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.  


  1. Most people diagram this play out of 10p,3×1..what about 20p,with various back allign & unbalanced?

    1. All 20 personnel plays like 3x1 or 2x2. If a 20P team runs strong they have 3 blockers strong, no different from a 3x1. If they run weak in 20P it plays like a 2x2. As for unbalanced, again it is a numbers game. We will play for sweep or keep based on the offense's numbers at the point of attack in comparison to our defensive numbers.