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. 


  1. What is the difference between a FZ 1/3 and a Tite 1/3?

  2. Depends on usage. In these diagrams tite 1/3 it was being used to describe an aggressive version of match tech. Tite 1/3 plays like man vs all routes except the under. On an under the corner zones to the 1/3. A FZ 1/3 is being used to describe a technique in the 1/3 less aggressive than a tite 1/3 but more aggressive than a traditional deep 1/3