Category Archives: CSF Football 101

5 Big Plays & Why They Worked (Ravens Week 4)

Chris Schisler

Ravens beat the Carolina Panthers with big plays this past Sunday. Here is a look at 5 of these big plays from last Sunday.

1.) Ravens Get Steve Smith Sr. Going Early:

This was the Ravens first play. Fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, was lined up as a wide receiver. The Panthers were playing off in man. Juszczyk motioned inside of Smith Sr. The Panthers switched coverage responsibilities. The cornerback went with Juszczyk on the deep corner route. The strong safety was now responsible for Smith Sr., a huge mismatch. Great route running by Smith Sr. made this all to easy.

2.) Nothing But Green Grass:
The next play is a very well designed screen pass to Justin Forsett. The Ravens cleared the middle of the field with deep routes. The offensive line blocks it like a normal pass play (which really sells it) but center, Jeremy Zuttah, becomes the lead blocker.

3.) 13 Yard Run

The Panthers defensive line slants to the play side making it easier for the zone run to work. The following picture shows the hole beginning to open for Lorenzo Taliaferro.

4.) Great Design Cam Newton:

This is a bit of an exotic look. Haloti Ngata lined up in the left A gap. Pernell McPhee lined up standing over the other A gap. The formation allowed the chain of events that would bring Newton to the ground. The center struggled to block Ngata. McPhee screeched through the A gap almost untouched. Daryl Smith was picked up by the running back but Elvis Dumervil got past the tackle with ease.
5.) Ravens Sack Cam Again:

In a similar look, the Raves got to Cam Newton again. McPhee crashes the A gap, Suggs cuts under the tackle. Daryl Smith pretends to blitz, occupying the guard. Dumervil beats the tackle off the edge.

Defending An Empty Set

Chris Schisler

Today we are going to talk some football strategy. This article will examine the different ways we can play defense against an empty set. An empty set is when there are no players in the back field and the QB has 5 players lined up as a receiver or tight end. Lets put on our coaching caps as we break this down.

In an empty set you obviously have to be ready for the pass but you cannot count out the QB running. This is why no matter what you cannot completely vacate the middle of the field. A QB spy is a good way to prevent a QB run hurting you. Against an empty set we will be in a sub package featuring an extra defensive back or two. Matching to the offensive personnel, it comes down to execution.

In an empty set the quarterback only has a 5 man protection and must get the ball off quickly. This is why a spread out empty set usually features short passing. It may sound counterintuitive because as most would think its an aggressive passing formation. Remember, everything is always about protection.

This is why I like to blitz against an empty set. A good blitz against 5 man protection should make the quarterback get rid of the ball quickly. If you play physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage, and reroute them, the play will be destroyed.

Even in an obvious passing situation it comes down to the big boys up front. Pass protection is at the base of every pass play. If the offense wants less pass protection, it only makes sense to responsibly but emphatically turn up the heat.

An Ode To Special Teams

Chris Schisler

You hear all the time coaches saying that special teams is 1/3 of the game. Its a coach speak comment that most fans don’t take to seriously. Special teams however plays a huge role in the game of football. Special teams units play a pivotal role in the field position battle. Special teams units can put points on the board and prevent the opponent from doing so themselves. You cannot underestimate the importance execution on special teams.

The obvious example is the last second field goal to win the game. The field goal kicker is the center of attention as the game lies on his foot. When the ball goes through the uprights he is the hero. Most of the game however the kicker is the last thought on the football fans.

Even when special teams is hailed the bulk of the players never get any credit. We credit the kicker; forgetting the long snapper, the holder and the 8 men blocking. We credit the returner for an amazing touchdown even if it was sprung by an epic block. Special teams is the only thing on the planet that can get respected and disrespected at the same time.

The most underrated aspect of football strategy is field position. Scoring can be at a premium in the NFL, where nothing comes easy or free. Its no coincidence that most scoring drives occur when the offense has good starting field position. In a game where offenses have to earn each successive first down you want to give the opponent a long field.

I always thought we went about kickoffs the wrong way. Touchbacks should never be the goal. I’m sorry but why give away 20 free yards? The goal should be to pin the opponent inside their 20 yard line. Find the deepest spot of the end zone the returner will attempt a return, kick it high and go get him. Kickoff team is not a hard job. Stay in your lane and hustle, its pretty simple. For kickoff returns there is a simple rule, if you can get more than 20 take it out of the end zone, if you cannot take the touchback.

One of the most important duties is given to the punt returner. His ability to field the ball can make a huge impact on field position. He needs to know when signal for a fair catch and he should never run backwards. If the ball sails over the 10 yard line he needs to let it go seeing as it is a likely touchback, and catching it would be risky. The more punt returner can smartly field, the better field position your team will have.

Special teams is how many young players earn their stripes in the NFL. Without them many football jobs would be lost or would never begin in the first place. The best way to make the team is to hustle on special teams. Special teams mistakes hurt a team badly, good play helps them very much. The value of special teams cannot be overstated.

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