Inside playbook: beating the Bears zone blitz
Good stuff as usual from bowen
Inside the playbook: beating the Bears zone blitz
Using the chalkboard to breakdown "Under Smash." Matt Bowen
Click here for the entire Inside the playbook series
The Bears defense under Lovie Smith is a Tampa 2 team at the core. However, when you break down the tape, this defense will use pressure—both zone and man—that leaves a single-high safety in the middle of the field.
Today, we will take a look at a classic scheme in Lovie’s playbook: Under Smash ("SM" = Sam and Mike). A standard zone blitz concept (rush 5, drop 6) that has been a part of Smith's game plan going back to his days as defensive coordinator with the Rams in St. Louis.
Let’s set it up. The Bears are in their base 4-3 defense aligned in an Under front vs. the offense in regular personnel (2 WR, 1 TE, 2 RB) with a “Strong I” set in the backfield. The route scheme? The “OVS” (outside vertical stretch). It consists of a 9 (fade), 7 (corner), flat combo that will put stress on any 3-deep shell. Check out the play on the chalkboard and then we will get into some coaching points on why this route scheme can beat this zone pressure concept.
The Zone Blitz: Let’s keep this simple and not over-think what we are looking at on the chalkboard. As I said above, most zone blitz concepts at the NFL and college level consist of a 5-man pressure scheme with six defenders playing in coverage—almost like a matchup zone in basketball. We will start with the defense and then move over to the route concept.
5-Man pressure: The Bears are going to blitz the Sam backer and the Mike (No.54 Brian Urlacher). With the open side DE (Julius Peppers in Chicago) dropping to the “seam-flat” as an underneath defender, the Bears are sending five players to the QB. On the D-Line, we are looking at a “scoop” technique (stunt to opposite gaps) from the Nose (N) and DT (T) with a “long scoop” from the closed side DE. Create confusion in the protection scheme and get after the QB—basic theory up front in a zone blitz.
Coverage aspect: The FS is going to play the middle of the field (no different than Cover 1 or Cover 3) with both CBs playing the vertical release of No.1 (X, Z). That creates a 3-deep shell in the secondary. Underneath we are looking at the DE (Peppers) and the SS as the “seam-flat” defenders (play No.2 strong and weak). That leaves the “middle hook” player (Will backer in this scheme) to play the No.3 WR.
Route scheme: You will see the OVS vs. Cover 3 and the zone blitz as it puts pressure on the underneath defenders to play both the 7 route and the flat. With the closed side CB now removed due to the hard vertical release from the Z receiver, the offense can work on the SS and the Will. On the backside, I drew the X on the skinny post (and gave him an option to break off on the dig) just to give the FS some eye candy and keep him deep in the middle of the field.
Why it can be beat: Start with the blocking scheme. The RB (R) has to block the Sam off of the edge with the tackle pinching down to pick up the Mike coming through the closed side B gap. This—in reality—is a very easy scheme to block if the O-Line stays with the count and adjusts at the snap of the ball. In the secondary, take a look at the SS—because that is the player the offense wants to work. The SS will carry the vertical release of No.2 (Y), but he can only hold that route until he is threatened in the flat. Once the FB (F) clears the line of scrimmage, the SS will now drop the Y (who becomes the No.3 WR) to the Will backer (“middle hook” player). And that is a long way for the Will to go—especially playing from inside out.
Can you stop it?
Of course, and it starts with pressure. I have the Bears showing a Cover 2 shell in their pre-snap alignment and rolling to the blitz. You expect pressure to get home, but if the O-Line can adjust, you have to be sound in the coverage aspect of the defense. The SS has to force the ball to go to the flat--and that happens only by holding off the vertical release by Y and reacting once the ball is dumped off to the FB.
After watching this team lose; it seems universal, either power run game up the gut, or quick slant passes. Both of those just seem to rip our hearts out every time.
High Fives / Like - 1 BEAR DOWN!, 0 Dislikes
well seems we also adjust and close it off when get burned by it, ala the packers game where their passing game did ZERO in the 2nd 1/2.
Originally Posted by Riczaj01
amd the bleow formation, which the bears use alot isn't a cover-2 formation but a cover1 with man/man( which many seem to want, but get burned in it)..when Cb's asked to play man/man
I can see the vulnerabilities to it pretty easily. The keys are for the blitz pressure and rush from the weakside limit the QB's ability to throw to his left. Now the SS has to read the pressure and the QB's eyes. If there isn't time to set and throw to the TE he closes quickly on the flat and wraps up the outlet pass. If the pressure isn't there the SS needs to close off the TE's route and upset the timing. In that case either he comes up and hampers the TE's release or the SLB needs to delay him a count or two before blitizing. This also gives the WLB more time to complete his drop.
To me it's all about taking away two of his three options and forcing him to throw where you want him to. Knowing the QB and his tendencies would also help. Does he have the arm and accuracy to fit a pass into the TE under coverage or is he the kind of guy who won't risk it and check down instead.
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap. Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.
Luckily, not many teams do well against our Tampa-2. We do well keeping gains to a minimum. To go after someone like Asomugha, if he were cheaper, wouldn't be bad because of the Cover 1 with man-to-man coverage. However, I really like the prospects behind Zack Bowman. He is a man-type of corner, and if he can learn to tackle with some authority, then as I think Dan Pompeii said, he will emerge from training camp as the starting SCB.
Playing a lot of 3rd string qbs last year did help.
All "O" and all "D" scheme's have flaws and "ways to beat it".. that is what football and scheme' all about- IMO the better teams match up their personal( and draft or F/A for these talents) to what ever scheme running to take adavatsnge of the scheme and minimize the weaknesses of it..
Originally Posted by soulman
For instance in the above, having a MLB and WLB that has the speed to both cover or blitz the key, and honestly most teams do not, which is why it fails for many teams...but when have a url and briggs, as you said it quickly taks away 2of the optiosn and forces the qb to make the throw quicker which i why we are usually amoung the top teams in lowest 3rd down conversion rates against
We played three. Big whoop.
Originally Posted by 4th and 26
High Fives / Like - 1 BEAR DOWN!, 0 Dislikes
Originally Posted by dabears54
There was no better example of this than the 1985 Bears/Dolphins game, whereby the Dolphins simply moved Marino around in the pocket and threw underneath to offset the "46" defense. I don't think Vince Tobin was as effective running the defense as Buddy Ryan, otherwise we win Suiper Bowls in each of the next two seasons.
The point here, without deviating too much off subject, is every defense can be beat, just as any offense can be beat, just as DB said. The Steelers run a similar zone blitz, but instead of doing it in the 4-3, they do it in the 3-4. The Patriots simply threw the ball underneath against the Bears in the regular season, only to go over the top to Deion Branch in the play that ultimately broke out back in that game (as if being down, what, 28 to 0 in the first half wasn't already debilitating). You can do that all day against Lovie Smith's defense and win.