Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Align to Win Part 1

In an effort to give our defensive front the best chance to win, we try to coach the game within the game. The offense has tendencies based on how they line up and we are going to use those tendencies to help ourselves do our jobs. Good defenses react, great defenses anticipate. 



Take a standard 4 man even front with a 4-2 box. The easy alignment explanation is:

DE's - 5 technique 
DT - 3 tech
Nose - Shade

LB's - Ability to play open A and B Gap.

But do those simple alignments give us the best chance to win each play? If you watched a cut up and keyed the DT in a 3 tech, is he always aligned the exact same way?  Should he be? Maybe a 3 technique isn't always just outside shade on the guard. Maybe there is more to it.


Take a formation with the back aligned to the 3 technique side. The most obvious play, but certainly not the only play, for the offense is the inside zone read. With the back aligned away, the Nose and End will widen their alignments. Those 2 know the OL's blocks are coming to them with the RB aligned away. The Nose in a Wide alignment may align physically where a 2i would align but will have inside hand down inside foot back keying the Center. This alignment allows the Nose to leverage the Center's block well and control the A gap. The End has the width to set the edge. The Will is protected by the width of the Nose's alignment, as the Guard doesn't want to hang the Center out vs. the Nose 1 on 1. The result is the Guard is typically not too fast to work up to the Will backer because he is providing body position for the Center. 

The alignment also effects the Mike fast flowing the A gap. The Center is forced to zone hard to the wide alignment nose opening the A gap for the Mike to press the LOS. The backside Guard is forced to zone hard to the Mike. This is why the DT has widened to a 4i. He is now 1 on 1 with the OT and wants to put is eyes on his work. Hands and eyes go to the OT and we expect to win that 1 on 1 consistently. The DT has a leverage advantage. The backside DE is a shuffle square player for QB and cutback. The 4i DT makes the cutback very difficult.


What if the defense wants to chase the DE to the dive instead. The Nose and DE would still go wide. The backside DT will go heavy 3 (almost head up) to force the OT and OG into an aggressive scoop block. The backside DE will heavy up and chase hard. The LB's now align in 20's to allow the Mike to scrape exchange for the QB. The Will plays B and rocks back. The Nose's wide alignment will force the ball to cutback to the chasing DE.

Inside zone read isn't the only play for the offense. 



If the back is flat the offense may be running stretch and is much less likely to run inside zone read. The DT backside will heavy up to make the backside scoop block as difficult as possible for the guard and tackle. Frontside the Nose will slide to a G (2i) alignment. By changing eyes and hands of the Nose from the Center to the Guard the Nose has a much better chance to beat the reach of the Center.


Another play from the flat back alignment is the power read play. Again having the DT in a heavy and the Nose in a G is advantageous. The DT is much better position to squeeze the block back by the Center. The Nose is much firmer against the down block of the guard in a 2i by bringing his eyes and hands to the guard. 

These simple adjustments can go a long way to helping defenders make plays. It is always the temptation as a defensive coach to think about all kinds of exotic schemes and stunts. Often times the best answer is your base defense. One strategy in game planning can be to avoid the "what call should we make here?" conversations and focus instead on how will we coach our guys to align to win.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Charger Dime Pressure

Here are two zone dogs from the Chargers. The defense is in a 4 man front 6 DB dime personnel. The rush concepts are not overly exotic or complex. The success of both comes from pre-snap presentation.



The DE's are both standing up. The spacing is an even front with two 3 technique DT's. On the strong side the DE and DT are working a twist game with the Nickel rushing off the edge. 

The pressure works because the Mike walks up and covers the center. This creates a psuedo-bear front. It also forces the the OL into being manned up against the DE's, DT's and Mike at the LOS in a 5 vs 5. The Dime's presence on the weak side holds the RB's attention. With the OL covered up and the RB occupied, the Nickel gets the free run off the strong side edge.

The Dime and Mike drop out into the 3 under 3 deep fire zone coverage.



Using the same personnel, the Chargers create a different pre-snap presentation.




The Chargers again cover up all the OL to create a psuedo-bear look. The spacing now looks more like an odd front. With both guards covered the 5 OL are occupied. The stand up DE walks up and rushes off the edge to occupy the RB. The end result is the Nickel again getting a strong side free run off the edge. 



Creative presentation of traditional pressures leads to very effective pressures for the Chargers. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Simple Under Front Cover 1 with 4-2-5 Personnel

Here is one easy way to play the the under front concept with 4-2-5 personnel. The coverage concepts are a continuation from the Cover 1 terminology and rules used in other articles.


The call is Track 1. Track tells the SS to track (align to) the TE and cover him man to man. If the TE is attached, the SS will align in a 9 technique. The Front is set with the 3 technique away from the TE. The corners and remaining safeties will cover the skill and handle the post. The ILB's have a fiddle (2 on 1) vs. the RB. One backer will end up in man on the RB while the other will be the Rat.

If the TE is into the boundary the SS will track the TE and align into the boundary.



Against a single width formation the Corners are over.



Against TE trade the SS will again track the TE. The DT's will adjust.



If the offense elects to go Y off and align the TE off the ball, the SS will back off the ball as well.



The SS still aligns to the TE side. Now the ILB's and SS will use funnel technique to play 3 vs 2 man coverage vs the RB and TE. 

If the offense flexes the TE, the SS will adjust out and cover the flexed TE. 

We also have a pressure built off this concept. Strike 



Strike is SS track and rush. The coverage now has an ILB on the TE with the other ILB on the RB. 

In Strike against a Y off formation the ILB's will use a Banjo (2 vs. 2) man coverage technique on the TE and RB. The SS always aligns to the TE. 

Track 1 and Strike are an easy way to play Under front cover 1 and pressure to the TE. The rules are simple and the concept can be installed quickly if you are already playing other Cover 1 coverage concepts. 



Thursday, March 15, 2018

4 Man Pass Rush Twist

Here is a variation of a read twist vs. the pass. The DT's are running a read on the center. This is a concept we have called Torch in the past. If you want a full explanation of the Torch stunt click this link. Here is the short version description of Torch. DT's both slant to the Center. Center to you - wrap, Center away - penetrate. 


Here the Center is away to the Nose penetrates. The Center is blocking to the Tackle so the tackle wraps.
When the Center blocks to the Nose, the Nose wraps. The Tackle penetrates with the Center blocking away.

We also have a stunt for the DE's called Eyes. On an Eyes call the DE's read the guard to their side. 


If the Guard is blocking out to the DE, the DE stays in the outside rush lane.
 If the Guard is blocking away from the DE, the DE CAN use an inside pass rush move. The DE is still looking to beat the OT in the fastest pass rush possible. This give the DE a two way go on the OT. 

If the protection is full slide the End will crash hard off the edge, the DE can rush underneath the block of the RB.

When we combine Torch and Eyes we call Take.

TAKE

Left DE - Eyes with Guard Away = Inside pass rush move
Nose - Center away = penetrate
Tackle - Center to = wrap 
Right DE - Eyes with Guard to = Outside Rush

If the slide side was to the defensive left.

Left DE - Eyes with Guard TO = Outside Rush
Nose - Center to = wrap
Tackle - Center away = penetrate
Right DE - Eyes with Guard away = Inside pass rush move

Vs. Full slide protection

Left DE - Eyes with Guard away & OT down = Under the RB, Inside rush lane
Nose - Center away = penetrate
Tackle - Center to = wrap
Right DE - Eyes with Guard to = Outside rush

If the DE got a great takeoff and has the OT beat with speed, the DE may choose to stay outside on the Eyes stunt. As the DT wraps in this case the stunt turns back into a Torch.


Take is an easy way to build on a great stunt like Torch, turning a 2 man read twist into a 3 man pass rush game.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Attacking the Slide Side with 3-3 Stack

Stack spacing allows for all kinds of interesting and effective pressure concepts. One classic 3-3 pressure is to bring the stack backer and Mike to the same side of the center pressuring the inside gaps.



This pressure has been around for a long time. Unfortunately the pressure is easy to pick up in a half slide pass protection. The Center and Guard are in good position to see and block the Sam and Mike. The Will can green dog the RB and generate pressure that way. Ultimately this concept comes down to personnel and who in the pass rush can beat a blocker. One way to improve this pressure's effectiveness is to add a read concept. As opposed to the previous 3-3 read concept that attacked the RB's alignment, this concept attacks the slide side of a half slide protection.



The concept is similar but the read elements to the rush create opportunities for the Nose, Mike, and Sam. The pressure is set away from the back. If the back was aligned to the Sam, the Sam would green dog and the Mike and Will would be in the pressure.

The Rush:
Ends - Contain
Nose - Work opposite the pressure, read the Guard
Mike - Fast pressure in the A gap, Read the Guard
Sam - Read the Guard, Pressure B gap to Midline

The Coverage:
Cover 1 with the non-pressure LB using a green dog technique on the RB. This could also be a 3 under 3 deep fire zone coverage.

The Reads:
Nose - If the guard blocks to you, cross face to the inside rush lane
Mike - Guard away, wide in the A gap and stack the guard. Inside rush lane. 

The Mike and Nose both widen in this situation to create the midline rush lane for the Sam.

Sam - Attack the wide B gap. If the Guard sets to, wrap to the midline rush lane.

The goal here is to create a twist action with the Mike and Sam. If the Mike penetrates the A gap and stacks the guard, the center is forced to set deep and commit to blocking him. When the Sam wraps to the midline the center has difficulty passing off the Mike and picking up the Sam.

If the offense decides to slide the protection to the alignment of the RB the pressure still works.

Nose - Guard away, widen and stack him, inside rush lane
Mike - Guard to, redirect and stack the Center, midline rush lane
Sam - Guard away, run through the B gap, be ready for the block of the RB

This also works if the offense is flipping the alignment of the RB late in the cadence. Read pressures can help defenders to win in the pass rush by creating win/win pass rush opportunities.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Adding Pressure to Split Field Coverage Trips Check

Most 4-2-5 coaches are familiar with the concept of split field coverage. Get your DB's to call the coverage on the field and put your defense in the the best coverage available vs. the formation the offense presents. The formation is split in half and the safeties call the coverage for their half of the formation. One popular quarters coverage trips adjustment has the safety away from trips work strong side to help with #3 in the 3x1.



Some call this concept Poach (Saban/Belichick/Smart) or Solo (Patterson). The name is really not important. The concept is simple, vs. a 3x1 formation the the coverage adjusts with the backside safety. To the 3x1 the Corner, FS, and SS play a quarters concept just as they would vs. only 2 receivers. The LB to the 3x1 drops to #3 handling all low routes. The WS works to #3 and handles all vertical routes. The Corner and LB to the single WR side match the X receiver and RB in coverage. 

One simple adjustment to get more pressure in passing situations is to exchange the roles of the weak side DE and Mike LB. 


The Mike and Nose are reading the turn of the protection by keying the Center's block. The DT plays B gap and pops to contain. 

If the Center blocks to the Nose, the Nose widens and handles the inside rush lane. The Mike stays on his A gap rush and should expect the RB's block. This situation keeps the RB from free or check releasing to get into a route.

If the Center blocks to the Mike, the Nose keeps penetrating and takes the opposite inside rush lane. The Mike attacks the A gap and reads out when the Center blocks toward him. The Mike wraps around the penetrating Nose to the opposite inside rush lane creating a twist action. If the Center is blocking toward the Mike, the guard is forced to chase the penetrating Nose. The Mike's wrap timing is critical. If the Mike goes too early, the Center/Guard can see the twist. If the Mike's timing is correct, the Nose has stacked the Center and the Guard is committed to the Nose allowing the Mike to wrap and create pressure. 

With a simple tag word we can have a pressure trips check in our split field coverage concept. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Read Pressure from the 3-3 Stack

The 3-3 stack spacing has many options for both blitzing and bluffing pressure. One of my favorites vs. 10 personnel is a read pressure. The rush reads the turn of the protection and adjusts to give the rushers the best possible rush opportunity. The pressure is based on the RB's alignment. 




Rush:
DE's - Contain
Nose - Slant to the RB (Reading Guard)
Stack LB opposite the RB - Rush A gap (Reading Center)
Stack LB to the RB - Rush B gap (Reading Guard) read out to Wrap

Coverage: 
3 under 3 deep firezone or Cover 1


If the back was aligned on the other side the roles would adjust. 

The Reads:



Sam - If the Guard blocks down Run through in the B gap. Expect the block of the RB. Inside rush lane.
Nose - Guard blocks toward you, redirect to the midline, Stack the Center
Will - Center to you, widen to inside rush lane. Stack the Guard

This is a situation where you can really turn up the heat by going Cover 1 instead of Cover 3 fire zone.



In a Cover 1 situation the Mike can use a green dog technique to overload the the RB. Both the Cover 1 and Firezone versions have applications.

When the turn of the protection is toward the RB the pressure adjusts.



Sam - Guard to you, wrap to opposite inside rush lane. We want the Sam to initially attack the guard then wrap. Wrapping too early disrupts the timing with the Nose and Will. 
Nose - Guard away, widen to inside rush lane, stack the guard
Will - Center away, midline rush

This pressure could also be set away from the RB. By doing this the defense will likely get the 3 man twist action to attack the slide.

Allowing rushers the opportunity to read and adjust the rush can help  in a number of ways.

#1 Helps players understand how pass protection schemes work
#2 Helps players understand they have a role in the defensive scheme but that role can change post snap based on the offense's scheme
#3 Increases confidence the call can work in any situation
#4 Helps players develop the "be a playmaker" mentality. We want our guys to understand they are not simply "running calls" they are making decisions that either help themselves or hurt themselves in terms of playmaking and production. We are constantly working to coach the mindset  of "I'm blocked" out of players. The opportunity to produce within the scheme is there on every play.