The Schematic Advantage Of Having A Ryan 2

From the moment in which I wrote The Schematic Advantage Of Having A Ryan I started thinking about the 2nd part, about how complicated his schemes really are and the versatility required for the players up front, as it isn't a matter of having a front-7 or 6 or so, it's a matter of the moves that both Ryans make on their units to diversify it's looks.

They may start with the 3-4 and a 2-gap scheme, then they pull a front-7 player, throw a DB in and the DLineman and LBs move around in a one-gap attacking scheme.

It's tough, not only for the players, who at times seem to be confused and looking around for someone to line them up correctly, it's also complicated for us following things at home, so I made screen captures of some of the schemes that the Ryans used in the games that charted in the 1st post of this series (after the jump! Right OCC?).

Straight 3-4:


Mostly a scheme against the run, usually on the field in early in games when teams try to establish a running game. New Orleans tips that they are going to run with a Tank (1 WR, 2 TEs and 2 Backs) package and Ryan responds accordingly as you see Ahtyba Rubin in the nose in the 0-gap (with his head right in front of the C head), Kenyon Coleman and Brian Schaefering in the 5-Tech (heads right in front of the T head), the ILBs (Eric Barton and Chris Gocong) covering the gaps between the NT and Ends, and the OLBs (David Bowens and Matt Roth) filling in the outside gaps. He also deploys 3 Safeties and 1 CB. The play develops as follows:

The read is run, Rubin makes a straight ahead bull rush, the Ends wait for the FB and when the FB moves to one side the End on that side (in this case Schaefering) takes a quick step inside and attacks the outside shoulder of the Guard (3-Tech), Coleman headbutts the RT in a bull rush leaving the RG without an asignement. The ILB behind Schaefering (Gocong) inmediately attacks the LOS as the play develops in order to fill a gap, while the other is waiting for a counter behind the other RG. Bowens takes the TE outside the RT, while Roth attacks the outside shoulder of the LT. The CB takes over the single receiver, the slot Safety takes the TE on the left side. The deep safeties stand in a cover-2 with halves of responsability, as soon as they see the FB move the S on that side makes a move towards the ball.

Nickel 2-4:


New Orleans shows pass in 1st down with a posse lineup (3 WRs, 1 TE and 1 Back), Ryan responds with a Nickel package that has Shaun Rogers with his head in front of the LG head (2/3-Tech), Schaefering stands in the right shoulder of the Center (1-Tech), Barton spies the backfield 5 yards in front of the RG, while the other LBs (Bowens, Gocong and Roth) fill the rest of the gaps. One Safety is outside the camera view providing deep help in the side of the 3 receivers. The other Safety (T.J. Ward) is moving closer to the LOS as help in slant routes.


This is one of the few instances in which Rob Ryan threw every kitchen appliance towards Brees in a 7-man blitz Schaefering is double teamed by the Center and RG. Rogers tries a bull rush against the RG. Bowens fights the LT. A big avenue opens between the RG and RT, but Roth fails to make a loop inside Gocong. Both Barton and Ward try to attack through it, but Brees makes a quick drop and throw to his first read.

Dime 1-4:


The down and distance forces the Patriots hand and Rob Ryan responds with a twist. It's a posse lineup for the Patriots and Cleveland responds with 1 DLineman, 4 LBs and 6 DBs. Schaefering has his head in the inside shoulder of the LG (2-Tech). Gocong is part of the twist, he's the standing LB 11 yards deep, he's there to provide help in slants or posts against the WRs or against the TE. Brady has no way of knowing. Bowens is right next to Schaefering's hip and in front of the LT. Roth stands in front of the RT. Barton stands on the edge of the LT. Sheldon Brown, the RCB, screams blitz. Ward is his backup 10 yards deep. The other deep Safety stands outside the camera view. The other part of the twist is that this scheme is a 4-Safety scheme, with Nick Sorensen lined up in front of the TE and Ray Ventrone in front of Wes Welker.


You can't take anything for granted. Brown doesn't blitz and Ward drops back to cover-2, both Safeties near the LOS do blitz. Roth takes the TE. Barton takes the LT, Bowens the LG, Schaefering attacks the shoulder of the C (1-gap) and the Safeties have the right side. Gocong, Joe Haden and that side deep Safety take over Welker and Tate. This defensive formation and the next were some of the formations that were called the amoeba Defense, formations with 1 or no down Lineman that, from time to time, included a standup DLineman.

Quarters 0-4:


An amoeba formation for passing downs with no DLineman on the field at all. It includes 4 OLBs (Roth, Scott Fujita, Bowens and Marcus Benard) and 7 DBs. Roth and Benard line up on the outside shoulder of the Ts. Bowens in the outside shoulder of the LG. Fujita stands a little back between the Center and RG. The DBs are formed out of 4 CBs and 3 Safeties. Ventrone stands right outside Roth and the cover-2 Safeties aim for the left side of the field.


Roth loops inside and attacks the RG, Fujita twists outside him and takes on the RT. Bowens is double teamed by the C and LG. The idea is drawing a favorable matchup, Ventrone and Benard in one-on-one matchups against the RB and LT. Ryan's best pass rusher and blitzer.

Nickel 4-2:


The 2nd most common scheme for the Jets behind the 3-4. The Patriots show a standard set with 2 WRs, 2 backs and 1 TE. The Jets respond with 4 down DLineman, 2 LBs and 5 DBs. Shaun Ellis lines up at DE in the outside shoulder of the RT. Sione Pouha has his head right in front of the C head. Mike DeVito has his head in the outside shoulder of the LG and Bryan Thomas lines up outside the TE. Bart Scott stands in front of the RG. David Harris between the C and LG. Kyle Wilson is a Nickel CB and lines up close to the LOS in case that side TE goes in a pattern. The Safeties stand in deep Cover-2.


Ellis takes a hard step forward and then moves inside the RT. Pouha and DeVito are double teames by the RG, C, LG and LT for a couple of seconds and then the RG and LT pull to block in the 2nd level. Thomas moves aroung the TE. Scott and Harris have their eyes on the pulling Lineman and the HB. The Safeties and CBs have bracket coverage (over/under) on the WRs.

Quarters 2-2:


Rex Ryan's version of the amoeba of his brother, but improved as he had better pass rushers as down lineman in Ellis and Taylor. The Patriots show another Posse set and Ryan quickly threw 7 DBs on Brady's shoulders. In this scheme you see Ellis in the right shoulder of the C (1-Tech) and Jason Taylor outside the LT. Calvin Pace stands outside the TE and David Harris waits for the development of the play 5 yards in front of the LG. The scheme includes 4 CBs and 3 Safeties in cover-3 (Brodney Pool stands outside the camera angle).


Ellis takes a quick side step and in less than a second moves 3 yards towards Brady. Pace makes contact with the TE, peels him off towards Harris and the RT waits for him. At first the LG and LT double team Taylor, but the LG makes contact and pulls towards Marquice Cole who stands there for Woodhead. The CBs cover the WRs in man coverage and the Safeties have 1/3 of the field to cover.


There's something in common between this guys:

  • Shaun Ellis
  • Ahtyba Rubin
  • Sione Pouha
  • Mike DeVito
  • Brian Schaefering
  • Shaun Rogers

And it's their versatility, each can play at a high level in at least 3 positions. Against the pass and against the run. Nice combinations of strength and quickness.

What does this mean for the Cowboys?

That they need help.

Look at the 3-4 formation of Cleveland, now look at the 4-2 from the Jets, both teams can change from scheme to scheme. The Cowboys also move from scheme to scheme. What's the major difference? Personel.

The Browns and Jets keep 6 guys of their front in place, while the Cowboys replace all 3 down lineman and one of the ILBs in most downs. Why? Because there's a major diference between the pass and rush D. The Cowboys have more moving parts because they can't perform more than one role at an above average level.

The Cowboys need help because most of the DLineman aren't versatile enough for the Ryan's taste. Which is why I'm so high on Cameron Jordan.

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