Inside the playbook: blitzing Jon Gruden

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While we wait for the NFL lockout to wrap up (hopefully this week), let’s get up on the chalkboard and talk defensive pressure with the Double Corner Cat .

The blitz that we are about to check out? Deigned exclusively for Jon Gruden’s offense in Tampa leading up to opening day of the 2004 season when I was with Gregg Williams and the Redskins. Attack the QB and set the edges of the defense with your secondary.

And because of Gruden, the huddle call was simple: “Over Chucky.”

Take a look at it on the chalkboard and then we will break it down…


Coaching points…

Five-man rush: You don’t have to send seven (or even eight) players to get to the QB if you are smart in how you design your blitz package. Here, we are looking at a five-man pressure—but the idea is to cause confusion. Allow the O-Line to set their protection count before the snap. As a defense, show seven in the box and then send edge pressure (both CBs) that isn’t part of the original count. What you are trying to do is create a free runner at the QB.

Jon Gruden ICON"Over Chucky" was designed to pressure Gruden's offense by sending both CBs.

Cover 2 shell: Looks like the Tampa 2 on the chalkboard and in the pre-snap alignment. Safeties will show at the numbers with both CBs in a press-look. QB comes to the line of scrimmage, he is seeing Cover 2. Don’t show your cards too early in the snap count.

Coverage breakdown...

With the five-man rush, the defense is dropping six into coverage—playing out like a zone blitz concept. Let’s simplify it by position.

FS/SS: Play over top of No.1 or the first vertical up the field. With the CBs going on the blitz, the WR will get a free release. However, play for the ball to come out quickly and look for the back shoulder fade up the sideline. Bottom line: expect to drive downhill on the route. You will have enough cushion based on your alignment.

Mike backer: Deep middle of the field player. Very similar to what we see from the Mike playing Cover 2 vs. any inside vertical seam.

Sam/ Will backers: Both the Sam and Will buzz hard to the flat. This is key to prevent the “smoke route” (one-step hitch) or any quick flat route from the running back. Think of it as a seam to flat player in a zone blitz concept where the defender will take play underneath the intermediate curl and drive to the ball in the flat.

Nose: Need a “middle hook” player in this defense. In this blitz, it is the Nose. He will drop to take away the quick inside breaking routes of the 3-step game (slant, china). What you will get is a D-Lineman that can get a hand up in the throwing lane or look totally lost in space. Either way, it is essential to have an underneath defender in the middle of the field.

Can you beat it?

Of course—but we can say that for any blitz concept that is drawn up on paper. The key here is disguise. The CBs can’t show too early and the safeties must stay disciplined on top of No.1 down the field. Because if the blitz doesn't get home it is time to play coverage and protect against the explosive play.

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