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Gallae


Joined: 16 Jun 2010
Posts: 142
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:00 pm    Post subject: The Miami 4-3 Reply with quote

In an effort to make a contribution for discussion on these forums, I have posted this thread as a means to explore the origin and development of the 4-3 created by the University of Miami in the early 1980’s. The series will be broken into five parts that will be posted over the next week or so. In it we will highlight the techniques and underlying philosophies of the Miami 4-3 that revolutionized defensive football and distinguished it from the “Pro 4-3” that had existed beforehand. We will then trace the schemes and techniques that were adapted to fit this defense over time, eventually creating whole new monsters with only historical relation to this grandfather of NFL defenses as we know them.

I must thank all the members whose opinion's and contribution's foster our NFL Fandom, and to all the moderators who make it happen.
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Gallae


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:01 pm    Post subject: The Wishbone Problem Reply with quote

The Wishbone Problem

The first thing you may say is "the Wishbone was never a threat in the NFL," which is true. The Miami in "Miami 4-3" actually comes from the University of Miami. They concieved the defense in the early 1980's for the purpose of defending the Wishbone, as we will see.

The Wishbone was running roughshod over defenses of the time, which were guided by certain widely accepted principles. The most signifcant of these principles was that each individual player must never lose his outside leverage on the ball. Defenses wanted to squeeze space and make the ball carrier go through a greater number of players up the middle of the front rather than outside. Certain players in a modern defense still retain this role, now more commonly known as "force," but the responsibility is larger dictated by coverage and defenses will occasionally today go without a true force defender on a particular side. The second common principle was 2 gapping as opposed to gap control (several defenses did shade players into single gaps, but 2 gapping was much more common). This tactic ironically took the focus off of controlling space in the form of gaps and put it on beating individual blockers, as Al Groh puts it "...we are catagorized as a 2 gap team...what I say is that we are a beat blocks team." Now, it is true that 2 Gapping lineman end up just "eating space/blockers," but the process leading to that outcome is one of beating blocks. These two principles would be radically different in the Miami 4-3, and their replacements gave the Miami 4-3 a significant advantage in defending the Wishbone.

That leads us into the Wishbone itself, created in large part to mimic the Split Back Veer's deadly triple option plays while also allowing for an extra lead blocker going weakside by pulling the flanker in to go strong or weak.


Split Back Veer


Wishbone
-------SE-------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
------------------------------------QB

------------------------------------FB
--------------------------------HB------HB

(Unfortunately I can only find a few images online, and cannot upload any of the images I have on my computer, so visual learners will largely have to follow along in type).

The end-all be-all of the Wishbone was really in two plays, the Inside Veer (ISV) and Outside Veer (OSV). They had others of course, but the defense had to be able to defend these two. Thus, we will start with the Wishbone's foundation, Inside Veer. Pitted against by far the most common defense of the time in the Okie/50 front.


-------CB----------------------FS
-----------------------------------------------------------CB
-----------------------------LB-----LB-------------S/S
--------------------LB---E------N------E----LB
------SE-----------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
---------------------------------QB

---------------------------------FB
-----------------------------HB------HB

Again, I apologize for not being able to get actual images of assignments up.

The aiming point of the Fullback on his dive is the outside hip of the left guard (we are assuming the play will go weak, and thus left, because the Okie defense has "monstered" its strong Safety down). This is arguably the most important part of the play to remember, and the one that distinguishes it from Outside Veer. The offensive line will identify the first down lineman past the outside hip of the guard (where a 3 technique would be, so in other words the O-Line is looking for a 4i [inside shoulder of tackle] or wider). The offensive line then leaves that man unblocked, allowing the tackle to create a great angle for himself against the backer and making a double team by the guard and center on the Nose (the "E" in the makeshift image is left unblocked). The QB will step to the mesh point (the spot where the handoff will [or in this case, might] take place). He then reads the unblocked defensive lineman, if he stays square on the outside, the QB will give the ball to the fullback (who should have a gigantic hole between the unblocked defender and his down blocking lineman). If the defender crashes inside with his shoulders turning perpendicular to the line, the QB will pull out of the mesh point with the ball and option the second unblocked defender (the outside Linebacker on the offense's left). The right Halfback will get into a pitch relationship with the QB, the left one would have a variable blocking assingment, but for now we will ignore him.

The play as a whole was extrememly dangerous to the Okie front, and the problems relate to the two principles discussed earlier.

1. Individual Containment.
The problem here is that the weak inside Linebacker can't keep the ball inside, unless he's alot better than that Tackle who is in great position to seal him off. Along with that the "E" being read by the QB for dive/pull must shuffle down for dive, or the offense will reel off 5+ yards a pop rather easily. By breaking his rule he elimenates the main threat, but puts the outside Linebacker in the unwinable QB/pitch situation.

2. 2 Gapping.
The problem with 2 gapping here, or at least with how it was taught at the time, is that the End is left helpless. He would normally fire both hands to the Tackle, read where the play was going based on his movement, and then disengage while working frontside to pursue the ball carrier (as Al Groh's statement shows, 2 gapping is as much about beating blocks as it is about truly controlling gaps). When the Tackle leaves, the End was taught to not lose contain, which hurts more than helps against Veer.

This is a good time to note that while schemes do make a difference, and they were problematic for Okie/50 fronts of the time, the game is more so about the players. Which is why Wishbone teams weren't undefeated against teams running Okie defenses. 3-4s/5-2s have since developed their own answers to triple option that don't put their players in as bad of situations, but they aren't relevent to this discussion.

Now, on to the Outside Veer.

---------CB------------------------FS
-----------------------------------------------------CB
------------------S/S----------LB-----LB
-------------------------LB-E------N------E----LB
--------SE------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
------------------------------------QB

------------------------------------FB
--------------------------------HB-----HB

Outside Veer is distinguished by the aiming point of the diveback (here, Fullback). He is actually taught to aim for the inside hip of the Tackle, generally, but the blocking scheme is executed under the assumption that the aiming point is the outside hip of the Tackle. The offensive line will follow the same blocking rule as they did for Inside Veer. In the image above the first man outside of the aiming point is the strong (TE) side outside Linebacker. The Center and Guard will still double the Nose, with the Tackle sealing the inside Linebacker, the TE will block down on the End, and the backs will execute the same assingments (adjusting their footwork to account for the wider aiming point of the dive). Reading the outside Linebacker for dive/keep and then reading the corner for keep/pitch allows the QB to put this defense in a very precarious situation, especially with the extra lead blocker (whose base assingment would take them to the Free Safety). Now defensive coaches didn't sit and do nothing like bafoons, they could move to two high coverage shells, blitz and man up, rotate their invert safety down post-snap ect. But nothing within the structure of their defense could cover up for the base being torn apart.

Defenses needed to evolve to combat the Wishbone, and the University of Miami Football Team had the right combination of speed, smarts and skill to bring an entirely new foundation for defense into place. And in doing so breaking the two accepted principles mentioned here, stopping the Wishbone and unintentionally creating a "better mousetrap" for more conventional offenses.

(Note: Inside Veer to the strong side isn't mentioned because the blocking scheme develops in the same way, with the TE releasing to the safety. Most Wishbone teams would perfer running it weak. Outside Veer weak also isn't mentioned because, quite simply, it isn't possible. Outside Veer can't be run to a two man (no TE) surface except in rare situations because of the aiming point of the diveback. Any dive/keep key that isn't at least as wide as a 6 technique (head up on a Tight End) would beat the QB and Fullback to the mesh point and blow up the play every time.)


Last edited by Gallae on Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:36 am; edited 10 times in total
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Gallae


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:02 pm    Post subject: Origin of the (Miami) 4-3 Reply with quote

Origin of the (Miami) 4-3

Miami’s coaches weren’t running the Okie front at the time (I used it as an example because it is similar to modern defenses and was most common in the era), but they did suffer at the hands of the Wishbone due to their dedication to the same principles as the Okie and many other defenses. In response the coaching staff at the University of Miami began to construct a new, Wishbone-oriented defense from scratch.

What they came up with ultimately replaced the principles of 2 gapping and containment with three that can be summarized as:

1. Don’t let the offense travel vertically. Make the ball carrier go east-west, where we will have one designated “force” defender responsible for turning the ball back into the front 7 (some NFL teams would later take an even more radical step and alter this principle, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there).

2. Defend your gap. Players have one assigned gap (DL get there by shaded alignment or slant to it, Linebackers have two gaps pre-snap but read flow and fit in one). You still want to shed blocks (and single gap lineman do so more often than two gap lineman), but first and foremost control your space.

3. Gaps are dynamic, not static. A defensive end playing the C gap is defending the immediate space outside of the tackle (not all the way from tackle to side line, which is an important point). If the tackle attempts to move outside, so does the gap, and you must defend that gap.

Eventually the Miami coaches constructed this alignment as the catalyst for these principles…Within the alignment the base coverage was a hard cover 2. Meaning they kept 5 defenders in the interior as opposed to modern Tampa 2 and they played a hard outside jam by the corners in the flats. The safeties had true deep 1/2s of the field and the Linebackers spot-dropped to interior zones. At the time this was fairly sound coverage, but now a days it's outdated even for high school football.

--------------F/S----------------------------------S/S

-----------------------WB----MB------SB
-------CB-------------DE-----N----T------DE----------------------CB
---------SE-------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
---------------------------------------------------------------------FL

Ultimately it was the individual techniques utilized within the defense that made these principles work, and the most unique were those taught to the defensive line. As seen above, the defensive line all play outside shades (we’ll exclude formation adjustments for the moment). This leads them to play with, by and large, the same technique. There are some minute differences between how, for example, the 9 (outside shoulder of the TE) and 1 (shoulder of center) techniques were taught, but they will be left out here. All defensive lineman played in a 3pt stance, head even with the outside shoulder of the man across, with their inside hand down, and inside leg staggered behind the outside leg. Off the snap the defensive lineman would step with his inside leg at the man across from him, and strike with his inside hand right between the numbers of blocker. He would also strike his outside hand just inside the blockers outside arm pit. From here he would read and react to different actions taken by the blocker.

1. High hat (pass read): Engage in any number of pass rush techniques that most of you already know, I won’t go into it here.

2. Base Block (Blocker fires straight at the lineman): Execute your normal hand strike, push back against the blocker to maintain gap integrity, control the line of Scrimmage (LOS) and squeeze the next gap inside with the blocker’s body.

3. Reach Block (Blocker attempts to get on the defenders outside shoulder and seal him in): Get your hand strike in, maintain outside leverage, shuffle out if you must and free your outside arm so that you can disengage easily from the blocker if the ball carrier clearly runs outside of your gap.

4. Pull (whether he pulls outside or inside doesn’t matter): Turn off of your first step in the direction that he pulls, anticipate a block from the next lineman over which you must attempt to hit and shed immediately as you pursue. If no block shows in the direction of the pull attempt to disrupt the pulling lineman and wreck havoc while not getting scooped by a lineman from your initial location (the scoop block will be covered to much more depth in the 4th post).

5. Double Team: You’ll first read this as a base block, but you will feel pressure from the second blocker on your side when a double team occurs. Grab the blocker across from you with your inside hand and then perform a “seat roll,” driving your outside knee and shoulder into the ground to create a three man pile up.

6. Down Block (Blocker releases inside): Use the initial positioning of your hands to drive the blocker flat down the LOS for 1-2 steps while looking inside. When you see something inside (a pulling lineman from the opposite side, a Fullback coming out of the backfield to kick you out, or a ball carrier) tackle it if it’s a ball carrier of course, if it’s a blocker, wrong arm it. Meaning you attack the blocker’s inside shoulder with your outside shoulder to break up the run on the inside and force the ball carrier to spill it outside (hence the name “wrong arm,” an unfamiliar defensive coach at the time would call attacking a blocker with your outside shoulder attacking him with the “wrong” arm). It should be noted that Miami’s coaches categorized a tackle’s veer release inside and up to a backer and an inside block on a defensive lineman (down block) differently at the time, but the reactions were the same for the most part, and most gap controlling defenses today have dumped the split of these two blocks.

You should also know that some of these techniques are outdated, even among gap control teams today, as the development of combo and scoop blocks have changed how, for example, the double team (almost all doubles are just the initial part of combo blocks) would be played. We'll get to that in a future post.

Although it isn’t one of the mainstream principles I listed, the Linebackers in the Miami 4-3 broke from a long running tradition as well, reading backs as their keys in place of lineman. The Sam (SB) would line up in a 50 (4.5 to 5 yards off the ball, on the outside shoulder of the tackle), reading the back nearest him as his key. If his key read as flow to the strong side, Sam would fit in the strong C gap, if the flow went weak he would fill the strong A gap. The Mike would stack behind the Nose to protect him from blockers as he flowed from side-to-side, reading the Fullback if there was one, or the single back if a fullback was absent. Mike would fill the strong A gap if flow went strong and fill the weak B gap with weak flow. The Will would line up in a 50 (like the Sam) and read the back nearest him (like the Sam). Will would fill the weak B gap on flow strong and fill the weak D gap on flow weak. So under “normal” blocking conditions (which really only occur on zone runs that 4-3 coaches didn’t need to worry about until the 90’s) the front 7 should end up “building a wall” looking like image 1 (below) strong and image 2 weak. Another important point is that if the Linebackers find their gap closed after moving to fill it, they must scrape outside to fill the next open window. In essence, a defensive lineman has moved in and closed the Linebacker’s gap, and to maintain integrity the Linebacker must complete the exchange by filling the lineman’s initial gap. On pass the Linebacker’s would see the high hats of the offensive line in their peripheral vision, and subsequently drop to landmarks in the interior where they would react to the ball.

Image 1-------------------------------------Image 2
------C---B--A--A--B--C--D---------D---C--B---A--A--B--C--D
------DE-WB-N-MB-T-SB-DE------WB-DE-MB-N-SB-T-----DE
---------T--G--C--G--T--TE-----------------T--G--C--G--T--TE

In the secondary, only the corner techniques are really relevant. The safeties essentially just backpedaled down the high school hash mark (2 yards outside the college hash mark and goodness knows where on a NFL field) on pass, and stayed over the top until the ball carrier clearly crossed the LOS on run. The corners had a more complex job. Their jam started on the snap by striking the receiver between the numbers with their inside hand. If the receiver turned out and blocked the corner, he would pull his inside hand off the receiver and execute a rip move trying to escape outside off the block. If this first attempt failed the corner would attempt to club both the receiver’s arms by crashing down his own and release from the receiver. Once off, the corner would run inside, either making a tackle or finding a leading blocker. At that point he could use any number of techniques, but his ultimate goal was to make contact with the blocker while keeping his outside arm free and squeeze inside to turn the ball carrier to the pursuing front 7. If the receiver attempted to release on a route rather than block the corner would shuffle, keeping his hips parallel to the LOS in response to any horizontal movement. This would distort any directional release in an attempt to throw the receiver off his intended path and ruin the timing of the passing game. The initial hand strike was also critical to the jam, if the receiver tried to release inside, the corner’s inside hand would hopefully make contact with the receiver’s outside shoulder and turn his shoulders perpendicular to the LOS, disturbing his route even more as the corner shuffled inside. If the receiver attempted to release outside the corner would strike his outside number with his outside hand, creating a great opportunity for the corner to mirror and really stuff the receiver on the LOS. When the receiver eventually got off the jam and upfield, the corner would simply drop in his flat zone. On a “nub” (just a TE, no wide receiver) side, the corner would align 3 yards deep and 5 yards outside the TE. There he would read from the TE in to determine pass, run to him, or run away. On run away he would shuffle looking for a boot, cutback or reverse coming back to his side. On pass he would drop out to his flat zone. On run he would execute his forcing technique just as he would after escaping from a receiver’s block.

So, having the basic techniques established we can now examine how the Miami 4-3 broke the ‘bone, so to speak. Here is the alignment against the Wishbone.

----------------F/S-------------------------------S/S

-------------------------WB----MB-------SB----------CB
------CB----------------DE-----N-----T------DE
--------SE-----------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
-----------------------------------Q

-----------------------------------FB
-------------------------------HB-----HB

Just like in the Okie, the first play to worry about was Inside Veer to the weakside. The corner can be trusted for force because he has plenty of time to get off the receiver’s block before the pitchback arrives, essentially wasting the receiver (unless the offense has a physically overpowering receiver, as an example of players dictating the flow of the game rather than scheme). The Center and Guard double the Nose, who, upon feeling the pressure, will seat roll and make a pile up. The Mike Linebacker sees the Fullback go weak and fills the B gap…or…does he? The Tackle is blocking down on him, but the End makes the most important movement in this dance. He uses his normal block reaction rules, squeezing the Tackle down the LOS and ruining his ability to seal the Mike. The End then sees the Fullback and, being unsure of whether he is carrying the ball or not, makes the safe play and tackles him. In doing so he eliminates the dive from the play (if the end is not capable of doing this the defense must enter a chess match, but it ends up being pretty unfavorable). The Mike is moving towards the B gap when he sees that it is closed by the bodies of both the End and Tackle. His reaction is to complete the gap exchange by filling the next open window outside, which happens to be right outside the Tackle’s original location, which also happens to be right where the QB is going…And here enters the leading halfback variable, he could “track,” leading on the pitchback’s path, he can “load,” blocking the Will, or, a smart Wishbone Coordinator might have him wrap around the edge and seal the Mike inside. Anticipating this, the Miami coaches had the Will vary his assignment based on the path of the near back (who becomes the leading halfback, now you know why his original key was the near back). On “track” the Will would take pitch while the End destroyed the dive as he always should and the Mike took care of the QB. On “load” the Will Linebacker will make contact with his inside shoulder on the back’s outside shoulder and attempt to shed while the End, Mike and Corner took care of the rest. If the back sealed inside the Will would attack the QB, forcing the ball to the pitchback who should be wiped out by the Corner. Going the other way, Inside Veer is worse off. The dive is eliminated immediately because its aiming point runs right into the wall of mass that is the Guard, Tackle and 3 Technique, thus the play is dead from the start (we now have two unblocked players for the QB and Pitch). Basically, we’re good all over the Inside Veer so long as the weak End can do his job.

On Outside Veer strong, the offense is faced with a situation very similar to Inside Veer weak. The Guard and Tackle double the 3 technique, the TE attempts to seal the Sam when the End squeezes him, defeating the dive while freeing Sam for the QB. We still have the Corner playing force and the Mike is free scraping over the top of it all (he knows this based on the wide path of the Fullback, which is where his original key comes from). That gives us the three defenders we need to match the offense’s QB, Lead Back and Pitchback. One adjustment offense’s would try at the time was to have the Tackle immediately release up for the Mike while the Guard was left to reach the 3 technique by himself. If the offense’s guard was good enough to consistently do that, it caused problems for the defense. But few guards could reach Miami’s defensive tackles, and if the guard can’t make the reach it turns the play into the same type of mess as Inside Veer strong (DT can then get the Dive while we have the End, Sam and Corner for the QB, Lead Back and Pitchback).

The only answer the Wishbone could produce over the next decade was the Midline option. This made the 3 technique tackle the dive/pull read, with no second defender to option (going right in the image the left halfback would fake out on a pitch trail and the right halfback would fill up and block the Sam to lead for the QB) but in the end the defense could defend it with the same unconventional base rules that they used against the Inside and Outside Veer. Slowly the Wishbone died out (although Oklahoma ran the offense into the mid 90’s) as the Miami 4-3 expanded. It turned out that the founding principles of the 4-3 had great potential against other more pro-style offenses, instead of restricting it to being just a Wishbone defense. The function of the defense against these other offenses is the subject of the next post.


Last edited by Gallae on Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:44 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Gallae


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:03 pm    Post subject: Function of the 4-3 Against Conventional Offenses Reply with quote

Function of the 4-3 Against Conventional Offenses

Although its stifling defense of the Wishbone immediately made the Miami 4-3 a popular choice at the college level, the spread of the defense was sped up even further by its potential against the other power oriented offenses that were present at the time. These offenses generally operated out of 21 (two backs, one tight end, two receivers) personnel, somewhat limiting their formations for the defense. The three most common plays that the Miami 4-3 had to defend, quick Trap, Power and Lead, are the ones we will examine.

----------------F/S---------------------------------S/S

-----------------------W------M--------S
----CB----------------DE-----N-----T------DE--------------------CB
-----SE------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
---------------------------------QB--------------------------------FL

---------------------------------FB
---------------------------------HB
(Again, I apologize for not being able to upload my own self-constructed images)

Quick Trap is a play mostly run to the FB from I sets that were very common at the time. The strong side Tackle would move up and block the Sam, the strong Guard would release up to the Mike while the Center sealed the Nose back. The obvious feature of this play is just like the option, it leaves defenders unblocked. Different from the option however is how trap plays handle unblocked lineman. Rather than read them, the offense is literally setting a trap (hence the name) for the unblocked defensive lineman. They ran this play whenever he was starting to fly up the field looking to get a great pass rush, and could no longer play his down block rule effectively. The weak Guard would come across and earhole him as he was going upfield, the weak Tackle and Tight End sealed the defensive Ends, the QB would hand the ball off quickly to the Fullback initally going to the weak A gap (this was to allow the Guard to clear across and get the 3 technique) and then bending back to the strong A gap around the Center's block. The Tailback would generally run a fake pitch path weak (and the QB would fake like he was pitching the back the ball) to try and influence the Linebacker's (this is much like the Wing-T concept of integrating the quick Trap with the Bucksweep in their Bucksweep series). This is one area where the Miami 4-3 evolved even before reaching the NFL, teams began to have their Linebacker's read a triangle made by the ball, near Guard and near Back. Other teams still only taught their Linebacker's to read backs, but simultaneously see any pulling Lineman in their peripheral vision. When moving counter to each other the Linebacker played as if flow was in the direction of the pull. From a defensive perspective, however, the (defensive) Tackle just needs to play his base assingment and wrong arm the pulling guard, spilling the Fullback out with the Mike there to get him in closed space.

Power is another play that has remained very popular over the years. I'm sure you've all seen it and know it, but it's worth it to go over how the defense would attempt to play it. Going to the strong side, the Tight End would release up to the Mike, giving him to small an angle on the block for the defensive End to stop him from getting Mike. The strong Tackle and Guard would work together on a combo block from the (defensive) Tackle to the Will. The Guard and Tackle would initally double team the 3 technique trying to get him up the field and open a hole, but one of the Lineman would climb off the block and take the Will linebacker, depending on if the Will attempted to flow under the combo or over it. This was a style of block popularized by the zone running game, now almost every double team you see is the first part of a combo block. When we hear about defensive Lineman that force double teams by the offense, it's not so much that offenses gameplan true double teams, but rather that the defensive Lineman is good enough to hold his ground on the LOS against these combo blocks. This prevents either of the lineman from being able to come off and get the assigned Linebacker, as they would then have to travel several yards upfield while staying on the playside of the Linebacker they must block (to difficult to consistently do after time has been wasted on the Double). All this affects the Miami 4-3 because of the original reaction to double teams that was taught to defensive Lineman. The seat roll is no longer effective because the offensive Lineman that isn't initally grabbed by the defensive Lineman can work off and get his block on the Linebacker, while the defensive Lineman has now been put on the ground and incapable of controlling his gap (granted he has taken one offensive Lineman out of the play). In response 4-3 teams began to teach any of several techniques with the goal of helping the defensive Lineman prevent the climb up to the Linebacker while still holding his ground. The most common of these techniques was the hip throw. Upon feeling the double team the defensive Lineman would "throw" his hips in the direction of the pressure key (second blocker he feels) to disrupt his path to the Linebacker and hopefully make the double team itself more difficult. Now, back to Power Laughing, the Center would seal the Nose to the weakside while the weak Tackle would step in to pick up any blitz through the B gap before dropping and blocking the End. The most important part of the play is the weak Guard pulling for the Sam with the Fullback kicking out the defensive End, the aiming point of the Tailback is the C gap (some teams actually run it to the A gap, don't ask me why). Defending this play is rather simple for the defense, the 3 technique we've already been through, and the Mike, Will and Nose played by their normal rules. More important is the strong End squeezing the Tight End down inside and then wrong arming the Fullback. When executed properly this forced the Tailback to spill outside and prevented the pulling Guard from getting to the Sam as he scraped over the top of the End right to the Tailback's redirected path. The defense is also helped by the strong Corner who should be able to defeat the receiver's block and play force correctly (pinning the ball carrier between himself and Sam).

Power could be run to the weak side as well. The weak End is kicked out by the Fullback, the weak Guard and Center combo from the Nose to the Sam, the strong Tackle scoops (we're getting to that) the defensive Tackle ect. But it was defended the same way, just by the weak side players.

Lead is the final run we will be examining here. It's fairly simple, the Fullback will lead to the first bubble (a gap unoccupied by a defensive Lineman) on the playside with the tailback running the ball behind him. The offensive Line would combo and/or block away from the hole after identifying the bubble and the Linebacker that the Fullback will block. So, going strong the Center, strong Guard, Tight End and weak Tackle all block the man covering them. The weak Guard and strong Tackle block the Will and Sam respectively. Leaving the Mike to be blocked by the Fullback. The Miami 4-3 broke its base rules in defending lead, as most teams had the Mike fit inside the Lead blocker (Fullback) as close to the LOS as possible while the playside outside Linebacker attempted to fit outside of him. Going to the strong side this was more difficult on the Linebacker's, but the Tackle and Nose should both fight the base blocks of the Center and strong Guard and thus sqeeze the A gap, giving the ball carrier much less room to run (this obviously relies on the defensive Tackles actually being able to execute against the base block). Going weak the Will would fit outside the Lead blocker, the Nose really needed to do his job and keep the double of the Guard and Center off the Mike to allow Mike to fit inside the Lead blocker as an unblocked defender.

Lead also has a variation commonly called Lead-G that can be run from one back formations. It replaces the lead blocker by using the backside Guard to pull and do the leading himself. The rest of the backside offensive lineman then have to account for his absence.

With the defense of these plays in mind, we can now examine the formation adjustments that the defense had to make. First moving from "Pro" to "Slot." Slot is just a way of bringing the Flanker over from the strong side and creating a twins set weak, it seems rather simple, but simple things can cause major problems for the defense.

---------SE--------------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
-----------------------WR------------------QB

---------------------------------------------FB
---------------------------------------------HB

The 4-3 had to widen someone out within the proximity of the slot. Not just because someone had to get a better angle for covering his route (and eliminate his great crack block angle), but mostly because of the defense's fear of the uncovered principle. The uncovered principle is often attached to run plays by an offense (that is in the NFL, most "spread" [I hate the term] teams in college will have it on every down). It simply means that on favorable down and distance plays (not long yardage situations) the offense will immediately throw either a bubble from shotgun or just a quick bullet from under center to a receiver that has no one in his vincity to stop him from gaining at least 4 yards. The defense can't allow this to occur over and over again, so someone had to get within the area of the slot.

4-3 Teams had no good method for bringing the strong corner over to the slot reciever at the time (not that that's the best method anyway), as they hadn't at this time figured out a way to properly mesh reasonable everydown coverages other than cover 2 with the play of the front 7. So they ultimately had to widen out the Will to play about half-way between the offensive Tackle and slot Reciever (shown below). This however, made defending weak side Lead runs much more difficult as the block on the Will occurs further outside and further on the defense's side of the line than when the Will was stacked behind the weak End. Eventually defenses made one of two adjustments to the Will widening out, they would have the Will give a call to the End telling him to slant inside to the B gap (making the open gap weak the C, which is closer to the Will's position) or make a check with the Nose moving him from a 1 technique to a 2i. While this didn't change gap responsibilities it did put the Nose in a better postion to hold up against the double of the Center and weak Guard, making the B gap hole smaller.

--------------------FS------------------------------------SS

---------------------------W--------------M--------S-----------CB
----CB----------------------------DE---N------T------DE
-----SE-----------------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
-------------------WR

(Nose widened to 2i)

A similar situation occured when the Tight End in Pro became a slot, the Sam had to widen out.

---------------------------W------M--------------S
-----CB-------------------DE-----N----T--DE------------------------CB
------SE--------------------T--G--C--G--T-------------------------SE
------------------------------------QB-----------------WR

The difficulty here is in strong Lead, as the Sam is so far away from the strong A gap that he has great difficulty getting there and fitting outside the lead blocker. There is also the problem of runs in general going weakside, the Sam has trouble fitting in the strong A in that situation as a cutback defender. Most defenses then chose to have the Sam give a call to the Tackle and End to slant inside (this moves the open gap closer to Sam), and to keep rules consistent within the defense the slant check against a weakside slot became more common than widening the Nose to a 2i.

The slot check became the standard for the Miami 4-3 against all kinds of formations, if the FB from Pro moved out as a slot on the weakside for example, the defense would treat it the same as a "Slot" formation, with the Will checking the weak End to a slant.

Another formation that could cause some trouble was "Duece" (as the Miami coaches called it). This is a one back formation with a Flanker and Tight End to each side. The defense would designate the wide side of the field as the strong side, but couldn't give up the edge so easily to the weak Tight End collapsing down the weak End. The weak End had to be widened to a 7 technique (I should say that I use the technique system I was taught, none of them are universal) or inside shade on the Tight End. This left the weak B gap open in a big way for Lead-G, so the defense was forced to widen the Nose to a 2i along with the End.



--------------------------W----M--------S
---CB----------------DE------N-----T-------DE-----------------------------CB
----------------------TE--T--G--C--G--T--TE
-----FL--------------------------QB-----------------------------------------FL

That's a good point to stop as far as the college level stuff that the Miami 4-3 had to handle. We can finally move on in the next post to the real meat of the series, the evolution of the Miami 4-3 in the NFL. Again I'd like to thank all the people on this board who make it such a wonderful place for us NFL fans, I really hope someone might find a nugget of useful information within this series.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:03 pm    Post subject: Initial Adjustments to the NFL Reply with quote

Initial Adjustments to the NFL

As the Miami 4-3 became integrated into the NFL in the early 90’s, the first adjustment that had to be made was coverage. Unlike the college level, every team and every QB in the NFL was good enough to burn hard cover 2 in the passing game. In the early stages 4-3 teams were only looking for coverage’s that would mesh with the 4-3 front, that is, ones that would be consistent in pass defense (not blitzing all the time) while providing a force defender on either side for their 7 man front. The cutting edge coverage package they looked at was the robber coverage of 8 man front teams. Robber coverage was designed as a cover 3 check to the common 21 personnel sets of West Coast offense's.

-------------------------------------------------FS
--------C---------------------------------------------------------------C
----------------------W---------M--------S---------SS
-----------------------------DE-----N----T------DE
------SE----------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
--------------------------------------QB----------------------------------FL

--------------------------------HB---------FB

Robber was (is) great against these formations because it allowed the defense to get 9 in the box in a hurry while still capping off all 3 vertical threats and getting zone droppers underneath them. The pattern reading (we’ll get to the specifics shortly) in the undercoverage also helped a great deal in covering the horizontal stretches utilized heavily by these pro offenses. We must get one thing out of the way first in describing the coverage. All the receivers will be referenced by number a lot, this number count starts from outside-in and differentiates between strong side and weak side receivers. So the Split End is the weak #1 reciever, the Halfback is the weak #2, the Flanker is the strong #1, the Tight End is strong #2 and the Fullback is strong #3.

The coverage starts with the play of the corners, who play over the top of the #1 receiver on their side and have to yell “Smash! Smash!” when the receiver runs a hitch route. In that situation the corner will drop deep in anticipation of a corner coming from inside. The Free Safety reads the strong #2 receiver (Tight End), if he gives a run block read the safety will fill fast in the alley (the space created between the front and force defender) giving the defense a 9 man front. If he pass blocks, breaks inside or breaks outside within 6 yards or so of his stem, than the Free Safety will jump inside and underneath (Rob) the route of the #1 receiver on his side. When the strong #2 goes vertical the Free Safety has to match the route and keep inside leverage on it. The Strong Safety will read #2 to #3, meaning his first read against pass will be the route of the Tight End (strong #2). If the Tight End quickly gets to the flat the Strong Safety will cover him. If the Tight End goes vertical with his stem the Strong Safety will drop and “carry” the route up to the Free Safety, while keeping his eyes and ears open. If he hears the “Smash! Smash!” of the corner on his side he will break outside and get on the hitch route. He must also get outside if he sees a back coming out of the backfield or a receiver crossing the field to the flat. If the Tight End runs a quick inside route the Strong Safety will yell “Cross! Cross” to alert the other defenders while turning in and looking for a back out of the backfield or a receiver crossing the formation for him to cover in the flat. The Sam is reading #3 to #2. His initial read is of the Fullback, if the Fullback goes quickly outside Sam will yell “Out! Out!” and, knowing the Tight End will either be crossing inside or on a vertical stem, he will open up to the Tight End and work towards him. If the strong #3 goes vertical (unlikely from the backfield) Sam will drop with him and break on the first route to cross his face going either way. If the strong #3 went weak quickly Sam would pass him off to Mike in most coverage’s, but this one is somewhat different, and Sam must stay with the Fullback in that situation unless a weak receiver comes across the formation. The Mike and Will would work together on the #2 weak to help cover the #1 receiver. If the weak #2 went outside quickly Will would cover him in the flat while the Mike would open to the #1 receiver and rob his route. If #2 went inside the roles are reversed, Mike plays the route and coordinates with the rest of the undercoverage while the Will robs the route of the #1 receiver. With #2 going vertical the Mike would match and Will would rob the route of #1.

The Miami 4-3 coaches adapted Robber coverage by removing the “free” role of Mike/Will (whichever one doesn’t match #2 weak) and playing a safety weak reading #2 just like the Free safety in robber coverage. The safeties also became responsible for force rather than fitting in the alley, it would up looking like this…

-------------------------------------------------SS
---------C--------------FS----------------------------------------------C
------------------------------W------M-------S
------------------------------DE-----N----T------DE
------SE-----------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
---------------------------------------QB---------------------------------FL

----------------------------------HB-------FB

(The Free Safety here is already down because there is very little threat of #2 vertical, so he gets in better position pre-snap for both force and robbing #1's route)

The coverage came to be called Quarters, because the initial structure has 4 deep players evenly splitting the field (into ¼’s). It gave the Miami 4-3 another way to force the outside and allowed them to cap 4 vertical threats in the passing game. Most important in strengthening the coverage package of the defense was the use of pattern reading, although spot dropping still exists in the NFL, it is rare and only used with coverage’s that the defense doesn’t want to spend too much time on. To be effective with any consistency, pattern reading was (is) necessary.

Now is a good time to take a step back away from coverage and examine how D-Line techniques have changed over time. The defensive Line has changed a lot in the Miami 4-3 as it has become less about gap control, and more about gap attacking. Recall that the most important reason for squeezing down with blockers and being under control was to defend option (Wishbone) and trap plays. While the Run and Shoot teams in the NFL made a living off of trap, it was largely an unseen play, and triple option was most definitely not something any NFL defense had to worry about. A lot of the reason for striking the man across from you and being under control as you play your gap was dead with those types of plays out of the equation. Thus, most NFL defenses working under 4-3 principles began teaching a “big first step” technique. This is exactly what you think, a big first step coming off the line rather than being under control and short stepping with your back foot as you strike your man and “control” your gap. The big first step put defensive lineman into better position against the passing game and created a focus on penetrating through their gap in the running game. Teams still had to teach the same block reactions with the big first step, save for one, but they were executed later in the play and reacting to pulls and down blocks is undoubtedly much more difficult. The block reaction that changed is a rather good representation of this shift by the 4-3 from gap controlling in college to gap attacking (all defenses in the NFL using single gap lineman now use the big first step) in the NFL. The double team could not be handled by the “hip throw” after using a big first step for get-off, and, in penetration oriented-style, coaches began teaching lineman to react by getting “skinny,” turning their shoulders perpendicular to the LOS and shooting between the blockers. Hopefully pushing the blockers back to the LOS to prevent them from climbing to a Linebacker. These changes in technique were a big factor in the spread of the 4-3 because they gave defenses tools more fit for the passing and zone running seen in the NFL.

Another change brought about by the zone running game was the positioning of the Linebackers. Although it is a subtle difference, it does matter. To put Mike and Will in better position to play the strong side zone running game, their base alignments were changed to a strong 10 and weak 40i respectively. The threat to the Mike came from the Center...

-----------------------W------M-------S
-----------------------DE-----N----T------DE
-------------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE

With the Mike in his original alignment behind the Nose, the weak Guard and Center would combo up from the Nose to the Mike. The Center’s initial leverage to the strong side is what makes this difficult, if the Nose is not good enough to hold the double team at the line then the Center will be able to seal Mike off and create an A gap hole for Inside or Outside Zone. By moving the Mike into a strong 10, the Center was forced into a scoop block, meaning he initially steps flat and attempts to work up from the line into a man in his assigned gap. The Nose could take advantage of this by shooting through (he is no longer “controlling” the A gap, although he should maintain the same position relative to the Center for gap integrity) after getting a push into the Center. The Guard would be there to try and scoop the nose as well, but it is difficult to overtake him. If the Center helped the Guard with a one hand punch to the nose before leaving for his block (this is the common way to handle the situation in zone running), the Mike had a great opportunity to fill the A gap and prevent the Center from gaining leverage or moving forward to create space. As for the Will, it was simply a matter of the backside tackle scooping while the End gets his big first step get-off (again, the defensive line could no longer hold blockers on the line as effectively as they used to), The Will had to adjust to avoid getting sealed and creating a cutback lane.

The final concept we will look at here is the way in which the 4-3 finally integrated single-high coverage’s. Defenses had been using this principle to defend single back formations for decades without knowing it, but it was only first laid out as a specific method to be taught to Linebackers in the 1990’s. The method is known as lever-spill-lever when used against two back formations, but it is usually known by some other code-word terminology when used against one back sets (because the level-spill-lever is taught against two backs and the code is used to communicate pre-snap that two Linebackers will use the technique against one back). In essence, it is a way for the Linebacker’s to account for outside runs on a side that has no true force defender by bracketing the backfield (while still fitting gaps correctly).

------------------------------------HB
------------------------------------FB

-------FL--------------------------QB
------------------------TE--T--G--C--G--T----------------------SE
---------CB----------DE------T-----N-----DE------------------CB
----------------SS---------S-----M------W

------------------------------------FS

(That'll throw 'em off Cool)

Here we roll the Strong Safety and may be playing a cover 3 or 1 variation, more important is that this defense is, to some, completely unsound. The spill rules of the Miami 4-3 require a force defender on both sides, right? Mostly, yes. But not entirely. On a sweep to the weakside (and sweeps aren’t even that common in the NFL anymore) we could get the Fullback working his way outside the front leading the Tailback, while the Tackle attempts to reach the End and the weak Guard pulls to seal Mike in. The Will must act as the first lever, attacking the outside most back with outside leverage, here it becomes the Fullback, and in attacking him the Will is also fitting the weak D gap. The Mike, as the spill player, must scrape and attack the 2nd back from inside out. In this situation he will likely get caught by the Guard, but that is okay, the offense has sacrificed any way to consistently reach our Nose and weak End, who should be right there on the inside to tackle the back (and as far as gaps go we are still sound, the Nose fighting the reach block and eventually shedding to pursue is now in control of the area inside the offensive Tackle [B gap] while the Mike is inside of the center’s post-snap location [A gap]). The Sam acts as the second lever, and fits inside of both backs. It is easy to imagine how he ends up fitting the strong A gap as the Center must travel on a wide path to the weak side in his attempt to reach the Nose.

The same applies to one back sets...

----------------------------------------HB


-----------------WR-------------------QB------------------WR
---SE---------------------------T--G--C--G--T----------------------------SE
----CB-----------------------DE--T----N------DE------------------------CB
-------------------SS----------------S------M-----------W

----------------------------------------FS

Here we could have called the same Cover 1 variation as we had against the pro formation, here the defense has adjusted to the slot receivers by widening the Strong Safety and Will. The Mike and Sam have simply moved into the weak 30 and strong 10 alignments because these are the only open gaps (and become their responsibility). Neither the Will or Strong Safety can play force, defenses (usually) won't risk touchdowns when they are unsure of a run/pass read (teaching run defense with the classic force responsibilities requires them to move up instantly on run read). The Sam and Mike make their call and together bracket the back. When the back’s aiming point is inside in either direction they will easily end up in their A and B gaps, when the Back commits quickly outside, the near Linebacker will flow over the top (in terms of gaps he will end up taking D) while the opposite Linebacker flows to play the back inside-out (eventually ending up in the open gap on the side opposite him). This principle against one back sets is very important because it allows for man coverage to be played against multiple receiver sets, rather than having to go zone for the sake of getting a force defender on either side.

Note: I forgot to mention that Lever-Spill-Lever has another requirement to be done successfully, you must have an outside shade on the forceless side. To a force defender you can do whatever (you already have force), but the outside shade on the edge is needed for the sweep situations above. If the Tackle could seal the weak End inside, we would have no one to fill the space between the Tackle and the Will fitting outside on the Fullback (which is necessary to prevent the back from continuing outside).


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:04 pm    Post subject: Becoming the Under, and the Tampa 2 Reply with quote

Becoming the Under, and the Tampa 2

Two of the most important ways in which the 4-3 evolved I have saved for this post. The Under, as a front, and the Tampa 2 as a coverage.

The first notes I’ve seen of a single-gapping Under front in the NFL were from the Vikings in the early 90’s. But 3-4 teams had been running what they called a reduction on the weak side of the “Pro” formation for years.

------------------------FS----------------------SS
--------C-----------------------------------------------------------C
--------------------------------W--------M
---------------------------DE--T----N------DE--S
-----SE----------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
-------------------------------------QB--------------------------------FL

-------------------------------------FB
-------------------------------------HB

Note: This is the alignment with defensive Lineman playing single-gap technique, if two gapping (Under is very rarely played with two gapping Lineman) the Tackle, Nose and strong End would be head-up on the man they are shading above.

The fact that both 3-4 defenses and 4-3 defenses “invented” the Under separately shows that this front serves as a type of bridge between the two bases (the difference in the modern NFL between a 3-4 Under and 4-3 Under is as small as whether that weak side End is standing up or not, but he’ll generally do the same things either way). Obviously if different families of defense arrived at the same thing, that “thing” has its advantages. The Under front began to serve as a common check to 2 back formations because it places defenders on the LOS in 5 of the 7 gaps presented (it’s inherently more difficult to run into a gap that starts with a Lineman in it than it is to run through one that started open), in contrast to the base 4-3 front (with the invention of the Under the base front actually took on the name “Over” in many football vernaculars) which has only 4 gaps filled and the 3-4 base which doesn’t shade to gaps, but still only covers 4 Lineman. In addition the Under front protects the Will linebacker extremely well, as no lineman near him isn’t covered by a shaded defender, making Under a great way to allow one fast but undersized LB to maximize his potential. In contrast the Sam is usually asked to function as a force defender, this entails maintaining leverage against the reach block and more importantly squeezing kick-out blockers hard inside (this factor gives more value to good run-stopping strong side Ends as well, since they would be left unprotected from the double team on power).

These requirements lend themselves more to prototypical 3-4 personnel, but a lot of good coaches take away the Sam’s role as force defender to allow their smaller LBs to play there by wrong-arming kickouts and playing inside-out. However, this kind of adjustment forces the defense to play two high coverage structures and get a force defender outside of Sam, while still having to account for force weak (Lever-Spill-Lever against the two back sets isn’t possible because the Sam is on the LOS). This caused Quarters coverage to become very common with the Under front, the Tampa 2 can be good (and actually puts less pressure on the Sam in his drop) but Mike needs to be able to fill hard against Lead while not getting sucked into play-action on it, a conflict that most defenses just don’t want. Yet another advantage to playing the Under is that it sets up very well for Fire Zones (Zone Blitz’s), but that is a discussion unto itself. With that overview of the under front I think now is a good time to look at different formation adjustments.

-------------------------FS-----------------------SS
------C------------------------------------------------------------C
---------------------------------W-------M
---------------------------DE---T----N-----DE--S
--------------------------TE--T--G--C--G--T--TE
----FL-------------------------------QB------------------------------FL


-------------------------------------HB

The weak End basically just widens to inside shade the Tight End (you should be aware that alot of more 3-4 style teams running Under would have him widen to a 9, because they don't want their OLB taking on a double team from a 2 point stance.).

------------------------FS----------------------------SS
-----------C-------------------------------------------------------------C
----------------------------W-------------------M
-----------------------------------DE-T-----N-----DE--S
--------SE--------------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
---------------------WR-------------------QB------------------------------FL


--------------------------------------------HB

This is where the original college adjustment of slanting the line inside when a LB has to widen becomes ambiguous. Alot of teams in the NFL will still count on the Will to fill that A gap (same goes for widening in other fronts), others will want the open gap at least as wide as the B and thus slant the 3 technique. Still, others will slant both the 3 and 5 inside. One possible adjustment for the 3-4 Under fronts that you might see some teams do is to widen the weak "End" out while leaving the Will in the same position. This requires the 3 technique Tackle to widen to a 4i, however, or else it would be to easy for the offense to seal the front inside with the Tackle collapsing the 3.

-----------------------------------FS
---------CB--------------------------------------------------------------CB
-------------------------------W------M---------------------SS
--------------------------DE--T----N-----DE--S
-------SE------------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
-----------------------------------QB-----------------------WR------------FL


-----------------------------------HB

This shows a cover 3 check, this is common against 3x1 formations, especially "Trey" (my term for Trips with a TE). It leaves the Sam hard in that D gap instead of giving the offense leverage off-tackle by widening him out. The Mike and Will bracket the single back and our Sam doesn't even need to play force with it being taken care of by both the Mike/Will and Strong Safety. Quarters coverage is certainly possible (in fact, it's fairly common) against 3x1, but not as well liked against Trey.

-------------------------------------FS------------------SS
--------CB------------------------------------------------------------CB
------------------------------------W--------M----------S
----------------------------DE--T----N-----DE
------SE---------------------T--G--C--G--T----------------------------SE
-------------------------------------QB------------WR------WR


-------------------------------------HB

Here the defense stays in Quarters. The Safeties have to move over and cap off the 4 vertical threats. Mike must cheat out a little, but not to much since the #3 receiver will be closer to the front. Most teams will then cheat Will over a little from his 30 to a 10 (to regain some lost leverage). Mike and Will must still bracket the back however, as the FS can't force weak from his centerfield position.

-----------------------FS-------------------------------------SS
----------CB-----------------------------------------------------------------CB
--------------------------W----------------M------------S
----------------------------------DE--T----N-----DE
--------SE-------------------------T--G--C--G--T----------------------------SE
---------------------WR------------------QB-------------------WR


-------------------------------------------HB

Here we should get force to either side from the safeties. Will and Sam widen over to the slots, Mike will generally cheat to a stack position behind the Nose for better protection. 3-4 Unders may still widen out the weak End and Tackle while leaving Will alone.

Now, on to the Tampa 2. You’ve all heard of it, and you all understand it, but because it’s a natural fit with the 4-3 front (it started with a hard 2 base after all) I thought we’d examine it closely here.

----------------------FS---------------------------SS

------CB---------------------W-----M-----S----------------------------CB
---------------------------DE-----N----T-----DE
---------SE-----------------T--G--C--G--T--TE
------------------------------------QB---------------------------------FL

------------------------------------FB
------------------------------------HB

Unlike Hard 2 coverage, the safeties will not have to cover true ½’s of the field in their deep zones. Although they can’t quite cut it down to just 1/3’s, they have the help of the Mike bailing deep down the middle, allowing them to widen out and get better coverage over the top of the #1 receiver to their side. They also have the help of the roll corner, instead of a jam (which was help in itself) the roll corner will get his hands on the #1 while reading inside to the #2 and #3 receivers on his side. If either of them come out to the flat, he must come off of #1 but is still usually taught to play over the flat (because it is almost always paired with a comeback, corner, curl or other by #1 that the offense will complete for more yards), forcing the checkdown. This is the key point in the defense, force the QB to go through his progressions and hit the checkdowns for short yardage, they may get a lot of yards, but they have to move slowly. Back to the corner, if he doesn’t get a flat threat to his side he will sink back with the #1 on his vertical stem. He won’t turn and run with the route, but he’ll force the receiver upfield, tightening the void between himself and the safety. On run, the corner must play force to his side, this is quite a bit more difficult than in hard 2 due to not immediately pressing the receiver. The Sam and Will are usually taught to spot-drop (by the teams that use it as a base coverage) because the corner’s are in the area of #1, they (Sam and Will) could read #2, but that leaves #3 completely uncovered if he does anything over the middle. Thus the OLBs spot drop in hook zones, trying to play over everything in the middle and force the checkdowns. The overall principle of “force the checkdowns” found in Tampa 2 is a complete reversal from the idea of hard 2, even though they’re from the same coverage family.

Some adjustments in the front triggered by Tampa 2 should be noted. First is that the outside shade of the TE strong (or inside shade weak with 2 TE sets) usually becomes a slanting 6 technique (head up on the TE). This is done to make things harder on the TE as he releases up the middle of the field and threatens the Mike. Second is the change in the Mike’s technique. It is subtle, but his initial read steps are often back (I’ve actually seen MLBs step back on a hard count and the QB subsequently audibles to a play action off of lead to take advantage of the Tampa 2), placing the front as a whole in weaker positions against inside run. Some teams can cover this up by starting with him slightly deeper than the other LBs not just in Tampa 2, but in other coverages as well to prevent the tendency from forming.

As a closer I’d just like to mention a “pass-rushing pattern” that has been developed in the NFL (by the Tampa 2 guys, no less) with the 4-3 fronts. The Ends will often be the “contain” rushers, keeping the QB inside for the sake of preventing easy scrambles by slow QBs. The Nose must stay on his initial side to balance the pass rush, the 3 techniques are often the better pass rushing Tackles because he has a two-way go, he has complete freedom within the play to work inside or outside of the guard.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:05 pm    Post subject: Where We Are Now (Miscellaneous) Reply with quote

Where We Are Now (Miscellaneous)

Well, as a miscellaneous post, just a few notes here.

1. Nothing written about modern NFL play (except for the big first step and the force concepts) is necessarily universal, as teams experiment and have success with out-of-the-box stuff on a micro level. That said, here are some things that can be quite common and run counter to the earlier history of the Miami 4-3:

Some teams will run their strong DE in an inside shade (7) rather than outside shade (9) in the base "Over" front to help close the C gap for off-tackle runs.

Occasionally teams will widen a weak DE against two TE sets out to an outside shade on the TE, while leaving the Nose in a shade.

2. Just as a reference, the "technique" numbering of defensive Lineman that I was taught goes as such:

---------0-1------2i-2-3------4i-4-5-----------7-6-9
---------C-----------G-------------T---------------TE

Bear Bryant was credited with inventing this system, while he gives all the credit to Bum Philips. The bar-stool logic (as legend goes they came up with it while drinking) is that even numbers are head-up, 0 on the Center, 2 on the Guard, 4 on the Tackle and 6 on the Tight End. Outside shades are odd numbers, 1 on the Center, 3 on the Guard, 5 on the Tackle and, here's where it gets strange, 9 on the Tight End. Inside shades are then the even number followed by "i," so you get a 2i for the Guard (there is no way to inside shade the Center), 4i for the Tackle, and for who knows what reason a 7 on the Tight End instead of a 6i (which also forces the outside shade to be the 9).

Many coaches have since changed this according to how they will actually ask their players to line up (if you don't line up in an inside shade, then there's no reason to number it). Others have retained its flexibility while making it, to be frank, more logical. The most common way to do this is to go 0 as head up on the Center, use "shade" to describe a shade of the Center, and then use 1-2-3, 4-5-6 and 7-8-9 to describe inside shade, head up and outside shade on the Guard, Tackle and Tight End respectively.

As I've said before, I greatly appreciate the members of Football's Future, this truly is a wonderful place for NFL discussion, and I thank you all for the chance to engage in this writing. I also apologize for how cryptic and messy I have been in the writing of this series.


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vike daddy


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:22 pm    Post subject: Re: The Miami 4-3 Reply with quote

Gallae wrote:
I must thank all the members whose opinion's and contribution's foster our NFL Fandom, and to all the moderators who make it happen.


Shocked

flattery will get you everywhere.

looking forward to your series and the discussion it stimulates. i appreciate the spirit in which it is offered.

Applause
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:56 pm    Post subject: Re: The Miami 4-3 Reply with quote

vike daddy wrote:
Gallae wrote:
I must thank all the members whose opinion's and contribution's foster our NFL Fandom, and to all the moderators who make it happen.


Shocked

flattery will get you everywhere.

looking forward to your series and the discussion it stimulates. i appreciate the spirit in which it is offered.

Applause


As am I. Sounds like a good read.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting, should be a good read. Looking forward to this.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, first part's up.

These responses are exactly why this place is so great Very Happy. Thank all of you for your encouragement.
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JaguarCrazy2832


Joined: 28 Jun 2008
Posts: 83771
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic read, I look to reading the rest of the topics Very Happy
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*Raiders4life*


Joined: 23 Jan 2008
Posts: 2324
Location: Ontario, Canada
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gallae wrote:
Well, first part's up.

These responses are exactly why this place is so great Very Happy. Thank all of you for your encouragement.


Very well done, on the "Wishbone Problem". Great start.
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Props to cdUbs14 for the sick sig!

"Champions don't make excuses, they make plays!!"-Richard Seymour
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EliteTexan80


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Joined: 30 Apr 2007
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Location: Three time Mr. fanTASTic!
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Should be a lot of good, positive stuff in here that can make me a better fan when it's all said and done. Thanks again Gallae!
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vike daddy wrote:
EliteTexan80 wrote:
I wanna be a mod.

vastly over rated.
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Sandwiche


Joined: 26 Feb 2007
Posts: 8722
Location: Hiram College - avy by Delphi83
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome read. I can't wait for the rest.

We really should catalog some of these for future reference. Just interesting stuff like this. Blaq and khodder's top 100 threads, and other really informative threads could really be useful.
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takeonme on the sig
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