Friday, February 25, 2011

Triple Inside Fire Zone - Dick LeBeau

This Dick LeBeau Zone Blitz has already been talked about on Blitzology's Blog here and on here.  I liked it so much that I started digging through my video library of blitzes to find a cut-up of it.  It has 5 blitzers to attack vs. the middle 3 of the OL.  I  especially like that the blitz makes it possible to avoid the offense's two best pass protectors, the OTs. 

The picture below is a page from Dick LeBeau's playbook when he was the Head Coach for the Bengals:
2002 Cincinnati Bengals 3-4 Defense - Dick LeBeau.pdf

The Nickel will align to the passing strength and he will be the #2 Seam dropper.  Most people utilize their #2 dropper as the SCIF (Seam-Curl-Flat) dropper.  LeBeau uses a different technique for his #2 dropper, which he refers to as the Seam dropper.  The Seam dropper will have outside leverage (instead of inside leverage for SCIF technique) and he will collision and carry #2 vertical until #3 goes to the flat.  For more info on the Seam Drop, check out Blitzology's posts: Seam Drop and SCIF vs. Seam

Both DEs know they will be dropping on this play.  The Nickel will alert the DE to his side with a "Hook" call to let him know that he will be the #3 Hook dropper.  The DE away from the Nickel will be the #2 Seam dropper to his side.  The DE's rule is that he is the Seam dropper unless he hears a "Hook" call from the Nickel.  The DEs can take a step upfield to fake a pass rush to hold the OTs and keep them from blocking the DTs.  Teams also like to have personnel packages with OLB-types at DE to utilize more speed rushing the passer and for better pass coverage in Zone Blitzes like this one.

I am disappointed that I can't (yet) find any Steeler cut-ups of this concept, because none of the cut-ups below show the DTs executing the Jet B Gap technique as described in LeBeau's playbook.  The advantage to the technique taught by LeBeau is that the DTs can ideally avoid the OTs altogether in getting to their Contain rush.

The cut-ups I have found so far show the DTs working outside of the OTs.  The problem with this is that the OT can pick up the DT, which allows the Guard to work inside and pick up one of the blitzers. 

For this to be a true 5 on 3 overload inside, the DTs must avoid the OTs.  They have to jet outside past the Guards and get behind the OTs to get to their Contain rush position.  Dallas Cowboys DL Coach Brian Baker talks about this in the 2010 Atlanta Glazier Clinic notes, starting on p. 19.  He says to rush lanes, not gaps.  The two Contain rushers' responsibility is to stay outside the QB, not the OT.  His rush track is to an aiming point of 4 yards behind the outside leg of the OT.  He wants to work to the upfield shoulder of the QB (the shoulder farthest from the LOS, but not getting all the way behind the QB like Bill Belichick warns about in these notes here).

The blitzing Safety must be aligned to the same side as the Backer.  The Dime will line up as a LB to the opposite side of the Backer and blitzing Safety.  The Backer will cross first, the Dime comes right behind him and crosses second, and the Safety comes third, right off the Dime's butt.  The Safety has to hit it fast to get there from distance.
I would communicate this blitz with the call, "Wide Bench Triple Inside 3 Blaze."  Our "Wide" front has two 3 techs.  The "Bench" call has the DT, Fox DE, Will LB, and FS to the Boundary and the NT, DE, Dime, and SS to the Field.  This call will always get the FS lined up to the same side as the Will LB and allow him to blitz quickly from the near hash.  The Nickel's alignment will be independent of the Bench/Field call and he will instead line up to passing strength.

"Triple Inside" is the Zone Blitz call and "3 Blaze" coverage is a term to differentiate Fire Zone coverage with Safety rotation to the Boundary.  A Fire Zone coverage with Safety rotation to the Field would be "3 Fire" coverage.

Here's how it would look when run from the hash and here are the videos:

Field Triple Inside 3 Blaze from Barry Hoover on Vimeo.

Pretty good play call here:

Thanks to Brad who found this cut-up.  Notice the aggressiveness of the Safety, Laron Landry, in contrast to the Virginia Tech Safety in the previous cut-up.  The Safety has to hit it full speed and know that the opening will be there between the crossing LB and Dime Back.

I would highly recommend Brophy's library of Fire Zone articles:
Good article on Counter Trey from Coach Allam: 
Brophy's series on Defending the Flexbone is excellent: 
Dude, is this really Jack Black?!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Double Slant

Double Slant is a great quick-game concept vs. Cover 2 or any type of Man coverage.  The key is the route by the inside WR.  He doesn't just run upfield and then slant inside.  He has a very specific aiming point at the inside # of the #2 defender.  I chose the video at the end of the article as a teaching cut because it demonstrates this technique extremely well.  Success in the passing game is not about drawing up cool-looking playslike everything else in football, its success is mostly due to fundamentals and proper the the receivers, the QB, and especially the protection.

The concept in the video has Slant-Flat to one side (1 High beater) and Double Slant to the other side (2 High and Man beater).  The QB will choose to go to either side based on the number of  Safeties and if he has Man coverage.  He has two Safeties deep (2 High) in the pre-snap picture below, so he is thinking Double Slant.  The QB will stay to that side unless there is immediate post-snap Safety rotation, which would change the coverage shell from a 2 High look to a 1 High look.

"Cadence is the wave of the future," is something I learned from current Temple OC Scott Loeffler at the 2009 Florida Clinic.  Proper film study of the opponent's blitzes and Safety alignments and movements as well as the use of quick counts and dummy counts in passing situations can get the defense to tip their hand to what they are doing.  

The QB can read this as a progression from inside-out vs. Cover 2 or he can be taught to read the #2 defender and throw opposite of his movement.  In the pre-snap picture above, the OLB  who is the #2 defender only widens out to an apex position half-way between the Y WR and the OT.  The Packers probably knew they would get this look and game-planned Y to tighten his alignment and take a 1/2 - 2 split (2 yards inside of half-way between the outside WR and the OT).

Y knows he will probably not be getting the ball vs. this look;  however, his route is crucial in making this play work vs. Cover 2.  He will open up a huge window for the QB to throw the outside Slant by running his route with an aiming point at the inside # of the OLB (see pictures above and below).  It is absolutely essential in the passing game for each WR to run his route correctly to get the exact spacing needed between WRs and to properly manipulate pass defenders.

If the OLB does widen his alignment all the way out to Y (see picture below), then Y will have a very good chance of getting the ball since he will have more room to work inside.  If the #2 defender widens to cover the outside Slant, then the inside WR will be open and he will NOT want to come inside too much towards the danger player, who is the Mike LB.  It is important that he "gets skinny" on his route once he slants inside to stay away from the Mike LB.

Note: the Slant route shown by Y below is not "skinny," but Mike Leach had his Y take a wide split to allow him to run the route like this.  Also, there is a Cover 2 beater to the opposite side, so Mike can't help out on both sides.  As a general rule, the inside WR wants to runs a  "skinny" Slant instead of a regular 45 degree angle Slant to stay away from the Mike LB.

Both pictures show the inside WR on the ball and the outside WR off the ball.  Teams will also have the outside WR run a deeper Slant than the inside WR.  Both of these coaching points improve the effectiveness of the play by creating better separation and spacing between the WRs. 

Versus Man, the QB will read the Double Slant concept from inside-out.  The inside WR must have a quicker release vs. Man coverage than the outside WR.  I have taught my inside WRs to use a quick foot-fire or a one-step diamond release and then Slant inside.  The outside WR must be coached up to be patient on his route and take his time to execute a three-step diamond release (throw by and rip past the CB and then Slant back inside).  It is important that the inside WR's route gets open first since he will be the QB's first read vs. Man.  I'll talk more the outside WR's technique on the Slant route vs. Zone and the diamond release vs. Man in another post.

The protection is half-man, half-slide (go to the bottom of this article for more info) and it held up fine.  The throw by Brett Favre is perfect: 12 inches in front of the chest like Bill Walsh used to teach it, and placed low to protect the WR vs. the incoming Safety.  The Safety is the hard-hitting Brian Dawkins, who is a bit too nosy for my liking.  I would be thinking about running Sluggo (Slant and Go) soon to try to take advantage of his aggressiveness in breaking up on the Slant route.

Good article about the Slant route to the single WR side:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WR Grading

I grade on two categories and I give a plus or a minus, but you can do it the same way with points. The first category I grade on is alignment and assignment. This includes the proper WR split for the play and running the pattern to the correct depth on a pass or blocking the correct man on a run. The second category is effort and execution. If a guy goes to block (taking the correct angle of approach) and his man gets by him, that would be a plus for the first category and a minus for the second category. If he was standing straight up and he gets juked badly, that would be two minuses. A loaf or a drop is also an automatic double minus.

I would like to do a blog article in the future on this with cut-ups from my old school to show how to grade. A lot of times coaches give a player a grade, but it doesn't necessarily reflect how well the player played. It is for this reason that many coaches see grading as a waste of time.

What I do to get my grades to accurately reflect performance is to give 3 or 4 pluses/minuses for something really good or bad. I rarely give out the 4 pluses on a play. A pancake or a great hustle block would definitely get three pluses. A penalty or costly mental mistake would probably be 3 minuses. This way if a guy plays well, he will have a grade that reflects that.

If I can get guys to score 80% I am happy. That is an A, 75% is a B, and 70% is a C. If they are less than 70%, they are not working that hard and they have better had caught a TD or they will be losing reps the next week. Guys going both ways may be in the 67% range, but your expectations must stay high. For that reason, I like to play a lot of guys to keep them fresh and the competition for reps forces everyone to push harder.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bill Belichick Notes - 2009 Florida Clinic

I am a bit limited this year with going to clinics, so I am going back through some of my old clinic notes.  Bill Belichick is the best presenter that I have ever had the chance to hear at a clinic, so I wanted to share these notes.  He shared a lot of good, sound fundamental ideas on Offense, Defense, and Special Teams.

Urban Meyer intro: “The New England Patriots are the least penalized team in the league.  Their formula for success is simple but difficult: Talent, Discipline, and Leadership.”

Bill Belichick Notes:

         - There is no “I” in Team, but there is an “I” in Win.
         - Each individual must do his job for the team to win.
         - Having Discipline = Do Your Job
         - Football – all starts up the middle.  Is played from inside-out (Off, Def, ST).

Special Teams
      Off-Season – work ST Fund’s – catching kicks, snaps

Return Game:
            1.  Handle the Ball.
            2.  Don’t Commit Penalties.
  •          If you do these, you will always get positive yards.
  •          Show your team these mistakes on cut-ups (of other teams) to reinforce these two points.
  •          If you whiff on a block, don’t go back toward the returner – Get Out of His Way!  Go upfield and look to block someone else if you miss your man.
Coverage – it’s a 1 on 1 war.  Get past your guy and stack him (get over top of him).  Don’t stay even with him.

-  +50 Punt (Coffin Corner Punt) - expect max rush.
-  Situational football - do throughout week.
    XPt/FG – starts with firm protection up the middle.  Show team other team’s mistakes to reinforce

    XPt FG Block – it all starts inside.  Get good rush up the middle to open up outside rush.

    •        Just because you have 11 guys wearing the same-colored jersey doesn’t mean you are a coordinated unit.

    Pass Defense – must collision WRs so they don’t just run down field uncontested. 
    •         Get on WRs quickly – don’t give them any space.
    •        Don’t let them inside – keep good inside leverage.
    •        He showed his team cut-ups of Arizona’s WRs running downfield uncontested to reinforce what NOT to do.  Then show examples of what you do want to do.
    •        Pass Defense - DBs – job #1 – defend the deep ball.

    Run Defense – set the edge – turn the ball back inside toward pursuit.
    •        Don’t just run upfield – must attack at correct angle. 
    •        Don’t let the ball outside for uncontested yardage.
    •        Force player – once you force it inside, shed block and get in on tackle.  You want to push back the LOS.
    •        Must teach players how to defeat blocks.
    •        QB as runner – Offense will always out-gap you.  Somebody must be a two-gap player.
    •        Backside of Defense – still want to set the edge for Reverse, Cutback, and Misdirection.
    •       Every week – emphasis is on setting the edge.
    •      Tackling – don’t leave your feet – run thru the RB.
    Pass Rush – worst place to be is behind the QB.
    •      Must collapse the pocket to get at depth of QB.
    •       Must have push up the middle – don’t let QB step up in pocket.
    •       Michael Vick – obviously would play differently.
    •       Pass Rusher behind QB – worst position in football that you can be in.
    •       Pass rush helps the coverage more than having four Champ Baileys will do.

    •        Fumbled Snap – after practice (no Q’s asked) – QB and C will snap ball and run 100 yds to the other GL – do for 15 min.
    •         Offense – as a Coach, you decide who gets the ball.
    •          As a Coach, you tell them how to carry the ball.
    •          Ballcarrier – every single person on our team, the owner, ballboy, parents, people in the stands, etc. depends on your Ball Security.
    2nd and 1 – RB – you DO NOT lose yardage – go downhill.
    • RB must have a downhill mentality – don’t bounce the ball outside.
    • Worse-case scenario – 3rd and 1. 
    • QB – throw the ball away. 
    • Even if a rusher comes free, there is no excuse for a sack.

    Passing Game

    Pass Pro – never let your man beat you inside.
    •         Once this happens, there is no passing game.

    OL – if uncovered with no rusher – find someone to hit and “clean out the pocket” to give QB better vision.
    •   Be ready for pressure – Do they have tendencies and what will you do about it.
      WR – only cares about two things in the passing game:
                  1.  Get open
                  2.  Catch the ball
      •            If a WR can’t do these two things, there is no passing game.
      •      QB – Belichick has a hand shield with him and will stand behind QB and hit him occasionally.
      •           Two hands on the ball until the release.
      •           Keep ball close to body.

      Red Zone Passing – vs. Zone teams – spacing is key – make the defense stretch.
      •          QB will have to make a tight throw.

      Running Game – starts with no penetration.
      •          2008 – Pats led NFL in fewest neg. yardage Run plays
      •          He always makes OL watch sideline film so they can see who is controlling the LOS (can’t see as good with EZ film).

      Bad Situations - expect them – expect the worst and prepare for it.
                  1.  Don’t turnover the ball.
                  2.  Throw the ball away – either the WR catches it or nobody catches it.
                  3.  Make positive yardage if you can.

      Trick play – if he works all week on play, it better get more than 3 yards.

      Check out out these NFL Matchup cut-ups before the Super Bowl:

      Also, new blog talking about one of my favorite football plays, Counter Bash: 

      Deuce is taking the Defending the Option series and expanding on it.  Be sure to check it out: