Running Backs in zone scheme – Football 201

ruing backs in zone scheme

Running Backs in Zone Scheme

Last week, we talked about the difference for Offensive Lineman between running the zone play as opposed to running the power play, and what it required from each position. Lets now advance the ball and talk about the Running Backs in zone scheme.

Yes, it is true that all 32 teams have both the zone scheme and the power scheme in their playbook. Below we look at the different skill sets it takes for the RB to have in the zone scheme as opposed to the power scheme.

For a zone RB, patience is a virtue as the crease and the hole isn’t always exactly where he hopes it will be pre-snap.  What looks like a cutback play is really the RB using his vision to see that due to the defensive scheme, the hole is going to open in the backside B Gap as opposed to the frontside B Gap.

Obviously, all RB’s need to have vision and have to be quick. Vision for a zone RB is paramount, and the ability to see a crease on the backside as he’s pressing the frontside hole. If the play is blocked right, typically the RB will have a hole, and half-a-hole to choose from when he presses the line. He really can’t go wrong by choosing either.

If the back sees the half-a-hole open to the play side, he can take his 3 or 4 yards and keep the chains moving. However, if he has the vision, gets the right blocks, he may wait on a bigger hole developing on the backside. That hole can turn into a bigger gain. This where patience comes into play. It’s all in how he sees it. He can only have so much patience and often, he should just take his half-a-hole and get what he can.

Leonard Fournette is a power running back. He runs some zone plays, but he is devastating with a lead blocker like, FB Tommy Bohanon in front of him and getting downhill quickly. This is a guy who is more of a 1 cut runner, who puts his foot in the ground and gets into the hole and delivers the boom.

He is a more physical running back who, due to scheme, is going to need to be able to beat 1 guy, as the backside defensive end will have to be accounted for in the blocking scheme since there is usually no threat. This leaves one guy he needs to be able to beat. That’s the rule. Over him, around him, through him…just beat him.

More and more running backs are coming into the league with experience in the spread/zone schemes, so the transition is easier for them to keep running with the zone scheme.

Power/G schemes are a little less used collegiately, but it hasn’t gone the way of the doo-doo bird, so there are players in the draft that excel at running behind a G scheme. Top tier RB’s have the ability to do both, and are also a threat in the passing game (hello Todd Gurley), and if you find a guy like that, he’s pretty special.

Outside Zone

In case you’re very new to football, the reason backs aren’t as thrilled with the G scheme is because they go hand in hand with the QB typically in shotgun in a pass happy scheme. Read here for why.

Front 7 Tips – Football 201 from an NFL Scout

NFL Scout Report on front 7 tips

PART I. We’ve all heard about NFL Scouting, how do they make reports? What is in them? We’re going to give you answers with a real Scout’s data and his input. This installment is on Front 7 Tips.

I’m not going to reveal the NCAA conference or who the Scout made his reports for, but it covered every snap against ten teams and how one team and its players performed. I’m going to use the letter, “P”, as fill in when a team’s name was used or a player’s number.

When I read his first Front 7 Tips report, some of it was like looking at Greek, so I asked him to explain. His answers inspired me to start this series. Below is one page of analysis and then the explanations for each number. This is football 201, so I won’t be explaining as much as in the Football 101 series.
Tips:

  1. G Front team
  2. Will flip front on RB shifts
  3. Rock and roll safeties
  4. Will reduce in a ‘okie 4’ look
  5. Will show a muck-luck line on 3rd down
  6. Will flop fronts to TE motion/shift
  7. #P is a true N, strong, no feet
  8. #P is more athletic than P, more of a gap player.  Wreaked havoc against P in zone game when 4 hands didn’t get on him
  9. N/3T are cross-trained
  10. Will loop blitzers on 3+L
  11. Will run line games while #P is mugged
  12. DE’s are fast, speed rushers, will need help on 2+L, 3+L
  13. Will drop out of dbl mug look, double mug will look like a bear/pinch front
  14. #P will try to come across your face, but doesn’t always bring his hands
  15. LB’s and DE’s can be influenced in the zone game
  16. #P, if plays??, natural bender, disengages well.  P fan protected him when lined up over LG/LT.  When lined up on right, used TE and RB to chip.  Kept sliding protection to him. Also has ability to get his hands up in quick game. Will line him up to weakside as often as possible. Has had a lower leg injury.  Status unknown
  17. P and P went 5 against them and middle of field was open for all crossing routes and QB draw
  18. Against P, ran a lot of bomb/attack/wrap vs. Gold
  19. Will green dog the RB
  20. Showed P some true Okie fronts

After #1’s explanation, is a graphic for readers who are between 101 and 201. Obviously, below is just for you readers, it’s not needed for the pros. Hope you find how above translates into below to be informative.


Front 7

1. G Front teams: In a 4-3 base defense, typically the 2 interior DL are lined up in a 3 Technique (outside shoulder of the Guard) and in a ‘shade’ look (opposite shoulder to where the 3T) is. If they’re a G Team, that ‘shade’ now moves into what we call a ‘1 Tech’. He is now lined up on the inside shoulder of the guard.

Now it may not make a difference on some plays, it certainly has a few effects:

1. Changes the count in pass protection. It frees up the center to go opposite the nose and help clean up on the other side if they choose.

2. It changes the angle at which he gets blocked. If the center is looking to double team him with that guard, it changes how he’s going to approach that block and how it’s all going to time up. The guard needs to get his hands on him sooner because the Center is gonna be a hair late to get there to help.

3. If the nose lines up as a G, there’s more of a chance that he will slant (stunt) across the guards face and get into the B gap. This would mostly happen when there is pressure coming into the A gap from the 2nd level.

2. Will flip front on RB shifts: in a 4-3 base defense (the Denver Broncos are an odd *okie* 3-4 front team, but we still use the shading system that is used more in 4-3 defenses), there are different ways to designate where the 3Tech is going to line up and where the Nose is going to line up. Sometimes it’s set to where the TE (Y) is lined up.

Sometimes it’s based on hash marks. And sometimes, especially in 11 personnel 3rd down shotgun situations, the RB is the indicator to where the 3T will line up. Sometimes it’s opposite the RB, sometimes it’s to the RB.

Often teams will shift the RB to the other side to see if they can get the front to ‘flip’. Basically, that’s the old, ‘move move move’ thing where the defense either slides over, or the 3T moves real quick over the other guard. If they don’t move, you know you’ve got them locked into a front.

In this case: 1. When you move the RB and they flip the front, you know EXACTLY what front you’ll get, and you can dial up the exact run play that you want. 2. Moving the RB changes how the protection is going to change. If they flip, you can get them into exactly the front you wanna protect against.

3: rock and roll safeties. In basic 3 deep coverages, 1 safety has the middle 3rd of the field and 1 screws down to differing areas of the field depending on what the rest of the defense is called. Having rock and roll safeties just means that both guys can and will do both responsibilities, therefore making the qb’s presnap read even more difficult.

4: okie 4. True odd teams that are playing nickel, be it big nickel or regular nickel, will have a true bulldozer at NG, and 2 5T’s to rush the passer. Okie 4 is now where the NG and one 5T are lined up regularly, but on the other side, that 5 will reduce down into the inside shade of the tackle, and the WLB is walked up on the LOS.

5. Muck luck lines are what a lot of teams do on 3rd and long. They don’t particularly line up. They’re all standing on the LOS and at the snap, some will rush, some will drop. What this does is cause issues with the count for the QB as he can’t declare who the Mike is, therefore the lineman have trouble communicating who has who.

The Kansas City Chiefs run a version of okie 4. The Oakland Raiders used to, I would imagine they’re gonna be more of a Tampa 2 team now because that’s Jon Gruden’s baby. It also has very Belichickian principles to it.

6. TE motion to fronts. Same as shifting RB’s. Same concept.

7-9: true NG’s are road graters…farm strong guys who can battle a double team. They have to be thick on the bottom, and their ass better be massive. It’s a dirty work job. Bring your hard hat and lunch pal. 3 techniques are a slimmed down version of the NG, who are much more athletic. They don’t need to be quite as strong, but they need to be able to move their feet.

Their job is to be more of a disruptive force in the backfield. A lot of teams cross train their guys because college offenses run plays so fast that you can’t ‘flop’ your front.

10. Looping blitzers are self explanatory. Their goal is to not only come, but to get 2 OL blocking 1 blitzer and get the other blitzer a clean run through the backfield.

11. Line games: line games are like blitzes, only they just include D lineman. We see a lot of Tex and exit stunts. On a Tex stunt , the 3T will go across the face of the tackle, and the DE will loop around him hoping to get a free run to the qb. Similar to looping blitzers. (*editor note, I wrote about Jacksonville’s DL and their games=55 sacks.

12. DE’s are fast, speed rushers, will need help on 2+L, 3+L. Self explanatory.

13. Mugged LB’s: a lot of teams mug their backers. All it means is that their MLB will line up over the center on the LOS and he may come or he may back out. But again, in the count, he has to be counted in.

14. Bear front. This is a true 3-4 defense, only instead of a Nose and two 5T’s, now you have a Nose and two 3T’s. This is a fun stopping defense especially interior running games.

15…influenced backside DE’s and LB’s: these are guys who get nosy and try to chase down plays instead of staying home on the zone read stuff, or their backside responsibilities.

16 & 17 are about a player and explained

18Bomb, Attack, and wrap: these are 3 types of blitzes. Bomb is 2 LB’s going through both B gaps. Attack is 2 LB’s going through the A gap. And wrap is either a double A gap stunt or an A and B gap blitz to the same side. The trick is that this is a loop blitz. One guy goes first, and the other comes off his ass into the other gap.

19...Green dog the RB: this is something certain defenses use if the RB stays in on protection. If the RB stays in, the LB who has him, reads that the RB is staying in, so he now has to blitz. But he’s gotta make sure the RB is truly staying in for protection. But if he stays in, the LB picks a lane and attacks.

20True okie is just the old style 52 defense. It’s an odd front with two OLB’s on the LOS. A lot of teams have gotten away from this true front because they’re playing more nickel defense, and that OLB has been replaced by a Nickel Safety/Corner.  This is where okie 4 comes into the mix.

Big Nickel, Regular nickel, learn the difference: Football 201

big nickel formation

Coaching defense in the era of 11 personnel, the rewards of throwing the ball down field, and the proliferation of the fullback has forced defensive coordinators to make nickel defense as big a part of their game plan as their base defense.

For argument’s sake, nickel defense will line up in some sort of 4-2-5 look.  The 5 in back are who we should spend some time on, as well as touching on who the 4 and 2 are (as opposed to base defense).

big nickel formation
Teams that play “Regular Nickel” are playing with 2 safeties, and 3 corners.

This allows the defense gets its best “cover” guys out on the field while still being able to have 2 high safeties in the back end.  Every coverage a defense has in its playbook is in play with this personnel. The issue though is they have forsaken their run defense when they take the Sam linebacker out of the game and replace him with a corner.

Some teams have resorted to pulling the Mike out for a corner, and leaving the Sam in the game to hedge on the run game.

If Down and Distance indicates that a run play is a threat on 2nd & 4 with 11 personnel and a team likes their “regular nickel” against this particular matchup, a team may be tempted to hedge its bets and leave the Sam in and hope they can cover up his warts as a pass defender with their back 5.

big nickel formation

There has been a movement with teams to play “Big Nickel”.

Basically, instead of having 3 CB’s and 2 Safeties, teams flip it and have 2 CB’s and 3 Safeties on the field.  What this says to an opposing offensive coordinator is “we are gonna play nickel defense against your 11 personnel group, but we will not hand you the running game on a platter”.

The 2 positives of playing big nickel are

1: getting the Sam LB out of the game.  He is typically the worst pass defender, so he’s a liability in the pass game, and he can’t carry the TE (Y) on deep over routes unless he’s an All-Pro-caliber Sam LB.

2: This is hedging the bet against the run game by putting a 3rd safety in the game. This is a guy who does not mind becoming a box player if he reads run.  He also is a better candidate to blitz than a CB would be.

Teams that play “Big Nickel” will typically play it on normal Down & Distance (where the threat of the run is greater) and on 3rd & Long will look to play “Regular Nickel” or just straight up “Dime” (6 DB’s) defense.

However, there is a bit of a downside to playing “Big Nickel”. Typical 3rd Safeties are not going to be able to cover a regular S (slot) receiver man to man. They can get eaten alive by guys like Cole Beasley on shallow crosses and all the quick game routes these types of receivers will run.

To give the 3rd safety help, teams have to either help him with giving the LB’s some coverage responsibility so the 3rd safety can cheat and get deeper. They can also flip it and give him help by playing the Free Safety behind him, therefore allowing him to sit and squat on the short and intermediate routes.

Either way, a DC is really stressing out the coverage on other players to try to help the 3rd safety. In addition, the combination of coverages you can now play are reduced as opposed to when you’re playing “regular nickel”.

As with everything in defensive football, the game is to always hedge your bets and play the scouting report and film evaluation. There is no perfect defensive scheme, so there are times when teams just have to pick a poison and then make adjustments as each play happens.

Over/Under defense, learn more – Football 201

This article goes further in depth about over/under defense then a previous  one vs two gap defense. Even though that article is a 101, it covers more about gaps.

Back in the day, over/under defense was the old 4-3 front. If the front was over, the 3 Tech would line up to the Y. If it was an under defense, the 3 Tech was lined up away from the Y.

Some Okie (traditional 3-4) fronts have turned into Okie Over and Okie Under to accommodate the 1 gap pressure schemes. This means the N is now shading to and from the TE.

This defense makes the count in pass protection tricky. When a QB sees a 4-3 front, it’s really easy to count how many guys are on each side of the ball, but also helps the OL with declaring the MLB (MIKE). This helps the OL start to sort out who’s got who.

Same thing in the run game. However, when a defense lines up odd, the QB has to wonder, “are they now in a 1 gap or are they gonna play it straight up and 2 gap us?” The running back is looking at this, too. Experienced QB’s will help teach their backs how to read this.

The goal of over/under defense it to make the accounting process for the QB difficult on 2 levels.

Okie 4 defense formation

1) he can’t accurately count how many guys are on each side of the ball and
2) there can be confusion between the C and QB on who the Mike is, leading to protection miscommunications between the OL and RB.
Okie Under

Okie Under can put new QB’s out of their depth in trying to read what these defenses are doing.

The best team to use the Okie Under to perfection was Denver’s defense in 2015. They rarely blitzed, it was all 3 and 4 man rushes, but it was the speed of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller that didn’t give QB’s time to breathe, nor did OL’s know who to block.Okie Over defense formation
The same odd man formation works in a 4-3, as well. This is why rookie O-Lines, especially with new tackles and slow processing QB’s can get slammed. To counter this, I think is why we’re seeing more RPO’s.
4-3 defense (under)
Jacksonville will be seeing 4-3 defenses this season who will shade their N away from the TE like above. The issue Blake Bortles and Nate Hackett face this season is the starting TE is new.

They practice against a 4-3, so 43 over/under defense won’t give them fits. Plus, this season the OL are a veteran bunch
4-3 Over defense formation
Where’s the pressure coming from above? Will it be a one or two gap and who is Mike? While the 4-3 Over looks like an easy read, it isn’t because any of the three backs can be Mike. A QB needs experience to know who is Mike, what look the defense is giving and also figuring out what the safeties are actually doing. This is why the longer they play, the better they get at the mental side of the position.

Offensive Line: power vs zone – Football 101/201

Offensive Line: power vs zone. We’ve “talked” often about power gap and zone block offensive lines, but this article will go deeper.

Quick history lesson. The Denver Broncos introduced the ZBS to the NFL back in 1997 with Alex Gibbs. It’s all about the run, the quarterback is the ultimate game manager, hand the ball off and throw enough to keep defenses honest. Instead of the OL worrying about who to block, they just defend their zone. Tandems double team to create space for a back to run through.
This changed the type of offensive linemen teams wanted from big mammoths to smaller more agile guys. While most OL can play both, most teams draft/sign players to be one or the other.

This part will cover Offensive Line: power vs zone as Football 101

Power guys use their feet to plant and push power up and out is the simplest way to explain it. Sumo wrestlers whose motion is more north/south. 5 guys making a wall, worrying about protecting their gap and/or focusing on a particular player.They are made to protect the quarterback.

Whereas, Zone guys need quick feet because they often move laterally. They need to slide sideways while blocking, often hip to hip with their partner. Run-first teams want to push the DL in one direction while the RB goes the other OR the RB runs laterally behind the line and then cuts through a gap.

This changes the responsibility of the guards. He isn’t pulling for the RB because everyone is. While the line is moving in one direction, they can ignore blocking the guy farthest away from the play. This gives them the ability to also use tight ends efficiently. Does he block or catch?

Zone block scheme is dependent on a running back having great vision

When a lineman changes the torque on how he uses his body, some players will obviously be better than others at certain movements. Also, in zone, OL team up in duos, so communication is vital, they’re two guys taking on two.

Play action works great with this because a team doesn’t know if the QB is dropping back to hand off or throw. Also, ZBS lines don’t need to block long. The QB takes the snap, hands it off or often throws on the move behind the sliding line.
If the line makes a pocket for a pass, it’s more than likely going to break down quickly because they’re not made to block for 3-5 seconds. Hence quick passes are the name of the game.

Teams who throw 70% get their runs because teams back up to cover the pass and the back should have easy yards. No loaded box, it’s the element of surprise. Since these teams are built for passing, the pocket needs to hold so WRs can get depth and/or shake their defender.

The above is Football 101, it’s a simple explanation. Most sentences can have “usually” or “typically” slipped in it because there are all kinds of variances, but this is about teaching the basics.

This part is more Football 201 on Offensive Line: power vs zone

Below is more in-depth, but to understand it, you need to know the above. The reason we’re going into this is because I’m interested to see if the Jags use more or less ZBS based on how Blake Bortles and Fournette do.

Center or guard in a zone scheme
The center must be one of the smartest players on the field.  The point of using an inside zone run or an outside zone run is to get 4 hands on the defensive lineman, and 4 eyes on the linebacker. If the play is coming to his right, and the C has nobody on him (4-3 scheme), he knows he needs to work with the Right Guard.

This tandem will take the defensive lineman who’s lined up over the guard and the inside linebacker.  Neither knows which one is going to block yet, so at the snap they drive block the defensive lineman. If the ILB shows up in the A Gap, the Center should disengage from the defensive lineman and block that ILB.

If the ILB shows up in the B Gap, the guard will now disengage and block the ILB, while the Center stays on the DL. For this block to be effective, it is IMPERATIVE they 4 hands on the defensive lineman and 4 eyes on the ILB.  If they lose track of the ILB he will make the play.

Tackle in a zone scheme

A Backside Tackle (Left Tackle when the play is scheduled to go right) in a zone scheme, needs to be able to move his feet.  If he can’t help the backside Guard and climb up to the WLB, the line is in trouble. He must protect that B Gap while climbing the ladder to the WLB.

If done correctly, the RB has the ability to press the hole to his right, and if he sees a line, bend it back to the left.  It’s not a cutback as much as the defense is overloaded the right side. If he can get that backside blocked up well, there will be a natural lane to the left for the RB to use if he so chooses.

The Playside Tackle, depending on the front (in this instance, lets put a 5 Technique over him), has to work with the TE to block the DE and SLB.  Many times the TE Will end up climbing the ladder to the SLB, but this still needs to be a 4 hands on the DL, 4 eyes on the SLB.

This position requires toughness and the athletic ability to block strong and fast 5 techniques (read here about DL techniques) and not get pushed back.  It may be the hardest lineman to find, athletic enough to move your feet, and strong enough to take on a strong bull rush.

The whole genesis of the zone run scheme was to block 3 Defensive Lineman and 3 Linebackers with 5 Offensive Lineman and Tight End. Refuse to block the backside Defensive End, because he has contain and spill responsibilities. If he’s making the tackle, he needs to be running naked boots to his side as he’s getting way too nosy in the run game.

By putting 4 hands on the Defensive Lineman, they’ve given themselves the ability to not need 5 guys who weigh in at 315 pounds and can bench press a cow. Substitute some brute strength for a little more athletic ability.  6’6’’ 315 pound lineman who can bend and move and strike like a Pro Bowl caliber player are rare.

With the influx of collegiate talent coming in that are used to running more and more zone schemes, the NFL has diversified and put a lot of zone schemes right next to their G schemes. They’re running both which is one more thing for defensive coordinators stay up late at night to figure out what’s coming at them and when it’s gonna come. Good ones figure it out.
Offensive Line: power vs zone
Offensive Line: power vs zone

Front 7 Techniques, learn about them here – Football 201

Most fans think, Nose Guard, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End and Linebacker when Front 7 is mentioned. However, Front 7 techniques are what determines who plays where and how. 4-3 and 3-4 defenses have different philosophies when deciding who to man their teams with.

Since a 3-4 uses three defensive linemen, they’ll use two linebackers or dual positional guy to play on the outsides of the DL to create more of an even match-up. Therefore, what they look for in their “front 7” will be different than in a 4-3.

A 4-3 uses four DL, and typically only one LB because they only use three, not 4 like in a 3-4. If a team uses a 12 personnel (1 RB, 2TE), they need to be blocked, hence seven players, nine spots.

defensive line techniques

Teams don’t use a 12 man front often, and certainly not part of their standard offense, so defenses won’t want to waste a roster spot on a guy who may only play a few snaps a game. Therefore, franchises want guys who can play two different techniques when the needs arises. When bringing in new players, they also decide who best fits what they have already. Chicken or the egg.

Front 7 guys can line up head up, off or inside a shoulder of a C/G/T. When they are off to either side, that’s the odd numbers, except when playing across from the TE, that’s 7 technique. To add more confusion, a player can be in an even position and be an I, like in the diagram below.

Here’s the explanation of the types of defensive linemen, where they play and body type. Remember, 3-4 and 4-3 look to different types, but both change players based on the play.

Front 7 Techniques

0 Technique-

A true NG in a 34 defense. Needs to be country boy strong (or Poly Power guy) and eat up 2 blockers and not get moved.  Athleticism is overrated at this position. The job isn’t to make tackles, it’s to allow the LB’s free to roam and stop the run. Squatty body, big ass, thick legs.

1 Technique-

Similar to the 0 Technique. He is lined up on the inside shoulder of the guard.  He needs to be able to eat up both the center and guard on run plays.  If he can split the double team and take the tackle in the backfield, great. If not, he shouldn’t be moved off the ball and eat up blockers. Also needs to have the ability to slant across the guard’s face and get into the B Gap.  This requires a little more athleticism than the 0 Technique. This is something that happens during both blitzes and line games. Squatty body, big ass, thick legs, more athletic than the 0, but better be able to eat up blockers.

3 Technique-

This guy is not only strong (Not as strong as the 1T), but athletic. Lines up on the outside shoulder of the Guard. Must be able to beat double teams by using a variety of techniques. Need both quick feet and quick hands. This is a rush the passer guy, but needs to stay gap sound and make sure to stuff the run. Must be violent with his grip and able to disengage from the G/T, also able to cross the face of both the Guard and Tackle. He is the most violent player on the field. Needs to be a quick twitch player.
Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 11.07.05 PM

5 Technique-

Pound for pound, this is probably the best athlete on the field.  This is guy rushes the passer, sets the edge, and disengages while having a variety of pass rush moves. Must be able to convert speed to power, power to speed on his rushes. If 5 Techs are only a speed rusher, after about 3 games of film, he will be stoned by Tackles. They will set deeper and then get their hands on you and you’re finished.

If he is only a power rusher, he can be taken out with the help of a TE because there’s no threat of him going around the tackle. If he can do both, he’s getting a big pay check. He must be the guy who gets home to the quarterback and finishes first, not the guy who gets there late and is finishing off the tackle.

Not only can he rush the passer and make sacks, he also must set the edge for the run game. That is all about funneling everything inside where more player are there to to take him down, keep the back away from an open field. He should line up on the outside shoulder of the T.

7 Technique-

This is the DE who lines up either heads up or on the inside shoulder of the TE. Needs to be quick, twitchy, and able to get his hands on the TE to re-route/disrupt his get-off in the pass game. This guy lines up opposite the 5T.  Also needs to be strong enough to defeat double teams of the Tackle/TE while setting the edge. Not a glamour position.  Still need that edge set.

9 Technique-

These are the fastest of all the DL.  They are also the best twitch players on your team. They have one goal in mind…get to the QB. They can also stop the run on the way to the quarterback. He guy may be smaller, but needs a host of moves (similar to the 5T) because he can’t only rely on speed to get to the QB on the edge. He needs to use a spin/rip/swim move to get home. He is your “specialized pass rusher” who plays a lot on 3rd Down. Very little concern for the run game.

Hope this helps build your football knowledge. As always, you can comment below if you want more help, or send a DM to @the_teal_zone Thanks for reading!

Two gap vs a one gap formation – Football 201

This is 201 because I’m not going to explain certain terms, concepts, etc that were covered in 101 articles so this can be kept shorter. At the bottom of everything, is having the right talent to fit what you want to accomplish.

Jack Del Rio couldn’t do much in his 4-3 scheme because he didn’t use them in the best way for their talent. Which leads us to Wade Phillip’s and Bill Belichick’s “new” gap defense. Which really isn’t new, because it’s about giving offenses the same old school look, but slanting a DL into the 1 gap.

Technique Numbers

Football is ALL about disguises. A 1 gap formation is dependent on this.

It can look like a traditional 34; however, often five guys are used on the line. Why? Math. Three players having to attack two gaps against five guys defending them. It’s really tough to find three players all with the same talent to truly take on double teams. So, the solution? Make a hybrid system that uses the best of the 34 (four linebackers able to wreak havoc on QB’s and RB’s), but use one (or more) to shoot the gap.

How you blitz/rush is all about the outside guys. A 7 or 9 Technique guy-Sam or “Elephant”. 

I saw this term for the best edge rusher on the team and it fits. They’re big, fast, scary, mean and don’t forget…they’ll gore you. Not sure if this is why he used elephant, but I’m saying it is :).

A 1 gap defense is about showing seven and the offense guesses where they were going because they all have dual talents. This odd man line-up leaves QB’s (and OL) guessing if they are seeing a two or one gap. The drawback is stopping the run. Often the 5 techs are very good at taking on double teams and getting to the passer, but stopping speedy backs coming up the middle, not so much.

This is where ILB’s are supposed to help out. If a team is weak there, safeties will need to creep up into the box and lower the boom.

Teams who have the 5 tech guy who can play like a Sam and be the bookend to the elephant can play 1 gap. Equaling lots of QB’s on their asses.