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I wanted to drop a quick one, this time on a subject that's near to my heart: defensive line stunts. Please forgive me if I'm mining territory that's already been covered. I'm procrastinating right now. Dan Quinn cut his teeth as a defensive line coach, and defensive line coaches love stunts. They were not as prominent with the previous regime and really only scratched at the surface last season for I assume personnel reasons, because there is a particular art to executing them and it takes some cohesion along your defensive line because everyone has to be working as one unit. Now a lot of casual fans tend to think that if you are only rushing 4 men then you are vanilla on defense, but that actually could not be further from the truth. Stunts or games as they are also called allow for a near endless amount of creativity to confuse offensive protections and pressure the passer while not exposing your secondary. Some teams use them as change-ups, while others like the Colts for example when Dungy was there, built their entire rush package on them. Now why do you call stunts? Simple. Because it stresses the offensive line. It doesn't matter how talented your defensive line is, you just can't have them charging straight ahead into the same gap 60 plays a game. Think of it like a defensive back covering a receiver who runs the same exact route on every play. It's just too easy. Too easy to pick up, and too easy to neutralize on the edge by chipping with backs or tight ends. With stunts you alleviate all of that and can actually create free runners to the QB the same way you can with an exotic blitz. First, what is a defensive line stunt? For anyone who is not clear, think of it like a pick play in basketball where a big man will run into a pursuing defender, allowing a shooter to get free. Same principle. One of your defensive linemen will charge forward into a gap, giving himself up to create an open rush lane for his partner. Now pass protection can be fairly straightforward a lot of the times. The center sets the middle of the defense -- calling out the MIKE and the offensive linemen count the threats from there. They'll kind of zone off rushers, passing guys off as they go, but pass pro is another thread. The key to that side of the ball is communication, but you can confuse this communication from time to time through some of the games that you can play with your defensive line. The key to successfully pulling off these games is a combination of brute force, acting, athleticism. Here is a basic T-T or twist stunt with both defensive tackles. Here is what it looks like in action. On the right, Suh goes first, taking out the center and the guard... that's the brute force part ...leaving a huge alley for Fairley to loop into. Note the big man's agility and burst. That's the athleticism part. This is key to pulling off this game. You couldn't have Paul Soliai, for example, running as your looper. The other great thing about games is that a lot of protection schemes will keep their backs in to protect only when they read blitz. As you see above, both backs released because it was a 4 man rush. But it was beautiful teamwork by Suh and Fairley. Suh completely gave himself up on the play. The guard was scared ****less to pass Suh off (not that I can blame him), and Fairley... wow. It's an impressive feat of athleticism to get all that man going tight around that corner. Fast and physical indeed. The Falcons didn't run a lot of T-T stunts last season. They did run quite a bit of T/E (Tackle/End) stunts to one side with the defensive end and the defensive tackle, and one of the problems I saw was that the End didn't always sell the game. This is the acting part. You have to hit hard up field so the tackle thinks you're running the arc. A lot of times I'd see Schofield for example give a cursory step, then loop inside immediately. That makes it too easy on the offensive tackle and the offensive guard to just switch guys. Here is an example of what I mean. This play actually did result in a sack, but that was all Beasley on the right beating his man with speed. But if you look to the left side, the game was picked up pretty well. Schofield barely sold the rush off the edge and just got mashed when he looped inside. Here is what it looks like when it is properly sold. Terrell Suggs takes a much more pronounced charge up field. He is a couple of yards up field before he makes his hard cut back inside. Ngata was also key on this play because of how he ate up the guard. Here is another one that was executed well to Beasley's side. Note the alignment and how wide the end and tackle are to that side to stress the offensive tackle. Even with the half-line slide both guard and tackle struggled and Beasley's superior agility allowed him to really sell the up field move. This pass rushing alignment is another wrinkle that Quinn brought from Seattle. But once again, Beasley... hard up field, then sticks his foot in the ground and cuts. Just gorgeous. Now because of the additions of Shelby, Upshaw, and the return of Clayborn -- Shelby, especially because of his ability to rush inside -- I expect the games up front this year to be a lot more comprehensive. I expect to see Dan Quinn unleash the whole gambit. This is what I'm talking about. Here is a ME stunt. Basically it is the T/E stunt being run on both sides instead of one. And one of my favorites, the Pirate stunt. Which is a 3 man stunt. You have to have a really good defensive line to run this one and coverage on the back end because this one takes some time. The 49ers a few years ago were one of the best I've ever seen run it. Oh, and I used both the terms "stunts" and "games" throughout the post. In case anyone is wondering what the difference is... well, there really isn't one. But in strict football terms a stunt is versus the run; a game is versus the pass. Of course some stunts are going to be more favorable in certain situations. Some are better against the pass, some stunts you'd never call against a run, but in broad terms it's kind of a distinction without a difference. Stunt = against the run Game = against the pass
First let me say that this is the first thread I have made in years and was inactive for a few, but started here in 97.. I feel good about the draft with the exception of one major area..We were 21st against the run in 2012..We did not get one single Defensive Lineman or LB in the draft..How are we going to fix that terrible stat..Maybe our achilles heel next year.. Love to hear feedback and sorry if it's been addressed..