Zone blocking and other voices in my head..

Discussion in 'Texans Talk' started by prostock101, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. prostock101

    prostock101 Mr. Big

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    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.
     
    HJam72 likes this.
  2. nunusguy

    nunusguy Hall of Fame

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    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.
     
  3. HJam72

    HJam72 Hall of Fame

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    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.
     
  4. Runner

    Runner Hubcap Diamond Staff Member

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    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.
     
  5. Insideop

    Insideop Hall of Fame

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    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!
     
  6. coachdent

    coachdent Veteran

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    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!
     
  7. Runner

    Runner Hubcap Diamond Staff Member

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    Finally! The post we've been waiting for.


    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.
     
  8. prostock101

    prostock101 Mr. Big

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    Thanks, that was great info and I appreciate you taking the time to write it.
     


  9. nunusguy

    nunusguy Hall of Fame

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    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 ?
     
  10. Kaiser Toro

    Kaiser Toro Native Mod

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    Thanks for sharing and disseminating your knowledge in simple form.
     
  11. powerfuldragon

    powerfuldragon g'mornin to you

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    wow.. a long post that i actually was able to make sense of. Good stuff, man.
     
  12. coachdent

    coachdent Veteran

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    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.
     
  13. brncoz1fan

    brncoz1fan Rookie

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    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.
     
  14. CoastalTexan

    CoastalTexan Veteran

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    Great Posts!
     
  15. edo783

    edo783 Site Contributor

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    Great post Coach.
     
  16. thunderkyss

    thunderkyss Salem Poor

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    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.
     
  17. threetoedpete

    threetoedpete Hall of Fame

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    Very nice post Coach. a lot of us speudo experts thank you. Rep coming your way
     
  18. GNTLEWOLF

    GNTLEWOLF All Pro

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    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.
     
  19. phan1

    phan1 All Pro

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    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.
     
  20. HJam72

    HJam72 Hall of Fame

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    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.
     

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