3.3.5 Pressure Package Approach

Pressure can cause big football plays (“BFP”) because it disrupts the blocking schemes (sacks and tackles for loss), the ball carrier (taking multiple hits), and the passing game (hurries and interceptions). Pressure is not only running through gaps, but it is quickness in execution and arriving at the ball. When opposing coaches look at the 30 Stack Defense, the word pressure should come to mind. Not pressure by blitzing on every down, or with a 9-man front, but by execution on the field.

Pressure is defined by a style of play:

• Look – ready, prepared, confident physically dominant
• Alignment – quickly, deliberately, eager, physically dominant
• Pursuit – relentless, disciplined, passionate, physically dominant
• Tackling – violent, in a pack, physically dominant
• Energy – positive, constructive, optimistic, consistent
• Negative Sudden Changes – come back strong, confident, disciplined

The 30 Stack allows you to attack the LOS on every play, however still have the ability to change or exchange defender responsibilities:

1. Dogs – These are coordinated run through action by the inside linebackers; SAM, MIKE and WILL. Also, the SAM & WILL are referred to as “Stud”
2. Blitzes – These are coordinated run through action by the secondary or outside inverts (Rover and Bandit, also referred to as “Eagles”).
3. Stunts – These are coordinated pressure packages that will typically require two instructions.
4. Games – These are coordinated movements by the defensive line. They are typically a full man slant, using a hit technique on the offensive linemen one man over from their original alignments. However these also include twist and rub techniques used in conjunction with Dogs, Blitzes and Stunts.

The attack packages are very flexible because they are based upon three components: (1) a direction call, (2) defenders call, and (3) the gaps to attack. The pressure packages include the ability to send one defender to a specific gap, or two or more defenders executing a coordinated attack. You can attack at any time, because you will avoid tendencies (either by field position or down) if your approach is based upon each opponent.

Direction Call

The direction call is based upon the strength call (“Reno” [right] or “Vegas” [left]), referred to as the “callside”. However, this can be modified by game plan or signals.

These are some of basic concepts that apply to all of the attacks and pressure

CALLSIDE – stunts are typically run to the strength call either right (“reno”) or left (“vegas”) unless otherwise designated.
OPEN – the attack will occur away from or opposite the strength call.
WIDE – the action will occur to the wide side or field, as designated by the Sam call of “Rip” (right) or “Liz” (left).
SHORT – the action will occur to the short side or boundary, opposite the field call.
FULL – the action that has similar defenders working together; i.e., both sides of the defense (Studs, Eagles, Corners), since the 30 Stack is a balanced defensive alignment.

Defenders Call

The pressure packages can be any defender or combination of defenders. The following are some of the defender designations used in attacking the offense.

SAM – inside linebacker aligned to the boundary executes the Dog or Stunt.
WILL – inside linebacker aligned to the field executes the Dog or Stunt.
STUD – refers to the inside linebacker aligned to strength (Callside). Note, because Sam & Will align based upon field and boundary, either of these defenders could be on an attack package based upon strength or openside.
STORM – identifies a pressure package that involves the Stud and Mike. If there is a crossing action, the Stud would hit his gap, and Mike would cross behind the Stud.
MASH – identifies a pressure package that involves the Mike and Stud. If there is a crossing action, the Mike would hit his gap, and Stud would cross behind the Mike.
MOSS – identifies all three of the inside linebackers, Mike, Stud and Open Stud.
BANDIT – outside invert aligned to the boundary executes the Blitz or Stunt.
ROVER – outside invert aligned to the field executes the Blitz or Stunt.

• EAGLE – refers to the outside linebacker aligned to strength (callside). Note,
because Eagles align based upon field and boundary, either of these defenders
could be on an attack package base upon strength or openside.
• HAWK – directs the field corner to execute the Blitz or Stunt.
VULTURE – directs to the boundary corner to execute the Blitz or Stunt.
• FALCON – directs to the Free Safety to execute the Blitz or Stunt.

Blitz Numbering System

The gaps are designated by numbers, with the strength (Callside) or field (Wide side) using ODD numbers and the openside or short side using EVEN numbers. The pressure packages are “Callside”, however they can be changed, by game plan or signals to the Field (“Wide”) call. The system is easy to learn and very flexible. It allows you to designate a single defender or combinations of defenders to run through any gap or gaps.

The basic 30 Stack alignment gives the offense soft spots (“bubbles”) to attack. Movements are designed to disguise the defense’s intentions and either invite or take-away the bubbles. A system of alerts helps the defenders to coordinate their “movements”. If there is no movement identified in the huddle, then the defenders will align in “Base” and execute their assignments (Dogs, Stunts, Blitzes and Games) from this position. We have found that once the players have mastered the different movements that they use them to fit within the defensive schemes without a call.

The position coaches must be spot and correct individual movement tendencies that become a defender specific tendency.

Here is a brief recap of the reasons for movements:

  • Create uncertainty in the offensive linemen’s mind. This will reduce their
  •  Force the offensive linemen to change their blocking schemes at the line of
  • Causes recognition problems for the offensive line.
  • Force’s the offensive linemen to think.
  • To disguise secondary coverages.

There is always some question as to when or how often to stem. We believe that some form of a stem should be done on every play. All the linebackers or outside inverts can be stemming or just one. Stemming is also a term that alerts defensive backs to possible movement. The advantage goes to the defense when they can hide their true alignments as long as possible; however, make sure the defenders are in the proper defensive coverage called when the ball is snapped.

The movement calls can be:

♦  CHEAT – Secondary and outside invert technique used to disguise coverage base upon an initial alignment by moving towards true alignment prior to snap of the football.

CRASH – This is used to create an “illusion” that the defense is sending everybody, but becomes a 5-man package. This illusion blitz drops three defender (“Gumbo”) into the underneath zones. See Chapter V, Defending the Pass for a more detailed description of “Gumbo” technique.

♦ PARTY – Similar to “Crash”, this is used to create an “illusion” that the defense is sending everybody, which it does. The difference is that defenders not called into the package will attack their coverage responsibility if they are lined-up in the backfield using a “Spy” technique. This movement requires Cover 0 or Cover 10, based upon the offensive formation. See Chapter V, Defending the Pass for a more detailed description of “Spy” techniques.

PROWL – Pre-snap movements designed to confuse the offense, blocking schemes and/or the quarterback. The movements can be up and back, or side to side by jumping into different gaps.

♦ SHOW – This is the opposite of “cheat”. The defenders will align or “show” their intentions.

SUGAR – The defenders will “show” in an attempt to bait the offense, and move or “bail” to their proper alignment. This technique is also referred to as a “bluff”.

Finally, the defensive players must use the proper technique, whether it is a run (hit technique) or pass (jet technique). The second level defenders must know which gap they are to hit, and recognize that it can change based upon the defensive line movements (“games”). A blitzer must react to his keys and the pressure of blocks to “find daylight”. The 30 Stack will have one penetration (player) per gap, and each player must understand their responsibilities if flow is to or away from them.

The following is a brief summary of principles that a blitzing defender must be aware of:

• The less frequently a defender blitzes, the more important it is to disguise because it keeps the element of surprise in tact.
• The more frequently a defender blitzes, the less important it is to disguise because it adds the “false key” as a weapon. The false key or “Sugar” is to show one threat, but play another.
• A blitzer must still read keys, but he must now see on the run allowing his keys to take him to the ball; “press darkness to find light”.
• Whenever possible, a blitzing player should avoid blockers, again, “press darkness to find light”.
• A blitzing linebacker must maintain a low pad level; otherwise he has a target on his check.
• If a pressure package takes a player away from flow, he must give an extra effort to get himself into the play.
• When blitzing, never, never guess. Secure your gap by pressing to find light until you see the ball, and then go get it!
• The ball is the blitzer’s trigger. When it is snapped hit your assigned gap with speed, quickness and power.

About the Author of this post:

Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.

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