Sunday, December 15, 2019

America's Blitz vs. Action Pass

Here is America's blitz variation from UCLA in a 3-4 spacing with 4i DE's.

The Rush:
DE to the A gap with the OLB crashing on a low track and the ILB scraping over the top to contain. Opposite the blitz the 4i and Nose are running a twist game.

The Coverage:
3 Under 3 Deep

This pressure is a nice 1st and 10 play call. The scrape pattern opposite the hip aligned blocker gives the defense good play vs. split zone and counter concepts. Also moving the DL to the hip player gives the defense play vs. strong side runs. The DL movement cuts off strong side runs forcing the ball carrier back into the blitzers. Here the offense tries to go play action with a split zone action using a full zone blocking. The two backs on the edge struggle with the pick up vs. the edge blitzer. This examples shows the pressure has good play against play action concepts too. Good coverage technique by the field side seam dropping safety to turn and find the crosser. Nice regular down and distance pressure concept from UCLA and Jerry Azzinaro.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Blitz the Formation

This site exists to have an in-depth thoughtful dialog about blitzing. I've heard the criticisms of blitzing for a long time.

Blitzing is guessing
Blitzing is too risky
Blitzes are great when they hit but too many times they are bad calls into the wrong look
Blitz is just something young coaches like to do before they know how to coach defense
Base defense is the safe/smart/correct way to play defense because it lets players Play Fast

I've seen coaches call a blitz into an unfavorable look then use that decision as confirmation bias. "See blitzing is reckless..." or "caught us in blitz..." Is it? Did they? Or was that a poor usage of that blitz? Is it the tool or operator error? 

Don’t tell me why we can’t blitz show me how we can blitz when & where we want it.

Enter Blitz the Formation concepts:

The term blitz the formation (BTF) has become a popular term. Like all concepts in football there is NO universal terminology. Generically BTF is a blitz that adjusts based on the formation. This broad definition places a great many concepts under the umbrella term BTF. 

One common place the BTF terms show up is in pressures that adjust to a specific indicator.

Here is a simple example of blitzing based on the RB location. The pressure is an America's blitz variation set to the RB with a twist opposite and back stopped with 3 under 3 deep firezone coverage.

vs. 2x2

vs. 3x1

The call is going to be a blitz regardless of the formation. The pressure is adjusted based on the alignment of the RB. This can be a great strategy in the appropriate game plan situation. But what if the scouting report doesn't lead to a plan that wants to blitz every formation? What is the solution if you only want to blitz one formation structure and not others?

One solution is a BTF concept we call Blitz Automatic.

Blitz Automatic - We are making a call but are going to auto check into a pressure vs. a specific formation structure. 

General Rules:
The calls we are blending together need to exist in the same spacing. It can become confusing to go through an extreme change and move 10 of 11 players to make a check. We want to be game planned up but not unreasonableIdeally the pre-snap defensive alignment and presentation won't change too much from call A to call B. 

We need to use one word calls. To get everyone on the same page we need simple ways to communicate pre-snap on the field. Which call are we in: A or B? Can you communicate it quickly on the field with a mouthpiece in? Also players have to comfortable with the calls. . Players have to get reps of both A and B to have the confidence to run either based on a quick pre-snap call. We must master the parts before we can use them together.

We need a practice plan to get it learned. These are game plan specific calls. The majority of our practice work on a Blitz Auto concept will be in-week and in-season. That isn't a lot of time or reps. What is our weekly teaching progression to get it executed on game day?

Game planning Regular D&D (1-10 and 2nd Down on schedule) 
Open field (No red zone or backed up or other special situation)
10 personnel

In 2x2 RB Strong/Weak and 3x1 with the RB strong the offense has balance and variety lacking any stand out strong tendency. However, in 3x1 with the RB aligned weak the offense has a strong tendency to make the RB flat and run power read. 

Basketball = Blitz Auto

Spurs - 4 Down Over front with 3 Match Coverage auto checked to a strong edge pressure vs. 3x1 with RB weak

Call structure
The call will come in from the sideline Spurs. The Mike LB will communicate the "Over" call to set the front and either Trio (3 match) or Scrape (strong pressure). The secondary will communicate the coverage adjustments.

vs. 2x2 and allows for a 6 man box and 3 match coverage

vs. 3x1 with the RB strong the coverage is a flooded cover 3 with weak rotation. This allows for the Mike to be out of RPO conflict and to build a 6 man box.

vs. 3x1 with the RB weak the pressure is the check. This allow for 2 off the edge vs. the power read play. By starting in 2 high and holding the pressure the goal is to show a look the offense wants to run their top play into. The 2 off the edge gives the read to give directly into the blitzing Mike. Multiple studies show drives with a TFL result in no points 80% the time. This is a great opportunity to create a TFL.

This type of concept allows us to have a blitz plan for the situation we want it. Are we going to only call Spurs? Of course not but we do want to have a plan to attack a tendency that exists. If we don't like a specific pressure concept or plan vs. other formations, why call it? Lets play a base defensive call when the scouting report doesn't show strong tendencies. Lets keep ourselves out of blitzing a look we don't want to blitz/lack certainty and heat up the looks we want to pressure.

Example Practice & Install Plan for a Blitz Auto

This is a plan for the overall practice. We will also of course work the blitz technique and pressure pattern within individual and group periods.

Sunday - Players off

Monday - Install on the white board followed by a cutup to show then when and how we will use the call. Walk thru reps. We walk and talk the concept and give the players the chance move and execute the call. We will use garbage cans and live bodies at receiver.

Tuesday - Pre-practice run thru will be much more uptempo version of Monday. When going against scout team the call will be hard called. We will call and run Scrape vs. 3x1 gun weak and call and run Trio vs. the other formations. We won't make any Spurs calls. Why? We want the focus to be on executing the call so we can get good at the call vs. the formation and plays.

Wednesday - Pre-practice run thru. This time the defensive signal coach will be behind the defense. The defense is forced to turn their back to the formation (No Peeking). Once the formation is set by the coach running the scout look the defense gets the signal and turns. This forces the defense to get the call, turn and see the formation, make the ID, communicate, and run through the call. In scout period will will make some hard calls and some Spurs calls.

Thursday - Pre-practice walk thru will slow down and show motion adjustments. What do we do if they move us into or out of our blitz automatic. Against scout we will show both motion and no motion.

Friday - In the film room we will do choir practice. Players will get a signal from coach and turn to the film. Everyone must go through their pre-snap communication and then we play the play on film. This allows players to interact with the film and take mental practice reps. Each week we have a cutup and script for this choir practice meeting. On the practice field we will have a run thru what will be uptempo with reactions and execution.

Saturday - Execute the plan

The Spurs plan is a simple example of a blitz auto. There are countless blitz auto concepts that can be built to apply pressure when and where we want it. As players learn and get comfortable with weekly blitz auto concepts the ability to go into the lab to build more complex automatics is very possible. Blitzing is a defensive tool. Our goal is to be masters of using the tool effectively. There are many systems to build blitz the formation concepts into a defense and get the most out of pressure.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Attacking Counter with DL slants in the 3-4

Oklahoma is running a GT pull counter from a 2 back formation.

Even with the strong DE slanting outside the offense has good angles and numbers on the defense. The Will backer is going to have to deal with the play side OT. The offense has 3 (RB, Guard, Tackle) for the defense's 3 (Down Safety, Mike, DE). The defense does have an unblocked defender. Unfortunately the plus one defender is the Jack OLB on the backside of the play. Pre-snap the picture looks good for the offense. Post-snap the Will linebacker is able to get a run through and make the tackle due to the slant of the Nose and backside DE.

Play side the safety and DE set an edge and get help from the Mike playing over the top of the inside releasing OT. With an edge play side the backside of the defense can chase the play down from behind. The Nose is slanting strong. The slant attacks the guard who is blocking back, limiting any movement on the Nose. The Center is blocking back on the 4i DE aligned in the B gap. When the DE moves outside the Center ends up in no man's land unable to block the slanting DE and unable to redirect to the Will. The Will attacks the LOS and gets a run through in the seam created by the Nose and the Center chasing the DE. This could be a snap blitz from the Will. Regardless of it being called or a reaction the Will can be fast because the defense has the DE and folding Jack LB for any QB keep or cutback runs. 

Good stuff from UCLA and Jerry Azzinaro.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Handling Four Strong Route Concepts in Fire Zone Coverage

Here is a fire zone pressure clip from Alabama. The Tide are in a Dime personnel with OLB bodies as the DE's.

The Rush:
The Mike covers the center creating a bear spaced front with all 5 OL covered. The Rush backers on the edges are contain. The strong DT is moving inside to the midline. The Dime  takes a path through the DE's heels creating a full speed straight line run to the QB.

The Coverage:
3 under 3 deep fire zone 

The initial path of the Dime fools the RB into taking a wide path. When the Dime goes through the heels of the up field DE, the RB struggles to redirect and make the pick up.

The coverage does a great job handling the 4 verticals from a 4 strong formation.

The formation presents 4 receiving threats to the strong side of the formation. The Mike is the seam dropper relating to the #2 receiver. In this formation the #4 strong is also #2 receiver weak. Weak side the corner is playing an aggressive man style technique with limited coverage help. To the strong side there is a choice to make about the strong corner's technique. The corner could play a divider zone technique deep 1/3. Instead the corner bails to man style technique leaning on the #1 receiver. The Nickle in the seam is playing match-carry-deliver seam technique. With the #2 receiver vertical the Nickel carries the route. With the RB #4/#2 blocking strong the drop down safety has inside help from the weak seam dropping Mike LB. The safety and LB do an excellent job of passing the route. The Mike gets is eyes outside to see the threat and makes a man turn and rolls back with the vertical from the #3 (once the route distributes it is the new/final #2). The drop down safety is able to pass the inside vertical and zone off over the top of the RB who becomes the new/final #3.

This is a good understanding of a four strong formation and how to pass and match the route distribution from Alabama. Good stuff from Pete Golding and Nick Saban.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

A Gapped Mugged Zone Under Man Pressure

Here is a clip of the 2016 Patriots running a zone under man pressure coverage. The coverage shares many similarities to quarters coverage.

The Patriots are in a 4-2-5 nickel personnel with OLB bodies as the DE's.

The Rush:
Nickel off the edge with the DT and Mike pressuring their gaps. The field side rush is working a long loop over the top of the penetrating DT and LB.

The Coverage:
The Corners and Safeties are playing man coverage while the two drop LB's are working inside the #2 receivers to deny hot throws.

The protection ends up taking on a man to man principle with all the OL covered. The RB works inside to help with the A gap rush threat. The Rush looping pulls the OT's eyes and feet inside leaving the Nickel free off the edge. With no safety rotation it is very difficult to ID the Nickel as a pass rush threat pre-snap.

This coverage concepts shows up in the 2006 Eric Mangini Jets Defense

It also shows up in the 2010 playbook from Romeo Crennel in Kansas City

In this concept the Palms coverage is only played vs. 2x2 and the coverage converts to a 3 under 3 deep vs. any 3x1

This coverage concept can help mitigate some of the 2x2 formation risk associated with being in a 3 deep fire zone coverage. The risk of verticals often requires a firezone coverage to carry the #2's vertical with the seam dropper. If the defense doesn't want to match the #2 receivers in the seam with underneath droppers this coverage allows the defense to use DB's on all four vertical pass threats while maintaining a strong coverage presence in the seams for hot throws.

Good stuff from former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. No doubt Bill Belichick had a hand in this concept showing up all over in his coaching tree. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

2 Under 3 Deep Overload Blitz

Here is an overload pressure from the Colts in a Dime personnel.

The Rush:
The Colts cover the center and go 5 at the LOS with two wide DT's and the mugged up Mike creating a bear front look. The strong DE is up the field for contain. The DT's are looping weak. The Nickle is up and under, the Dime is down the middle of the strong guard. The Mike bluffs dropping out including turning his shoulders to sell a drop out off the LOS. The Mike then adds back into the rush in the A gap. 

The Coverage:
2 Under 3 Deep 

The up and under by the Nickel creates a straight line path to the QB through the heels of the contain DE. The RB scanning across the formation has a tough pick up on a full speed blitzer. Having a DT and DE weak holds the guard and tackle away from the pressure and forces the Center to travel back with the strong DT. The Center has no way to know the weak side guard is going to be freed up. The Mike bluffing a drop out gets lost by the pass protection and when he re-inserts himself in the rush he is free in the A gap. Good execution from the Colts and nice pressure concept from Matt Eberflus

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Bear Front Green Dog

Simple example of using bear front and cover 1 with green dog technique to get a 6 man pass rush.

The Rush:
The DE and DT are working a twist with the DT penetrating and the DE going up and under. The Mike is walked up rushing the B gap and Rush backer is off the edge as contain.

The Coverage:
Cover 1 with the Dime using a green dog rush to cover technique. When the RB blocks the Dime adds into the pass rush.

This is a simple concept with well executed nuance.

The looping DE does a great job of pushing up the field before working his inside move. The inside move is tight through the heels of the penetrating DT. The timing and path allow the DE a full speed straight line path to the QB. 

The down safety and dime both show pressure to the TE side and opposite the RB. The threat of pressure helps force the OL into a hard slide in this half slide protection scheme.

The DT aligned on the center is working a bull rush type technique which:
1. Occupies the Center preventing the Center from helping on the looping DE
2. Forces the Guard in the slide to set to the midline leaving the RB on the Mike and creating a short edge for the green dogging Dime

The Dime is presenting pressure opposite the RB. As the slide of the OL sets the RB is left one on one with the LB in the B gap. The Dime's positioning allows for an extremely efficient path to the QB. The Dime keeps his path tight off the blitzing LB's hip, stays square, and has low pad level to allow for quick change of directions. Similar coaching points to a looper on any LOS twist game.

Well executed details from the Eagles and good design from Jim Schwartz.