How many times have you been to a clinic and heard a speaker talk about America's Fire Zone? Too many times, probably. It's not like there are only a limited number of pressures that you can run (Blitzology with proof of that on his site here). I will talk about America's Fire Zone, but I will use it as an example of how to make Fire Zone adjustments. Dick LeBeau refers to this as Strong Scrape Fire Zone in his 2002 Bengal playbook here.
The Strong call tells the defense to run this Fire Zone to the side of the passing strength or the 2 WR side, either a TE and a WR, or two WRs. Many teams also will call it to the wide side of the field with a Wide or Field call or to the boundary or short side of the field with a Short or Bench call (see Manny Diaz Fire Zone article here for diagrams). The Fire Zone is called Scrape because of the assignment of the Buck LB, who must scrape tightly off the butt of the DE so as to not allow a crease in the defense.
I won't get into the techniques of each position so the clinic guys have something to talk about this clinic season, but I want to talk about the adjustments that are important to run this Fire Zone effectively.
I have borrowed a lot from Manny Diaz when it comes to Fire Zone adjustments. There are many adjustments that can be run, which include having the DT being a dropper at times, but there are two adjustments that I think are the most important. Diaz talks about how the coverage needs to be the easiest thing as far as Fire Zones go, so it is important that we not over-complicate things. If a defender blitzes the wrong gap, you may have a bad play but it won't be a disaster. Now, if there is a mistake in coverage, that's a disaster.
The great thing about the teaching of these adjustments is that only the Will LB has to think about the checks (this would be the backside Mike LB in LeBeau's defense).
Fire Zone Adjustments
Switch - vs. 2 WRs to Boundary, Will makes a "Switch" call with DE. Now, DE is Hot 3 and Will is Hot 2 to the Boundary. Can't Switch unless #3 is in backfield.
Swap - vs. 3 X 1 Trips teams that try to throw a lot of Screens, Will makes a "Swap" call with Mike. Now, Mike is Hot 3 and Will becomes blitzer.
Here is the base call, Field Scrape, from a 4-3 look:
The Offense has a mismatch with a fast WR in the boundary slot vs. a DE, so we make a "Switch" call. You may not need this call with the ball on the hash, but it becomes more important as the ball moves toward the middle of the field.
The "Swap" adjustment is great vs. teams that like to throw quick screens or Y Stick vs. Field pressure (for more on how offenses like to use Y Stick vs. Fire Zones, go here, here, here, and here). Mike can easily get to number 3 and it will difficult for the OL to see Will coming from the other side of the Center.
You have to be careful vs. Empty. A "Switch" call would have the Fox DE trying to cover number 3 to the other side of the field. It is important for your Will to know that there is no "Switch" call unless 3 is in the backfield. There is no "Switch" vs. any Trips sets. The only adjustment that can be made is a "Swap" call.
Also, as my good friend, T.J. Williams reminded me, you need to practice these adjustments vs. motion from a 2x2 ("Switch" call) to a 3x1 set ("Swap" call) and vice versa so your guys aren't unprepared.
This is the "Swap" call vs. Trips:
If I can find some examples of the "Switch" call on film, I will put them up on here later.
Why so many coaches are yellers instead of teachers--they can't teach. See here.