Category Archives: Offense

RGIII’ ROY Campaign: Running Inside Zone

The the following post is an excerpt taking from a comprehensive piece breaking down RGIII’s 2012 Rookie of the Year. Click here to read the entire piece at The Orange and Browns Report.

A major component of RGIII’s initial success (and downfall) can be attributed to his use in the run game. In addition to his tried-and-true Zone Stretch, Shanahan integrated a variety of interior zone-based concepts including Inside Zone and the Triple Option to take advantage of Griffin’s’ exceptional ability to make the correct decision when ‘reading off’ a defender.

The 2012 Redskins’ bread and butter between-the-tackles run concept was basic Inside Zone with a backside read of an unblocked defensive player (usually a defensive end or stand-up outside linebacker). The idea behind the concept is simple; leave a box player unblocked to rebalance numbers at the line of scrimmage in the offense’s favor. Anytime an offense can put a blocker on every defender at the point of attack, the play will likely lead to positive yardage. Due to Griffin’s natural speed and athleticism, as well as his familiarity with the play concept from his college days, Inside Zone proved to be exceptionally successful.

Inside zone is likely the simplest zone concept to block and run. Each offensive lineman is assigned a certain ‘area’ to block. If there is a defender in that area (known as ‘covered’) block him using zone technique (short lateral/45 degree step towards the play, aiming for the defender’s outside number). If there is no defender in that area (known as ‘uncovered’), start with a lateral step and read the next near defender. If the defender moves outside (Figure 1) climb to the second level looking for a linebacker. If the defender moves inside (Figure 2), double team him by engaging the near shoulder, getting hip-to-hip with the other blocker, and moving the eyes to the second level in case a linebacker shows (note there are MANY ways to read and teach Inside Zone blocking technique; each coach has his/hers own preference).

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Getting Vertical with the Smash/Post Concept

The following post is an excerpt from a comprehensive look at Hue Jackson’s favorite pass concepts at the OBR. Click here for the entire article.

Our final route concept is known as the ‘Smash-Post’. The play design integrates another coaching-favorite, the ‘Smash’ concept, with a post route coming from the opposite side of the field. Like the previous ‘Shakes’ concept, ‘Smash-Post’ is a split-safety killer.

Before putting the routes together, let’s look at each individually to see how the combination stresses the two-deep safeties.

‘Smash’ is the classic split-safety beater, consisting of a short in-breaking route like a hitch or fin from the #1 receiver and a corner route from the #2 receiver (should sound familiar to the hitch/corner in ‘Snag’). The play works best against the Tampa 2 (two-deep, zone-under), as it puts the flat defender (the cornerback) in a bind by creating a vertical stretch using the hitch and corner routes. Jump the hitch and the corner route will be thrown over his head against a safety that has to cover the distance from hash-to-sideline. Sink to cushion the corner route and the quarterback will throw the high-percentage hitch in front of the cornerback with opportunity for yards after catch. In this case, the short bait route is run as a flat by the tight end. The specific short route doesn’t matter here; as long as it breaks in front of the cornerback he still faces a vertical stretch.

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Running the ‘Split-Dig’ with Hue Jackson

Another HueJackson-favorite that shows up on tape several times against split-safety coverage (Cover 2, Cover 4, and Cover 6) is the ‘Split-Dig’ concept.

Split-Dig is a popular three-man concept that can be run out of a variety of formations including 2 X 2, or ‘Quad’s, if the running back is used as the #3 receiver.

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Hue Jackson Passing Game Preview: Going Air Raid with the ‘Shakes’ Concept

A Hue-Jackson favorite that shows up over and over again on tape is the split-safety beating ‘Shakes’ concept, an old-school Air Raid classic.

The Shakes combo is a Cover 2-killer, putting the flat defender in a hi-lo bind while holding the safety on his hash too long to make a play on the ball.

In our example the concept is run with a flat route from the inside (#2) receiver in conjunction with a corner route (#1) from the outside receiver. The play is unique in that corner routes are rarely run by outside receivers, as the route is cut off by the sideline due to the compressed space along the edge of the field. In order to create room for the corner route, the wide receiver must use an inside release (release towards the middle of the field) while bending at 45 degrees, push vertical for 8-10 yards, and break back to the corner. This route must be precise, as there is little room for error due to the lack of space and timing with the quarterback’s throw.

Note: This image is pulled from an old Bob Stoops playbook. Be sure  to ignore the quarterback progression.  Several coaches much smarter than me in the passing game have told me they would read the play: 

  1. Rhythm (Top of the drop) Seam route
  2. Corner
  3. Flat/Flare 

Pro Tip: Follow smart people on Twitter and listen to what they say!

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Hue Jackson-Super Bowl X’s & O’s: The Counter Trey Read

After looking at the Counter Trey in a previous post, I want to breakdown another variant we’ll see the Carolina Panthers run tonight during the biggest game in franchise history. The film is pulled from the Bengal’s 34-21 week-six victory over the Bills.

First, a quick review of the concept. The original Counter Trey was popularized by Joe Gibbs’ Washington Redskins teams of the 1980s. It falls under the ‘power’ run game umbrella, as it is gap-blocked, requiring offensive linemen to both down block and pull. The ubiquitous play is run at all levels of football in a variety of offensive systems.

An element of misdirection is built into the concept as the running back will take a hard jab-step away from the play’s direction, often causing hesitation and pulling linebackers away from the ball (known as an ‘influence’ step). Used in conjunction with zone-blocked plays such as inside zone, the concept is an outstanding constraint (adjustment) to defenses that key the running back’s flow for play direction and over-pursue the ball.

I chose to breakdown this particular play as it constantly shows up on Panthers’ film (and is a Hue Jackson favorite), and should work well against Denver’s aggressive edge rushers (Miller and Ware). When game-planning for edge rushers that fly off the line of scrimmage, ‘trap’ blocks are a must-have. The idea behind a trap block is simple; give the defender a free release at the line, then bring a blocker across the formation to ear hole him from the side. This eliminates the edge rusher’s ability to beat blocks by shooting gaps, creating havoc in the backfield before the blocks can develop.

Continue reading Hue Jackson-Super Bowl X’s & O’s: The Counter Trey Read

Cleveland Browns Film Room: Beating an Odd Front with the Pin-and-Pull

With the announcement that newly-appointed Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson will call his own plays, a review of the 2014-2015 Cincinnati Bengals’ offense provides a potential template of what fans can expect next season. A review of the tape shows several tried-and-true run and pass-game concepts Jackson leans on to move the ball. Building off my previous post (Counter/Power), I want to continue looking at base run concepts the new play-caller ran last season.

Although Jackson is well-known for running a gap-based scheme (Iso, Counter, Power), a look at the game tape shows several zone-based concepts including tight zone, split zone, and outside zone. Today I want to break down a clever variant of outside zone that I’ve observed several times through six games, the Pin-and-Pull.

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The Hue Jackson Run Game

With the announcement that head coach Hue Jackson will call his own plays, All-22 film provides a wealth of knowledge and insight into what to expect from the 2016 Cleveland Browns’ offense. Several base concepts that Jackson leans on in the pass and run game jump out of the game tape immediately. A popular run-game concept executed at all levels of football (and Hue Jackson favorite) that we can expect to see next season is good old-fashioned ‘Power’.

Before getting into the details of the play, let’s look at the world famous ‘Power’ concept. The play falls under the ‘power’ run game umbrella, as it is gap-blocked, requiring offensive linemen to both down block and pull.

The running back will take a hard step away from the play’s direction to allow the pulling guard to cross his face, with the added bonus of often causing hesitation by pulling linebackers away from the ball as they read the tailback for run flow.

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Previewing Flip’s Offense: WR Motion and the “Swap Boot”

Like many I have awaiting some specific, up-to-date information about what we should expect to see from Flip’s offense this season.  We finally got a nugget from Terry’s Talkin’ this week:

1. They have been throwing a lot of swing passes to receivers in motion, which appears to be a significant part of DeFilippo’s offense. That also might help the backs catch more passes.

Using this quote I went back to the lab to look for pass concepts that integrated WR/RB motion at the snap of the ball. Before diving into the play I want to ensure that everyone is clear that we are looking at motion as the ball is snapped, not motion-and-reset.

Motion (both “slo-mo” and “jet”) as the ball is snapped is used for a variety of reasons.  It can create angles to run inside-breaking-routes like a shallow cross, it can reduce the distance a WR needs to cover if his route will take him across the field, it can help the WR release “clean” at the LOS by helping him avoid jams and collisions within the 5 yard “hands on” zone, it gives the WR a small “spring” as he works to full speed in his route, it creates great angle for “cracks” on LB’s, etc.

The play we are about to look at is  very similar conceptually to Shanahan’s PA “Flood” concepts we saw last year, so parts will look familiar.  The two components of the play that caught my eye was the creative use of WR motion to “flood” the field away from the play action and the use of a “swap” by bringing the underneath route from across the formation.

Let’s look at the play and break down some film…

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Previewing Flip’s Offense: Merging Old School with New School in the Run Game – The Iso “Wham”

After devoting my previous three “Previewing Flip’s Offense” post to pass concepts I want to pivot and look at the run game. We’ll look at some IZ, OZ, power, and counter over the course of our run-game analysis, but I want to kick this off with a play that merges the “old school” Iso with the “new school” “wham” block.

Ohio State fans will immediately recognize the “wham” block as it became a go-to concept in the Buckeye’s running game during their national championship run.  Focus on the TE (#81 aligned on the inside leg of the right tackle) as he “whams” the RDE:


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