January 13, 2010

4-3 ‘Flex’ Blitzes: What I’d Do

As promised, I’m going to show a few blitzes that I would run if this scheme were my own. They’re not perfect, but looking at the diagrams, I think that they have some good potential. One thing that I like is the ease with which the Flex position can move two gaps across the line due to his upright position, as well as give a hard step upfield and turn and run to his drop. I’m looking forward to doing something similar this year with my Will backer, who’s just dynamite on the blitz.

Starting Simple: A Fairly Typical Fire Zone

This is a pretty simple concept that you’ll see repeated in pretty much every defensive playbook that features the traditional 3 deep, 3 under coverage. Ordinarily I’d run this with the Mac blitzing and the Will dropping to the middle hole, but with this scheme’s calling for the Mac to play at 7 yards, I find it more practical to have the Will take the blitz. The dropping Rush has the SCF, Seam Curl Flat, drop to the weakside. In order to keep terminology consistent within our scheme, we call it an Area-2 Vertical-2 drop. In high school I never played in a scheme with real zone drops, only very tight and aggressive pattern read quarters. Once I went to college, we had actual zone drops, but labeled them Area-1 (Rather than Curl/Flat), Area-2 (Hook/Curl), Area-3 (middle hole). I like that system because it, in my mind, it gets the kids dropping towards receivers, rather arbitrary spots on the field. We tell someone with an Area-1 drop that their landmark is 8 yards deep and towards the top of the numbers initially, but as soon as they read 3 or 5 step they’re responsible for getting underneath the #1 receiver while hopefully leveraging anything short and underneath.

Anyways, the Mac backer takes the middle hole and the S/S drops down to get the SCF/A-2 V-2 drop vacated by the blitzing Sam. Corners are loose man to deep 1/3 drops and the FS takes the centerfield.

Important details to remember:

· The Nose has to continue his slant’s momentum outside, lest the QB break contain while avoiding the rush from his left.

· Flex needs to be sure to start laterally, rather than attacking upfield and trying to work to his gap.

· A fun change-up can have the Will creep up and show his blitz and the Flex goes after him.

Taking It Up A Notch: Sneaky Flexing Ninjas

This is a good run stunt and effective pass stunt for teams that don’t slide protect as much. The theory behind it is that the Nose will occupy the Center and Guard on his slant, while the Rush takes the Tackle upfield, thereby leaving Will and Mac free to blitz on either side of the guard. What I like about it is that the Flex can hopefully occupy the Guard (for at least a moment) in front of him by giving a hard upfield step before dropping to the hole, thereby freeing the Nose to get a 1v1 pass rush, something rare and exciting for him.

One of the problems with the design is that the Mac has to creep forward at least a few yards in order to have any chance at all of reaching the QB before the ball’s out. This makes him obvious that he’s doing something fishy, unless you’re doing it all the time, which brings up other issues. Since the scheme is predicated on execution, having an LB sugaring around and potentially being out of position is a big deal, especially when the run defense is dependent on that guy’s presence.

Edge Pressure: Not For The Weak At Heart

This one would be for good use against teams that run a lot of zone read. It’s essentially a scrape-exchange stunt on both sides of the defense, with the Sam and Will coming off the edge to play the handoff on the traditional zone read while Mac is protected by the DL and flowing to the QB, wherever the heck he is. The presence of the Flex gives you no seams against the run, but offers a good middle coverage should he read pass.

One of the problems is that the Mac is responsible for the weakside SCF/A-2 V-2. He needs to read pass quickly and get his keister out to his responsibility ASAP, but that isn’t always easy against spread teams. Best case scenario is he gets there in time for a breakup hit or maybe a pick on a great play, but the more than likely scenario is that he’s just too late. This means the corner will probably have to play tighter coverage than we’d like, but hey, there’s no perfect blitz, or everyone would do it.


I like this scheme, it interests me a whole lot and I think I’ve shown that with creativity and the right personnel, it can be a confusing and complicated defense to dissect. I don’t know that I’ll be incorporating much of it into what I do in the future, but if I ever have a chance to maybe work an ILB at DL and develop a kid for the spot, maybe. Who knows what the future holds.

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