Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Simple Adjustable 3-4 Blitz vs. Spread Formations

This blitz was submitted by Blitzology reader Jeff Koutsantanou. Coach Koutsantanou is currently the Linebackers coach at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
Coach Koutsantanou’s Rambo blitz is an adjusted blitz concept run from a 3-4 defensive alignment. The adjustment of the blitz is determining which linebacker will blitz (Mike or Blood) based on the alignment of the running back. The blitz is backed up by man free coverage. Coach Koutsantanou likes this concept against 10 or 11 personnel on 2nd & long or 3rd & obvious pass.

The Coverage:
Corners - Man on #1
Sam - Man #2 Strong
Anchor - Free (Deep Middle)
FS - Man #2 Weak

The Rush:
End – Contain rush to the call
Nose – Rush A gap away from the call
Tackle – If Blood makes “You” Call = Contain
If Blood makes “Me” call rush inside through B gap

Will – Blitz opposite A gap
Mike & Blood
If RB is aligned to your side = Man to Man on RB. This is a rush & engage coverage technique. Force the RB to account for you in the protection.

If the RB is aligned away from you = Blitz
Blood - If you are blitzing, Make a “Me” call to the Tackle
If you are man to man on the back, make a “You” call
Mike – If you are blitzing, Blitz B gap
Here the Mike is aligned to the RB so the Mike has him man to man. The Blood is away from the RB and is the blitzer. The Blood must call "Me" to tell the Tackle who has the contain rush.
Here the Blood is manned on the RB and the Mike is blitzing. The Blood makes a "You" call to the Tackle telling him who has contain. The Nose, Will, and End remain constant regardless of the alignment of the RB.
This concept has natural angles for the Mike to blitz the B gap or for the Blood to blitz off the edge.
Against a 3x1 formation the Anchor takes #3 strong and the FS is free. All the other rules remain the same.

The defense does have to answer game plan questions about how to handle:
#1 No Offset Back (Pistol, Under Center, or Empty Backfield)
Coach Koutsantanou's base answer is to treat a pistol backfield as strong. In that case the Mike is man to man on the running back while the Blood is blitzing.
The call can adjust to empty or the call can be checked.

#2 Offenses flipping the alignment of the running back from one side of the center to the other.
Coach Koutsantanou's base answer is reset the blitz with the flip of the RB.
#3 10 or 11 personnel teams that align a non-back in a 2 back formation
Coach Koutsantanou's handles these teams by game plan.
This pressure is favored by Coach Koutsantanou because it is simple to install. The defense can present multiple blitz looks to the offense with a single call. The call's versatility is good vs. hurry up offense. As the offense goes fast and changes the alignment of the back the blitz changes. Coach Koutsantanou uses this template for other blitz variations.
Coach Koutsantanou's Rambo X concept is one example of a blitz variation using the same principles as Rambo.
The coverage rules remain the same. The only adjustment is the blitz path for the linebackers and the Nose. On a Rambo X call the Nose slants to the away B gap. The Blood cheats his alignment to blitz the B gap.

On a Rambo X call the Mike blitzes the opposite A gap. The Mike should let the Will clear before blitzing.

Thanks to Coach Koutsantanou for e-mailing me. If any other coaches would like to submit any aspect of their playbook to be featured on the site please e-mail me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Press Man Coverage Technique

Here are some coaching points for corners playing press man coverage from the 1999 Texas A&M playbook.

4-2-5 Quarters Fire Zone Coverage Pressure

Here is a non-traditional four man pressure call. The coverage concept uses quarters versus 2x2 formations and cover 3 concept versus trips.

 The Coverage:

To the call side the FS, SS, & Corner play read cover 2 coverage. (TCU's Blue concept)

To the away side the Mike, WS, & Corner play read cover 2 coverage (TCU's Blue concept)

The DE drops to the Hole. The hole is 10 yards deep directly over the center.

The Rush:

Will - Contain Blitz. Aiming point on the QB's up field shoulder.

End - Long stick to inside rush lane. Two way go on the OG. Aiming point near hip of the QB.

Nose - Cross center's face to opposite inside rush lane.  Aiming point near hip of the QB.

Tackle - Get width through B Gap to contain. Aiming point on the QB's up field shoulder.

If the offense aligns in a 3x1 formation the coverage checks to a four under 3 deep zone coverage.

Against a 3x1 into the boundary the coverage again rotates to a cover 3 concept to the trips.

For the rush if the center sets to the blitz the Nose and End both have 1 on 1 pass rushes with space to operate.

The result is the OG gets width with the DT, which creates space for the Nose. The center is forced to redirect as the Nose crosses his face. The End has a 2 way go on the guard. With the OG setting to DE the most likely rush for the DE is the inside move on the OG. The Nose should create space for the DE's pass rush by crossing the center's face.

If the center sets away from the blitz the End should have a good inside rush versus the OT. The OG is focused on the Nose initially which should create space for the End. The End has to beat the OT 1 on 1 on the inside move. The blitzing Will typically has a 1 on 1 with the RB.

This pressure also naturally allows the defense to bluff pressure with the Mike.

Against both 2x2 and 3x1 formations the Mike can walk up an show outside blitz while still being able to get to his pass drop responsibilities.

Against the run the Will spills all run blocks to the outside. The DT plays the B gap against the run. The DE does not drop versus the run and plays the C Gap. The SS and Mike handle force in the quarters coverage concept versus 2x2.

Against 3x1 formations the Curl Flat defending players handle Force. In this case the FS and the Mike are the force players.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

4-2-5 Cover 3 Zone Blitz vs. Empty

Here is a simple effective zone blitz that can be checked to from a 4-2-5 personnel versus empty formations.

The Coverage:

Corners - Fire Zone 1/3

FS - FZ Middle 1/3

SS & WS - Seams

LB to pass strength - 3RH

The SS can play outside leverage on #2 strong to help defend bubble to #3. Having the LB to the #3 receiver strong allows for sound defense against the stick route by #3.

If the offense puts the strength of the formation to the boundary the LB to the pass strength is still the 3RH dropper.

The rush:

Call Side DE  - Loop to the middle rush lane. Keep getting up the field while looping. Aiming point is the middle of the QB.

DT - Get width to contain. Aiming point QB's up field shoulder.

LB away from the pass strength - Align in call side A gap, Blitz A gap. Aiming point QB near hip.

Nose - Cross face to the B gap. Aiming point QB's near hip.

Away Side DE  - Contain Rush. Aiming Point QB's up field shoulder.

If the offense is setting the center to the walked up LB in the A gap the looping DE has a great pressure opportunity. The center will be forced to get depth quickly vs. the blitzing LB. Often the center is occupied with the LB and does not see the looping end. Offensive linemen are also less likely to look for a twist when there is an immediate A gap blitzer. Twists are most likely to be from two defensive linemen not from two DL and a blitzing LB. The OG opposite the looper will be occupied with the nose. As the guard sets to the Nose, it opens up the midline for the looping DE.

If the offense attempts to react to the looper, the OT and OG will be forced into very difficult blocks.

If the OT to the loop attempts to redirect to the inside and set to the DT, he is forced to make a very difficult block on the DT. The DT has inside leverage on the OT and a direct path to the QB. The OG has the same difficulty when redirecting to the blitzing LB. The other obstacle for the offense is making sure the OT, OG, and Center are all on the same page in exchanging the 3 pass rushers. Pass protection exchanges with a high degree of difficulty for the offense are more prone to a major mistake.

If the OG doesn't redirect but the OT and Center attempt to exchange, the blitzing LB can end up unblocked.

If the offense uses a full slide protection, either the call or away side DE is unblocked.
If the offense full slides to the looper, the DE opposite is a free rusher. Also the Nose has a excellent opportunity to ricochet off the pass set of the OT. The block for the OT is difficult and creates a good inside pass rush opportunity for the Nose.

As the looping DE gets off the ball vertically, he will abort the loop if the OT down blocks. Against full slide the OT will block down and the call side DE will be unblocked.

The blitz is also good versus QB draw.

The looping DE is very difficult for the QB draw blocking. Often the looper is going where the QB is trying to run.

Against a pull scheme QB draw, the blitz is still good. The puller has a very difficult block vs. the walked up blitzer. The looping DE is again going to be looping to where the QB is trying to run.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Improve Defensive Game Plans with a Challenge Meeting

Challenge meetings helped improve our defensive preparation this season. We continued our weekly schedule of self-scout, opponent scout, and game plan brainstorm. Following the development of our initial game plan, we added a challenge meeting. The concept is to present each element of the game plan, followed by the coaching staff challenging the idea. Every possible stress or negative outcome of the call should be discussed.


Internal staff debate is nothing new. However, debate does not happen naturally in all staff situations. Some individuals shy away from arguing for fear of being labeled as negative. Anxiety also exists about appearing as “not a team player” or being interested only in getting their way. Others worry voicing opinions will be viewed as a personal attack. These reservations about challenging ideas often lead to silence and groupthink.

“If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking” – General George S. Patton

By having a meeting dedicated to challenging ideas, everyone on the staff is required to be a contrarian. Members of the staff are expected to discuss concerns about a call, resulting in a healthy environment for debate.

The challenge meeting had a positive impact on every type of coach on our staff. Older coaches could speak from their experiences without feeling like they were lecturing. Younger coaches now had a forum to question more experienced guys. Each position coach gained insight from hearing the concerns of other position groups. Traditionalist coaches on staff who say “this is what we have done successfully” were forced to consider changes and adjustments to the scheme. They even argued for changes at times. Coaches who might have otherwise become “Yes” men instead began thinking more critically and joined the conversation. Innovative coaches had a platform to pitch their ideas. Those coaches who supported an idea were forced to consider the possible negative outcomes. Conversely, those who didn’t like a call had to consider the positives. As no call is perfect, I believe the challenge meeting process greatly improved our staff’s assessment of the risk and reward of each call. The process also helped remind us that just because we can call something does not mean that we should. Overall these meetings helped us fortify our defensive identity while helping build our toolbox.

When we are done with the challenge meeting everyone has had a say. We have weighed the positives and negatives allowing our staff to more thoroughly understand the rationale for every call. Increased coach’s input and understanding resulted in greater buy in and improved delivery to the team. These challenge meetings also helped inform our staff of trouble areas in the game plan that had to be addressed in practice. We became more proactive coaches and players built confidence knowing we had anticipated problems instead of reacted to them.

The challenge meetings also helped us develop our 2nd plan. By better understanding the stress areas of our game plan we were better able to plan for the adjustments we might have to make during the game.

Challenge meetings might not be right for every staff. If you are looking for a way to spur debate, discussion, and the flow of ideas a challenge meeting can help.