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21 Aug 2006

Stemming and Disguising Coverage

by Mike Tanier

When it comes to pre-snap motion, the rules of football just aren't fair.

Offensive motion is tightly regulated and strictly limited. Interior linemen must be as motionless as statues. Only one player at a time may move once the offense sets. Even the quarterback's head is under scrutiny: a stiff nod can lead to a five-yard penalty.

Meanwhile, on defense, anything goes. Linebackers rush the line of scrimmage, threatening to blitz. Cornerbacks race up to bump their receivers or backpedal to give a pre-snap cushion. Linemen shift, safeties slide up into the box, and everyone points and shouts last-second instructions. The quarterback and the other offensive players must maintain discipline while reading and adjusting to the chaos unfolding on the other side of the field.

Defensive coordinators know that pre-snap motion is their advantage, and they design all sorts of subterfuge to create mismatches, disguise weaknesses, and generally confuse the offense. While some defensive pre-snap motion is the direct result of changes in the offensive formation (like a cornerback following his receiver across the field), much of it is designed to misinform the offense about the type of coverage or the likelihood of a blitz, or to move defenders into better position to eliminate specific running or passing plays.

Coaches often call this kind of pre-snap motion "stemming." When a defense stems from one formation to another, it can trick the quarterback into making a very bad decision.

Cover-2, Man Free, Blitz or Buzz?

Let's give the offense a very easy pre-snap read, then see how the defense can stem into another look to cause confusion. Diagram 1 shows the offense in a one-back formation with a slot receiver to the weak side. The defense starts in a base 4-3 look.

Diagram 1
Stemming Diagram 1

The pre-snap read is Cover-2. Why? First, the safeties are aligned in a classic two-deep formation: 12-to-15 yards deep, a yard or two outside the hashmarks (in college, they will be just inside the hashmarks). Second, there's the alignment of the corners, four-to-five yards deep and on the outside shoulders of the receivers. Again, this is standard positioning; the cornerback can bump his receiver and influence him to take an outside release, and he's also in good position to peek into the backfield to read the quarterback's drop or a handoff. Finally, the defense stayed in its base personnel package against a three-wideout offense, but the weakside linebacker (Will) isn't head-up on the slot receiver. He's in no position to play man-to-man defense.

Let's focus on that slot receiver. In this scenario, he has an option route assignment, meaning that he is making the same read as the quarterback on his side of the field. The slot player reads Cover-2 zone and assumes that the Will must drop 10-12 yards and widen slightly to defend against the seam route. The five-to-seven yard hitch route should be open, and a quick receiver should be able to turn upfield for more yardage before the Will can arrive to make the tackle. It's an easy read and easy yardage.

Diagram 2
Stemming Diagram 2

Now, let's have the defense stem into a different look just before the snap. In Diagram 2, the strong safety has walked up to linebacker level, while the free safety has shifted back closer to the middle of the field. Suddenly, the Cover-2 look is gone, and there is another defender in the box.

What's the quarterback's read now? Assuming the cornerbacks stand pat, the defense appears to be in man-free coverage, with the free safety covering the deep middle. If the cornerbacks dropped to a depth of seven or more yards, the quarterback would read a Cover-3 zone, with the corners and the free safety guarding the deep part of the field. Under the circumstances, the quarterback would have to prepare for a possible zone blitz under the three-deep zone. Even in man coverage, a blitz by the strong safety or any of the linebackers is a possibility (if the Will blitzes, the free safety can cover the slot receiver).

The slot receiver, reading the change in coverage, probably won't run a short hitch route; a linebacker in man coverage would be in good position to break up the pass. His option may be to sprint up the seam to outrun the Will, or to run an out route to beat the slower defender to the sidelines. But we're making a big assumption here: that both the quarterback and the receiver read the stem properly. If one sees the strong safety creep up and the other doesn't, passer and receiver won't be "on the same page." Remember that players don't have the birds-eye view that coordinators and fans enjoy, so the receiver may not be able to clearly see the motion on the other side of the formation. He may have to read the change in coverage by watching the free safety roll to midfield or the Will widen to get head-up on the slot man.

Diagram 3
Stemming Diagram 3

Now let's reveal the defense's actual coverage on this play: it is indeed man-free coverage, as Diagram 3 shows, but with a catch. The Will does have single coverage on the slot receiver, which is a mismatch, but he has help. The middle linebacker (Mike) will act as a "robber" on this play, lurking in the slant-to-curl zones. His job is to "buzz" routes, running underneath short throws and looking for easy interceptions. The free safety is shown covering the weak half of the field, not the deep middle, offering additional help to the overmatched linebacker (the cornerback on the opposite side of the field might creep back to increase his cushion before the snap on this call). There's no blitz, but if the quarterback anticipates a blitz because there's a safety in the box, he's likely to look left and try to hit the slot man or the left receiver on a slant or other short route. The Mike could easily pick off such a pass.

(Note: Usually, in this formation, the middle and strongside (Sam) linebackers are both assigned to read the back in the backfield. If the back releases right, the Sam covers him and the Mike buzzes the offense's left side. If the back releases left, they switch roles, and the Sam buzzes beneath the tight end and split end on the offensive right side. If the back stays in to block, both can buzz, or one can buzz while the other blitzes. And if it's a running play, two linebackers are reading the running back at the snap, which is a good thing.)

This man-free robber coverage is just one of the defense's options. The call itself isn't as important as the confusion it can cause for an inexperienced quarterback or an unprepared offense. And stemming isn't just for pass coverage. It's a great way to disrupt blocking patterns on running plays as well.

Stemming to Stop the Stretch Run

Zone blocking is all the rage in the NFL right now. A team that zone blocks well, like the Broncos, can open up huge holes in the running game and set up a lethal play-action passing attack. But zone blocking requires precision timing and quick decision-making by each offensive lineman. By stemming into a different look just before the snap, the defense can force multiple blocking adjustments and take away zone-block opportunities.

Diagram 4
Stemming Diagram 4

Diagram 4 shows the tackle box area on a basic zone-blocking stretch run to the strong side. The offense is in the I-formation; the defense is in a vanilla 4-3 alignment. The offense hopes to string out the defensive line and create cutback lanes by executing something called a double scoop block. The diagram shows the motion of the point-of-attack defenders. All of the linemen slant to the right at the snap, creating space along the line. The center and right guard double team the 3-technique tackle, while the right tackle and the tight end double the end. Any of the four linemen can peel off his block to engage one of the linebackers on the second level, depending on how those linebackers attack the play. The fullback can stop any penetrating defender, or he can pull around the tight end and log the first linebacker who tries to turn the corner. The running back reads the chaos in front of him and picks his favorite hole. This is a difficult play to defend from this formation because the zone blocking principle ensures that there will be a blocker in every gap.

In an effort to cut off the stretch run, the defense may stem into a five-man front, as shown in Diagram 5. As shown, the Sam linebacker slides down to play face up on the tight end, while the strong safety fills the Sam position. Also, notice that the defensive line has shifted slightly. The left defensive end has moved from the tight end's left shoulder to the right tackle's right shoulder, the 3-technique tackle is now shaded to the right guard's right shoulder (the 2i-technique), and the nose tackle has moved slightly to the weak side. These minor shifts can make a big difference for offensive linemen who are hoping to stretch the defense out.

At the snap, the Sam aggressively attacks the tight end's outside shoulder. Had he done this from his old position, he would be a sitting duck for either the tight end (coming off the double team) or the fullback. But now he's attacking from the defensive line, and the tight end must block him at the snap, eliminating one double team. As an added wrinkle, the defensive coordinator orders the nose tackle to cross the center's face and attack the strongside A-gap, eliminating the center-guard double team. That's a dangerous strategy, because a great cutback runner could turn this play to the weak side; we'll assume that Clinton Portis or Warrick Dunn isn't running the ball, and that the Will linebacker is good enough to fill the backside gap.

Diagram 5
Stemming Diagram 5

The defense effectively shuts down the stretch run with this stem look. The Sam gets too much penetration for the halfback to bounce outside, and if the offense does muster a zone double-team inside, there's an extra defender in the box to contend with. Alert offensive linemen would call off the double scoop in this scenario and do their best to drive block their defenders to create a little running room. A savvy quarterback, seeing a five-man front and eight men in the box, might audible to a play action pass. That's why defenses often stem into this look just before the snap, when it's too late for the offense to get cute.

Summary

The stem plays we just covered were just the basics. In an NFL game, it's not unusual to see three or four distinct shifts before the ball is snapped. The only limit to the amount of stemming and pre-snap motion a defense can execute is common sense. Disguising blitzes and coverages can only be taken so far. Players who will cover deep zones must be lined up somewhat deep, while blitzing defenders have to be within a zip code of the line of scrimmage. Cornerbacks must be in the vicinity of receivers; defensive tackles won't do anyone any good aligned 15 yards deep. And of course, too much motion might confuse the defense as much as the offense. But within the realm of practicality, there are an infinite amount of stems, slides, shifts, and adjustments.

So next time you see defenders hopping all over the place, feigning blitzes, and rushing into position a split second before the snap, be thankful that you aren't a quarterback. You get to watch the action and enjoy it; the quarterback (and the receivers, and the linemen) have to try to make sense of all that anarchy.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 21 Aug 2006

48 comments, Last at 05 Jul 2007, 6:24am by Cam

Comments

1
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 1:56pm

Strategy Minicamp may be my favorite part of FO. Once again, great article.

BTW...first.

2
by sam_acw (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 2:02pm

On offense how can only 1 player move in motion yet you can audible to anew formation?

3
by Pats on the Potomac (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 2:05pm

How much of this is responsible for the Peyton Manning Chicken Dance? It seems like he's waiting for the defense to shift into an alignment he likes before he snaps the ball. NE has had success by not moving much pre-snap, but by changing their playcalling out of their base formations.
This is not a knock on Manning. It's a very smart way to let the defense put itself in a bad position.

4
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 2:23pm

I'm actually surprised there isn't more defensive motion before the snap. Even if the offense snaps it while some of the players are in motion, if they know where they're going to, starting off in motion means that they'll get a quicker start.

Linebackers charging the line of scrimmage are always good for a false start or two during a game, anyway. :)

5
by Ben Frambaugh (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 2:26pm

Love the in depth insight. I have been "studying" football for several years now in hopes that, when I retire from the military, I will be able to coach. I follow this site religously to keep my binder updated with all of the information you gentlemen put out! Not to mention, my younger teenaged/adult brothers can't come close to competing with me on the football field (real or virtual) in spite of the nearly 10 years difference. Thank you very much!

6
by TGT (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 2:28pm

@2

If 2 or more offensive players are moving at the same time, everyone has to come to a complete stop and reset before the ball can be snapped. You can be in one formation not moving, have everyone switch places, and set up in a new formation. Once everyone has come to a set, one offensive player can go into motion that does not stop before the ball is snapped.

7
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 2:31pm

"On offense how can only 1 player move in motion yet you can audible to anew formation?

:: sam_acw — 8/21/2006 @ 1:02 pm "

When you change formations, it's not considered motion. You can't snap the ball (without getting a penalty) while you are in the middle of a formation change. Also, (I'm not 100% on this) I don't think the QB can be completely under center while going through a formation change. A single man in motion will allow you to snap the ball at any time (great for End-arounds and reverses, as well as fakes)

8
by Theo (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 2:57pm

Re #2 and #7:
A formation shift is when the QB and linemen aren't "set".
When the linemen are "set" and the QBs hands are under the center to get the snap, then they can only move one player horizontaly.

Re #4:
It doesn't happen more often because the D doesn't know when the ball is snapped.
As a defender you dont want to be backpedaling when you got the flat zone. On the other hand, you don't want to be running towards a WR when you have to cover him man.
You also don't want to be too far away from where you have to be.

9
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 3:27pm

It occurs to me that Madden would be a lot more interesting if you had to contend with defenses that shifted like their real-life counter-parts do. As it is, you can usually get an accurate pre-snap read of what the defense is going to do, then audible or assign hot routes until you're in a favorable situation, and the defense just sits there and takes it.

10
by Dean (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 3:35pm

Re #6,7. Also, only one player may be moving in motion towards the line of scrimmage at any one time, and that player must come to a complete stop and reset before the ball is snapped. So if the TE is a step behind the tackle, and the WR goes in motion across the formation, the TE will step forward onto the line to cover the T. If the play also calls for a RB to motion out of the backfield into the slot, the RB will typically not start moving until the TE has reset (or vice versa).

11
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 3:43pm

NFL 2K's "celebrity" opponents did that. It was buried in a completely dumb game mode that featured "challenges" from people like Jamie Kennedy and Funkmaster Flex. The setup was stupid, but they used tricks like defensive shifts that the regular AI didn't.

12
by zach (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 4:19pm

Re #9 and #11: Just play online. You'll see all the defensive shifting you'd like and then some.

13
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 4:35pm

Best article I've read anywhere on football.

14
by Scorpious (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 4:48pm

In Madden I try to time my line shifts so I end up with linemen shifting to one side as the ball is snapped, which cases mass havoc for the O-line. Either that or I'll swing the right end around to the left side of the line outside the tackle, shift the linebackers right, and blitz the end. As long as you have good corners (and the offense doesn't leave a HB in to block), you'll be in the backfield more often than Rex Grossman gets injured.

15
by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 5:02pm

Whole offenses in FBPRO used to be based around the idea of perfectly timed WR shifts, the DB's getting caught up with the linebackers (yep - the AI in the game was...fantastic) and WRs breaking off with immediate out patterns for big gains.

16
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 5:18pm

In Madden I try to time my line shifts so I end up with linemen shifting to one side as the ball is snapped, which cases mass havoc for the O-line.

That's kindof what I was saying. If you've got someone who's going to blitz, there's probably not a lot of downside to trying to get them in motion towards the LOS at the snap. If you're too early, they stop, and you're at the same situation you were before. If you're too late, the player at least is in motion when the ball is snapped, and probably still has an advantage anyway.

Lots of teams do have linebackers charging the line already. I'm just surprised that teams haven't tried lining up the ends a yard or two back, and trying to jump the snap count. Gives them a bit of a margin to correct themselves if they're early.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be running towards a WR when you have to cover him man.

Well, unless you hit him full speed near the LOS. You could probably knock him flat on his back that way. Worst case if he blows right by you, you could turn it into a blitz (already running at full speed), with one of the other guys in the secondary having the real responsibility for him.

It'd never be practical to do it often, but I bet it could surprise the hell out of someone the first time it happened. :)

17
by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 5:27pm

I’m just surprised that teams haven’t tried lining up the ends a yard or two back, and trying to jump the snap count.

Why wouldn't the offense just set for one second and then immediately hike the ball without a count, before they even got a chance to get a jump on it? It seems like this could work once, but then you would be right back where you started. Plus, it seems like it would give the OTs a half-second to get into their pass-blocking stance - right now, a lot of times the OTs actually line up a little back from the LOS to give themselves a second to get into their stance, and if you lined up a little off they would probably just creep up to the LOS.

18
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 5:28pm

Just a couple of small nits to pick--

1) A clouded corner in cover 2 wants to force the outside receiver into an inside release, not an outside release.

2) A lot of teams actually check to zone blocking when they face defenses which do a lot of stemming, stunting and slanting. It is the most effective way to deal with all the movement.

19
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 6:01pm

It seems like this could work once, but then you would be right back where you started.

It'd probably work a few times. Line the ends up when the QB lines under center, if they don't hike it right away, take two steps back, and try to jump the count. It's not like they can hike the ball the instant they see the ends drop back, because not everyone would be on the same page.

Heck, if nothing else, it can hurt the center trying to make adjustments because he might not be able to see the ends.

Plus, it seems like it would give the OTs a half-second to get into their pass-blocking stance

True, but it also gives an edge rusher a better angle to get around the blocker. Changes a lot of angles, actually. I bet a clever coach could do a few interesting things that way.

It'd be fun to see someone try. :) You always see gimmicky offenses in college. I wish they had similarly gimmicky defenses. It'd be neat.

20
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 6:28pm

OK, who had #9 in the "When will this football strategy discussion turn to video games" pool?

"It’d be fun to see someone try. :) You always see gimmicky offenses in college. I wish they had similarly gimmicky defenses. It’d be neat."

The closest I've come to seeing this tactic was a Youngstown State playoff game at the Citadel in 1992. The Citadel was ranked #1, having beaten Arkansas early and running up some big wins through the year. They were an option team with a huge offensive line that just blew smaller defenses off the ball. So Tressel had his D-line line up a yard off the line instead of crowding it, letting them take different angles into some of the gaps, using their quickness to negate the Citadel's size. I forget the exact score, but it was a total rout, something around 42-17.

21
by J (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 6:30pm

My favorite madden strategy (at least against the AI) is to always put in one more corner than WRs and blitz the extra CB. I've had seasons where my 3rd and 4th CBs are in the pro bowl because of all their sacks.

22
by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 6:43pm

Re: 19

Hmm...the "stepping back only after the QB sets" would be interesting...thinking about it more, it seems like a clever D-coordinator could have a lot of fun with this and some zone blitzes. Or you could do some really weird stunts on obvious passing downs. Seems like there would be some kinks to work out, especially against the running game, but it definitely would be fun to see someone try...

23
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 7:44pm

The main reason I mention it is that it's one of the main advantage that defenses have over offenses, so you'd think they'd take advantage of it. In the CFL, where receivers can run to the LOS freely, they all do it. You'd think there'd be more attempts to get the players already in motion at the snap so they'd have a momentum advantage over blockers.

Along those same lines, though, in a case like in the article, where the strong safety moves forward - if that were delayed enough, instead of walking forward, the strong safety could wait a little longer, then head forward at a jog. If he times it right, he could be in great position to sprint to the QB before any of the OL had a chance to blink. And if they delay the snap count, he'll just stop at his intended position, maybe blitzing once they do snap.

To be honest, if it was important enough, the risk of an offsides call might be minor enough to just have him attempt to time it regardless. Heck, if you're playing versus the Colts, who cares if you give them a free 5 yards at some point? If the reward is a sack, it might be worth it.

24
by Jason Mulgrew (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 8:21pm

This went over Mulgrew's head.

25
by Kyle (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 8:35pm

Re 21:
That's cute and all for playing against the computer, but it ruins Madden when people follow that cheesy strategy online against human opponents. It turns Madden from a simulation game into an 11v11 version of NFL Blitz (minus the 30 yards for a first and the leg drops after the whistle).

26
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 8:52pm

"I forget the exact score, but it was a total rout, something around 42-17."

I looked it up, and you are correct, Youngstown State won 42-17.

27
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 08/21/2006 - 8:59pm

One more thing -- college and pro teams with a lot of experience have been known to do things such as creep a safety or corner toward the line pre-snap. If he gets to the point of no return, he will blitz and the secondary plays some form of man or rotated zone. However, if the ball is snapped early, he drops and the coverage stays vanilla.

So -- for those talking about moving defenders around, there have actually been coordinators with systems that have def. calls that change based on where the moving defenders are at the time the ball is snapped. (Don't try this with rookies).

28
by krugman55 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 12:45am

Great article!I love this website!

29
by Jason Mulgrew (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:29am

krugman55- It is good, isn't it?

I read the article again just a few minutes ago when I was on the can. It is still too much hardcore football vernacular for me, but my football knowledge has increased since tha can session.

This is quality stuff.

30
by SlantNGo (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 2:55am

Hey, great article! I didn't know most of this stuff.

31
by The Ninjalectual (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 4:23am

Re 25:

That’s cute and all for playing against the computer, but it ruins Madden when people follow that cheesy strategy online against human opponents.

How so? In football and Madden, two teams are using whatever resources they have to win. Professional coordinators and video game players are free to be as creative as they wish. If you feel the game isn't true-to-life enough, give reality half a decade to catch up.

32
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 7:22am

I really enjoyed this, and the diagrams made a huge difference. I still think you should collate the minicamps and publish them.

33
by Jason Mulgrew (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 10:32am

re: ninjalectual

I agree with you. As long as somebody is not cheating, everything is cool. If you stop the blitz, don't call it cheesy. Just admit you stink at playing Madden. That reminds me. I'm going to pretend to get sick now, so I can leave work and buy Madden. After all, it is Maddenoliday.

J-Dog

34
by Jason Mulgrew (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 10:33am

I meant to write, "If you can't stop the blitz..."

35
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 11:12am

20: I remember a few years ago, Southern Miss ran some funky defensive fronts which included having two, one, or zero players with a hand on the ground. They had a lot of motion, and you didn't know who was coming at you at a given time. This was when their defense was REALLY fast and somewhat undersized.

36
by Finnegans Wake (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 12:09pm

Great article. Would be nice to give a few lines to how a 3-4 would run these defenses, given the success the Steelers, Patriots and others have had running that. Or possibly a whole article devoted to the 3-4, and its relative strengths and weaknesses.

37
by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 12:58pm

Re: 36

Just in case you missed it, there is an earlier Strategy Minicamp devoted to the differences between the 4-3 and the 3-4 (click my name). It doesn't have any diagrams and I'm pretty sure it doesn't talk about any specific plays, but it does go over the basics.

38
by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 4:36pm

Re "if it's real, do it in Madden":
The problem is that there are bugs and glitches and other things hardcoded into the game. There will always be money plays that the coders didn't see and it's not right to take advantage of something that you can't fix. In real life you can react to any circumstance in any way you can imagine, but that's not the case in a video game.

39
by J (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 5:01pm

31: Thanks, I was going to say something like that but probably with more smart ass and vulgarity to my tone. heh

This whole idea of "Dont' do anything that isn't real in the game because that isn't PURE" is just rediculous. It's a GAME. It's not real life. People who take madden so damn seriously as to get worked up over something like that really need to put down the controller and come out of mom's basement.

40
by Kyle (not verified) :: Tue, 08/22/2006 - 7:32pm

If after reading my comment, your first impulse was to say something smart ass and vulgar, then I've obviously hit a nerve with your arcadey style of play. The first step is admitting you have a problem :)

38 hit the nail on the head.

People like J and the Ninjalectual and others who follow this "lol its a video game kthnx" philosophy really have no justification for the exploitation of glitches, bugs, and flaws within the game. And I emphasize the word exploit. People who run around with a stacked Dime/Quarter DB blitz defense on 1st and 10, utilizing (whether they know this exactly or just notice that it seems to work well for "some reason or another") the glitch where an MLB lined directly over the NT manages to be unblocked by the guards ruin Madden.

Or in general, the use of a Dime/Quarter on all downs because 4th string DBs are faster than All-Pro Linebackers, because Madden does not treat defenses with so many defensive backs and so little in the front seven as being weak against the rune, as is what happens in real life. That is an issue. Its not that this defense is unbeatable, it proves more difficult but it has its weakness. My bone to pick with this is that it takes all the fun out of my side of the game by forcing me tailor my entire offense (and thus running 2 or 3 plays total) to dealing with a gimmick defense

Or how about on offense, repeatedly audibling back and forth into wildly different formations because defensive AI, when told to audible as well, will sometimes run into each other (happens a lot with DBs running across the formation and getting stuck on LBs) and cause WRs to be completely uncalled for before the snap.

When this happens occasionally, it sucks but its a problem with the game so you deal with it. When its obvious, however, that the opponent's game plan revolves around abusing such problems, it ruins the game and you might as well be playing Blitz.

41
by Randy (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 1:54am

Kyle: 2k5 actually had a strong community based around "sim" play...the idea that you wouldn't take advantage of the known glitches (like blowing past the o-line using a tackle). I thought the games with those types were really fun...when I lost, I was outclassed by a better player or a scheme I wasn't able to adjust to.

It still resulted in some pretty unrealistic behavior (say, a player controlled linebacker dropping into coverage on an outside receiver and picking off a pass 30 yards downfield), but it was still fun.

42
by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 2:34pm

The reasons why you don't always charge the line before the snap as a defensive player are:

1) You have to time it perfectly. If you are going forward and the ball isn't snapped you have to pull up, leaving yourself flatfooted and unable to react or blitz effectively,

2) If you cause an offensive player to flinch than it is a 5 yard offsides defensive penalty,

3) You have committed yourself to the blitz or at least the position at the snap, opening up your area of the field to a pass or a run,

4) Probably most importantly, you have demonstrated your intentions to the blockers who now know to account for you in their blocking scheme. Most effective blitzes come because of breakdowns in protection from unaccounted for blitzers,

Having said that, I see players often charging the line trying to time the snap. But it is used only in defensive plays that have been schemed to protect the portion of the field the blitzer has abandoned.

43
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 3:48pm

2) If you cause an offensive player to flinch than it is a 5 yard offsides defensive penalty,

Isn't this only true if you cross into the neutral zone? If you stay on your side of the line, and an offensive lineman flinches because you're moving towards him, I'm pretty sure that's a false start.

44
by morganja (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 4:02pm

I believe the rule is:

A defensive player can no longer flinch before the snap in an attempt to draw movement from an offensive linemen.

He doesn't have to be in the neutral zone, just making a motion towards the offensive player.

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by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/23/2006 - 5:10pm

Well, it depends on what "flinch" means.

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by INT (not verified) :: Thu, 08/24/2006 - 10:05pm

Love it.

Doesn't Denver love to do this? You see 8 guys on the LOS from them a bunch.

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by Pressed Corner (not verified) :: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 12:37pm

Is not this site for football?
for the video gamers, is there not a forum to discuss your passion for Madden and other videos?

Without any disparagement to the gamers, there really is very little in common with actual football, so it seems to me that discussing on this forum what a particular pre-snap read does on a video game is rather pointless.

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by Cam (not verified) :: Thu, 07/05/2007 - 6:24am

I know this is like a year later, but 2k5 pretty much makes all of this strategy relevant because it's much more realistic than madden users realize. Try the stupid nickle and dime corner blitz online in 2k5 and you would have bean eaten up when 2k5 still had a lot of online players. btw I still play 2k5 and already have the 07/08 rosters.