Monday, June 15, 2020

Attacking Bonus Protection

If you like to bring 4 from a side overload pressure (come on who doesn't) at some point you are likely to encounter an offense that employs bonus protection.

As there is no universal terminology in football, we will begin with a definition and a rationale for bonus protection. 

The defense brings a 4 from a side overload backstopped with cover zero. The offense could be in BOB or Half Slide; the protection problem is the same. Any two blitzers from the side of the turn of the protection (where the Center is working) is a problem for the offense. The 2nd blitzer is the QB's responsibility. Here the defense is presenting (SS, E, T, M) vs. the offense's 3 (OT, OG, C). The QB has to throw hot off the unblocked SS. The RB cannot scan across the formation if the Will uses a rush to cover (green dog) technique in man coverage. The Will has the RB man to man, at the snap the Will steps up and goes to his man. The RB feels threatened by the Will and stays on his side to pick the up the Will in pass protection. This action holds the RB from scanning across the formation to block the Mike or SS keeping the overload intact. 

The QB is forced to get the ball out quickly or get hit by an unblocked edge blitzer. While possible for the QB to get the ball out, this scenario is specifically problematic on 3rd & Long. The goal offensively is to throw a route to get a first down. A hot route will likely be thrown and caught short of the line to gain. Now the QB must be quick and accurate under pressure and added pressure falls on the receiver to break a tackle to get to the first down yardage. 

One possible protection solution is to use a bonus protection scheme. Bonus is the concept of putting the RB on the same side of the turn of the protection. In a standard 6 man pass pro the offense is 3/3 meaning it has 3 (OT, OG, C) and 3 (OT, OG, RB) on each side of the Center. In a bonus concept the offense is 4/2 by having (OT, OG, C, RB) and 2 (OT, OG) on either side of the Center instead. This allows the offense to pick up the 4 from a side pressure making longer developing route concepts more viable.

The offense may use a hard count or fake clap to get the defense to show pressure and check to bonus at the LOS. The QB can easily communicate to the RB to block as the bonus to the pressure side.

Other teams get to bonus by alerting the RB to flip quickly pre-snap to get to his work as the bonus working to the side of the OL's turn.

In either situation the Will can still rush to cover and create an overload on the RB. The overload will happen later as the LB has longer to travel. This may buy enough time for the QB to step up and throw deeper routes giving the offense a better chance at a first down.

Bonus protection is more commonly checked into at the LOS by the offense as opposed to being hard called in the initial play call.

This type of protection adjustment creates opportunity to attack Bonus protection.

Defensively the structure can present the 4 from a side overload to put the offense into bonus protection. Post snap the pressure is a standard quarters concept. Likely the coverage tools need to be 2 Read/Palms in order to protect the qtr flat players (SS, E) from being outleverage by the #2 receiver fast to the flat. The concept is a non-traditional 4 man rush. The protection is not expecting the Will on a fast rush in the A gap likely creating quick midline pressure. The expected cover zero is now a quarters concept giving the defense a different matchup vs. longer developing routes. Quick effective pass rush and good coverage is a tried and true combination. 

This type of concept is something a defense can easily be watching for in the box on any 4 from a side overload call. The spotters can easily see if the offense is throwing hot or checking to a bonus protection. If their solution is bonus the defense can come back with a complimenting piece to attack the bonus protection as an in game adjustment.

This thinking is also important as more defenses adopt 2 under 3 deep pressures into their playbook.

The basic premise of the 2 under 3 deep concept is the pressure will overload the protection forcing a quick hot throw or the QB will take a sack. If an offense begins checking the protection to a bonus concept the protection can pick up the 4 from a side overload. The ability of the offense to buy time against 2 under 3 deep is a problem for the coverage. The longer the routes develop the more holes are exposed for receivers to exploit in this type of aggressive zone concept. 

Having a complimentary bonus protection scheme exploiting the light protection opposite the bonus is a must to avoid an offense having a plan for overload pressures.

Another example:

Defense goes dime personnel with OLB bodies at DE. The concept is 4 from a side overload backstopped with Cover 1 Peel expecting the rush to handle the RB on any route. This pressure can force a hot throw and deny many intermediate routes. An offense isn't going to simply get gassed up every time this pressure is run on 3rd & Long. Two solutions may be to bonus the protection and slot fade. As a complimentary piece:

Same presentation with a Tampa 2 coverage concept. The weak side twist is designed to attack man protection and hopefully exploit the 2 on 2 with the OG/OT. 

Having a section on the call sheet for bonus protection adjustments and carrying them into every game is a good way to protect 4 from a side overload in a defensive scheme. 

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