As we develop our approach, the offensive line must understand the area in which we will ask them to work. All the schemes mentioned in this book are designed to keep the offensive linemen inside the box. I always tell them don’t block outside the box, the box is your’s you own the box.
It’s been my experience, depending on the formation, the box will either consist of six, seven, or eight defenders. So, as we prepare our blocking schemes, we start with calls that will allow us to block the eight man box. when using a two back offense Like the “I” Back offense and you have to block eight defenders inside the box, some type of motion may be required depending on the type of play called.
There are several ways to control the box, you can do it by formationing your opponent or you can do it by the type of offense being run and option football is a good way to control how many defenders inside the box. When you spread the field you opponent must take defenders out of the box to defend the field. I try and control the box with formations, motion, and the use of the option game. If our opponent keeps 7 or more inside the box we are running outside if, our opponent keeps 6 or less we are running at the box.
It is my belief that the heart and soul of any good offensive football team is its offensive line. There is no position in football that requires more discipline or technique than being an offensive lineman. The success of an offensive football team hinges on its ability to control the line of scrimmage. To win consistently, you must win in the trenches, and that means playing on your opponent’s side of the line of scrimmage.
My approach to coaching the offensive line is to out execute our opponent’s. This is a lot easier said then done! To take this approach and to believe in this philosophy means a great deal of time must be spent on understanding fundamentals and blocking technique as it applies to the type of athlete being coached. I feel that the offensive line coach must understand what he is teaching and how it applies to the offense. Don’t introduce a technique or drill if it doesn’t apply to your offense and only teach what you know how to fix.
Remember, strive to keep your blocking rules simple and consistent. By keeping your line calls and rules simple, it will give you the coach a better chance to perfect your technique and drills. You want your offensive linemen aggressive not confused. What ever your offensive line starts they must be able to finish.
To be a good offensive line requires more than just discipline or good blocking technique. It requires “PRIDE” in yourself; your group; and your team. A team with “PRIDE” is a hard team to beat because they are willing to do the “LITTLE THINGS” that most teams are not willing to do. No detail should be overlooked, regardless of how non important it may look on the surface to you as the coach.
The difference between SUCCESS and FAILURE often lies in your ability as a coach to prepare. Prepare your offensive linemen for the unknown; what I mean here is make sure that your system of calls and rules will apply to sideline and half time adjustments if needed.
Not every offensive lineman that you coach will start, make the all district or all conference team, be an all American, play in college, or play in the NFL, but every player you coach can hustle and hit and be a good team player. It is your responsibility as their coach to give them the drills and blocking schemes to help them be successful.
It is my approach, like many other line coaches that we out – execute our opponents. This is a lot easier said than done! To take this approach and to believe in this philosophy means a great deal of time must be spent on fundamentals and blocking technique. My primary goal as I prepare our blocking schemes is that they be simple and that they have a basic rule that can tie them all into one another. Thus, we try keep the rules and line calls simple, it will give us the chance to perfect our techniques and perform them in an aggressive manner.
To be fundamentally tough and sound, each offensive lineman must know what is required of him and how to master these requirements. Descriptive words can help this process. Blocking can be developed to a greater degree than any other phase of football because it is the most un-natural task. It requires patience and many hours of “hard work” there are many things to learn.
The more techniques you can learn and master, the easier it will be to cope with various situations. Repetition must be accepted as a way of life for a blocker, success can only be brought about with tremendous confidence in one’s ability. Concentration, self-discipline, communication, and the willingness to pay the price are part of being a respected offensive lineman.
Determined, intelligent, and aggressive blocking is an indispensable quality of a great football team, from both a technical and psychological standpoint. It is difficult for a team, to have outstanding morale, confidence, and enthusiasm when it lacks the ability to sustain a great ground game or provide adequate protection for the passer. As an offensive line coach you must reinforce daily to your players the importance of controlling the football.
You must make a statement to your opponents that indeed, we can move the football on them. Make a psychological statement as well as a physical one. A good goal to establish this feeling is to make sure you get a first down on ever first series when start of a game or second half of a game.
The difference between a great blocker and a fair one is the fractional time between contact and the follow through. The finishing off of any block must be constantly repeated and reinforced on a daily basis. Effective line play begins in the huddle. Upon hearing the play called by the quarterback, start to visualize your assignment and possible adjustments or calls at the line of scrimmage. Keep the snap count continually in mind. If an offensive lineman is slow getting off on the snap count for any reason, he can expect to get beat. It is impossible to be aggressive when you are uncertain. The following phrases and words help me describe technique.
Nine Phases of A Proper Base Block: (one – on – one)
1. Short first position step, also called base step.
2. Second step must be an explosive upfield base step.
3. Low shoulder level. (pad control)
4. Good punch.
5. Good arm extension.
6. Strike a blow.
7. Wide base.
8. Heels in – toes out.
A term I use and one I picked up from Les Steckels of the Denver Broncos is “THE FIRST STEP TIES, THE SECOND STEP WINS” its that second step that helps the finish. Keep your feet alive. Play with a base don’t allow your feet to come together. The following terms are descriptive terms that I will use.
Descriptive Terms To Be Used:
1. Get off! Ability to accelerate off the L.O.S. using proper technique.
2. Short steps – never allow yourself to over stride (big, long, or high choppy steps). Must keep your feet in the ground where you have power.
3. Keep “heels in – toes out” focus your energy on the inside of your feet, this gives you more push power.
4. Never get too much weight going forward, don’t allow your weight to get out over your toes. Be fast, but also under control.
5. Make contact by rolling the hips through the defender. Hit on the rise, head-up, bull the neck.
6. Punch up through the defenders chest. Control the peck plates on the shoulder pads.
7. Become part of the tackle on each play. Stick to the defender. Maintain a good wide base at all times which will allow you to stick to the defender without being shed off.
8. Versus any type of movement, nothing should change. Short steps will allow you to react to the defender. To get a feel for when a defender is going to stunt, he usually is going to change his alignment up, sense it and prepare mentally, make your calls accordingly.
9. Once you’ve developed the art of the one – on – one base block, this will now carry over into all different types of blocking schemes.
10. Two important points to remember when run blocking:
a. Always take the proper step in the direction you are going (no false steps).
b. Proper point of aim. Must understand the play and where it is going.
The word “Base” is an alert word used in a one – on – one blocking situation and you have no combo responsibility. Any combination block such as ACE, DEUCE and TREY alerts that two adjacent linemen will be working in combo with each other looking for a down lineman and linebacker combination.
The following terms will help tie in the running and passing game.
Terms and Definitions
1. Be Part of the Tackle – Always stick to the defender, using all of your basic fundamentals and techniques. Never find yourself on the ground.
2. Point of Aim (P.O.A.) – Must know where the ball is going, use the proper steps and know where you strike point is. Using the proper .O.A. will help eliminate the defender from crossing your face.
3. 1/2 Man Advantage – Term used to explain proper positioning in pass pro. Always work from an inside out position on the defender take the 1/2 man advantage, make the defender pass rush you from the outside not from the inside. Used in drop back protection.
4. Front Door / Back Door – This expression is used to describe possible shades that defenders will play through. If a defender is on the front side of a combination block he is considered a front door player. If a defender is playing on an inside shade of the outer most blocker he is considered a back door player.
5. Look up Thru the Window – The window is the positioning of the hands in pass pro. Bring the two thumbs together forming a window. When punching a defender on pass rush look up thru the window, this will help in keeping the butt down.
6. Punch up Thru the Window with the point of aim thru the top of the defenders numbers.
7. Shoulders Opposite – In pass pro never allow the shoulders The Punch to follow the punch. You don’t want the shoulders drifting out over your center of gravity. When ever a punch is delivered the shoulders should always go opposite the punch.
8. From Low to High – Term used for run blocking. Starts with good low shoulder level, working into the defender and gradually rising into the defender. Use your base for power. Heels in toes out.
9. Use Your Eyes – The best tools an offensive lineman has are his eyes. What you see tells your brain what to do. If your head is down, nothing goes into your brain. Eyes up, see what you strike.
10. Show Your Numbers – Term used for pass blocking. To get into the correct pass blocking position, expose the numbers on your chest.
11. Shoulders Parallel – In pass protection never allow a pass To The Defender rusher to get your shoulders out of parallel to his. A defender is trying to make you turn your hips.
12. Drop Step Cross Over – This phrase applies to a full zone Rip Through scheme when trying to get the ball outside, on a running play. The offensive lineman will drop step according to the shade of the defender. The wider the shade the deeper the drop step. The crossover is the second step.
13. Don’t Allow Your Chin Over The Knee – Term used to describe to much weight rolled forward when run blocking, you’ll end up on your chin. You will not be able to react to movement by a defender when you have to much weight forward.
14. Kick Step or Kick Slide – Pass blocking term. Short step with your back foot. The depth of the kick is determined by the width of the defender. When you kick slide always replace the step with the trail foot. Never get over extended. The second step is a slide step, don’t pick it up off the ground. Maintain a good base.
15. Quick Draw – Term used to describe quick placement of the hands to the chest of the defender. Its the person who can get his hands on the other the fastest that wins.
16. Punch and Run – Explains pad control. Once pad control has been established, move your feet maintaining a great base. Finish the block, run the defender, get him on his heels.
17. First Level – Refers to the defenders on the L.O.S. (usually down lineman). Must get movement on first level defenders.
18. Second Level – Refers to the defenders at linebacker depth. Come off on second level defenders after pushing first level defenders to the second level.
19. Run Through – A linebacker stunting. Must prevent linebackers from running through combination blocks. Can prevent run throughs by keeping the head up.
20. Piggy Back – Term used to describe the position on combination blocks the trail blocker (uncovered lineman) works for on the lead blocker. The trail lineman works to an outside position up and behind the lead blocker.
21. Slanter – Defensive lineman slanting inside or outside. On combination or zone blocks the inside slanter is picked up by the trailblocker. It is important to get the head between the slanter and the P.O.A.
22. Stretched – When the defensive lineman reacts in the direction the lead blocker is tracking, the lead blocker will be stretched wider. It is OK to be stretched as long as the blocker stays square and keeps working the defender off the L.O.S. On outside zone plays it is vitally important that the blocker doesn’t get flattened. If this happens, the defender will get penetration and escape to the outside into the ball carrier. The blocker must strive to stay square, maintain contact and work the defender off the L.O.S. By doing so, the ball carrier will have room to threaten the outside and read the seams.
Homer Smith, published the book, Football Coach’s Complete Offensive Playbook. In it he wrote about the six principles upon which basic pass protection is based.
One, a pass protection system should attempt, at all times, to get interior linemen assigned to the defenders who are most likely to rush.
Two, the more distance there is between a blocker and the passer, the more secure is the passer. When a rusher does get around a protector, the passer wants time to see the danger and to escape it. The closer a blocker is to the passer, the taller he is in relation to the initial trajectory of the ball.
Three, with the proper relationship between a blocker and the passer, and with the passer ready to escape in the proper direction, a pass protection block is downhill. It is stated that a runner who is behind a moving blocker and who has two ways to break can escape a potential tackler almost every time. A passer does not have two ways to break, but he can move forward, and a blocker can give a rusher only an outside route.
Four, all defenders who can rush a passer must be either blocked or watched. Sometimes two defenders can be assigned to a lineman and a receiver, and if only one of the defenders rushes, the lineman can block him, and the receiver can release. This is commonly called a blocking double read.
Five, no rusher should be allowed to get to the quarterback before a blocker can make contact. When a back is assigned to a particular defender and that defender threatens to rush in a gap or over the guard position, the guard or center should block that defender and the back should compensate. Backs can see what happens to them and can always compensate for emergency measures taken by linemen.
The Quick Draw allows control across the entire area of the defender as long as the hands can work inside the framework of the body. This is done by keeping the feet moving at the same angle as the defender. An offensive lineman needs to utilize to his advantage the natural reaction of movement of the defender; you are not trying to redirect movement but to help it along. The coach needs to incorporate into his teaching progression that for every action there will be a reaction. Coaches must understand movements of defenders as they read and react and run to the football. Quick / Draw Punch and Run allows the offensive line the ability to control different levels of play such as the defensive line level one to second level linebackers. Defenders can be slowed and passed onto other blockers as
offensive linemen read the alignment and movement of defenders on the snap of the football. A six point progression for teaching Quick draw (fast hands and arms) Punch and Run is as follows:
1. Start by having the offensive line stand and pretend that they are getting ready for a shootout at the O.K. corral. Knees should be bent slightly with the back arched and the head up and eyes focused straight ahead. Then have the offensive linemen quick draw on air with their hands to their side. Look for tight elbows perpendicular to the body and hands acting as if holding a gun. Elbows should never be allowed to float out getting their play side arm locked. This is done by using the momentum of the defender.
The philosophy behind Quick Draw / Punch and Run should be directly related to the philosophy of the offense. Since defenses are becoming multifaceted, offensive linemen with the rule rule changes of 1985 should be able to compensate for size and speed of a defender by using extended arms and hands. The goal here is not to have to redirect size and speed, but to help a defender along when he commits to the offensive lineman’s movement.
The most difficult phase of coaching is putting the right player in the right spot at the right time. The key to the selection of an offensive interior lineman is the player’s ability to move quickly and to block for the forward pass. A player’s size is less important than his skill in these two categories. In general, take the four best interior offensive football players and put the faster two at guards and the slower two at tackles. Blocking for the forward pass is one of the most difficult skills in football.