Overload Fronts and Bear alignments are all the rage at every level of football and rightfully so. Overloads put all the “bigs” on one side and put tremendous pressure on the offensive line. Combined with a “Bear” look (5/3/0/3/5) and the offense is now forced into a 5-O or man-for-man dilemma. Combining both of these looks can pay dividends for the defense on most downs.
In this month’s blitz breakdown, I take a look at a Chicago Bears’ five-man pressure that morphs into a six-man pressure when the RB blocks (“hug” rush). The path used is known as “Bears” in the Saban “NFL Front” vernacular and is a popular path for simulated pressures. This particular concept is great when offenses “fan” their protection, leaving the RB to take the LB in the middle of the formation.
Versus an Overload Front (below), many times the Center will work to the overload side while the opposite Guard and Tackle work the other way (man-ish blocking). This leaves the RB to handle the open “A” gap in the middle. As I have stated multiple times when detailing pressures, make the RB block!
Below is an illustration of the Saban NFL blitz “Bears.” The Bears alignment sets the overload side to the RB and stems to a literal Bear Front as the T moves from a 4 to a 3 on the indicator (when the QB signals he is ready for the snap). The Will inserts from depth into the “A” gap that is exposed as the Nose crosses the Center’s face. The T jabs the Guard and then will work off the butt of the Tackle who is kicking out to the DE (9 tech.) for contain.
Since this is a Cover 1 Simulated Pressure, the DE to the RB has what is referred to as a “hug” rush. This asks the DE to work upfield bringing the OT with him. If the RB flares, the DE has him man-to-man. If the RB blocks, the DE will knife inside in what appears to be a TEX stunt. The Will should “spill” or insert on the inside shoulder of the RB if he appears in the middle of the protection. This allows the DE to wrap to the outside shoulder and create a +1 for the defense.
Since this Bears path is a best practice path, it is not surprising that defenses can use it in multiple different looks, even adding defenders into the blitz to make it more than a Sim Pressure. The Chicago Bears in their game against the Vikings used this same path but gave a BOSS presentation.
The BOSS front is one of my favorite Overload variations that shades (outside shoulder) every “big” on one side of the ball. The added value of a shaded Nose is that the Center has to honor it or the Nose can come free since there are two other D-linemen occupying that side of the line. It’s still an Overload front, but the presentation is slightly different than normal. Shading the D-line also helps with the angles and path of the pressure.
In Chicago, the Bears took a reverse approach to the Saban NFL Sim. The Front was set opposite the RB. This allowed a LB to “mug” and green-dog off the RB. With added rushers, going from four to five, the offense has to deal with man blocking.
I also like the shade of the Nose and letting him cross the face of the Center. Not only does this widen the gap by bringing the Center with the stunt, but the Guard responsible for the mugged ‘backer tracking the RB is “pinned” by the movement as well. This occupies two blockers by one defender. When sending potentially six defenders, that is a win. Below is the Bears 5MPRS.
The Nose does exactly what is needed of him. He takes the Center and pins the Guard. This leaves the ILB one-on-one with the RB. Both EDGE players are running contain and will “fishhook” behind the QB (work behind and curl up like a fishhook). The inserting ILB spills the RB’s block and creates a quasi-Cross-Dog as the green-dog rusher wraps (he is eventually taken by the Center). The RB cannot handle the rush of the ILB (depth and speed - inertia) and loses control of the block. Inevitably, the sack occurs.
Predictability can be a crutch for a defense. One trend that I have noticed is that defenses are trying to do more with their presentation to counter the offensive onslaught that is currently occurring. Using best practice blitz paths and combining them with different looks can pay dividends for defense. This doesn’t change what you do week to week, just how it looks. Think of it as defensive formations.
Pairing pressures with different coverages can also help with this unpredictability. If you are always running Cover 1 from a certain look, change it up and play zone (and vice versa). Again, Chicago proves that you can take the same blitz pattern, add defenders, and change the presentation to get what you want - a negative play. Let the mayhem ensue!
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