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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Wednesday, friends. There’s some big news in Tedistan, but I’m not able to announce it publicly just yet, so we’re going to return to Undervalued Positions. Today, we will look at the Matchup Safety, which I think will go nicely against our last edition of this miniseries, where we looked at the Move TE.
When an offense uses 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR), it forces a defense to choose whether to use Base (four DBs) or Nickel (five DBs) personnel. In most cases, that’s a situation of being damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. An offense in 12 personnel should have success in passing against Base defenses, and should have success running against Nickel defenses.
It gets especially interesting, offensively speaking, when one of the TEs has WR traits, and can be flexed out in a slot or flanked alignment. We’re talking about players like Aaron Hernandez, Jimmy Graham, and Jermichael Finley, who have the ability to release efficiently with a two-way go, and then separate in space (meaning outside the interior traffic that often helps TEs get open).
Depending on who you ask, there are 4-5 different “premium positions” in the NFL. Everybody would agree that Quarterback is on the list, and most would say Left Tackle and Right-side Pass Rusher. Many people say Cornerback, and I would say Run-Stuffing Defensive Tackle is premium as well. What makes those premium positions, though? Have you ever thought about that?
I would say that the primary reason those positions are held in such high regard is that the athletic skill sets which are required to be an elite player at them are difficult to find. It’s a function of resource scarcity, and not necessarily of on-field importance, in other words.
If I want to run a Cover-2 scheme, I don’t need CBs with elite man-to-man coverage ability, so I wouldn’t place a premium on those skills. If I always have the lead in games, maybe I care a bit less about stopping the run. The last six Super Bowls have been won by teams with below-average LTs (Marvel Smith, Tarik Glenn, David Diehl, Max Starks, Jermon Bushrod, Chad Clifton, and Diehl again). The evidence would indicate that you don’t necessarily need a great player at that position.
Happy Tuesday, friends. Welcome to Part 6 of our seven-part series about how Peyton Manning plays offense. Today, we’ll cover the seven-step passing and screen games. Later this week, we’ll close out the series, and then it’s on to Draft coverage.
Here are links to the first five parts of the series if you need to catch up on something:
As I mentioned on Wednesday, the Manning offense tends to revolve around the three- and five-step passing games, particularly the five-step version. The seven-step game takes a long time to work and requires better protection, generally with fewer receivers in the pattern.
Happy Wednesday, friends. Today we get back in the saddle with the technical series about the offense that I expect to see the Broncos run this season. Today, it’s Part 5, where we’ll discuss the five-step passing game. If you’ve missed any of the first four installments of the series, please check them out at the following links:
The five-step passing game is the key element of any offense, because with a five-step drop, and its concomitant protection schemes, the QB can create the correct timing to threaten all levels of the defense. When a WR is asked to run a Dig route at 18 yards, that’s an activity that takes around three seconds to execute.