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.  

Friday, January 10, 2020

Under Front Plug Pressure to Attack Split Zone

Here are the Panthers running an under front plug pressure on 2nd & 5. Carolina is in 4-3 personnel with a hybrid DE/LB. The usage of a hybrid defender allows the front to start in an odd front spaced like a 3-4 and stem pre-snap into an under front spacing. 

The Rush: 
Will LB blitzing his open A gap.

The Coverage:
Cover 1 with the Sam and Safety playing a combo coverage on the two TE's in the wing structure

The Nose in the play side A gap helps stop the flow of the zone. The Will pressuring in the weak side A gap gets penetration denting the zone. The denting of the zone forces the RB to cut back. The Will on the pressure and the 3 tech DT prevent the back side of the zone from climbing to the Mike while the DE boxes the split zone block by the TE across the formation. 

In coverage the Sam and Safety share the two TE's. The down TE zone blocks out, as the widest of the two the Sam takes the TE in man coverage. The off TE blocking across the formation becoming the man responsibility of the Safety. The Mike manned on the RB and the Safety manned on the TE are able to add 2 unblocked defenders at the point of attack on the LOS. 

This plug pressure was featured previously link here. The earlier example was used to attack play action on a 1st & 10. This type of simple versatile pressure can be effective on regular down & distances to attack both run & pass. 

Good stuff from the Panthers and Eric Washington.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Defending Smash with Cover 2

We teach multiple variations of cover 2 concept. Here is one example of a split field coverage deep half tool we play and film of us working and correcting our technique vs. a smash route concept in practice.

The Corner is a flat player, the ILB is a V2, and the Safety is a Deep 1/2.

Against a Smash concept:

In this half tool we do not ask the corner to sink for the corner route. We have other half tools that ask the corner to hinge and sink and midpoint on Smash to help deny the 7 route by the #2. In this concept we want to deny the route of #1 with the Corner. Some coverage concepts play deep to short others are more aggressive denial coverages, this half tool is a denial coverage.

The vertical release of the #2 is going to be body positioned by the V2 LB. The LB is not looking to reroute. Being too aggressive is a good way to get beat across face and allow the route where there is no help in the MOF. The V2 dropper's help is outside and deep.

The Safety is looking to get to a position with outside leverage of #2 because his help is inside from the V2 dropper. With the Corner not using a sink technique to help, any outside throw is the safety's responsibility.

Here is a practice rep from a half line pass drill. The Corner sits on the stop route by #1. The V2 LB opens in body position to carry the vertical with inside leverage. The Safety pedals for depth but does not react to the outside route stem of the TE gaining width. 

The Safety has NO help outside, his goal is to be able to deny the outside breaks and squeeze inside breaks back to the V2 LB. Once the break happens the Safety is badly outleveraged leading to an easy throw and catch into the open space outside. Also horrible job by us as an organization clearing the sideline, those hand shields are a rolled ankle or worse waiting to happen.

Here is a 2nd rep from 2 weeks later from the same group of defenders.

The Corner and V2 LB are very similar in technique to the first rep but the Safety has dramatically corrected his footwork. Now with the hard outside stem by #2 the Safety weaves for width. We work weave in our individual time practice time this rep is a good example of our indy footwork showing up in a group drill. Notice it isn't a requirement to stay outside #2 only to have the ability to break on the outside routes. Not a good job blocking by the LB or corner. The intended WR must be our first block on an interception. Much better job keeping the sideline cleared of equipment, every detail every time.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Shotgun Counter Option

A counter option concept from New Mexico back in 2013. The Lobos are in shotgun two backs 21 personnel with a TE/Sniffer on the hip of the OT. 

This is a nice double option variation. The jab step by the hip blocker helps sell a block across the formation. The dive fake inside helps control the flow of LB's to the perimeter. This play has the ability to hit inside, off tackle, or all the way outside.

When the guard is able to kick the edge, the QB is able to attack the edge, get vertical, and run inside the kick out block.

When the guard is able to log the EMLOS the QB is able to attack the edge and keep the path off tackle. The pitch phase threatens the force defender helping widen the alley for the QB on the keep.

If the force player doesn't honor the pitch and widen, the option portion allows the offense to get wide outleveraging the defense.

When the edge aggressively attacks the QB the pitch happens more quickly but is again able to outleverage the defense wide and quick with lead blocking. 

Very effective counter option concept from New Mexico and former offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse (currently Georgia Southern).

This type of play is a great reason to carry double rotated cover 2 firezone. Here is an example from 3-4 personnel.

The safety rotation pre-snap shows the Safety down to the strong side showing a 4-4 spacing backed up by an expected 1 high coverage. Post-snap the coverage rotates again (double rotated) to a Cover 2 concept with the post safety rotating to the the strong side deep 1/2 and the corner playing the weak side deep 1/2.

The pressure allows the strong OLB to attack off the edge and spill the pulling guard. The fast pressure off the edge by the Safety should force the ball pitched quickly. The cloud corner is able to attack as the force player with leverage to attack the pitch. The perimeter blocking typically does not ID the pre-snap 1 high alignment of the defense as a cloud support. The unexpected nature of the support helps the Corner trigger and attack as the force player often defeating the block before the concept has been ID'd by the blockers as cloud support. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Bluffing Cover Zero to Disguise Zone Coverage

Chicago is in a 4-2-5 nickel personnel presenting a loaded box on 3rd & 4.

The Rush:
Three man rush with a 3 technique working to the midline rush while the strong side DT drops to the low hole.

The Coverage:
Tampa 2 with both a low hole and high hole dropper both safeties pop out from the low alignment to the deep 1/2

The pre-snap look suggests the coverage is man cover zero with both Safeties low near the LOS. The box numbers/down & distance deter run game. The QB decides to get the ball out quickly to the RB in the flat expecting man coverage from a defender in the core on the RB and a likely pick route from the single side WR. The coverage is in fact a rush 3 drop 8 Tampa 2 concept.The coverage to the bunch allows the defense to play 5 vs. 3 while the weak side is a 3 over 2 advantage for the coverage. Ball gets out quickly for an immediate tackle and a gain of 1 forcing a 4th down punt.

Great job by the Bears presenting cover zero, inviting a quick throw to the flat, and forcing the ball into a strength of a Tampa 2 coverage call. Good stuff from the Bears and Chuck Pagano.