Tag Archives: defense

Trap Coverage and Pick Sixes

The following excerpt is taking from a comprehensive post breaking down Browns’ cornerback Justin Gilbert’s 2014 pick-six off Andrew Luck. The entire article can be read at The Orange and Brown Report

Base pass shells like Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3, and Cover 4 are too limited to stop the college and NFL passing game in this age of explosive offense. Creative offensive minds have identified and ruthlessly exploited the weaknesses in the various coverage groups using triangle (and rub concepts against man defense) that vertically and horizontally stretch defenders, creating defined progression and reads for the quarterback. Any offensive coach worth his (or her) salt has several ‘coverage beaters’ in the playbook that take advantage of schematic weaknesses within all of the aforementioned coverage families (think the ‘smash’ concept against Cover 2 or the curl-flat against Cover 3). Most defensive coordinators have integrated ‘pattern matching’ rules into their defenses that require the pass defenders to read the receiver’s release at the line of scrimmage to determine who guards who (like a matchup zone in basketball) to counter ultra-efficient offensive play calling, but even modern-day pattern matching rules can be defeated with creative route design. How do defensive coaches counter these concepts while maintaining tried-and-true base coverages? The answer lies in trap coverages.

Trap coverage has been used up and down the college ranks for a number of years, but only within the last half-decade have we seen widespread matriculation into the NFL coaching ranks. College coaches like TCU Gary Patterson (whose Blue Special and Two Read are likely the most popular versions of trap coverage at the movement) have led the charge in modifying coverage rules within base concepts like Cover 4, both preserving the basic integrity and rules of the defense while changing individual rules and responsibilities. Trap coverages rely on three principles:

  • Disguise the coverage pre-snap
  • “Show” the quarterback a specific coverage before rotating to something different after the snap 
  • Change the ‘usual’ read rules that determine individual responsibility after the receivers release at the snap

Gilbert’s pick-six of Andrew Luck provides a great example of all three principles in action. Without further ado, let’s go to the tape.

Nursing a seven-point lead with ten minutes to go in the 3rd-quarter, the Browns’ defense has Luck facing a second-and-ten from his own 12-yard line. The down and distance make this a likely pass, creating a great opportunity to set a trap. Pettine takes it one step further by running the trap behind a slot blitz from the field defensive back (most teams will slot blitz from the boundary side as the defender has less distance to cover). This is likely by design in order to force Luck’s eyes to the trap side as it is now has one less pass defender and any built-in hot routes will be to that side.

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Playing Team Defense: When Run Fits Go Wrong

This post is an excerpt taking from a much-longer breakdown of the Cleveland Browns’ poor run defense posted at The Orange and Browns Report

In addition to poor technical fundamentals we often saw errors in role and responsibility due to communication and misunderstandingduring the 2015 season.

An early-season 28-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans provided a great example of errors in responsibility when strong safety Donte Whitner and OLB Armonty Bryant both attacked the same gap, leading to a 44-yard run by Titans’ running back Dexter McCluster.

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Want to Stop the Run? It All Starts with the Nose Tackle

The following post is an excerpt taking from a comprehensive look at breakdowns in the Cleveland Browns’ run defense during the 2016 season. Check out the entire article at The Orange and Brown Report.

Later in the season we see another example of the nose tackle losing the double-team battle, allowing a blocker to ‘jump through’ to the second level.

The Bengals align in 11 personnel, utilizing a single tailback and an inline tight end. The Browns’ defense counters with an ‘Odd’ front, aligning a 0-technique over the center and a 4-technique over the guard. When teams align with two or more players in an even technique (0/2/4/6) they are frequently two-gapping or slanting into a single gap. On this call the nose tackle and closed end (defensive end aligned to the tight end’s side) are slanting to the field across their defender’s face, betting that the offense will call a run play to the defense’s right.

Continue reading Want to Stop the Run? It All Starts with the Nose Tackle

Defending the Run: When ‘Block Down, Step Down’ Goes Wrong

This post is an excerpt taking from a much-longer breakdown of the Cleveland Browns’ poor run defense posted at The Orange and Browns Report

Our final example examines both the schematic weakness and the information overload Browns’ defenders complained about throughout the season.

The Bengals utilize 11 personnel with an inline tight end and twin receivers to the right-side. The Browns’ set the strength of their defense to the tight end, utilizing a 1, 5, and 9-technique. The entire front is 1-gapping, as ILB Craig Robertson will run blitz his left A-gap at the snap. To his side, the 3-technique will play the B-gap and the 5-technique will play the C to cover all run fits.

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Bluffing Blake Bortles into an Interception

This post by the always-outstanding Jim Light motivated me to go back and look at some defensive film from the 2014 season, with the goal of locating some creative defensive schematics that led to turnovers.

The Jags game immediately came to mind as the defense picked off Blake Bortles three times, including two by Tashaun Gipson.  His second interception caught my eye as Jim O’Neil’s used a combination of offensive tendency via film study, a blitz bluff, and solid back-end coverage to confuse Blake Bortles into his second interception of the afternoon.

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Previewing Flip’s Offense: The Shallow Cross with a Twist

Mark Richt has run a highly successful shallow cross series since his days as Florida State’s offensive coordinator in the mid-late 90’s.  He brought the play to Georgia and continues to run it to this day.  I love the play concept; I REALLY hope Flip brings it with him.

Here’s a diagram of the play straight from FSU’s playbook:

Click here for a look at some All 22 film of the concept.  You’ll also see Richt’s Y-Corner, Y-Stick, and Sail concepts.

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