FOOTBALL 101 - The Zone Read vrs the Dallas Defense

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In my last post I talked about the offensive line techniques and in one of my previous posts I talked about one way to defend the zone read and today I would like to talk some more about that part of the Pistol Offense.

Washington used it against us with great success and it is a perfect example of the problem that this new wrinkle presents itself and how difficult it will be to defend it in the coming years.

First, it should be noted that just as the "shotgun" is here to stay and was initially poo-poo'ed as a "gimmick" the "pistol" falls into that same "shotgun" category in that it is a formation and not a play and therefore it is part of an entire "scheme" or offensive philosophy.

While it is a formation, it can be and is also called an "offense" such as in the "Pistol Offense." While the Shotgun has the QB lined up about 7 yards deep, the pistol has the QB from 3-5 yards deep. This depth has several advantages over the shotgun depth. First and foremost is the better timing that the RB has in hitting the hole, and second it allows the QB to still have the full playbook with all the "drop back" plays intact that he would have if he was under center.

Also like the shotgun, the pistol formation will should never see the QB sacked while backing away from center, and like the shotgun, it effectively eliminates many pass plays that have the "blind side" disadvantages that happen when the QB turns his back to drop back. Some of that is still present, but not as much as "under center" does.

Bill Parcells used to say how much he hated the Shotgun because it eliminated so much of the playbook. Once again, that is not the case with the new Pistol Offense and I didn't think it was as bad as he said because Payton Manning uses the Shotgun almost every play and it sure hasn't limited his playbook.

One of my themes, (meme's), that I have as part of my core football beliefs is that the Offense is what has the most effect on winning games, ( ever play "keep away" when you were a kid? Who has the advantage? The two guys playing catch or the guy in the middle trying to guess where the ball is going?), the scoreboard is all about who winds up with the most points, and while defense is important, and it has always had the meme that "defense wins championships", that was before the new pass happy NFL came to be and all the rules that further enhance the advantage the offense has such as the no touch after 5 yards the receivers enjoy and the protection the QB gets.

My next theme is "The most important hire a team makes is the Offensive Coordinator, and second to that is the Defensive Coordinator." Notice all the attention we are putting on the "Dallas Two" and the Monte hire, along with who is going to call the offensive plays. Deep down we all know that stupid calls by the coordinators can lead to losses because often it is the team that makes the fewest mistakes that wins the game and two or three plays will stand out as the differences makers.

With that said, it is the basis of why this year I will continue to focus on the Offensive and Defensive plays that show how important it is to have a "scheme" that the other team struggles with such as is the case with the scheme known as the "Pistol Offense" and the importance that the "option read" plays in that overall scheme.

The Giants have sent coaches to Stanford and other schools that have had to deal with the Pistol Offenses and specifically the option read part of it. I sure hope we are doing the same.

Now for one example of how difficult it will be to defend the option read we look at the week 17 game against the Redskins.....

Notice below the Cowboys are in a 7-2-2 dime package with 4 corners, 1 LB, 2 Safeties, and 4 Linemen. The 2 Safeties start out deep, which some would call "Cover Two" because there are 2 deep Safeties.

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Notice above that Ware starts out on the 35 yard line. In the next shot Ware steps up to the 36 and is coming down behind the line, while watching the QB exchange with Morris. Bob Griffin see's that Ware is waiting to see if Morris gets the ball and because of the speed of the play, he is some what frozen and has to guess which pod the "pea" will be under.

Bob "reads" that Ware is waiting and that is his key to fake the hand off because he knows that unless Ware takes an outside angle or straight up the field angle, that Ware will not be able to get to him, so he keeps the ball.

Notice that the "H" back is heading to pick off Scandrick while the WR at the top of the screen is trying to seal Mo to the sidelines. The play of Mo is both good and bad. It is good because he will be in position to tackle Bob, but it is bad because if Bob pulls up and the WR releases to the outside the safety is way out of position to not let him get over the top for a big play.

Also notice how wide open the Slot receiver, being covered by Jenkins, will be if Bob pulls the ball out of Morris's stomach and drops straight back and looks for the Slot receiver to follow the path I have shown, and then at the 25 yard line take a 45 degree angle toward the top of the screen. The Safety at the top is coming up to give run support and will not be able to get back to help out.

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In this next shot, I have circled Ware. Notice that if he chooses to go for Morris, then Bob has a first down and more, but if he chooses to come straight up field, then Bob will read that, and you can see that Morris will easily be able to get a first down because all the other D-Linemen are sealed to the inside and Morris will head straight at Scrandrick.

This is the problem that all defenses will be faced with this next year when playing against the option read teams. The SF 49'ers, the Eagles, the Readskins, and the Panthers. And probably a few more in the near future. Notice that 2 of the 4 option read teams are in our division. UPDATE: I should add the Seahawks and Russell Wilson to that mix, so make it 2 of 5 teams.

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This next shot shows the path that Bob Griffin has in front of him.

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And in this shot we see that he easily got to the first down marker before being touched.

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And finally we see he got 5 more yards after contact.

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The rest of this year I will be focusing on the Pistol Offense and the defenses that can be used against it.

My next post will be on how many different formations the Redskins used out of the Pistol, and the impact that they had and will have along with some thoughts on how the Dallas Two might fair in both the base defense and in the nickle.

Coty and Joey have been doing an outstanding job with the Tampa Two and the Dallas Two, and I will try to add to their very, very excellent contributions in that area.

This is my favorite site and with Joey added to the Front Page staff, it is even better. I only wish I could do half as good a job as they do.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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