Friday, December 15, 2017

Defending Read Power/Inverted Zone Read

We are seeing more and more of both the read power and inverted zone read plays. As there is no universal terminology in football, lets come together on some terms first.

Read Power

The offense is blocking power with down blocks front side working to the back side ILB. The back side pulling guard is wrapping for the play side ILB. The play side DE is being read (Read Key). If the DE stays on the LOS or squeezes down with the down block of the OT, the QB hands the ball to the RB on the sweep. If the DE runs up the field to the sweep, the QB keeps the ball running QB power. The QB will hit downhill running behind the pulling guard.

Inverted Zone Read

In a similar concept the offense may block inside zone away from the sweep action. The read is the same. If the DE is on the LOS the ball is handed and turns into sweep. If the DE is up the field the play turns into QB inside zone. 

If you want more info about both plays here is a good article about them from Smart Football Link

Both are option plays which allows the defense to dictate where the ball goes. Our philosophy is pretty simple. Who do/don't we want to carry the ball? What are our perimeter numbers? Based on our perimeter defense, do we want sweep or keep?

Perimeter Advantage

Take this example of being in a quarters or 2 read to the strong side. Back side the coverage is man concept. Some teams call this Solo or Poach. We have a numbers advantage to the strong side.

Because we have 4 defenders (Mike, SS, FS, & Corner) for 3 perimeter blockers, we will force the give to the sweep. The Mike will scrape over the top and the offense is running into an extra defender.

Similarly if we are in Cover 1 (Man Free) we feel we have the  perimeter advantage (4 vs 3)

Regardless of if the offense is running read power or inverted veer our perimeter numbers advantage leads us to force the sweep.

Box Advantage
We won't have a perimeter advantage in every call defensively. In some calls the advantage is in the box. 

Take for example a 7 man box with a cover 3 concept. 

The offense has 3 blockers for 3 defenders (Sam, SS, & Corner) on the perimeter. In this case the plan is to force the keep by the QB. The Sam and Mike can bracket the pulling guard creating a numbers advantage in the box for the defense. This does require the Sam to avoid being cut off by the #3 WR. 

On the inverted zone read play the box numbers again give the advantage to the defense. The Mike and Will fill the open interior gaps while the Sam plays the C gap replacing the DE who is up the field. Again the Sam cannot be cutoff by the #3.

Mesh Charge
One element we have added to our arsenal recently is a mesh charge concept. The idea has been around for way longer than I have been coaching. It is simple, run the read key defender directly to the mesh point. The QB has trouble making the read because the defender doesn't clearly define his intentions. Give or keep? Decide quick because there is a full speed defender running right at you. 

In this example the DE is running up the field to the mesh point. The DE being up the field reads like the QB should keep the ball. However, the DE bends late and tackles the QB. Simple concept, force the keep and tackle the QB for a loss. Depth of the mesh makes this technique extremely effective. A read key getting depth feels like a give read. Here is shot of the mesh charge concept against inverted zone read.

The mesh charge technique can be very effective with edge rushers especially a blitzing OLB or DB. The blitz naturally takes the momentum of the defender up the field. The QB sees the edge pressure and the feel of the read is to keep. Because we are seeing more of these concepts we have to have more answers. Also coaching all of our pressures with built in rules for handling these plays is a must. We would never want to be caught in a pressure without the ability to handle these concepts. By changing up how we fit these plays we give our defense answers and force the ball to our numbers advantage. We also force QB's to actually make a real read every time they run these plays.  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

TCU Cover 1 Dog

Here is an inovative 5 man pressure from Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs. TCU is in a 4-2-5 personnel

The Rush:
This is an interesting variation on America's Blitz. The DE twists to the side of the dog an takes on the inside rusher role in the America's Blitz concept. 

The Coverage:
Cover 1 man free. 

The OL to the side of the edge rush LB do a good job of picking up the LB and passing the long stick DE. The RB is responsible for blocking the late inside rush threat but doesn't see the DE looping. The RB was looking at the Mike and Will. When the Mike doesn't blitz the RB looks to check release. The only other way for the offense to pick this up is to have the OL travel back and exchange all the DL as the twist action happens. The likelihood of communicating and executing that type of pick up is very low. This is a creative way to attack pass protection with a tried and true pressure concept but executed in a whole new way. Really good stuff. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Alabama Cover 1 Dog

Here is a effective 5 man cover 1 pressure from Alabama defensive coordinator and new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt. The Tide are in Dime personnel group with 2 rush linebackers at DE. 

The Rush:
The Dime blitzes off the edge. Inside the Rush backer and DT are running a twist with the DT penetrating and the Rush looping inside. The weak side Rush backer is playing man coverage on the running back. 

The Coverage:
Initially the coverage is a two high shell that rolls late to a 1 high man free concept. Corners are playing aggressive press technique.

Alabama manipulates the protection really well. The usage of Dime personnel causes the OL to be less likely to treat the Dime as a rush threat. The coverage disguise adds to the effect. The Dime shows an alignment and demeanor that indicate he is going to pass drop to the #3 receiver. The back end also holds the 2 high safety shell until late to further sell the Dime as a coverage player. 

The Mike pressuring in the A gap adds to the success. The Center sets to the Mike because he is a bigger pass rush threat than the Dime. That gives the Dime the run off the edge. If the Center did pass set to the Dime's side, the Mike would have a run through on the RB. In that case the defense would get an overload with the Mike and man cover rush backer on the RB.

Good stuff from Bama.  

Georgia Zone Dog

Nice 5 man pass rush zone dog from Georgia and Kirby Smart.

The Rush:
The interior twist by the DT's forces the guards and center to squeeze together to pick up the twist. When the OG to the Nose squeezes, it creates the interior rush opportunity for the DE on the inside move. The OT is forced to pass set the inside move DE with no help from the guard. The OT's block also shortens the edge for the Will backer as he wraps to a contain rush from depth.

The Coverage:
Aggressive 3 under 3 deep with press corners and the MOF safety aggressively playing the inside vertical threat. The field side seam dropper denies the hot throw to the slant by the #2 WR which forces the QB to hold the ball. 

Simple effective 5 man pass rush from the Bulldogs. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Michigan Pressure

Really interesting and effective pressure concept from Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown. The Wolverines are in a 3-3 nickel personnel package.

The Rush:
The front slides the 3 down linemen to the strong side and has all 3 LB's walked up to the weak side. The Mike is initially in a 3 point stance. 

The effect is a 4 man version of America's Blitz. The Will wraps around to the fill the role of the inside rusher in the America's blitz concept. Because the defense bluffs the weak side overload the protection doesn't identify the concept as America's blitz and pass it off. The RB is forced into a really difficult block, scanning all the way back across the formation to pick up the Will as he wraps around. 

The Coverage:
Strong side is a soft cover 2 and weak side is a hard cover 2. 

Good stuff from the Michigan defense!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Vikings Green Dog

Here is a good example of a green dog concept for Head Coach Mike Zimmer and the Vikings. Minnesota is in a nickel personnel group.

The concept is a 5 man pressure concept with the 4 defensive lineman and 1 ILB rushing. There seems to be some miscommunication between the 3 tech DT and the Mike LB on where to rush.

The Coverage: 
Man Free with a green dog concept. The idea is if your man responsibility in coverage blocks you add to the pressure and rush the QB.

The offense has the 5 OL to block the 5 rushers. When the offense adds the TE into the protection the safety who had the the TE in man adds to the pressure. The challenge this creates is the OL identified the safety as part of the coverage not part of the pass rush. The OL is working to the 5 most immediate threats (2 DT's, DE, 2 ILB's) and the TE is on the DE. When the Safety adds the offense does not have an efficient way to communicate and pick up the pressure. 

Good Stuff. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Vikings Pressure Package

Here is an interesting concept from the Minnesota Vikings defense and head coach Mike Zimmer. Minnesota manipulates the pass protection by bluffing double A gap pressure from a Nickel personnel. 

The Vikings show a front with both DT's in 3 techniques which leaves both A gaps open. The Mike and Will linebackers are both walked up into the A gaps. This is a common pressure look from 4 man front teams. This alignment forces the offense into six 1 on 1 match ups in pass protection. The RB is responsible for 1 of the walked ILB's while the OL handles the 4 DL and other walked ILB. 

 Minnesota then brings a DB off the edge to the side of the back. The RB has a dual read 1(Mike) to 2(Safety) from inside to outside. If both rushers came in the pressure the QB would need to throw hot. In principle if only one of the threats rushed the RB should be able to block the 6th pass rusher and the protection is intact.

 In practice the pick up is very difficult for the back when only the safety rushes and the ILB does not. The RB is forced to aggressively step up to the walked LB. The RB wants to initiate contact with the LB close to the L.O.S. to avoid being knocked back into the QB and altering the launch point of the QB's throw. The RB doesn't know the ILB isn't rushing. It is very difficult for the RB once he has stepped up to see the Safety is blitzing and even more difficult to actually redirect out to the edge rusher and make a block. The result is an unblocked edge rushing safety.

Here the Vikings are running the concept backed up by a 2 read coverage concept. Minnesota shows 1 ILB walked up which puts the protection in an even more difficult predicament. 

 With the Mike showing and the Will off the ball, the Lions check the protection pre-snap to allow the Center to block the most immediate threat (the walked up Mike). This forces the RB to scan across the formation to the opposite A gap if the Will rushes.

When the Will walks up late the RB is forced to block his most inside threat. The Mike drops out into coverage, leaving the Center blocking no one. There are only two options for the offense. The 1st is the OL pushes the protection out when the Mike drops. This option forces the Center out to a 3 tech, the Guard out to a DE, and the OT out to the Safety off the edge. The likelihood of this happening is slim to none. This isn't a hot read (offense has 6 blockers for 6 rushers) but it should lead to the QB getting rid of the ball quickly. Which leads to option #2, the QB gets the throw off before the pressure gets home. The LB and DE dropping to the seams make throwing short inside throws very difficult. This forces the QB to hold on to the ball. 

Here is another example.

The pressure concept is the same only with a 3 under 3 deep coverage concept to handle the 3x1 formation. The RB steps up so hard to the L.O.S. he never even sees the rush off the edge.

This isn't a new wrinkle in Coach Zimmer's playbook. 

Here are the Bengals running the same concept back in 2013 during Coach Zimmer's last season as the Cincinnati Defensive Coordinator. Again backed up by 3 under 3 deep zone coverage.

The Vikings also do a nice job of bluffing this pressure concept.

The Vikings bluff the double A gap with the threat of a safety pressure off the edge. The Safety bails out and the coverage in man under 2 deep. The LB on the RB who releases into the route peels off and plays man coverage. The LB on the RB who blocks adds to the pass rush (green dog technique) and becomes the 5th rusher. 

Good stuff from the Vikings Defense. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Lakeshore Dime Blitz Package

Here is an effective Dime personnel pressure package from Chris Womack Defensive Coordinator at Lakeshore High School in Mandeville, LA. I had a chance to sit down and talk ball with Coach Womack this summer. He is an excellent coach and I asked if he would write an article. He wrote this article right after spring football but it took until now for me to get it up on the website. Lakeshore is currently 12-0 and still going in the Louisiana playoffs. Thanks again to Coach Womack for an awesome summer chalk talk and this article. Guy is a good ball coach. Enjoy!

Basic Dime Package Blitzes

We are just finishing up our 7 on 7 season here in Louisiana.  Many offensive coaches complain that they never see 2-man coverages in the regular season.  However, we do run a situational dime package and it has been quite successful over the years.  Here is the Basic Dime Personnel Package with 3 simple blitzes that we installed at the high school level.  In our spring game versus Holy Cross of New Orleans, we had 3 interceptions and a pick 6 in this package.

We play a 4-1-6 Dime Package Personnel.  From this alignment, we can run all our 4-man stunts and twist, playing straight Cover 2 Man Under coverage.  In our Dime package, we take out a LB and replace him with a FS. 

Base 2 Man Coverage
We play a basic Cover 2 Man Under Coverage.  The CBs, Safeties, and Mike LB play straight man.  No Banjoes and No checks.  2 deep Zones.  All the blitzes work off of this initial alignment.

Outside 1 Peel (America’s Blitz from a 4-man front)
We play an even front.  We tag the blitz side, for instance Field/Short, Back/Away or Strong/Weak.  Here we have Back Outside 1 Peel.

-          Outside Blitz from the Tag Side = L and Mike from the Strong Side. 
-          Edge Rusher Away from the Tag plays C Gap first for Run, then drops for RB.  High Hat read, Look for RB weak to QB intent (low Hole)
-          Left Safety comes off the edge and peels if the RB swings.
-          Mike works to B gap off the $ams long step
-          F/S on the blitz side replaces the Blitzer
-          Other F/S rolls to the post on a high hat read
-          L/R travel to 3x1.  Bump blitz to the inside L or R Safety.

Inside 1 Peel

-          Edge Rusher Away from the Tag plays C Gap first for Run, then drops for RB.  High Hat read, Look for RB weak to QB intent (low Hole)
-          $am gets vertical and peels if the RB swings
-          Left Safety comes of the $am’s hip on the vertical rush.
-          Mike works to B gap off the ends long step
-          F/S on the blitz side replaces the Blitzer
-          Other F/S rolls to the post on a high hat read
-          L/R travel to 3x1

Middle 1 Peel 

 Edge Rusher Away from the Tag plays C Gap first for Run, then drops for RB.  High Hat read, Look for RB weak to QB intent (low Hole)
-          $am gets vertical and peels if the RB swings
-          Man coverage by CBs and L/R..
-          Mike hits call side A Gap.
-          F/S away from the call side blitzes other A Gap.
-          Non-Blitzing F/S rolls to the post on a high hat read
-          L/R travel to 3x1

This package is an easy 1 day install.  We have run it successfully for the past 3 years.

Great stuff from Coach Womack. If you have questions or want more info on what they are running down at Lakeshore be sure to follow Coach Womack on twitter @CoachCWomack

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Man Under 2 Deep Corner Pressure

Here is a a creative pressure dialed up by Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Butler.

The Steelers are in a Nickel personnel with two stand up Rush OLB's playing the roll of  DE's. The initial alignment is press corners and a 1 high safety concept.

DT - Loop to field side contain
Will- Walked up in the C gap, working B gap to A gap to the opposite inside pass rush lane
Rush - Contain
Corner - Inside rush lane

Man under 2 deep with a safety replacing for the blitzing corner. The Nose is playing man coverage on the RB. 

The coverage is man under 2 deep which allows the man coverage players to play aggressive technique knowing they have help over the top. The disguise prevents the offense and the QB from identifying the coverage is man under 2 deep. The difficulty of coverage recognition forces the QB to hold on to the ball. 

The Nose, Rush, and walked up Will occupy the Center, Guard, and OT to the weak side. The Center doesn't realize until it is too late that the Nose is actually in coverage and not a pass rush threat. With the Center occupied the Guard is forced to block the Will and the OT is locked on the Rush. The Corner has a clean pass rush and is able to attack the RB deep in the backfield. If the RB didn't scan across the formation, the Corner has a clean run to the QB. As it plays out, the weakest link in protection (RB) is forced to make the most difficult block and loses the 1 on 1 to the Corner. 

Creative combination of disguising 2 man coverage with a non-traditional 4 man pass rush from the Steelers.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Man Under 2 Deep Pressure

Here is an interesting pressure concept from the Cincinnati Bengals last season. 

The Bengals are in a 3-2-6 Dime personnel.

The Rush:
The DE backs off the LOS pre-snap to a LB depth & alignment.
Mike & End crossfire in the A gaps. Mike is 1st - End is 2nd
DT's - Working B gap to Contain

The Coverage:
Will - Man on the RB
SS - Man on #3 strong
Dime - Man on #1 weak
Corner & Nickel man on #1 & #2 strong
FS and Corner - Deep 1/2

The coverage looks like a 1 high coverage pre-snap but becomes a 2 deep coverage post-snap. A 4 man pass rush that looks and feels like a 6 man pressure helps speed up the read and throw for the QB. Tight aggressive man under 2 deep coverage makes the windows to throw into very small. Coverage disguise + perceived pressure + tight coverage = effective 3rd & 9 call. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

4 Man Full Line Twist

Here is another example of a twist that was a focus of a previous post about Don Brown's defensive scheme. This example is from the Falcon divisional playoff game vs. the Seahawks.

For the specifics of the twist, check out the previous article. The coverage was backed up by a cover 1 concept from a dime personnel.

Good stuff from Dan Quinn.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bear Front Middle Overload Blitz

Cleveland Browns' Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton brought this middle overload blitz in week 17.

The Rush:
Will - Contain
Tackles - B gap Pressure
Nose - Midline
Mike & Safety - A Gap

The Coverage:
The coverage could be a cover 1 variation or a 2 under 3 deep match up zone concept. Without knowing the call it is hard to tell. Either way the coverage defenders are playing very aggressively on the receivers knowing the overload pressure is going to prevent the QB from holding the ball. 

The protection has the numbers (6 vs. 6) to pick up the rush. The conflict for the OL is expected threats vs. actual rushers.

Initially the OL has an easy pick up in concept. The OL handle the 5 rush threats on the LOS and the RB has the Mike backer if he rushes. 

When the SS rolls down into the box to rush the A gap and the Sam drops in coverage, the clean 6 vs. 6 picture changes for the OL. The OG and OT who set to the initial threats of the DT and Sam would be forced to redirect to the inside to pick up the new rushers.

The OT could see the Sam drop and redirected inside. The Guard was already engaged with the DT and missed the redirection leaving the SS unblocked in the A gap.

Even if the Guard identified the Sam dropped into coverage, the blitz pick up is difficult. The Guard has to redirect to block a full speed blitzing SS. The OT is left alone on a 3 technique with an inside rush lane to the QB. Both blocks are difficult.
The OT has a tough situation when the SS rolls into the box as well. The OT could set to provide better body position on the 3 tech. By setting this way the OG and OT would have a better chance to redirect to the pressure. The issue is the OT doesn't know the SS is going to rush or that the Sam is going to drop. The walked up LB on the LOS is the more likely rush threat than a high safety rolling down. If the OT doesn't set the Sam, the risk of getting beat on a speed rush goes up. The percentages say the Sam is going to rush therefore giving the more likely rusher an easy speed rush is an unlikely plan for the OT. 

Why didn't the QB throw hot? The protection can pick up 6 in principle but cannot block 7. Five rushers on the LOS plus the Mike & SS is 7 in the pressure picture. Once the Sam drops from the LOS the pressure picture no longer has 7 threats. The read to throw hot is not clear. There is a QB adage "If you don't know, don't throw." and in this situation the QB has a confusing picture to process. 

The coverage is also designed to denying hot throws. The corners are pressed and denying anything easy to the outside. A MOF safety is over top of the inside receivers. The 2 underneath defenders are there to play any quick throws to #2 or #3. 

Unclear hot read + tight aggressive coverage + immediate unblocked A gap pressure in the face = sack. Good stuff from the Browns on 3rd & 6.