Wednesday, December 26, 2012

4-2-5 vs the Flexbone - Secondary Play

This is my first post on the 4-2-5 and I will detail my plan for defending the Option.  Big thank you to my good friend Chris Vasseur for helping me out on this article.  This will be just one article and not an entire series breaking down each position like my guest writers and I did with the 4-3 vs the Flexbone.  The front 4 are still obeying BDSD (Block-Down-Step-Down) rules like with the 4-3 and the two Inside LBs will be very similar to the 4-3 Mike LB in terms of Open and Closed Window reads.  I will instead focus solely on the Secondary Play, specifically how the Safeties adjust vs. the motion of the Flexbone offense.  Duece also has a great post here on the 4-2-5 vs the Flexbone both from a 2 Hi look and a 1 Hi look that you need to read.

The motion of the Flexbone Offense makes it difficult to defend, however, the 4-2-5 has three Safeties that can easily adjust vs. the motion of the two Slot Backs.  Before I go any further, it is important to make sure you are allotting sufficient Group Time in practice for your Safeties vs. all of the possible motions, especially Counter motion.  And of course, you cannot expect your players to be able to defend the Flexbone the week of the game, but Spring practice is where this teaching process of defending the Option needs to begin, and these skills need to be refreshed periodically throughout the season.

The $ and WS will key and mirror the Slot Back to their side, and there are 5 different looks that they will see.

1.  No Motion
2.  Motion Away
3.  Motion to You - Slot Arcs                               
4.  Motion to You - Slot Releases Vertical
5.  Motion to You - Slot Folds

1.  No Motion

The base call is Cover Brown, which is a Man-Free coverage with the FS as the Deep Middle player—pretty basic stuff.  Whether they line up in Double Slot, Slot Trips, or whatever, the $ and WS will cover their Slot man-to-man and the two CBs are man vs. the two WRs.  This can be vs. a Drop-Back Pass or a Sprint-Out Pass.

2.  Motion Away

If the $ / WS sees his Slot motion away, he will run to the MOF (Middle of the Field).  He will help erase any mistakes by the FS and provide help defending the Post route to the opposite side of the field as you will see in the cut-ups. He will key the opposite Slot as he is runs back to the MOF for any type of Counter coming back to his side.  Note: you can also have the $ / WS stay home on the backside of the motion instead of running to the MOF and the frontside reads would still stay the same.

3.  Motion to You - Slot Arcs

Slot Arcs - Run
Vs. Slot motion to you, if the Slot Arc blocks, the $ / WS will want to push the Slot back vertical as he is running sideways.  The $ / WS is the Force / Pitch player.  This will often be vs. Rocket, which can get to the perimeter quickly.  The 4-2-5 allows for great leverage by the $ and WS to surround the run game and Force the ball back inside.  The other play that Flexbone teams like to run with the Slot Arc blocking is the Counter Option.  The $ / WS will see their Slot motion away and then return back and Arc block to their side.  The $ / WS needs to make sure he does not run too far to the MOF, or he will be out of position to defend the Pitch. 

Slot Arcs - Play-Action Pass
The $ / WS will be man vs. the Slot if he should Arc and then run the Wheel route.

4.  Motion to You - Slot Vertical

Slot Vertical - Run - Block Inside or Load FS
If the Slot releases vertical, he can blocks a DE or LB inside, or he can Load Block the FS.  The $ / WS then becomes the outside 1/2 of QB to Pitch player.  The cut-ups show the $ / WS slow-playing the QB to give the FS time to get to the Pitch.  Your FS has to be a very good tackler who can run in order to adequately defend the Flexbone. 

Some people have the $ / WS always stay outside and be the Pitch player, but having them read it this way allows you to better defend the QB run and causes him to have to pitch the ball to the third option, which is to the defense's advantage.

Slot Vertical - Play-Action Pass
Vs. motion, Cover Brown (Man-Free) becomes Robber (TCU Cover 2), and the FS will obey his Robber rules.  If #2 comes vertical, he has him.  If #2 is not vertical, he will rob Curl to Post of #1.  The $ is a Flat player if his Slot releases vertical with motion to him. 

5.  Slot Folds

If the Slot Folds inside of the OT, the play will be Midline Lead.  The Flexbone offense is able to insert both Slot Backs on this play to create two additional run gaps that the defense must be able to account for.  The $ / WS and FS will account for those two additional gaps in the 4-2-5 defense.  Rutgers got gashed by this play a couple of times at first vs. Army in 2009 before they started fitting it up correctly.

Corner Play

It is important that the Corners understand that although they are Man vs. their WR, they will need to Crack Replace and help defend the run vs. a good Flexbone team.  The cut-ups show some good examples of how Corners are to Crack Replace and how to shed the block of their WR and make a tackle when the ball crosses the LOS on a run to them.

Here are the cut-ups:

4-2-5 vs the Flexbone - Safety Play from Barry Hoover on Vimeo.

Merry Christmas and a blessed 2013 to everyone!

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