Play of the Week 9/09/13: Sponsored by FirstDown Playbook

By: Charlie Coiner – CEOFirst Down Playbook

Anyone who has taught or coached this play knows that there really is no playside or backside to it. The weak side zone play or Blunt as it is commonly referred can hit anywhere. In fact if you charted this play the ball hits back over to the Tight Ends’ side much more than it ever hits to the open end side. The play is designed to start weak and get the defense running before the ball carrier normally cuts and runs the ball directly over the original alignment of the Center. As the defense reacts to the initial footwork of the back and the defensive front fights to maintain their gap control the critical blocks often fall on the two Tight Ends cutting off the Defensive End and Sam LB.

When blocking an over defense the Center, Guard and Tackle are working to block the Shade, 3 technique and MLB.  The Tight Ends are left to zone block the Defensive End and SLB. The Tight Ends have some disadvantages. Size and often times leverage are two things that they must take into account as they attempt to zone block a Defensive End who is bigger and a stand up SLB who is normally a great athlete playing downhill to the ball. Well coached defensive linemen will also do a great job to get their hands on the blocker who is trying to get to the second level defender or they will penetrate upfield making the zone block almost impossible because the two Tight Ends are starting on different levels.

Zone blocking the backside still has it’s merits. As the Tight Ends attempt to cut off the two defenders the flow can work to their advantage if they stay on their blocks and just get some movement. If the Tight Ends will accelerate their feet at the end of their blocks it is very hard for the End or LB to get off of the block and tackle a hard charging RB who should be getting north south off of their blocks.

Zone It



However if the play is run enough times in a game then eventually the SLB is going to start flowing fast enough that it is going to be hard for the Y to give enough help to the F on the zone block AND get off on the SLB. The advantages that the Tight Ends have is that one of them is off of the line of scrimmage and can move in motion. This gives your F a chance to do several things. He can keep the defense on their toes up until the last split second before the ball is snapped because the defense does not know if he is going across the formation or not. The Wing can also stop at multiple spots when he begins to return to his original alignment. He can stop inside of the Y, he can motion back to the wing position or he can even motion back outside to an extended alignment. This is why it is important for the Wing to motion with a sense of urgency and also with a body demeanor that is constantly ready for the ball to be snapped.

Man It



As the video shows the man blocking scheme can also be executed without motion. the Y needs to aggressive on the Defensive End so that here is no penetration. The F will need to cheat back a little with his alignment so that he has a chance to fit up on the SLB. The F must also account for the flow of the SLB if he is to have a chance on this block. It is still essential that both players run their feet and finish their blocks.

You will notice that the QB and Strong Safety are also in red on the drawings. Regardless of what run play you call you will always be one player short if the defense plays eight defenders in the box. The QB can help offset this by giving the defense a hard naked fake after the handoff. This will make the Safety hesitate just enough to give the ball carrier a chance to get north south on the run before the Safety can get involved. Even if your QB is not a run threat he can hold the Safety with the threat of a two on one naked pass to one of the Tight Ends or the X on an over route.

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Author: Chad Wilson

Chad Wilson is a college football recruiting expert and creator of the GridironStudsApp which allows high school football players to gain exposure to college football coaches and fans. Wilson is a former college football player for the University of Miami (92-94) and Long Beach St. (’90-’91) and played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks (’95). He is also a former youth and high school football coach for over 15 years. Wilson’s older son Quincy plays in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts and his younger son plays cornerback for the University of Florida. Email:

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