Intro: Last spring, I was approached by the head coach of the school I am currently at now to design and implement a new 4-3 Cover 2 defense. As I began researching the different ways to play 4-3 Cover 2, I realized that I needed to simplify what we were going to do with our players as they would be switching from Fritz Shurmur’s Eagle 5 defense to something totally different. So we began to look at a cover 1 4-3 blitz package.
We would be changing from boxing/contain to spilling as well as jamming and funneling. Knowing this, I knew that when we needed to get pressure, what we would be doing couldn’t be that difficult to implement and practice as we would be spending more time repping Cover 2 fundamentals.
ASIDE: This 4-3 blitz package article was written by a great friend and even better coach, Joby Turner. Joby was my roommate in college and we also coached together at Crawfordsville High School. Joby has a unique ability to connect with every athlete on the field, regardless of position. You can contact Joby at jobyturner[at]gmail.com.
After talking with a few of my coaching buddies and studying the TCU blitz package, I came to the conclusion that utilizing the 4-2-5 Bullets Concept would be the easiest way for us to bring multiple forms of pressure without being overly complex to the players. I also knew we could adapt that and make it a part of our 4-3 blitz package, especially against today’s spread offenses.
This decision was made, because we could incorporate the line stunts we already use to look “complex” even though we really weren’t. Also, a Cover 1 4-3 blitz package that looked like a 4-2/4-4 look wasn’t that much of a changeup because it is essentially a nickel package look or spread offense adjustment.
4-3 Blitz Package: Base Alignment
Whenever we decide to blitz, I tell our players all blitzes are out of our 4-4 look pictured below.
I use this 4-3 nickel look to cut down on the offense trying to formation us out of a blitz. Also, I only blitz our Mike and Will backers so that I make sure we are always sound against the pass.
Our Corners, Rover (Strong Safety for most people), and our Sam backer all play man to man coverage. The Free Safety plays deep centerfield. In the event of a Trips formation, the Rover would go to the Trips side and take the best matchup. Versus empty, we would check to Cover 0 and run Nick Saban’s Rain Check.
You can get to this by stemming late from a 2 high safety look. If you have the ability to run Cover 3, it provides even more disguise. Because we are bringing two people and running Cover 1, making sure we’re in this look before the snap is important for successful fundamentals in our 4-3 blitz package.
It’s important that your players stem at the same time as well. For instance, your rover and free safety should be attached by an imaginary rope. As soon as the safety stems down over #2, the free safety should be rolling to the middle.
If a team uses a lot of motion, make sure your players stem down much earlier. Executing the proper coverage technique is more important in this 4-3 blitz package then the disguise.
4-3 Blitz Package: Cover 1 Technique
Before we talk about the 4-3 blitz package, I think it is important to cover how we play Cover 1. I made the decision to keep how we play Cover 1 with and without a blitz the same as to not confuse our players. This also cut down the amount of material we had to teach the players as time was at a premium in the summer.
Our Corners will play a press technique with inside leverage attempting to funnel the WR outside and deep playing in the inside hip pocket. In doing so, the QB must be extremely accurate to complete a pass to this receiver.
Some people play cover 1 with the corners outside. However, as I will explain in a minute, we want the free safety to be dedicated to helping our lesser athletic interior players. If you have the personnel or time to run a true nickel package, you might be able to vary your cover 1 cornerback leverage.
Our Sam and Rover execute the same technique as the corners but with outside leverage trying to funnel their receivers to the middle of the field toward the Free Safety for help. We do this to give help to two players that aren’t supposed to be Man to Man coverage guys some help over the top. If the ball is going to be thrown there, it’s going to be thrown high and over the top.
It should also be said that if any offensive player motions, the defensive player responsible for covering him must travel with the motion to defend the player. This is why I mentioned to tem early if you’re facing a motion opponent if you’re going to stay in a 2 high safety look to disguise your 4-3 blitz package.
Finally, I personally do not account for the RB in the passing game as he should be picking up one of our blitzers. If not, the opposing offense will be in for a long night. If you’re having problems, your players aren’t executing the blitz package well. If you’re nervous about this, you can have D gap personnel drop off and “peel” off, but I want my lesser athletes focusing completely on the QB and running game.
Now, on to the good part: the blitz.
4-3 Blitz Package: Bullets Concept
As mentioned earlier, our main blitz concept in our 4-3 blitz package is the TCU’s Bullets Concept. The basic premise of the blitz is that our Mike and Will backers blitz their assigned run gaps. A picture is shown below.
However, the 4-3 blitz package becomes even more potent when you incorporate different line stunts to the package. These line stunts are the secret to multiplicity within simplicity. By just changing how the DL moves, we have now complicated the blocking scheme for the offense. This is especially true if the opposing team uses slide protection.
4-3 Blitz Package: Line Stunts to Change the look
The first line stunt we teach our defensive line is the Tin stunt. Tin stands for Tackle IN. For simplicity’s sake, we just call this blitz Mumble, and in doing so, the players know front, coverage, and blitz all in one word. The B in Mumble does this. (This is great for a no huddle team btw.) A diagram is shown below.
After Sack and Mumble, our 4-3 blitz package looks get a little more creative. For instance, take Bullets NSA. The NSA tells the Nose tackle to go to Strong A gap. The Mike now has to blitz to weak A Gap. One coaching point with this blitz is that the Mike must maintain the Weak A Gap versus run. Our guy tends to get wide and end up in Weak B. To fix this, have the Mike cut right off of the Nose guard as he is executing his stunt.After Bullets NSA, we install Bullets Whip. The Whip tells the Weak End (End on same side as Will Backer) to rip across the face of the OT into B Gap. In doing so, the Will must now exchange gaps and blitz off of the edge.This is a great blitz to add to your 4-3 blitz package against teams that try to use Play Action with the RB as the Will usually comes untouched.
After we have mastered the Whip and NSA Bullets blitzes, we add them together to create a Load stunt. The one caveat here is that you would want to run this if you are expecting a pass or run to the weak side. If you run this and they run strong, you might be in some trouble if your defensive line can’t make an open field tackle. After those, we install Bullets SET. The SET tells the Strong End and Tackle to rip inside their offensive player. The Mike must now fill the open C Gap off of the edge.
In conclusion, all of the blitzes mentioned above are all blitzes I have installed in our 4-3 blitz package and will call in a game. All of these blitzes are very simple to run and teach to players, yet they provide complexity to an offensive line.
Within that, these blitzes all attack protections differently without being cumbersome to practice. This gives us simple complexity in our 4-3 blitz package, in terms of personnel, scheme and play calling. By just bringing the same six people and changing their attack points, you have created multiplicity within simplicity.
If you would like to know any further information about what we do, how we do it, or why we do it, please don’t hesitate to email me. My email is jobyturner [at]gmail.com. Thank you for reading this article.