OT.
For the offense to pick this stunt up the OG and OT have to set inside and redirect back out.
It is a difficult task for the guard to transition his eyes from DT to opposite DT and finally to the End. If he does get his eyes in the right place, he then has to physically handle redirecting and blocking the End. The OT has a difficult block due to lack of initial help from the guard. On a traditional DE/DT twist the OT will squeeze hip to hip with the OG. The body position of the OG helps stop the momentum of the penetrating DE. Once the DE is controlled the OT can set back outside to the looping DE. With the DT looping from the other side, the OT gets less help initially. No body positioning help for the OG means the DE may simply win the inside 1 on 1 pass rush. The other challenge is the OT may be engaged, locked on, and deep in the pass set by the time the looping DT from the opposite side shows up. In that case it is difficult for the OT to redirect and pick up the looper. This same twist can be found other places like a old playbook from Tennessee Titans Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
Here is an interesting concept from legendary Titans' Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Titan's are a base 3-4 structure. However, they very rarely look like the 3-4 diagrammed below.
The Titan's use their base personnel against run heavy personnel groupings.
Often against these formations the 3-4 reduces the front, playing the OLB's at the LOS to create the under front and other base defensive structures. Against spread formations with 10 or 11 personnel the Titans will sub to a Nickel or Dime package.
While it may look like the normal 4-2-5 defense there are some differences. In the NFL most of the 3-4 teams sub out the Nose for the 5th DB. The DT's in this diagram are the ends in the base personnel grouping while the Ends in this package are stand up OLB's. Subbing into a 4 man line nickel package does have a some limitations. One being the defense can't bring 3 down odd front pressures from an even front. The Titans have a solution.
Tennessee is using the sub nickel package but bumping the front to create an odd front look. This concept allows the defense to bring pressures like:
The Rush: Mike & Will - Contain End & Tackle - Long Stick to A Gap End - B gap blitz Tackle - Jap then loop to B gap This is an America's Blitz variation. The twist action of the long stick DT with the looping zero technique creates an America's blitz effect on both sides of the formation. The Coverage: Man Free with the rushers covering the RB if the RB attempts to block them.
The offense has the numbers (6 vs. 6) to block the rush.
The left side (blue) picks up the pressure exactly as expected. The right (red) side is where the breakdown occurs. The guard is expecting the Center to be occupied with the zero technique. The guard sets out the B gap rush threat (either the Tackle or Will). When the Tackle long sticks the OG doesn't know initially if he will get help from the Center.
The Center squeezes the protection to the long stick DT when the zero technique loops. The guard locks on the long stick and realizes too late he needs to redirect to the looping zero technique. By the time the guard reacts the looping zero technique is through the B gap and pressuring the QB. The Titans found a create way to bring odd front pass rush from an even front personnel. The usage of the Zero and 5 tech on a twist that plays out like America's blitz is also creative. This concept is a good way to get the zero technique a better pass rush option. Often an odd front nose is forced to fight through a center from a head up alignment. The Center often has protection help from one or both of the guards. In that environment, pass rush opportunities can be tough to come by for a zero technique. Creating rush opportunities for the zero technique to use athleticism is a good change of pace from simply asking him to bull rush the mid-line and push the pocket.