Category Archives: Offensive Plays

Two Constraint Plays to Make The Veer Offense Explode

The veer offense, whether it’s the split back veer or a gun option run “spread offense’ (the 4 receiver version), or something else, is an explosive offense that forces the defense to play sound fundamental football. However, besides the base option plays, the veer offense needs a few constraint plays to make it very successful.

The veer offense though isn’t all about option plays, and I’m here to talk about those other plays. Yes, inside veer, outside veer, midline, load option, bubble screens, and speed options are all important. However, the constraint plays are what make them work. Let’s break down the veer offense’s constraint plays.
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Inside Zone Blocking: Simplify Your Running Game

Are you already feeling behind coaches? The season is a few weeks away for most high schools and colleges, and many teams running game is already behind. Well, if you’re ever in doubt when it comes to a good running scheme that will simplify both technique and mental workload, consider Inside Zone blocking.

Notice how I didn’t say Inside Zone. I said Inside Zone blocking. Why so specific? Because Inside Zone blocking can be used in any scheme, it is essentially dummy proof, and the rules are simple. While over-simplification can get you in trouble, inside zone blocking is a relatively safe concept if you’re kids are struggling with other inside running schemes. Continue reading

The Jets Constraint Play for Power-O

Oh, Power-O, how I love thee. Okay, in all honesty, this isn’t about football’s Power play. It’s about the counter the Jets used last season for it, something known as a “constraint play”.

The scheme here is relatively sound, it’s the old school Down/Belly/Power-G scheme. The Jets use several counter fakes on this one play to make it look like Power-O against a spilling Under front Dolphins look to their I formation. Continue reading

Disguising the I Formation Iso Play: Fullback Swipe

It’s important, that we as coaches, recognize ways to earn little victories in order to help our players be successful by aiding them in their opportunity to win match-ups. It’s a myth that the fullback in the I formation must be a bruiser (along with the idea that the tight end must be a man among boys). With small enhancements to the I formation, an undersized/under powered fullback can still be effective. The Swipe action on the the I formation iso play helps put the fullback in a position to be successful.

I formation Iso Play Swipe Concept

So what is the I formation Iso Swipe concept? I call it the “swipe” because essentially the fullback is pulling from an off-set position opposite the play to kickout the inside linebacker. I call it swipe because it’s not quite a pull or a wrap technique. The fullback works into the line of scrimmage, and should expect to kickout the linebacker. Essentially, everything is the same from your standard I formation Iso play, except that you are “swiping” with the fullback instead of “leading” up on him.


Fullback kicks out playside inside linebacker, combo gets dumped but accounts for nose tackle and weak inside linebacker.

What the I formation iso play swipe concept does is it essentially provides a really appetizing read to the Middle Linebacker. He gets an open door and sees the tailback coming right at him. It looks like a broken play, or Inside Zone with a combo on the shade. The linebacker presses the line, either looking to make a big play in the backfield, or to beat the combo block, and gets kicked out by the fullback coming underneath.

I Formation Iso Play: Swipe Technique

The fullback should come underneath the quarterback. He will not likely make the block on the other side of the line of scrimmage. If he does, it won’t be very deep. He should anticipate movement on nose tackles thanks to the combination block. He should use a blocking technique to a trap block. He should keep his head up the field, and kickout with his playside shoulder pad. He should use surface by using the flipper, and run his feet on contact.

The tailback wants to open like it’s a normal Iso play. This will get the playside inside linebacker to step up. The tailback should be ready to hug the combination block on the nose tackle.

The quarterback should make sure he doesn’t step off the midline as he reverse pivots to the tailback. If he steps off the midline, he risks forcing the tailback into the kickout on the linebacker. He should carry out whatever your typical play fake is.

I Formation Iso Play: Swipe Play Action

This run action actually works really well with any type of half-slide protection. The offensive line slides away from the call, with the playside tackle setting up on the end. The fullback, instead of kicking out, would sneak into the flat. The tailback is responsible for the linebacker tackling him (aka, playside inside). From there, the play is really up to the offensive coordinator. I always like Post/dig or Pound Pass (TE sits at 8-10, works off leverage of safety, and the flanker runs a post over the top) play action pass concept when the QB can setup right behind the tackle, so this play action works beautifully.

Vikings Play Action Pass Concept

Vikings Double Tight

Highlighted are the two tight ends

This Vikings play action pass is a sign of good coaching. When I watch other offenses, one thing I always look for is the quality of a solid play action pass concept. Play action passes are much more than a run fake. They should take full advantage of defensive keys in order to get the best coached defenses to fall for the fake. Otherwise, play action passes will work well against poor defenses, but not necessarily against great ones.

Goal of the Play Action Pass

The goal of this play action pass by the Vikings isn’t so much on the patterns run or the fake. While those elements are important, the most crucial aspect of this play action pass is the use of the defense’s own keys/reads against them. The Vikings start in 22 personnel, aka two tight ends and a split end. Both tight ends lined up next to each other, with a fullback in the backfield. This look forces a change in the back seven of the defense, because the offense, when the fullback and extra tight end is considered, can present two extra gaps to one side. The defense must overload that side.

Vikings' Tight Ends Block Down

Vikings Tight Ends Block Down

Play Action Pass: Use Over Aggressive Play Against The Defense

However, because of this overload, the defense knows they are weaker to weakside runs, especially given the alignment of Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Looking at the 2i alignment (inside shoulder of the weakside guard) of the defensive tackle shows they understand this weakness. However, they are respecting the deep pass from the split end, because they are playing Free Safety Chris Conte deep and near the middle of the offensive formation.

So the Bears are selling out to a run to the strongside, or a deep play action pass. This leaves them weak specifically to the weakside runs. It’s clear to everyone that the Bears are weak here, including the defense themselves. So they will likely overly aggressively play run fakes to that side.

Breaking Down the Vikings’ Play Action Pass

Play Action Pass Double Tight Vikings

Interior Tight End Comes Off DE, Begins to Work into Flat

The Vikings take advantage of this with their play action pass. They run a full flow lead play action pass towards the weakside. As expected, the Bears play over the top. However, to better protect Ponder on his bootleg fake, and to get the weakside of the defense to buy the fake, both tight ends start to execute what looks like scoop blocks to the defense. The Bears heavily use run keys. One of those is the angle of the EMOLOS, in this case, the outside of the two tight ends. As the tight ends scoop through, the defense pursues the run. However, as the outside tight end continues to block, the inside tight end, Kyle Rudolph, uses the defender’s body to push off and work away from the play. By technically blocking down on the defensive end, Rudolph provides Ponder protection, and thanks to his teammate outside of him, he comes free into the flat as Ponder works his head around. Rudolph works up the field and into the voided secondary.

Tight End Play Action Pass

The tight end comes open as the secondary still reacts to outside tight ends block on play action pass

Patience with the Play Action Pass

The Vikings set this play action pass up earlier in the game, but were smart in waiting to execute the big play, and then also running it twice in a row on the same drive. This prevented adjustments by the defense and they actually used it on the next play, leading to a score for Rudolph. We see the genius of coaching here. First, we see that the Vikings understood that the Bears were not stupid, they knew the weakness of their look and would aggressively defend it. Secondly, we see the Vikings using standard defensive keys to open up the interior receiver, in this case Rudolph. Third, and more importantly, utilizing the scheme to it’s fullest capacity before Bears coaches could figure out what happened and adjust. This is the sign of good coaching. Sometimes the NFL has boring stuff. However, sometimes they take the boring things, and if you know what to look for, add some important and exciting stuff to them.

This style of play action pass shows the difference between an average offensive coordinator and a good offensive coordinator. The ability to manufacture big plays and points by using the defense against itself, while putting your players in a position to be successful. Play action passes can generate big plays easily, but playing against good defenses they may fall apart because of a simple element (say the outside tight ends run fake looked terrible for instance). Coordinators need to show patience with play action passes, coach them up, but also need to know when to utilize them to their fullest extent to maximize their return before the defense can adjust. For other thoughts on scheme, check out Chiefpigskin.com.

Running the Option to Keep Defenses Gap Sound and Stable

As a coach, I don’t like non-gap sound defenses. By that, I mean defenses that send two guys to the same gap. One’s that over-shift the safeties to one side. I like them from the stand point that we can get big plays on them. I don’t like them because typically it creates confusion after the initial time or too. Some defenses choose to be a little less strict on their gaps when they identify a tendency or when they think a pass is coming. It’s at these points that having a little bit of an option running game can get big plays for the offense, or in the least, prevent these exotic looks. Running the option will keep defenses stable.

Running the Option: Arc Option

Courtesy of http://zeaocre.blogspot.com/2011/10/return-of-option.html

Running the option also keeps defenses from blitzing or doing some stunts. Having a problem with a backside linebacker run through? Run an option play and kill their backside pursuit by gashing them. A defensive end sometimes spilling power, but sometimes boxing it out? Run load option and win every time by kicking him or logging him and optioning the next guy.

Running the Option: The Excuses

Some teams will say they don’t have time to run the option, because it takes too long to install. They have some… elaborate passing game and don’t have the time to dedicate to the option. Or they don’t want their QB to get hurt. Or he’s too slow. Teams that use these excuses are avoiding a major solution. The bottom line is your QB doesn’t have to be a terrific athlete to make it work. He’s in just as much danger dropping back 30 times a game being protected by a 16-18 year old left tackle.

Don’t believe you have the time to be running the option or teaching the reads? Pre-call the silly thing, or call it from the sideline with a check with me type of deal. OR, spend pre-practice just going over your reads. Trust me, reading the option should be easier than reading 3-4 defenders on a passing play. Finally, the fear of turning the ball over is the other excuse. Personally, this is the worst one. You can run plays like the shovel option to make any dropped pitch an incomplete pass.

Running the Option: Two-man Option

I like the idea of the two-man option or double option when you don’t have a lot of time to install it. Really, you can use whatever your outside zone or veer blocking looks like.

Milt Tenopir, legendary Nebraska o-line coach, used the outside zone scheme for all his double options, which many times included a fake to the fullback to give the illusion of the triple option. He would change up the block of the offensive end man on the line of scrimmage, usually having them combo block with their inside teammate to the nearest linebacker, but everything else was the same. Using the outside zone scheme will eliminate confusion on the offensive line by recycling, as they should know your outside play already. It also only involves reading one defensive linemen, even if it sometimes looks like you’re reading two. This will help keep that defense gap sound. It makes running the option a lot easier as well.

Running the Option: Triple Option

The triple option takes more time to install, but the reward can be greater. If you don’t focus on the option, just install one version of this play. Usually, that version is outside veer or mid-line, depending on what the offense typically sees defensively. I like outside veer better, which can really be blocked using the outside zone blocking scheme (but having the offensive end man on the line of scrimmage combo with his inside teammate to the nearest linebacker). From here, you essentially are just reading the last man on the line of scrimmage.

Again, don’t make this more intimidating than it should be. Once you clear that guy, you’re reading the second man, typically the force player for your pitch key. Again, if your QB can read the flat player to the hook to curl player, then you can execute the triple option. It comes down to how well you teach both concepts.

Running the Option: Coaching it Up

I highly encourage you to Google for the specific option play you want to install. Once you have an understanding of it, go talk to another staff you think has experience with the play and get the nitty gritty details on it. See if you can borrow game film or practice film of a high school team running the option play to see what their difficulties are. Don’t just draw it up and try to do it on your own without knowledge of the play. There are some minor tweaks that may need to happen. Some of you may think this is daunting, but really, whenever you install new plays, not just when running the option, you should be doing this level of research.

Running the Option: Conclusions

Running the option is only daunting when you make it that way as a coach. We’ve used it this year, sparringly, but enough to keep defenses honest. When they start trying some exotic stuff, we typically get a big play out of our option running game. Again, running the option is not a major time investment. It’s worthwhile though, and can really help you offense get moving.

Why Offensive Line Coaches Need to Understand Defensive Run Fits

I’ve touched on the topic of offensive line coaches understanding defensive run fits in the past. But it is absolutely critical that offensive line coaches spend time with their defensive coordinator in order to understand how defenses defend plays. Then, the coach needs to take this information to the next step and equip their plays to be better prepared for well coached teams. I’ll use a simple example, weakside iso versus a 4-3 over cover 4 front, to show the importance of understanding defensive run fits.

Offensive Line Coaches Understanding Run Fits: “The Play Looks Wide Open Coach!”

Or… “It’ll be there all day!” Then it’s not. We’ve been there as O-line coaches. The defense makes an adjustment. For instance, below is an example of weakside iso versus the 4-3 over front. Every offensive line coach licks his chops when he sees this. There’s a big, natural bubble, and all we have to do is get a body on a body.

Weakside I Formation Iso versus 4-3 Over Cover 4

Weakside Iso versus 4-3 Over

I always assume the defensive coordinator is smarter than me. They’re not giving me a huge bubble unless they’ve got a way to protect it. In other words…

It's a Trap!

As many o-line coaches find out the day after film, while we draw it up and it looks perfect, the execution kills us. That’s because good defensive teams understand run fits and they do them so often that this play get’s clogged up. As you can see below, it was indeed a trap. The Mike linebacker has strongside B, the safety fills outside, and the Will linebacker plugs the kickout by the fullback. In other words, it’s hard as heck to get movement on the double and get to the Mike linebacker with a traditional horizontal combination block through the nose tackle.

4-3 run fits versus I formation Weakside Iso

Notice the bad angle for the combo to keep the Mike from Inserting Inside the Fullback

The Mike scrapes to B gap, and inserts inside of the Will linebacker, who should be taking the block on with his inside shoulder. Even if the Will linebacker takes it on wrong, the Rover is there. We can’t account for the Rover unless we get into some double tight sets OR use a receiver and get to him. So let’s assume the Will does forces it back inside.

On top of this, the Sam is probably flying to strongside A gap because the backside safety can take C gap. So now, we’re in a tough spot. ┬áThree linebackers who are scraping fast towards the play. We’ve got to combo a nose AND hope the backside tackle takes a great path to the strongside linebacker.

Offensive Line Coaches Understanding Run Fits: Offensive Line Technique

As an offensive line coach, need to understand how your conference opponents will insert their run fits against your run game before the season starts. Why? Because then you can really focus on teaching the skills necessary to play their run fits, not where they are going to be at the snap.

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For instance, in the diagram below, we see a vertical combo block on the nose tackle through to the Mike. You may not get the dominating combo, but you will get a body on a body. The crease here in the 4-3 over weakside B gap is big enough naturally that the tailback should have no problem punching it through if the guard and center can get some vertical displacement on the nose and just come off to the Mike.

Weakside Iso versus the 4-3 Over Cover 4 with better technique

Notice the vertical combo on the nose tackle to the Mike.

The tailback also needs coaching here. He needs to trust that his linemen will come off off onto the Mike. If he cuts back at the line of scrimmage, he will run into cutback defenders. He should stay inside, true to the hole. It probably won’t be terribly clean, but he should be able to punch it through for 5 yards if not much more.

We also see the tackle and guard on the backside stepping tight together. This is almost a zone combination. Some coaches would say combo the backside defensive tackle to the Sam linebacker. I feel that the tackle, even on the vertical combo, can step too hard and knock the defensive tackle into the A gap in this scenario, closing that window for the linebacker, which in turn makes him press tighter to the playside because well coached linebackers go to the next open window. I’d rather have the backside of the offensive line here use a mentality like, “you two have those two”, and really zone through. So that way, if the 3 technique works into the offensive tackle, the guard can slip off for the Sam. If the defensive tackle gets hands on the guard, like he probably will, the offensive tackle will step inside (no matter what he’s doing that) and work on a 45 degree angle inside up to the Sam.

Conclusion

By taking time to understand how the Mike will flow (aka, his run fits), I will know to coach our guys to use a vertical combination block in this scenario, rather than a horizontal combo. Some offensive coordinators may need to be “schooled” on why that nose tackle shouldn’t be completely blown away by the combo. You need to care more about getting to the backer on this play. For winning teams, while it’s nice to physically dominate the defensive line, it’s better simply to get a body on a body so that way the running back can use his vision. So overall, when scheming plays, you need to make planning for a defense’s run fits a priority.

ChiefPigskin.com is a place you should visit today. They have some great drills that can help you.