Thursday, February 6, 2020

Counter Reverse

Interesting reverse off the counter run play out of 12 personnel from San Francisco. The formation starts as a I formation structure with a TE in the FB role. Following multiple motions the formation is a 3x1 bunch spacing.

The pull and reverse action by the TE is a neat way to sell the counter and affect the defense. The timing also works out well with the crack and wrap perimeter blocking scheme. Good design from the Niner and Kyle Shanahan.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Disguising Coverage to Attack RPO

The Chiefs are in a 4-2-5 nickel personnel. The initial formation is 2x2 with KC showing a low safety weak side indicating a 1 high coverage either a cover 3 variant or Cover 1.

When the motion takes the formation to 3x1 there is no man coverage adjustment. The LB's bump and the weak safety walks into the box. The offense has a clear indication the defense is in a version of cover 3 weak. 

The Chiefs rolled down the weak safety into the box building a 6 vs. 5 box advantage for the defense. Based on that look the run is into an unfavorable look and the ball should go to the screen. 

SF is expecting the Corner to the screen to be slower to secure any screen go as the deep 1/3 player. That leaves 2 blockers including a TE for two low defenders (Nickel & Mike). The numbers say to throw the screen until KC changes the math post-snap with a cover 2 concept.

The weak side safety pops the top to play the half while the post safety rotates to the strong half. To the bunch the defense is able to aggressively trigger the corner as force. Even if the corner had not made a great play the defense now has 3 low defenders for two blockers.

Great execution from the Chiefs to create a TFL on the screen. The plan here from Steve Spagnuolo and the understanding by the Chiefs players is great stuff. KC manipulated the looks with pre-snap disguise to force the ball to the screen and changed the math post-snap to kill the play off. 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Corner Pressures to attack Run and Pass

Here are two cover 3 fire zone corner pressures from Louisiana Lafayette. Both are 1st & 10 calls from 3-4 personnel.

The Rush:
DL slanting strong from an odd front spacing bringing both the TE side OLB and Corner

The Coverage:
3 Under 3 Deep Fire Zone 

The edge pressure does a good job of building a wall forcing the RB to wind back into the DL movement and a loaded box. When the TE blocks the Safety inserts into the box creating a 7 on 6 advantage for the defense. The outside slant by the strong DE creates a give read for the QB making the ball run into the defense's plus one. 

The alignment of the ILB walked out to the three receiver side helps deter any RPO throws to the strong side. The walked ILB has no gap fit and is free from being in a run/pass conflict.

The second example is again 3-4 personnel, this time spaced like a even front.

The Rush:
The weak side DE and DT are running a twist game while the Nose slants strong and the Corner pressures off the edge.

The Coverage:
3 Under 3 Deep Fire Zone

The offense is in a 5 man play action protection with a pulling guard. As with any 5 man protection the OL is looking to ID and block the 5 most dangerous rushers. The Corner typically does not qualify as a most dangerous rusher and here the Corner holds the pressure and doesn't tip off the OL pre-snap. With the Guard pulling strong the Center and OT are 2 for 2 on the weak side twist game. The result is the OT works inside to collect the twist leaving the Corner off the edge unblocked. This pressure also speeds up the timing of play action pass. The play fake is designed to manipulate reads on defense. The manipulation is much less effective against blitzing defenders. Blitzers are not reading run fit vs. coverage. The blitzer is in the charge regardless and reading on the move to play the run or pass rush. 

Again the width of the ILB walked out of the box deters strong side RPO with the LB removed from a box run fit or run/pass conflict. The box is still advantaged 6 on 5 for the defense. If the ball was handed to the RB into the box the defense would again be in a favorable situation making this a versatile regular down and distance call.

Good execution from the Ragin' Cajuns. Really nice usage of corner pressure from former Louisiana and new Baylor defensive coordinator Ron Robert.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

2 Under 3 Deep Double A Gap Blitz

The Colts are in a dime personnel on 3rd & 10.

The Rush:
The DL is in wide alignment DE's and double 3 techniques. The Dime and Down Safety are the double A gap rushers. 

The Coverage:
2 under 3 deep with the Mike and Nickel in the underneath hot drops

The mugged up Mike LB on the Center creates a bear front spacing. With all 5 OL covered the pass protection is forced into being manned up with the 5 immediate rush threats.

With the OL all covered any blitz threat from off the LOS belongs to the RB. The RB is threatened with a blitzer on his side of the protection which keeps the RB's eyes and block on the weak side. The Center's pass set and eyes are occupied by the mugged up Mike. When the Mike drops weak the Center's set and eyes work weak to the blitzing down safety. The initial presentation in combination with the drop out LB occupy the Center and RB to the weak side allowing the Dime to run through in the strong side A gap. 

The Dime's pre-snap alignment and demeanor suggest he is going to cover the #3 receiver. The Dime even has a subtle outside tilt to the #3. The pre-snap off coverage alignment of the weak side Corner suggests access in the passing game against the Corner. As the post-snap pressure shows the QB looks to throw to the weak side access throw against the Corner 1 on 1. The coverage strong is very light here. The Nickel in the strong hot drop is stressed with threats from both the #2 and #3 receivers. The post safety can potentially drive down on the #3 late. 

The pre-snap presentation and pressure encourage the QB to throw to the X receiver in expected isolation. The QB is forced to process quickly against the run through unblocked A gap blitzer. Really interesting manipulation of the offense and QB here. The throw ultimately goes into a double coverage.

Interesting usage of 2 under 3 deep coverage and great execution by the Colts and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Adjusting FZ Coverage vs. RPO

LSU is in a bunch formation from 20 personnel with a FB body aligned on the hip running a conflict RPO. The concept blends a counter run scheme with a glance route to the X receiver. The read is the weak safety.

QB meshes with the RB reading the weak safety. If the safety rotates/triggers into the run fit the ball is going to the glance behind his head.

If the Safety stays deep the ball is handed to the RB and the defense does not have a +1 to the weak side. The usage of a bunch formation also helps the offensive concept here. The bunch formation strong deters the defense from bumping the LB's weak. Any bump by the backers weak creates stress for  the defense against the possibility of bunch side runs and 4 strong route concepts. 

This is a really nice play design from LSU. The Georgia Southern defense is in a weak fire zone  pressure and has a numbers advantage in the run game if the ball was handed off on the counter. Part of fire zone pressure's success has been the ability to attack run schemes by winning numbers at the point of attack. RPO's are in part a reaction to defensive schemes like fire zone pressure that are problematic. Can't run into the defensive look, just throw the attached pass concept.  Tough to block the +1 defender, just read him. 

This offseason we will be working in spring ball on some fire zone adjustments we have had in the playbook but have not featured. Specifically getting the corners involved as the Seam player.

Same pressure concept with a job swap. The corner is replacing the safety as the seam flat player while the safety is taking over the 1/3 responsibility for the corner. We have used the corner in a trap technique in 4 under 2 deep and sim pressure concepts but not in 3 under 3 deep. This adjustment gives the QB a give read while allowing the defense to remain +1 to the pressure side. 

With offenses continuing to advance with RPO concepts, we are going to have to keep adjusting/adding concepts on defense.

Why do you need all those coverage concepts?

If we keep it simple on defense the reads for the offense are simple and they probably have a really good RPO concept that is going to be a problem. Fundamentals, effort, and physical play will always be our foundation but they don't solve every problem. We have to have scheme answers. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Giving a Corner Relief in Man Coverage vs. 3x1

There are many available coverage tools in 2 high split field safety concepts to handle 3x1 formations. 

Two common options: 


The coverage is going to play a 3 over 2 quarters coverage concept on the #1 #2 receivers. Weak side the Safety is cross keying to the #3 strong. This requires the coverage to be man to man on the weak side and puts the corner in isolation on the X receiver.

A second solution is to play a midpoints concept.


Midpoints is a traditional quarter quarter half concept. This allows the defense to put a cloud corner and safety over the top of the X receiver weak side. No doubt this provides the corner with relief of not being in isolation man to the weak side.

The two coverage compliment each other and many teams carry and call both to mitigate stress areas in the other coverage. Putting a corner in isolation man coverage repeatedly is not without risk. Having a way to relieve the stress is necessary.

One issue if these are primary coverage concepts for a defense can be what if the QB is reading the weak safety. The defense is likely in solo or midpoints.

Now the QB has a simple if/then choice. If the safety works strong in a Solo concept the corner is isolated on the X WR. This allows the offense to take a one on one deep shot to the weak side.

If the Safety is working weak as a deep half player in a midpoints concept the the QB can work strong and attempt to attack the midpoints concept with a verticals concept spaced from hash to hash. The Safety to the strong side is stressed by the two verticals as is the ILB on the 3 drop. The route spacing makes the coverage difficult especially against a good QB who can drive the ball into the #3 on the opposite hash or #2 in the strong seam.

One solution is to mix the two concepts. Here the strong side is a midpoints concept with the weak side playing a solo concept. 

The weak safety is the key. If the Safety shows he is working strong immediately the corner is still isolated and the ball will go to the X receiver. When the Weak safety reads pass he will open his hips weak to provide body position to deter the iso throw vs. the manned up corner. The safety understands that will force the QB strong. This allows the safety to work back to 3 strong. The midpoint technique of the safety to the strong side forces the #3 receiver to work to the waiting safety on the weak side. This type of concept can punish pass concepts/QB reads designed to attack base coverage concepts.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Spread Defense Sim Pressure Package

This is a guest post from Nick Davis the Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. If you don't know Nick, you should look him up. He is one of the brightest young defensive coaches in the country. Follow him on twitter @Spread_Defense. Nick regularly posts video and drill work on social media as well as having several great articles on X&O Labs. His defensive units are annually tops in the Heartland Conference and highly ranked in all of D3 football. Nick has been able to fill up the stat columns in Sacks and TFL's every season with a dynamic multiple defense based out of 3-3-5 personnel. Nick's defense was 9th in the nation this season with 38 sacks. 

Simulated Pressure 

A simulated pressure in our terminology is a pressure that brings linebackers or defensive backs while replacing the rusher or rushers with defensive lineman.  At Rose-Hulman this has become really easy to get to in our system because of our personnel.  We are a 3-3 personnel team that will play both odd and even fronts.  Our fronts allow us to put our linebackers or best cover defensive lineman where we need them.  Our base defense allows us to rush 4 from multiple fronts and play 1 & 3 match coverages.  

The most important part about a Simulated Pressure is trying to figure out the pass protection.  We look for over a 60% tendency when we game plan.  When you have figured out what the protection is going to be then it is time to figure out what type of fronts you want to attack them with.            

3 Down Odd Front
We want to put the most athletic defensive end to the running back side.  If we have over a 60% tendency we will bring both the middle and outside stack backer to the man side of the protection with any blitz pattern.  If you are not sure what the man side of the protection is you can send both stack backers with any blitz pattern.  We like this best with our 1 low hole coverage.  We train the defensive end that if the tailback runs a swing to his side he will peel off on it and owns that in man. If the tailback swings opposite he becomes the low hole player and drops to 5 yards and works off the quarterback.  The linebacker not rushing is the low hole player unless the tailback swings opposite the defensive end.  If the tailback blocks you get a five man rush with a low hole player.

2 & 4 Down Even Fronts  
We want to put the most athletic linebacker or defensive end to the running back side.  If we have over a 60% tendency we will bring the linebacker to the man side of the protection with any blitz pattern.  If you are not sure what the man side of the protection is you can send both backers and let your c gap players play the tailback and the low hole.  The coverage concept is the same as if we were in the odd front but now we have a better match up on the tailback if he free releases.  We prefer to bring the linebacker down the A gap but you can use any of your blitz patterns.

Why do we love sim pressures?

We can get hits on the quarterback only bringing 3 or 4 rushers.  We can bring 5 or 6 man pressure patterns and still have 7 or 8 in coverage.  We prefer to use this with our man coverage but we can play our whole coverage package behind these pressures.  These concepts teach our defensive line coaches coverage and thus they become more involved in our overall defensive system.  The defensive lineman think it is fun to play in coverage and get excited about the concepts.