Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Having covered the philosophies and the gap assignments in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense, we now move on to examining the methods in which he attacks the opposition. In other words, we're talking blitzes and stunts.
We've already taken a look at the Under, Over and Over Stem fronts, so I'll spare you a reanalysis. Instead, I'm going to re-present the formations, followed by the associated stunts in that front. These will be our primary means of generating pressure, usually with just our front four.
First, the Under.
Now, the Under stunts. The left column includes the stunt name and the formation, while the right column contains position-specific coaching points.
Stick: Notice the trajectory of the closed end on this play. He's cutting across the faces of the center and guard. What's the significance of this? I feel the intent is to draw the line into engaging him, leaving ample space for Sean Lee to read the play, scrape into the C Gap (see the coaching point) which the tackle should vacate chasing the closed end. The nose is attempting to push the center out of the way, leaving room for him and the closed end to penetrate that strongside A Gap.
Gap: C.P. abbreviates coaching point. Nothing to say here other than pointing out that Kiffin is preparing his players for things that will happen after the snap, in order to speed up reactions to those things.
Spike: Your basic tackle twist.
Pirate: Look at what the Nose is doing here. "If high hat" means if the offensive lines heads are up, which signals pass protection. "Low hat," in contrast, is a lineman moving forward for run defense. The Nose will circle the entire formation in the event of a pass, and rush the strong A if it's a run. This makes me less certain we need anyone bigger or less athletic than Ratliff, as I can't imagine, for example, a BJ Raji type player making this type of athletic play.
Tag: The open end chases the under tackle into the A gap.
Lion/Leo: A blitz! This is a two man edge rush, with DeMarcus Ware and Bruce Carter sprinting around the edge. To use a familiar example, Ware would be attacking Alfred Morris and Carter lighting up Robert Griffin III in the case of an option run. I like it.
Charlie: Now we're building a more complex stunt based on previous simple stunts. This is the type of simplicity and complexity balance that makes a defense easy to learn. Think of it like numbers. The number 372, for example, is very easy for us to understand, because it is made up of 3, 7, and 2 - all of which we're very familiar with. If 372 were, instead, the 372nd in a series of unique symbols, it's highly unlikely you would recognize it. In this way, the Charlie call is a combination of simpler stunts that make a larger, easily understood play.
Rambo: See next image.
Pirate Q: An on-field adjustment to run the pirate stunt.
Go, Green: These are on-field adjustments to medium- and high-probability passing situations (as determined by Sean Lee's intuition, which I trust).
Omaha, Rambo: These are 'reset' calls, also made by Sean Lee if he feels the stunts called in the huddle will disadvantage the defense.
G: Fairly straightforward, each man playing the gap in front of him. It appears the Nose is drawn too far to the right, though, as he is supposed to be lined up over the Guard.
And now, the Over fronts.
And finally, the stunts from the Over fronts.
I like to think that, at this point, these are mostly self-explanatory. One more page:
Note, again, that Kiffin is building complex blitzes using simpler techniques. This is sustainable complexity.
There's also been quite a bit of talk about our linemen being too small or too weak to compete with large offensive lines. Arguments have been made that it's physically impossible for a 290-pound Defensive Lineman to beat a 330-pound Offensive Lineman. Aside from the fact that weight does not equal strength, this argument makes the egregious error of assuming that the battle in the trenches is some Greco-Roman wrestling match, where both parties seek to engage and overpower the other. This is simply not the case. Our quicker, smaller Defensive Linemen will be running around and between the bigger, slower Offensive Linemen, and I don't see an extra 40 pounds of baggage helping that cause much.
These stunts look to be techniques our linemen can engage in from day one. They're also the games that caused our own line so much trouble last season (until the last few games of the season, where they seemed to somewhat slow it down). Facing the 4-3 daily in practice may be a large help in preparing the offensive line to this end, especially with a large number of NFC opponents also running this scheme.
Most encouraging, however, is that among all of these tricks, games and deceptions, only one of them called for a linebacker to charge the line. Not only has the secondary been completely undisturbed for the purpose of generating pressure (we haven't even had them in the diagrams to this point), but also in most cases all three linebackers have been available to contribute in coverage.
For a little bonus, I'm including the first two play diagrams from Buddy Ryan's Eagles 46 playbook.
You can't make this stuff up.