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View Full Version : Zone blocking and other voices in my head..


prostock101
11-27-2006, 06:43 PM
Is our "zone blocking" scheme the reason we are so up and down with the running game? I realize it's the latest in thing in the NFL but is it worth it? How many teams use it?

Being an armchair QB like the rest of you knuckeheads, I wish the networks would sometimes show the whole field so we could see how the DB's are set and watch the WR routes as they run them. If the Jets had this super fine defense set up to takeaway the longer passes, then I'd sure like to see it. Both defenses had the run shut down so I guess the difference in the game was their ability to throw downfield?????

You Carr bashers might was well get a grip. I don't see Carr going anywhere for awhile. Is he a great QB? He's a serviceable QB. If not Carr, then who?
Plummer? Won't happen. Look at some of the other QB's around the league. Eli? He can't carry Peyton's helmet. Carr is ten times more accurate than he is. The point is, we won't draft one and if he's ever replaced it will be by some nobody that rises from the bench. (see Tony Romo)

On the running game. Seems like we do better running outside then between the tackles (see zone blocking). Has anyone else noticed this?

Great to see the defense getting better. Mario had a great game and Ryans was just a monster. Watching the game I started to wonder if he was going to let anyone else get a tackle.

nunusguy
11-27-2006, 06:56 PM
Timely thread, because I'm listening to the Kubaik weekely show on SR 610,
and the HC just got an out of state caller, a coach himself in Iowa, wanting
to ask Kubiak 'bout his ZB scheme.
BTW and on the subject of zone blockers (clumsy segway, sorry), with the season ending injury to Flanahan, Kubiak said Hodgdon would get some time
starting at center.
Said he'll be starting and hasn't been dressing a lot lately since he's not a "swinger": that means in Kubiak speak he's too small to play center and guard, only center. Drew did play a year of guard in college, but according to Kubiak only big enough to play center in the NFL.

HJam72
11-27-2006, 09:20 PM
I have yet to see anything about the ZBS that impresses me when I watch the Texans play and I wanted to drop it if we didn't hire Kubiak, but we did. I have seen the Broncos use it to perfection, however, so it can obviously be done. Theoretically, I don't like the idea of using a blocking scheme that calls for smaller linemen, who may not be as good at pass blocking. Technically, I probably don't understand it all real well, but it seems like the "regular" blocking scheme is more suited to be called "Zone" blocking than the ZBS itself. We switched to the ZBS originally to get DD more rushing yards. He did NOT get more rushing yards with it, but the pass blocking DID get worse. This can easily be said to be a personnel issue and not the ZBS, but I think it's worth mentioning. Now, we're still using the ZBS and pass blocking seems to be the best we've ever had, but still not good. Obviously, we have Kubiak and it's a moot point because that guy's gonna stick with ZBS until the cows come home. He'll probably make us all love it, eventually.

Oh, and I LOVE the idea of seeing more of the field on TV. I hate not knowing if our wide-outs are ever getting open or if Carr just doesn't see them (in time). I'd also like to see our safeties and how they're screwing up, not just the end result.

Runner
11-27-2006, 09:32 PM
I have yet to see anything about the ZBS that impresses me when I watch the Texans play and I wanted to drop it if we didn't hire Kubiak, but we did. I have seen the Broncos use it to perfection, however, so it can obviously be done.
...
Now, we're still using the ZBS and pass blocking seems to be the best we've ever had, but still not good.

The are many versions of the zone blocking scheme. The Texans use the ZBS but "man up" within its framework. In other words, they may flow the play one way but each lineman and blocking back knows who they are supposed to block before the snap.

In other zone blocking schemes it is more about everyone going with the direction of the flow and blocking "the first guy they get to".

This is very generalized and certainly over-simplified, and in both schemes the blockers do have to read the defense and make some adjustments according to what they see. The point is that there are different version of the ZBS and the players act differently within it.

------------

I don't see this as the best pass blocking we've had. I would say it is the best scheme we've had for reducing sacks - lots of help from tight ends and running backs combined with very quick throws. We have reduced sacks within a reduced offense. I don't know if that rates as best or not. I guess it depends on what is measured and the goals of the offense.

Insideop
11-27-2006, 10:28 PM
I have yet to see anything about the ZBS that impresses me when I watch the Texans play and I wanted to drop it if we didn't hire Kubiak, but we did. I have seen the Broncos use it to perfection, however, so it can obviously be done. Theoretically, I don't like the idea of using a blocking scheme that calls for smaller linemen, who may not be as good at pass blocking. Technically, I probably don't understand it all real well, but it seems like the "regular" blocking scheme is more suited to be called "Zone" blocking than the ZBS itself. We switched to the ZBS originally to get DD more rushing yards. He did NOT get more rushing yards with it, but the pass blocking DID get worse. This can easily be said to be a personnel issue and not the ZBS, but I think it's worth mentioning. Now, we're still using the ZBS and pass blocking seems to be the best we've ever had, but still not good. Obviously, we have Kubiak and it's a moot point because that guy's gonna stick with ZBS until the cows come home. He'll probably make us all love it, eventually.


Yes, it is a personnel issue. It was before we got Kubiak and it still is today IMO. The talent is just not there yet, and that goes for just about every position on the team. I believe it will take Kubes at least 1 more draft and FA period to start getting the line he needs to run the ZB system effectively, and that's "IF" Spencer and Flanagan come back at 100%, and "IF" they draft O-line in the 1st and/or 2nd rounds. I truely believe we need to try and get Joe Thomas in the 1st rd and one of the top C in the 2nd.

Whatever Kubes decides to do in the off season I hope he will make the O-line his top priority. We have had 5 years of a "patchwork" O-line, and it is my opinion that this team will never be able to have a .500 season let alone get near the playoffs without getting this resolved. It doesn't matter what the Texans run on offense, it all starts up front with the talent in the trenches. And right now the Texans just don't have much. JMHO!

coachdent
11-27-2006, 10:30 PM
I think I can offer up some observations about the zone scheme. I coached for several year on the college level and currently use the zone run game in our system on the high school level in Delaware. We are the only team that blocks zone.

First of all, there are different factions of zone and different followers of concepts within the zone run game. The Texans violate some of my basic premises for zone. I am not alone in this thinking either.

Namely, the Texans do not run true zone. Zone coaches are split as to the use of the fullback, but most...and especially in the NFL... do not believe that you can truly run zone using a fullback. Why?

#1 - Zone is a concept where you are trying to get the defense to run. More specifically, you are trying to get linebackers to run. They overrun or underpersue a hole and the running back "punches it" into the hole. When you introduce the fullback, it no longer becomes a zone, it becomes an ISO play where the fullback leads up onto a linebacker at the Point Of Attack (POA). This declares where you are running the ball and destroys cutbacks and removes the mystery as to where you are hitting the hole.

#2 - The NFL produces extremely violent collisions. The result is, you don't see too many fullbacks surviving a full year in the NFL or being very effective. With the fullback at 3-4 yards and the linebacker at 3-4 yards, you are looking at two Mack trucks colliding at full speed. MOST times, the defense wins. With us not having a Mack truck and instead, a Suzuki Sidekick, you can imagine the collisions are definitely not to our liking. As a result, many teams in the NFL employ an H back or a tight end who moves along the line. Because he is at the line of scrimmage, he can get to the linebacker sooner and the collision is not as traumatic.

#3 - With the H back, you have the ability to create a double team at the point of attack, especially on the outside; which is what many people were expressing frustration over. Zone blocking is all about creating a double team at the POA. Over the seven years I have been coaching at the smallest school in the best conference in the state, we have had a grand total of 4 zone plays that have gone for negative yards. The problem with a fullback is that he is a single block for the linebacker, but it also creates a single block for the tight end or the tackle to the side he is going to. So now Daniels is singled up on a superior athletic defensive end and he can't handle it.

Watch a bunch of NFL games this weekend and watch when teams run the stretch play. The number one penalty called on that play is holding on the tight end or the tackle to the playside. It is a difficult block and when the tackle or tight end is singled up, you can basically write it down as a no gain play or a hold.

- - - - - - - -
The coaches who I deal with on the college and pro level believe in a three tiered zone concept scheme. That is, that you MUST run ALL THREE phases of the zone to be successful. The Texans do not. They run outside zone (which again, is not outside zone in my opinion with the FB). They also run what is referred to as Middle Zone that hits in between the guard and tackle. They do not run the inside zone. They actually tried to run a version of it for the first time all year on the play where Cook went left and the running back went right. The RB then cut it back to the left (inside zone is essentially a designed cutback play). Cook missed the block on the backside and the play went for nada.

The zone play creates the SAME look for the offensive line and running backs every week against every team. It is the entire offensive line working in unison along with the RB. They step the same way with what is called a weight adjustment step. When they take this step, and you stop the film, and the team runs all three phases of the zone...then you cannot tell if the ball is going to be stretch and go outside to the tackle area and bounce, or to the guard tackle area, or to the backside cutback. The linebackers MUST stay and slow read the play. This means the linemen can keep their shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and double team at the point of attack.

The object for the linemen is twofold. One create a wall of humanity and no runthrough lanes for the linebackers. The second is to take their double teams right into the laps of the linebackers. We call it, securing the first level and then going for gold on the second level. By running it the same way and threatening the entire front, the Raven linebackers will be in the same place as the Raider linebackers. If the linebackers get frisky and try to runthrough, they are always wrong and create a running lane for the back.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Those of you still with me.....

The problem with the Texan backs is that their zone steps are horrific. They do not take effective zone steps and they define the hole they are going to run to too quickly. Our backs are told to STAY ON TRACK for three steps. They are on railroad tracks, pushing thier aiming point. This sets up the blocks and secures the double teams. If the guard and center are doubleteaming up to the linebacker and the running back just starts turning his shoulders and running to the sidelines, then the linebacker will fly across and the guard will not be able to get up for the double team. This means the backer is unblocked. In the Texan scheme, this problem is further complicated by their "man concept" in the zone. Presnap, the Texan linemen are defining who they are going to block. What happens now, is the guard will not help the center and will immediately go up for the backer. When he does, he has made a number of mistakes. First, he has left the double team and the center has a nearly impossible block to make on the DT. The DT runs the line and kills cutbacks. Secondly, the guard has created a break in the line which encourages runthroughs by the backside linebacker who is taught to flow to the ball and, if he can, run underneath the blockers and behind the play and chase it down. Both of which happen all too frequently with the Texans.

- - - - - - - -
You do not need to have "small, quick linemen" to run zone. As a matter of fact, it works better when you have some beef upfront because you are moving the defensive line two and three yards forward and gaining positive yards. The smaller quicker linemen in Denver also called for the need for the backside cutblocks that so many defensive linemen scream about to the league. Oddly enough, I do not recall any linemen for the Texans cutting anyone on the backside ala Denver. I haven't necessarily been looking, but I haven't seen it. Done correctly, there is nothing cheap about it. But one of the reasons the Denver linemen did it is because they couldn't block the defender with their strength, so they would submarine them on the backside and cut their legs out. Generally this happens at the knee and sometimes (in Denver's case) it happens behind the knee. Some coaches actually refer to the technique as "break his knee". We refer to it as "driving your shoulder pad through his thigh board". But ultimately, it is the same concept.

By knocking down the backside, you create cutback lanes.

-- - - - - - - -
LASTLY!! And believe me, I could talk about zone all night long! And have at clincs!

There needs to be a CWM principle in place. This is "Check with Me". When my QBs go to the line, they are taught where we need to run the ball for each zone play. For instance, when we run middle zone, we run it to the 1 technique. This is the defensive linemen who is shaded to the inside shoulder of either guard. We run the ball to this technique because it creates a double team with the guard and center and it is an easy block right at the point of attack. We have NEVER lost yards on Middle zone!

The Texan PROBLEM with thier zone is that they do NOT use a CWM system. They espouse to the system of running zone to either side regardless of technique. This, in my opinion, is flat out wrong. Using the example above. If you run middle zone AWAY from the 1 technique, then that means you are running it TO a 3 technique. This means that the center is working with the other guard on a double team to the linebacker. But this NEVER happens because the guard will ALWAYS stay with the DT and the center will ALWAYS go to the linbebacker. Neither has help. You are running the football now to a side with two single blocks at the point of attack. Not zone in my book.

I think the Texans have moved away from the CWM principle during the season. Because they most certainly used it in preseason. I was extremely excited when I saw them against KC in the opening preseason game. Carr got them into the right run play and they ran the zone to perfection. Then as we got closer to and enventually into the season that went away.

Feel free to email me with any questions. Thanks for reading and hope this cleared up some questions folks were having!

Runner
11-27-2006, 10:33 PM
Finally! The post we've been waiting for.

I think the Texans have moved away from the CWM principle during the season. Because they most certainly used it in preseason. I was extremely excited when I saw them against KC in the opening preseason game. Carr got them into the right run play and they ran the zone to perfection. Then as we got closer to and enventually into the season that went away.


Interesting. Many of us discussed that the blocking "looked different" from pre-season to regular season but didn't have the expertise to figure out why.

prostock101
11-27-2006, 10:45 PM
Thanks, that was great info and I appreciate you taking the time to write it.

nunusguy
11-27-2006, 10:57 PM
Great post CoachDent ! I hope this is just a sample of many like it to
follow.
Appreciate one with your knowledge on the subject and ability to articulate what you know.
What's your thoughts on the current talent the Texans have in their OLine,
including the rookie tackle Spencer who's on IR, assuming you got a chance to
see him before he went down ?

Kaiser Toro
11-27-2006, 10:59 PM
Thanks for sharing and disseminating your knowledge in simple form.

powerfuldragon
11-27-2006, 11:03 PM
wow.. a long post that i actually was able to make sense of. Good stuff, man.

coachdent
11-27-2006, 11:12 PM
Great post CoachDent ! I hope this is just a sample of many like it to
follow.
Appreciate one with your knowledge on the subject and ability to articulate what you know.
What's your thoughts on the current talent the Texans have in their OLine,
including the rookie tackle Spencer who's on IR, assuming you got a chance to
see him before he went down ?


Thanks a lot. Hope to find some folks truly talking football and not the negative nancy stuff all the time!

I like both Spencer and Winston. It was a shame to see Winston go down. But in the same ilk, left tackle is a position where you are going to have sever growing pains. I think Ferguson is going to be a very good offensive lineman in this league and was hoping the Texans would be a bit lower in the draft and take him. But if you saw what Mario did to him in the first quarter, it was sick! Winston is spared horrific days like that at least. It will give him some time to digest the schemes a little better. I love the fact that they are both big bodies. People wrongly refer to the "Denver zone scheme" as one which employs smaller linemen. This may be true for Denver, but most zone schemes that I've dealt with have stressed size and strength over quickness.

Eric Winston is going to be very good. At Miami, his primary forte was pass blocking and that is what you get from U of Miami linemen, They are far more advanced in the pass game than most other college linemen. But he is behind in terms of his run blocking. He takes a false step a lot in zone blocking and this causes him to "chase" the defensive end instead of keeping his shoulders square and moving his feet and driving the guy off on more of an angle. He will get it, but it takes time.

We could help in the maturation process of Eric if we would run to the left more frequently. I feel that there are too many times that we run behind Eric and he simply isn't ready to be the guy to put a run game on his shoulders consistently. The Texan coordinators seem to be in a forcefeeding mode that if you continue to go to the well, he will improve. There is something to be said for that, but it makes Texan "fans" angry and frustrated.

I've been disappointed with Salaam. Very happy with Flanagan. I wish he had three more years in the tank, because that's when this offensive line has the potential to be excellent. Two bookend tackles and another second or third round guard pick and we have hte makings of a very strong front five. The same could not be said with where we have been in recent years.

brncoz1fan
11-27-2006, 11:14 PM
When is your next clinic? Holy smokes I learned more about football from your post then I probably have in my many years of just watching.

CoastalTexan
11-27-2006, 11:39 PM
Great Posts!

edo783
11-28-2006, 12:36 AM
Great post Coach.

thunderkyss
11-28-2006, 12:47 AM
I've been disappointed with Salaam. Very happy with Flanagan. I wish he had three more years in the tank, because that's when this offensive line has the potential to be excellent. Two bookend tackles and another second or third round guard pick and we have hte makings of a very strong front five. The same could not be said with where we have been in recent years.

Wow....... I like a lot of what you are saying. some of the stuff I can see, and makes a lot of sense.

For one, Against the Buffalo, Wali & Gado were bouncing the runs outside, and we were moving the ball. We had some obscure reasons we thought Wali saw less action in the second half, but after reading your posts, I believe Kubiak didn't want Lundi bouncing it like he did. Then Gado came in and did the same thing.

Then we have our game against the Jets, and you see our running backs going straight up the middle for no gain again.

But disappointment in Salaam..... who has performed plenty well(considering) both running, pass blocking, and lead blocking out in space(for a man his size). Where I think Flanagan has been our main poblem in both passing & running. When we stretch to the outside, you can see every one moving till you get to the center spot.... he usually looks like he's going left when everyone else wants to go right, or he's going right, when everyone is going left. Running the zones up the middle have looked better since we let Weary start, as Mckinney looked lost. But I think that is why we run zone right, because Pitts is pretty soft. Weigart, I think was our best lineman in run blocking situations. No question that Eric is an improvement in pass blocking situations.

& though I love Owen Daniels, I don't think he completely understands what he's supposed to be doing out there on the edge. Like Flanagan, he seems to move against everybody else........ I could be wrong, maybe Owen & Flanagan are the only ones that get it..........

What really gets me though, was against Jacksonville, & Tennessee, our line looked like they were moving as one unit. and a soft block here, or a clumsy lineman there, totally ruined the play, but we looked sooo close.

Since then (however) Winston & Weary have pretty much become starters, and I'm seeing Bruenner in the game a lot more..... so maybe that's why we are back at square one.

I do agree with the big strong lineman thing though. As cool as the Denver ZBS is, I'd much rather we played like those boys in Washington. They put a real hurting on the LBs..... that's football. Your linebackers are slowed down, because they have to keep on the look out for the 300lb tidal wave about to blind side them. If I didn't know any better, I'd think they were trying to decleat the LBs on every play.

threetoedpete
11-28-2006, 02:47 AM
Very nice post Coach. a lot of us speudo experts thank you. Rep coming your way

GNTLEWOLF
11-28-2006, 03:14 AM
I think I can offer up some observations about the zone scheme. I coached for several year on the college level and currently use the zone run game in our system on the high school level in Delaware. We are the only team that blocks zone.

First of all, there are different factions of zone and different followers of concepts within the zone run game. The Texans violate some of my basic premises for zone. I am not alone in this thinking either.

Namely, the Texans do not run true zone. Zone coaches are split as to the use of the fullback, but most...and especially in the NFL... do not believe that you can truly run zone using a fullback. Why?

#1 - Zone is a concept where you are trying to get the defense to run. More specifically, you are trying to get linebackers to run. They overrun or underpersue a hole and the running back "punches it" into the hole. When you introduce the fullback, it no longer becomes a zone, it becomes an ISO play where the fullback leads up onto a linebacker at the Point Of Attack (POA). This declares where you are running the ball and destroys cutbacks and removes the mystery as to where you are hitting the hole.

#2 - The NFL produces extremely violent collisions. The result is, you don't see too many fullbacks surviving a full year in the NFL or being very effective. With the fullback at 3-4 yards and the linebacker at 3-4 yards, you are looking at two Mack trucks colliding at full speed. MOST times, the defense wins. With us not having a Mack truck and instead, a Suzuki Sidekick, you can imagine the collisions are definitely not to our liking. As a result, many teams in the NFL employ an H back or a tight end who moves along the line. Because he is at the line of scrimmage, he can get to the linebacker sooner and the collision is not as traumatic.

#3 - With the H back, you have the ability to create a double team at the point of attack, especially on the outside; which is what many people were expressing frustration over. Zone blocking is all about creating a double team at the POA. Over the seven years I have been coaching at the smallest school in the best conference in the state, we have had a grand total of 4 zone plays that have gone for negative yards. The problem with a fullback is that he is a single block for the linebacker, but it also creates a single block for the tight end or the tackle to the side he is going to. So now Daniels is singled up on a superior athletic defensive end and he can't handle it.

Watch a bunch of NFL games this weekend and watch when teams run the stretch play. The number one penalty called on that play is holding on the tight end or the tackle to the playside. It is a difficult block and when the tackle or tight end is singled up, you can basically write it down as a no gain play or a hold.

- - - - - - - -
The coaches who I deal with on the college and pro level believe in a three tiered zone concept scheme. That is, that you MUST run ALL THREE phases of the zone to be successful. The Texans do not. They run outside zone (which again, is not outside zone in my opinion with the FB). They also run what is referred to as Middle Zone that hits in between the guard and tackle. They do not run the inside zone. They actually tried to run a version of it for the first time all year on the play where Cook went left and the running back went right. The RB then cut it back to the left (inside zone is essentially a designed cutback play). Cook missed the block on the backside and the play went for nada.

The zone play creates the SAME look for the offensive line and running backs every week against every team. It is the entire offensive line working in unison along with the RB. They step the same way with what is called a weight adjustment step. When they take this step, and you stop the film, and the team runs all three phases of the zone...then you cannot tell if the ball is going to be stretch and go outside to the tackle area and bounce, or to the guard tackle area, or to the backside cutback. The linebackers MUST stay and slow read the play. This means the linemen can keep their shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and double team at the point of attack.

The object for the linemen is twofold. One create a wall of humanity and no runthrough lanes for the linebackers. The second is to take their double teams right into the laps of the linebackers. We call it, securing the first level and then going for gold on the second level. By running it the same way and threatening the entire front, the Raven linebackers will be in the same place as the Raider linebackers. If the linebackers get frisky and try to runthrough, they are always wrong and create a running lane for the back.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Those of you still with me.....

The problem with the Texan backs is that their zone steps are horrific. They do not take effective zone steps and they define the hole they are going to run to too quickly. Our backs are told to STAY ON TRACK for three steps. They are on railroad tracks, pushing thier aiming point. This sets up the blocks and secures the double teams. If the guard and center are doubleteaming up to the linebacker and the running back just starts turning his shoulders and running to the sidelines, then the linebacker will fly across and the guard will not be able to get up for the double team. This means the backer is unblocked. In the Texan scheme, this problem is further complicated by their "man concept" in the zone. Presnap, the Texan linemen are defining who they are going to block. What happens now, is the guard will not help the center and will immediately go up for the backer. When he does, he has made a number of mistakes. First, he has left the double team and the center has a nearly impossible block to make on the DT. The DT runs the line and kills cutbacks. Secondly, the guard has created a break in the line which encourages runthroughs by the backside linebacker who is taught to flow to the ball and, if he can, run underneath the blockers and behind the play and chase it down. Both of which happen all too frequently with the Texans.

- - - - - - - -
You do not need to have "small, quick linemen" to run zone. As a matter of fact, it works better when you have some beef upfront because you are moving the defensive line two and three yards forward and gaining positive yards. The smaller quicker linemen in Denver also called for the need for the backside cutblocks that so many defensive linemen scream about to the league. Oddly enough, I do not recall any linemen for the Texans cutting anyone on the backside ala Denver. I haven't necessarily been looking, but I haven't seen it. Done correctly, there is nothing cheap about it. But one of the reasons the Denver linemen did it is because they couldn't block the defender with their strength, so they would submarine them on the backside and cut their legs out. Generally this happens at the knee and sometimes (in Denver's case) it happens behind the knee. Some coaches actually refer to the technique as "break his knee". We refer to it as "driving your shoulder pad through his thigh board". But ultimately, it is the same concept.

By knocking down the backside, you create cutback lanes.

-- - - - - - - -
LASTLY!! And believe me, I could talk about zone all night long! And have at clincs!

There needs to be a CWM principle in place. This is "Check with Me". When my QBs go to the line, they are taught where we need to run the ball for each zone play. For instance, when we run middle zone, we run it to the 1 technique. This is the defensive linemen who is shaded to the inside shoulder of either guard. We run the ball to this technique because it creates a double team with the guard and center and it is an easy block right at the point of attack. We have NEVER lost yards on Middle zone!

The Texan PROBLEM with thier zone is that they do NOT use a CWM system. They espouse to the system of running zone to either side regardless of technique. This, in my opinion, is flat out wrong. Using the example above. If you run middle zone AWAY from the 1 technique, then that means you are running it TO a 3 technique. This means that the center is working with the other guard on a double team to the linebacker. But this NEVER happens because the guard will ALWAYS stay with the DT and the center will ALWAYS go to the linbebacker. Neither has help. You are running the football now to a side with two single blocks at the point of attack. Not zone in my book.

I think the Texans have moved away from the CWM principle during the season. Because they most certainly used it in preseason. I was extremely excited when I saw them against KC in the opening preseason game. Carr got them into the right run play and they ran the zone to perfection. Then as we got closer to and enventually into the season that went away.

Feel free to email me with any questions. Thanks for reading and hope this cleared up some questions folks were having!

Great explanation and it answers a lot of questions about why our run game looks basically the same this year as it did last year.

phan1
11-28-2006, 04:18 AM
Good post coach dent! How is your highschool team doing with it? We ran some basic stuff at our highschool, and I can't imagine seeing any highschool employ the ZBS unless their football program is very prestigious. Either way, having coach Sherman as our Oline coach isn't paying the dividends that I thought it would.

HJam72
11-28-2006, 06:16 AM
The are many versions of the zone blocking scheme. The Texans use the ZBS but "man up" within its framework. In other words, they may flow the play one way but each lineman and blocking back knows who they are supposed to block before the snap.

In other zone blocking schemes it is more about everyone going with the direction of the flow and blocking "the first guy they get to".

This is very generalized and certainly over-simplified, and in both schemes the blockers do have to read the defense and make some adjustments according to what they see. The point is that there are different version of the ZBS and the players act differently within it.

------------

I don't see this as the best pass blocking we've had. I would say it is the best scheme we've had for reducing sacks - lots of help from tight ends and running backs combined with very quick throws. We have reduced sacks within a reduced offense. I don't know if that rates as best or not. I guess it depends on what is measured and the goals of the offense.

Yeah, that's a good point, a good post, and a GREAT post by coachdent. I remember thinking something was different with the blocking when we went into the regular season, but I just eventually decided that that's what happens when I judge our team by the preseason games. Guess there really was more to it than that.

Texans_Chick
11-28-2006, 10:23 AM
Excellent post, Coach Dent. It is posts like yours that make the MB worth reading

Had an interesting theory posted on the blog a while back. It said that Denver needed lighter blockers because of altitude. Other NFL teams run ZBS but don't have the light guys.

It also helps them keep their line together because their linemen are less attractive to other teams because of their size--a line that stays together in a salary cap era is valuable. It also helps in drafting because there is less competition for those players.

I do not like the concept of getting big guys and then artificially trying to make them more nimble by making them lose weight fast.

coachdent
11-28-2006, 10:36 AM
Good post coach dent! How is your highschool team doing with it? We ran some basic stuff at our highschool, and I can't imagine seeing any highschool employ the ZBS unless their football program is very prestigious. Either way, having coach Sherman as our Oline coach isn't paying the dividends that I thought it would.

It is something that you need to have in your system for sure. We obviously practice it every day and it is who we are. I think a lot of it comes from having that identity. So when we get to third and two, everyone is confident we can get the first down.

The other thing that comes from the zone game is that the players are able to come off the field and tell me what they are seeing and what can break. My center comes off the field and says to me, "Coach, I can't get to Mike (Middle Linebacker) he just is flying playisde." I look at him and he says to me, "what about inside zone?" Perfect. Next time out on the field, we run inside and the linebacker flies out and our running back turns it back and the center is in perfect position to seal the linebacker now.

coachdent
11-28-2006, 10:37 AM
Excellent post, Coach Dent. It is posts like yours that make the MB worth reading

Had an interesting theory posted on the blog a while back. It said that Denver needed lighter blockers because of altitude. Other NFL teams run ZBS but don't have the light guys.

It also helps them keep their line together because their linemen are less attractive to other teams because of their size--a line that stays together in a salary cap era is valuable. It also helps in drafting because there is less competition for those players.

I do not like the concept of getting big guys and then artificially trying to make them more nimble by making them lose weight fast.

That's an interesting point that I hadn't thought of. Makes sense though with the altitude. Cutting weight is not an option for me either.

HOU-TEX
11-28-2006, 10:50 AM
Very nice post! It kind of makes me wonder why we went away with what we were doing in pre-season. Maybe all the personel changes? Man, I wish this was brought up yesterday. We could've called in the Kubiak show.

coachdent
11-28-2006, 11:00 AM
Another point to consider in the zone game is the running backs. We started talking about the backs not being quick enough to get to the outside. But in the zone game, the key is not speed, it is discipline and the ability to cut.

I've worked and learned through a number of NFL line coaches. Not to name drop, but the ones I learned the most from would be Jim McNally and Mouse Davis. McNally is phenominal. But the one thing I learned from them about zone is the patience and discipline to the hole. Right now our backs aren't really following thos principles.

It may suprise some to hear this, but in talking to my offensive line buddies, the one guy who they single out as the "worst" running back in running zone was Barry Sanders! Obviously one of the best backs in the history of the NFL. However, he was not suited for the zone game. He would stop and reverse field without staying on track and this would totally disrupt the flow of the zone. He ran for more negative runs than any other back in the NFL.
Our backs sometimes don't run their tracks and other times they can't stay on their tracks because of the fullback being blown up in the backfield.

A poster here alluded to the fact that the entire offensive line must work together and if one guy misses his block, the play breaks down. The same can be said for most plays, but it becomes glaring in the zone game. We had it happen a number of times this year to us with a guard simply turning his shoulders or making a reach when he should have been on the double to the second level. The encouraging thing for us is that we show the guys that we had five guys up front doing their job and you could see the play breaking big if we just had that last block.

Already looking ahead, but our back next year needs to be a zone back. DDavis has shown the ability to do it, but his health may still be a question. If he is not going to be able to roll, then I would love to see Adrian Peterson a Texan next year. He is the prototypical zone back. Much in the mold of Eddie George. Explosive, but disciplined. Clicking my heels and closing my eyes and hoping the injuries are behind him! Looking at those other have nots around the legue, not many of them will be looking for a running back regardless of where they finish.
Detroit
Tampa
Arizona
Cleveland
Oakland (probable quarterback)

real
11-28-2006, 11:28 AM
Detroit
Tampa
Arizona
Cleveland
Oakland

I don't think Tampa or Arizona will be looking for backs....

Tampa still has caddy...

And Arizona just picked up the Edge and they have Arrington behind him...

nunusguy
11-28-2006, 11:31 AM
I never knew blocking schemes for OLinemen could be this sexy, 'cause I'm
getting more excited with each of CoachDent's entrys !
Couple more things to consider, if you will maestro:
(1) I thought one reason for Denver's relatively smaller and therefor quicker OL guys was it increased their ability to get downfield for blocking the backside pursuit ?
(2) R. Bush, like Sanders, was a dancer and maybe his style not to effective
in the ZB scheme, even though his school (USC) I think used ZB ?
(3) rookie Daniels is obviously an accomplished receiver, but how do you rate his blocking skills ? I know you alluded to his difficulty in handling a DLineman
one on one, but this would be a challenge for most NFL TEs I'd think ?

SESupergenius
11-28-2006, 12:15 PM
It's pretty simple really. Call it whatever scheme you want, zone blocking, man blocking, free up, rollout, whatever.....if you don't have the talent to begin with, your "scheme" just isn't going to produce. We can look at this team through a magnifying glass until we are blue in the face searching for reasons why we are not a playoff team. What it boils down to however is that we just don't have the guys to do the job. Dunta can now give us reasons why the 4-3 of the Texans is not doing good after switching from the 3-4. Plain and simple, it's talent.

We can't run play action because nobody is respecting the run. Carr has to dump down to the player that is open. God forbid we try and rely on AJ to go after a ball with a receiver covering him, and when is the last time you saw him break a tackle?

coachdent
11-28-2006, 12:16 PM
I never knew blocking schemes for OLinemen could be this sexy, 'cause I'm
getting more excited with each of CoachDent's entrys !
Couple more things to consider, if you will maestro:
(1) I thought one reason for Denver's relatively smaller and therefor quicker OL guys was it increased their ability to get downfield for blocking the backside pursuit ?
(2) R. Bush, like Sanders, was a dancer and maybe his style not to effective
in the ZB scheme, even though his school (USC) I think used ZB ?
(3) rookie Daniels is obviously an accomplished receiver, but how do you rate his blocking skills ? I know you alluded to his difficulty in handling a DLineman
one on one, but this would be a challenge for most NFL TEs I'd think ?


The quickness on the backside does come into play when there are eight and nine men in the box. When you introduce a fullback into the formation or an extra tight end, you bring an extra defender into the box. So when you run to the frontside, the backside defender (who is always a great runner in the NFL) has the opportunity to run the play down from the backside. This makes it important for the backside tackle to be able to chase this guy down. Quite frankly, it is impossible most times to do. This is where the boot comes into play as well as inside zone (the cutback).

Here's an example of what I mean. You'll have to visualize it. We are one back, no tight ends. It is a balanced set. A base defense of a 4-3 would have a middle linebacker and the two outside linebackers walked out on our slots. Cover 2 behind it. If we run middle zone to the right, my right guard and center double to the Mike. The RT blocks man on the DE. Backside, the guard and tackle are responsible for the DT and the backside linebacker. Well, this becomes a really aggressive easy block for these two because the linebacker is walked out and removed from the line. Therefore, they push their double team to no one. HUGE cutback lane for the back is always there. In this scenario, the backside guard do not have to be real nimble. They just smoke the DT into oblivion!

If you put a tight end to that side, now the linebacker kicks down either on top of the tight end, or inside him. NOW the double with the tackle and guard becomes a problem. Because now this LB is a threat to run the play down. They need to be disciplined and also quick with their double. The cutback lane now requires three offensive players to block three defensive players right where we are trying to run the cutback, whereas in the other scenario, we have two blockers on one and delay for the second. Incidentally, we don't block the defensive end. No need to.

Your second point about Reggie Bush is a good one and was my reasoning for not going hog wild over him in Houston. He is not...excuse me... NOT a zone back! He is Barry Sanders but without the same strength and moves. Proof positive was at the end of the Texas game, who was running zone out the wazoo at the end of the game? Lendale White. Reggie took a seat on the sidelines. Personally, and from a zone standpoint, Peterson is MOUNTAINS ahead of Bush in the way they run and what they can do in the system.

Lastly, Owen Daniels is a very good receiving tight end. But it is difficult for any tight end in the league to block a defensive end. Mario Williams had not faced a great deal of zone play in college and he struggled out of the gate dealing with this. (I can talk about that whole deal in another in depth thread!) But eventually he got it, and teams have simply stopped running outside zone to his side. What teams are doing is running check with me's at the line and going away from him. If you saw the Seattle game last night, the formational put the defense where they wanted them and ran left and ran left and ran left. Middle Zone, Outside Zone, Power, and Inside. Wore them out. Jacksonville employed the same scheme against us in the first game.

Middle zone is better than outside for the tight end because he has a double team with the tackle. Daniels is a little light in the pants to sustain the edge consistently against most DEs. And as I said before, if my tight end is getting reached and beaten by a tight end on outside zone, I'm ripping his face off and telling him that this will not happen again! Ironically, one of my guys is a sophomore starting defensive end at Princeton. I lit into him after the Penn game for allowing a tight end to block him on zone. He like Mario, was struggling with the responsibility he is told to play and then turning it loose and just making plays. He is getting better and hell they won the Ivy League and he is going to Princeton! So I'm a happy guy!

whiskeyrbl
11-28-2006, 12:26 PM
Very nice, thanks.

coachdent
11-28-2006, 12:56 PM
It's pretty simple really. Call it whatever scheme you want, zone blocking, man blocking, free up, rollout, whatever.....if you don't have the talent to begin with, your "scheme" just isn't going to produce. We can look at this team through a magnifying glass until we are blue in the face searching for reasons why we are not a playoff team. What it boils down to however is that we just don't have the guys to do the job. Dunta can now give us reasons why the 4-3 of the Texans is not doing good after switching from the 3-4. Plain and simple, it's talent.

We can't run play action because nobody is respecting the run. Carr has to dump down to the player that is open. God forbid we try and rely on AJ to go after a ball with a receiver covering him, and when is the last time you saw him break a tackle?

Not going to argue that our talent is a major issue. Everyone knows that. We are not a playoff team, whatever the system. However, we could be a better team than we are and we are capable of running the ball more effectively. Schemewise, we have been making a number of mistakes. Were those fixed, our production would increase and our ability to score would increase and thus win more games.

The reason we can't throw the ball as effectively and stretch the field is another discussion completely. That, in and of itself is a correctable problem with the people we currently have. It goes a lot deeper than blaming one guy (Carr). A topic for another day.

Ultimately, there is a ton of mediocrity in the NFL. I think of myself as a glass half empty, how am I going to fill the rest kind of guy. We need to add a few pieces to the puzzle and we will be a playoff team. Jackosnville is a borderline playoff team and we dominated them both times.

SESupergenius
11-28-2006, 01:12 PM
Not going to argue that our talent is a major issue. Everyone knows that. We are not a playoff team, whatever the system. However, we could be a better team than we are and we are capable of running the ball more effectively. Schemewise, we have been making a number of mistakes. Were those fixed, our production would increase and our ability to score would increase and thus win more games.

The reason we can't throw the ball as effectively and stretch the field is another discussion completely. That, in and of itself is a correctable problem with the people we currently have. It goes a lot deeper than blaming one guy (Carr). A topic for another day.

Ultimately, there is a ton of mediocrity in the NFL. I think of myself as a glass half empty, how am I going to fill the rest kind of guy. We need to add a few pieces to the puzzle and we will be a playoff team. Jackosnville is a borderline playoff team and we dominated them both times.I am not downplaying your comments, they are dead on and very good. i just think as a whole our offense won't come together without certain pieces, and that's not always physical. Like when we inserted Hodgdon in the game his 1st year, I thought to myself that he's actually player very good, a very headsy player that knows when and where to be. He's not the most physically gifted guy, but he sure seemed to get the job done.

coachdent
11-28-2006, 01:18 PM
I am not downplaying your comments, they are dead on and very good. i just think as a whole our offense won't come together without certain pieces, and that's not always physical. Like when we inserted Hodgdon in the game his 1st year, I thought to myself that he's actually player very good, a very headsy player that knows when and where to be. He's not the most physically gifted guy, but he sure seemed to get the job done.

It does take time for an offensive line to gel, especially in terms of zone play. With a few injuries along the front, that has also hurt our development. Flanagan is getting up there a little in years, but I still feel he has two or three very productive years in him. At least I hope so. Sucks that he is out for the seasson, but at least he will be back and healthy next season to hopefully bolster a stronger front. These younger guys do need to get a bit nastier in the trenches. One thing that the zone sometimes has a tendency to do with some guys is to become too passive.

This is where we need to see some more power plays and counter plays. Again, too much of where Cook goes, the ball goes. Football 101 and any NFL defense smokes that attack.