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Breaking down run game short comings/it's not "his" fault

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by jays52, Oct 28, 2009.

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  1. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    With all of the bye week talk about Maroney and the 20 page circle jerks popping up everywhere, I thought it would be better to spin out a thread dedicated to actual analysis. I welcome thoughts and evaluation of the run game, but please bring evidence or detailed explaination. to the table As a general notice, if you have qualms, by all means speak your mind. If you are going to say a player sucks or call someone a doody head, this ain't your spot. If you have a case that needs to be made, then make it objectively and come correct.

    I decided to think about some of the run game problems and have identified a few things. First, it is the damn zone scheme they keep banging their heads into walls trying to make effective. It just is not effective out of their primary sets. Second, it is the improper utilization of their linemen (which does tie in with the zone stuff). Third, and to be unorigional by stealing Unorgional's thunder; we need a fullback. A legit fullback. All of these combine to create the zone running as my version of other's Maroney.

    First, let's take a long, hard look into what makes the zone blocking run. As the name says, it is predicated upon the lineman being able to block any player that occupies his zone. Directional runs were getting stuffed by stunting linemen and backers. The linemen couldn't find their assigned man, and accordingly coaches had to find a method to deal with this. By moving as a cohesive unit in a linear manner, the line simply could wash any flack, and the back would pick up a hole to accelerate through. This style of running does leave the backside of the play wide open, however, and the backside must have dedicated sealers in order to execute the scheme effectively. Let's take a look at some very basic examples of various zone running plays out of the I to give perspective on how it is intended to work.

    Here is an example of Inside Zone at TE against standard 43 one gap run defense.

    [​IMG]

    Here, it is as vanilla as it gets. Backside seal responsibilities lay with the fullback, each lineman run blocks, the back ID's the sealed mike as the intended hole, accelerates through.

    To illustrate the concept behind the zone, here is the same play vs a basic end/mike stunt. If this defense was called against a standard man blocking scheme, the end would draw the tackle in, opening a lane for the mike to crash and blow up the play in the backfield.

    [​IMG]

    In this case, the mike is blocked by the tackle, the end by the guard. This opens the area vacated by the crashing end and will in theory open a clean running lane for the back. Again, the fullback has backside seal responsibilities.

    Now, let's look at the ace package the Patriots have been primarily running the inside zone at TE out of. This has been the bread and butter of the failed run plays and is the reason behind Maroney's "dancing".

    [​IMG]

    Let's look at what is going on here. Without the fullback taking backside contain, and the team's tendency to run this play at the TE, the defense is free to scrape down the line immediately. The key to this defense is the crashing tackle getting in front of the face of the backside guard. The guard is assigned to pickup the will under normal zone, but he will pick up the crashing tackle as he moves across his face. The backside tackle is too slow to reach the will, and he becomes a free runner. Further, the end will already be in the backfield and coming hard towards the runner. Should the backside guard not seal the tackle, the tackle as well becomes disruptive. The nose will crash upfield, taking both the center and the playside a gap. The playside should be blocked normally, but instead of the mike and flowing will being blocked, only the mike is blocked. The flowing will should be already sealing the hole by the time the back reads the shoulder of the guard. At this point, the backside flow should be arriving in bad temper to finish the play. Any back who reads this playside block should see the two hole being the primary cut. With this two hole suddenly sealed by the flowing will, the back won't have anywhere to go. Should he try the bounce out, the SS should be sitting in the area off of the TE. Should he try to cut against the grain, the crashing end and possibly tackle will be there to finish him off. Hence, happy feet.

    There's my amateur hour breakdown of what has been happening with the run blocking most of the time it fails. Another reason behind the failure is the mentality of the linemen. It's seal, seal, seal. There's nothing in the play that affords them the ability to go rock somone and drive them off of the football. It's a finesse run game, and linemen hate finesse running. Mankins and Neal both are exceptional screen blockers. People would lead one to believe that because of this, they fit well in zone schemes. In actuality, their true fit is the pull game. The screen is essentially a very wide multiple blockers pulling play. Let them pull and get back to the directional run game. This is the Rx for the run game in my opinion. What say ye?
  2. Gwedd

    Gwedd PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    No Mood
    I think you're on to something, especially regarding Mankins and Neal. I'd point out that we have an O-line that is not only physically good, but very smart. It takes a talented line to run the sceen as effectively as the Patriots do.

    The solution, to my mind is, as you say a true full back, although it seems to me that you might also be able to seal the end moving into the backside with another tight end. If it's a pure running play, then you need only two receiver anyway.

    Nice to see you adding charts. Visuals are always nice when explaining stuff.

    Great post. Thanks!
  3. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I miss the lovely inside run play they used to do so much with Dillon, I believe AWTE called it a "jab" play, I think BB discusses it on one of the Three Games to Glory DVDs too.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
  4. unoriginal

    unoriginal Rookie

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    You're a good poster and (caveat) I have no experience running an actual offense, but I don't think those are very representative diagrams.

    The diagrams don't accurately depict the base zone aspect, as normally the frontside guard would push the 1 tech before rubbing off onto the Mike. It is that initial movement that supposedly eliminates negative plays, because the push stops gap penetration that would normally occur if the center had to reach a 1 tech over a driving guard. Otherwise this play would have to go through the A gap and the Mike or Will would eat it, instead of to the B gap.

    This is of consequence only in your 2nd diagram, where the crash of the playside DE would probably disrupt the play, as the tackle would probably not be able to pass off the stunt to the guard in time to push the linebacker out of the C gap. The hole is probably going to be very cloudly and will probably occur inside the RT, not outside of him.

    Also nitpicky, but while the 4-3 under is a common 4-3, it is not the "standard" 4-3. Just a note.

    EDIT: should add that base zone uses an fullback in an offset weak position for getting that 9 tech and for lead on counter.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
  5. SammyBlueCat

    SammyBlueCat Rookie

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    Nice work and good point regarding the FB. When a lineman lines up as the FB, it is too obvious. He may as well wear a different color uniform so the other team can see him better because that is where the ball will be.
  6. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Another site has a poster who breaks down the plays by posting gifs of them and analyzing them from there. I don't have the equipment to do that at the moment, however. If someone here wanted to, they could rip gifs of every run.
  7. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    jays52, thank you for starting an intelligent thread- it has brought out the smart posters.. this is what I live for and what I come here for.

    I am not a fan of Connolly trying to line up as FB- I really thought we lost something when Evans bolted for NO. He is a FB with the instinct of a RB which is to say he has a knack for stoning at exactly the right time the hole is at its maximum.

    I thought Morris lining up as FB was okay.. Brady sometimes hand off to him directly, and I guess that is a fringe benefit when they need a surprise (such as 4th and 1).

    I couldn't agree more about going to the pull more. And like Lombardi said, when the pull is exerted with maximum force, it acts as its own seal, so it allows you to devote some vertical energy to smash people backwards.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
  8. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    All valid points, and I more than value your input. I also differ to your knowledge of the game. That being said, I should probably come out of the closet here and say that the first two diagrams came directly from my old playbook. Over/under alignments and all. It's basically ripped off Alvarez stuff. It is likely a little outdated(circa '04), but much of this stuff was run out of straight I, and we'd switch to the weak offset if the weakside end was playing a 9-tech only. Never thought of it, but good point on the counter. The reasoning behind the straight I was to allow for a lead blocker while running zone to either side of the formation without selling out the blocking scheme. Towards the PG, well, direct from the binder: "Step in playside gap. Peek at DE, be prepared for inside move- if it occurs, square and stone; if he plays outside, find LB in your zone."

    From experience, if we had this stunt called and they went zone, I would just tuck into the ass of the end, try to get skinny as hell and squeek through the B gap before the T could adjust his angle. Every single time I looked at the T when the end would crash, his eyes would be locked on me instantly.

    Towards the rub on the 1 tech, you are 100% correct, and thanks for mentioning that. Looking at it now after realizing that makes the reach block seem impossible without a little help. Problem is, what happens if there's the playside stunt? Any way you slice it the play would be blown up and the PG wouldn't have enough time to square to the DE if he chipped the 1-tech. Does that sound right?

    Is there anything further you could offer towards what may be actually going on? Your superior opinion is wanted.

    And, for what it's worth, I learn something about football and can think better about it's concepts every time you post. Thanks for that.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  9. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    We're in line by line agreement, Dr. Strangelove. Thanks for the first line of the post, that was exactly the intent. As much fun as it is to bullsh*t with other fans and get into minor squabbles, ultimately it's about the learning experience.
  10. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    And, to be fair, I probably didn't put in the same level of due dilligence with the DVR like I should have on this one. Ah well, that's what tomorrow during dinner time is for I guess.
  11. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Please don't take my earlier post as anything but a general idea. It was not aimed at you in any negative way. It was just posted for anyone who might have an interest in doing such a thing. My point was simply that it's possible for a poster with the right equipment to go back through all the games and pull out the gifs of every individual play and post them, if they so chose.
  12. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    Totally, not taken in a negative manner in the least. Just kinda motivated me, that's all.
  13. unoriginal

    unoriginal Rookie

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    That sounds right. A good zone blocking line will be able to nullify that stunt by the tackle getting a good punch on him and the guard coming off the nose quick and lateral ā€” that happens if they are skilled and have experience picking that thing up (and are lucky and it doesn't catch them by surprise).

    But what you'd expect to happen scheme-wise is that the play would probably get blown up if the stunt doesn't get turned so far inside the Mike is left in a 4 yard hole. Good call by the defense, move on.

    Of course, if the defense calls that stunt on an outside zone, good bye.
  14. rhodeisland

    rhodeisland Rookie

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    Usually a lurker on many pats boards, but I love talking the actual strategy of the game. Wanted to post this link, which gives a fairly good breakdown of the basics of zone blocking:

    Zone Blocking Manual BASH

    From my eyes, Maroney is utilized incorrectly and should really get more opportunities to get around the tackles. He just can't hit the hole with any kind of authority. If it's because we don't have a fullback that this blocking scheme isn't fully effective, we need to adjust. How about running LOMO on draw plays which only seem to go to Kevin Faulk? Why not more counters?

    In the Tennessee game, the line was getting a huge push and it seemed to fit LM's style. When he gets positive yards, he turns those yards into big gains. When he can't get out of the backfield, the results are obvious. Do we need to muscle up and attempt to get that push more often, rather than make our blocking schemes so exotic?
  15. PatsFanSince74

    PatsFanSince74 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    First of all, I say thanks.

    I've "Quoted" above the diagram and comment that I found most helpful. What you're saying, in layman's terms, is that by the time (measured in maybe all of two seconds) the RB gets to what is supposed to be an open two hole, he's got potentially three different guys to worry about from three different directions and has another nanosecond to make the most of a bad situation.
  16. eagle eye

    eagle eye Rookie

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    Excellent op.

    I too like Deus would love to have those pics of games. Just listening to Belichick the other day and what he had to say regarding the difference in what Maroney sees to what Faulk sees when he is in the game was very interesting.

    I think that a bit more use of Maroney in the passing game out of the backfield is the answer without bringing in a lead blocker. As BB said, when Maroney is on the field the opposition are more likely to bring an extra man onto the line, whereas with Faulk they go safe as he is a threat in passing game.
  17. cavtroop

    cavtroop Rookie

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    Not having ever played a down of organized football, I have nothing of note to contribute to this thread. I do want to say that these are exactly the types of threads that I love, and come here for, so please keep it up. :D
  18. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    Yes.

    The Will, DE, and SS.

    The zone blocking in this particular scheme creates the two hole, but without the Fullback, we have no backside (as opposed to playside) protection. So, on the D, whoever can get around the edge, pretty much has a free path to pursue, because there is no FB to block him.

    So in this scenario, LoMo just has no time to react, and pretty much does not have the luxury of having another option, because the Will is unchecked and has a free path to sealing the two hole, and should he fail, the SS is sitting in basically 9 tech (outside shade of TE).

    In the Bucs game, we saw this because they overpursued in the run plays (what we are talking about above). You saw them stack the box more often than not with the SS.

    Again I do not have DVR so I will defer to anyone who does, and saw otherwise.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  19. ALP

    ALP Rookie

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    in that diagram....if the TE blocked the SS very nicely, and saw the will coming freely, he could close the SS to the INSIDE, and LoMo would be able to run off taclke, and outside of the TE no? and then hope that the wr had a semi decent block ont eh cb....(it would also give the will more distace to cover and through more traffic)
  20. unoriginal

    unoriginal Rookie

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    He would do that on outside zone, where the running back is aiming for a spot just outside of the tight end.
  21. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    In Maroney's TD run, it was similar to your 1st diagram except Vollmer pulled and preceded Maroney - Vollmer completely took out the Mike which was the key to letting Maroney get through. I'm not home where I can run the slo-mo, so I can't comment on what Neal and Kaczur did.

    I'm not sure if I have ever seen Maroney run without at least one dance step. Is that a misperception ? Has anybody done a detailed observation of that ?

    I have also wondered a lot if the best use of Maroney isn't in a scheme that gets him more into the open where his talent to take advantage of getting a little open space could be effective. It would seem to me, also, as has been commented, that he is much more suited to a Kevin Faulk type role which would give him running plays that give the RB a slight delay to see how the play initially develops and the outlet passes that would take advantage of his ability with a less cluttered set of defenders.
  22. AƟƟynormal

    AƟƟynormal PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Assuming you're basically correct:

    With careful deliberation, we choose not to carry a FB (and to use an OLman as a short yardage FB). Implicit in your scenario is the need to change our system away from zone blocking and/or to at least add a FB - if we're to be more effective - with Maroney. What I don't understand is: How come Fred Taylor doesn't need a FB? Why is he effective within the existing system and Maroney is not. I know that sounds like old argument but I still don't get it?

    How would such a fundamental change in blocking effect our schemes and signal calling (especially with rookie WRs, Aiken and Baker)? Could it even be done at this point of the season. I don't think we can change something as fundamental as the blocking scheme this late in the year. We've had signals trouble on both sides of the ball all season .

    I think Maroney needs to be the one who adjusts? How could he adjust (rather than the team adjust). Rather than add a FB. What plays are better suited for him within the existing framework. E.G., why not pitch him the ball, he has good hands?
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2009
  23. BlitzFritz

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    Fred Taylor doesnt need a fullback (as much) because he breaks tackles on more than a few occasions and gets to the second level. Maroney goes down on first contact every time. Unless he can just push the pile. Thats it.
  24. PatsFanSince74

    PatsFanSince74 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That's great. Thanks.

    So, here's a question for a guy who clearly knows a lot more about this than do I. Take the exact same situation (same play, same blocking, same attacking D in the same positions) and put any of the greatest runners in NFL history into it (Juice, Sanders, Brown, anyone you care to name). What, if anything, would/could they do to turn lead into gold?
  25. patfanken

    patfanken Rookie

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    #91 Jersey
    First I'd like to thank Jay for taking the time to do this post. While I don't agree with everything he's said, he's allowed for FINALLY a real discussion on the ISSUES of the running game, and not the personalities.

    Second. DI, where is this OTHER site. I'd love to see someone who breaks down gifs and analyzes them. I'm sure so who many others. It wouldn't be disloyal to this site to let other know. Maybe we could get the guy to post his analysis here.

    Now as to the blocking schemes. In you diagrams, Jay, I see one thing I can't get passed before you get into the backside protection.. I don't think that ANY coach worth his salt would ask a C to block a DT/N who is in the PLAY side gap. In that situation you'd most likely have the G block down (he has the angle) and have the C "fold" around. (btw this is a difficult block for the C given he has to snap the ball, but the good ones can do it.)

    You can still run a "zone" scheme, without giving up obvious bad angles to your blockers. You just have to have the calls to execute things like the fold block I described above, when the defense alignment makes it a requirement.

    As to your assessment of the back side problems, I couldn't agree more, though I agree with those who noted that it would require a completely new look to the offense. Abby makes one good point in noting that the Pats have clearly made the decision NOT to have a true FB, but I disagree on his Fred Taylor comment. Taylor's ypc is only slightly better than Maroney's and he had more carries prior to his injury.

    To the guy who complained that Maroney "hesitates" on every run should know that EVERY RB "hesitates". They are waiting for the hole to open. You often hear RBs say that part of their success is "being patient" and waiting for the hole to open. The key here is the decision making process and acceleration INTO that hole. It can be said that Moroney doesn't always make the correct decision, but, at least THIS year, only the haters still claim he isn't hitting that hole hard.

    Again, thanks for the thread. I wish we had more of them.
  26. TheComeback

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    First of all, great post jays. It was a very interesting and informative read, and I wish we had more intelligent posts like it in this forum. I do have a question, though. I seem to remember people commenting last year that the Patriots had started switching to an inline blocking scheme. If that's true, how is it different from zone blocking? Is it a better fit for our talent?

    Also, do you think Brady's handoff technique needs work? It seems like he telegraphs the run to the defense by taking so long. I thought that our running backs appeared to play better last year with Cassel under center.
  27. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Unfortunately, it's not a Patriots site, and he's not breaking down Patriots games.
  28. gomezcat

    gomezcat It's SIR Moderator to you Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Great stuff, guys. I'd love to know if they call the same plays for different backs and what the results are (alluded to PFS74's post for HOF backs). Also, doesn't Maroney typically come in at points when the Pats are looking to establish the run and Ds can stack accordingly?
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2009
  29. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    I think if we do this, we are getting into personal tendencies of the RB, which is where the discussion disintegrates and turns personal.

    Like Patfanken says, we're just discussing how the run game is run out of zone blocking, and how it hurts when we don't have a FB in the scheme.

    It looks like a lot of posters in this thread have expressed their desires to have more threads like this one, so how about we try to have that every gameweek?
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
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