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The flip side to every big play from the QB position in the NFL is the coverage and scheme run on the defensive side of the ball.
Last night, in the Broncos’ 17-13 comeback win, Tim Tebow took this offense 95-yards to close out the game. The play that will be talked about throughout the weekend? The 20-yard TD run where Tebow beat the Jets’ blitz coverage.
But was it the wrong call in that situation? Play Cover 0, or “Saw 0” (no safety help in the middle of the field), rush eight and tell your secondary (aligned with inside leverage) that the ball has to come out—quickly.
Let’s check this out from the Jets’ pres-snap alignment, break down the defense and then discuss why I think this is the right call—if you play the technique of the blitz.
Some coaching points to look at….
- Why do I like the call? Look at the game situation. 3rd and medium, protecting a 3-point lead in a two-minute drill. As a defense, you want to take away the 3-step game (slant, hitch, smash, option) and force the QB to make quick decisions in the pocket. Plus, when you add in the Jets’ secondary of Revis, Cromartie and Wilson, I make this call ten out of ten times. The other options? Cover 2, Cover 3, zone pressure, etc. You can’t play zone on 3rd and 4, or rush three, and expect to close off easy throwing lanes.
- Blitz responsibilities are key. Check out both safeties, Jim Leonhard to the top of the screen and Eric Smith to the bottom. They are coached to “green dog” (rush to coverage) if their man stays in on protection. With the Broncos using a seven-man protection scheme, both the RB and the TE (Y) will block. That allows Leonhard and Smith to “add” to the blitz front and attack their coverage.
- Contain is what kills the Jets here. Smith (highlighted in orange) has to rush with what I call “contain principles.” Blitz off the edge, but force the QB to step up in the pocket to the A and B gap pressure. You are consistently coached in the NFL as an edge rusher from the secondary to attack the up field shoulder of the QB in the pocket. Bottom line: you can’t let him break contain, escape the pocket and make a play. A simple technique that is taught back in training camp gets the Jets beat.
- Where is the rest of the secondary? Forget about it. In Cover 0, those DBs playing blitz-man coverage are out of the play. With the Broncos wide receivers using three vertical stems, the Jets’ DBs have their back to the QB and will follow their coverage all over the field. However, if you are going to be a blitz team in crucial game situations that is part of the ultimate risk you take to go after the QB.
We could continue and break down other schemes the Jets could have gone with in this situation. However, the end result is an example of Tebow making a play vs. an undisciplined blitz front.
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