December 16, 2011

The ‘Jack’ Backer…

(Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Versatility)

     Discussions on Coach Huey frequently revolve the differences between a 3 man line (3-3, 3-4, whatever) and a 4 man line (4-3, 4-4, etc).  One of the points that is frequently used to tout the benefits of a 4 man line is the fact that you really only need 2 'true' DL to play the DT spots, the DEs can be OLB bodies and still have great effect.  The point is made that in a 3 man line, you need 3 'true' DL to play the DT spots.  For the record, I'm not disagreeing at all.  In fact, I think this is a very good point.
     The development of my approach to the 3-4 has been tempered by my desire to do certain things that I know requires flexibility within your scheme and athletes.  I want to be able to run what I consider to be the "standard" 3-4 fronts: Under, Okie, and Bear.  However, I want to be able to get into a 4 man line with some degree of ease without terribly complicating things for the athletes.  Problem was, I ran into issues with this because of how it conflicted with certain beliefs/preferences I have.
     I don't like using left/right personnel.  Too simple, too exploitable, too passive, any of these and more.  I just do not like the idea in my head.  Plus, it messes with teaching at times.  I don't necessarily like strong/weak personnel because I don't want to get thrown off by teams that are 'tempo to the line', such as my alma mater's current approach of being an up-tempo wing-T (not Gus Malzahn style, but hustling to the huddle, getting the play, and SPRINTING to the line).  I like field/boundary personnel as a compromise between left/right and strong/weak personnel, but there's no shortage of learning involved there.  Teaching the front 5, in particular, to run fronts, stunts, and blitzes from several fronts on both sides of the offense is a load...
     I came to this conclusion during this season after playing a team that was running a no-huddle offense that alternated between full house T and split back 20 personnel by subbing straight from the sidelines to the formation.  I couldn't match their substitutions and get a good call in for the situation.  Luckily, I had a kid playing OLB/DE who could move back to ILB in some situations and play in the interior.  He was passable there, next year he's going to be a fearsome DE if they can't teach him to play ILB better (a position that will ultimately benefit his team more).  That kid knew 2 positions and was smart enough to recognize when to bounce between the two of them.
    I realized that creating a hybrid position, a DE/OLB or warrior/ninja, offered the opportunity to do several things:

  • Play field/boundary fronts with personnel that wasn't just left/right
  • Play a complementary even front to the standard odd fronts, specifically an "Over" front variation paired with the "Under" front.
  • Focus learning into a select position, one that had athletes specifically prepared and chosen for it.

Thus, the concept of the 'Jack' backer arrived into my head.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None...

    Not necessarily. Most offenses will have a certain position that is an essential position to their success. That position will almost always need to be multi-talented and/or cross trained in order to perform that position. Common examples can be H-Back, Tight End, and, most of all these days, Quarterback. Quarterbacks are asked to run, throw, think, and lead. Tight Ends must block and catch, H-Backs must motion, block, catch, all sorts of niches to be filled. Do smart offensive coaches throw inexperienced sophomores into these positions? Not willingly, no.
     A relative of mine is a very successful coach at a school about an hour away and is known for producing 1 outstanding receiver and 1 outstanding QB just about every year. Is he lucky to have some amazing athletes playing for him? Oh brother, you better believe it! But they are also developed well, particularly the receivers. At least one reason why is that there is an unofficial 'apprentice' program within the receiver ranks. As juniors, they play to the QB's blind side and learn the position at the varsity level, develop the skills, and hopefully punish the coverage. As seniors, they line up to the QB's throwing arm and catch lots and lots of passes.
    A friend was successful using a similar philosophy when coaching defensive backs. Juniors typically played corner, seniors typically played safety. For what he was asking the safeties to do in their cover 4 scheme, he needed players who saw the game 'slow down', players who made great reads and understood the checks and adjustments within the defense. Conversely, he joked that his corners started out as 'trained monkeys'. He drilled them and drilled them and drilled them to remove thought or confusion, which helped them slow things down and then allowed them to learn beyond their roles. Because they had played corner as juniors, they moved inside to safety as seniors with an understanding of how the corner position worked within the scheme and therefore had a more thorough understanding of how it all fit together. This 'apprenticeship' wasn't 100% consistent, but it worked out well for him.
     With the concept of the Jack player, the apprentice method can apply in two ways: 1-A player starts at another position and switches to Jack later, or 2-A player develops behind an existing Jack. For the first method, you must have an understanding of what you are looking for in a position. What kind of skill set is necessary to play there, or at the very least what kind of production must you get from that position? For me, this position needs to be able to do 3 things well: 1-Drop into coverage from the 50 front, 2-Pressure from the edge, 3-Play the edge vs the run. #1 and #2 ask for a degree of athleticism and agility, #3 seems to ask for strength and size.
     I would love to have a kid every year who measured in at 6'1, 205 and played like his momma had been insulted by the opposing running backs, but that's not the reality of our profession. Our players change shape and size every year. You can find someone to perform #1-2 fairly easily by looking to your LB and safety positions. But having such a player hold up against the run may be an issue if you don't have a body that is developed enough to take the constant banging on them from offensive tackles. This is where the Jack back and Sam backer tie into one another so well.
     The requirements for each position are close to the same, but the truth is that the Jack requires a more physical player vs an often physically greater opponent. In the Under front and the Over front, he is playing vs an offensive tackle, who will often be larger and more physical than a tight end or fullback (if he's worth a damn, that is).

     The OLB opposite him, the 'Sam' backer, is a position to use to develop players for the 'Jack' spot. More often than not, the Sam will be playing in space against athletes that are more comparable to him. Taking an athletic junior OLB with room to grow and develop and playing him at the Sam spot allows you to prepare someone to move to the Jack spot the next season. With a year of practice under his belt, another year in the weight room, and relevant game experience, he will be ready to move into a position that requires him to play coverage, rush the pass, and play in the trenches.
     By creating such a versatile player, you are then able to create opportunities within your defense to increase variety without necessarily increasing difficulty for MOST of your defense. By installing the Jack Open (Under), Jack Closed (Over), Jack Field/Boundary (Under or Over depending on formation) fronts, you create a lot of variable looks without changing much because of the pre-established versatility of your Jack backer. Consider the following diagram of Jack Field:

     In both diagrams, the Jack is next to a 3 technique and opposite a shaded nose and a 5 technique. In both diagrams the W is reading a guard covered by a 3 technique, the M is reading a guard with a shaded nose, and the S is paired with a 5 technique. The R is on the same side as the J and the W in both and the F is to the TE side in both, reading the same person in both. The run fits are consistent for just about every single position and there was minimal adjustment after the call is made. As soon as the huddle call is made, every player knows where he needs to be and can start to get aligned already, with or without the offense, eliminating problems usually associated with both no-huddle teams and tempo to the line teams.
    While this is delightfully consistent for the defense, for the offense it presents a problem. Is the defense going to align in what appears to be a 4 man front or a 3 man front? Are they going to be set to the field or to the formation? Will they be playing cover 4 from 2 high or 1 high 'robber'? You can be multiple and variable within a scheme like this. But the real benefit is that by taking one position and asking a lot of that single position, you are allowing other positions to have a simpler life. Simple keys, simple assignments = better, faster, more aggressive play.

So… What Should I Do?
    More than anything else, I'm hoping this makes you think a bit. Consider ways to take what you do and what you ask of your players and see if you can't find one position that would better your defense and better your scheme by demanding MORE of them. Maybe it's an ILB that plays as a flexed DL some times, maybe it's a safety that alternates between up high and down low, I don't know. But think about what you could do by taking that player and asking more from them and think about how you can prepare them for that assignment. We all have a 'best player' on our defense, someone that makes things click. What I'm proposing is that perhaps we should be guiding our 'best players' to a specific position, a specific role that can maximize what we want to do.

November 15, 2011

Random Motivation: Bruce Lee

It's pretty easy to see why this man was such a tremendous bad-ass. I'm a big Bruce Lee fan. More brilliance:

November 13, 2011

3-4 Defensive Line Play: Having A Plan

This Is Going To Be Brief...
My intention here isn't so much to detail technique or scheme, but to advocate for planning out your philosophy of what you are going to have your defensive line do. People do any number of crazy things with their schemes and I really do believe that whatever works well for you is what you should be doing, but at the end of the day you'd better fall into one of these categories: Slanting defense who also plays shades, shade defense who also slants, or a two gapping defense who also slants. My intention is to explain why these are the primary philosophies you should be employing and what benefit I think these give you.

Slanting With Shades
Slanting is a popular base technique for the defensive line because of two main reasons: 1-It's easy to teach the technique and 2-Slanting will allow you to play a different kind of athlete on the defensive line than you might normally do. You can put a third string full back on the defensive line and slant him and give him a chance to not only play, but to succeed. Slanting is also something that you can take a kid who's slow to coaching and let him rep it and figure it out to a greater degree than he might be able to in comparison to shade or two gapping (although I think two gapping does have a certain simplicity to it).
Pairing slanting with shade technique is important for the same reasons that a junkball pitcher needs to throw his fastball, lousy though it may be. If you're constantly slanting and moving on the defensive line, the offensive linemen will get used to the idea soon enough and will start expecting the man in front of them to be slanting left or right. When you change that to coming off the ball and playing a shade, it's like a fastball that coming unexpected when all you've been looking at are change ups and curve balls. That 89 mph fastball isn't much, but it's much more effective when the batter isn't looking for it. This lets you make a sub-par player better by giving him the advantage the offense normally has: HE knows where he's going.

Shade With Slants
I like playing shade techniques, I think if you're going to base in a reading front, you should be playing shades most've the time. Playing a shade is a great thing because your kids only need to control half of a man, which is a winnable battle most of the time. The specific technique used is up to individual coaches, I'm of the Pete Jenkins philosophy of defensive line play that declares the most important thing is the hips and hands, followed by the feet, but to each his own.
Continuing the baseball analogy, if slanting is throwing junk balls, then shade with slants is throwing fastballs with an occasional slider. You're turning the game from a guessing game or battle of smarts into a bit more of a execution based match up, where you can get it done or you can't. I'm not saying that shade technique is a boom or bust approach, but I do think that it is more execution based than slanting.
What I like about pairing shades with slanting is that, much like throwing a killer slider takes advantage of your great fastball, by slanting on important downs or unexpected moments you can get a whiff of sorts, where the OL misses his block because it's not happening where it has been the last four or five times.

Two Gapping With Slants
Two gapping is an interesting technique. It is very polarizing amongst the coaching community, most folks will say that you require some kind of Vince Wolfork or Casey Hampton type in order to make it work. I disagree. I think you can get it done with an athlete who can be quick off the ball and play with great leverage, hips and hands. I didn't say much about size or strength there because, from what I've learned of the technique, it's secondary to their get off and their technical ability. Mike Patterson of the Philadelphia Eagles is not a giant of a man, nor is he a weight room savage, however he executes a two gap technique regularly because of his get off and his hands.
Now, as far as pairing two gapping with slants: two gapping is a very aggressive, competitive, downright imposing style. Slanting is the yin to that yang. You go from hitting the offensive linemen in the chest and beating them in the direction they want to go to hauling off and going straight to a gap, which is drastically different in approach, attitude, and responsibility. Switching my analogy to boxing, two gapping is working the body and then slanting to occasionally go for the head. You can soften them up and then choose your moments when you've got them leaning, using that to score big points.

But We Do Something Different!
Good on you! I've never said this is how everyone should be, I'm just advocating my person thoughts. But I think you'd be hard pressed to find better complements within your defensive line play than the three outlined here.

November 7, 2011

My Favorite Safety Blitz

I like to blitz. I like to blitz a lot. When I call blitzes, I like it when they get results. One blitz that I've consistently gotten results with has been a Safety/ILB blitz that I call "Sabre". I like to run Sabre to the wide side of the field and to the closed side of the formation and I'll do it on just about any down. I'll also run it from the short side of the field on passing downs, but at those moments I'm more likely to run something else instead.

Below: Sabre X (ILB to B, Safety to A)

The rules for Sabre are as follows:

DEs—Slant to C gap
NT—Slant to A gap away from blitz side. I.e. Sabre Field = Slant to short side of field
OLBs—Follow usual alignment rules, play SCF.
ILBs—Blitz side LB = A gap, Off side LB = 3rd Receiver Hook
Safeties—Blitz side Safety = B Gap on the move, Off side Safety = Middle 1/3rd
Corners—Deep 1/3rd.

Additional Tag for Sabre:

X—Crosses the ILB and Safety's blitz.

I got locked out of my team's HUDL accout upon being dismissed, but I'll try to go back and post film of this blitz when I can.

November 1, 2011

On Coaching Your Assistants

Very recently I was fired from my position as Defensive Coordinator/DB coach, which has led to me reflecting a great deal on the various things that happened this season that I either didn't like or could have done better. One of the big things was that I needed to coach and manage my assistants much better than I had previously. At my prior gig, just about every one that I was coaching with were people that I had known for a long time and were a great support system for me in a lot of ways. This job was a patchwork group of guys coming together for the first time and it definitely showed at times.

Support Them, Don't Enable Them

Something that I did a great job of was support my assistants and give them a great deal of autonomy within their individual time and their coaching styles. Everyone has to be their own person and has to coach in their given style. One of the reasons why I left my previous position was because the head coach wanted me to coach in a way that I wasn't comfortable with. You have to coach to your personality or you're going to miss on making a genuine relationship with your athletes.

Another thing that you will see repeatedly in management books, classes, etc, is that you need to train or provide the opportunity for advancement within your team/organization. Not everyone needs to be learning to be a DC some day and, frankly, if everyone thinks that they should be wearing your hat, you've got some bigger issues. But you should be preparing someone as if they will replace you or as if they are moving on to another job at some point.

I think this is a healthy practice for a number of reasons. 1-It gives motivated assistants a reason to work hard and to immerse themselves in improvement. 2-It shows that you are a long term thinker. 3-It spreads coaching families, which benefits everyone greatly in a profession that is very transient by nature. 4-It attracts talent in the way that ambitious young coaches will want to be a part of your program if you consistently produce coaches who move on to success.

However, you must avoid a mistake I made this season: I enabled my assistants too much. I was so gun shy about being demanding and harsh with them that I allowed things to happen that I wasn't OK with. I got run down by my last boss like I was a player and I didn't want to do that to those that I was responsible for guiding/directing. I let too many bad habits, bad coaching practices go without addressing it head on. I was passive and not direct with them.

Listen to Them, HEAR Them

I was accused on multiple occasions of ignoring the input of my assistants. In my defense, I wasn't ignoring their input, I simply wasn't acting on it. It is one thing to offer suggestions, tweaks, etc, to what you're doing. I was getting input like "Switch to a slanting 4-4 and tell the LBs just to fill a gap". While this was horrible advice for our situation, the bigger issue is the feeling that input is being ignored.

The best organizations make assistants feel wanted, necessary, and a part of the decision making process. This is true from Disney to Taylor's Hot Dog Stand (Real place, great chili dogs!) and everywhere in between. The people who are not in charge need to feel as though they matter. It may be only a question of degree, but without that feeling of meaning, of purpose, assistants will burn out or lose interest. Help them to feel a part of what is going on.

But Be Yourself…

At the end of the day, you have to be yourself and do what you think is best. I did my best to coach our boys to the best of my ability and in the best way that I know how. I changed a bit too much for my own liking, but I did it all my way. I was, for the most part, true to what I believe in and what I stand for. Because of that fact, I sleep well at night and with a clean conscience.

However, I had assistants doing things that I did not approve of, coaching in a way that I did not care for, and offering input that was not solicited. I needed to be more firm, to be more strict with my expectations, to be more clear with what their roles were in things. My staff was not a good reflection of myself, my philosophies, and my defense. It was a bad situation, but I did not handle it was I should have or needed to. As funny as it is to say, I basically needed to throw around more "Because I F***ing want it that way" and a lot more "STFU and be as assistant" because I was so focused on being a positive leader. Just like with players, it's always a question of can't or won't. If they can't, help them get there. If they won't, find someone who will. I needed more can't, I had too much won't.

October 31, 2011

New posts in the future, for real!

Thanks to those who are still following me, more content to come soon!

April 14, 2011

Holy F**** This Killed Me...

I was laughing hard enough that I couldn't breathe...

The end kind of ruined it for me, but hilarious nonetheless.

More posts incoming in the future!

February 20, 2011

Off-Season: Clinics

Where I've Been...
Around this part of CA, there's only two or three big 'clinics' to hit up: the Burlingame All-Sports Clinic, the San Jose Glazier, and the Nike COY in Concord. The Burlingame clinic had an absolutely TERRIBLE lineup, literally none of the coaches that I interact with in my personal life (Vass and the rest of our semi-pro staff, the crew at my alma mater, NO ONE) were interested in anything being talked about.
The San Jose Glazier had a few good speakers that interested me: Nick Rapone from U of Delaware and Pete Kwiatowski (I think that's right...) from Boise. Unfortunately, the Boise guy, who was primed to talk a bunch of 3-4 that I was jazzed to hear, had to cancel. However I did get to see Rapone talk for about 4-5 hours over two days and that man is a stud. Hands down one of the best clinic speakers I've seen, ever. Vass almost proposed marriage.
The Nike COY was too far and too much of a labor to get to, given that there wasn't a ton that I wanted to hear.

What's coming up...
I'm trying to set up some staff visits with the following colleges: Menlo College in Menlo, CA, Berkeley, and Stanford (I think they're still running a 3-4, right?). Menlo's DC is a man named Mike Church that's been around a long time and has coached at pretty much every single level possible, I'm very interested in making contact and meeting him. Clancy Pendergast, DC at Berkeley, has been to the Super Bowl with the Cardinals. Stanford Co-DCs Jason Tarver and Derek Mason have both been in 3-4 schemes recently. All in all, if I can make some in-roads with those schools, I'll be a happy camper.

January 14, 2011

Toughness: I Can Has It?

    Meme-induced title aside, one of the biggest issues I hear coaches talking about is how to build toughness. I don't think there's a single coach in America who would describe his players as 'a little too tough'. Physicality cannot be replaced on the football field and it's an unbelievably consistent thing for the more physical, but less talented team to persevere and win. But toughness is not just physicality, it's something more than that.

    So… What is it, then?

    As I've seen it amongst coaches, toughness is frequently thought of as a physical characteristic. A kid who plays through pain is 'tough', whereas the kid who cannot work off a sprained toe is 'weak' or 'has no heart'. We harp on this issue constantly, trying to get kids to recognize the difference between being hurt and being injured, to let go of the apron strings, to toughen up and be a man, all that nonsensical jingoistic/rhetorical BS. In my mind, toughness is a mindset and a way of being, not a physical ability.

    The kid who plays with a broken finger, he's tough, no doubt about it. But it's not because he's playing hurt, I actually think playing hurt is a foolish and dangerous and counter-productive notion. It's because he's refusing to let up, despite obstacles that are arising. The kid who gets pancaked EVERY SINGLE PLAY for the entire game and keeps getting up, he's a tough SOB. He may not be able to play the double team very well, but he sure as hell qualifies as 'tough' because he isn't folding. I think that being tough is more about how you mentally respond to situations and moments that go against you than how you block out or ignore pain or inconvenience. It's more of an accomplishment, in my opinion, to fully acknowledge the negatives of a situation and deal with it than to ignore them and pretend like everything is OK. It takes more mental strength, more discipline, more accountability to yourself.

    How Do We Build It?

    This a part where I'm going to more or less outsource my philosophy to an author: The New Toughness Training by James Loehr. Loehr basically boils it down to a few things: emotional flexibility, responsiveness and strength. You need to be emotionally flexibile, you need to learn to respond with the appropriate attitude and mindset, and you need to be emotionally strong enough to take it.

    Emotional flexibility is basically the ability to not get stuck into a certain emotional position. Being emotionally rigid increases your chances of breaking when things don't go your way, a sure-fire sign of 'weakness' to many classical types. By having the appropriate mental state and recognizing that things will occasionally go against you, flexibility is gained. Much like the Buddhist concept of impermanence (, recognizing that nothing is permanent, nothing is fixed, nothing is certain gives you a certain freedom to respond when things don't go as you'd like.

    Responsiveness is an interesting concept and I truly believe it is about building a mindset within yourself or your charges. A popular internet meme sensation are the courage wolf pictures (Courage Wolf, Frequently NSFW, Always Fun), which I actually think are kind of awesome examples of emotional responsiveness. A few favorites that I think might show the kind of responsiveness that I like: "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional", "Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it", "Someone dislikes you for no reason, give them a reason", and my personal favorite "The cops are here, sucks to be them". There's no room for sulking or passivity or weakness in that kind of an attitude, it's very, very alpha and it's very, very strong.

    Strength is strength. Much like physical strength, which requires stress and then rest to build to new levels, emotional strength requires more of the same. How we incorporate that into what we're doing is somewhat of a personal choice, but the football analogy I think might be best would be playing a progressively difficult pre-season. Not only that, but a progressively difficult pre-season versus schools that mirror more difficult programs down the road. Playing a Wing-T in the late part of your league schedule? Schedule a Wing-T team in the pre-season. Stress, then recover.

    Ah, I see.

    Do you though? Do you? Almost everyone wants to have a tough, physical program, even spread guys. Except Kurt Bryan. But being tough isn't necessarily about the drills you do or your kids' backgrounds, it's about how we train them to be emotionally strong, responsive, and flexible. Not unlike our physical training that we do, we have to have a measure of mental and emotional training as well.

January 3, 2011

Installing the 3-4: Choosing Your Coverages

But Yer Doin' It Wrong!

Traditional defensive wisdom goes something like this: Choose your front that you're going to stop the run with. From there, choose the coverage that you're going to run. Once you've done that, you can start to think more about techniques. I honestly think this is a very sound and responsible way to approach things and it really does work for the majority of defensive fronts/systems out there. If you're going to be a 4-4 or 3-3 team, you're limited in your coverage options because of how you've committed your players strictly by alignment. Such teams can run Cover 3, Man-Free, and 2-Robber relatively easily, again by alignment. If you're going to be a 4-3 team, you can run 2, 3, 4, man-free, 2 deep man under, you're almost unlimited in your possibilities. However, if you're running a 4-3 and you want to run Cover 3, then you have to work some stuff out, such as cloud or sky coverage, roll strong/weak, etc. This is slightly complex at times. If you're a 46 defense, you'd better be running Man-Free or some variation of Cover 3, such as 3 deep 3 under fire zone.

This works because of how we have set up our understandings of force and contain, pursuit and coverage. If you're playing defense, you need to have players assigned to forcing everything back inside, period. That said, who can perform those roles depends greatly on where they're aligned. A Free Safety cannot align at 12yds deep in the Strong A gap and be responsible for weak force, unless he also wears a cape and has a big red "S" on his chest. I hope I don't need to make more examples of this.

Because we choose our front first, we are dedicating a certain number of people to certain alignments, thereby limiting the number of possible assignments. If we commit 8 players to the box with our front, we cannot have 2 safeties. If we only have 7 in the box, then we must have 2 safeties. Recognizing this allows us to have a better understanding of how coverages fit into defensive structures.

And Here's Where I Contradict Myself…

I really, truly believe that for a person implementing a 3-4 scheme, choosing the coverage first is crucial. The 3-4 has a lot of moving parts, more so than just about any other defense, and often has changing responsibilities with regards to force, contain, spill, all those terms we love to use to define good defense. The difference between the 3-4 and other defenses, in my experience, is that the 3-4 has the interesting feature that the front and the coverage are intertwined. If you want to run a certain coverage, you need to do certain things with your front. There is a minor assumption that is working behind all of this: you want to rush at least 4. If you don't mind rushing 3 and dropping 8, well, no biggie. But if you're going to rush 4 in the 3-4, you need to marry the front and the coverage. You have to make a conscious decision about what you're doing.


The 3-4 is a seven man front to start. The actual front alignment varies quite a bit, with some teams preferring a 4-0-4 head up approach with slanting and stunting, and others preferring an 'under' front variation (9-5-1-3-5), and yet others running a 3-0-3 double eagle front. That's fairly irrelevant at this exact moment. What is important is how you're going to run your coverage, specifically what your base is. It comes down to this: are you going to be an even coverage base or an odd coverage base? Are you going to run Cover 3, Cover 1 (Man Free) and Cover 9 (3x3 fire zone) or are you going to run Cover 2, 4, and 6 (¼ ¼ ½)? Answering this question is the biggest step towards developing a common sense, fundamentally sound 3-4 scheme.

If you're going to run Cover 3, then you need to blitz someone (an LB most likely) and probably replace them with a DB. Who the someone is doesn't matter, you need to blitz someone to send 4 and drop 7. If you blitz an OLB, then the safety on that side should replace him in coverage, presumably with the Curl/Flat responsibility. If you blitz an ILB, probably same solution, except now it's Hook/Curl. You can just straight up send a safety and everyone else drops, if you really want.

If you're going to run Cover 2, then you need to blitz someone away from the passing strength or wide side of the field. Now you don't want to blitz your corners in C.2, they have a pretty important responsibility, so that's out. Similarly, you want to keep your safeties deep, so they can't blitz. Therefore, it's one of your ILBs. The reason why I say away from passing strength is that the three interior drops in Cover 2 usually go Hook/Curl, Middle Hole, Hook/Curl. Because of that, you generally want more people dropping to the passing strength because you want to have numbers to the passing strength.

I don't think I get it…

No worries, it's a complicated concept and one that is unusual. The 3-4 is a complicated and unusual defense these days and I really believe that if you sit down and marinate on what I'm talking about, you'll notice there's a certain logic within that makes it sort of an 'Ah-ha!' realization. I stumbled on the importance of this while implementing our 3-4 two years ago. I was reading a thread on Huey where someone mentioned the approach mentioned in my intro and I realized that it didn't work that way for the 3-4. After that, I began to think on it more and more and I feel like I've got a good grip on the mechanics of it all.

For more reading, I really recommend hitting up my scribd account and looking at some of the playbooks there. There's a neat synergy between the front and the coverage and how it all just… works.