All-22 Playbook, Part One
Outside of free agency, March can be a slow month for football news. Yes, there will be more hype leading up to the draft, but the internet is already saturated with draft analysis.
So Dan Bryden and I decided to take the opportunity to put together an “All-22 Playbook.” (You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.) We realize that we throw a lot of terms around in our pieces during the regular season, so we thought that it would be useful to have a glossary of sorts.
With that in mind, we’re going to present this in several segments. The first is right here, and it encompasses power rushing concepts. Eventually, we’ll cover both sides of the football, including power and zone rushing, defensive fronts and coverage shells, pass protection, and more. In the end, we’d like to combine these into one post that acts as a reference for readers.
We will try to use as much Ravens film as possible for the All-22 screen caps, but it may vary depending on what we’ve written in the past. Anyway, without further ado, here is part 1 of the All-22 Playbook.
There’s been so much talk about the zone blocking scheme lately that power rushing almost seems passé. However, that’s far from the truth, and the Ravens are still going to rely on many of these concepts even as they transition to a more zone-based scheme under Gary Kubiak. Below are five staple plays from the power rushing scheme that are sure to appear week after week around the NFL.
The counter is a staple run across all levels of football. The running back fakes one way after the snap then takes the ball the opposite way following a pulling guard. The idea is that defenders often key on a player’s first step, so the false move away from the play causes hesitation or misdirection in the defense. Below, RG Marshall Yanda is pulling and Ray Rice will follow him.
Lead, or lead draw, is one of the most easily recognizable running plays. There are many variations… HB Lead, FB Lead, Lead Strong, Lead Weak (or Open), etc. The particular example below is FB Lead Strong. FB Vonta Leach is going to be the lead blocker (hence the name) through the 2-hole. Leach, along with C Gradkowski and LT Monroe, will take on the linebackers, while all other linemen will block out. RB Pierce will look for a quick opening and take the ball right up the middle.
Power O is possibly the most ubiquitous running play in football history. It’s popular at every level of football – mostly because it works. Each lineman down blocks while the backside guard (below, RG Marshall Yanda) pulls to the play side and attacks the strong-side linebacker (the left-most blue and orange arrow). It’s a demanding assignment for the guard, who needs to be quick-footed and athletic to get around to the playside and then attack the linebacker in space.
When it works, it gives the back a ton of space to run and allows him to very quickly get into the defensive secondary.
Typically an inside run, trap plays ask one guard (below, LG AQ Shipley) to leave his man intentionally unblocked and move immediately to the second level. The other guard (below, RG Marshall Yanda) “trap” blocks, or comes around behind the center and takes on the defender vacated by the first guard. The rest of the line tries to block out – away from the middle – to give the running back as much space as possible. This is a quick-hitting running play.
Wham is similar to Trap in that a lineman is going to intentionally leave a man unblocked. However, instead of a pulling guard “trap” blocking the leftover defender, an outside defender (below, FB Vonta Leach) is going to come inside and “wham block” or cut off the defender.
Below, C Birk and RG Yanda are going to move immediately to the second level to take on the linebackers. That leaves Steelers NT Hampton unblocked, and he’s going to try to move upfield to stuff the run. However, Leach – who is lined up as a blocking back – is going to crush Hampton. Rice patiently waits for the Wham block then has a huge alley to run through.