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Old 03-13-2009, 09:01 PM  
Mr. Krab Mr. Krab is offline
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Scheme flexibility

Do the Cardinals run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense? The answer is, well, yes.

By Eric Edholm
Jan. 30, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. - Cardinals LB coach Bill Davis leaned back in his seat, exhaled and tried to remember a conversation he had five years and two jobs ago.

"I have been so many places, you tend to forget what you did when and when things happened," Davis said "It all blends together."

Indeed. In 17 NFL seasons, Davis has worked for eight clubs and has run or been a part of just about every kind of defensive scheme there is. He has been around long enough to have seen the 3-4 defense go out of style and subsequently come back as, what Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians calls it, "the vogue defense right now," including his own team's superior unit.

But do the Cardinals run a 3-4 also? The answer might surprise you.

"Everybody puts us in that 3-4 category, but what we are is an 'under front, a 4-3 'under' defense, "Davis explains. "The 'under' is almost a 3-4. As 3-4 [defenses] go, it's not really what we do here."

An 'under' defense slants towards the tight end. Likewise, an 'over' front shifts away from the tight end. As he explains the workings of the Cardinal's defense, Davis starts talking, then does as any good coach or teacher would: He grabs a pen and paper. "Well,here, let me show you want i mean ..."

Pretty soon, he's scratching out the defensive scheme on a paper, the same one the Cardinals will use to try to stop the Steelers on Sunday. He also, for comparison, sketches out the traditional 3-4 defense and the 4-3 'even' front, both of what he has taught and coached in the NFL.

"When you're talking about the 3-4 team, you have the three D-lineman," Davis said. "Then you have [two] outside 'backers; then [the inside linebackers] bubble on the guards."

Bubbling, in the defensive terms, is to line up across from an uncovered offensive lineman. In the 3-4, it's the two offensive guards that most often don't have a defensive lineman in front of them. The defensive ends are lined up in a five-techniques, or on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackles. The nose tackle is head up across from the center.

Said Davis: "These guys [defensive linemen] are supposed to two-gap, and these outside [linebackers] are interchangeable rush-or-pass guys. And that's the dynamic of the 3-4."

But in the 4-3 'under' front, like the Cardinals use as their base defense which looks similar to the 3-4 to the naked eye, the biggest difference is in the outside linebackers. The strong-side linebacker is still outside the tightend. But the other outside guy - the Cardinals call this player their "Predator" - is almost always rushing the passer, although the Cards will occasionally drop him into covers to mix things up. Other differences: The nose tackle shades to the A-gap (in between the center and the guard) on the tightend side, and the end on that side moves between the tackle and tightend.

Davis explained that the 3-4 defense creates the most confusion for the offense in terms of which outside linebacker is doing what, and the standard 4-3 offers the least unpredictability. The Cardinals 4-3 'under' scheme is somewhere between the two in terms of causing the offense to guess who is rushing and who is dropping.

The only player in the 4-3 'under' who is left uncovered is the "Mike," or the middle linebacker. In the Cardinals' scheme, that's usually Gerald Hayes. "That's my thumper, more of a thick guy," Davis said, circling the capital M on his piece of paper. "In the 'over' front, when i was in Atlanta [2001 to 2003], we put Keith Brooking - we were actually playing an even scheme, too - but we stacked Keith right behind the three [technique] and he got to run and make players and use his athleticism, and he made his first Pro Bowl playing behind the three."

But in this scheme Hayes, listed at 249 pounds ("or a little less than that," he admits with a wink and smile), is the only uncovered linebacker. That means he often will be taking on 300-pound guards head on. On Sunday, it could be Steeler ORG Darnell Stapleton and his 305 pounds that will meet Hayes more than once. "You don't think about," Hayes says, "you just do it. You can't worry about taking those guys on. It comes with the territory."

Antonio Smith and Darnell Dockett are the ends in this system, backed up by rookies Kenny Iwabema and Calais Campbell. Bryan Robinson and Gabe Watson are the nose tackles. Chike Okeafor is the primary strong-side linebacker, now that Clark Haggans is out with and injury.

Karlos Dansby is the weak-side linebacker. The way the defense is set up, he has a nice protective shield to keep potential blockers at bay. "what we've done with Karlos is put him behind a three-technique, so basically - we call these anchor points - he's got a wall in front of him," Davis said. "So he can run and use his athleticism. The center can't get him because the nose is on him. The guard can't get him because the end is on him. And the tackle can't get him because the predator is on him. So this is your athlete that can run, go cover ground and make plays.

Th "Predator" position is manned by Bertrand Berry and Travis LaBoy, assuming LaBoy is healthy enough to play Sunder. Both guys really are defensive ends by trade, but Davis considers them his guys.

"At the end of the day, I have these guys [the "Predators"] in my meeting room, so that puts us closer to this scheme [4-3 under]," he said. "And i put them in a two-point stance. This is the key right there: This guy right here [the three-technique weak side end] almost makes us have to rush the passer. As soon as you move him inside [from a five-technique], his responsibility in this is to play this very same gap."

Davis has coached this scheme with the Giants and 49ers, but this is the first time in a while one of his defenses has used it as the base grouping. He has picked up pieces of different schemes from a bunch of different schools around the league and likes the flexibility of what he and the other defenses have discover in the 4-3 'under' formation.

"The [Bill] Belichicks, [Dom] Capers, the [Bill] Parcells, that whole group ... they play the 'under' front most of the time, but they move to it," Davis said. "So are we a 3-4? Almost."

It just depends on how you look at it. Or under it.

Last edited by Mr. Krab; 03-14-2009 at 10:30 AM..
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:23 AM   #31
ncCHIEFfan ncCHIEFfan is offline
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OK! Can anybody here tell me weather or not either one of these two differences in the NT position... or the DE position would be a move in the positive direction from the straight 3-4 for Glen Dorsey... and Glen Dorsey only.

Most here seem to think he can not play the NT in a straight 3-4. Is this slight move over into the gap a play to his strength?

Or, if he is still more of a DE candidate in this scheme?
Regaurdless as to what people on here are saying, Dorsey is a special talent. He didn't do much last year and I don't know exactly why. I think we have forgotten just how dominating he was in college. Now that we have a more talented front office I hope. Dorsey will shine no matter where they put him on the D line
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:24 AM   #32
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But wouldn't a 4-3 scheme that benifits Dorsey be because he can line up in a gap? In this system, he would still be in a gap. Maybe not the same one as his best 4-3 role would be, but in a gap none the less.

And for that matter, I know I asked about Dorsey only... mostly because he is a #5 overall pick, but would this slight shift over benifit Tyler more than a straight up on the Center setup as well?
They would have to play 2-gap--the B and C gaps. They'd basically be guys who open up lanes for the LBs and safeties in pass defense, and guys who need to be all over the field in the run game. Who knows... maybe Dorsey won't be that bad. But it will probably be misusing his talents. Then again, he did play 2-gap at LSU.

Tank could do find in a 3-4 too. Though, I think he could be a huge benefit as a backup NT if we can get him to put on some pounds. The guy that benefits the most, in my opinion, is Turk McBride. I think he could be a really, really good 3-4 End.
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:38 AM   #33
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They would have to play 2-gap--the B and C gaps. They'd basically be guys who open up lanes for the LBs and safeties in pass defense, and guys who need to be all over the field in the run game. Who knows... maybe Dorsey won't be that bad. But it will probably be misusing his talents. Then again, he did play 2-gap at LSU.
Obviously, I am not well versed on how the D-line works. Isn't 2-gap... B and C where the DT is lined up straight over the guard? And isn't that what we did with Dorsey that Brian Waters was taking a shot at our defensive strategy in J-Whit's column late in the season?
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:43 AM   #34
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Here is the article...

Whitlock: Someone should be fired for way Chiefs using Dorsey

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/col...ry/947588.html

After the Chiefs’ latest loss — a 38-31 thriller to the Dolphins courtesy of Kansas City’s three-point second-half explosion — I intended to write a column summarizing what progress has been made this season.

It was going to be a very short story. But then, as I was standing in the corner waiting to get a private word with Herm Edwards, a squatty, would-be linebacker/fullback walked by me on the way to the shower. Tattooed on the back of his shoulders were six rather large letters D-O-R-S-E-Y.

“That’s Glenn Dorsey, the Chiefs’ No. 1 draft pick?”

The realization totally blew my mind. Oh, I’ve seen Dorsey plenty in the locker room after games. But never barefoot. And never without a clear view of his face. Until Sunday, I had no clue that Glenn Dorsey is a shade below 6 feet tall. You put him in a police lineup with other NFL players, and you peg him as a plodding fullback. He’s Lorenzo Neal.

Now Dorsey’s disappointing season makes perfect sense, and the case to retain Herm Edwards and his coaching staff gets even more difficult to argue.

What in the hell are they doing playing Dorsey straight-up over a guard?

This is the single-worst, defensive-strategy decision I’ve seen in 15 years of covering the NFL. Honestly, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and defensive-line coach Tim Krumrie should be fired today and not allowed to travel to Cincinnati for the season finale.

And Herm Edwards owes Clark Hunt a detailed explanation of why he allowed Dorsey’s rookie season to be wasted by a boneheaded scheme. Short of Cunningham and Krumrie owning compromising blackmail photos of Edwards, Hunt has no choice but to promptly relieve Edwards of his responsibilities.

You don’t draft a 5-foot-11, 300-pound defensive tackle at No. 5 overall, give him $20-plus million in guaranteed money and then ask him to be a run-stuffer lined head-up over a guard.

For those of you who know little about line play, it’s the equivalent of the Indianapolis Colts turning Peyton Manning into an option quarterback. If Indianapolis did that, Colts fans would justifiably rush the field and trample Tony Dungy and his offensive coaching staff.

Dorsey is listed at 6-1, 297 pounds. Even at those dimensions, the strategy is asininely inappropriate. But if Dorsey is 6-1, then I’m the bastard son of Carl Peterson and Oprah Winfrey.

Dorsey is a butterball, a Jerry Ball, a three-technique tackle who should line up on the outside shoulder of the guard and explode upfield. That’s the only way he can be successful in the NFL. As long as he lines up helmet to helmet with a guard, he’ll remain a line-of-scrimmage statue.

“He has no chance in pass rush,” guard Brian Waters told me. “I love it when a guy lines head-up.”


Members of the Chiefs’ scouting department have blamed Dorsey’s subpar rookie season on the extra weight they allege he’s carrying. I’ve been told on two separate occasions that KC’s scouting department evaluated a 300-pounder who is now playing at 315. The personnel guys stand behind their evaluation of Dorsey, the insinuation being a lighter Dorsey would be a more effective Dorsey.

“The way we’re playing him, he better be 315,” Waters said. “He would get destroyed in the run game at 300.”

Given his size and style of play at LSU, there’s only one justification for taking Dorsey at No. 5: You believe he has a chance to be the kind of backfield-disrupter that Warren Sapp (6-1, 300 in his prime) was. Sapp used his explosiveness, quickness and power to get in gaps and force the action.

The Chiefs are using Dorsey as if he’s Albert Haynesworth, the 6-6, 320-pound Tennessee Pro Bowler. Haynesworth goes wherever he wants on the football field. He takes whatever space he desires.

I have no idea whether the right scheme would improve Dorsey’s production. I question his footwork, quickness and explosion. Maybe those shortcomings would disappear with weight loss and being asked to do what he’s capable.

I do know this season may have damaged him permanently. Competition is a game of confidence. Walking into that locker room and watching film of getting blown up week after week can be demoralizing to any player.

This is simply inexcusable. Most high school coaches would know better than to use Dorsey the way the Chiefs have this season. Dorsey’s use indicates a level of dysfunction between the coaching staff and personnel department that is mind-boggling.

Rather than sort through the mess and try to discern who’s to blame for the poor communication, Hunt has every right to blow up everyone and start over.
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:50 AM   #35
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I believe he will be usedc differently this year
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:52 AM   #36
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I believe he will be usedc differently this year
Care to elaborate?
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:18 AM   #37
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You guys are WAY overestimating Arizona's "talent" on the defensive side of the ball. Their "core" consists of a 2nd-tier safety, a streaky DT, a 2nd-round LB, and a CB that they can't find a spot for because he's not good enough to play CB fulltime.
They might've been, but you're definitely UNDERRATING them quite a bit. AWilson is one of the best safeties in the league. Ditto Dansby at LB and Dockett at DT. Their rotation at end is also solid, and there's a lot of talent in guys like Rolle, DRC, etc. You're definitely trying to minimize what they've actually got.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:27 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by pr_capone View Post
When a news article has a misspelled word in the first sentence... I tend to stop reading because I can't take the writer seriously.

If he can't take the time to proof read his article then I don't have the time to read it.
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Mr. Krab's,

LOL at your valiant but vain attempt to make the author appear literate. You'll have to do a lot more editing to get to that point.

"... the traditional 3-4 defense and the 4-3 'even' front, both of what he has tought and coached in the NFL."

CRIPEY. Is this guy actually paid to put words in print?
They are my typos, the website had some kind of copy/paste block so i took the time to re-type the whole thing out for you guys.

Apparently i shouldn't of wasted my time.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:35 AM   #39
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They are my typos, the website had some kind of copy/paste block so i took the time to re-type the whole thing out for you guys.

Apparently i shouldn't of wasted my time.



Thank you very much for taking the time to do this. I thought it was an outstanding read!


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Old 03-14-2009, 11:09 AM   #40
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They are my typos, the website had some kind of copy/paste block so i took the time to re-type the whole thing out for you guys.

Apparently i shouldn't of wasted my time.



You're awsome dude! I thought it was very informative.

So how does the personnel differ for for a 4-3 under. Is it 4-3 personnel or 3-4?

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Old 03-14-2009, 11:12 AM   #41
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effort rep.

Now onto substance -- When I hear about a team running both systems, it simply tells me they aren't any good at running either.

Remember 2 seasons ago when we were a 'zone team that ran a lot of man'....ultimately we just didn't cover anyone ever.
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:17 AM   #42
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Does it remind anyone about Gunther's "Falcon stack" defense?
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:19 AM   #43
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Does it remind anyone about Gunther's "Falcon stack" defense?
Yes, which also worked so well.

When this scheme closely reminds me of 2 things that are directly associated with Gunther Cunningham...if you'll excuse me, I need to go vomit.
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:20 AM   #44
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Yes, which also worked so well.

When this scheme closely reminds me of 2 things that are directly associated with Gunther Cunningham...if you'll excuse me, I need to go vomit.
That was my thought as well!
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:25 AM   #45
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USC 4-3 Under Blitz Schemes

By Pete Carroll
Head Football Coach


In order to be successful on defense you need to develop a philosophy. You have to know what you want to do, how you want it to look, and how you want it to feel. A philosophy is like a railroad track. You have a clear cut direction in which you are going. If you start to get off track it becomes real obvious to you. If you don’t know what you want and what you are about you won’t know when you are off course. If you do realize you are off course you won’t know how to fix the problems you are having without a philosophy.

If you can’t write down your philosophy then you still have some work to do. If you don’t have a clear view of your philosophy you will be floundering all over the place. It you win, it will be pure luck. One year you will win, it will be pure luck. One year you will run a 3-4 defense and the next year you will run a 4-3 based defense. You will never get zeroed in on what is important.

I am an example of a person who got zeroed into a philosophy early. I went to :place w:st="on">Arkansas:place> many years ago to work for Lou Holtz. Monte Kiffin was his defensive coordinator. He had just come over from :place w:st="on">Nebraska:place> to take that job. He is now of course the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is one of the best coaches that has ever lived. Under Monte I was a part time coach in the secondary at :place w:st="on">Arkansas:place>.

Monte ran what is known in coaching circles as the 4-3 under defense. That was his base defense that he had developed and perfected at :place w:st="on">Nebraska:place> as a gap control defense to stop the run and pressure the passer. That was the first time I started to get hold of something that had a philosophy to it. I started to grow with this defense. After all the years I’ve been in football I’ve never coached anything but the 4-3 under defense. So I know this defense inside and out. I know the good side of the defense and I know the problems and weaknesses of this defense. I run it with one gap principles but can also make it work with some two gap principles.

What I can give you today is a real basic understanding of this defense. I am not trying to sell this to you as being the best defense. What I am saying is that for me this is the defense that I know best and can make work. The reason I run this as a base defense is that I know how to fix any problems that may be created.

I want to start out explaining the basic front end coverage. Then we’ll go over some of the more basic blitzes we run from this coverage. When I went to the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, Monte Kiffin was there and we got together with another coach named Floyd Peters. He was from the :place w:st="on">Northern California:place> area. He played for the Cleveland Browns and had coached all over the NFL. He was one of the great pass rush specialists that has ever been. He believed as well that the 4-3 under was the best overall front to use to rush the passer.

The 4-3 under defense has evolved over the years and adjusted over time. There are some different ways to do things from it. The presentation that I am going to give today is the “one-gap” approach. In principle we want to give our players a chance to know exactly what they have to defend. We also want to give them an attitude in which to do that. We want to be an attacking, aggressive football team. We don’t want to sit and read the play like you often have to with “two-gap” principles of play. We want to attack into the gap at the snap, get off the ball to play on their side of the field and get after the quarterback.

The big problem with any “one-gap” approach however is that it allows a ball carrier to get into the secondary if one guy makes a mistake. No matter how aggressive the defense is there is a great amount of discipline that goes with this defense. You have to be very strict about your positioning and the placement of your players. You have to have the ability to maintain relative spacing between your players.

When we talk about this front all gaps are lettered to give us a reference point. We letter the gaps on each side of the center as A, B, C, D, etc. We do this for the strong side and the weak side. For starters the Sam linebacker controls the D gap to his side of the field. He is in an inside-foot to outside-foot alignment on the tight end or what most coaches call a 9 technique spot. He can never get reach blocked by the tight end in this position. He is the force player for everything run to his side of the field and turns everything back inside to the pursuit.

The defensive end to the tight end side is responsible for controlling the C gap. He is an inside-foot to outside-foot alignment on the offensive tackle he is lining up against. If the tackle blocks inside then the defensive end has to close down with him in keep relative control of the C gap.

The nose tackle plays in the A gap to the tight end side of the field in our defense. We have done a number of things with this position based upon the opposition at times. We have put him right in the A gap, we have cocked him on the center at times, and as needed we have even played him in a direct shade technique right over the center at times. The way we play him on base defense is as an inside-foot to outside-foot alignment or a 1 technique on the center to the strong side of the alignment.

The prime spot on the defense to the weak side is the B gap player. He is an inside-foot to outside-foot alignment on the offensive guard to his side. He is a 3 technique player. He has B gap control but he can’t get reached or hooked by the defense due to the way we align him. The whole scheme of this defense is predicated upon not getting hooked.

The best pass rusher on the team is usually the defensive end to the open side of the field. That puts him on the quarterback’s blind side and makes him a C gap player in this defense. We often align him wider than this in order to give him a better angle of attack and allow him to play in space. We align him a yard outside of the offensive tackle most of the time. He has to play C gap run support but at the same time he is rushing the passer like it is third and ten. He has to be able to close down however if the tackle blocks down on him.

The front five players I mentioned are playing aggressive defense with their outside arms free. The only thing we can’t allow to happen is for them to get hooked or reached by the defender.

This alignment leaves open the strong side B Gap and the weak side A gap which are played by the Mike and Will linebackers. The Mike linebacker is in an inside-foot to out-side foot alignment on the offensive guard on his side of the field. The Will linebacker is aligned against the offensive guard to his side of the field. He is basically a protected player in this alignment and should make a lot of tackles. He has to control his weak-side A gap and play relative to the Mike linebacker and the Free Safety.

The Free Safety is the force player to the open side or weak side of the ball. He works off the defensive end’s play. The Defensive End works for leverage and force. The Free Safety works off of the Defensive End and fills where he is needed on run plays for example. If we are playing Cover 3 behind him the Strong Safety is going to have the middle of the secondary behind him but also fills off the linebacker’s side as needed depending upon the play. If the Sam linebacker does get hooked for example the Strong Safety will then have to come up and make the play. The offense will obviously gain a chunk of yardage on the play, but that is because there was a breakdown at the point of attack in our scheme.

The two Safeties are both fill where needed sort of players. The have to keep everything on their inside shoulder. All the players in this defense have to keep the blocks in their inside shoulder and force the ball carrier back inside to the next player. Here is an example of our base alignment against a pro set backfield with wide receivers split to either side.

4-3 UNDER DEFENSE VERSUS PRO SET



If you look at this front it is basically an eight man front against the run as we’ll bring the Free Safety down hard in run situations. This is a stop the run first type of defense. We want to outnumber the offense to either side of the ball. We call this particular alignment of the front an “under” and the coverage “flex” in our language. The open side of the alignment is the flex side and the tight end side is the strong or solid side. Those are our terms for the tight end side and the split end side of the formation.

The defense is a man to man coverage scheme for the corners in this example. If we call a cover one flex, we are man to man on the corners with the strong safety moving into the middle of the field. The Free Safety or flex side safety is down on run support. The Sam Linebacker has the tight end in man to man in coverage. He has him anywhere he goes for this defensive call. He never switches if we are in this coverage and will go with him if the tight end does go in motion.
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