What difference will a new Offensive Coordinator make to Cincinnati?

After a 0-2 home start and an offense that mustered just 3 field goals, the Cincinnati Bengals moved swiftly on from long t-rm coordinator Ken Zampese.

His replacement, Bill Lazor, will head up the offense for the week 3 visit to Green Bay. While we don’t expect to see immediate benefits the change in philosophy should see some longer-term changes to fantasy output and touches.

Zampese, a Coryell/Man blocking disciple will make way for Lazor’s West-Coast Zone blocking scheme. A profile of touches for the Zampese offense for each opponent is shown below.

Zampese(1)

The main focus of the Zampese offense was the setup of the passing game using the run. The lead back profiled to see in the region of 240 rushing attempts and 50 targets with the secondary back seeing 120 attempts and 50 targets.  The main receiving target was the WR1 seeing 126 targets with the WR2, WR3 and TE seeing 100, 70 and 88 targets respectively.

The addition of Lazor should result in a change in workload for both the backfield and the main receiver. In comparison to Zampese, at a basic level, Lazor runs less and passes more. However, the workload for the RB1 should stay relatively stable (234 carries/ 49 targets), its the RB2 who’ll lose out (102 carries/36 targets). Given that Lazor’s two previous stops have seen him use LeSean McCoy and Lamar Miller as RB1’s the likelihood of Jeremy Hill seeing the same workload is probably very slim. Expect to see the usage of Joe Mixon increase or if he’s not ready in the short term then Giovanni Bernard will absorb most of the passing work.

The biggest beneficiary of Lazor’s ascension will be AJ Green with his target workload expected to increase to 142. The WR2/3 and TE targets should stay relatively stable. A profile of touches for the Lazor offense for each opponent is shown below.

Lazor(1)

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EFFL AGM 2017 – Reid Hoose on SuperBowl Night

Current items for the AGM

  1. Change Waivers from Wednesday 0915 to 1915.
  2. Kickers will be awarded 0.1 points for each yard of a successful field goal try. A Field Goal and Extra Point miss will NOT be penalised.  
  3. Proposal for Points Per Reception scoring change. 
  4. Add Individual Defensive Player positions to the starting line-ups. 

 

COMMISSIONER NOTIFICATIONS

  1. We will continue with current league fees unless prices rise at MFL or there is a league requirement to increase the prize pot.
  2. Scoring- Apart from the proposals above in the interests of consistency I propose to retain the current scoring system.
  3. Is league happy to continue with the divisional setup?
  4. As a new team was added to the league Dynasty and Keeper proposals will be shelved until 2017-2018
  5. Commissioner will reduce 2-day player pick-up lock to 1-day
  6. Commission will add a weekly waivers limit: 6 transactions.
  7. Weekly locks for players dropped at waivers WILL remain.
  8. I’ll be adding an Injured Reserve spot to each roster. Rules for IR:-
    1. During the NFL season, a team may place a player on IR if they appear on their NFL teams Injured Reserve List. The owner may then utilise the blind bid waiver wire process to replace the player on their active roster.
    2.  IR moves are free
    3. No free agent who is listed as out and then drafted or acquired via the waiver wire is eligible for the IR wire (i.e. a player on IR or out can’t be picked up and stashed on your IR…only active players on your roster are eligible)
    4. A team may only have a maximum 1 players on the IR list at any time.
    5. The official site for determining a player’s status will be NFL.com
    6. A player on the IR list may not be traded to another team
  9. Weekly preview and review articles. MFL auto generates these but they’re a “bit” shit. I particularly enjoy the View from the Pit, but Gavé shouldered every single week on his own last year, does anyone want to help out? There is no format you just write what you want to read.
  10. League chat- The MFL chat is ok, but wasn’t well used. Is everyone still happy to continue with FB or would you like to switch to something else?
  11. I propose that our 2 co-commissioners continue in their post and function as the executive committee.
  12. Draft Day- It looks very likely that draft night will be on Saturday 9th September 2016. We won’t know for sure until the NFL schedule is published in June so please keep the 9th Sept and 26th Aug noted in your diaries. We don’t have a venue for next years draft so if anyone would like to volunteer it would be appreciated (It’s now a necessity that you provide a wifi connection >17Mb, a big screen telly with an hdmi connection and a room capable of holding 12).

Earlston Super Bowl IV

Panthers Win! Panthers Win!jordy_superbowliv

The week began with some early waiver wire activity by the 69ers as they frantically searched for a startable TE with the No.8 overall, Jordan Reed sidelined by injury. Indeed he would have been a valuable asset for the 69ers with the Panthers heavy reliance on Washington Redskins. In the end, Coach Richie settled for veteran Antonio Gates and his match-up against the worst team at defending fantasy TEs (the Cleveland Browns). The rest of the 69ers starting lineup continued with just WR Tyreek Hill making way for the returning Julio Jones.

As for most of the year, the Panthers stuck with a winning line-up and restarted all of last week’s semi-finalists. In the main, that was a line-up that matched expert rankings with only the decision to go with Cousins over Rivers courting any controversy.

The Panthers had never beaten the 69ers on any of their six previous attempts and the final didn’t start well with TE Zach Ertz posting a disappointing 3.3 on Thursday night. That was the last time Coach Richie enjoyed a final score from a Panther starter.

The early Christmas eve games would be where the final would be won and lost with seven starters going for the Panthers against the 69ers five. It was the Panthers who built an early lead posting 122.8. It most have been galling for the 69ers to watch the No.4 QB, the No. 8 and No. 9 RB, and the No.2 WR scores for the week go against them with only Antonio Gates posting a top 20 positional score. In fact the Panthers score as so dominant even a perfect lineup including Charles Clay and Tyreek Hill wouldn’t have made any difference.

Things did improve for the 69ers late with Andrew Luck and Doug Baldwin clawing back most of the early damage, but unfortunately it just wasn’t enough. A further 10 points for the Chiefs DST finally sealed the victory and Coach Rab’s first championship.

SanFran-Gordon 69ers

104.02-132.8

Pilton Panthers

SanFran-Gordon 69ers Pilton Panthers
QB Andrew Luck 24.72 QB Kirk Cousins 29.8
RB Carlos Hyde 11.2 RB LeSean McCoy 20.5
RB DeMarco Murray 6.0 RB Tevin Coleman 19.5
WR Doug Baldwin 23.7 WR Jordy Nelson 27.4
WR Julio Jones 6.0 WR DeSean Jackson 11.4
F-WR Ty Montgomery 4.0 F-WR Jarvis Landry 2.9
TE Antonio Gates 15.4 TE Zach Ertz 3.3
K Adam Vinatieri 5.0 K Mason Crosby 8.0
DST Green Bay Packers 8.0 DST Kansas City Chiefs 10.0

EFFL Semi Finals

A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.

Perhaps it wasn’t a revolution, but it was certainly a shake-up of the established order. The Semi-Finals saw the last remaining team of the “old guard” despatched and 2 playoff newcomers advance to EFFL Superbowl IV. Both victors posted dominant performances in two closely fought and exciting match-ups. The losing teams will curse their luck, but the two most inconsistent teams in the league finally got their mojo on at just the right point of the season.

SanFran-Gordon 69ers 104.20 @ 87.98 Jimmy’s Jerman Jaguars

It was a game that was highlighted more by its absent stars than its star-studded lineups. Both teams were missing their star receivers (Julio Jones and AJ Green respectively) and some frantic (and late) waivers claims punctuated the week.

San-Fran were first on the board on Thursday Night with Doug Baldwin and Steven Hauschka posting a reasonable 15.5 points during Seattle’s pummeling of the LA Rams. However, the game would be decided on Sunday night with 6 69ers and 9 Jaguars playing.

Things started with a bang for the 69ers as Tyreek “the freak” Hill took his only touch of the game 68 yards for a TD on a play that summed up both coaches night. Murray, Luck and Montgomery added 61.2 points in contrast to the Jaguars 6 starters posting 54 points and critically Tyler Eifert’s crushing 0.9 to finish the early evening games. The Jaguars faced a daunting 36 point deficit and their first ever playoff exit.

Drastic action was taken at Jaguars HQ with Janikowski and JJ Nelson added to help boost a pedestrian start. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough with the four remaining Jaguars adding just 34 points and despairingly a 56 yard TD drop by Nelson. Carlos Hyde, the Falcons DST and Jordan Reed added 14.7 to pile on the misery for the 2 time champion Jaguars and their first ever season missing the EFFL Superbowl.

The 69ers advance to the EFFL Superbowl for the first time in their history and are the bookies early (and heavy) favourite.

Pilton Panthers 114.5 @ 112.36 Kelso 187’s

It was easily the highest scoring games of the weekend and served noticed that the 4 best teams in the EFFL had made the Semi-Final. It was an (almost) all Sunday affair with 14 of the 18 starters for both teams featuring.

On Saturday evening the 187s Bilal Powell and Panthers Jarvis Landry faced off with both players scoring considerably better than expected, but with a slight advantage going to the Panthers WR (+0.6).

The early Sunday games did little to separate the teams with 4 direct matchups at RB1, WR1, TE and DST. The Panthers McCoy and Chiefs edged Mathews and Texans (+8.6) whereas the 187s Beckham and Rudolph edged Nelson and Ertz (+2.6). Mason Crosby added a healthy 12 points for the Panthers with the 187 pair of Tyrod Taylor and Dwayne Washington added just 19.86. The biggest question on everyone’s mind was whether Coach Euski’s decision to bench Dak Prescott would come back to haunt him.

The evening games went slightly better for the 187s as they began to build a lead. Crabtree and Bryant added 25 points to take their total to 112.36. With every point crucial Prescott’s 19.16 on the 187’s bench was to be their eventual downfall as Cousins and Jackson added 21.8 points to take the game at the last gasp.

This was the 5th straight victory for the rampant Panthers despite being underdogs in 4 of those games. They now face another first-time finalist in the 69ers, a team they have never beaten in 6 previous attempts.

 

EFFL Wildcard Weekend

The wildcard weekend certainly lived up to its name despite the dearth of fantasy scoring around the NFL this weekend (unless you were a LeVeon Bell owner). The margins for error were small and every lineup choice was crucial. In a weird twist of fate both of our wildcard teams were heavy favourites against our third and fourth seed division winners, but as Burns said “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley”

SanFran-Gordon 69ers 76.54 @ 75.12 Tweedbank Pirates
The SanFran-Gordon 69ers entered their matchup with Tweedbank Pirates as early 8 point favourites, but the loss of star receiver Julio Jones changed everything leaving the Pirates as slight favourites with the emergency addition of Breshard Perriman. Perriman was described as “having no value to teams in the fantasy playoffs”, but of course value is in the eye of the beholder!
The 69ers decided to roll with a 2 RB/3WR split with surprise starts for Jordan Reed, Terrelle Pryor and the Lions DST over Tyreek Hill, Antonio Gates and the Steelers who all had superior matchups. Both 69ers RBs (Murray and Hyde) and their QB (Luck) faced tough matchups with Vinatieri and Baldwin rounding out the starters.
The Pirates had the benefit of a settled lineup with flex the only one up for grabs. In the end, the upside of Dion Lewis won out over Justin Forsett although Cobb and Coleman were also contenders. Stafford started at QB with Gurley and Jennings leading at RB. The WRs picked themselves with Hilton balancing Luck’s 69er output and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. Kelce, Santos and the Vikings rounded out the rest of the starters.

Pirates were on the board first with Kelce making a healthy 10.10, but Santos could only muster a disappointing 3 on Thursday Night Football.

The early Sunday games helped maintain the Pirates lead with Hilton offsetting Luck, but Fitzgeralds brutal 1.2 in a monsoon in Miami would have caused concern if it hadn’t been balanced by the 69ers Pryor anonymous 0.3 outing. Further pain was lessened with Reed managing a paltry 1.0. Stafford produced a decent outing for the Pirates at 16.42. The defences also squared off in the early games with the Pirates again having the edge +3, but this was balanced by Vinatieri’s advantage over Santos (+2). With some tough matchups to come for the 69ers things looked good for the Pirates.
However, the late and night games on Sunday finally got the 69ers back into the tie with Carlos Hyde and DeMarco Murray producing the goods with a 21.2 position swing. The tie rested on the Monday Night matchup between the Ravens and Patriots although the Pirates could have confidence from a 2 point cushion and an expected heavy workload for Lewis.
Of course, “Belichick hates your fantasy team” and unfortunately for the Pirates, the Patriots changed their normal game plan against a tough run D and spent most of the evening pounding with Blount rather than using their more dynamic RB. Lewis saw minimal touches and produced a paltry 1.9. That was enough for Perriman to break open the game with a 47-yard sideline catch to win the game for the 69ers (76.54-75.12) and set up a grudge match with 2-time champion Jaguars.

Kelsae Avengers 57.3 @ 92.76 Pilton Panthers

It’s a game in which every GM not in the playoffs felt Stuart’s pain and everyone still in the playoffs breathed a sigh of relief as the high-flying Avengers crashed out.

The Avengers were early and heavy favourites in this game with a 16 point advantage. Analysis backed this view with the Avengers scoring more than 100 points in 10 of their 13 regular season games and averaging a dizzying 115 points over the last 5 weeks of the season. In contrast, the Panthers had broken 100 points only twice during the season and averaged just 89 points over the final 5 weeks of the season.

But when it goes wrong in fantasy it goes wrong spectacularly. Both teams put out their best line-ups although the one question mark with the Avengers was their heavy reliance on Seahawks in evening matchup against the Panthers best player Jordy Nelson (Packers).

Both teams put out their best line-ups although the one question mark with the Avengers was their heavy reliance on Seahawks in an evening matchup against the Panthers best player Jordy Nelson (Packers).

The game got underway well for the Avengers with Latavius Murray posting an excellent 16.3 points on Thursday Night, but an ominous 11 point game from the Chiefs DST kept the Panthers in touch…however, things went downhill quickly from there.

The early Sunday games started badly for the Avengers and they found themselves facing a very large deficit as Cousins, Jackson and McCoy all posted big numbers for the Panthers as Newton, LaFell, McManus, and critically, David Johnson all came up small for the Avengers. The Panthers could even afford the error of starting Gillislee over Tevin Coleman as they took a 21 point lead to the evenings crucial matchup between Seattle and Green Bay.

The lead would have been worrying for the Avengers, but with the Mike Evans facing the Saints and the Seattle trio of Rawls, Jimmy Graham and the DST they were expected to claw back the Panthers unexpected early lead. In fact, Seattle were 3 point favourites despite being the road team against the Packers.

What happened next probably doesn’t need repeating. The Packers destroyed the Seahawks at Lambeau with Jordy Nelson scoring 10 points more than all 3 Seahawks combined and with Mike Evans making a paltry 4 points against the #29 pass defence it was up to Panthers K Mason Crosby  and his 8 points to apply the coup de gras on the Avengers wonderful season.

The Panthers face the Kelso 187’s in next week’s semi final.

Blind Waivers on MFL

How to create blind bids on MFL

  1. This identifies the group of picks in which you are currently bidding. Group 1 is for a player you most want to add, Group 7 the least. Each group of picks represents your attempt to add 1 player. You can add a maximum of 7 players during our waiver period.
  2. Each group of picks allows you to add 1 or more selections (if you are have a waiver priority of 1 then multiple selections aren’t that important here, but if you’re one of the later priorities you may need to try for multiple players in each group). It’s important to remember that if one of these picks are successful the rest of your picks IN THAT GROUP are lost…..that’s why we need multiple rounds!!
  3. Enter the bid amount here
  4. Enter the player you want to drop if successful
  5. then hit add to list….repeat for this particular group.
  6. When you are happy hit save bids and you’ll be taken to the next group.
Waiver Bid Screen

Waiver Bid Screen

In this example I’m trying to add Cam Newton (i bid $11), but if he’s gone I want Aaron Rodgers (i bid $7) and if they’re both gone then I’ll be happy with Danny Woodhead ($3). As I’m down the waiver order I’d also repeat the pick for Woodhead in Group 2.

EFFL- Proposed Waiver System for 2016

At the 3rd EFFL AGM we voted to change the current waivers system to a blind bidding system for the coming season. The exact details of the new system wasn’t decided on the night, but it gave me the opportunity and time to think about how we could implement it in a fair and reasonable fashion.

I think the first thing I need to narrate is the problems we’ve had with the old systems (NFL and MFL) before I move onto how we’re going to tackle those issues with the new system. Of course no system will be perfect for everyone, but hopefully we can implement a simpler system that is fair to all players (engaged or not).

First the issues…..

  • The free for all immediately after waivers closes and first come first served (FCFS) opens on Saturday and Wednesday mornings.
  • Dropped players are never locked.
  • The waivers order.
  • Planning for Sunday and Monday night games due to the FCFS window shutting at 6pm.
  • The complicated waivers rounds process.
  • Roster sizes, too small, too large, just right
  • Roster hoarding, too much, too little, ach it’s fine.

Unfortunately for me some of these issues are mutually exclusive and it means we need a system that balances individual player requirements with league balance. Perhaps in 5 years time the need to protect new owners will fade, but at the moment in the interest of the league it’s important we stick to this over-riding goal.

So that means rosters will stay at 15 players and the new waivers system will be designed to let everyone have a fair chance at players not on rosters. That means we won’t have owners disappearing into workplace bogs on Wednesday mornings or having to face the wrath of their families looking for wi-fi when their supposed to be shopping in Tesco on a Saturday morning.

It also means that everyone can have the time and space to research players on the waiver wire. Yes, that favours parity, but at the moment that’s what I’m (and hopefully you) are after.

So here are the proposals (add your comments or PM me)

  1. There will be just 2 windows during each week of the season. A Waivers window and a First Come First Served window.
  2. The waivers window will run from the Monday 6.15pm until Wednesday 9am.
  3. The FCFS window will run from Wednesday 9.15am until Monday 6pm.
  4. FCFS will run through all games except Monday night. This means you can add players to your roster at any time up until Monday 6.15pm to cover for injuries etc.
  5. However, players will still lock at their respective game times i.e. can’t be added/dropped to/from a roster.
  6. Players dropped from a roster will automatically lock until the next week (yes that means after the waiver resolutions any dropped players CANNOT be picked up until the next week). This is normal procedure for most fantasy leagues.
  7. Players picked up during a week can only be dropped after 2 days on a roster.
  8. Each team will be given a budget of $100 to bid for players during the waiver window.
  9. For this season the waiver budget cannot be saved for next season or replenished. If you exhaust your budget you will only be able to add players during the FCFS window.
  10. Bidding will be done in $1 increments with the highest bidder winning the player. The minimum bid for any player will be set at $1. Therefore no cash-no bid.
  11. Conditional bidding will be allowed. Conditional bidding allows an owner to bid on player A and if not awarded, then bid on player B. This is a little bit more complicated than normal bidding in that you would enter players in multiple groups in order to receive several players, but the groups are merely place-holders for these bids and have no weighted value.
  12. Waiver tie-breakers will be on a worst to first basis.
  13. Waiver budgets CAN be traded.
  14. By locking players who’ve been dropped until the next waiver window we will create the opportunity for unscrupulous owners to stash and drop players they feel their opponent may need in an upcoming game. Proposal 6, in my opinion tries to legislate for this type of tactic. I’d rather keep the current system simple rather than legislate for spirit of the game breaches.
  15. If (14) does occur all the commissioners have the power to unlock players.

EFFL AGM 2016 – Reid Hoose on SuperBowl Night

Current items for the AGM.

  1. Highest Scorer- Extend highest scorer to cover the entire season. passed
  2. Diddy playoffs- Scrap diddy playoffs. Lineups will be valid for all teams in postseason and will contribute towards the prize for the highest scoring team. All transactions for non-playoff or eliminated teams will end. passed
  3. Waivers- “As Fantasy football has evolved, so too has weekly waivers. But not in every case. Nearly all free leagues and even some of the home leagues you participate still utilize the archaic feature of first come, first serve. In that format, the best Fantasy option is awarded to whoever can get online first to press a button; boiling down to being rewarded for having a smart-phone or more time on their hands. Not fair to you, especially in a “non cutthroat league”. Not much better is the waiver wire format that rewards the best available to the owners with the worst records in the league. This is similar to kiddy football where everyone wins a trophy. In order for Fantasy football to be fair, the integrity of the league should never be compromised. Weekly free agent acquisition should incorporate a strategy; just like the draft and weekly starting line-up assignments. It is for this reason that free agent blind bidding should be the universal process for all leagues.”

    As part of a wider change to waivers here are the proposals;

    Option A- Nightly waivers. Waivers are processed at a set time-every day. If you want a player you have to put a request in. Except Sundays when FCFS will be available 4 hrs before kickoff.

    Option B- Bidding- you are given a budget that will allow you to purchase free agents over the course of the season. You cannot sign free agents unless you have money. Your week 1 roster will be set and no players can be acquired until week 2. Bids will be processed on Wednesday and Friday evenings.  COMMISSIONER RRECOMMENDATION

    Option C- Continue with status-quo, but change the resolve time on Wednesday to an evening. option B selected (details established later)

  4. Change 50 yard field goals to 3 points and punish kickers for misses (-1 for FG, -0.25 for XP) (passed but commissioner overrule on implementation-delayed for 1 season)
  5. Allow return yards and touchdowns for offensive players. Additional scoring for defenses by yards allowed. (not passed)
  6. Add a survivor league. (passed)

COMMISSIONER NOTIFICATIONS

  1. We will continue with current league fees unless prices rise at MFL or there is a league requirement to increase the prize pot. passed
  2. Scoring- Apart from the proposals above in the interests of consistency I propose to retain the current scoring system. passed
  3. Is league happy to continue with divisional setup? passed
  4. We currently have 2 requests to join league. (1)Are all owners happy to continue? (2) Does the league wish to expand?. all owners wish to continue. No expansion
  5. Weekly preview and review articles. MFL auto generates these but they’re a “bit” shit. I particularly enjoy the View from the Pit, but Gavé shouldered every single week on his own last year, does anyone want to help out? There is no format you just write what you want to read. Gav continuing, Cozy volunteers to restart writing.
  6. League chat- The MFL chat is ok, but wasn’t well used. Is everyone still happy to continue with FB or would you like to switch to something else? passed
  7. I propose that our 2 co-commissioners continue in their post and function as the executive committee. If anyone would like to join the executive committee we have space for 1 more person. Continue with 3 man committee (ensures no ties)
  8. Draft Day- It looks very likely that draft night will be on Saturday 11th September 2016. We won’t know for sure until the NFL schedule is published in June so please keep the 5th September free in your diary. We don’t have a venue for next years draft so if anyone would like to volunteer it would be appreciated. SB for Paul and Draft for Richie

How to spot what a defense is doing….part 3

Last time on How to spot what a defense is doing we discussed the versatile Cover 3 and Cover 2 defenses. This time we’ll concentrate on the final basic coverage defense, Cover 1, and touch briefly on the concepts of zone and man pressure. We’ll also touch briefly on one of my favourite defenses, Buddy Ryan’s 46.

Cover 1

The Cover 1 shell uses (almost) exclusively man to man concepts with the free safety being the lone free defender. For a team to routinely play Cover 1 concepts it needs a star free safety with a rare combination of speed and ball skills. Some of the greatest NFL defenses have featured a player of this calibre. Think Earl Thomas at the Seahawks; Ed Reed at the Ravens, Ronnie Lott of the 49ers and the Cowboy’s Cliff Harris. A talented safety allows underneath defenders to play aggressively and this challenges an offense by making passes on short routes difficult to complete.

In general terms the Cover 1 can be spotted by looking for a single high safety positioned far from the line of scrimmage. You can see this clearly in the image below as the Jets adopt a Cover 1 look against the Dolphins at Wembley (circled red). If you’re eagle-eyed you may be able to spot Revis and Cromartie taking an outside shade on their receivers. They use this technique to limit outside breaking routes (those heading to the sideline) and it helps them re-route receivers to the centre of the field (where the help is!)

cover1_safety

As the cornerbacks can play off-man or jam at the line of scrimmage it’s usually their shade that gives away the technique they’re employing rather than how close they are to the line of scrimmage (although don’t be surprised to see inside shade technique used if a receiver deliberately position themselves close to the sideline . In fact playing man to man gives the cornerbacks a lot of freedom to pressurise routes by using different techniques. They can do this by playing off, jamming at the line of scrimmage or playing 3 step routes aggressively by crowding short breaking routes early (this requires VERY GOOD corners!). Of course Cover 1 was THE shell of choice for the Glasgow Lions D.

This reliance on man to man coverage allows a defense with good cornerbacks to create mismatches close to the line of scrimmage including using 8 men fronts with the cushion of deeper safety help. In fact early in a play there should be 2 levels of help from the free safety and a spare LB.

Alternatives to the Cover 1 usually involve disguising man to man coverage with zone looks. The Robber (or Rat in the Hole) look uses cover 1 assignments with the strong safety or an athletic linebacker dropping into a hole just beyond the line of scrimmage (circled blue). It can also be disguised as a Cover 2 look and is designed to eliminate inside crossing techniques and catch-out unaware QBs!

ratinthehole

Creating Pressure- Zone and Man

We’ve worked through the basic coverage shells and they are the foundations in which a defense combats offensive gameplans. Occasionally defenses need to force the issue and be a little more aggressive and that’s where pressure schemes come into play. We could easily fill the rest of this year looking at pressure schemes, but lets concentrate on the two basic concepts- zone and man pressure. Although the shells protecting the defense are different the concept behind generating pressure is the same- get to the quarterback!

Zone pressure uses zone shells behind the pass rushers and although conceptually it just involves the defenders having to defend slightly larger areas it’s actually slightly more nuanced than that. Initial set-up put as many defenders as possible into the throwing lanes to disrupt and delay short passes. Obviously the longer it takes the extra rusher to get to the quarterback the more pressure it puts on the remaining defenders. Zone pressure schemes also allow for pseudo-blitzes to come from unexpected directions with athletic linemen replacing linebackers in short zones.

Man pressure generally sees the defense sending more than 1 extra rusher with the rest of the team taking up man to man matchups (generally without help). Defenders will attempt to prevent inside breaking routes as this forces the QB to make more difficult outside or deep throws. It also allows the defenders to use the sideline as an alternative to safety help.

The key to both pressure concepts is disguising the defenses intentions and thus creating maximum surprise and confusion to hopefully lead to big plays and turnovers.

46 Defense

“Some say the 46 is just an 8 man front. That’s like saying Marilyn Monroe is just a girl!”

….And that brings us to the Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense. Made famous by the Chicago Bears Super Bowl win in 1985 and later perfected by the 1991 Eagles defense the 46 was born out of Ryan’s desire to play aggressive football and to endanger the most important position on the field, the QB.

Starting as an assistant with the Jets during their Super Bowl season before moving on to coach one the greatest ever defensive lines at the Vikings. Ryan finally got his chance to coach his own defense when he got to the Bears in the late 70s. It was several years of development before the fully fledged monster appeared, but when it arrived it changed defensive pressure schemes and offensive gameplan forever.

Named after safety Doug Plank (#46) the 46 is  an 8 man run stop front (that is 8 men occupy the line of scrimmage) with a Cover 1 shell. But, as Ryan eloquently described the 46 is more than a simple pressure front. It positively dares an offensive to throw because of its almost complete shut-down of the running game.

Doug Plank teaching the 46

Doug Plank teaching the 46

The defining feature of the 46 is the reduced front. The weakside defensive end lines up outside of the offensive tackle in a wider pass rush position, while the other defensive end and the defensive tackles set up directly over the guards and the center. This forces the interior offensive linemen into awkward and difficult one-on-one matchups.

The innovation didn’t simply end with the linemen. One of the key concepts of the 46 is although it appears to employ Cover 1 concepts it creates pressure based on offensive protections e.g. if the RB stays to protect, the defense rushes 6 men. If the offense uses 2 players to help out the offensive linemen, the defense rushes 7 and so on thereby effectively using the offense’s own protection scheme against itself.

By having so many defenders close to the line of scrimmage the 46 allows the defense to disguise it’s blitzers and extra rushers. This makes it difficult for the QB to find the weak spots as the 46 rushes defenders as a response to reads given to it by the offense and this means it is essentially NOT BLITZING allowing safer zone coverage to be employed.

So what happened to the 46?

Defenses had been reactionary for most of football’s history. “Bend but don’t break” concepts were common through much of NFL history  to combat run first offenses. The 46 was designed primarily as a run stopping defense and it had spectacular success in that era.

However, as offensive innovators like Bill Walsh and Don Coryell led the NFL to a pass first league it became too risky to employ the 46 as an every down defense and it slowly faded into the background. But don’t be fooled into thinking the 46 was a 1-hit wonder defense. It’s legacy of pressure concepts and aggressive defense lives on in Arizona, Baltimore, Buffalo, Carolina, Kansas City, New York and almost every other modern NFL defense. Perhaps it’s time we heralded Buddy Ryan as the father of the passing league.