Using Compressed Formations In The Passing Game Andrew Coverdale & Dan Robinson via Coaches Choice Football Coaching Library
Flexibility and simplicity are buzzwords you always hear in offensive and defensive clinic talks, but they are really applicable to the bunch as we’ve organized it. We use flexible route packages already built into the offense. Many of our best bunch routes come from our basic three-step drop patterns. This flexibility is particularly valuable in the case of bunch because defensive reactions to it are so unpredictable from week to week. A flexible, teachable structure allows you to make minor adjustments, with which your players are already familiar, to defeat those different reactions, rather than forcing them to deal with major overhauls or something completely new.
Give It Different Looks—Dress It Up
If bunch is going to be a substantial element of an offense, it needs to be dressed up with different alignments and motion to it and out of it for the following reasons:
If you have a feature player, this flexibility will allow him to line up in different spots to get him in the matchup running the route you want. Different types of motions can create leverage on man defenders for different types of routes and help beat the jam, which becomes a major key to success within a bunch package.
Motions complicate defensive recognition. For defenses with special game plan adjustments to bunch, it gives them less time to get into those calls, if they get into them at all. If you line up to and then motion out of bunch, you can create another problem altogether and certainly keep them from zeroing in on your approach. Again, all this is just window dressing. You, as an offensive coach, are still running your best basic plays.
The fact that bunch principles are applicable to so many different types of looks makes it something that can be incorporated as a portion, great or small, into most types of offensive structures. A wing-T team, for example, will find that their basic wing formation with the backs set strong creates a form of bunch. Two-back, pro set offenses can do the same by placing a near back strong and bringing the flanker in short motion.
Being very multiple in attacking defenses is a principle central to our whole offense, not just with bunch. Our system of calling formations, as you will see in Chapter 4, makes it very easy to move people wherever we want without being complicated or excessively wordy. We have had the successful
experience, at levels as low as ninth grade and junior varsity, of using 20 to 30 different sets a game, and have had very few problems. The entire system makes perfect sense to the players in a short amount of time. This system allows us to continually change formations, all the while using basic runs and quick passes applicable to all of them, until we find a concept to which the defense does not adjust soundly.
It also puts defenders in a situation in which they never really get totally comfortable throughout a game. In other words, they’re constantly having to concern themselves with lining up correctly, coverage checks, changing run support assignments, motion adjustments, everything except just lining up and reacting and playing aggressive defense. This approach keeps us on the offensive, because we’re executing things that we’re as confident and well rehearsed in as a standard I formation team is with an isolation play. The difference is that we’re often doing so with exceptional leverage on the defensive structure, giving our athletes a great chance to make plays, because of the formations.
In installing the passing game, we have always been protection-first coaches. Before we look seriously at implementing any new passing concept, we are asking, “How will we protect this?” Protection is the area in which we must be sound to function.
With bunch, we almost exclusively rely on the same protections and checks we use throughout the rest of our offense: basic 90/190 quick set protection, and 50/150 cup/slide protection. We can also use 80/180 or 70/170, a reach and hinge, half-roll or sprint-out protection, to shorten the distance of the throw for certain routes. One of the particularly appealing benefits of bunch is that the things you can do from it serve to help the protection aspect of your pass offense, in a number of different ways.
Quick, Timed Throws
The quick, timed nature of many of our throws from bunch means that we don’t have to protect as long. It also means that stunts and games are less effective because the ball is in the air before they can develop fully. Even when we have a complete breakdown and/or the defense is unsound
and blitzes to the extent that they leave a receiver uncovered, some of our routes can bail us out.
Routes like flats and shallow crosses can be completed before even a free rusher gets to the passer. It’s like having a built-in hot system without having to teach sight adjustment and everything else. In fact, within most any of our basic route structures, we will have one receiver with a short route designated as the Q-receiver. It is not a hot breakoff, but rather the normal route within the package, except that he knows to look for the ball quickly out of his break.
The quarterback has been taught this, too, and through his training he knows exactly where he can get the ball quickly if he gets any kind of immediate heat, from a blitz or otherwise. This element of the offense cuts down dramatically on sacks.
You can find out more about and purchase the eBook that this article is from at: The Bunch Attack: Using Compressed Formations In The Passing Game (Second Edition)