Friday, June 21, 2019

Dressing Up Crossfire

On 3rd&8 Army is in a Nickel personnel with OLB body types at DE. 

The Rush:
Even front alignment with two 3 techniques. The Mike and Will are working a crossfire pattern with the Will first and the Mike going second. The pressure side DT is looping to balance the pass rush.

The Coverage:
3 under 3 deep firezone with the Corners pressed. The Rush backer is the 3 dropper and takes the RB through to the flat because the seam players are stretched with the 4 verticals concept. 

Against this play action protection the Center is threatened by the DT on the block back. The Center being occupied allows both ILB's free runs on the cross fire. This pressure design in an interesting way to cover all the OL and manipulate protection.

If Miami Ohio had instead been in a 6 man drop back protection the pressure still creates challenges. The 5 OL being covered forces half slide protection into a man to man concept. All the OL being manned up creates a run through for the Will on the RB. The late looping blitz by the Mike controls the pass set of the Center while still providing the late crossfire pattern. The late crossfire is rough for the manned up OL to pass off. Good stuff using a different alignment to dress up a classic crossfire firezone blitz from former Army and current UNC defensive coordinator Jay Bateman and the Black Knights.  

Sunday, June 16, 2019

3 Match Coverage Variation

Why do you need all those coverage calls? This is an example of why we need them.

Here is a stick route variation from 2x2.

The read progression:

Pre-snap the peak outside. The Peak is there for cover zero looks to take a shot against a press corner and also a hole shot vs. a cover 2 look. 

Hot - against any max pressure look the ball can go to the peak or the RB in the flat


#1 read is the RB is the flat. If the overhang gets depth, turns his shoulders inside, or doesn't expand the RB in the flat is getting the ball immediately. 

#2 is the slot working away from the ILB. This route is designed to isolate the LB with a speed WR. If the LB gets depth or isn't attacking the route the ball is going to the WR running away from the LB.

#3 is the dig. If the LB is tight on the in/out route the ball is going to the dig route behind the LB. 

#4 The money ($$$) is for quarters coverage concepts. If the defense is 2 high with a safety who is aggressive on the dig the QB can take a shot to the post one on one vs. the corner.

Against a base odd front 3 match concept the defense can rush an OLB and roll the coverage to replace the pressure.

In this example the field OLB is in the charge with the coverage rolling that direction. The coverage can handle all the routes. The issue is the isolation of the ILB vs. a slot WR. This plays into what the offense is trying to accomplish. They want WR vs. LB which they hope is a mismatch.This is why we carry coverage change ups.

The charge is the same basic concept only now the end is working outside and the ILB is pressuring the B gap. The Safety is now the hook player. The coverage plays out the same only now the speed WR is 1 on 1 with a DB not a LB. 

This is just one example of a coverage change up that is not about changing the coverage concept just about job swaps. 

Having coverage change-ups is necessary to avoid an offense being able to repeatedly isolate a poor match up in coverage. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Book Club

This month is a pair of of books from an excellent coach with a career of experience coaching high school and college football. Coach Gordon's first book "Coaching the Under Front Defense" outlines how the front aligns and functions.

His 2nd book is a all about "Split Field Coverages". The book covers a fully developed coverage package. 

Both books are great reads. If you are a new coach looking to learn about under front or split field coverages these books are a great place to learn. If you're already experienced coaching these concepts this is a great chance to see a successful defensive coach's explination, progression, and coaching points. I took a bunch notes on details from Coach Gordon that I've added/I'm adding to our progression. 

Not convinced? Listen to Coach Gordon on the Deep Dive on Defense pod cast. Listen for the split field coverage info and killer Boston accent.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Understanding RPO

When it comes to RPO's, there are many versions out there. The challenge defensive coaches face is how to teach RPO's to defenders. Every defense has a clearly established progression for concepts like defending triple option but defining roles & responsibilities for RPO's can be less clear. Well we have rules for quick game and rules for power, what do we do if it is both? RPO as a term has even become problematic. RPO has become a blanket term for a wide variety of offensive concepts. In response we have started breaking down RPO's into 4 categories to help defenders better understand how the RPO works. Understanding the play helps defenders better understand their role in defending the play. 

Access - Access RPO's are looking for free access (space) to throw a route. These are pre-snap decisions from the QB.

This is a simple example. The offense is running a zone read concept. The access portion is to the single WR side. If there is no overhang defender and an off corner the QB is free to throw the hitch. QB scans pre-snap and if the look is there he throws the quick game route. This could also be a speed out or slant. This type of RPO is a fusion of 3 step quick game passing and a run. Offenses traditionally have thrown quick game on regular down & distance to get or stay on schedule. The issue was the quick game was good against certain looks and not good against others. Some teams employ kills or alerts that allow the offense to audible in and out of quick game at the LOS. Many teams however are uncomfortable allowing the QB to change the play. Enter access RPO and the OC can call the quick game and the run play with the same call. If quick game access is there take it, if not run the called play.

Access RPO is also used to control box numbers and can even be double sided.

If the defense puts defenders on the LOS, like the under front in this example there may be access to throw quick game to a split WR. The access is on both sides in this example. The thought process is if there is no overhang to the strong side and an off corner the hitch has access. 

If the defense rotates the coverage to the strong side the weak side access is in play.

With a strong side overhang the access hitch is dead. Now weak side the access slant may be a possibility for the QB to throw. 

Access RPO can also be used as a blitz control.

The offense does not have a blocker to account for the edge blitzer here. If the edge blitzer shows early the QB can throw the access bubble. This same concept is used to control any overhang aligned defender tight enough to the box where the offense may have trouble blocking. If the overhang player is loading the box by alignment the access bubble can be thrown.

Conflict - Conflict RPO's put an off the LOS defender into a run/pass conflict. The defender is being read post-snap. 

This example is the stick RPO play. The QB is reading the LB (Mike) if the Mike drops to cover the #3 receiver the ball is handed off. If the Mike fills to play the run the QB throws the route.

Another example is the stretch with back side slants.

The ILB (Mike) is the conflict player. If the Mike reacts to the stretch play away the QB can pull the ball out and throw the slant. If the overhang squeezes the inside slant the QB can throw the outside slant. If the Mike does not pursue the stretch the RB may have a seam to put his foot in the ground and get vertical as the flow of the play widens the defense. 

Triple - Triple RPO's use the pass as the third phase of a triple option concept. The third phase throw occurs post-snap.

The play is a zone read with the DE as the first read. The triple portion adds a "pitch" phase to the play. Here the WR screen is the third phase. If the overhang player (Sam) steps up to help play the QB the ball can be thrown out wide.

It is not limited to screens.Teams are also running routes as the third phase.

Here the TE arrow route is designed to stress the DE. If the DE widens with the TE release the play is an easy give read for the QB. If the DE chases the dive the QB can keep. Off the keep if QB is attacked by a defender he can rise up and throw the arrow in the flat. 

Hybrid - Hybrid RPO's are a combination of two of the previous types. These RPO's may have both pre and post-snap elements.

Pre-snap the QB can take the bubble if the overhang (Sam) is too tight to the box or showing blitz. Post-snap the safety is the conflict player. If the Safety is aggressive downhill into the alley the QB can pull the ball and throw the 8 yard glance in behind the safety.

Pre-snap if the hitch is there the QB can take it.
Post-snap the ILB is the conflict defender. If the Mike expands with the RB fast motion the QB keeps and runs following the fold block. If the Mike stays put the QB throws the swing to the RB. 

Why the slot fade? To control 1 high safety defenses(Cover 1, Cover 3, & 3 Match)

Now the defense can build a two LB box. If the pre-snap access hitch is there take it. If the corner is pressed throw the slot fade because the likely coverage is either Cover 1 or 3 Match.

Teams are creating all kinds of combinations.

Pre-snap the access bubble can be thrown if the overhang is too tight to the box or showing blitz. Post-snap the QB is running zone read. If the QB is forced to pull the ball, he has the ability to throw the ball out to a third phase on the bubble.

There are countless RPO concepts out there. Far too many to fit in one article. That is why we have tried to develop a categorizing system to make RPO concepts simpler for our coaches and players.

How do we use this info?

When we break down a team we will label the play Run/Pass/RPO. If the play was an RPO we label:

R/P - Did the RPO result in a run or a pass?
Run - What run concept was the play?
Route - What routes are being run? Even if they didn't throw it. 
Type - Access, Conflict, Triple, Hybrid

We want to understand the whole picture of how does the play work? The opposing defense on film played a hand in the outcome so only looking at the outcome does not tell the whole story. Players can then be informed of the play and how it works as well as our plan against it? Understanding how your pre-snap alignment affects access, or you are the read on a conflict, or there is a "pitch" on a triple, or there are pre and post-snap concepts happening are all critical for defenders to understand the play. That understanding helps players grasp the Why? of their responsibility in defending the play.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Jets Sim Pressure

Sim pressure is a phrase showing up all over the place this off-season. There is no universal terminology in football. What is a generic definition? A pressure rushing 4 that is designed to present to the offense a look and feel of 5 or 6+ rushers. The goal is to simulate more pressure/rushers than are actually in the charge. Some teams are grouping all non-traditional 4 man rushes together under the label sim pressures. Others define sims as 4 man pressures with man coverage and creepers as 4 man pressures with zone coverage. Again there is no universal terminology, there are many different labels out there.

Here the Jets are in a 7 DB sub personnel bringing a non-traditional 4 man rush.

The Rush: Dime and End are the edge rusher. To the side of the blitz the DL is working a B gap penetrator DE looping twist game. The effect is a weak side overload.

The Coverage: Strong side is a locked Corner and a triangle coverage over #2/#3. Weak side is a cover 2 concept. This coverage is common in split field safety coverages who play quarters and half concepts.

The walked up rush threats in the field A & B gap create a situation where all the OL are covered. The Center points out the threats and the tackle, guard, and center are working to the 3 threats to the field. The boundary guard and tackle are focused on the 2 DL threats. The guard and tackle try to pass the twist. There was no guarantee of help from the center resulting in the guard and tackle passing the twist as if they have no help. The twist reaction pulls the guard inside to the looping DE and the OT inside to the penetrating DT leaving the free runner from the Dime off the edge.

For the crowd out there talking about sim pressures being the newest trend on defense. This pressure is from the 2012 Jets coached by  Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. Sim pressures may be gaining popularity but they aren't new. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Field Overload Firezone

Really interesting play during the Syracuse vs. NC State game this season. The Cuse are in a base 4-3 personnel running a field side firezone pressure.

The Rush:
End & Nose contain with the DT on a long stick to balance the pass rush. The inside blitzer (Mike) is working B gap to A gap path while the Sam is blitzing wide B.

The Coverage:
3 under 3 deep firezone coverage with pressed corners

The technique of the inside blitzer is critical to the success. By starting wide in the B gap and working to the A gap the blitz takes on a two through one gap effect.  The B to A path of the inside blitzer helps the timing of the pressure. By starting wider in the B gap the path allows the DT in a 3 technique the time and space to execute his long stick. The B to A gap path also creates confusion for the RB.

The Guard & RB end up in a really tough protection situation. The Guard has a B gap threat from the 3 tech DT. As the DT leaves a new B gap threat shows up from the inside blitzer. The guard reacts by blocking the inside blitzer and stays on as the blitzer crosses face to the A gap. The RB is initially looking inside out from ILB (Mike) to overhang (Sam). When the inside most threat (Mike) blitzes the RB aggressively steps up to make the pick up. End result is two blockers on the Mike leaving the Sam on a run through pressure affecting the QB. The little detail of the B to A path of the Mike had a huge effect.

Looking at the possible outcomes.

One way the offense could have picked it up is for the Guard to continue to set out and handle the wide B gap blitzer bypassing the Mike. This is how the RB tried to pick up the pressure. In reality this is possible but very difficult. The Guard set initially to the DT in the B gap. As the DT sticks inside there is an immediate pass rusher attacking the Guard. It is unlikely a Guard will ignore an immediate rush threat from the Mike to set to the Sam. Also there is the issue of the Guards vision. When the DT sticks the Guard's vision is directly in line to see the Mike. It's unlikely the Guard would have vision to the wide B gap rushing Sam. 

Alternatively and more likely is to have the RB to take the wider threat.

Here the Guard picks up the Mike. Now the challenge falls heavily on the RB. The issue starts pre-snap.

The picture for the RB has two primary blitz threats. The Mike is further inside making for a quicker threat to the QB. The RB priorities the inside threat first. When the Mike blitzes the RB wants to aggressively step up to make the block. Once he aggressively steps up it makes it difficult to redirect out to the Sam. The RB may be even more aggressive to get to the block due to the initial deep alignment in the pistol. The RB can't fight physics, object in motion stays in motion. The more aggressive the RB is toward the LOS the harder it is to redirect. The path of the blitzer also manipulates the eye's of the RB. The RB is looking at the Mike as the 1st threat. The Mike starts wide and redirects back in to the A gap. That path pulls the RB's eyes inside and away from the Sam. Two truths play out as a result: your feet go where your eyes take them and you cannot block what you don't see. 

This type of blitz sets up a Goldilocks situation for the RB. If the RB is aggressive to block the Mike inside, he can get caught up inside (as he did in the clip) and cannot react out to the Sam. If the RB is more under control allowing him to either block the Mike or redirect out to the Sam, he runs the risk of getting pass rushed deeper in the pocket. A RB in the lap of the QB can affect the QB just as much as a pass rusher. This forces the RB to use just the right amount of aggressiveness. 

This play is also interesting because of the route. NC State has a variation of a curl/flat combination. 

The route of the S receiver is an inside stem curl. The Seam dropping Safety is a Match-Carry-Deliver player. The question is should he carry (treat the S as a vertical) or deliver (treat the S as an inside route)? The Safety treated the S as a vertical threat (hips are more vertical than under) and carried the route. This forces the 3RH Will backer to get depth and width under the Z and eventually break on the Y. There is no doubt this route puts stress on the Will. This is a good reminder the pass rush co-exist and play off one another. You give up some part of coverage to get more pass rushers, the extra rush has to affect the QB. It's easy to for an offensive coach to draw up this route and say "easy completion" or a defensive coach to talk themselves out of firezone because of a stressful route. Who else is stressed out on this play? The RB with a tough pass protection task and the QB with a blitzer in his face. 

Good stuff from Syracuse and defensive coordinator Brian Ward. All the details of this blitz are executed to make it work even against a stressful route.