Word of Muth: San Francisco Clinic

Word of Muth: San Francisco Clinic
Word of Muth: San Francisco Clinic
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Ben Muth

The Patriots had one of the greatest offensive performances in DVOA history on Sunday. I’ve been following them all year, and usually there would be no question that I would be writing about them after a game like that. But when Jim Harbaugh unleashes Colin Kaepernick on an unsuspecting public (or at least an unsuspecting Dom Capers), I feel that it requires at least 2000 words and a dozen pictures.

Before we get to San Francisco’s scheme, Kaepernick, and all that other fun stuff, we have to talk about the 49ers offensive line: they kicked the asses of Green Bay’s front seven. Anthony Davis played his best game of the season. Both guards, Alex Boone and Mike Iupati, were their usual dominating selves. Jonathan Goodwin was left with a 3-4 nose tackle one-on-one as much as any center I’ve ever seen, and more than held his own.

As good as the rest of the line was though, the guy I want to talk about is Joe Staley. The left tackle had by far the toughest assignment. He was matched up with Clay Matthews in the passing game for the majority of the game, and he had struggled against Matthews back in Week 1. On top of that, Staley was dealing with a very painful bone bruise in his arm. Despite all this, Staley played one of his best games of the season.

The thing that really jumped out to me was how smartly Staley attacked Matthews in the passing game. Whenever the 49ers were sliding to the left, Staley was really aggressive in engaging Matthews. He got into the edge rusher’s body much more quickly than defenders are used to dealing with. By taking the action to Matthews, Staley was able to land his hands before Matthews could start his pass rush move. Staley could be this aggressive because he knew that if Matthews did counter, he still had Iupati to help out.

The aggressiveness also really helped when Staley was by himself in pass protection. After seeing the aggression, Matthews wasn’t able to time his rush when Staley took a more conventional set, because by that point he was used to the aggressive sets he had been seeing for the majority of the game. Staley won the mental duel by keeping Matthews off-balance with his constantly changing pass sets and punches.

Of the two pressures I counted Staley giving up, one wasn’t even to Matthews. On that play, San Francisco was sliding left and Staley jump set the linebacker, Matthews took a step up field and dove hard to Staley’s inside. Staley was locked on by now and followed Matthews into the line. As a result, the left tackle completely missed the nickelback blitzing right where Staley should have been. Fortunately, the nickelback missed Kaepernick, who then scrambled for a first down.

A lot has been made of the Packers insistence on playing man coverage and allowing Kaepernick to run free on the second level when he did decide to pull the ball down. The man coverage was obviously an issue, but the Green Bay rushers getting knocked out of their pass rush lanes was also a key to Kapernick's success.

There were a couple of plays when uncovered guards would help out an engaged offensive lineman and drive the defender three-to-five yards out of their lane. With 1:48 left in the second quarter, the Packers ran an inside linebacker cross blitz, and Iupati punched Brad Jones from the left-A gap all the way to the right B-gap. When LaMichael James threw a cut block on Matthews (playing inside linebacker just for this stunt) looping into the left B-gap there was an enormous hole for Kaepernick to scamper through.

Now let’s get into the interesting schematic stuff. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t consider myself a read-option expert by any means. We dabbled in it a bit once Jim Harbaugh arrived at Stanford, but nothing past the absolute basics. Still, there is plenty to talk about.

Let’s start in the first quarter. The 49ers were in a Pistol Strong Left formation with tight end Vernon Davis flexed out. They called a Zone Read Arc Bluff play. That means the H-Back Delanie Walker was coming across the formation to pretend that he was going to slice block the defensive end, then escape outside of him and block the outside linebacker or safety (Morgan Burnett in this case). The entire offensive line just runs Inside Zone left. The only difference is that they push one linebacker further than they typically would, so, the right guard and right tackle are actually working to a linebacker across the formation.

It seemed like Green Bay's game plan coming in was to gap exchange (or scrape exchange, if you prefer) against read-option looks. That means that the end guy on the line would slant down and force a "keep" read from the quarterback, while the linebacker would scrape over the top and contain the quarterback. It’s probably the most popular adjustment to stop traditional zone reads.

Erik Walden does his job by forcing the keep read from Kaepernick. The problem for Green Bay is that Burnett (circled below) seems unaware that being outside of Walden and containing Kaepernick is not the same thing. Burnett fills on Walden’s hip and completely loses leverage to Walker. If Burnett had gotten a little more width, he could have forced Kaepernick inside and Walden might have been able to make a tackle for a short gain.

But Burnett did not get any width. Now Walker is outside Green Bay’s contain player and Kaepernick is right behind him. Burnett is so out of position that Walker just has to lay a hand on him, almost like a stiff arm, to be able to lead Kapernick into the secondary for a big gain.

That play is actually the baseline for the next couple of plays I want to discuss. In the above play, Green Bay had a decent enough scheme, but awful execution. If Burnett is a little better, maybe the 49ers only gain four yards. Most teams aren't going to run their quarterbacks all game for four-yard gains. Instead San Francisco gained 18 yards and continued running quarterback options, including one for a 56-yard yard touchdown in the third quarter that is probably the lasting image of this game.

The 49ers are once again in the Pistol Strong Left formation (though this time Davis is not flexed) and bringing H-Back Bruce Miller across the formation. This time, though, Miller is slice blocking the end man on the line. The rest of the 49ers front is doing the exact same thing as the previous play.

As far as the defense goes, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about stopping Darrel Royal’s Wishbone or the 2012 49ers -- the key to stopping the option is to have assigned roles and for the team to execute their assignments. Green Bay plays it straight up this time. The outside linebacker on the line has to contain the quarterback, and the inside linebacker is responsible for the running back. Trying to do anything else will lead to big holes in the defense and even bigger gains for the offense.

On this play Walden (93) has contain, which would mean the quarterback in the Read Option game. Defensive tackle B.J. Raji (90) has the B-gap. He has to take up that space and hopefully two blockers in the process, which would help inside linebacker Jones do his job. Jones (59) has the weak side A-gap, as well as the newly-created C-gap once the H-back comes across the formation. This means he has to stop the give man, Frank Gore.

The good news for Green Bay is that Jones seems to see the play coming and fills the C-gap very quickly. The bad news is that the other two guys on his side are really poor on their assignments.

Raji (circled) gets absolutely destroyed by the double team. He goes from the middle of the field to outside the right hash mark in the time it takes Gore to get to the line of scrimmage. He is further away from the ball than the opposite defensive tackle in the picture above. This play neatly sums up the horrible day that the former Boston College standout had.

Meanwhile, Walden (arrowed) decides to take on the slice block head-on and with both arms. If you read last week’s column where an outside linebacker got trucked because he didn’t see Zach Miller’s slice block coming, this may seem like a good thing. The problem is that Walden loses both his sight on Kaepernick and the outside leverage when he does this.

As an edge defender you always want to keep your outside arm free. It keeps your shoulders squared, so you can move laterally, and it prevents you from being hooked. But if you’re using both arms to try to blow up the H-back, your outside arm is never going to be free.

Yes, The X Of Great Shame is what happens to you when you try to keep contain without a clue. You end up chasing the guy who doesn’t have the ball, while the guy you were supposed to be watching is running behind you. And probably laughing at your expense. If I were an option quarterback I would be laughing, anyway.

What has to be disheartening for Packers fans is that their team simply had no answer as the game went along. They tried to gap exchange early and struggled, they tried to play it straight-up and had even less success. So, they went back to trying to scrape exchange again.

In an effort to blow your mind, the 49ers lined up in Pistol Strong Right this time. Miller is the H-back and he will be coming across the formation to block Green Bay’s edge defender. This time it is Jones, on a gap exchange with Matthews.

Once again, Raji is immediately washed down a few yards inside. I’m not sure I can overstate just how bad he was on Sunday. Watching him play, I’m amazed a gust of wind didn’t blow him out of the shot while he was dancing in those State Farm commercials.

Matthews crashes down hard inside to fill the canyon that Raji has created. That makes it an easy read for Kaepernick to pull the ball and take off for the outside.

Really, the hole Staley created by plowing Raji inside was so big that Kaepernick could have handed it off to James (labeled because he’s hiding behind FOX’s camera) and Matthews wouldn’t have been able to cover enough ground to make a play.

But since Matthews was crashing hard, Kaepernick was right to pull it. You can’t assume a fairly well-regarded nose tackle is going to get obliterated. Matthews has done his job by taking away the tailback, and Jones is in position to do his part containing the quarterback. He’s flowing hard to the outside, and if he forces the quarterback to turn it up inside Miller’s block there is a good chance Matthews can redirect and make the play for a short gain.

But Jones can’t outrun San Francisco’s fullback and ends up getting cut down by him. Kaepernick gets outside and adds another 19 yards to his rushing total. This play, more than the others really, illustrates why the Packers lost. The Packers were in position to stop the play here, but their front seven wasn’t talented or disciplined enough to do so.

It wasn’t just the read-option that Green Bay couldn’t stop. San Francisco did whatever they wanted in the running game. In fact, the best example of this is the first running play of the game for San Francisco.

It was second-and-1, the 49ers lined up in a Full House Pistol formation. Green Bay was lined up in their base 3-4.

The 49ers ran a halfback dive. Like a Pop-Warner-level halfback dive. The only coaching point is to block the guy in front of you. It is the simplest running play any team can run, with the possible exception of a quarterback sneak.

San Francisco didn't create a single double team across the entire line. It’s just their seven blocking your seven. The keys are that Iupati takes it to C.J. Wilson and Goodwin, as usual, handles Raji. There are not a lot of teams that would leave their center one-on-one against a 3-4 nose tackle like this, but obviously Greg Roman was confident Goodwin could handle Raji by himself.

Davis and Miller lead up through the A-gaps, and Gore hits the left A-gap for a six-yard gain before being tackled by a safety. They gained six-yards on second-and-1 with a play where the only technique involved is the infamous GATA technique. It’s almost a slap in the face to Green Bay.

In the end, it’s fair to say Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh out-schemed Dom Capers on Sunday. But it also doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. The Packers simply couldn’t handle the 49ers offensive line. Better coaching might have slowed San Francisco down, but it wasn’t going to stop them. Not with the way that Jones and Raji played, anyway.


42 comments, Last at 23 Jan 2013, 4:04pm

#1 by DenverCheeze (not verified) // Jan 17, 2013 - 1:30pm

Good article and highlights what I thought somewhat during and mostly after the game...the packers players executed very poorly. I really hope Capers does not get canned over this because he has done a good job at D-Coordinator in the past. I think maybe some position coaches need to go because of the poor preparation the players had (which in turn led them to poorly execute on the came plan).

Points: 0

#2 by Jake (not verified) // Jan 17, 2013 - 1:34pm

It looks like in all of these formations the gap between center and left guard is significantly wider than the gap between center and right guard. I suppose that the idea there is that the right guard is more likely to need center help than left guard? Is that common?

Points: 0

#3 by Brent // Jan 17, 2013 - 1:35pm

"If I were an option quarterback I would be laughing, anyway."

Laughing at the expense of the guy who missed his assignment seems like a very Offensive Lineman thing to do.

Great article, as always.

Points: 0

#4 by Will Allen // Jan 17, 2013 - 1:42pm

So, did Raji decide to go on vacation early, or were the Vikings just awful, compared to the Niners, against Raji in the previous two weeks, when Raji was very productive, despite 28 running for 300 yards? I know the Vikings' guards don't belong in the same league as the Niners', but Sullivan has been a very good center now for a couple years, against all my expectations.

In any case, another great piece, and a great summation of why I root for Niners most weeks, and will be Sunday. If they were to be able to go out on the road, in a loud dome, and shut up the home crowd, by doing a similar curb-stomping, that would be about as an enjoyable football viewing experience as I could imagine. Oh well, we'll see what happens.

I'd enjoy a feature regularly headlined "The X of Great Shame".

Points: 0

#6 by wr (not verified) // Jan 17, 2013 - 2:18pm

Yes, "The X of Great Shame" should indeed be regular feature of this column.

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#8 by Dean // Jan 17, 2013 - 2:31pm

Motion to ammend to The X of Great Schadenfreude.

So now that we've seen Green Bay get destroyed, what does Atlanta do to learn from the Packers mistakes?

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#16 by Brent // Jan 17, 2013 - 3:34pm

Have better players?

Really, it seems like the Pack just got whipped at the line. That's not a scheme problem, it's a personnel problem. Really, it seems like GB had a bad game and SF had a good game, and destruction ensued, but if they both play average (for them) then SF still has a lot of successful running plays.

Can ATL match up better? We'll find out.

Points: 0

#25 by Kal // Jan 17, 2013 - 10:14pm

This comment illustrates a common misconception about Oregon's offense - that there's some mystical way to beat the spread or the zone read or whatever.

There isn't. You execute your position, you play in your gaps, and you beat your man. That's it. Green Bay couldn't do that for most of the night. The man coverage didn't help them on scrambles but that wasn't where the majority of damage was done; it was done with poor execution and discipline but otherwise doing precisely what they needed to do. They had the right call against it; they just didn't do a good job of executing that call.

Can Atlanta do better? What Atlanta did was basically stack 8 in the box against Seattle for most of the day as far as I could tell. They dared Russell Wilson to beat them and tried to put pressure on when they could. It didn't work very well. But that's probably not a horrible thing to try against Kaepernick. More zone would likely be better against the 49ers. Forcing Kaep to beat them with his arm would likely work quite well. Otherwise, bring both safeties in close and dare him to make a play or two.

Points: 0

#39 by afan101 (not verified) // Jan 18, 2013 - 9:38pm

I agree some what with this. The part about lining up and beating the man in front of you is correct. If you can do that you just have a better team and no scheme can beat that.

However I hear this all of the time stake 8 in the box(espn nfl network). 8 in the box works against traditional pro offenses. However, with a qb threat that can run 8 in the box is not enough. You have 7 blockers + the qb reads one guy making essentially blocking him now who is going to tackle Gore?

Mathematically you really need 9 in a 2wr pro set with a reading qb. That why RG3, Kapernick, and every other dual threat qb can run play action and have people wide open. In theory against a dual threat qb you can't have a free saftey(if you want to consistently stop runs for short gains) if you do you don't have the numbers.

Against none mobile qb you run 8 in the box all day and have defender for all blocker and the rb.

Points: 0

#24 by shah8 (not verified) // Jan 17, 2013 - 7:42pm

I remembered all those comments in the media about how Joe Webb "prepared" the Packer defense...

In realityland, Harbaugh and Nolan were going "Musgrave, Musgrave, Musgrave...no, that is not how you're supposed to do things." I strongly suspect that there was a big ole critique session wrt playcalling in that game that help tweaked what the 49'ers already had going. The Kaepernick interception also concentrated their minds on not really doing anything but kick the bums first and switch up with fancy stuff later.

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#30 by jimbohead // Jan 18, 2013 - 9:14am

There's a story in Bill Walsh's book about the 1985 Bears preparing for either the Superbowl or the playoffs. To inspire the defense, Buddy Ryan showed game film of the New York Jets trying to run their 46 defense. After about half an hour, it became a madhouse of players becoming genuinely angry at how poorly the Jets were executing the Bears' defense, shouting, cussing, all that stuff, until they ran out of the room to get on the field to do it right.

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#32 by MehlLageman56 (not verified) // Jan 18, 2013 - 4:29pm

Considering that the 1985 New York Jets played a 3-4 under Bud Carson, and actually were a good defense, this sound apocryphal.

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#33 by Karl Cuba // Jan 18, 2013 - 4:41pm

I've heard the same story from several places. The Jets tried to borrow some of the ideas Ryan had developed without understanding what lay behind them. Thevmeeting broke up with Chris Spielman burying a folding chair in the wall in disgust.

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#34 by MehlLageman56 (not verified) // Jan 18, 2013 - 7:56pm

Now, I believe you, I just want a source. Is it possible it was the Jets in the mid 1970s, when Buddy Ryan was there?

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#35 by Karl Cuba // Jan 18, 2013 - 8:05pm

It was 85 for sure, it could be In the Rex Ryan coaching book but I don't have it to hand. I'd ask a Bears fan or put a post on Windy City Gridiron if you really want the reference.

(also, the 46 and the 34 have very similar looks at times)

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#36 by MehlLageman56 (not verified) // Jan 18, 2013 - 8:33pm

Thanks. I tried googling it and couldn't find it, I'll check out the Ryan book as soon as I can. Walsh wrote three, so it would take a while to find it in there.

Points: 0

#37 by MehlLageman56 (not verified) // Jan 18, 2013 - 8:55pm

I found a source on Sports Illustrated: Tim Layden's book "Blood, Sweat, Chalk". According to him, it was the 1985 Jets, a midseason game, and Steve McMichael was the one who threw the folding chair, and it was the night before the Super Bowl.

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#38 by Karl Cuba // Jan 18, 2013 - 9:00pm

I will have seen it in the Layden book, it's a great book if you haven't read it.

I always get Spielman and McMichael confused. There's no good reason why but I do.

Points: 0

#42 by Dean // Jan 23, 2013 - 4:04pm

Was Chris Spielman even at Ohio State yet in 1985? He never played for the Bears or the Jets, I know that much.

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#5 by Will Allen // Jan 17, 2013 - 2:12pm

Oh, and in the other game, if you could watch Mckinnie a little bit, and comment next week, if warranted , that would be great. I don't think I've ever seen a tackle who I thought was finished two years ago, play a game like that against what is supposed to be a good pass rusher, in the playoffs, on the road. It's kind of irritating for this Vikings fan, to tell the truth.

Points: 0

#7 by DEW (not verified) // Jan 17, 2013 - 2:29pm

Great article. All I've heard since the game was how Dom Capers ought to be drawn and quartered for how lousy his defensive scheme was, so it's nice to get a chance to look inside the play and get to see how the individual player performances were making questions of scheme secondary.

I also second Will Allen's remark. "The X of Great Shame" ought to be a regular feature!

Points: 0

#9 by Peregrine // Jan 17, 2013 - 2:32pm

Thanks Ben. As a Falcons fan, I think Mike Smith and Nolan will have the front seven playing more fundamentally sound than the Packers were, but it might not matter.

Love the GATA technique. My favorite. I was doing that when you were four years old.

Points: 0

#15 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 17, 2013 - 3:23pm

I think the simplest blocking play was the old grade school version of the QB sneak, where only the center got into his set, the center snapped on a silent count, and everyone else on the offense stayed perfectly still.

That play never once failed.

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#18 by Jimmy // Jan 17, 2013 - 3:50pm

From this information I can determine that your grade school team's quarterback wasn't Rex Grossman.

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#20 by SandyRiver // Jan 17, 2013 - 4:15pm

First saw that when I was a junior in HS (and 2nd string tackle) when our until-then unbeaten season got blown up. We ran a wide-tackle 6-2 with no one over the center, and the first 2-3 times the other team called it, the center ran free to the middle db and the qb got 20+ yards.

Points: 0

#26 by zenbitz // Jan 17, 2013 - 11:15pm

Steve Young use to run this with Jesse Sapolu in the early 90s. Agreed, it never failed to get a yard.

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#17 by bigtencrazy (not verified) // Jan 17, 2013 - 3:46pm

Thanks for the article. Raji had been playing well the last month or so. Saturday's meltdown was unexpected. Walden and Jones stinking it up is not given that both players are only on the field due to injury.

Points: 0

#21 by dryheat // Jan 17, 2013 - 4:28pm

Regarding the first paragraph, and I don't want to sound ungrateful here, but don't worry about over-stepping expectations if you want to review two games this week. Ditto next week. Your fans would enjoy such a surprise.

Points: 0

#22 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 17, 2013 - 5:25pm

Excellent work, as always. It was disheartening, but not unexpected to see the Packers just get whipped (and the 9ers D-line won the trench battle when the Packers had the ball for the most part).

I'd take heart in the fact that the front 7 had 3 players on it that are not preferred starters, but you know injuries happen. I just don't know about Raji anymore. He started the year a lot like 2011 went, but then he was looking like the 2010 Raji the last 5 games or so and then he looked awful again.

I've never liked Walden, but sadly with the injuries he really is the best option out there... I like Jones much better in pass coverage than any other option at MLB, but I haven't seen a Packer MLB that was better than average at run defense in years, OK Bishop might be slightly above average and Nick Barnett might have been slightly above average, but Hawk? Jones? Smith? bad to average.

Executing assignments was a big problem in 2011, it was much better this year, but it still shone through in a few games.

I happy with the talent at the ball handler positions, with the exception of running back, but I can live with that. I'm happy with most of the talent in the secondary. Burnett isn't amazing but he's good enough even without Woodson to help him out, the corners are fine, and deep enough. The o-line might even be OK. People forget that Newhouse, the LT all year long, was supposed to be a back-up, and the RT spot was an ugly rotation. I realize you can't spend money everywhere.

The d-line has not had the draft picks pan out as hoped and the linebackers with the exception of Matthews are all pedestrian at best. You can live with some of that, but I'm hoping Perry pans out and a rotation of Bishop, Jones, Hawk, and Smith can do a bit more (or we get a rookie that can play inside because I don't think there is anyone developing like Bishop did for years).

Just have to tip my hat to the 9er's and more on. They were clearly the better team in both games this year, and they play a brand of football I like and respect. The window is still pretty open for the Packers to keep competing for that final game, but some things have to come together and I've question Campen as the oline coach for years, maybe I should question the other side of the ball more.

Points: 0

#23 by Alejandro (not verified) // Jan 17, 2013 - 6:05pm

Excellent article as always. I love how you pick up on things that are subtle to the majority of the audience and explain them perfectly clearly. I thought Raji had a poor game but I didn't realize just how bad he had been til I read this.

One minor correction - on the last play pictured it was Davis and Walker in the FH backfield leading through the A-gaps, not Davis and Miller.

Points: 0

#27 by Raji sucks (not verified) // Jan 18, 2013 - 1:45am

Raji has been bad for the last two seasons and nobody seems to notice (except PFF). Simmons said he would trade Wilfork for Raji before the season. He just isn't as strong as he used to be and can't win one on one matchups/force double teams. Not a surprise he was dominated by the best O line in the game.
Great article.

Points: 0

#28 by dweezil (not verified) // Jan 18, 2013 - 4:21am

Living overseas and I cannot stream the games. I can only "watch" them through Yahoo and other sites, which is pretty weak. Thank you very much for the article. It was amazing!

Points: 0

#29 by nflalternative.com // Jan 18, 2013 - 8:25am

excellent article minus 2 very important points;
1]you cant spy Kaepernik with an L.B.;he is way 2 fast
2]u do not play press against him;maybe once or twice but the whole idea of playing anything but zone+ having all eyes on qb is futile
3]the fault was almost entirely the coaching;u did point this out [thus only 2 points of disagreement] but it needs emphasis;Jones,Walden,+ Matthews were in the right spot + forced contain to middle or swing to sideline properly;the problem was no help at all from dbs who were mostly not even looking.....................poor good ole boy coaching;the result of leagues bias vs. short ,runnning + yes black qbs
excellent job as always.........check out my site for more analysis of this prejudice late friday night;again ty 4 excellent analysis

Points: 0

#31 by GeraldMcCully (not verified) // Jan 18, 2013 - 10:55am

Great Article!!!! Kudos!!!

My Take: Speedy Option qb's defeat the scheme of an even front defense like Green Bay based upon slow reactions, confusion, and a weaker force player. Why? Because it is very difficult to play the option out of an even front. The Even Front Defense's option responsibilities change for ends and linebackers based on strength and weakness of (an option team like SanFran's) formations. With an odd front the ends and backers responsibilities remain the same based upon any formation. Therefore the players do not have to recognize formations... just the 15 -50 play reads like run/pass/ option/ play action pass/ misdirection/ screen/ reverse/ and wedge reads.

Even fronts work when the defense has superior players that can overcome the inherent weakness of the scheme. In their prime....Reggie White's, Ray Lewis's and Vince Wilfork's allow even front's to work against the option.

The 3/4 cross charges that you picture above can not be simulated against the scout team offenses of Green Bay on Tuesdays and Wedensday's in practice. Every NFL team has only 50 players, so then the problem that the coordinator had was what if this 3/4 charge does not work in the game? What is my next answer? His answer seemed to be a hard charge or a walk up look. His hard charge answer for the option was recognized on the line by CK or Harbaugh, and San Fran checked to passes.

Hey NFL DC's, you better get an odd front adjustment in the off season. I see a lot of teams working odd fronts versus option teams, to allow their players to play fast against the option.

Other gimmick's like the Prowl look and the Bear Front are gimmicks/ not sound defense. Example: The Gimmick - Bear Front can stop that option, but Colin will be running speed option/ toss sweep or a slant/ bubble screen to the outside...it is all based on numbers, and the NFL DC's are just now re-learning how to count. The Prowl's deception is in defenders' surrendering backwards on the snap as option backs are attacking forward.. Just call me High School Harry/ or Joe the Rag Man... but that despised and pitied option look works.

Points: 0

#40 by Anonymous52 (not verified) // Jan 19, 2013 - 2:41am

College teams have implemented defenses with additional strong safeties acting as 'rovers' (in either a 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 defense; see TCU for a good example of this). It will only be a matter of time before good strong safeties are in-demand in the NFL to counter the zone-read offenses. In fact, with the advent of the NFL spread and the shifty slot receiver, I'm surprised that this trend hasn't developed yet. I guess, in a way, both San Francisco and Green Bay do have variations on this, in that their best defensive backs (Rogers for SF, Woodson for GB) play man-up on the slot receiver against 3 and 4 wide receiver sets. However, a slot corner back is not a second Donte Whitner.

Points: 0

#41 by Will Allen // Jan 19, 2013 - 9:46am

Brian Urlacher was such a safety in college, at New Mexico, where the coach there at the time, Rocky Long (previousy d-coordinator at UCLA, now head coach at a SDSU) pioneered it.

Points: 0

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