Normally I diagram the pressure before linking to video but I encourage you to watch the sack first. Why? Because this sack makes you scratch your head and ask how does a defender, walked up into the B gap, get a free run in an NFL game? Here's how:
- Ends - Contain Rush
- Tackles - Align head up and rush the A gaps
- Corners, Nickel, $, FS - Man to man coverage
- Mike & SS - Read Blitz B gap
The SS is reading the block of the Left Guard. If the LG blocks the DT the SS blitzes and is unblocked. That is both what is diagrammed here and what happened in the video clip. The Mike is reading the guard to his side as well. If the guard is stepping toward him he will drop out, looking to cover the hot route from the opposite side. The Mike knows where the hot route is coming from because the protection and hot routes are linked. The offense can pick up 3 rushers to the defensive right of the center with 3 blockers.
The Center can handle the A gap, the RG has any B gap rusher, and the RT can block an edge rusher. The offense knows it can block 3 rushers and therefore doesn't need to throw hot on the defensive right. On the defensive left however, the offense must throw hot because they can only block 2 rushers with the LG and LT. A third rusher to the defensive left cannot be accounted for by the protection. Therefore the Mike knows if the guard steps to his side the hot route is to the other side. What would have happened if the LG stepped to the SS instead?
The SS would have dropped out and cut the crosser from the opposite side. The SS knows if the Guard is blocking toward him the hot route is coming from the other side of the formation. The Mike would then have the free rush in the B gap.
Another factor in the success of this blitz is the Patriots utilization of a Dime package instead of a Nickel. The Patriots could have easily used an ILB in place of the SS and played a 4-2-5 personnel instead of a 4-1-6. The job of the SS position on the call is to blitz or cover a hot route both tasks a linebacker is capable of executing. The beauty of using a Dime package is there is only one linebacker (Mike). The offense is more likely to slide to the Mike linebacker than toward a SS. Bill Belichick is manipulating the pass protection by exploiting the offense's expectation of the SS's role on defense. A SS should be covering a receiver or a zone not walked up into the B gap to blitz.
Where else can you find this pressure concept? In the Alabama playbook of former Bill Belichick assistant Nick Saban.
Simple effective blitz schemes like this are just one of the reasons Bill Belichick and Nick Saban have their teams in the championship hunt every year.
Be sure to check out a preview of the Giants Superbowl blitz package here.