Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 75

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Gir's Weekly Column: Volume 75

By Gir Todafunk
Special To The Daily Magi
January 10, 2056

What a year we've have had here at Mitakihara University! I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, your defending Thorpe, Bednarik, Nagurski and Tatupu Awards winner, with what could be my last weekly column here on the Daily Magi and the Magi Football Blog. If it is, it's been a great ride and I'm glad you've been a part of it. But at the same time, there is a part of me that is telling me, no, I still have one more year to go, and I need to finish it on top.

I'm really torn as to whether I should declare early or if I should wrap up my degree first. I already have 128 interceptions, a plethora of awards and three national championship rings. A lot of secondary people in college people would die to have all the honors I have. I have proven that I am ready to take on the challenge of playing in the NFL, but I don't know if I'm really ready. Hopefully in my meeting with Coach Kaname, I can make my decision and it will be an easy one.

I want to talk about how the blitz works. On passing plays, the offense always has at least five men blocking. From the quarterback's left to his right, they are: left tackle, left guard, center, right guard, right tackle. Depending on the personnel, formation, and blocking principles the offense uses, they can have a maximum of nine players blocking on any given pass play (this type of maximum protection is succinctly called "Max Protect"). Since the quarterback is throwing the pass, he cannot block and must have at least one receiver to catch the pass. Assuming the lone wide receiver is covered by a defensive back, this leaves the defense ten players to rush the quarterback versus the offense's nine blockers — the offense is outnumbered and at a disadvantage. Because the quarterback cannot block during passing plays, the defense always has one more man available to rush than the offense can block.

Usually offenses do not max protect, varying the levels of protection available depending on the play design and the quarterback's pre-snap read of the defense. The more receivers the offense has running passing routes, the better their chances are of completing the pass. This factor allows defenses to devise and execute a staggering variety of blitz packages between any number of their coverage personnel, trading tight coverage of receivers for proactive aggressive disruption of the play.

By nature, blitzes are risky endeavors for the defense. Since the defense is taking away coverage defenders to rush the quarterback, this usually means that the secondary can't afford to miss any coverage assignments. The defense does not and cannot cover all offensive players, but rather through the blitz, is proactively involved in pressuring the quarterback — specifically, trying to sack him, throw off his timing, or force him to make an error such as an interception or fumble.

The most common blitzes are linebacker blitzes. Safety blitzes, in which a safety (usually the free safety) is sent, and corner blitzes, where a cornerback is sent, are less common. Sending a defensive back on a blitz is even riskier than a linebacker blitz, as it removes a primary pass defender from the coverage scheme. The pressure, however, is very severe because a blitz by a defensive back is usually not anticipated by the offensive team’s blockers.

Advantages gained by blitzing are obvious: proactively disrupt the offense's play before it develops and cause enough pressure on the quarterback to force him into a turnover, sack or incomplete pass.

Disadvantages abound in any blitz scheme as well. First, the offensive linemen are usually trained to recognize a blitzing player before the snap of the ball. They communicate with each other at the line of scrimmage using code words that shift the protection to the blitzing player's side, thus strengthening their blocking front. The quarterback can also call other players into the protection scheme with audibles if he feels that his current protection is weak. With good protection calls and fundamental blocking principles, some blitzes can be "picked up" — stopped at the point of attack. Second, the tight man bump and run technique typical of blitz scheme cornerbacks can be defeated with aggressive wide receiver release moves. Once this happens, the cornerback is at a disadvantage and must regain ground and position quickly to prevent a catch. If the blitz is picked up, the wide receiver can create enough separation to become open relatively quickly.

Third, if the blitz is picked up, the one deep defender (usually the free safety) has an enormous amount of territory to guard. If two players simultaneously threaten his zone, he must decide which one to cover. The quarterback can read his reaction and throw to the other receiver, usually for a big gain. Fourth, if the pass is caught, there are fewer defenders and larger gaps between defenders, meaning that the receiver can get more yards after catch and possibly turn a minimal gain into a dangerous play.

And that's blitzing in a nutshell, and that is my last piece for the season. Depending on how my meeting with Coach Kaname goes, there will either be one more weekly column, or you will see me write one final batch of columns starting in July. Cross your fingers, readers. I'm Gir Todafunk, Mr. Wonderful, signing off. You are not alone, and We Are The Rose.

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