Tuesday, June 23, 2015

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bunch Formation Chase Route Concept

Here is a 5 Step passing concept from a bunch formation designed to create an interior triangle read for the QB.


The route progression for the QB is:

Peek the Vertical (X)
1. Chase Route (S)
2. Dig Read (Y)
3. Drive Read (Z)

The Peek is a pre-snap read used vs. a press man look.


The QB can throw the outside release vertical to the X as a 1 on 1 winner route. If the QB likes the matchup he can take it, otherwise he follows his normal route progression.

The post-snap read progression is an interior triangle read.


The first route in the progression is the S on chase route. The S is letting the Z & Y clear while selling a flat route. The chase route is three hard steps outside, plant, and angle into MOF chasing the Drive route. The chase route is climbing to a depth of 5 yards.


If the inside linebackers drop with depth the chase route should be open.

The second route in the progression is the Y on the dig read route. The Y should take an outside release and break to the dig at 10-12. The Y is reading for open space to settle and square his numbers to the QB. If there is a zone dropper underneath; the Y will keep working inside until there is open space to settle. If there is a player running with the dig in man; the Y will keep running across. The Y does not settle the route vs. man coverage.


If the ILB takes an angle to cover the chase route; the dig should be open.

The third route in the progression is the Z on the drive read route. The Z is releasing at the heels of the DL and gaining ground. As the drive crosses the Center; the Z is reading the flat defender. If the flat defender is wide, the Z is squaring this shoulders and showing his numbers to the QB. On the away side the X is running an outside release vertical. Against press coverage the X will run a vertical and must be ready for the peek throw from the QB. If there is no press coverage; the X will turn the vertical into a comeback at 10-12 yards. The comeback is there is force the flat defender to widen.


Here the ILB’s take angles to take away both the Chase and Dig routes. The Z is reading on the drive route. In this example the FS is inverting to the flat. The X runs the comeback to force the FS to widen. The Z will settle in area of the OT. The max depth is 5 yards.



Here the flat defender is the Corner. Again the Z will settle & square in area of the OT.



Here the flat defender is the ILB expanding. Again the Z will settle & square in area of the OT.



If the flat defender does not expand to cover the comeback; the Z will keep running. If there is a player running with the drive in man; the Z will keep running across. The Z does not settle the route vs. man coverage. The Z will also keep running if any zone defender attempts to match up. If it feels like man coverage treat it like man coverage.

The A back is running a swing to widen the flat defender to the bunch and is not part of the read progression. While not part of the read; the A back must be ready for the ball in a hot throw situation. Against pressure the QB can throw the peek vertical to the X if he likes the matchup. The other hot option is to throw the swing route to the A back.



Adjustments

The route can easily be run from a 2x2 motion look.



Here the same concept from a 4x1 empty; forces the defense to handle and inside bunch and waste a coverage player on the A back. The A can run any route that forces the flat defender to cover him.



The route can be run from 3x2 empty as well. The A runs vertical to clear out space and take the top off the coverage.



Another option is to run the route from a 3x1 formation with the A back running the chase route. This can be an easy way to get the A back involved in the passing game.



In all of the adjustments the QB has the same interior triangle read.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Blitzing Zone Read from the 3-3-5

Here is America's Blitz from a 3-3-5 alignment. The coverage is a cover 3 firezone but it could easily be run with a cover 1 concept.



Against zone read this type of blitz can have some issues away from the blitz.


The defense can choose to have the DE step down with the OT's down block. The LB (here Will) plays over the top and takes the QB. If the QB makes the proper read the ball should get pulled and the Will should be there to make the play. The biggest issue with this situation is that forcing the QB to pull the ball makes the blitz obsolete. If the ball is getting pulled the blitz is attacking nothing. Many times this situation leads to the film room coaching conversation trying to answer the question "Why aren't we playing base and allowing the Sam and Mike to pursue like normal instead of blitzing them out of the play?".

The alternative is to have the DE stay square on the LOS, which should force the ball to get handed off. It makes sense to have the ball handed into the blitz. However, there are still issues.


As the ball is handed off the Will and DE are in a tough spot. The Will is fast flowing to defend the B gap. If the Will does not aggressively attack he risks being cut off from the B gap by the OT. If he is cut off the RB will hit in his back side B gap. If the ball cuts all the way back to the C gap the Will needs to redirect from fast flowing to the B gap. On the redirect the Will needs to press the OT back to squeeze the C gap. That is much easier said than done. The DE is also in a bind. If the DE is too wide as in the example; the running back has a cutback lane. 

The DE can squeeze down the space created by the OT releasing to the 2nd level to shrink the cutback lane.


The issue is even if the DE stays square; he is moving inside. If the QB reads that as a pull, the DE can be run around by the QB. Teams running zone read are often playing one of if not their best athlete at QB. A DE moving inside has a tough task to redirect and tackle the opposition's best athlete in open space.

One easy solution is to bluff the Will as a blitzer.


By bluffing the Will in the B gap the OT is forced to make his block at the LOS. Because there is less space created by the OT climbing to the 2nd level the DE can more easily play on the LOS. The DE will force the ball to be handed and still be in position to play the QB if he does pull it. If the RB tries to cut back away from the blitz the Will & DE can control the cutback because there is less space.

Walking up the Will plays out like America's blitz from a 4-3 under front.


Using a 3-3 with the Will walked up can have a nice effect vs. spread teams running boot or naked scheme passing.


The DE to the action is not being asked to drop. There is no run/pass bind for the DE allowing the DE to apply quick  pressure in the face of the QB. Another positive is the 3RH dropper is a LB not a defensive lineman. On most defenses the Will dropping from the LOS to find the crosser on a boot is a better coverage option than a DL.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Combining Boot with Quick Game Passing Concepts

Here is another offensive passing game concept. The play is from a 3x1 formation combining a quick game passing concept on the weak side with a boot route concept on the strong side.


The route progression for the QB:
1 Hitch (X)
2 Corner (S)
3 Slam Flat (Y)
4 Run

If there is space to throw the hitch take it. 


If there is no space; the QB will pump the hitch and boot to the strong side. Typically if there is no space the offense is playing a 2 over 1 coverage concept to the weak side.

Weak Side Squat & Half


Weak Side Invert Safety


In either situation the defense is overloading the coverage weak. Against both looks the goal is to work the flood route concept strong.


The Z is running a skinny post. His route is designed to cross the face of the corner in man, cover 3, or quarters coverages. If the route is run correctly the skinny post should force the corner too deep and inside to play the corner route. The skinny post must be cautious not to break too far inside on the post. 


Against cover 3 or quarters the Corner may pass the post off to the Safety if the post break is too aggressive.

The S is running a corner route breaking at 10. The corner route must stay deep enough to high low the flat defender. If the flat defender can cover both the corner and the flat route; the corner route is not deep enough.

The Y is running a slam flat. The Y will hit the DE and release to the flat. The route is working to get width before depth. The Y will throttle the route at the numbers.

Once the QB runs the boot; he is reading high to low from the corner to the flat route. If both are covered the QB will tuck the ball and run.

Route Adjustments

By game plan the weak side Hitch can be adjusted to a Slant or Speed Out.



Strong side can be adjusted to any 3 man route combination.



The Protection – Full Turn Back Gap Protection

The protection is set to the 3 receiver side

Away Tackle – Cut C gap defender

Away Guard – Block back on B gap, No B gap threat = firm body position the A Gap with eyes on your B gap

Center – Block back on A gap, No A gap threat = firm body position the call side A Gap with eyes on your A gap

Call Guard – Block back on A gap, No A gap threat = firm body position the B Gap with eyes on your A gap

Call Tackle – Block back on B gap, No B gap threat = firm body position the C Gap with eyes on your B gap

A – C gap defender, block his outside number and seal the edge

Here is an example with the protection set to the Right:



The LT is the away OT and will cut the C gap defender (DE). The cut is designed to keep the DE’s hands down and out of the throwing lane to the hitch.

The LG has an immediate B gap threat from the DT and will block back.

The Center has no immediate gap threat in the A gap. The Center will provide firm body position on the call side A gap to help the RG. While holding position the Center’s eyes are in the away A gap looking for threats from a slanting DL or blitzing LB.

The RG has an A gap threat and is blocking back.

The RT has no immediate gap threat in the B gap. The RT will provide firm body position on the call side C gap to help the A. While holding position the RT’s eyes are in the call B gap looking for threats from the slanting DL or blitzing LB.

Another example, again with the protection set to the Right:




The LT is the away OT and will cut the C gap defender (DE).

The LG has an immediate B gap threat from the DT and will block back.

The Center has and immediate gap threat. The Center will block back on the blitzing Will in the A gap.

The RG has an A gap threat and is blocking back. When the Nose slants to the call the RG will let the slant go and block the new A gap threat from the blitzing Mike.

The RT will block back on the Nose slanting into the B gap.

Game Management - When to Kick the PAT and When to Go for Two

You can never be too prepared on game day to make good game management decisions. Here is a quick reference chart for when to Kick the PAT or Going for 2.


This chart can be downloaded in an Excel file here.


The downloadable file also includes charts for running out the clock and for when to take a safety.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

FAQ - What is America's Blitz?

I thought I would attempt to answer a question I am asked frequently in e-mail. What is America's blitz? 

America's Blitz is a colloquial term for the following blitz concept:



The blitz is known as America's Blitz because "every" team in America runs it. I have also heard the blitz called the NCAA Blitz. The name similarly implies that every college team runs this blitz. While not every team is running the blitz it is very common. Looking in a few NFL and college playbooks here are a few examples of the America's Blitz concept.

This example is from long time Pittsburgh Steeler defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau.



Here it is from Mark Dantonio's time as Ohio State's defensive coordinator. This variation of the concept is being run from a 3 man line sub personnel with multiple DB's in the game.


Here from Nick Saban's defense at Alabama in Base personnel.



Another example of America's blitz from Coach Saban being run out of sub personnel Nickel or Dime.

Here from Bo Pelini's Nebraska Defense

From Rex Ryan's NY Jets Defense



It doesn't take long to see why this concept is known as America's Blitz. 

Why is this blitz concept so ubiquitous? Simple answer it is effective. The deeper answer is versatility.  This blitz concept can be run from nearly all base and sub defensive personnel groups. Defenses also have the flexibility to play man or zone coverage behind this blitz. 

The blitz also has usage versatility. The blitz successfully attacks both run blocking schemes and pass protections. Defenses who carry this concept into a game plan can have confidence this blitz can be effectively called in multiple situations.

The success of the concept comes from the blitzes ability to overload half of the offense, attack the blocking scheme, and adjust based on the offense's blocking.




The concept is simple. The outside blitzer (Sam) is off the edge as a contain player. The DE to the blitz is slanting to the A gap. The inside blitzer (Mike) is letting the DE clear first and blitzing the B gap.

Several situations can play out based on the offensive blocking scheme.

The first situation is the offense zone blocks to the blitz. The zone could be either a zone run scheme or zone pass protection.



If the offense is disciplined in their zone blocking the offense has a blocker for each defender in each gap. In this situation the Sam, Mike, End, and Nose all have excellent gap leverage and the ability to shed blocks and make a play. This blitz challenges the offense to stay disciplined in their zone blocking.

The DE slanting to the A gap creates a conflict for the Guard. The Guard initially feels like the DE is attacking the B gap. In that case the Guard is responsible to block him. As the guard realizes the DE is actually slanting down to the A gap, it may be too late for the Guard to transition and make a good block on the blitzing Mike in the B gap.



The Center has a similar conflict. If the Center engages with the Nose at all, the Center's block on the DE slant to the A gap is very difficult.



Another situation is the OT blocks down on the DE slanting to the A gap. 



As the offense's blocking collapses down the defense has a 2 off the edge blitz concept. This situation can play out vs. both the run and the pass.

Versus the block down and kick out schemes like power the defense is able to get two blitzers to the point of attack.



As the OT blocks down the Mike is blitzing the B gap area. With 2 blitzers off the edge; the Mike is able to spill and the Sam is able to contain. 

Versus the pass the offense is likely running a slide scheme away from the blitz. If that is the situation the blitz creates a 2 (Mike & Sam) on 1 (RB).



Here is some video of the Dick Lebeau coached Pittsburgh Steelers running the concept. This video is courtesy of an excellent article about Coach Lebeau's Strong Scrape Fire Zone from Coach Hoover.





Monday, May 18, 2015

Weak Side Fire Zone Corner Blitz from a Hybrid 4-3 Under Front

This blitz is from the 2007 USC Playbook from the Pete Carroll Trojan defense. The USC defensive front used a hybrid 4-3 / 3-4 concept. One of the DE's is a hybrid player who can play as a traditional hand on the ground defensive end. That hybrid DE also allows the defense to transition to a 3 man front concept by playing that DE in a 2 point stance. 


FIELD COWBOY 3 SEAM


Field sets the nose to the field and the 3 technique into the boundary. The boundary DE (here the right DE) is the hybridized player.

The Rush:
Cowboy - Blitzes the Corner & the Will from the Boundary

Field DE - Contain
Nose - Field A gap
Tackle - B Gap
Will - Blitz A
Boundary Corner - Blitz Contain

The Coverage:
3 Seam is a 3 under 3 deep fire zone coverage concept

Sam - Hot 2
Mike - Hot 3
Boundary DE - Hot 2
Field Corner - 1/3
SS - Middle 1/3
FS - Boundary 1/3



If the offense aligns with a #2 weak at TE the defense is able to keep the blitz and the coverage intact.



With the blitz coming from the boundary, any 3x1 formation to the field can be handled without any adjustment. The Mike is able to handle dropping off of the #3 receiver to the field. The blitz and the coverage operate without any checks, changes, or adjustments.



Against a 2x2 formation with a split #2 receiver into the boundary the defense shows its flexibility. The boundary DE makes an "Okie" call. Okie moves the Tackle to a 5 technique. The hybrid DE walks out and is able to align as an OLB to execute his pass drop on a split #2 receiver. The Boundary corner has a difficult path to blitz with the DE and split #2 in his way. To solve this problem, the FS makes a "Sheriff" call. Sheriff means the safety is now blitzing instead of the corner. 

Pete Carroll's defenses with the Seattle Seahawks have featured this same concept of blending 4-3 and 3-4 concepts. Moving forward, hybrid players will continue to play a critical role in allowing defenses to innovate.