Every defensive coach in America is looking for new and improved ways to attack offenses. Blitzing allows the defensive coach to gain a little control on the offense by creating cutbacks or forcing a quick throw. Sending extra men creates changes in the defense that affect players from the front to the secondary. Understanding how each pressure affects pass distribution and run fits is crucial for creating successful blitzes. Leave a gap open and the offense will find it. Over-rotated or leave a man uncovered in the back end and the opposing team’s band is playing.
Whether a pressure or a blitz, simple rules must be created when designing blitzes. The main goal of each blitz or pressure should be stopping a scheme the opposing offense is trying to utilize. Not all pressures are created equal. Some are more dangerous than others, but when designing a blitz there are five things a defensive coordinator should consider.
- Don’t blitz from depth. This is the cardinal sin of blitzing. If utilizing a secondary blitz or overhang pressure, it is important to understand where they are coming from. Even a delayed blitz should come from close proximity to the box. Understanding this rule allows a DC to adjust who is blitzing. For instance, if sending a safety up the middle of the formation a blitz, it doesn’t make sense to send him from 12 yards deep. He will never get there. Instead, use “bluff” and “show” packages to confuse the offense. Have the safety align outside the offensive tackle and drop to coverage, then send him the next time. a defense should use proximity to its advantage.
- Stay gap sound. It sounds simple, but many blitzes leave open gaps or completely forget to hold an edge. When designing and implementing a blitz it is important to draw it on a board and imagine how the offense would attack it. Leave the “A” gap open on an edge blitz and the offense can just run a simple zone to for a large gain. Blitzing is no different than lining up and playing base defense, the DC is just applying pressure on the snap of the ball. When developing pressures make sure each gap and player is accounted for in coverage. Sending seven? Someone is going to need to peel with the back if it flares. Gap or distribution, it is important for each blitz to align correctly to formations and be sound overall. Otherwise, the offense will find the weak point and attack!
- Don’t forget your overhangs. One way a defense can quickly get out leveraged by an offense is when it sacrifices its overhangs’ cover downs to blitz. One place this is seen more often than not is in edge blitzes to 3×1 formations (particularly Trips Open). When utilizing the standard zone blitz with the OLB cutting hard and flat with the ILB wrapping up the field, the defense can defend most sets. Versus a 10 pers. 3×1 set (Trips) the Sam now has to come from a long way because he is covered down to the #2 WR.
If the defense does not cover him down and leaves him inside #3, they have compromised their overhang and exposed itself to RPOs and WR screens. Another flaw in this design is the Will linebacker’s drop. Against a Trips formation, the Will LB will need to “sling” all the way to the #3 WR. This long path gives the offense an advantage and puts the Will in a compromising position. The better route instead would be to switch the blitz and send the Mike off the edge and allow the Will to wrap. Even if running a Fire Zone (Cover 3) behind it the defense can ensure its overhangs and cover downs are intact.
- Know your protections. Not all blitzes are designed as a catch all. Plug blitzes (blitz the gap) are designed to take advantage of Big-on-Big (BOB) protection and are utilized to stop the run because the LBs fit instantly. The standard zone blitz is designed to take advantage of slide protection and force the RB to take on two defenders. Cross-dog blitzes us the interior protection schemes to gain an open lane for blitzers. Blitzes should be designed to beat certain plays or protections. Blitzing a 12 pers. Ace look that can max protect can be futile. The offense has the numbers. Sometimes blitzing is not the answer. Most NFL teams concentrate most of their film time developing ways to blitz protections or design coverages to take advantage of route combinations. Defenses shouldn’t blitz just to blitz. Have a plan and execute.
- Blitz the formation. Not every blitz works against every formation. When developing a blitz draw it up against the formations a defense is most likely to see. Find the inefficiency and adjust the blitz accordingly. This allows the DC to call a blitz and be aligned correctly 100% of the time (even if you have to “Omaha”). Blitzing to formations (BTF) is what modern defenses are turning to when combating the spread. If a team utilizes a TE in the backfield, on the line, or out at WR, it can be hard to call a defense. But, if a DC utilizes BTF principles he can call what he wants and ensures the blitz will hit home. Take the extra step of making sure each blitz works against formations. Like I stated earlier, slinging the Will to the #3 on paper looks decent, but in real like it usually doesn’t work. Adjust!
Looking for more blitz articles? MQ has you covered:
- Packaging Blitz Calls: https://matchquarters.com/2016/09/12/how-to-package-your-blitz-calls/
- Building a Better Zone Blitz: https://matchquarters.com/2016/08/15/building-a-better-blitz/
- Run Down Stop Calls: https://matchquarters.com/2016/09/23/fmt-3-run-down-stop-calls/
- Dog Check (single-dog pressure): https://matchquarters.com/2017/07/28/mqs-single-dog-blitz-package/
- MQ Quick Hits: Blitz vs Pressure: https://matchquarters.com/2017/08/18/episode-6-mq-quick-hits-blitz-vs-pressure/
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