Happy Friday, friends. It’s that busy time of the month for me again, so my goal is to provide maximum value over minimum length today. Whenever I’m faced with that challenge, I tend to fall back to technical football, because there’s not really anything for me to research, nor is there a particularly exhaustive case to be laid out, since it’s not an opinion. Thus shall it be today.
One of Doug’s friends, a youth football coach in NJ named Rob Arciero, asked if we could write about the technical aspects of QB drops at some point. I decided to make “some point” today. We’re a customer-focused website, after all.
When I was married, I went through this period of teaching my ex-wife about football, and she taught me about her favorite thing, cosmetics. The end result is that I now know 10 times more about cosmetics than your typical heterosexual man, but I don’t know how well the football instruction took with her. I bring this up not to brag on my vast knowledge of the product lines at MAC, but because I vividly remember her asking me once how come TV guys always say that QBs always take pass drops that are an odd number of steps. That was a very good observation by her, and it lent itself to a good teaching point, which I’ll now share with you.
(Note: This is in response to the numerous requests we've received asking us to review the basics of personnel groupings)
When considering personnel packages, it's helpful to start with the most fundamental and obvious notion in football: an offense has eleven players. From here, we note that six of these positions are almost always fixed:
This is an important--although elementary--reminder. That's because it cuts right to the heart of football strategy.
How do you employ the other five positions in order to take advantage of your own strengths and your opponent's weakness?
Football is more than--as Lawrence Taylor once said--a bunch of crazed dogs.
It's a bunch of crazed dogs defending territory.
This territory is represented by gaps and techniques, both of which we are going to explore today.
If you've ever wondered what a 5-tech is, or if you've been mystified by the term gap responsibility, never fear. You've come to the right place.
After today, the crazed dogs will seem a little less chaotic. Additionally, you won't find yourself zoning out when players, coaches, and coordinators speak of gaps and techs. Finally, since we use a lot of this terminology here at IAOFM, your level of appreciation for our work will also increase (we hope).
Most important, however, is that you can impress your father-in-law on Sunday by saying some gibberish like, "The callside end played the 9-tech, but didn't maintain his D-gap responsibiity on that play. That's why they gave up the big run."
Happy On The Road Friday, friends. If you’re reading this in the morning or early afternoon, I’m on my way back to the Motherland for the weekend. I haven’t been there since Thanksgiving of 2009, so I’m overdue for a visit during which I’ll surely remember why I skipped town 17 years ago - just in time to head back west.
Today, I’m going to talk about some defensive back alignment concepts and how they relate to the pre-snap reads that QBs and WRs have to make on offense. I’ve been planning to write about this for a while - and it’s pretty straightforward, but after Tuesday’s July 5th fireworks I almost wish I had something good and non-football related on my mind with which to tweak my critics. I don’t at the moment, but we’ll see how it plays.
I could care less about the Casey Anthony trial, and I constantly lamented the lack of a Does Ted Give A Crap? Predictor in the MSNBC iPhone App, as I was repeatedly hit with breaking news alerts about the trial. I guess that’s the main news of the last couple days, right? I could go down the path of why the media should be much more measured about these kinds of things, and that Nancy Grace should be selling ugly knitted mittens at a flea market somewhere that has a high population of crazy people, but I’ll skip it for today.
Anyway, I’m planning on covering three concepts today: Landmarks, Leverage, and Posture. Couldn’t you just see a Ted Bartlett CBA article about a Landmark court decision giving one side Leverage, and forcing the other to Posture? I sure could, but this isn’t it.
Since we're notably still in legal limbo, I decided to invent some more content today. I almost said "out of whole cloth" at the end of that sentence, but I stopped myself. What does that even mean anyway - whole cloth? As opposed to what, partial cloth? Sometimes the urge to use stupid cliches is strong and unconscious, but we must fight it so that we don't become Clark Judge-like. (Remember the Broncos' coaches "calling 911" about the defense? SMDH)
Speaking of stupid, don't ask me why I follow Jay Glazer on Twitter, but for some reason, I do. I'm long on record saying that he's a name-dropping douchebag who can usually be found publicly kissing the haunches of Dana White or Jared Allen. Some random fan asked the ever-brilliant Glazer if the stay being granted by the Eighth Circuit made football less likely in 2011.
Glazer said no, because it could force the players to finally negotiate. (You'll hear a lot of this inanity, that it's an unwillingness to negotiate by one or both parties.) I told Glazer and his interlocutor that that was completely moronic, because it is. If the injunction stands, there will be football. This we know with 100% certainty, because the NFL would be forced to impose rules and have a season with no CBA while litigating in the background. That's not what the NFL wants, but it's what would happen.
Happy Friday, friends. Today we’re going to talk about defensive schemes and why the people making noise about Von Miller being more of a fit in a 3-4 don’t really know what the hell they’re talking about. Yay! Ted is going to tell us all how much smarter he is than the football MSM. That’s never happened before, right? (Don’t answer that.)
Anyway, let me start by reiterating a point that I made on Wednesday. The term 4-3 simply means a personnel grouping, consisting of four defensive linemen and three linebackers. It’s not a scheme, in and of itself; there is no monolithic 4-3 concept that everybody who uses four linemen and three linebackers employs.
John Fox keeps hinting at the fact that the base personnel grouping is pretty meaningless to strategy, but our friends at the Denver Post are too thick to realize what he’s saying. They only know what they know, even if it’s wrong. A guy like Jeff Legwold, who passionately bases his opinions on what “most/many NFL people” tell him, doesn’t even know what “5-technique” means. Obviously, neither does John “The Professor (At Bonita’s School of Toupee Design)” Clayton.
Happy Wednesday, friends. I had semi-limited time on Tuesday night, and there’s little compelling football news to write about lately, so I decided to break y’all off a little bit of Fat Camp. It also gives me a chance to mess around with the play design software that TJ bought. I’ve been doing mine in PowerPoint for the last few years, but this software has some cool features that will allow me to be more detailed.
Today’s topic is Passing Concepts vs. Blitz-Man Defensive Looks. I’m going to assume that it’s First and 10, inside the scoring area, which is a passing down, and a blitzing down. I’ll walk through some alignment concepts, as well as some play nomenclature, and finally some pattern and protection design.
Peep this first graphic, and take a moment to note all of the key things you know from looking at it, without looking past the jump. Feel free to write them down if you want, to measure how you did.
It’s become common in recent times to say that the quarterback, left tackle and rush linebacker are the three most important parts when constructing a team, but that hasn’t always been the case. When John Madden used to talk about team building, he was very firm that the two most important things were your offensive line (especially the left tackle, but you need the whole group to be anywhere from solid to exceptional) and the cornerback slot. There’s good reason to still see things that way. How important is the defensive secondary? Just consider these numbers:
You easily get the idea: it’s not news that the NFL’s passing game has been bolstered since the (in)famous 1978 rule change that permitted offensive linemen to hold, as long as it was within certain parameters. That rule change began a long series of decisions that put the power in the hands of the offenses in order to make games more exciting to the fans.
After exploring the basics of the 3-4 options in last week's Fat Camp, today we’ll take a tour of the basics of the 4-3 options. This is the direction that John Fox will take Denver’s D - a zone-coverage dominant, bend-don’t-break approach that requires the offense to do the right thing over and over in order to gain territory, and that prevents the big plays that have killed Denver’s chances over the past two years. While some of that has been the lack of a running game or a ball control offense (as well as the offense's struggles in the red zone) to protect the D, the defense has been dropping to the bottom of the league for some seasons now. Having reached that final level of futility, I look for Denver to make a lot of changes over the next two years. One will be the move to a 4-3.
A friend and I got to talking recently about 3-4 and 4-3 formations and systems, and I was a bit surprised when he noted, quite honestly, that he really didn’t know much about the differences between the fronts and how they work. After asking around a bit, I found that my friend was far from alone in that regard. It got me looking at the issue, and what better way to address it than a session or two at Fat Camp?
Regarding the differences between variations of the 3-4 and 4-3, new Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen takes much the same public stance as head coach John Fox does. In speaking with Dave Krieger of the Denver Post, Allen said,
"I don't look at it as a huge issue. Each player has a unique skill set and the challenge for a coach is to find out what those guys do well. So we're going to give them opportunities to do the things that they do well, whether it's 4-3, 3-4, 4-4, it doesn't really matter. I think our challenge is finding out what our personnel can do and highlighting those strengths."