Thursday, 31 July 2014

System of a Down

Its been awhile since I have posted anything here. Now that the dust has settled and I am in a much better place with my thoughts gathered and my drivetrain running again I will start posting again.

My first post back will be an essay on how I view a Down.

We all know that we have 4 downs to move the ball 10yards, so that we may have another 4 downs and move the ball forwards with the goal of moving the ball into the Endzone for a score.

Simple stuff...

Then we complicate it by adding situations to the down:
  • 1st Down we want to get positive yardage
  • 2nd and Long we want to set up 3rd and medium
  • 2nd and Medium we can either get the 1st or take a shot, ultimate goal  is positive yards again
  • 2nd and Short we have a bonus situation, we can open the playbook and take a shot, we can mix up run and pass, or we can go for 1st
  • 3rd and Long we want to get positive yards to add to our punt range
  • 3rd and Medium we want 1st
  • 3rd and Short we can go for 1st or take a chance and take a shot
  • 4th and Long we will punt the ball
  • 4th and Medium we will punt
  • 4th and short we will most likely punt the ball, given field position we may go for 1st
Not a bad little list, now add field position, points on the board, momentum of the game, depth chart (yours and theirs) and performance of the team just to name a few and you have a complicated list of choices that can be made.


Now...we are going to change pace up a little, most of us coaches love to X and O our way through situations...some of us actually like to personel our way in and out of trouble. We are going to head kind of through both.


 I view a down in 3 phases:

The early part of a down is about:
  • Understanding the play
  • Understanding our role in that play
  • Knowing our Alignment
  • Assuming correct stance

    This is all about coaching. X and Os really come into play here. If we can get the players to believe in what they are about to do and teach them how to execute then the early part of the down will make that player competitive regardless of their athletic ability.

 Next we have the middle of the down, this is about:

Athletic ability of the player, if the player has taken a less than stellar start to the down, he can recover based on his ability to overcome the physical obstacles in his way. Whether that be shedding a block, getting up after a fall, reacting to his key and so on.

It is also about the technical aspects of the position that they are playing. If we cannot/will not coach the fundamentals of the position then we will not be able to compete against a good team.

The last part of the down is the late phase:

In the late phase of the down its all about Mental Toughness. The players have been hustling all week in game prep and come to the game they suck... we have all been there at some point in our coaching careers right.

Oddly enough the late phase of the down is the first we correct in the offseason. Our Winter Strength and Condition is the foundations of our Mental Toughness. Any program that does not include a S&C phase will always loose late in the down, why...because we cannot compete mentally with someone else having an advantage over us.

Another major part is the old adage "Finish the drill!". How many times have we said that and really just wanted a player to hustle through for the next player to come through. When in fact, by not finishing the drill despite poor performance we are creating a culture of mentally weak athletes. If we get on them to finish the drill though, we are creating a culture which says that its ok to make long as you hustle to recover and do what your supposed to do until the end.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Video Tutorials

Here are two Video Tutorials I have generated for our Defence.

All material is in the public domain on the internet and the program I used was Windows Movie Maker.

The first Tutorial is a graphic description of how we will adjust our Fronts and Flanks (Run and Pass Teams).

The next Video Tutorial describes our Run Assignment System. It details all of our Run-To and Run-Away assignments.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Fade Technique

In this post I will highlight what Coach Cordell from Glenbard West had taken from Air Force and installed into his Cover 3.

I have taken this from him and adapted it into our Cover 3 - Green system.

The need for a new Technique to cover the Fade was needed in the 2011 Season as we faced multiple Offences which flexed our Hybrids out and forced us into a position to play the Fade poorly. We played it poorly as we Apexed (Splitting the distance between EMOL and #2) which caused us, especially when on the Field side, to play #2 very loose. This led us to playing a more Country 3  Fade Zone. The benefit was that we where standard against the Run, but as the League became more Pass orientated something new was needed.

In a short time we had to find a better way to play the #2. During a game I had made the decision to align shaded on #2 and have the Tandembacker/DT play Force. This worked out ok for a Gameday tweak and I had made the decision to find a way to play the Fade better from a shaded Pre Snap alignment.

On Chiefpigskin I found a Video which was exactly what I was looking for.
Basically you are aligning shaded on the #2 WR and getting hands on him then reading his cut to adjust to the Fade.

This is how we play the Fade:

If #2 breaks In then the Hybrid would break to the Fade looking to get underneath #1. "In! In!" call given to the near side Tandem.

If #2 breaks Out then the Hybrid will Match this route.

If #2 breaks Vertical then the Hybrid will get his hands on the route and read #1. If #1 is short then Match the Route and deliver any In routes to the Tandem. If #1 is deep then come under the two Verts.

This technique was installed within a Game week and we practiced against the following Patterns:

#2 WR Only: In, Out, Deep, Slant and Wheel

#1 and #2WR: Square In, Square Out, Smash, Wheel

The Following Cut-Up shows how our Field Hybrid matched up on the first Game after installing this Technique:

Monday, 17 October 2011

Cover 2 - Blue

This time around I will be talking about Middle of the Field Open (MOFO) coverage’s. How to get into them, what you can in them and why you want them. Note that this information is theoretical, I have yet to implement these ideas. However I will be presenting the Concept in such a manner that it is applicable to the system that I run and as such the concept is practicable.

The Odd Stack lends itself to using Cover 3 and Cover 1. With the basic Alignments these Coverage’s are also very strong against both pass and run. But there comes a time when you need immediate presence in the Flats and two Alley players. This is where MOFO coverage’s come in to the Gameplan. Although you can cover the flats with a Cloud Cover 3 this does not give you 2 Alley players.

MOFO coverage reduces your front to a seven man front, what does this mean for 8 man front bases? Your Force and Alley assignments change. In the case of this Defensive System the Contain (Chase) will also change.

The following Chalkboard shows the Adjustment to get into a MOFO shell versus a 21 Personel Splitback Formation.

The first adjustment is that the FS shifts over to the strong half of the field and the Rover adjusts high to the weak half of the field. Their alignment will be dictated by Apexing them between #1 and #2 WRs. Unless the #1 WR is inside the Hybrids Divider, in that case he will align outside shade.

Both cornerbacks assume an outside shade press position pre-snap.

The next rotation is that the Sam Tandem will Tilt in towards the Deepest Back in the Offensive Backfield from the 7tech. His stance will be based upon a 3pt stance for better explosion.


Now this is starting to look more like a 4-3 Cov2 look, however our Stack has not changed, this is the next and last change required.


The end result will look like this:


We now have a definite 7man Front with 2 Alley players, Rover and Free. We also have 2 new Force players Charlie and Como. Our 3man Line is supported by the Sam, this means that he is now the Chase player and Shark has rush. Stud is our third linebacker and he has been nested by the alignment of Sam and Shark.

The Defensive Line is the only moving piece in the puzzle that has not yet been adjusted. The reasoning is simple; Shark and Nose will now be Defensive Tackles and can change from 3 to 1 tech. Sam and Wolf are now Defensive Ends and can also change between 5 and 7tech, to allow for a variety of different Pre-Snap fronts.


It must be said however that if you’re going to keep the 404 front you are going to be weaker on the backside as the Nose is right on the midline. Although you have 1 more player on the strong side than they can block, you do not have this advantage to the weak side. This gives the Offence an advantage when running to the weak side and gives them free yards when they counter of their strong side runs. If you cheat your (new) Defensive Tackles to 3 and 1 techniques then you maintain your numbers to the strong side, but add to your weak side. Meaning that you now have more players to the Run side than they can block (assuming there are no pullers).

The question however remains: Why go to such lengths to adjust to a 2high shell?

The reason is practical: Time

Time is the foundation of sports. You have a set time to achieve your goals, you have a set time to refine your skills and you have a set time to plan your roadmap. For us as Football Coaches Time represents the amount of reps a player receives in Practice. We can only squeeze in so many reps before our next Practice Block or for many our next Defensive Practice Day. In the age of being Multiple, I place a premium being as vanilla as possible. I want to be true to the base Defence that we have spent the most time installing and repping.

My experiences have shown me that if you haven’t repped good enough for long enough in practice, then it has no place on the Gridiron. The skills our Linebackers and Hybrids learn to play an Odd Front in a Pattern Reading Cover 3 system should be able to be carried over to any other  Front/Coverage combination that we install. That there are going to be some greater changes is ok.

The idea is that we reduce the amount of new skills to an absolute minimum, while maximizing the potential of our players to perform. My philosophy is to do this with Alignment. By keeping certain moving parts of the Defence common we are maximizing our Practice time and simultaneously minimizing the skills required.

Run Fits
The Run Fits for Blue and White (MOFO) are similar to Red and Green (MOFC).

As a rule I have tried to keep the LB Positions schematically Analogue to their Alignment. With this Front however we have a new alignment, the 7tech. Let us examine the Run Fits:

Mike: 51
            Run To 5tech (C Gap)
            Run Away BS 1tech (A Gap)

Will: 31
            Run To 3tech (B Gap)
            Run Away PS 1tech (A Gap)

Sam: 72
            Run To 7tech (D Gap)
            Run Away Chase

Stud/Rover: 82
            Run To Force
            Run Away Collar

Wolf: 52
            Run To 5tech (C Gap)
            Run Away Chase

NT: 12
            Run To 1tech (A Gap)
            Run Away BS 1tech (A Gap)

Shark: 32
            Run to 3tech (B Gap)
            Run Away BS 3tech (B Gap)

What can be seen is that the Run Fit Skill set is Analogue to the Skill Set from our Base Defence. There is not much that needs to be taught outside of the established system. As has been stated the oddity of this front is the Tilt 7 of the Sam.


As far as my system goes I reduce the pressure to Dogs (Single Blitzer) exclusively and remove the Sam calls. In this even front there are 6 2nd Level Defenders for 5 eligible receivers, so you need to plan your pressure accordingly. As far as pressure is concerned in Blue (2 high 4 under Zone coverage), we will always send either Stud, Mike or Will. When we are playing White (2 high man under), we will not pressure with a 2nd level players.


You can run a Cornucopia of coverages out of this shell in a multitude of ways. The aim of this blog is to highlight that you can continue with the underneath coverage that has been installed for the Cover 3. Naturally there are some differences, but as has been said previously, we are minimizing the changes.

We will now look at how we will install Cover 2. The reasons for choosing this coverage are that it complements the weaknesses that the Cover 3 presents, namely the untouched stem of the #1, and the loose protection in the Flats

To echo what was said in the Cover 3 (Green) blog, we use Pattern Reading when playing Zone. As such this post will relate to our Philosophy of Covering routes and recognising Patterns rather than Spot Dropping.

All Coverage is Man Coverage. The time taken to find the Man varies from Coverages. Spot Dropping takes the longest as the Coverage waits for the last Route to develop. Pattern Reading sits in the Middle as the Read is dependent on Routes developing. Man Coverage is the Fastest as the Read and Recognition is made Pre Snap.

Before we go further let us look at the Chalkboard and the Zones we will be covering in Blue:


As can be seen we are colour coding our Zones per Position. When we compare this to the Zones in Green we see similarities, this helps the players get used to the system. 


The allocation to who covers where is simple, the Corners cover the Fades and the 2 players on 2nd level cover the Hook-Curl Zones. As in green we still only have 4 underneath Zones, designated as Fade and Hook-Curl.

As for Green the Principles of Blue are as follows and serves to give a General overview:

Deep: Vertical breaking routes
Hook-Curl: In Routes
Fade: Out Routes

To go into more Detail about the Coverage:

  • Cover the Deepest Route on your side
  • Maintain Vertical and Horizontal Leverage. Remain the Deepest Man on your Side.
  • In the Event that there is no Vertical Route sit at the bottom of the Zone and support the and Fade and Hook-Curl Player

  • Reroute #1
  • Cover the Outside Route
  • Cover from Outside in and Maintain Outside Leverage
  • Keep Shoulders parallel to LoS
  • In the event that two Outside breaking Routes develop play Divider Rule
  • Cover the Inside Route
  • Aiming Point (10yds deep inside the Hashmarks)
  • Read release from #2
  • Wall all routes back outside, protect the Seams
  • If there are no Inside Routes, stack back and gain depth reading the QB


The Green install covered not just the Formation but also the Fundamentals of our Running and Passing Games. Given that the Run Fits & Zone responsibilities are similar to Green, Blue does not require as intense an Install. It does however require Repetition. As I have stated above, if it hasn’t been repped with continued success then it does not belong on the Gridiron!