The Patriots Find Success With Outside Zone

Many things went wrong for the Ravens on Sunday, and one of the most disappointing was their inability to stop the run. New England ran a whopping 34 times against the Ravens for 142 yards (a 4.2 YPC average) and two touchdowns. 

Most notably, LeGarrette Blount had 16 carries for 76 yards, a 4.8 YPC average. Blount has become a staple in the Patriots offense over the last month and is paying huge dividends. Though his career appeared to flatline last season, he’s showing new signs of life under Bill Belichick. The bruising back (Blount is listed at 6′ tall and 240lbs) showed good vision and agility against the Ravens, and once he was in the secondary, Ravens defenders had a hard time bringing him down.

New England used their outside zone against the Ravens Cover-2 a few times, and Blount really made the Ravens defense pay with his cutback ability. I took a look at two plays where good blocking by the O-line and good vision from Blount resulted in big gains.

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outside zone 1-1

The Patriots are in their 12 personnel with Brady under center. RB LeGarrette Blount is in the backfield. The play call is outside zone, and Blount is supposed to get around the corner and up the sideline. However, once the blocking develops, he will find an enormous cutback lane.

outside zone 1-2

Here you see Blount after the handoff. His blocking is actually developing nicely toward the sideline, but you can also see #58 Elvis Dumvervil against #70 Logan Mankins (circled in orange). Mankins is going to let Dumervil carry himself too far upfield and then kick him out when Blount cuts back.

outside zone 1-3

Finally, you see the huge cutback lane Blount has to work with. Dumervil is being kicked out by Mankins, and LB Daryl Smith, the only other player nearby, is going to be sealed off by LG #67 Josh Kline. The result is a 14 yard gain.

The Patriots are in their 12 personnel with Brady under center. RB LeGarrette Blount is in the backfield. The play call is outside zone, and Blount is supposed to get around the corner and up the sideline. However, once the blocking develops, he will find an enormous cutback lane.Here you see Blount after the handoff. His blocking is actually developing nicely toward the sideline, but you can also see #58 Elvis Dumvervil against #70 Logan Mankins (circled in orange). Mankins is going to let Dumervil carry himself too far upfield and then kick him out when Blount cuts back.Finally, you see the huge cutback lane Blount has to work with. Dumervil is being kicked out by Mankins, and LB Daryl Smith, the only other player nearby, is going to be sealed off by LG #67 Josh Kline. The result is a 14 yard gain.

Once the offense has the defenders flowing toward the play side, cutbacks become very difficult to defend. The Ravens were clearly overpursuing the Patriots’ stretch zone plays, and Blount made them pay every time. Though the Ravens defense did an admirable job of keeping the game within reach (for three quarters, at least), the success of the Patriots’ ground game was disconcerting.

outside zone 2-1

This time the Ravens are in 21 personnel with RB LeGarrette Blount and a FB behind Brady. The play call is outside zone to the strong side of the formation, and once again Blount is going to cut back for a big gain.

outside zone 2-2

As the blocking develops, you can see how much space is available on the back side of the play. LB Jameel McClain, circled in orange, is already flowing quickly toward the play side. He is going to overpursue the outside run here, allowing Blount to get into the secondary.

outside zone 2-3

Blount is now cutting back behind his offensive line. You can barely see McClain's head at the bottom of the image, totally out of the play. The only defender left with a chance is Suggs, but he's unable to change direction quickly enough to make the tackle.

outside zone 2-4

With nothing left but space in front of him, Blount gets an easy 15 yard gain.

This time the Ravens are in 21 personnel with RB LeGarrette Blount and a FB behind Brady. The play call is outside zone to the strong side of the formation, and once again Blount is going to cut back for a big gain.As the blocking develops, you can see how much space is available on the back side of the play. LB Jameel McClain, circled in orange, is already flowing quickly toward the play side. He is going to overpursue the outside run here, allowing Blount to get into the secondary.Blount is now cutting back behind his offensive line. You can barely see McClain's head at the bottom of the image, totally out of the play. The only defender left with a chance is Suggs, but he's unable to change direction quickly enough to make the tackle.With nothing left but space in front of him, Blount gets an easy 15 yard gain.
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About the author


Chris Worthington  

Ravens Analyst

Chris Worthington was born and raised in northern Baltimore County and currently lives in Baltimore City. He graduated from McDaniel College with a B.A. in English and a minor in writing and then went on to earn his M.S. Professional Writing from Towson University. Currently, Chris works as the Managing Editor of Capitol Hill Daily, a political e-letter. Chris began writing about the Ravens in 2012. Be sure to check out all of his All-22 work in collaboration with Dan Bryden.


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