Last week I moaned about the failure of the Green Bay Packers’ defense to use the blitz against the Falcon’s Matt Ryan.
Against the Colts the Packers did a complete reversal, blitzing Andrew Luck on almost half of the likely passing plays. I should be happy, right?
Not at all. My plea was for the Packers to “frequently and creatively use a variety of blitzes to prevent Andrew Luck from feeling comfortable, and getting in a rhythm.” It’s the creative part that was lacking.
How can defensive coordinator Dom Capers, with all his experience, order up so many blitzes of the Colts’ quarterback that were telegraphed and predictable?
I actually wrote my title prior to looking for some corroboration. What I coincidentally found was an article by Matt Bowen: “NFL 101: Breaking Down the Basics of the Zone Blitz.”
While the article is long and filled with diagrammed plays — for football scholars only — there’s an entire section called “Pre-snap Disguise,” which leads off this way:
With the defense only sending five in base zone blitz schemes, the disguise (or pre-snap look) is crucial to causing some confusion in the opposition’s protection schemes.
So, did the Packers abide by this basic blitzing concept against the Colts? Most often when not blitzing, they also didn’t threaten to blitz. Most often when blitzing, they put five players on the line early and rushed all five, giving Luck time to change the play or spot the part of the field that would be undermanned. The Packers’ blitzes simply were seldom disguised. The Packers also tried at least three delayed blitzes, but Luck was getting rid of the ball too quickly for these to have much chance of working.
Even so, in what might have been the game’s key defensive play, Capers finally got it right. With 3:19 left to go and the Colts facing a 3rd and 2, Capers dialed up a textbook disguised blitz. He parked five players on the line and rushed them all. But he also had safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix pop up to the line at the last moment.
Clinton-Dix went unblocked to the quarterback, but whiffed on the tackle. Great disguised blitz, lousy execution, 20-yard completion, ball game.
Here’s the end to Bowen’s lengthy article:
Remember, zone pressure isn’t guaranteed to produce results. And with only a five-man rush, the secondary can be exposed if they show the blitz too early. But regardless of how basic or complex a zone blitz looks on the chalkboard, the disguise and execution remain the keys to getting home or forcing the quarterback to unload the ball.
Coach Capers needs to go back and do some remedial classwork on the basics of blitzing.