Smart Links – Strategery Round-Up: two-tight ends, the 3-4 defense, rocket toss and “Iso” – 12/8/2011

Old school Green Bay Packers’ use of two-tight ends:

Two good links from Ron Jenkins:

Wisdom from Woody Hayes:

[W]hen I first starting coaching listening to Woody Hayes talk about designing an offense. He talked about you start with your schedule and rank all your opponents from one to ten in terms of toughness to beat. Then you base your offense on beating the top 3 or 4 teams. That’s it. Once you are done there you just make sure you’re sound against everything else.

The importance of choosing your coverage in the 3-4 defense:

I really, truly believe that for a person implementing a 3-4 scheme, choosing the coverage first is crucial. The 3-4 has a lot of moving parts, more so than just about any other defense, and often has changing responsibilities with regards to force, contain, spill, all those terms we love to use to define good defense. The difference between the 3-4 and other defenses, in my experience, is that the 3-4 has the interesting feature that the front and the coverage are intertwined. If you want to run a certain coverage, you need to do certain things with your front. There is a minor assumption that is working behind all of this: you want to rush at least 4. If you don’t mind rushing 3 and dropping 8, well, no biggie. But if you’re going to rush 4 in the 3-4, you need to marry the front and the coverage. You have to make a conscious decision about what you’re doing.

The always erudite Deuce on post-snap communication in pattern read coverages:

Since most pattern reading coverages are predicated on what the number two receiver does, it is paramount that there be some sort of communication on what exactly this receiver is doing. In today’s world of three, four and even five receiver sets, DB’s must all be on the same page, or risk giving up the big play. So how do we do it? Let one player make all the reads. What???? Yes, let one player be designated as the communicator. This method, employs less moving parts and allows for smoother reads and transitions as receivers stem into their routes. So how is this done? First, the defender assigned to take all of the number two receiver vertical is a good person to have in charge of this communication. Why you ask? Because this players eyes are already on his key, which is the basis for the pattern reading scheme to begin with. This also allows your corners to play tighter to the number one receiver, which discourages quick throws to the flats, what most offensive coordinators (OC’s) do to beat Quarters coverage.

And here’s what not to do:

Mazzone revisited, via Brophy:

In a lot of ways I think that Mazzone is reviving some old things that Purdue did once upon a time. Think of how he motions his backs; it reminds me of how Purdue, WAZZU, and for that matter Miami of yesterday all motioned to empty as a way of stretching the defense’s flanks in order to create windows underneath, but also to put backers and backs on virtual islands.

Also, think of how they use the bubble. People talk about the bubble as an extended hand off, but most teams really do not throw it well enough for it to be considered their stretch or wide zone play; not the case with ASU. I don’t think I’ve seen a team that can run bubbles with the back, from 2×2, or 3×1 as effectively as they do regardless of the look. In a sense, the bubble is one of their plays that they feel that they can run versus anything to make critical yards, regardless of whether the defense knows what coming or not. Their third scoring drive the other night that came of the Vontez’s pick was built almost entirely of of bubbles in one form or another. . . .

In terms of packages they carry, if you watch them closely they basically run four concepts from 2×2 and 3×1: Snag; 4 Verts, Y Cross, and Drive or Shallow. Not a huge Smash team in the conventional sense; when they hit the corner its coming off their 3-man snag a lot.

Blitz of the week, via Blitzology:


This is a weak side overload blitz the Rams used earlier in the season vs. the Cardinals. This blitz is run from an odd front dime package.

Strong End – Drop to the 3RH
Nose – Loop to strong contain
Weak End – Contain Rush
Mike – Align on LOS over the Guard, Drop to weak side Seam
Will – Align on LOS over the Guard, Blitz inside across Guard’s face, balance the pass rush
FS – Time it up, Blitz inside 1/2 of B Gap, stay inside block of RB
Dime – Blitz outside 1/2 of B Gap
Nickel – Strong Seam
Strong Corner – FZ 1/3 from a off alignment
Weak Corner – FZ 1/3 from a press alignment
FS – Pop out to FZ Middle

Underrated run scheme: the Rocket Toss:


Variations of the “Iso” running play:

By definition, an “isolation” play is just as it says, typically a man blocking scheme where an offense will insert their second level player onto a defensive second level player at the point of attack. Where you bring that second level player could come from anywhere, and we’ll show you examples. But in most cases, that second level player will come from the backfield. Even with the advent and perpetual evolvement of the spread run game, 56.6 percent of coaches still run the isolation play out of 21 personnel (two backs, one tight end) and 62.2 percent of those coaches use the fullback as the lead blocker. Later in the report, we will detail the fundamentals needed for the insert blocker, for now we’ll focus on running the scheme to the tight end side. It seems the tight end, or three man surface; creates the numbers advantage needed to run the scheme, because aside from the three blockers you have at the line of scrimmage, the insert blocker (or fullback) equals four players at the point of attack.

Attacking vertical set pass protection:

To the untrained eye, [vertical set pass protection, or “VSPP”,] doesn’t look all that much different from traditional pass protection, however upon a closer look you will see the subtle differences. In VSPP, the OL will retreat in a backpedal-style fashion, similar to the technique of a defensive back. The goal here is to lose as much ground, while staying square before making contact with the defender. All five OL, want to stay on the same vertical plane if possible. Most coaches teach an “inside-out” step system where the OL will step back first with their inside foot, followed by the outside foot. Most would look at this and think “uhh…bullrush…duh”, but we’re not finished yet, so be patient. Once the OL is at the depth their coach requires (I’ve heard 5 steps from some coaches and 4 steps from others, so I’m leaving that ambiguous), they take what some call a post step, or “anchor” technique. This is achieved by the OL dropping their butts and getting back in to your standard “flat back” pass protection posture. The largest benefit, by far, of VSPP, is the one most coaches miss, the lack of leverage by the defensive linemen (DL) once they reach the point of attack (POA). A DL in his crouched stance, can stay low and explosive when attacking traditional on the line of scrimmage (LOS) pass protection, however when their target retreats, the tendency is for the DL to run more upright, thereby losing all of their leverage and their “oomph” they had when coming off the LOS. So in effect, the offense has taken the explosiveness out of the DL by moving their target further away from them. The other benefit to VSPP, is the fact that stunts, and twists are relatively negated because the OL has time to see all of this happening in front of them as they retreat. The obvious goals of VSPP are to keep the OL on the same vertical plane, and eliminate gap openings by the OL turning their shoulders. Now, let’s see what some of the experts have done to combat this new pass protection scheme.

  • Cromulent

    The ISO article is one of the better things X&O has done.