In order to succeed against the up-tempo offenses, we have to be able to get lined up quickly and let our guys play fast.

By Brian Edmondson

Defensive Coordinator

All Saints’ Episcopal (Texas)

We love to bring pressure, but one of our most effective weapons to attack today’s spread offenses has been showing the threat of pressure and running a defensive line game. The added flexibility to run the same game out of multiple fronts allows us to appear complex while keeping our concepts to a minimum. We love to run these on both pass- and run-downs. But, as with everything we install, it is crucial to make sure we are always option-sound and that our players know when they have the dive (first threat), quarterback (second threat), or pitch player (third threat).

Everything we teach starts out of our base front (four-down, 5/1/3/6 technique). After installing our simple two-, three-, and four-man games that everyone in the country installs, we have our defensive line execute the games out of our multiple fronts. After they understand their responsibility on each of the games, they simply execute that same responsibility while lined up in one of our other fronts. We then have the ability to pair the game with a blitz or a bluff by any of our seven other players. We have detailed our favorite three games out the multiple fronts.

 

Four-Man Game – You/Me

We call tight end twists “You” or “Me” depending on who is the penetrator and who is the looper. The defensive end is always the talker, so when he says, “Me,” it tells the defensive tackle that he is the looper. When the defensive end says, “You,” it tells the defensive tackle that he is now the penetrator. After they are proficient in running this game, we can call double You/Me or a combo of the two.

Our favorite way to run this stunt is out of our Heavy front. We can call You/Me and set the game to any number of factors (i.e. Field, Offensive Strength, or Running Back). We have seen success with calling “Heavy Back You/Me” – this tells the nose guard (our “heavy” player) that he will call left or right when the running back or offset fullback lines up (we run it to the field vs. empty sets and pistol).  Then the defensive ends will call “You” or “Me”, with the “You” call going to the side that the heavy player already designated. In this situation, we are running the “You” to the left side and “Me” to the Right.

This game can be paired with a linebacker “Back Blitz” – spying the running back or adding when he blocks – or outside pressure from a safety/corner/linebacker. Many times, we will call a bluff blitz (showing, but not coming) with the linebacker and force the offensive line to account for the possibility of double-A gap pressure or an edge blitz when we are simply bringing four.

Three-Man Game – Wide or Tight Blast

Blast is a three-man game where the defensive end to the strength call (Wide or Tight) is the looper and the two tackles slant two gaps across, essentially replacing the opposite tackle and defensive end that is looping and taking on those run/pass responsibilities. After they are comfortable running

 

Wide/Tight Blast, we then have the flexibility to call Blast out of multiple fronts. As you can see, the defensive line simply runs the same “Blast” responsibilities from a different alignment.  Our favorite pressure or bluff is from the outside on the side of the call (i.e. a field blitz from the strong safety paired with the Wide Blast game). This helps the field-side defensive tackle to not be overly concerned about contain on a pass and helps with force on field-side runs.

Three-Man Game – Tail

Tail is our three-man game (pictured in Diagram 1) where the defensive tackle to the Strong/Field side is the looper and the two weak-side (or tight side) players slant two gaps across, replacing the two defensive tackles’ run and pass responsibilities. We only call tail towards the boundary, and usually only when the ball is on the hashes, because we don’t want a defensive tackle to have contain responsibility to the wider side of the field. It is a great call out of multiple fronts and we like to pair it with a strong safety or linebacker blitz/bluff coming from the wide side of the field.

Appearing Complex While Staying Simple

In order to succeed against the up-tempo offenses and multiple formations we all face on a week-to-week basis, we have to be able to get lined up quickly and let our guys play fast. We believe that these games give us the appearance of running several different pressures when, in reality, we are simply standing in a different spot and running the same call.

Do you have an idea for an X’s and O’s feature? If you do, email managing editor Dan Guttenplan at dguttenplan@ae-engine.com. Tweet us @fnfcoaches.

About the author

Dan Guttenplan