Saturday, May 5, 2018

Align to Win Part 2

What is the difference between personnel and spacing? As there is no universal football terminology, I'll start with how we define these terms.
Personnel is the people on the field. If we want to substitute a player into the game because that player has a skill set for the job at hand, we can do that with a personnel group change. Need an extra DB, sub one in with a new personnel group. Need your best pass rushing DL on the field, sub them in with a personnel group on 3rd & Obvious Pass downs. Bottom line Base personnel subs out for a specialized personnel group. Could be a a 1 for 1 sub or a mass substitution. 
Spacing is how the defenders line up. Can a 3-4 personnel space like a 5-2, 5-3, 4-3, 4-2, or 3-3, yeah absolutely. Can a 4-2-5 with a hybrid player at DE morph into 3-4 concepts, definitely. As a defense, we are not bound in any way by the idea that personnel dictates spacing. If we have versititle players, specifically hybrid DB/LB or LB/DL we can play any number of spacings with the same personnel on the field. 
Got a sub group of elite speed rushers, great, create a 3rd down specialized pass rush package and go sic 'em. But what if your best 11 are just that, your best 11. This is where spacing and align to win come together to help create specialized pass rush opportunites with base personnel.


Take a base 3rd down pass rush alignment. The DT's widen to work pass rush against the guards and the DE's are outside against the OT's. If the DE's are the best rushers and the guards are the weaker protectors it's possible the offense has exactly the matchups they want (G's vs DT's and OT's vs DE's).

With a simple call the defense can instead flip the DL alignments. This is still a 4 man front spacing with new roles for the DL.

Now the interior OL has to contend with the better rushers. The DT's soak up the better pass protectors on the outside. The DT's likely can align with width and keep contain. This alignment also lends itself to still running pass rush games.

Ultimately this stunt gets the DE back out to the outside.

Maybe the defense wants to attack a specific side of the protection. Again a front adjustment can help.

Nothing says the defense cannot align with both DE's on the same side. The DT's can  contain and build a backstop opposite the Ends. The DE's can now work base pass rush or pass rush games and attack the weaker side of the protection.

Change the Spacing

Another option is to build an X rusher package. The idea is simple if you have a good rusher to sub you can sub for the X. If you don't you use your base 4 DL as the 3 down linemen and declare one as the X rusher. Who should be the X? Possibly the best rusher because the X can align anywhere and has good rush opportunities. Is is also possible to use the 2nd best rusher as the X. This allows a slightly lesser player to get and advantage in the rush and have the best chance to succeed. Meanwhile away from the stunting X can be the best rusher working in isolation.

Edge - X off the edge

The X can align off the edge and rush like a OLB type pressure. The X makes an Edge Left or Edge Right call to declare where he is aligning and rushing. The front works away from the X's call.

The Nose and DE opposite can also work pass rush games to create good matchups opposite an edge call.

Gilligan - Guard on an Island
The X can walk up an isolate the Guard with a two way go. Again the Nose and End opposite the X can work base pass rush or a rush game. The X calls Gilligan Right/Left. From the same X on the guard alignment the X can work pass rush games with the End or the Nose. 

Another option is to build a choice package for the X. For example:
 Against sets with the RB set to the boundary or other drop back pass indicators the X calls Gilligan to the weakest OG.

But against sets with a threat of sprint out pass the X calls Edge to the sprint out threat. With a little planning the defense can be in a best rush situation with a simple set of weekly rules.

A defense can easily build multiple pass rush stunts by aligning the X rusher where ever the defense wants. The spacing choices are endless. X can line up as a Stack LB, 2 point or three point, stem around pre-snap, blitz into the rush, etc.

The X package can be a way to get great spacing multiplicity without subbing new personnel. The defense can easily use the X package to also build in various 5 man pressures and 6+ blitzes with the multiple spacing options of having the X rusher anywhere. When thinking about aligning to win, the defense has no rules about # on the LOS or structure of our alignments. Why does our best pass rush DE have to line up on an OT?


  1. Really Great post! Never saw the De/ Tackle Flip? Did you create it or where did you get it from?


    1. I doubt I’ve done anything in football that hasn’t been done before. The flip front has been used by teams in the past. Not sure where/when I picked it up. Somewhere along the way it joined the package.