The goal of “The Blitz of the Month” series is to give coaches best-practice paths and ideas about implementing certain pressures. The BRADY path or boundary insert pressure is one of the easiest and most effective pressures to install in any playbook. A defense can use the path to the field (think Saban’s FALCONS Sim) or the boundary. Even the secondary can get involved in the pressure path as well.
The Brady pressure is probably the most famous of all the variations and attacks the open B-gap. Modern offenses thrive on the open B-gap, which is why the Tite Front (404) has become a popular defensive alignment because it clogs both B-gaps and takes away the A-gap cutback by lagging the Nose. The Brady path pairs well with a four-down front and can be run from multiple alignments ranging from a base Over front to a BOSS Front with all the “bigs” to one side. The pressure is adaptive and flexible, which lends itself to the modern defense.
Watch any Saturday or Sunday game, and the Brady path is sure to find its way onto the screen. Below is an example of Boise State’s defense running the Creeper pressure versus Florida St. from a couple of years ago. The Broncos use a JET Front (5s/32s) to spread the anchor point across the offensive line. Some teams will even mug the Mike LB on the Center to create a five-man front. The JET presentation is a basic way to attack the Guards. The Brady path applies even more pressure on the Guard by placing two defenders on top of him.
The depth of the Will helps the play develop because he is not presenting a threat. Boise goes with a two-high alignment to force the issue even more. To the offense, the pre-snap alignment looks like a basic 4-1 box with two-high coverage. Using the Will from depth forces the O-line to react post-snap and in real-time. As the Nose works across the Guard’s face, it is hard for the Guard to see the insert from the Will. In most cases, the RB will be3 responsible for picking up an inserting LB. In this case, the RB would need to cross the formation.
Florida St. runs Combo protection and slides the Center to the boundary. The Nose works to the Center and crosses his face (2-FACE). Though the Seminoles can pick up the insert, the Center has to deal with a long-sticking Nose. The boundary DE collapses the pocket as he runs his fish-hook path (up-and-behind), and the Nose easily defeats the Center.
The insert didn’t make the play on the QB, but it forced man blocking. The RG and RT doubled the 3 technique away from the slide, essentially wasting themselves defending one player. The design is great on 3rd Down but can also be useful if a defense can identify a team that likes to run Zone Lock (lock the OT on the DE) or uses Slide Lock protection.
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One of the favorite pressure paths in the Fangio System ran by Brandon Staley, Head Coach of the Chargers, is the Brady path (the Fangio system calls it WHIP and is technically a “Bonus” drop Fire Zone). It shows up every week. Below, the Rams choose to go with a Slide Lock protection and get five out in the route concept. The protection becomes Empty protection. The issue here is the RB needs to stay in, but he doesn’t. Even though he is the “hot” throw for the QB, the pressure is too quick.
Even if the RB had stayed in, there is no guarantee that he would have handled the pressure. The force of the defender running from depth can easily knock back a static RB. Make the RB prove to a defense that he is a willful blocker (most aren’t). The Rams’ QB, Hodges (#19), had little time to react and threw the ball away in the direction of the RB to ensure he didn’t get an intentional grounding call. Another win for the Brady path.
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The path is prevalent all over the NFL. There is no true boundary or field in the NFL because of the hashes being so tight; most NFL teams run their Brady path to the weak side of the formations. Below, the Falcons run a Brady path against the Dolphins, and the RB is forced to pick up the LB who was in the QB’s face, affecting the throw.
Georgia might have one of the most robust and diverse blitz packages in all of football. Head Coach Kirby Smart has built and innovated the Saban system to reflect his character. One major highlight in his system is the ability to disguise pressure paths and coverages. Creating disguises was a major point of emphasis for the 2020 campaign. So, the Bulldogs went full-tilt into disguise mode with a lot of time to think during the Covid offseason.
Below, the clip illustrates how the Bulldogs took the Brady path (they call it Mahomes) and disguised throwing off opponents. The package below has the Mike ‘backer walking out into coverage versus a 2x2 formation. The D-line is set up in what I call a BOSS front or “Bigs On Same Side.” Georgia tries to get the Arkansas line to slide to the “bigs” and insert the Mike into the B-gap. With an EDGE to the boundary, the RT will most likely lock on, creating a Slide Lock protection.
Though the pressure doesn’t hit home, the defense forces the QB to scramble to the field. The 3 tech. needs to COP, or run a Contain Path, to hold the edge. In the clip, he buries himself in the B-gap and gets pinned. The shaded Nose needs to work to occupy the RG. It isn’t enough to cross the Center’s face. The RB has to work across the box and take on a LB from depth. Regardless the B-gap is wide open. Below is a diagram of the pressure.
Coverage-wise, the Bulldogs run a 3-Cloud concept into the boundary. The $ ‘backer slings from the field to be the “Wall-2” player weak. Arkansas runs a Switch-Sticks concept to the boundary and a Sail (Fade/10-yard Out) to the field. The QB has nowhere to go and scrambles short of a 1st Down. A win for the Georgia defense and a great example of how perceived pressure can win a down. Even though the Bulldogs didn’t get a sack, the result is what matters; a 4th Down and the ball back into the hands of Georgia’s offense.
The Brady path should be in every DC’s playbook. It is easy to run, a best-practice path, and can be run from multiple looks. Adaptability is why most modern defenses use pressure. Clogging the B-gaps is something many defensive coaches scheme up week to week.
In a Brady pressure, the defense fills the B-gap and applies pressure from the boundary. The pressure can be used on early-downs or as a 3rd Down pressure—a true “catch-all” in the pressure world. It’s even great versus Empty, as Carolina showed in their matchup with the Texans (below).
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