The Mike Linebacker plays the first back out of the back field to the strong side. The Free Safety plays the first back out of the back field to the weak side. The Will linebacker plays the short middle. The gives us a man in the hole in the short middle area of the field. If we get a full flow by the backs to the strong side the Mike linebacker takes the first back and the Will linebacker takes the second back out of the backfield. The Free Safety becomes the short middle player.
If it is a full flow weak side play the Free Safety has the first back and the Will linebacker has the second man to the weak side. The Mike linebacker becomes the short hole player. In theory the middle hole player helps with the tight end but in reality he is the second line of defense against any breakdown in the pass rush. They can help on the draw play, scramble by the quarterback, or screen passes that they can see developing.
If the offense comes out in a different look such as a Twins look to one side, the basic core of the defense stays the same. There are no adjustments to be made. The defenders take their men in coverage regardless of where they line up. The Mike linebacker has help in the middle from the short hole player. However, he canít allow himself to get beat in the flat. The play action pass is a problem for this defense. That is an area on which you really have to focus on reads and execution. That is a critical aspect you have to practice.
Before we go any further, letís talk about personnel. You want to get your best players on the field. The open side Defensive End has to be one of your best football players. Size does not matter as much. We want an athletic player who can move around.
At Nose Tackle you have to find a player who likes to mix it up. We want a big guy in there who likes to get down and dirty. He is going to get doubled a lot on the run and pass and is going to get down blocked a lot. He has to be a tough player. This guy can be a short and stubby type of player.
The other defensive tackle the 3 technique player should be your premier interior pass rusher. He is going to get a lot of one on one blocks as it is hard to double team him because of where he lines up.
The defensive end to the tight end side needs to be a defensive player that can play the run. He does not have to be a big time pass rusher. He has to play the C gap and stop the run.
The Mike linebacker is a traditional middle linebacker. He is instinctive and makes a lot of calls for the defense. He may be the guy with the most experience or the best feel for the game.
The Will linebacker can be a smaller player. He is generally protected in the defensive schemes and will not see as many blocks. All you want him to do most plays is flow and chase the football. We want our fastest linebacker at this position.
The Sam linebacker has to be a good containment player. He has to be big and strong enough to play on the edge of the tight end. He has to be able to run in pass coverage also.
The defensive backs that are the best run defenders are our safeties. The Free Safety is another player who makes a lot of tackles for us. He has to have good instincts. He is what we call a natural player. You donít have to coach this player too much. He has to have a feel for the everything and understand the big picture.
The corners have to run fast if you plan on playing bump and run. If they donít run fast then you can still play with them. But if your corners are not faster than the wide receivers you are facing donít play bump and run. Your asking them to do something they can not do and theyíll get beat deep. It is a race when you play bump and run and if you canít win the race donít play bump and run.
If you have a million reads for your secondary you are crazy. They donít need that even at our level. All they need to know is their primary responsibility and then secondary. At the highest level in the NFL the pass game is as complex as you can imagine. However if a defender can play the post and the seam route then they can learn to play at that level. The thing that kills and breaks down a defense is a ball being thrown over the defenderís head for a touchdown.
Teach your younger players to play the deep middle and forget about all the confusing rules. The guy who is playing in the middle of the field has to figure out who can get into the middle. We want our safety to play in the middle of the two receivers that can run the post route. He wants to split the relationship with anyone who can get down the middle.
When we play pass defense with our corners we play as tight was we can for the match up. Against spread offenses we back them off more.
If we get a one back or an Ace set the safeties are going to take care of it. Everything else in the defense stays the same. The Mike and Will linebackers take the back out of the backfield. If he goes to the strong side the Mike linebacker takes him. If he goes to the weak side the Will linebacker takes him. The linebacker that is not involved in coverage drops into the short middle hole on pass coverage. The Free Safety adjusts down to take the second tight end.
If the offense spreads out a bit into a double set to one side we donít make any adjustment except to match up better with the safeties. Everything else on the defense remains the same. Everyone is playing their gap control and support schemes. If the back goes in motion to leave an empty backfield set the linebacker to the side of the motion takes him. The remaining linebacker bumps over to the middle to balance the defense and plays football.
If the offense comes out in a triples set the adjustment is made by the safeties. In this case pictured the Strong Safety goes out to cover the third receiver to the strong side. The Free Safety moves to the middle third of the field and plays the middle third. Everyone else stays the same with the linebackers playing the remaining back the same way. Trips to the other side would flop the role of the safeties. Or if one is a better cover person that the other you can protect accordingly.
For a base defense to hold up you have to have some things that you can use to complement it. When you play USC every single one of my players is going to have a blitz pattern. The offense will have to account for every player on our side of the ball in their pass protection scheme.
The next thing that I am going to show you are some of the most basic combinations of pass rushes that we use with the under defensive front. I want it to be multiple so that the defense doesnít know who is coming and from where.
The first blitz that I am going to show you is what we simply refer to as ďSam and MikeĒ. We are going to use the strong side linebacker and middle linebackers to rush the passer. We slant our strong side defensive end, nose guard, and 3 technique to the open side of their formation away from their normal rush gaps. The weak side defensive end is going to drop into pass coverage on this play. The alignment is the same as before. The Corners are line up in tight coverage but are going to bail out and play a three deep zone coverage with the Free Safety. The Corners will play outside leverage on this blitz and force everything inside. The Free Safety is playing a deep middle. The weak side Defense End and Strong Safety are the outside defenders to each side. They are playing seam coverage with the Will linebacker in the middle seam. The Strong Safety and weak side Defensive End play what we call the hot receivers to their side. Once the quarterback sees the blitz heíll often throw to these short areas to his designated hot receiver. If the tight end comes down the middle seam the Strong Safety collapses on him. The Defensive End does the same thing with the back out of the backfield.
The Will linebacker is playing the hot receiver to the middle of the field. That means he is finding the third receiver and covering him if he comes out on a hot route. When we overload on the rush the ball with be thrown quickly. We want good spacing in our coverage people so we can react by changing up, and make the play for a short gain.
The formation doesnít matter much. We have to find the hot receivers on this blitz and identify them. Another advantage the defense has in these types of stunts is the change up of the line. The defensive line is now slanting away from where they have been playing the entire game. That changes the landmark for the offensive lineman and gives the defensive lineman an advantage in his pass rush. The defense has to have counter moves to the keep the offense off balance.
This stunt can also be used in run defense. To give us a change up we bring the Sam linebacker underneath the tight ends block. We can also let the Sam linebacker play under all the blocks and bounce plays to the outside. Those are changes we add to the base defense to keep the offense off balance.
Another way to get five man pressure on the quarterback is our Under Safety blitz. On this stunt we are bringing the Free Safety from the outside. The defensive line is slanting away from his blitz. The corners are playing their same bail
coverage and the Strong Safety is going to the deep middle.
The Sam and Will linebackers have the first two hot receivers and the Mike with have the hot third receiver.
A very effective stunt from this defense is called ďSam and SafetyĒ. On this stunt we are blitzing with both the Sam and the Free Safety. The defense line slants to the Free Safety side. The open side Defensive End comes off in coverage and everything else is the same. The Mike linebacker and the drop end have the first two hot receivers and the Will linebacker has the third.
One of the problems we have when we drop the Defensive End in coverage is containment to his side. When we drop the end it means the 3 Technique tackle has to work hard to contain outside. That is not a good situation but we work hard to make it work.
We also like to bring the defensive backs in the blitz scheme. If they can disguise the stunt they can get there in a hurry. We like to bring the Corner on a blitz as a change up from time to time. The Corner aligns in a bump and run technique. On the snap of the ball however he comes hard off the corner. The Free Safety cheats back and covers the deep outside third. The Strong Safety is covering the middle third and the strong side corner in this case is taking the outside third to his side. The rush end and the 3 technique rush the A gap and the B gap. The corner comes off the edge.
The Sam, Mike, and Will linebackers play the hot zones on this play. You can mix up your blitzes according to your needs. This simplistic blitz scheme lets you bring pressure from a number of different areas. You can game plan the match ups the way you want with other combination as well. The important thing in this blitz pattern is that we are not changing anything in our basic schemes underneath.