The kicker places the ball on the tee, then takes a few steps back. The returner waits patiently at the goal line, poised to grab the ball and take off running at full speed. Those are the two images you see before a kickoff when you're watching a football game on TV. But what about the other 20 players? Michael David Smith explores kickoff returns in the return of our popular "Strategy Minicamps" feature explaining the X's and O's on the field.
As a follow-up to our recent Minicamp on man coverage, Mike Tanier looks at zone coverage schemes, particularly three-deep zones. Find out the difference between Sky and Cloud defenses, learn what it really means to roll coverage, and take a trip into the No-Cover Zone.
Man coverage in the NFL means more than just lining up across from a receiver and following him around the field. Mike Tanier takes a look at the most common varieties of man coverage used in the NFL, as well as the techniques defenders use to keep from getting toasted.
The I-formation is football's most versatile set, allowing for power running and deep passing. Michael David Smith goes inside the numbers to find out how the I-formation ticks, who is using it the most, and who is the best at running from it.
In response to a reader request, Mike Tanier breaks down the difference between the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes. What's that, you say? You already know the difference? Well what about one-gap vs. two-gap schemes? The zone blitz? Mike breaks it all down for you.
Does "the Denver system" really help running backs? What about other teams that switch to a so-called "zone blocking" scheme? In this guest column, Brian Hook looks at the (admittedly limited) data from Denver, Atlanta, and Houston, and tries to discern a trend.
You hear it over and over again: teams are playing more of the Cover 2. What the heck is the Cover 2? How does it work? Chris Miraglia enlightens us with a basic discussion of how to play Cover 2, its strengths and weaknesses, and the changes made by Tony Dungy. Complete with (very simple) illustrations.