Tag Archives: Leverage

The Battles Along the Line of Scrimmage

13 Jul


OL battle (hectorir)

Football is conflict.  This conflict is no more evident — or violent — than in the battle along the line of scrimmage where strength and positioning — what coaches call “leverage” — often determines the winner.  Here there are no Davids here; there are only Goliaths.

That which separates the combatants is essentially a DMZ.  It is a swath of turf called the neutral zone.  No one, except the offensive center, can intrude upon this sacred ground and him only because he must handle the ball to snap it.  In terms of dimensions, it is as wide as the ball is long.  Each tip of the ball is a coordinate in a separate line of scrimmage that stretches from sideline to sideline: one for the defense, and one for the offense.

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Pre-Snap Movement

3 Jul

The thing you will often see an offense use to confuse a defense is pre-snap movement — either a formation shift or a man in motion.  Coaches believe it is two things: fun and lethal.

160703 - Man in Motion

The thinking is that they will be difficult to defend and, at the same time, they won’t overload their offensive linemen or quarterback with too much to remember as the teaching remains the same each week.

For them, the benefits of pre-snap movements are as follows:

  1. Simplifies the defense – It causes defenses to make multiple checks prior to the snap which can force them to play mostly base defense. This helps the offensive line.
  1. Motion Causes Emotion – Movement makes defenses tentative because they’re not sure what will happen next. For most defenders, it forces them to think, and when they’re thinking, they’re not as aggressive.
  1. Prevents the defense from matching up their best defenders on our playmakers – By changing up where they line up their “go-to guys”, they prevent the defense from getting their best defenders on their biggest offensive threats.
  1. Creates opportunities for our playmaker – Moving their playmakers around can create touches for them in a variety of ways. This is a way of making sure that their playmakers touch the ball enough in order for them to be successful.
  1. Allows for Multiplicity – Movement will give them an opportunity to run their plays from a variety of formations and looks, which allow them to exploit a specific weakness in the defense.
  1. Gain leverage on defenses – They can get an extra player to the point of attack by motioning or shifting. They can also get to unbalanced formations to cause problems for defenses.

Manipulating a defense is the main goal of any pre-snap movement, be it a trade, a man in motion, or a shift.  The idea is to “change the picture for the defense” before the ball is snapped and get them thinking because, as coaches know from experience, when a defense is thinking, it’s stinking.

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Offensive System: Air Raid

21 Mar

air raid - line splits

The Air Raid is a no-huddle, spread attack that turns all five of its eligible receivers into “go-to” guys. The objective is to get “the ball to the person who can score [the fastest].”1

The no-huddle approach dictates tempo. Defenses are forced out of their normal routine and can barely catch their breath, let alone substitute personnel to fit the situation.

Meanwhile, the various spread formations it uses stretch defenses horizontally, creating space in which the receivers can operate and, at the same time, isolating defenders – most especially the weak ones.

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