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.

Myles Jack switching from Outside Linebacker to Middle Linebacker isn’t simple.

Myles Jack switching to middle linebacker

With the retirement of Paul Posluszny, the Jaguars drafted Leon Jacobs and moved Myles Jack (wasn’t down) to middle linebacker. How he does could determine how Jax does on defense. Yes, it’s that big of a move.

Little is said about the nuances that come from switching from being a Sam to being a Mike. It’s manyfold. The first factor in this is the Jags must feel very confident that Jacobs can handle the SLB position.

Before getting into this, know that moving Jack to the MLB means they think they’ll be playing with a lead most the time. 65% of time, teams with leads play sub packages. Hence, the last thing a team would want would be Jack riding the pine 35% of the plays.

Often when teams go from base to nickel, they usually sub a DB for the SAM. Since Jack is a hell of an athlete and strong enough to hang with tight ends, plus stop the run, they want to keep him on the field as much a possible.

How will moving change how he plays?

If a player is the Sam or Elephant, not only does he have a different responsibility, but how he sees the field, reads the entire offense, changes. Not only is he viewing plays from a different perspective, but his timing is affected, as well.

In a 4-3 defense, the SAM is a bit slower, but stronger. They time their first step, their tilt to arrive at the quarterback or whomever is on the edge to hit him with maximum force and the right height. With so many rules in place, they’re like a pitcher trying to throw a strike in a small area.

What they think, how they react is stems from the C gap. Quick twitch guys.

Moving inside changes everything. Besides making them cover Y’s/TE’s requiring them to cover more area, they also have to stop the run up the middle if the back gets past the tackles.

OLB in a 4-3 predominately tackle backs around the edge where speed is a big factor. When backs power up the middle, one arm tackles won’t get it. Their shoulders need to be squared up. They’re also looking at the play with more bodies in front of them.

4-3 defense (under)

The first step they take instead of barreling toward their target, is now one that requires a different technique and the ILB is who quarterbacks are looking to exploit with ins, slants, etc. Hence, he needs to be smart.

The short passing game goes through the ILB. Stink at stopping them and it’s going to be a long day. While a Mike has the DL to help stop runs up the middle, they’re often alone in the passing game. Sure, the safeties can and do move up, but if they’re involved, often it means the ILB didn’t do his job.

Fans should understand that it will take Jack a little while to nail this position because he needs to retrain his muscle memory on how to react to each play. Most likely, quarterbacks will throw in his area to challenge this. Don’t be surprised if he’s a little inconsistent until he’s had a few games under his belt.

Hard Press Coverage is an art form: Football 101

There are two forms of press coverages: hard and soft. In a second article, I’ll address soft coverage.

*To note, this is Football 101, so it’s a simple explanation and everything comes with a usually or typicallyso insert it in most things written.

The hard press starts at the line of scrimmage. The wide receiver (or tight end) and cornerback face each other with little space between. Once the ball is snapped, the CB has five yards past the LOS to push, slap, and bump the WR/TE, after that it can be called defensive pass interference in the NFL.

CB’s will watch the WR’s hips and keep his feet constantly moving, while shading towards the inside (if needed) because the goal (usually) is to keep the WR from making a break towards the center of the field. If he’s got the inside edge, he’s using his hands to prod, slap, and jam the WR while keeping his inside leverage.

The CB wants to jam his guy towards the outside so it gives his safeties more time to assess the play, makes it a harder throw for the QB, and is easier to push the WR out of bounds if the ball is caught. This is why he’ll often line up on the WR’s inside hip, this helps keep the WR from turning in.

This type of hard press is an absolute route killer, which results in one less open guy. It’s most effective on short routes and why having a good slot cover is imperative. Jax needs D.J. Hayden and Tyler Patmon to step up because they play a lot of nickel and the slot is key.

Smaller CB’s can struggle against big TE’s if their form isn’t perfect. A CB with long limbs can keep his hands on the WR while maintaining enough space to move and make plays on the ball.

The key to winning this match-up is: the hips don’t lie. CB’s should follow the hips, not the eyes or shoulders of the WR. Only the very best WR/TE can have their hips pointing in one direction and then break off in a another suddenly.

Chad Johnson was one of the best at these agile moves. Julio Jones is among the best at using his strength to break the jam and streak down the field. They are few and far between. This is why WR’s (especially the raw) struggle running routes against seasoned CB’s. Their hips don’t lie.

If this dance lasts past five yards, the CB is no longer jamming his guy anyway he can, he’s now running hip to hip (with some bumps and sneaky slaps) with the receiver. Good press guys will slap the hand as the WR is catching the ball. As long as contact is at the same time, it’s not a flag. This ritual between the two isn’t for the weak, it’s all mind games, athleticism and focus.

CB’s who can back-pedal, shove, bump, herd his guy at the same time and keep an arm free to intercept passes, are ones who often ones who make All-Pro and Pro-Bowls.
The next type of coverage is soft press, which will be covered in a separate article.

This film clip shows Jalen Ramsey as the guy who does it all.

Rugby tackling techniques could help NFL players adjust to new helmet rules

rugby style tackling for the nfl

As most know, the NFL changed the rules on how players may tackle each other – a player can’t lower his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. rugby tackling techniques help NFL players adjust to new helmet rules
Not sure about y’all, but I’m wondering how it will affect the players and the game from beyond the LOS. We know the linemen will have issues, but what’s the ripple out affect? From reffing to the play level. I asked a coach (who wants to remain anonymous, like the scout) what he thought about the change.

“I think everybody who has listened to football and interested in football needs to understand that things are changing right now,” Carroll

Jules: Could how the linemen play increase, rather than decease, injuries because they’ll now be playing differently. Could see them standing more up and less squatting.
Coach:  don’t know how this will effect injuries. I couldn’t even speculate about head injuries. What I can say is that I’m concerned about making players think, especially defensively.

The league and this stupid competition committee that is run like a political party with the stark difference being that there’s never any changes as to who’s on the committee have made playing both offensively and defensively very difficult. The head rules are going to make guys think. And if they’re thinking about it, they’re gonna get hurt.

They’ve now changed the kickoff rules to where you have to have 8 guys up front on KOR. All this will do will increase returns because most teams are going to kick it to the 5 yard line and bet that with not enough blockers in the back end of the return, they’ll be tackled inside the 25.

The change to the catch rule leaves some pretty large loops. There are going to be an increase in fumbles that were immediately ruled last season as incomplete passes. Defensive coaches are now more than ever telling their guys ‘dive on the ball if it’s even close’. What does diving include? It includes your head! The exact thing that they’re trying to protect, they’re now exposing!

Jules: With the O-line spending more time thinking, could sacks increase? That split second making the difference?

Coach: I don’t know that this will allow more sacks, because the defense is also put at such a disadvantage as well. From a competition standpoint, it pretty much evens out, especially on the line of scrimmage. If they’re going to call it the way they’ve talked about.

I think that the passing game has become so much geared towards the offense regarding rules (and there will be a re-emphasis on calling pass interference this season) that it’s pretty difficult to play in the back end of the defense. Yes, as football players, the first thing you’re taught is to keep your head up.

A form tackle is made with the core and middle of your body, not your head. But players are so good now and so elusive that it’s almost impossible to bring down a skill player using a ‘form tackle’. That’s where the head becomes involved. This is where the league has totally contradicted itself and is going to turn the helmet rule into another edition of the catch rule.

The helmet rule could affect every single position on the field. It will absolutely affect how a tackle sets, it will put a premium on more athletic lineman, which isn’t exactly a bad thing, but it really makes being a 6’2’’ Left Guard a pretty hard position because if shorter than either the 3 or 1 techniques, his head will be highlighted in the block whether he wants it to be or not.

Jules: Or like a Barry Church vs a Rob Gronkowski, it’s often tough for a “fair” match-up and flags can go both ways.

Coach. Exactly, there’s a 1,000 examples. These aren’t robots. They’re human bodies with brains. Something the competition committee still can’t grasp.

I think offenses will have some adjustments for the quick passing game that will help the OL out. I would be more concerned about the run game, especially the old G scheme runs if I was an OC.

Which could mean you’re going to see more zone type run actions (which is already happening anyway) because that’s what college players are more used to as it is. But I certainly think that your short yardage/GL game plan is absolutely in a different place this year than it was last year.

Jules: what happens if a team’s run game gets stifled, will that change a team like Denver’s run-first scheme in a bad way? Put more on the shoulders of the QB to carry the offense? If so, would that help a type who relies on the quick release?

Coach: You’ll see more zone scheme stuff, which plays to more to that kind of QB’s ability. Teams won’t abandon the run game, it will be a slow shift towards getting the ball in your best athletes’ hands as fast as you can. I also think the NFL is entering the age where teams are absolutely going to have to cross train their RB’s to also be able to line up in the slot and play at the very least as an inside receiver, and be a threat.

I’m not saying LF is going there, but I do believe that the Patriots are on to something with that, have been on to it for a while now, and I think the league is now trending that way.

For years and years we’ve cross trained all OL so a lot of them have position versatility. We’ve done it with TE’s lining up as WR’s. The defense answered that by playing big Nickel. Now the offense is throwing the versatile backs out there, and it causes the defense to hesitate as to what personnel to line up in.

Jules: Some coaches have said they’re not going to worry about the helmet rules until they see how they’re called. While Carroll says it’s a very big deal.

Coach: With limited practice time in pads actually hitting each other, it’s not helping young players with some of their bad habits, especially tackling habits. If teams can’t get pads on guys to block and hit, it’s really hard to change much at all.

Dan Quinn and Pete Carroll are visionary because they have talked about getting all the defensive coaches in the league together to make a teach tape on how to use the rugby style tackles. I don’t know that it will happen, but I think it would be beneficial for everyone involved on the defensive side of the ball.

Jules: Pete had a rugby coach come in years ago to help the Seahawks, could we see more of that? The Jaguars’ defense was built by a Carroll disciple in Gus Bradley and now he’s in LA with the Chargers. I don’t recall either D-Lines taking big injury hits last season.

Coach: Other teams have introduced it. They just don’t broadcasted it. I know it’s something they do without pads on during OTA’s, which inherently means it’s a less violent type of hit. So yeah, I guess that is a possible answer to the helmet rules, but like Vance said, we don’t know yet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HihjPApzCg

 

rugby tackling techniques help NFL players adjust to new helmet rules

rugby tackling techniques help NFL players adjust to new helmet rules
rugby tackling techniques help NFL players adjust to new helmet rules
rugby tackling techniques help NFL players adjust to new helmet rules

2-Digit Personnel Chart & Abbreviations – Football 101

NFL 2-digit Formation Personnel Chart

NFL 2-digit Formation Personnel Chart

At times, you will hear commentators or analysts during games or on shows on ESPN/NFLN, refer to a 12 set, a 13 set. It is a form of short-hand in the football world that communicates the Personnel Package for the offense.

Some posts/articles that are written here, have spelled out 12 set as ACE 2TE/2WR, others have referred to it as a 12 set.
2-digit offensive formation chart
As you can see, some terms (Heavy/Jumbo/Double Tight), etc show up in multiple groupings and that is because the concept is used in multiple groupings.

General Football Abbreviations that are used in posts and graphics:

Offense

  • 4 4th wide receiver
  • 5 5th wide receiver
  • C Center
  • FB Full Back
  • FL Flanker
  • G Guard
  • H H-Back
  • HB Half Back
  • LG Left Guard
  • LT Left Tackle
  • OL Offensive Line
  • QB Quarterback
  • QB1 Starting Quarterback
  • QB2 Backup Quarterback
  • RB Running Back
  • RG Right Guard
  • RT Right Tackle
  • SE Split End
  • T Tackle
  • TB Tail Back
  • TE Tight End
  • WR Wide Receiver
  • X outside Receiver
  • Y Slot Receiver/known as TE in some circles
  • Z Outside receiver

Defensive

  • CB Cornerbacks
  • D Dime Back
  • DB Defensive Backs
  • DE Defensive End
  • DL Defensive Lineman
  • DT Defensive Tackle
  • E Edge Rusher/OLB
  • ILB Inside Linebackers
  • LB Linebackers
  • LCB Left Cornerback
  • LDE Left Defensive End
  • M Mike Linebacker
  • N Nickel Back
  • NT Nose Tackle
  • OLB Outside Linebacker
  • RCB Right Cornerback
  • RDE Right Defensive End
  • S Sam Linebacker
  • W Will Linebacker

General Terms

  • EMOLOS End Man on Line of Scrimmage
  • IG Intentional Grounding
  • IR Injured Reserve
  • IR-RD Injured Reserve Designated to Return
  • LOS Line of Scrimmage
  • NFIL Non-Football Injury List
  • OPI Offensive Pass Interference
  • PAP Play-Action Pass
  • PAT Point After Touchdown
  • PI Pass Interference
  • PUP Physically Unable To Perform
  • WCO West Coast Offense

Special Teams

  • G Gunner
  • H Holder
  • K Place Kicker
  • KR Kick Returner
  • LS Long Snapper
  • P Punter
  • PR Punter Returner
  • UB Upbacks

Coaches/Staff

  • GM General Manager
  • HC Head Coach
  • OC Offensive Coordinator
  • DC Defensive Coordinator
  • STC Special Teams Coordinator
  • QBC Quarterbacks Coach
  • RBC Running Backs Coach
  • TEC Tight Ends Coach
  • OLC Offensive Line Coach
  • DLC Defensive Line Coach
  • LBC Linebackers Coach
  • DBC Defensive Backs Coach

 

Tight Ends-big engines that drive offensive trains:Football 101

Tight Ends are my weakness. You can have the quarterback, give me a Y-ISO and I’m weak in the knees. They block for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Plus, they run routes and provide a security blanket for the QB, too. They’re the perfect football player who does the most of any position group. The Jack of All Trades.

Good ones disrupt defenses and change formations because they key around where the TE is. He gives the SAM a job, he takes away one or two players because they don’t know if he’s blocking or running a route. If a team has an Y-ISO player like Travis Kelce or Rob Gronkowski, defenses plan as much around them as they do the quarterback.

If it’s trips left and the tight end is split out right, who do you cover?

Most TE’s are a catcher or blocker. If a team can have two good TE’s, their offense is going to kick some serious booty. 12 personnel is a real threat; teams are using this more because it lessens the need for three killer wide receivers. Not to mention, if one of those guys is a real threat, the run game is helped. Play action, RPO’s, you name it.

When defenses double team this big guy, it leaves an open receiver downfield for a bomb.

Some break the TE position into three groups. The “Y,” the “F” and the “U”. The TE position has 100% evolved (thanks to Don Coryell).  Now we have a few different types of TE’s, and typically a team has different bodies for the different tight end types.

TE (Y) Position – the Knight

He’s the big boy, the blocker more than catcher. Everybody reading this has heard the saying, “The running game is the QB’s best friend”, right? If the running game is his best friend that drinks with him, the TE is the one who picks them both up when they’re leaving the bar.

Y’s line up next to the tackle, predominately on the right side (making it the strong side). That’s a good way to know what type he is: where he most often lines up and how often he gets the ball.

F or H Tight End – the Queen

He’s usually smaller than the big 6’6″ 260 Y, the F/H are more in the 6’3-4″ range. Too big for a wide receiver, but acts like one. He’ll block, but he’s not great at it. However, there’s always exceptions, when Julius Thomas was in Denver he was a ball catching fool and he was 6’5″, right on the edge.

These Tight ends will often line up farther out and are red zone threats. In your mind’s eye, think of a guy like Jimmy Graham or Trey Burton. They don’t really want to be an inline Tight End. They will stand in as a blocking threat, but lack of strength is going to mean they won’t be taking on 5 Techniques alone….think of them as more of a chipper, like a running back.

What the Queen TE lacks in run blocking ability, he absolutely makes up for it in the ability to create mismatches on the perimeter. This TE will now become a massive headache to Defensive Coordinators.

How do defenses treat him? Nickel? Base? Big Nickel? TE’s like Graham make the DC start to really think that if he’s out there and it’s 11 personnel, at the very least they’re going to need to line up in Big Nickel Defense. How does this affect the running game? Doing that takes the run stoppers out of the game to go to a smaller package.

Instead of blocking with sheer brawn and numbers, they block with space. A Queen TE is too big for a CB or FS to line up on and jam, and is far too fast to let a LB handle him in coverage. This position is about versatility, both schematically and personnel grouping-wise.

U are the one for me – the King

U’s, Y-ISO, Kings, call them what you want, but think about a guy like Travis Kelce today or Shannon Sharpe from yesteryear. He is more than a willing to be a blocker in both the zone and G run schemes, is willing to stay in to protect in base protection schemes, but also has the ability to line up displaced from the LOS and be effective in space as a route runner.

He will run some vertical clearing routes, such as the dig, the over and the vertical seam route (all routes run to death in the WCO).

Kings have the ability to help block a 5 technique with the Tackle and can seal the edge on a 7 technique. King TE’s don’t need to be 40 fast because he is a QB’s security blanket in the pass game. Quick (different from fast) and strong in the box. He needs to be able to beat the SLB in man coverage.

This is why older king TE’s are so valuable. What they lack in physical prowess, they make up for in understanding tactics and nuance. If he sees the SLB taking away the inside of his vertical curl route, he’ll break it outside to where the defense isn’t. The value of having a strong and savvy King TE cannot be overstated.

A healthy Gronk is the Mack Daddy of the Kings, ruler of the world. He is more than a willing blocker in the run game, but there isn’t a thing he can’t do in the pass game.
He can run screens, he can run every route on both the TE tree and most of the routes on the WR tree.  He is the ultimate offensive fail-safe. He’s impossible to both scheme against and also match up against. He drives opposing defensive staffs insane trying to figure out how they want to play the matchups.

Most teams carry both a King and a Queen TE. It’s now en vogue to bring both of them out and line up in 12 personnel, and use the Queen as a 3rd WR. That is the ultimate “screw you” personnel group that an offense can throw at a defense. It causes a lot of DC’s to stick in their base defense, or find a way to get into big Nickel (but that 3rd safety better be Honey Badger-like, otherwise it’s 10 on 11).

Having multiple tight end types helps all offensives

In the ever-changing chess match between opposing offensive and defensive coordinators, the 12 personnel (King/Queen TE) vs. Base/Nickel/Big Nickel is a fascinating match to watch.

Why use four receivers if you’ve got two good TE’s? I’d live in the 12 personnel, make it my base offense, especially in a WCO run-first scheme. You’re killing three birds with one stone. Or five with two. Want to see winning teams? Follow the tight end stats. Let’s all hope Jacksonville has its King and Queen and a Knight, too.
tight end types
tight end types
tight end types