Saturday, December 14, 2019

Blitz the Formation

This site exists to have an in-depth thoughtful dialog about blitzing. I've heard the criticisms of blitzing for a long time.

Blitzing is guessing
Blitzing is too risky
Blitzes are great when they hit but too many times they are bad calls into the wrong look
Blitz is just something young coaches like to do before they know how to coach defense
Base defense is the safe/smart/correct way to play defense because it lets players Play Fast

I've seen coaches call a blitz into an unfavorable look then use that decision as confirmation bias. "See blitzing is reckless..." or "caught us in blitz..." Is it? Did they? Or was that a poor usage of that blitz? Is it the tool or operator error? 

Don’t tell me why we can’t blitz show me how we can blitz when & where we want it.

Enter Blitz the Formation concepts:

The term blitz the formation (BTF) has become a popular term. Like all concepts in football there is NO universal terminology. Generically BTF is a blitz that adjusts based on the formation. This broad definition places a great many concepts under the umbrella term BTF. 

One common place the BTF terms show up is in pressures that adjust to a specific indicator.

Here is a simple example of blitzing based on the RB location. The pressure is an America's blitz variation set to the RB with a twist opposite and back stopped with 3 under 3 deep firezone coverage.

vs. 2x2

vs. 3x1

The call is going to be a blitz regardless of the formation. The pressure is adjusted based on the alignment of the RB. This can be a great strategy in the appropriate game plan situation. But what if the scouting report doesn't lead to a plan that wants to blitz every formation? What is the solution if you only want to blitz one formation structure and not others?

One solution is a BTF concept we call Blitz Automatic.

Blitz Automatic - We are making a call but are going to auto check into a pressure vs. a specific formation structure. 

General Rules:
The calls we are blending together need to exist in the same spacing. It can become confusing to go through an extreme change and move 10 of 11 players to make a check. We want to be game planned up but not unreasonableIdeally the pre-snap defensive alignment and presentation won't change too much from call A to call B. 

We need to use one word calls. To get everyone on the same page we need simple ways to communicate pre-snap on the field. Which call are we in: A or B? Can you communicate it quickly on the field with a mouthpiece in? Also players have to comfortable with the calls. . Players have to get reps of both A and B to have the confidence to run either based on a quick pre-snap call. We must master the parts before we can use them together.

We need a practice plan to get it learned. These are game plan specific calls. The majority of our practice work on a Blitz Auto concept will be in-week and in-season. That isn't a lot of time or reps. What is our weekly teaching progression to get it executed on game day?

Game planning Regular D&D (1-10 and 2nd Down on schedule) 
Open field (No red zone or backed up or other special situation)
10 personnel

In 2x2 RB Strong/Weak and 3x1 with the RB strong the offense has balance and variety lacking any stand out strong tendency. However, in 3x1 with the RB aligned weak the offense has a strong tendency to make the RB flat and run power read. 

Basketball = Blitz Auto

Spurs - 4 Down Over front with 3 Match Coverage auto checked to a strong edge pressure vs. 3x1 with RB weak

Call structure
The call will come in from the sideline Spurs. The Mike LB will communicate the "Over" call to set the front and either Trio (3 match) or Scrape (strong pressure). The secondary will communicate the coverage adjustments.

vs. 2x2 and allows for a 6 man box and 3 match coverage

vs. 3x1 with the RB strong the coverage is a flooded cover 3 with weak rotation. This allows for the Mike to be out of RPO conflict and to build a 6 man box.

vs. 3x1 with the RB weak the pressure is the check. This allow for 2 off the edge vs. the power read play. By starting in 2 high and holding the pressure the goal is to show a look the offense wants to run their top play into. The DE on a low track off the edge shows the QB a clear give read. The goal is to force a give directly into the blitzing Mike. Multiple studies show drives with a TFL result in no points 80% the time. This is a great opportunity to create a TFL.

This type of concept allows us to have a blitz plan for the situation we want it. Are we going to only call Spurs? Of course not but we do want to have a plan to attack a tendency that exists. If we don't like a specific pressure concept or plan vs. other formations, why call it? Lets play a base defensive call when the scouting report doesn't show strong tendencies. Lets keep ourselves out of blitzing a look we don't want to blitz/lack certainty and heat up the looks we want to pressure.

Example Practice & Install Plan for a Blitz Auto

This is a plan for the overall practice. We will also of course work the blitz technique and pressure pattern within individual and group periods.

Sunday - Players off

Monday - Install on the white board followed by a cutup to show then when and how we will use the call. Walk thru reps. We walk and talk the concept and give the players the chance to move and execute the call. We will use garbage cans and live bodies at receiver.

Tuesday - Pre-practice run thru will be much more uptempo version of Monday. When going against scout team the call will be hard called. We will call and run Scrape vs. 3x1 gun weak and call and run Trio vs. the other formations. We won't make any Spurs calls. Why? We want the focus to be on executing the call so we can get good at the call vs. the formation and plays.

Wednesday - Pre-practice run thru. This time the defensive signal coach will be behind the defense. The defense is forced to turn their back to the formation (No Peeking). Once the formation is set by the coach running the scout look the defense gets the signal and turns. This forces the defense to get the call, turn and see the formation, make the ID, communicate, and run through the call. In scout period we will make some hard calls and some Spurs calls.

Thursday - Pre-practice walk thru will slow down and show motion adjustments. What do we do if they move us into or out of our blitz automatic. Against scout we will show both motion and no motion.

Friday - In the film room we will do choir practice. Players will get a signal from coach and turn to the film. Everyone must go through their pre-snap communication and then we play the play on film. This allows players to interact with the film and take mental practice reps. Each week we have a cutup and script for this choir practice meeting. On the practice field we will have a run thru what will be uptempo with reactions and execution.

Saturday - Execute the plan

The Spurs plan is a simple example of a blitz auto. There are countless blitz auto concepts that can be built to apply pressure when and where we want it. As players learn and get comfortable with weekly blitz auto concepts the ability to go into the lab to build more complex automatics is very possible. Blitzing is a defensive tool. Our goal is to be masters of using the tool effectively. There are many systems to build blitz the formation concepts into a defense and get the most out of pressure.

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