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Let's Talk About: A Coupla Defensive Snaps (Coverage & Run Fits)

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Two weeks in a row... we actually played great defense two weeks in a row.  I have no idea if we can keep it going, but who cares, let's enjoy the moment.  There was a lot to unpack from Sunday's win.  Falcons put some good stuff on tape, but my time is short, so I wanted to take a quick look at a couple of things that jumped out at me. 

First, and this is a huge one -- a lot of us have been asking what exactly changed with Ulbrich and Raheem Moore taking over the defense, well the biggest one, imo, is the subtle adjustments made to the back end.  Let me say this clearly, this is still Dan Quinn's defense -- just in case there was any question about that.  We aren't out there running a new scheme.  What has happened is that we're starting to muddy things up for the QB pre-snap a bit more.

 

This is from the 1st quarter.  We're looking at 3rd and long.  Now a little refresher on pre-snap reads (PSR).  Quarterback's are schooled to look for every indicator pre-snap to tip the coverage.  In most route concepts, that read is going to tell them what side of the field they are going to read first.  If it's zone, I need to look at this side of the field.  If it's man, this route over here is gonna break open.  Is it blitz?  I gotta look to my hot first.  That sorta thing.  Qb's look at safeties.  Are there two high or one?  Is one corner pressed and the other off?  That indicates split field coverage.  Are the corners peeking into he backfield = zone, or looking at their receivers = man?

Here we have giving every indicator that we are in man.  Every defender is pressed, even Campbell at LB is in the tight end's face.  Everyone is looking at their man.  We got one safety deep and another a little more shallow, showing a robber look.  For all the world, this looks like Cover-1 Robber, right?

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They even motion in the #1 receiver to a tight alignment.  Still looks like man.

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But it's not.  At the snap, we rotate into Cover-2... not our customary Cover-3, but 2.  Both safeties split the field.  Oliver at the bottom re-routes his receiver to give his safety time to get over the top.  Deion at MIKE, opens up to the passing strength of the formation, which is the side McCaffery lined up on in the backfield, and looks to pick up the #2 receiver going vertical up the seam.  This beautiful.  Looks nothing like what Allen thought he was getting at before the snap.

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Next frame: Oliver at the bottom has released his man to the safety.  He's got no threat underneath from McCaffery so he's free to continue to sink to break on that route if the QB throws to the receiver he just re-routed.  Deion has his man up the pipe in the middle of the field with the hook player underneath.  No throw there.  Every defender has their eye on the QB and ready to break on anything and as you can see, Takk has already whipped the tackle.

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And here it is in motion.  Not the best re-route I've ever seen at the bottom by Oliver, and I'd like to see him get a little more depth, but it's not bad.  Everything else looks good.  Look at the way the safeties held the disguise right until the snap.  It's a subtle thing, but it really makes a difference.  Good stuff.  Good call wrinkle by Raheem.  Good 3rd down call.  His addition to that defensive back's room has made a tangible difference.

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EDIT: Yes, I know I called him Raheem Moore.  I'm channelling the great D*ck Stockton, who didn't know what was going on out there Sunday.  He called one of our INT's a catch by the Panthers.:lol:

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The only thing I can see it being tipped as zone coverage is in the 2nd pic where Trufant opens up his hips.As you say everything screams cover 1.

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Man I've been wondering why defenses don't disguise zone looks with man behaviors for so long. It's not hard. This is a prime example of forcing the offense to think and Allen was down right lost. On a basic coverage, it makes the QB hold the ball and now suddenly your rush can get there. It's not just lining up and playing football. 

I loved it. All game I loved it. 

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1 minute ago, vel said:

Man I've been wondering why defenses don't disguise zone looks with man behaviors for so long. It's not hard. This is a prime example of forcing the offense to think and Allen was down right lost. On a basic coverage, it makes the QB hold the ball and now suddenly your rush can get there. It's not just lining up and playing football. 

I loved it. All game I loved it. 

To me if looking at the other side of the ball it’s passing out of run looks.

We did exactly that early with Ryan hitting Ridley on that deep cross.Sold outside zone run to the left Ryan rolled out right and hit Ridley wide open.

Exactly the same thing on thee other side of the ball.

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The other thing I wanted to take a look at was the run fits -- the best thing in all of football.  There's nothing like a good run fit. It's the essence of teamwork.  All 11 defenders functioning as a single organism.  Every man doing his job.  Now our run defense has been better as of late but there are still some technique things that pop up every now and again.  I wanted to take a look at two examples.  First, is us doing it wrong, the other us executing it flawlessly.

 

Here's what we got.  Carolina is going to run an inside zone to the left of the screen.  We're in that odd front that DQ's fallen in love with.  We've got a 4i, a 0 nose, Grady in the 3-tech, and the end in a sort of loose 7.  

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Now this can be a tough play on a defense, especially from this front.  The linebacker's aren't exactly set to fast flow the way they are when we're in a single gap front.  That's one of the reasons I love single gap defenses btw.  It's all attacking downhill.  Here, in this front, you want your second level defenders to be a little more patient and track the back.  Because of the way the defensive line is two-gapping, the LB's should stay clean.

The nasty part of this can be that wham block where the tight end come all the back back to kickoff the backside end, who could just chase the play down from behind.

I wanted to focus on two players on this play, because that's where the breakdown comes.  Foye #54; he's playing it out patiently, but he should be closing to the line of scrimmage.  He's still at the same 5 yards depth that he was at the snap.  Come downhill!  Close off that backside A gap.  Here is looks like he's ready to be greedy and try to chase over the top.  That's Deion's job here.

And the second player.  ISH... ISH what are you doing?  He's got the cutback here.  That's his fit, instead he's planting his feet getting ready to backpedal like it's a pass.  Looks like he's reading the QB coming out on that waggle instead of his key.

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And this is how it plays out.  We close everything off play side.  Defensive line did a great job here.  Linebackers are bothering me here.  Deion should be a little more over the top to that next gap, and I don't know what Foye is doing, but you got two linebackers bunched together and no running back near them.  That's a recipe for disaster...

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This is why I love run fits.  They epitomize why this is the ultimate team game.  It does you no good if 10 guys are doing their job right if one guy isn't.  It only takes one guy out of position to screw up everything and when you have a back like McCaffery, you gotta be prepared for him to take the play in a place it wasn't designed for.

Ish where the **** are you, man?  He should have his helmet planted right in McCaffery's hip right now.  And Foye, you should be closed tighter to the line of scrimmage.

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Instead, we're looking at an 8 yard gain.  Coulda been worse, but this is unacceptable.  We had a run stopped at the LOS that instead was a net positive for the offense because we had one guy get lost.

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This is why I roll me eyes when I see folks say our run defense is bad because of our lack of size up front.  No... just no.  If only it was as simple as getting fat guys to plug up front. 

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EDIT: I'm in a tad bit of a hurry right now and I'm on my laptop.  That might have been #35 Carter that ****ed up; I can't quite make out if that's a 5 or a 6.  If it was, my sincerely apologies to Ish.  :lol:... I'm sorry, bro, if it wasn't you.

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Now here's an example of what it looks like when it's done right.  Might have gotten a little wordy last post -- forgive me, I could talk about run fits all day -- I'll try to keep this one short so I don't lose anyone.

 

Here we go back in a more conventional single gap front.  This is what I love.  Every man has a single gap to attack, and we've got 8 in the box, so we've got a free hitter.  Theoretically, there should be nowhere to run the ball... IF everyone does their job.

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Here we go.  Carolina is once against running an inside zone -- this time they're running weak, and they have a fullback to create an extra gap.  I love fullbacks, but that's neither here nor there.  No

Now the one thing I love about this pic, is Deion's reaction.  That guard in front of him does an incredible job of getting off the ball.  Deion has to cross his face.  He's got to read it, then cut him off or the ball is gonna break big right through that gap.  Excellent reaction by Deion.  He's going right now.

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This is the other part about this play I love.  This guy circled right here.  That is perfect leverage.  It's one thing to take on a block... it's another to take it on with the proper leverage.  Look at how he's got his outside arm free, so that McCaffery can't make a bounce read.

Also, to the left of him, Grady is fighting off a double team.  Lotta dirty work goes on in those trenches on every play that goes unnoticed.  These guys are doing their jobs perfectly and it'll never show up on a stat sheet unless they make the tackle.

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Now because he plays with his outside arm free, closing that hole, McCaffery sees that flash of color and instantly looks to cut back.  Now unlike the previous play, our Cutback defender didn't get fooled and is in perfect position to close it down.

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I'm still not in love with Foye here.  He looks indecisive AND he turns his shoulders.  That's a big no-no, unless you're reading fast flow.  Otherwise, you gotta keep your shoulders square and come downhill.  But other than that, good stuff.  The Cutback defender plays it perfectly on the backside.  Look at how he shuffles downhill and stays in perfect position to fire his hips into the runner.  This is what I like to see.  Fast and physical.

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1 hour ago, kiwifalcon said:

The only thing I can see it being tipped as zone coverage is in the 2nd pic where Oliver opens up his hips.As you say everything screams cover 1.

If you're talking about the top of the screen in that second pic, I'm pretty sure that's Tru.  But yeah, that's the only thing that could be an indicator.  This was so well disguised I was almost giddy when I saw it.

35 minutes ago, kiwifalcon said:

Also in pic 3 the quick outlet is taken away underneath by Campbell so the QB can’t get it out quickly aswell.

Yep.  Just perfect awareness.  For most of the season it looked like guys were lost in zone, with no situational awareness.  I love the way we're now willing to contest everything, even in zone.

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It's funny that Jamal Carter (#35) is the goat in the first run play, but does his job in the 2nd. In the first play, when watching the video, it looks like he peels off his area to cover the TE (Olsen?) that chipped the DE (Takk?). Regardless, he wasn't doing his job on that play...

 

 

Edited by Goober Pyle

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4 hours ago, kiwifalcon said:

PMF to me the LBers look a lot more decisive in that 1 gap attacking front.In the odd front gif they look like there waiting for the offensive player instead of attacking the LoS.

 

Yep.  That tends to happen with that front that's becoming all the rage.  Thing is, you gotta be careful with your LB's flying up there, especially against zone, because they could take themselves right out of the play.  That's part of what I don't like about two gapping with that particular front.  In that front, the LB's are taught to track and mirror the back and little more until he commits to a hole.  It's almost a fill-as-needed assignment.  I notice that a lot watching games.  You don't see those linebackers really fly downhill in that front unless it's a gap scheme.

In the single gap front, you want them attacking their assigned gaps and building the wall.  You've got the spacing with the alignment where you can play more aggressively.

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On 11/20/2019 at 2:26 PM, kiwifalcon said:

To me if looking at the other side of the ball it’s passing out of run looks.

We did exactly that early with Ryan hitting Ridley on that deep cross.Sold outside zone run to the left Ryan rolled out right and hit Ridley wide open.

Exactly the same thing on thee other side of the ball.

Great post.  When your personnel allows you to run or pass without tipping your hand, its +1 for the offense.  
 

The bigger question is why would anyone be sold on us running outside zone?

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On 11/20/2019 at 4:43 PM, kiwifalcon said:

PMF to me the LBers look a lot more decisive in that 1 gap attacking front.In the odd front gif they look like there waiting for the offensive player instead of attacking the LoS.

 

Yup...the most glaring improvement has been Dre.  Also like Foye getting more snaps.  Less 5-2 and more 4-3 please.  We are incredibly fast with Foye & Debo on the field together

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On 11/21/2019 at 5:16 PM, FalconsIn2012 said:

Great post.  When your personnel allows you to run or pass without tipping your hand, its +1 for the offense.  
 

The bigger question is why would anyone be sold on us running outside zone?

They still have to respect the look :shrug:

Or they’d be gashed...

Carolina run D was trash entering last week. If we run outside zone and they don’t play it we gash them. Either way it buys time for Ridley and Ryan off PA.

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On 11/22/2019 at 3:23 PM, kiwifalcon said:

Also some interesting posts about drafting offensive lineman pretty much a lottery.

Yep.  It's been tough for years to project college linemen to the NFL because of all the spread offenses.  Offensive line play is so different at that level.  You had guys coming into the league who didn't even play in 3-point stances.  Of late, pro coaches started to adapt by just adopting a lot of college type stuff.  Seattle had a real hard time drafting linemen.

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On 11/22/2019 at 2:24 PM, Ergo Proxy said:

They still have to respect the look :shrug:

Or they’d be gashed...

Carolina run D was trash entering last week. If we run outside zone and they don’t play it we gash them. Either way it buys time for Ridley and Ryan off PA.

Carolina stacked the box ALOT.  They did not want to get beat in the run game.  I guess they won that piece of their game plan..... the rest.... well... not so much.

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Great posts and break down PMF, really good stuff.  A lot of this stuff is missed at full game speed and like you said, will never be talked about or proper credit given on the broadcast unless they make the tackle.

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