Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Giving the Corner Relief in Isolation on the X in 3x1

When the Corner is isolated on the X on the backside of 3x1 formations it can be nice to find calls that help provide that Corner some form of help. In our defense we call these concepts relief calls. 

Here is an interesting example of a relief concept from the Ravens. Baltimore is in a Nickel personnel with 2 OLB, 3 DL, 1 ILB, and 5 DB's. 



The Rush:

The Nickel is edge pressuring off the slot while the rush OLB and DT work a twist game. Weak the DE is a B gap pop.

The Coverage:

3 under 3 deep firezone with the Nose spying the RB


Weak side the presence of a Rush OLB on the LOS, 4i DE, and shade Nose forces the C, G, T to set to the 3 threats. With the turn of the Center weak, the protection has 3 threats (Nickel, OLB, DT) vs. 2 OL and the scan RB strong. The twist creates confusion with the G squeezing to the most inside threat from the wrapping OLB. The OT fans to the Nickel instead of squeezing to the DT. The RB scans to the Nickel who is blocked by the OT leaving the DT on a free run. The protection has the numbers to account for the pressure but sorting it out is difficult. If sorted out the concept forces the RB to block across the formation on a full speed Nickel off the edge and the T/G to handle the twist 2 vs. 2.

The OLB walked on the LOS weak is able to key the QB's front shoulder intentions and buzz out to provide an underneath zone dropping body presence to the Corner. This prevents the Corner from having to be completely isolated in coverage and results in the interception.

The usage of the Nose as a spy on the RB is what makes this coverage execution work.

If the Ravens had truly rushed 5 and played firezone the weak seam dropping OLB is relating to the weak #2 (RB).

In this example the seam dropping Rush LB opens his drop to the #2 which leaves the Corner in isolation with the X. Why?


If the Rush were to key the QB's front shoulder intentions to the X and buzz out he could again help on quick game. However, if the QB resets his feet and throws the RB a screen or check down there is a hole in the middle of the coverage. The Seam and 3RH droppers strong are expanded to cover #2 and #3 strong. This is a specific risk as the Browns have two good RB's, screen is a threat from backed up field postion,and the Browns hit earlier in the game on both a TE screen and a RB screen. 


Notice the QB's front should intentions are initially away from the RB screen.

The decision to utilize the Nose as a spy helps solve this problem. The Seam dropping OLB can react to the front shoulder intentions of the QB and help undercut routes to the X. The Nose helps mitigate the risk on the RB screen and check down.

The usage of the Nose as a spy shows up in many defensive schemes.



This example is a completely different pressure pattern but illustrates another application of the concept. This example is from the Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine Jets. The current Baltimore scheme has crossover with the schemes of Rex/Rob Ryan.

The usage of the Nose as a spy not only helps the OLB provide relief to the Corner in coverage. It also:

1. Gives the Nose a coverage responsibility the Nose can execute and has a reasonable installation cost. Teaching a Nose a hook zone drop would be much more expensive to teach for example.

2. Helps manipulate the pass protection. The Center is occupied throughout the pressure mirroring the movements of the Nose. If the Nose drops off the LOS into coverage, the Center can potentially reset and provide help elsewhere in the protection specifically helping with the wrapping OLB from the pressure side. With the Center occupied with the spy Nose, the Center is a non-factor.

Really nice pressure design and usage of Nose spy from Baltimore Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Understanding the Opening Script

Many offensive coaches use an opening script to begin a game. What goes into that script? I had some ideas based on my experiences vs. opposing offenses, from film study of a variety of schemes, and from picking the brains of offensive coaches I've had the good fortune of working with in the past. I also reached out to a few offensive coaches to ask them for insight. Finally I crowdsourced info by asking coaches through twitter. The responses and willingness to share was amazing and a testament to the awesome "Football Twitter" community. The sheer number of responses was a bit overwhelming. To all those who contributed, Thank You!

After looking at the philosophy of offensive coaches as well as what they are scripting I broke the responses down into 5 categories: Identity, Diagnostic, Designer, Catalyst, and Cumulative Effect.

IdentityPlays that get scripted that are all about who the offense is at its core.

Top Plays - Call what the OC feels are the best run schemes and best pass concepts in the offense's arsenal. These calls are all about being who the offense feels they are as an offense and don't overly depend on the opponent's scheme.

Sure Things – Runs the OC feels can block any D look. This isn't necessarily the scheme the offense feels is their top production play or most explosive scheme. This extends to passes with protection that accounts the most possible looks. This might include max protection, play action, movement passes like boot/naked/sprint. Plays in this category are all about consistency and reliability. 

Get ball into the hands of the best player. What play calls guarantee the top player on offense is involved early?

Get multiple guys touches. A recurring theme was OC's wanting to get as many guys involved and engaged in the opening script as possible. This wasn't always just about getting the ball to the best player but getting everyone in on the action.

Get the QB in a rhythm. What plays allow for the QB to make easy throws? What plays have the easiest reads? This includes not only passes but also option schemes. How can the offense script to create consistent success for the QB early?

DiagnosticPlays that are scripted to diagnose some piece of info about the defense.

Alignment to formations – Does the defense align in the front and show coverage that match what was is to be expected from scouting report breakdown data?

Motion/trade/shift adjustments – How are they adjusting? Is there confusion or misalignments? Can offense move one player and get multiple defenders to move? Are adjustments being made by running defenders with motion, spinning/rolling coverage, bumping LB's, sliding DL? This can inform follow up play calls. 

Personnel – Is the defense using the personnel expected from scouting report info. Are players aligning where they were expected? Are matchups as expected?

How does the defense respond to something outside of normal? A new formation, formation into the sideline (FSL), unbalanced, empty, compressed formation, etc are all possible in a script to diagnose what the defense will do. This info can inform subsequent play calls or can be one offs.

Correction – Is there a formation, motion, or play the defense struggled with in previous games? Have they made corrections? Have they fixed what went wrong previously? Football is a copycat sport. This script element is all about forcing defenses to prove they have corrected their previous errors. 

Who made the play? – Typically this is about running a base/foundational play and looking at what occurred. Who made the tackle or made the play difficult? This informs follow up plays that compliment the foundational play. This could be series based play calling like many wing-t and option schemes utilize. This could also be just an if/then type of game plan. If the backside DE is chasing hard, then call the complimenting naked concept. 

Designer- Play specifically designed for the defense.             

OC are looking to script potential big plays or plays that create stress. This may be a shot pass play. This could be a trick play like a double pass, reverse, flea flicker, etc. This could be a scheme design from game plan meeting looking a the defense's previous plan. There is no perfect play call for the defense. Offenses know what stresses each defensive concept. It could be a personnel, motion, formation, or play concept but the OC is looking to craft those elements into stress plays in the script. Some designer concepts however are fragile. They may not be great outside of the specific/desired defensive look. Many designer looks in the script also carry a can/alert/kill concept. Two plays are called in the huddle. If the defense is in the desired look the designer play is on as planned. If the look is sub-optimal, the QB cans the play to a base call that holds up against more defensive looks. Some OC's prefer to do this with a check the sideline mechanic vs. asking the QB to can the play at the LOS.

Catalyst - Plays designed to provoke a response from the defense.

Catalyst concepts take many forms. Some may be simple like getting in a 3x1 and taking a shot to the X in isolation. The catalyst is all about looking to force the D to respond by playing some type of weak 2 over 1 coverage concept. The O certainly would like to complete the pass but the bigger goal was to create opportunities to the 3 receiver side or in the run game. Catalysts can be schemed in the run game also. The O may feel the best path to success running the ball is to get the DE aligned in a specific location on the TE. Scripted early calls like pin & pull may not be the O's most desired scheme. It is being scripted to encourage the defense to widen the DE's alignment, which sets up the opportunity to run other schemes on future plays. Not all catalyst plays provoke the same type of responses. Some OC's are scripting looks that are meant to confirm to the defense what the offense looks like. These are scripted calls that mirror the expected looks from the scouting report. The personnel, formation, play, etc was what the D expected based on film study. The goal here is to provoke the defense to be locked into their plan. If the D feels confident the O matches the scouting report, they are going to do what they planned to do on defense. Once the offense is locked into what the D's plan looks like it sets up the plan of attack. Most OC's don't like defensive variance so the catalyst may be to get the defense locked in a specific plan. Catalyst plays may take the form of setup plays. A distinct motion or formation leads the defense to talk it over on the sideline. When that look comes up again defenders make the ID and believe they know what is coming off that look. This may be where the setup leads to the payoff. The offense wanted the D to feel like they know what is coming and really cared much more about the payoff play vs. the setup play. Catalyst plays may be about manipulating defensive personnel usage. An offense that uses 11 but begins flexing to create 10 personnel vs. 11 looks to get the D into sub-personnel. Once the D is subbing to Nickel or Dime, the O can attack those sub-personnels. Possibly the O no longer flexes the TE in 11 and is able to get back to running their base 11 personnel scheme. The O may go 22 personnel to get the D in base personnel but create an empty formation and isolate a TE vs. a LB. Catalyst plays can take many forms but they want to force the defense into an action favorable to the offense. 

Cumulative effect - Plays that aren't about a single play but affecting the defense through repetition. 

Perimeter run/screen – The goal is to force the DL to run sideline to sideline. Tiring out DL early in the game can affect pass rush, run fits, block shed, pursuit and overall effort.

Establish tempo of the offense. Many OC's mentioned wanting to set or change the tempo in the script. This concept is also tied to creating fatigue on the defense early in the game. This may also get the D into more basic schemes. 

Attack the best player – If the defense has a great player the offense may look to make that player's life difficult. A defense with a dominate 3tech DT for example. The offense may script early concepts that double him, trap him, wham him, read him, and screen him. That player is now getting hit from all angles. The goal is to create frustration and prevent that player from getting going. A slow start for that player may keep him from getting going at all. 

Attack the worst player - Isolation of a weak link on defense with the goal that enough attacks on the weakest player will lead to big plays. It might not happen immediately but attacking as many times as possible is the best path to exposing the weak link as the weak link.

Being as multiple as possible. By showing various personnels, formations, trades, shifts, motions, and schemes plus varying tempo and snap count the defense has a lot to address and process. The goal is to slow down pressure looks including pass rush and force the defense into base concepts. Cumulative effect occurs from the the variety making the D be ready for anything/everything.

After doing this research, I have a different viewpoint of evaluating an offense's early play calling. It is always interesting to look at how offensive coaches think and plan. Hopefully there is something in this info that can help you and your defense or offense better understand the opening script. If there is something you think was missed be sure to reach out, I'd love to continue to build my understanding of the scripting process. 


Friday, December 4, 2020

Broncos Pass Rush

The Broncos have generated pass rush in several ways in 2020. I recently went on the Cover 2 Bronco Podcast with Jeff Essary and Joe Rowles. Check it out the episode here - Cover 2 Bronco. I thought I'd share some film and thoughts of what I've been watching the Denver defense do to get to the QB.  One major factor is Denver's ability to capitalize on hybrid skill set athletes on defense.


Denver has several athletic interior DL who can isolate and attack Guards and Centers in the pass rush. Here the DT hits the Guard with a jab to a quick arm over to win with speed. 

Athleticism inside also allows for the DL to use pass rush games.


Here Denver used an interior pass rush twist to punish over sets with the zero technique Nose the DT on the twist is able to create quick interior pressure.

Having players with hybrid skills and athleticism allows for creativity when building a four man pass rush. 


Denver has joker package here playing 55 Chubb as the joker. A joker concept allows a specific defender to move around making that player a threat to insert into the pass rush in any area. A joker is a wildcard. This example allows the joker to attack a Guard and is paired with a pass rush twist opposite. If the pass protection doesn't honor the joker, the guard is on an island with a great pass rusher.If the pass pro slides to the joker the twist attacks the T/G forcing a difficult exchange. Again having athleticism from interior DL helps make this stunt work.


Denver can also get the ILB's in on the pass rush. Here the Broncos built a 4 man pass rush with 2 OLBs, 1 DT, and 1 ILB. The double pass rush twist helps manufacture opportunities of the OLBs, capitalize on the pass rush abilities of an ILB, and requires a DT who can covert to an edge rusher. 


Capitalizing on hybrid athleticism also means simulated pressure. The ILB inserts in the pass rush while the an Edge drops into coverage. The offense is forced to block 4 rushers with 6 blockers. This also keeps the RB from getting into a route. This pressure again requires athletic interior DL to balance the pass rush and work to contain. 

Denver has several ways to bring 4 while still using 7 players in coverage. Denver also has the ability to rush 5. 


Having 5 immediate rush threats at the LOS creates 5 games of  1 on 1 for the pass rushers. Here that allows an edge rusher with a 2 way go on an isolated OT. Not all pressures are sacks, this is a good example of getting the QB off his spot quickly which alters the timing and throw.


Another example of creating 5 games of  1 on 1 with 5 rushers. The interior rushers are working a twist to create inside pressure. 


Denver also stems around pre snap to create confusion about which 5 are coming and from where. 


Here is another example of combining 5 man pressure with DL twist. The most impressive part is in the coverage. The Safety covering the RB is able to play from depth and vision break to provide help on the crosser while still leveraging the RB.


Denver here presents 6 man pressure with an interior twist game. The B gap rush LB comes out of the rush to eat the RB when the RB attempts to release into a route.


Denver again presents 6 man pressure with a 2 on 1 overload on the RB. The pass rush again eats the RB preventing any type of release. The ILB in the hole is able to vision and break providing coverage help to the Corner in isolation on the X receiver. 

Overall Denver has found some interesting pressure and pressure coverage concepts to get to the QB this season. 


















Sunday, October 25, 2020

Safety Firezone Pressure

Cardinals are in Nickel personnel using an OLB body as the DE on the weak side on 1st 10 vs. 11 personnel. The pressure is simple and straightforward.

The Rush:

DL is straight ahead with the down Safety aligned in the box pressuring the closed side C gap.

The Coverage:

3 Under 3 Deep Firezone


The Cowboy start in an empty formation with the RB aligned out wide. The off aligned Corners, Safety in the box, 1 high post Safety and motion adjustment all signal 4 man rush cover 3.

The Safety pressuring the closed side C gap makes the call sound vs. run game on 1st 10. The pressure sures up the C gap, builds a 7 man box, and the two ILBs in the box for the open A & B gaps. The call has game against the pass as well.

The TE side Guard is in a bind. 


The OT is forced to set wide to the DE in the 9 technique. With the TE releasing the C gap disappears. The Guard has a 3 tech aligned in the B gap while the C gap Safety becomes a wide B gap rusher when the TE releases. The overload created in the B gap leads to 2 through the gap and the run through. 

Asking the Guard to set past the 3 tech DT and pick up the Safety is a tough ask. A wide set by the closed side Guard would put huge stress on the Center and opposite Guard to set to the 2 DT's in the interior of the OL. 

With the Guard setting the Safety in the wide B the Center can no longer vertical set as he did when the Guard handled the 3 tech. The Center would be forced to set wide and handle the DT in more space. The opposite Guard no longer would have the inside help from the vertical set Center and would need to pick up the DT with midline space created by the vacating Center.

The protection is a 5 man scat protection with the RB free releasing into a route. With the RB out there is no ability for the RB to scan to the Safety overload in the B gap.

The pressure is a nice 50/50 call with the ability to attack TE side run game and pressure the passer on 1st 10. Good pressure concept on regular down & distance from Vance Joseph.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Inverted Cover 2 Sim Pressure

The Eagles bringing sim pressures using an inverted cover 2 coverage concept.

Philly is in Nickel personnel on 2nd & 8 vs. 11 personnel.



The Rush: 
Nickel and Will off the edge with both DE's pinching inside

The Coverage:
Invert Cover 2


The 5 underneath zone droppers space to deny all the short routes. The sim pressure forces the OT to redirect from the DE on the inside move to the full speed pressure Will on the edge. The protection can account for the pressure but the degree of difficultly for the the OT is greatly increased vs. a base 4 man pass rush. The sim also forces the RB to stay in to account for the Nickel off the edge. The resource exchange is a big win for the defense. 6 pass protectors vs. 4 rushers still resulting in quick pressure.

Eagles in Nickel personnel on 2nd 1vs. 11 personnel. The front stems down to a bear front spacing during the cadence.


The Rush: 
DT on the Center in a bull rush with both 3 techniques rushing the the B gaps. The Mike is pressuring through the A gap.

The Coverage:
Invert Cover 2


The underneath 5 droppers make for tight window on all the short quick throws. The front covers all the OL forcing them to go 5-0. All 5 OL are manned up. The Mike gets the immediate run through on the RB in the A gap. This is an advantage of using sim pressures. Base 4 man pass rushes cannot typically isolate a RB in protection. Quick pressure on a RB in the A gap is also in the QB's face affecting the ability to step into a throw and affects the QB's mechanic. Not all pressure is about sacks.

Nice sim pressure designs from Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz.



Monday, October 19, 2020

Speeding Up Slow Developing Plays

One reason to call pressure is pressure changes the tempo of a play. Slower developing plays like play action pass and screen will not work on the timing they expect to operate on if pressure forces the play to happen more quickly. 

A 2nd reason to pressure is plays designed to manipulate defender's reactions in base defensive techniques can find difficulty creating the desired effect vs. pressures. A pressuring defender isn't making the same run/pass read like in a base defensive technique. Attempting to fool a defender is harder when the defenders actions were defined pre-snap and are less reliant on a post-snap read/reaction. 

Here are four examples from Week 6 in the NFL

Buccaneers are in base personnel on 1&10 vs. 12 personnel.


The concept is a simple ILB edge pressure backstopped with 3 under 3 deep fire zone. The pressure forces the RB to adjust to make his block off his play fake to pick up a full speed edge rusher. The defenders aren't manipulated. The rushers don't buy the run fake. The pass droppers know the pressure can disrupt run or pass allowing coverage players to be coverage players who react to run not primary run fitters. The QB's play action tempo is too slow for the tempo of the pass rush created by the pressure. 

Giants are in Nickel personnel on 1&10 vs. 21 personnel. 


The Giants are bringing a 4 man sim pressure rushing the Nickel off the edge backstopped by a 4 under 3 deep coverage. The usage of  21 personnel, motion to a 2 back formation, and flash fake are designed to hold underneath defenders. If the underneath defenders are held there will be space to throw the switch verticals in the void created between underneath droppers and deep zone defenders. The rush changes the tempo and creates immediate pressure in the QB's face. The zone coverage specifically the roll down Safety is unaffected by the play fake preventing a void in coverage from being created.

Patriots are in Dime personnel on 2&9 vs. 12 personnel.


The pressure is 6 man blitz backstopped with Cover Zero man. The man coverage player on the RB engage rushes to add a 7th rusher when the offense presents a 6th blocker. The plus one pass rush requires the QB to account for the unblocked rusher. The QB has little to no time to react to an unblocked rusher following the quick play fake. 

Steelers are in Nickel personnel on 2&8 vs. 11 personnel.


The Steelers bring a simple Nickel edge pressure sending the DE wide and Nickel on a low track backstopped by 3 under 3 deep fire zone. The Browns are running a RB screen that is well schemed and set up for a potential big play with 3 OL leading the way for the RB. There isn't time for the QB to set up and deliver the ball off the play action fake. The DE who makes the play is in principle going to be controlled by a down block from the OT, orbit WR reverse bluff, and a TE blocking across the formation. The DE is edge rushing as part of the pressure preventing the down block/reverse manipulation and is too fast off the edge for the TE's block. 

Great stuff from Todd Bowles, Patrick Graham, Bill Belichick, and Keith Butler. Pressure is a tool and sometimes the tool is used to speed up slower developing plays and prevent defender manipulation.



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Reading the Slide of the Protection

 The Dolphins are in a 2-4-5 Nickel personnel on 2nd 10.



The Rush:

The End and Will are rushing as contain rushers. The interior 4 are reading the blocks of the OL to determine if they rush or drop out to hot drops. In this example the right interior stay as rushers while the left interior rushers drop out. More on this concept later.

The Coverage:

Cover Zero man with 2 hot droppers. The Safeties are using engage hug rush technique, attacking their man responsibilities forcing the TE and RB to block the players covering them in man coverage. When the X goes in motion the Corner runs with and bumps the Nickel reassigning with the new formation.


The read of the protection is a straightforward idea: 

If the OL is blocking toward the LOS defender the defender doesn't want to run into a player set up to block him, drop out with zone eyes to help on hot throws. The pressure is overloading the protection the QB must get the ball out fast.

If the OL is blocking away from the LOS defender the adjacent OL then must be responsible for blocking him. By attacking the near hip of the OL the defender is reading, it will take the defender as far from the adjacent OL's block as possible and put him on the fastest path to the QB


In this example starting from left to right:

DE - Contain rush

Rush - Reading the Guard, G blocks to him drop to hot throw

DT - Reading the Center, C block to him drop to opposite hot throw

Rush - Reading the Center, C blocks away, penetrate off Center's near hip

Mike - Reading Guard, G blocks away, penetrate off G's near hip

Will - Rushing C gap, becomes contain rusher if TE and RB release on routes

Safeties - Engage rush the TE/RB


If the turn of the protection had been different:


DE - Contain rush

Rush - Reading Guard, G blocks away, penetrate off G's near hip

DT - Reading the Center, C blocks away, penetrate off Center's near hip

Rush - Reading the Center, C block to him drop to opposite hot throw

Mike - Reading the Guard, G blocks to him drop to hot throw

Will - Rushing C gap, becomes contain rusher if TE and RB release on routes

Safeties - Engage rush the TE/RB

In this example the Rush will attack the RB which both creates immediate pressure on the QB and prevents the RB from getting into a route. The RB blocking inside also allows the Safety to be free off the edge. The penetrators will again create stress on the interior of the protection with the OL setting away from them. 

These are the types of man blitzes that allow the defense to make the OL wrong no matter how they choose to block, help deny hot throws, and prevent rushers from running into OL set up to block them. 

Great scheme from Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer and Head Coach Brian Flores. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Nickel Run Pressure

The Titans are in Nickel personnel on 1st 10 against the Bills in 11 personnel.

Following motion by the Y to the backfield the WR goes in motion.


The Titans travel the Nickel with the motion. This is a common Nickel adjustment on Change of Strength (COS) motions. The Nickel aligns to the pass strength, when the offense uses COS motion the Nickel often travels to maintain the Nickel being to the pass strength spacing of the defense. Many of the coverages in Nickel personnel want the Nickel aligned over the slot to the pass strength. 

The defense also reloads the front changing the alignments of the DT's and flipping the ILBs.


The Rush:

The Nose is ripping across Center (RAC), the DE is on the inside move with the Nickel coming off the edge.

The Coverage:

3 Under 3 Deep Fire Zone


The run is a lead scheme with the TE. The scheme is designed to handle the 6 box defenders with the 5 OL + TE to create a 6 vs. 6 matchup. 

The C/G combo is working to the Mike, the lead is working to the Will. If the Will fits outside the Y's block the ball should run inside the lead off the combo.


If the Will fits inside the Y's block the ball should run outside the lead.


If the Mike plays across the combo to vise the lead block with the Will, the ball should stay playside in the B gap.

In all three examples the blocking scheme doesn't/can't account for the Nickel as a 7th body in the box. 

The Bills motioned twice on the play. The motion forces the defense to move and in theory helps control the Nickel.

The Titans travel the Nickel with motion and edge pressure. The Nickel was pressuring strong and is still pressuring strong when the offense presents COS motion. The DT on the RAC disrupts the play by beating the Center with speed and interfering with the Y's lead block. The Nickel off the edge cannot be accounted for by the scheme. 

The offense is matching the run scheme to the defensive personnel. Defense is in Nickel, the run scheme is designed to attack a 6 man box Nickel personnel. The defense can disrupt the scheme with Nickel pressure. The offense knows this and attempts to account for the Nickel in the box with a Y motion followed by a COS WR motion. The Nickel travels with the motion but still edge pressures leading to a 3 yard TFL. This is the back and forth of football. 

Really good plan and execution from the Titans and Mike Vrabel. Nickel travel pressure is a tool in the defensive tool box to answer and offense's answer of motion to control edge pressure in the run game. Some coaches wonder why some defensive playbooks are thick and why a nickel travels strong pressure is even necessary. This situation shows why this tool exist, when you need to account for an offense's motion plan vs. Nickel personnel this can be a great tool to have in the toolbox. 




Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sim Pressure using Sting Coverage

The Broncos are in Nickel personnel with OLB bodies at the DE positions. The snap is on 1st 10 a 2min situation with Denver leading by 11 points.



The Rush: 
Both DT's are looping strong to balance the pass rush. The Rush OLB is wide with the ILB pressuring the B gap

The Coverage: 
4 under 3 deep Sting cover 3 coverage
 

The coverage concept of Sting has been featured on the site several times. Sting allows the defense to use 3 under 3 deep firezone teaching progression and techniques when playing 4 under 3 deep coverage. Continuity of Sim/Creeper coverage with Zone Dog coverages is a huge positive for defenses. 

The usage of Sting coverage allows the Nickel to carry #2 in the seam like fire zone. By contrast in a standard cover 3 distribution the Nickel would play the C-F and the OLB would drop to the strong hook. The OLB on the LOS isn't forced to get depth into the hook to cover the slot on the basic because the Nickel is carrying and the ILB is dropping with depth to #3. The free OLB can easily match the #3 on the check release to the flat. Denver is able to deny the basic to the slot with the Seam and 3RH droppers taking pressure off the OLB dropping from the LOS as well as efficiently deny a multilevel route from the offense. 

The pressure is a simple concept that isolates the RB in pass pro with the pressuring ILB. The Guard travels with the inside movement 3tech DT leaving the RB on the pressure LB in the B gap 1on1

This is another example of why teams use sim/creeper pressure. The defense can play a 7 man drop coverage while generating a pass rush. Very few traditional 4 man pass rushes can isolate a RB with a full speed rusher while wasting 4 OL on 2 DT's. The resource allocation is a major victory for the defense: 6 blockers vs. 4 rushers while still creating quick efficient pressure backstopped with 7 man drop coverage.

Good stuff from Denver Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell and Vic Fangio. 


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Disguising Sim Pressure

Here is a really nice example of a well planned pressure disguise and execution from the Cleveland Browns. 


The Rush:

End working a super stick to cross the Center, the Nose attacks/engages the Center before looping to contain. The Dime is up the field to contain with the Nickel going through the Dime's heel line on a straight line run to the QB.

The Coverage:

4 under 3 Deep Cover 3


The disguise from Cleveland is very impressive because of the multiple layers of disguise elements and the attention to detail.


The first element is following the motion the Dime walks out of the box and presents an alignment and demeanor of a coverage player. His tempo, stance, and body language all help sell him as being in coverage. 

The next element is the presentation of 4 rushers from the left. This affects the set of the RG. The RG sets to 4 rush threats to allow the OL to have 4 blockers for the 4 rush threats. This also forces the OT to be manned up on the DE to the strong side. 

The third element is the deep Safeties subtly showing a weak rotation. The subtle disguise helps sell the 4 from a side weak overload. The offense is looking for clues to help define where the pressure is coming from. A 4 from a side weak pressure presentation with strong rotation safeties can tip the OL the 4 weak will be dropping out. The Browns really sell the 4 weak pressure at all three levels of the defense. 

The OT being manned up forces the OT to set inside with the DE on the inside movement. The RB is left with a 2 on 1 overload vs. the edge rushers. The pattern with the Dime up the field forces the RB to block the first threat. The Nickel is actually the inside most/direct line rusher which should make him the most dangerous. The RB cannot afford to block the first threat that shows in order to sort out the pressure pattern. Once the RB commits to the Dime the Nickel is left on a clean run to the QB. 

This is another example of why defenses are using sim/creeper pressure concepts. Very rarely does a traditional 4 man pass rush result in an overload on the RB and a free run to the QB. Sim pressures can manufacture pass rush opportunities with 4 rushers that typically require bringing 5 or 6. 

Great pressure design and even better coaching of the details from Cleveland Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

4 Minute Defense

Last night in the Bears game the Buccaneers lead by a score of 19-17. Tampa took possession of the ball with the lead and 2:48 remaining in the 4th quarter. This put Chicago into 4 Minute Defense. The objective is simple, get the ball back to the offense with as much time remaining and in as good of field position as possible.

Every defense has rules, coaching points, and practice drill for 4 Minute Defense.

Here is an example from an old playbook of HOF Coach Dick Lebeau


Another example from former NY Giant Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan.




Most defensive playbooks have a situational football section with coaching for 2 Minute, 4 Minute, Final plays, etc.

The Bears did a tremendous job against the Buccaneers executing in 4 Minute defense. 

1st 10 from the -16 yard line 2:48 remaining. 


The Bears are in a reduction front vs. the Bucs 13 personnel. The front is spaced like a 6-1 with the walk down safety in a choke on the inside TE.


The gapped out alignment to the TE side creates a very difficult angle/block for the H. The 5 tech DE is able to create a TFL. Timeout Bears.

2nd 12 from the -14 yard line 2:43 remaining. 


The Bucs came back on 2nd down expecting Chicago to again go to a run heavy loaded box with man coverage. The Bears present a look similar to 1st down. Tampa calls a play action to attempt to attack the aggressive run stopping nature of the Bears' 4 Minute defensive call. 


The Bears use a 4 man rush Cover 3 on 2nd down instead. Chicago drops a LOS LB into the X's slant window and has zone coverage to handle the TE's and RB check down to the strong side. Incomplete pass stops the clock setting up 3rd & Long. 

3nd 12 from the -14 yard line 2:37 remaining. 


On 3rd down the Bears match the Bucs' 11 personnel with Dime personnel. The coverage allows Dime coverage on the RB as well as Safety help for the Corner on the X receiver weak. The TE stays in to help control a dominant pass rushing DE. Strong side the Nickel has help from the ILB underneath as well as Safety help over top in the slot. Incomplete pass and the clock stops.

Following the punt.


The Bears take over 2 yards shy of midfield with 2:21 on the clock and 2 timeouts remain. The Bears drove to kick a field goal to win 20-19.

Great execution from the Bears and Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano in 4 Minute Defense. This is a great example of why situational football is so critical. Defensively 4 Minute is area that must be coached and practiced in the same way 2 minute and other situations are handled in preparation.