Defending Flare/Quick Motion

Offenses use Flare & A-Behind motion to force the defense to move. Don’t get out leveraged.

Quick motions are a great way to get the defense out leveraged. The fast motion is like eye candy for linebackers and safeties, using the speed of the receiver to get the defense to over shift. Jet motion in particular forces the defense to try and cut off the motion because of the tempo at which the motion attacks. To combat Jet motions many defenses turn to spinning towards the motion so the overhang can force a cutback. Though this technique can work in the shorthand, spinning to the motion tends to leave teams vulnerable away from the spin safety.

As offenses have evolved, quick motions have become an integral part of spread concepts. In a traditional motion, the WR changes from one side of the formation to an another on a flat path. The speed of the WR depends on the route he will run. For the most part, traditional motions have the WR jog across the formation. As the spread has evolved from traditional motion to jet motions, another way offenses have learned to attack how defenses react to motion is by flaring the running back out of the backfield. This type of quick motion forces the LBs to push and gain width between their run responsibility and the man they are responsible for in the pass. This width creates conflict, and as all defensive coaches know, offenses love conflicted players. 

Defending Flare/Quick Motion

Defend the formation created, not the original set. Most teams that use the flare/behind motions will run them out of a two-back set. This can allow an offense to get the defense to line up in an Over Front then quickly motion the RB out of the backfield to create a 3×1 set. This puts the Mike in a precarious position. The Mike must relate to the #3 WR while defending the “A” gap. All of this happens within a split second. The key for any defense defending motion is to not over react.

When defending a team that runs flare/behind motions it is important to breakdown where the motion is at the snap of the ball. As stated earlier, most offenses will use this type of quick motion out of a two-back set because they can create conflict in the box and make an easy read off the leverage of the Mike and Will. As the RB goes behind the QB and out of the box he is creating a 3×1 set. To gain a cover down the front needs to be in an Under. There are two main ways to get to this, give a move call as soon as the RB goes behind the QB or use post-snap line movement.

.01 (20) 3x1 - A Behind

Offenses dislike post-snap movement because it changes the blocking scheme as the play unfolds. To alleviate the conflict for the Mike and get back into basic alignment to 3×1, the defense needs to get into an Under front. Plus the LBs, don’t push them out of the box. Using a “hot” word to get into a line stunt can allow the Mike and Will to plus their alignments without being out-leveraged by the motion. In the diagram above, the interior line movement allows the Mike to get into his base 3×1 alignment — “hip.” The Will is allowed to align in a  “zero.” As the RB pushes to the field, neither LB gets too far removed from their base position. As a defensive staff breaks down an offense that utilizes quick motion, it needs to enter the formation where the ball is snapped, not the original formation. By doing this, the athletes will have a better understanding for how they need to react. No matter which running back flares to the field, it will always end up in a Trips set (See below).

.02 (20) 3x1 - B Flare

With no vertical threat, treat the motion like an automatic flat route. The front side coverage stays the same because the flaring back is not a direct vertical threat. This allows the secondary to stay static and the LBs can focus on the underneath exchanges. Teams that RPO use the motion much like Jet motion. The quick tempo of the motion forces the hand of the defense. If the LBs don’t plus, the offense can throw a flare screen. If the LBs remove themselves from the box, it leaves the defense exposed to the run. Spinning to the motion may gain a full box, but will compromise the defense’s backside fits and coverage.

The same basic adjustments can be made to any 2×2 flare/behind motion:

.03 (20) 2x2 - A Flare

.04 (20) 2x2 - B Behind [FIB]

Conclusion

The key to defending flare/behind motion, or any quick motion, is to move as little as possible. When breaking down a team that runs quick motions it is important to break down the final formation and not the beginning set. This allows the defensive coaches to adjust according to the final set. If the defense runs an Under to 3×1 sets then it can easily adjust to quick motion by readjusting the front or using post-snap line movement. With any motion, it is important to move as little as possible.


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