Saturday, February 28, 2015

4-2-5 Cover 1 (Man Free) Coverage

This is the first article in a series about Cover 1 or man free coverage from the 4-2-5 defensive alignment.
Against two Back formations the defense will use a funnel technique of two linebackers and one safety vs. the two running backs. Funnel is the name of a 3 on 2 man coverage technique.

Against a pro formation the corners handle the #1 receiver to their side. The SS mans up #2 strong. The safety who is going into the funnel makes a funnel and direction call. The linebackers bump their alignment away from the funnel call. In the example above the WS makes the "funnel right" call which bumps the linebackers to the left.

Against a two back formation into the boundary the WS will handle the #2 receiver and the SS will be in the funnel.

 We also have the ability by game plan to use the FS in the funnel against two back formations.

Based on where the offense is running the ball will determine which safety we choose to use in the funnel. Also where offenses are releasing backs into routes will effect which safety we will use. We always prefer for a safety to handle man coverage responsibility if possible. Other factors also determine where we are planning to invert the safety. For example a wing formation.

The wing formation can create a jam packed alignment for the Mike and the SS. It can be easier to have the FS invert against a wing.

Dropping the FS into the box from depth allows the SS and Mike to align without stepping all over one another.

Another example is against weak side run.

Our weak safety may not be a good matchup vs. a fullback on weak side runs. Having the Will block shedding a fullback is typically the better matchup.

The funnel technique is simple. We have 3 defenders for 2 running backs. The funnel player not manned up becomes a zone player dropping to the Hole. The hole is 10 yard deep over the center. The hole player will cover any route crossing his face.

Here the running backs split. The Mike man covers the 1st back to his side. The WS handles the first back to his side. The Will becomes the hole dropper.

When both backs release to one side the outside of the funnel (here the WS) will take the first back. The middle of the funnel (here the Will) mans up the 2nd running back. The Mike has no back to man cover and drops to the Hole.

When both backs release to the other side the WS ends up with no back to man cover and drops to the hole.

When the offense aligns in spread formations with only one back there is no need for a funnel technique. Against a one back set we use a Fiddle technique. Fiddle is the name of our 2 on 1 technique.

Against a 2x2 formation the Corners man #1 to their side. The SS and WS handle the #2's leaving the FS free. The linebackers have a 2 on 1 (Fiddle) against the running back.

Fiddle technique is very similar to funnel.

The fiddle linebacker to the side of the running back's release has him man to man. The linebacker opposite the back drops to the hole.

Against 3x1 the FS will handle #3 and the WS will be free.

Against spread teams we often play combo coverage on #2 & #3. By playing outside alignment on the #2 the SS is able to better defend bubble to #3.

Depending on game plan we can lock the DB's. It is critical the DB's align at different depths (Levels) to prevent pick routes. Here the SS is playing aggressively on #2. The FS is aligned deeper.

If we want the FS to play more aggressively vs. the #3 receiver the SS must play deeper to avoid being picked.

When #3 is a TE or an H back aligned on the hip there is no threat of bubble to #3. In this case we will lock the SS and FS. This allows the FS to aggressively play the run when the TE blocks.

Against 3x1 into the boundary we can combo or lock & level. The SS will be the free player in this situation.

Against spread teams that choose to use jet motion we use our funnel technique.

We play funnel technique and invert the FS against this look. The FS is able to take a good angle to leverage the jet sweep. Linebackers do not have time to bump opposite the funnel call in this situation. This is the same technique we use against teams the motion a WR to the backfield as a pitch player on option concepts.

If the motion ends up crossing the formation the inverting safety can turn the call from a funnel to a combo.

Against a bunch formation we again use the WS as the free player and play combo coverage.

The SS plays outside leverage on the #2 receiver in the bunch and has #2 in press man. We align the SS outside to help the run support to the bunch. The FS and Corner combo cover the #1 and #3 in the bunch.

By game plan we can lock and level the bunch formation. One reason we lock and level is to use our Oscar adjustment in cover 1.

The Oscar call is a double on the outside receiver in the bunch by the corner and the free player.

We use the Oscar adjustment to allow the corner to crack replace aggressively vs. crack toss. With the SS aligned outside leverage on #2 the corner should have a clear picture when #1 is crack blockings.

The corner can be aggressive on the crack replace without worrying about the play action off the crack toss.

Those are the basic man matchups in cover 1. If there are other formations and motions you would like to see in a follow up post leave a comment or send an e-mail.

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.