Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Corner Firezone Pressure

Atlanta comes out in a Nickel personnel with Rush LB types at the DE positions. This pressure is a simple and well executed corner corner firezone. 

The Rush:
Corner off the edge and the Will in the A gap.

The Coverage:
3 under 3 deep firezone

The walked up Mike in the A gap and the dropping Rush backer really make this blitz work. The Mike helps control the turn of the Center in the pass pro. The Center has an immediate blitz threat and sets to the field. The turn of the Center forces the RB to block the A gap blitzing Will LB while the OG and OT fan out to the DT & Rush. To the side of the pressure the Rush backer does a great job of attacking the OT before dropping into coverage. By attacking, the Rush occupies the OT. The OT is then faced with a DT pass rushing his inside half. The OT and OG end up on the DT leaving the Corner as a free runner off the edge. 

The cut split by the X receiver also helps the Corner have a shorter run on the QB. Reducing the split for the receiver to run the under makes Corner pressure a bigger threat. 

Simple concept from Dan Quinn to overload the weak side pass protection and great execution by the Falcons.  

Monday, April 29, 2019

Short Yardage Run Blitz

Here is a cover zero run blitz on 4th & 1. Texas Tech is in 3-3-5 personnel against 11 personnel.

The Rush:
4i-0-4i front. The End to the blitz is long sticking down to the A gap. The Nose and away DE are moving away from the blitz. The Sam is crashing down the LOS off the edge with the SS taking the wide track off the edge.

The Coverage:
Cover Zero with the WS adjusting to the Y motion. The Mike is man to man on the RB.

The offense is trying to gain the numbers advantage to the boundary with motion and double pullers.

The Will sets the edge weak. The End looping outside does a good job disrupting the pullers and building a wall. The Nose, flowing Mike, and man coverage WS triggering on the blocking Y all add to the wall play side. The Sam is able to chase the play down behind the wall for a TFL. The SS can secure for the QB pull to the field on any read/naked scheme. 

This offensive scheme does a good job of trying to outnumbering a defense. The pressure on short yardage did a better job on this play of changing the math back to the defense's favor. Great call from David Gibbs and execution from the Red Raiders in short yardage.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Align to Win Part 3

This is the third installment of the align to win series (Part 1 and Part 2).  The focus of part 3 is running America's blitz from the odd front spacing. 

This is a basic version of the pressure. The DL is in a standard 5-0-5 alignment. When thinking about blitzing we plan not only what pressure but how to align to win when running the pressure.

From a 5 the DE has a difficult task. The long stick technique isn't easy. The DE is moving two gaps. The challenge comes in part from getting all the way down to the a gap.

On zone blocking away for example the DE on the long stick can be stressed. As the End goes on the movement the End can get caught up on the guard. 

Even when the frontside of the defense fits the zone the DE is in a bind. If the DE tries to go over the top (our side of the LOS) of the zoning OG he may get caught up and not make it to the A gap that is now moving away from him on the zone. Also if the DE attempts to slip the guards block by going off his hip and into the backfield the OG's body may keep the DE from getting to the A. When the DE doesn't get there the ball can hit on the midline. 

Getting cutoff from the A gap often sends the signal to the DE he must go harder and fast down inside on the movement. This can get the DE washed.

When the DE gets too aggressive on the long stick technique it can be difficult to fight pressure. The OT may wash an aggressive long stick past the A gap. When the zone running back winds the play back there will be an alley. The inside blitzer is now stressed to bend down off the block of the OT tight enough to take that alley away. 

One solution can be to change the DE's alignment. Putting the DE into a heavy 5 for head up 4 may work but the challenges of a 5 tech may still exist.

Aligning the DE in a 4i may help the DE to avoid being cut off by the guard but also have great leverage on the OT to avoid being washed.

Aligning or stemming down to a 3 technique is also a solution. Getting the DE down to a 3 technique allows the DE to use a one gap movement short stick technique instead of a long stick. In our defense our DL get many more reps of the short stick because we use it on more calls. Finding more situations for our guys to use what they do best/practice most is our goal. 

The Nose's alignment can be adjusted as well.

Some noses are excellent on the move and are great slanting from a zero alignment others are not. A nose getting caught up on the block of the Center can create creases for the RB away from the blitz. If the Nose is struggling on the movement he may need to cheat to a heavy shade to get to his movement.

The slight shade by the Nose can make all the difference in allowing the Nose to succeed on the movement and avoid being caught up on the Center.

The Nose may be a big body knock 'em back player who the OL struggles to move. We probably don't want to put him on the move. You can't fight physics. An object in motion stays in motion. If the OL cannot move our guy why would we help them by moving our hard to move guy for them? In that case the Nose can align in or stem to a shade away from the blitz. This allows the Nose to play base non-movement technique.

The Nose gets himself out of the movement all together by aligning or stemming pre-snap to where he would be moving to post-snap.

These types of align to win adjustments may not be universal. Some DE's are great on the long stick. The guy he splits time with may need to stem to a 3 technique and short stick. The starting Nose may be a no movement align in a shade guy because he is a big guy who doesn't slant. Other noses who play may be excellent on the move. The align to win plan for each guy is built for that guy to do what he does well. Different guys may be running the same call from different alignments in the same game/game plan to help them succeed. Also the align to win plan for the blitz may vary by game situation. Regular down and distance blitz call may have a set of align to win rules but those rules may change if the blitz is called in obvious pass situations. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Adjusting Firezone Coverage

Here is a nickel personnel 5 man firezone pressure from the Arizona Cardinals.

The Rush:
4 from a side concept with a long stick DT (Nose) while ILB and Safety overload the inside gaps with the DE as contain.

The Coverage:
3 under 3 deep firezone with the 3RH dropper locked on #3

This coverage adjustment is not new in the NFL firezone world.

This "Mable" adjustment is from the 1997 Carolina Panthers defense and Dom Capers. The Cardinals are using this type of coverage adjustment. 

By locking the DE on the TE to the flat the Cardinals avoid the DE dropping into space. The DE's assignment of covering the TE to flat is a job the DE can do. Consider the alternative:

The DE would need to push the Nickel from the Seam out to the flat. That would force the DE to drop with depth and width to cover a WR on the out cut. 

By adjusting the 3RH drop the Cardinals gave the DE a winnable assignment in coverage. Having these types of coverage tools is part of making firezone pressure packages successful for all skill sets in coverage. Good stuff from Coach Holcomb.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Middle Kickoff Return Scheme

As of Tuesday April 23rd 2019 the NCAA voted in the rule change for kickoff return blocking to eliminate 2 man wedges. This rule eliminates the double team kick out/pin schemes that have dominated kickoff returns the last several years. The double teams have been around for many years but became the most popular scheme when 3+ man wedges were legislated out. Here is a middle return scheme with no 2 man wedges/double teams we had success with in the past.

Tackles - 12 yards from the ball, retreat to the 35 block #2 outside
Guards - 15 yards from the ball, retreat to 35 and kick the opposite #4
Center - Block the most dangerous #5, this is chip block - hit the #5 and slow him down once you get a piece work to the kicker or any safety in the coverage unit

Wings - Inside the numbers at the 35, retreat and kick the opposite #3 at the 30

Upbacks - 2 yards outside the hash, retreat to 10 yards from where the returner fields the kick. block the #5's

Returns - Align based on scouting report. Off returner lead block. Return look to take the return down the middle of the field.

I think this is the type of scheme that will take over. The same type of cross and kickout scheme can be applied to build a seam return while still being all 1 on 1 blocks. Something to think about as planning both kickoff and kick return schemes this summer.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Using Pressure to Reset the Front

Troy presents a front spacing with a 3 technique to the boundary and a shade nose to the field. The anticipated defense would send the boundary OLB in the charge and the front would fit like a 4-2 box.

Post snap the Troy defense resets the front by pressuring the Mike backer.

The boundary OLB (Jack) is actually part of the coverage. The combination of the DL slant and Mike pressure changes the front post-snap to fit like a 4-3 with the 3 technique aligned to the field. The blitzing Mike serves the role of "3 technique" while the down Safety, Will, and Jack fill the roles of the 3 "LB's"

The offense was running a pin & pull scheme which is set up with good angles against the initial defensive alignment. Post-snap the offense struggles with the pressure.

The Nose does a great job redirecting on the slant with the block back pull of the G/C. The Mike on the pressure dents the run in the backfield with penetration. The Mike (outside) and the Will (inside) can vise the pull of the center. The play side DE also does a great job of crossing the TE's face on the block back pull. The Safety (outside) and DE (inside) are able to vise the pull of the OT.

Good stuff from Vic Koenning and the Trojan defense. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Using Creativity to get More from a 4 man Pass Rush

2017 Florida State is in an X backer personnel with a sub secondary on 3rd & 8.

The Rush:
The Ends are contain with the X and Nose executing an interior pass rush twist game. The Nose jabs away which helps create space for the X backer. The X backer uses the space to get the guard to engage and commit. When the Nose wraps the Guard has a hard time redirecting to pick up the twist.

The Coverage:
Cover 1 with safeties in the hole and post. The sub personnel allows for the defense to match all the speed receivers with DB's. The Mike in this situation is a 7th DB, in this case a big safety body.

The Seminoles built a nice situational pass rush package. The 7 DB's allow the coverage to match-up against the speed Syracuse has on the field. The X backer allows a versatile pass rusher to get involved in the interior pass rush. The stunt is not new but FSU does a good job of utilizing personnel to get the right people on the field doing what they do best and executing the call at a high level. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Changing the Math with Safety Run Pressure & DL Movement

This pressure is from the 2017 UCF defense.

The Rush:
The DL is slanting from a 4i-0-4i alignment away from the edge rushing safety. The box is initially a 6 man box but the blitzing safety changes the math to a 7 man box.

The Coverage:
Cover 1. Although it is possibly an aggressive version of 3 deep 3 under firezone with pressed corners.

Why did it work?

The box picture for the OL pre-snap is a fairly standard 4-2 look with both ILB's in the box.

Play side the OT and OG are fanning out to the Jack and End. Back side the C&OG are zoning to the Will while the back side OT&Y are zoning for the Mike. By the time the Safety rolls down to blitz and the Mike bumps out of the box the OL blocking is declared. The final picture looks more like a 4-3 defense with the Safety & 2 ILB's combined with the slanting DL to space like a 4-3 box. Because of the initial picture the OG is aggressive to the slanting End and quick to travel back inside. The OT sees the blitzing safety and adjusts but the OG is gone leaving the Jack unblocked. 

Even if the zone blocking had stayed intact the play is outnumbered by the defense and the zone would break in a different place.

The 4i on an outside move is a problem for the zone.

Once the back side OT and Y started comboing for the End and Mike the Zone has a challenge. The OT travels back with the End and eventually works to the Mike. In the last diagram shows what if the OL zone blocks the pressure accounting for the blitzer and slanting DL.
OT fanned to the blitzing safety
OG fanned to the Jack 
C/G combo came off to the End & Nose on the slants 
Even if that all happened the zone would still have broken. The zone cannot account for the scraping Will backer when the RB cuts back. The slanting End and Mike do a nice job of building a wall back side to force any cutback into the rush.

Another option would have been for the combo's to remain as originally declared.

The zone is still outnumbered. If the OT & OG travel back with the Jack and End as they slant the Center & Guard combo works to the Nose & scraping will the safety blitzing is unblocked. The two most likely outcomes are the safety makes the play in the backfield or the run cuts into a wall backside. 

Nice run pressure by Coach Chinander and UCF to create a TFL. The usage of the boundary safety in the pressure creates numbers where the offense did not expect them. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Stacking Linebackers & Changing Support vs. the Flexbone

The Clemson defense is spaced in a 3-4 defense with the ILB's stacked and a 2 high safety shell.

By stacking the ILB's Clemson can get both backers quickly to the side of the option. 

When the LBs are aligned in a traditional 3-4 spacing the back side guard has  a reasonable angle to zone up to the back side ILB. The block by the back side guard slows the pursuit and play side run fit of the backer even if the ILB sheds the block effectively.

The same block is more difficult for the guard when the LB is in the stacked alignment. The ILB is flowing play side too quickly and the angle for the guard is too extreme for the block to be effective.

The stacked backers helps even the numbers for the defense. In this case the offense is presenting 6 blockers and can option a 7th defender on a dual option play. The defense now has 7 defenders. If the defense lost the extra LB (cut off by the back side guard for example), the offense would be advantaged with 6 blockers for 6 defenders and the ability to option one of the defenders.

Georgia Tech is blocking for 6 defenders and optioning the 7th (Sam). The QB is keeping or pitching off the Sam backer's reaction.

This is where the perimeter support comes into play. The defense has choices of who will be the pitch player on the option. The Safety, Corner, or OLB could all fill that role.

In this diagram the support is a safety support (Safety playing pitch). On paper the offense has good angles to get the defense blocked.

In this diagram the support is a corner support. Again the offense has good angles to block the support players.

In this clip the Georgia defense stems to a stacked backer alignment pre-snap and plays a corner support. The OLB plays the QB, when the ball is pitched. GT's edge blocking has the Corner (pitch player) blocked with the arcing slot.

Clemson elected to play Backer support instead.

The OLB plays laterally for the pitch while the Safety fits inside in the alley. The arc block of the slot makes the angle to block the safety difficult.

By changing up the support, Clemson has the advantage on the edge. Clemson played multiple fronts and supports in the game to keep GT off balance. Good stuff from Coach Venables and the Tigers. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Flexbone Play Action Passes

A couple of examples of play action pass (PAP) from the Navy offense.

Navy is using a double slot formation with the WR snugged down with tight splits.  The slot to the side of the action does a nice job selling a seal block on the LB before running his crossing route.

This route is designed to attack coverage rotation with the option action. The back side rotation safety is in a bind with both an action side vertical threat and the delaying slot on the crossing route. 

The next route is from a tackle over unbalanced formation.

The route ends up a 4 receiver release to the weak side. The route concept spaces well to stress the coverage. The QB does a good job off the play fake of setting up in the pocket created by the unbalanced OL. Unbalanced formation tend to heavy run, this play is a reminder flexbone teams do have PAP from the unbalanced formations.

These are well designed concepts from the Navy offense and ones be aware of if you are defending a flexbone team next season. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Texas Odd Front Cross Fire Pressure

Texas running a classic cross fire pattern from an odd front 3-4 personnel.

The Rush:
Ends - Contain
Nose - Work away from pressure
LB's  - Cross fire in A & B Gap

The Coverage:
3 under 3 deep firezone

The first blitzer does a great job getting penetration and the second blitzer has an excellent ricochet redirect off the OT's block. The blitzers do a great job of attacking the OG and OT which allows Texas to beat a 7 man full slide protection with a 5 man zone dog.

Great pressure from the Longhorns. 

Michigan Open Edge Run Pressure

When a TE is in the game, one tried and true pressure strategy is to slant the defensive line to the TE and send extra rushers to the open side (opposite the TE). The philosophy is simple, the moving DL make the TE side runs more difficult and help build a wall. The defense is looking to force the RB to hit the wall or cut back way from the moving DL into the extra rushers.

Michigan is in a sub personnel with 3 LB's 2 Rush Backer (OLB/DE types in 2 pt stances) and 1 down lineman. The secondary is a 6 DB dime personnel.

The Rush:
The front is slanting to the DE with 2 edge rushers. The inside edge rusher is able to bend flat and chase down the RB on run away while the outside edge rusher is able to play for boot/naked from the QB.

The Coverage:
Cover 1 with the mugged up LB manned on the RB.

Good job by the TE side edge rush building the wall and the bending open side rusher chasing the RB down.

Good stuff from Coach Brown and the Wolverines.