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Monday, April 11, 2011

Pass Protection When You Go Five Wide

After my last post about the passing game from 5 wide, I was asked to talk a little about what we did for pass protection using the five wide set.  One of the difficult situations when passing from empty is that you will only have five blockers and a defense that can bring six pass rushers while locking up man to man.  So what can you do as an offense to provide protection without giving up big sacks?

This last season I had my line step to protect inside gap to outside gap first.  The reason behind us doing this was because the fastest way to get to the QB is from the middle of the line.  We would step down half a step to protect that inside gap, if no rusher showed then we would look outside.  However as I look back on this past season I would like to make some changes to our empty pass protection to better protect the QB.  Not that we had many problems last season when we went empty but I am always looking to optimize our performance.

What a lot of teams like to do when it comes to pass protection is either slide the whole line right or slide left:

This type of slide protection can help your line pick up outside blitzes to one side but also help pick up a middle blitz that many 4-2-5 teams will employ.  Against a 50 front team, the backside guard and tackle of the slide need to check inside gap first to help teammate and then look outside gap to help pick up rushers.

So if a team brings six rushers what needs to happen?  Again you need to protect inside gap first and the QB is responsible for the sixth rusher to get rid of the ball.  Ideally you want that sixth rusher to be an outside rusher as he will have further to come and the QB can see him and even throw the ball to the area that has been vacated.  Your receivers also need to recognize the blitz and help the QB out by adjusting their routes to help the QB get rid of the ball quickly.  They need to look and see if there are any safeties over the top.  If the QB sees that there is a 6 man blitz coming he can also audible to a hot route.  You might want to slide protect to the backside of your QB since that is the side he won't be able to as easily see the outside rusher coming.  

I have also thought about widening our line splits a little more to widen the defensive front to help slow down their line stunts and also their outside blitzes.  My only concern is the middle blitzes that will come and if we get to wide if our tackles will be able to slide and pick up the defender over the guard.

You can also help make that pass rusher go further by rolling your QB out of empty.  You can use your 3rd receiver to act as a lead blocker and run roll out pass plays.  You can even go quads and do roll out game with the 4th receiver staying in to block.  

By getting rid of the ball quickly, you will start to force that pass rush to slow down.  Every time having to chase the QB then go chase the ball after it is down field will start to wear down the rush.  Combine that with a run game and you can keep the defense guessing instead of just always rushing the passer  

The biggest thing you can teach your line is that they don't need to make a huge block when it comes to pass blocking.  Sometimes all they need to do is give a nice push to knock the rusher off track to give your QB just a few tenths of a second more to get rid of the ball.  Watch this video from FSN's Sports Science to give you an idea of what I mean.

So there you go, just an idea of how you will want to do some pass protection when going five wide.  I would love to hear other coaches thoughts and what they have taught their players.  Any coaches widened their splits when in empty and how did that go?  Like I said I am looking to optimize the blocking for this coming season.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Example of Passing Game in Empty

Even though we are a team that doesn't necessarily do empty all the time I have found that I like going empty and wanted to talk more about some plays you can run from the empty set.  In my previous post I talked a little about the run game from empty.  Today I would like to talk about using the passing game from empty.  A great advantage of this type of offensive set is that it puts the defense in a real bind by spreading them out allowing more one on one situations.  Because of the quick passing game one thing that you can find is that it starts to tire the defensive front out.  They start to rush the QB, ball is gone and they then have to turn and chase the ball carrier.  If a team blitzes it is the same situation as they will have to turn and run once the ball is gone.  Teams will have to be rotating multiple players and this again can put help your offense as you will be wear a defense down.

One disadvantage obviously is that there is no back in the backfield to help block and so you need to have a good short passing game to help prevent teams from blitzing.  One of the most common passing plays that teams will run is where all five receivers will run hitches.

Empty Right 50 All Hitches

By the spacing you set up, it will help allow your receiver to find the open spot in the defense.  The inside curls can help punish a team that brings it backers that can also be checked into go routes if the middle backers blitz and the defense is in cover 0  This is a great universal play against zone and man to man coverage.  Usually against zone you will find on the three receiver side that #2 receiver will come open quite a bit.

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