Fat Camp

Fat Camp: Protecting Peyton Manning

Happy Friday, friends.  We've been telling you for a while how awesome access to all-22 coaches film would be, and I can now confirm, it's pretty awesome.

For those who aren't subscribers, allow me to briefly explain how it works.  There's no sound, and for each play, you get a high sideline view that includes all 22 players.  Following that, you get a tight view from behind the QB.

What that allows you to do is to watch the downfield action of a play (receivers and secondary), and then watch the backfield action (pass rushers, QB, RB) for the same play.  So, if I want to gauge the effectiveness of the passing scheme, I can watch the route combination against the coverage for a play, and then watch the protection for the same play.

In the Steelers game, I was impressed with how well the Broncos protected Peyton Manning, and I was interested to see the difference in methodology from last season.  With Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow (a slow mover and a slow thinker), the Broncos almost always used at least six men in protection, and often, it was seven.  With Manning, the Broncos mostly kept five men in, and sent five men out into the pattern.  The use of extra blockers was quite limited, actually, and it speaks to their confidence in Manning recognizing the rush scheme, and getting the ball out quickly to the open player.

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Fat Camp: Thoughts on the no-huddle and balanced offense

A new way of playing offense has come to Denver, one that’s new to us, anyway.  When they went without a huddle Sunday night, the Broncos became unstoppable.

When you combine the brilliance of Peyton Manning with the altitude of Denver, you’re cooking with gas when you can sustain no-huddle drives.  I’m not in complete agreement with Doug’s article from Monday, and I want to give you a slightly different take.  First, I want to clarify the no-huddle, and second, I want to touch on some strategic offensive thinking.

I want everybody to understand the no-huddle better than it’s presented to them by the average talking head on TV.  There’s a significant amount of misunderstanding about the no-huddle, so let’s start with three key points, to level-set the discussion:

1.  The no-huddle offense is not the same thing as the hurry-up offense.  Going without a huddle allows an offense to snap the ball quickly, but it doesn’t require it to do so.  When an offense plays hurry-up, it will usually go without a huddle, but going without a huddle gives the QB wide latitude on when to snap the ball.  Peyton Manning often waits until the play clock runs down, and I’ll explain why shortly.

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The Bartlett Defense: Part 5 - Coverage concepts

Happy Tuesday, friends.  Today, we get to the interesting and original part of this series about the Bartlett Defense, as we discuss coverage concepts.  At its core, this defensive idea is about reducing the efficiency with which offenses throw the football.  A lot of evidence indicates that championship teams throw well and stop the pass well, so I conceived this scheme with that priority in mind.

Before we get started, let’s put out the links to prior parts of this series, in case you’re just joining us, or you want to refresh your memory:

Part 1 – Personnel and Alignment

Part 2 – Principles for 100% Soundness

Part 2.5 – Responding to an Excellent Comment

Part 3 – Reads and thought processes

Part 4 – Running game principles

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The Bartlett Defense: Part 4 - Running game principles

Happy Friday, friends.  We’ve gotten to Part 4 of the series about the Bartlett Defense, and unfortunately, I find myself a little handicapped.  The computer that can do my nice play graphics is still on a truck somewhere, so you’ll just have to roll with me as I do the best I can in that department.

Today, we come to concepts and rules for run defense.  If you’re just joining us, or want to refresh your memory, please see the following links:

Part 1 – Personnel and Alignment

Part 2 – Principles for 100% Soundness

Part 2.5 – Responding to an Excellent Comment

Part 3 – Reads and thought processes

Let’s start by leveraging some knowledge that most of us have about gaps and defensive line techniques.  There are some naming methodologies for this that are slightly different, and in fact, mine and TJ’s differ.  No way is wrong, but since I think the world revolves around me, we’re going to use mine.  Peep this graphic that I’ve used in the past:

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Fat Camp: Leverage and Robert Ayers

I’ve emphasized the importance of leverage in a variety of situations, mostly in terms of blocking or pass rushing.  No matter the position you’re playing, leverage has a major role in how much success you’ll achieve. Sometimes it’s getting your hands on the ballcarrier - good tackling form requires good use of leverage. Linebackers use it to keep their legs clear of clutter during a play. Wide receivers and cornerbacks talk about leveraging - bring force to bear - on a specific route. When you have a cornerback covering you tightly and you fake a cut into his body but plant and cut away sharply, he’s lost the leverage on that route.

It works the other way - you’ll see Champ Bailey taking away the leverage from a receiver by legally interfering with where the receiver wants to go. A top quarterback can do the same thing with just his eyes, forcing a safety to break on one route in order to set up another receiver to be open. Leverage can be physical, as it is in pass rushing and in blocking. It can be the intangible key to a successful negotiation or a defended or completed pass. It’s one of the keys to football on a number of levels.

I talk about leverage a lot because it’s equally important for the defenders and for the offensive linemen or whoever - a tight end, wide receiver or running back - who has to take on a defender and turn them away. The guy who achieves leverage first will win the battle. As I mentioned when talking about drive blocking - moving your opponent three vertical inches will win the encounter. That works for defenders who are working a bull rush, too - if you can get the blocker either off-balance or moving backward three inches (both are preferable), they’re at your convenience.

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The Bartlett Defense: Part 3 - Reads and thought processes

Happy Tuesday, friends.  A few of you have been asking in comments around the site how my move has been going, and the answer is that it’s been kind of a cluster-(you know what).  My moving company packed up my stuff on Friday 6/29, and they told me that they average three to five days for delivery.  A few days ago, I got tired of spending money on hotels, and I started camping out on the floor in my new place, with no furniture.  As of Monday night 7/9, there’s still no telling when my stuff is coming to Florida, and the company wasn’t too sympathetic to my plight when I called them this morning.

Other than that, though, things are good. I started the new job, and everything is cool there.  This whole thing is a big adjustment, and it will require figuring out some new habits and routines, but I’m going to try to start returning some normalcy to my writing schedule this week.

Today, we'll do Part 3 of my series on the Bartlett Defense.  If you’re just joining us, or want to refresh your memory, please see the following links:

Part 1 – Personnel and Alignment

Part 2 – Principles for 100% Soundness

Part 2.5 – Responding to an Excellent Comment

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Fat Camp: The power of drive blocking

The keys to the basics of blocking are found in the drive block. When an offensive line player is run blocking, the drive block is going to be central to that approach.

Even a zone-blocking team uses them at times:  they demonstrate a lot of keys that apply to any form of run blocking. I’m going to present a description of the how-tos of it and also provide a selection of some videos that offer useful tips. The detail that goes into this technique is remarkable.  I’m going to keep to just the main points.

The goal of drive blocking is to engage a defender - defensive tackle, end, or linebacker - and to control them to the point where you can move them to the side or backwards, or put them on the ground. You can drive block from a two-point stance - firing out from a crouch - a three-point stance, or a four-point stance. It’s all dependent on which lineman is blocking and what situation they’re in.

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The Bartlett Defense: Part 2.5 - Responding to an excellent comment

Happy Tuesday, friends.  I’ve rarely done this over the years, but I am a little short on time today, with packing, and my final month-end close ever at my soon-to-be-former employer going on.  I’m going to do Part 2.5 of the Bartlett Defense series today, rather than move to Part 3, which will be lengthy and complex.  I’ll probably write most of that in the car on Sunday, on my way to Florida, and I’ll release it next Tuesday. 

Today I want to focus on responding to an excellent Facebook comment that we received, regarding Part 2.  If you haven’t read Part 2, you should, and you should probably start at Part 1 if you haven’t seen that.  The comment comes from John Randall, who seems to really know his stuff.  His points are excellent, and in fact, I have thought of approaches to all of it.  Since his comment is so good, I am just going to let it guide me in the direction of explaining how I plan to deal with some real issues that go with trying a new approach.

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The Bartlett Defense: Part 2 - Principles for 100% soundness

Happy Friday, friends.  I am taking a break from packing for my upcoming move to bring you Part 2 of my series about the Bartlett Defense, which I am inventing as I go.  Here is Part 1.

As you see, I set the stage for laying out the strategy and tactics of a defense by beginning with a personnel grouping, one which doesn’t really fit the standard 4-3 or 3-4 convention.  You could call it a 4-2-5, or a 3-3-5, or a 3.5-3.5-4, with the two inside DBs being half-LBs, but the thing is, it doesn’t matter how you identify the positions that each player plays.  It may confuse Pro Bowl voters and idiot reporters, but you can’t really worry about that when you’re trying to design a winning defense.

Today, we’re going to holistically begin to take stock of where an every-down big nickel grouping leaves us in terms of defending the whole football field.  As compares to a more traditional defense, strictly by considering personnel, the Bartlett defense is going to be more effective in covering the downfield passing game, and less effective in stopping the power run game.

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The Bartlett Defense: Part 1 - Personnel and alignment

In football, I’m an offense guy, going way back to when I was a kid.  I’ve always thought deeply about the passing game, and been able to really see concepts, and understand why they do what they do.  This is despite not playing the game at a high level, or coaching at any level above Pop Warner.  I just feel offense, and as such, I’ve read dozens of books written about offense and watched hundreds of games, and the result is that I can do what I do with the subject matter. 

In transitioning out of my current job, I have a couple of visitors in Cleveland to document my processes, and one of them paid me the compliment Monday of saying that I do a good job of explaining complicated things.  I appreciated her saying that, and really, I think that it stems from the writing I’ve done on football sites over the last four years. I know what knowledge I ultimately want to share, and I plan out a logical way of getting there, all while making sure all of the important interim knowledge points along the way are disseminated in an order which makes sense, and which lays a strong foundation for holistic understanding of the major knowledge item at the end.  Like Lester Freamon said, we’re building something here, and we’re building it from scratch, and all the pieces matter.

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