Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blitz of the Week #7

This week's Blitz of the Week is a stunt I have seen used effectively in the 3-3 (or 3-5) defense. This stunt is primarily a run game call used vs. 21 personnel formations.

The stunt is designed to overload the TE side and limit runs to the 3 man surface.

The whole line is slanting to the TE with the Mike blitzing into the TE side B gap. This is only a 4 man rush so the defense can still play Cover 3 (4 under/3 Deep), Quarters,  or Robber. The coverage could also be a fire zone or man free if the defense wanted to bring the overhang player to the TE also.

The effectiveness of this pressure is the ability to get defense players to the point of attack.

Against power to the TE the slant of the DL and the blitz of the Mike helps eliminate the double teams by the offense.
  • The Center has a decision to make. Either give help on the Nose or block back on the back side A gap. If the Center gets too involved with the Nose into the front side A gap there is a seam to press for the Will LB. If the Center blocks back the Nose has a better chance of getting penetration and controlling the play side A gap vs. a single block by the guard.
  • The RT has a DL head up on him but if he spends any time on the DE the Mike should have a clean run through. This creates a single block for the play side DE.
  • The LT vs. DE is a difficult cutoff block against a head up slanting DL. Most 3-3 teams use fast DL making this block even more difficult. If the back side slanting DE is creating havoc it is even more incentive for the center to block back and eliminate the double team on the Nose.
Eliminating double teams allows the defense to stay gap sound. The second effect is that the puller from the backside that is rolling for the Sam linebacker has no place to roll and must take his path wide. Many offensive linemen struggle to pull and get width. Many offensive linemen can get out there but struggle to stay/get square once they are there and execute a block.  

Because the front side blockers are occupied the Sam and Rob are both able to play off the edge.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Coaching Advice

Here are 3 pieces of coaching advice that have had a major impact on my coaching career.

#1 The dirtiest words in coaching are We talked about it. Players don't learn from talking they learn from well designed simple drills and repetition.

#2 What you see on film was either taught or allowed. If you don't like what you see find a way to change it.

#3 Players don't screw up because they want to be failures. The vast majority of failure on the field is failure of understanding. The understanding of alignment, technique, or scheme all must be taught in a meaningful way that can be applied not in theory (on a whiteboard) but in a real life situations (game). There is always another (possibly a more effective) way to coach a technique.

These are 3 principles I have picked up from coaches I have worked for that have impacted my coaching style. If you have a principle about coaching to share be sure to leave a comment. We are in spring ball now and the posts will pick up again as we get to the summer and I have a little more time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seam Drop

The "Seam" drop I am referring to is technique of the player who is dropping over the #2 receiver in a 3 under 3 deep fire zone coverage. I have also heard this drop called Scif, Bronco, and Deuce. Regardless of the name, the execution of this technique has a direct correlation to the effectiveness of a team's fire zone pressure package.
The following is a breakdown of the Seam drop that is explained in Dick Lebeau's playbook from the 2002 Cincinnati Bengals. To begin Lebeau defines Seam on page 20 of the .pdf in the Secondary Coverage Terms section of the playbook as "Outside in technique on #2. Must carry vertically or to the flat. (Fire Zone Term)". Later Lebeau gives 3 coaching points for the seam drop in the Fire Zone Coverage Rules section of the playbook on page 144 of the .pdf.

  3. ALWAYS COME OFF ON #3 RECEIVER CROSSING YOUR FACE TO FLAT                                        
Fire Zone coverage shares many similarities with man free. The Seam player is outside in and expecting help on shorter inside routes from the 3 Receiver Hook and deep middle help from the middle 1/3 safety. Because the Seam player is carrying #2 vertical it allows the corner to play the #1 receiver tighter.

           ENABLES CORNERS TO GET TIGHTER ON #1 RECEIVER (Alert Stack or Slash Release)

Based on the rules and diagrams in the playbook here is my analysis of the seam technique.
If #2 releases immediately inside, the Seam(SM) player will carry and deliver the crosser to the next color (3RH or opposite SM player). The Seam player must be aware of the level of the next threat represented in the diagram above as the vertical dashed line. The SM cannot cross that level to avoid being out leveraged by #3. If #3 is staying in to block, the next threat to the SM is coming on a crossing route from the other side of the formation.
The same concept is utilized for the Slash release.
A slash release occurs when #1 and #2 are in a close proximity split alignment and the #1 receiver releases immediately underneath. The SM player will treat the fast crosser (#1) just like #2 on a fast crosser. The SM will carry and deliver with understanding of the level of #3. The corner will squeeze to the #2 receiver's vertical route on the slash release. The corner and seam player are reminded in multiple places in the playbook to be alert for the slash release based on the formation or crack motion by the #1 receiver.

The Slash/Flat combo is handled by the SM player carrying the #1 receiver inside before reacting to #3 to the flat. The #1 receiver on the quick crosser will be taken by the 3RH dropper who is looking for something coming back in when #3 goes out. 
If #2 is vertical the SM will carry the vertical until a receiver attempts to cross his face from the inside out. The #2 receiver could attempt to cross the SM players face on an out cut in which case the SM will be in good body position to defend that out cut. If the #3 receiver is going to the flat the SM must come off #2's vertical and cover the #3 receiver to the flat. If the #3 is aligned in a trips formation the SM player needs to be alert to a higher probability of being out leveraged by #3 and be prepared to come off #2 vertical. It is unlikely that a crosser from the other side of the formation will be able to get across quickly enough to out leverage the SM player but it is possible and the SM player would need to come off on the crosser.
If #2 is out the SM player stays over the top of the route and runs through the window of #1's route before driving on #2 to the flat. The SM player has #2 on the wheel because the corner is playing aggressively on #1.

The SM player is responsible to drive on any 3 step or hot throw to the #2 receiver.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blitz of the Week #6

This week's Blitz of the Week is a variation of the NCAA blitz.
The Mike and Sam switch rolls from their normal NCAA blitz responsibilities. The Mike goes 1st and is off the edge. The Sam is 2nd and is blitzing the gap between the long sticking end and the edge blitzer. The Sam is a spill player.

This blitz can be difficult to pick up because protectors often have difficulty seeing a player that is aligned outside coming on an inside rush.

The same pressure from a 3-4 look can create confusion for the BOB pass pro utilized by AirRaid teams discussed in the post Air Raid Strip Down on Brophy's Blog. The RB has both ILB's and is thinking he will need to block the Mike that is blitzing outside. The OT is thinking he is blocking the edge rush when the DE goes inside. The edge rusher happens to be the responsibility of the RB. The OT and RB either must exchange responsibilities or the OT must react to the inside blitzer and block the Sam. While the offense has enough protectors to block this pressure the change up in responsibility forces the offense to rep this blitz and make the right decision to get it picked up in game.

Similar confusion can be created against this protection from the 3-3 stack.

 The Baltimore Ravens can be seen here executing this type of blitz in 2008 from a 3-4 with man coverage behind it.

A good video of the Ravens running the traditional NCAA blitz is available here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Blitz?

I have been reading and re-reading the posts on Brophy's Blog about his visit to LaTech in particular the post about stripping down the Air Raid offense available here. One of the major points taken away from this post is how Tony Franklin and other Air Raid coaches are limiting defenses by limiting their offense. The offense doesn't feature 2 back sets, TE's, unbalanced formations, or even a great deal of motion. The primary reason is the more you do offensively the more looks you could end up seeing from defenses. The limits they place on their offense means that you can really simplify the fronts your offensive line has to be prepared to block and what coverages your QB and receivers must prepare against. Another highly successful offensive coach that limits defenses is Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech. Triple option teams thrive on defenses that have responsibility breakdowns and work to create those breakdowns. As a result defenses are forced to limit their game plan to insure that breakdowns from excessive defensive scheme don't occur. Compound that with the fact most defenses that face GT only see the offense once a year and you have a recipe for defensive limitation.

I believe that this same philosophy of limitation can be applied to defensive coaching. If a defense can effectively blitz it limits what an offense can run. Blitzing makes defensive players the initiators and the offensive players are forced to become reactors. This is a major role reversal from the normal situation players find themselves in. Normally a defender is taught when the offensive player does X I do Y (think guard reads). However when a blitz is called the defender knows where he is going before the center snaps the ball. Offensive plays that try to manipulate defensive reactions like draw, misdirection, and play action passes can therefore be severely limited by the blitz.

Against drop back pass, specifically 5 step, the defense can limit the deep throws by pressuring. It is difficult for an offense to get a receiver down the field to run a deep curl/comeback, dig, or other intermediate breaking route against well executed pressure. Often the pressure forces a hot throw. This means that by pressuring or bluffing pressure the defense can dictate where the ball is thrown. If the defense knows that pressure will induce a hot throw it allows pressure coverage periods in practice to be more focused and efficient. It also takes a great deal of practice time for an offense to become efficient at completing hot routes. Every period and rep of practice time that an offense spends on hot routes is time they cannot commit to practicing the rest of their offense. This means the offense can try to call plays they haven't spent much time practicing or mark them off the call sheet. Either way I believe this is a defensive victory in the planning and practice phase. Limiting the 5 step passing game to quick throws makes defending the 3 step game easier as well. Defensive players can anticipate early throws and the practice time for pressure coverage against 5 and 3 step can be streamlined.

By limiting what the offense runs the defense can make better use of practice time and get better at stopping their opponent's base plays. It is difficult to succeed on defense if your opponent has every play in their arsenal available. Blitzing is one way a defense can limit the offense and improve practice efficiency.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hoosier's vs. 22 Personnel

This is a pressure concept Indiana was using last year vs. Wisconsin when the Badgers were in 22 personnel. Unfortunately I don't have any playbook material to link to for the Hoosiers.
The Sam and SS are overloading to the Strong Side. The Sam spilled everything and did a great job of getting underneath all kickout blocks. The FS was easily able to get to the the strong side TE because of the small offensive line splits the Badger's were using.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blitz of the Week #5

This week's Blitz of the Week is from our playbook and is a simple 5 man choiced pressure concept from a 4-3 with 3 under 3 deep, 4 under 2 deep, or man free coverage behind it. This concept comes from a 2 high safety shell. The front is set to the field. The first blitz in the concept is Closed Backer which is a blitz to the TE.
The blitz is either the Sam or the Will based on the alignment of the TE. In this example the TE is aligned to the field so the field LB (Sam) is the blitzer.

  • Ends - Align head up vs. TE, outside shade vs. OT, Ends are outside contain unless a backer gives you a "Fire" call telling you to go inside
  • Tackle and Nose - align head up, inside move to A gap
  • Sam - Make "Fire" call to End, Edge blitz
  • Mike - 3RH drop
  • Will - Seam
  • Safeties - Closed = TE side Safety inverts to seam, Safety opposite TE Middle 1/3
  • Corners - FZ 1/3
The same call will be a different blitz if the TE is aligned into the boundary.

The Will is now the Closed Backer and needs to give a "Fire" call to the End and Edge blitz. The Sam knows IF he is not blitzing he is a seam dropper. The Mike is always the 3 RH and the Safeties know "Closed" is a TE side invert.

We have multiple tags to get the blitz where we want it.

  1. Closed - To the TE
  2. Open - Opposite the TE, open side
  3. Wide - Wide side (Field)
  4. Short - Short side (Boundary)
  5. Strong - To the Pass Strength
  6. Weak - Opposite the Pass Strength
  7. Heavy - To the Running Back
  8. Lite - Opposite the Running Back
Heavy and Lite have been good vs. shotgun spread teams.
The Sam is the Lite Backer (opposite the RB) and is the blitzer. He will still make the "Fire" call to tell the End to go inside.

We also tag the blitz to change where the blitz is hitting.
The Will is the Weak Backer because he is aligned opposite the pass strenghth. If the formation was into the boundary the Sam would be the Weak Backer for this blitz. The "X" tag tells the Will to go inside. The Will gives the End an "Echo" call telling him to stay outside instead of the normal "Fire" call.

The "Leech" tag tells the blitzing backer to show the blitz and come flat down the LOS off the edge. The blitzing backer will give a "Leech" call to the End instead of the "Fire" or "Echo" call. Leech tells the End to latch on to the OT and then contain. More information on the Leech technique is available in a previous post here.

We will also utilize a 4 under 2 deep concept to cover down behind this pressure package.
The blitz concept is exactly the same as before except now the coverage is Duo which is both corners in the flats, both safeties in Deep 1/2 and both non-blitzing LB's in the Hook-Curl drops. Vs. a 3x1 to the field we will either check to FZ or check the coverage to Trio.

Trio keeps the field side hard corner in place.

  • Field Corner - Flat
  • SS - Invert to Hook-Curl
  • Mike - 3RH
  • Will -Weak Curl-Flat, may give "Fire" call to End to secure weak side B gap
  • FS - Cheat to Field, Deep 1/2 to field
  • Boundary Corner - Tight 1/2 

If the blitz is coming from opposite the trips the FS needs to invert.
The safety to the blitz always inverts and in this case the FS will take the weak Curl-Flat drop opposite the trips. To the field the Cover 2 concept is still intact.

Many teams are working under the assuption that a blitzer + an inverting safety = 3 under 3 deep. One way teams have tried to capitalize against our pressure package is to attack the flats when they see a blitzer + invert. Duo(w/ Trio check) is one way to make teams pay for that assumption.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sooner Pressure Part 3

This post will cover the Sooner's Crossfire blitz. Crossfire can be run from the Eagle front (Under) or from Field (front set to the field). The front is also a G with the Nose aligned in a 2i on the guard.
Crossfire is an interior X blitz by the Mike and Will.
  • Call Side End - C gap vs. Run, Contain vs. Pass
  • Nose - Align in 2i, Rip across the guard's face to the B gap
  • Tackle - B gap vs. Run, Contain vs. Pass
  • Away End - C gap vs. Run, Seam Drop
  • Sam - Seam Drop
  • Mike - Blitz opposite A gap, Go 1st
  • Will - Blitz opposite A gap, Go 2nd, let Mike clear
  • FS - Enter the box and replace LB. 3RH Drop
  • SS - Deep Middle 1/3
  • Corners - Deep 1/3
When the front is Eagle the Sam is aligned to the TE. Versus a twins formation with the backside closed the Sooners will utilize a corners over to prevent the end from dropping off of a split #2 receiver.

The Corner who comes over is the seam dropper to the twins side and the End takes the 3RH drop.

Against a 2x2 formation the Safeties will make the adjustments.

The SS will take the seam drop and the end will take the 3 drop.

The Sooners will also run Cover 5 (4 under 2 deep) with Crossfire.

The Corners play the flats and the Safeties are Deep 1/2 while the Sam and End drop the Hook-Curl.

Vs. Twins the Corner will come over.

The corner that comes over will take the Hook-Curl drop and the End will drop to the hole. With a Crossfire 5 call the Sooners will check the coverage back to 3 vs. all One back sets.