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The BIG RUSH...and what to do about it.

Okay, we have seen the massacres of the OL (and Qb) now in 4 games: the Texans(bullrushes), the Saints(multi-man blitzes), the Ravens(both bullrushes and x rushes), and now the much improved AZ team with x rushes, ILB rushes, CB and SS rushes, and at least 5,6, 7 guys coming most plays. 4 weeks ago, Coach Harbaugh found the answer in the last 3 mins of first half. It was a) no huddle, and b) quick slants and outs. We had the Ravens back on their heels, and marched smartly down the field on them. So what is the deal...why didn't Coach Harbaugh take that 3 minute game strip out and use that as a template as to what to call every time we see the BIG RUSH? Balt couldn't get their proper D pack on the field, they were using pass defenders D to stop the run or run defendesr D to stop the pass. In short, Coach H knows exactly how to beat the BIG RUSH, and that is with:

a) quick 1 step passes to WRs and TEs, but they have to be looking for ball the moment they leave LOS.

b) no huddle O, so D cannot get their proper D pack in

This is certainly not a novel idea, because Brady, Peyton(when healthy), and Brees use it all the time

Sure, alex looked bad, but the 5, 6, and 7 guys coming thru our OL on virtually every pass play just cried out for the quick 1 stepper. Instead Coach called 3, 5, and sometimes, even worse, the 7 stepper...each of which was destined to fail with the jailbreak BIG RUSH coming. This is one of those situations where an OL getting beaten like a drum can be "coached around" and I am suspicious that JH was not calling these plays, rather they were coming from Roman. Whoever WAS calling the O plays did himself no favor. It was appalling to see alex sacked 5 times and under so much pressure that he rarely had time to read a sequence, let alone find his first receiver.

OL is light yrs better than anytime in last 8 yrs, but when it is getting "handled", as in manhandled, Coach H should have an automatic fall back position to:

a) No huddle

b) 1 step passes only, or in the parlance, "snap it and sling it" . JReff has made a similar observation in the Alex thread. For whatever reason, Coach H has not used that O strategy since the last 3 mins of Ravens first half. Question is , why? We know it works as we marched the Ravens backwards down the entire field.
The same exact "snap it and sling it " strategy could be used in the red zone, especially when we are inside the 10yd line.

When our OL is getting beaten like a drum, it is simply time to coach around it. That's exactly what a series of Quick 1 steppers produces...and for good measure, revert to "no huddle" the moment we get into RZone.

I put this loss squarely on the guy calling the O plays, and if it was Coach H, then he made a boo-boo. If it was our OC, then he AND Coach H made a boo-boo.
Evidence for this is available for all to see. Just go back to your game film of Ravens, last 3 mins of 1st half. The quick one steppers, slants and outs, not only slowed the BIG RUSH, it negated it. Literally, Ravens didn't know what to do. Had it been used in AZ, we win. It wasn't , hence, mark this L down as a coaching loss...because it was. Does that mean i like Coach any less? Nope, it just means that like any human he is fallible, but the answer is in the game tape of Ravens. Coach H just needs to re-review that. Heck, he is just 16 weeks removed from a top flite elite college coach. He is learning and quickly at that. He needs more work, however, and main thing at present is to "coach around" the BIG RUSH...with simple and easy to do quick slants and outs, none more than one steppers. That assumes the WRs and TEs are going to catch the ball...something that only time is going to fix ...or new blood with great hands.
I like what I'm hearing.

The biggest concern is not being able to stop a 4 man rush......but the blitz cannot have such a high percentage of success for any defense, no matter how good they are unless you are the '93 Oilers with Buddy Ryan's 46 defense. Remember that game in Houston? I think we lost 10-7 or something.....that was the only time I recall Young being so frustrated in a game.
THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!

This is the most level-headed post I've read about the AZ game. Pitsburg will use the same blitz packages and often.
Well, JTs , certainly there were times when the 4 man rush got thru, but on several of those they were X rushing, and our OL has not been taught how to handle that. The thing that is bothersome is that since Texans, then Saints, then Ravens and now AZ, our OL isn't any further along in recognizing the X rush, nor are they handling the 5,6, or 7 man blitzes, no matter where they come from. The reason for not using 1 step passes is puzzling because that would negate any kind of passrush, be it 4 guys or 7. I know Coach understands this because this is exactly what he did in the last 3 mins of 1st half in Balt....and very successfully to boot. Why he hasn't used it since then is just a mystery. Hopefully he will go back to it, because until he does revert to 1 steppers, you know the D we are going to see next Mon nite, and again in the playoffs.
As noted in last sentence, Wally, we are going to see the BIG RUSH again, just 7 nites from now.
Can only do this 1 stepper a few times a game before the defense jumps on the route for a quick pick. The rest of the time it still comes down to protection, open receivers, and qb blitz recognition. It sucks because I'v seen even the best of offense in the 90's struggled with this. And that's with good sets of all 3 area. We are just not a good passing offense to overcome that right now. But it can be improved.
Oline having a lot of issues stopping the stunts at the LOS as well. Sorry Staley but your line once again sucks.
The center guard combo on this team is well below average.
  • dj43
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Teams that have figured out how to block overload blitzes take shorter splits on the OL, thereby creating too much congestion in the middle for the blitzers to get through.

It is critical that the front of the pocket be maintained. Since it is now obvious to anyone with eyes that Goodwin cannot hold the point on his own, the guards will have to move in closer in order to solidify that area. While this will result in the flanks being more susceptible to the blitz, at least that allows the QB to step up into the throw. Too much of the time in the past three games Smith has not had that opportunity.

Also, by forcing blitzers outside, it creates opportunities for screens behind them...something we aren't doing well at all now.

All of this will make it more difficult to run the ball but we have become too one-dimensional there anyway. Teams have taken that scheme away for three weeks in a row.
  • dj43
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Originally posted by lamontb:
The center guard combo on this team is well below average.

Goodwin, admittedly is not strong enough. That is one reason NO let him go.

Snyder is a backup playing with a sore hammie - that is not good.

Iupati needs to learn to cut block more effectively on pass protection. He allows defenders to stay too upright, thereby allowing them to get their hands in the air to block passes. He needs to be as nasty in pass protection as he is on running plays.

This team needs BOTH a RG AND a center in the upcoming draft. I don't see any FAs being available that will make the needed improvement.
Until this game, i thot Goodwin was doing a good job, but anything between him and IUpati or him and snyder was a freeway to the qB. It was just a case of nobody on the line feeling like he knew who the hell to block, and consequently, nobody got blocked. Made alex look bad, but this was OL blues...nothing more, nothing less. It is and has been a coaching thing, and expecting an OL to go from completely uncoached for 8 long yrs to looking like they know how to handle all the fancy blitz packs is a huge miscalculation on my part. I figured (and posted) it would take 8-10 games to get our OL on the right track. I was utterly amazed when JH had them blocking as a unit by the second game of the season. My guess as to blitz pickup and recognition was way too optimistic. If these same guys get that down by mid point of next yr, I will be delighted. It is also a reason we are not going to go far in playoffs this yr. OL has to know how to read blitzes and how to pick them up for the 9ers to go far in the playoffs...and we are stuck back at Ravens game, and have not improved one whitt since then..

One other unrelated issue: It is b.s. that we didn't miss p-52. There were literally a dozen missed first tackles, that had p 52 been out there, would have been tackled on the first hit. We missed the hell out of our main man. D was good, but not excellent as when our #1 man is in.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. The problems with the o-line has been here since Solari has been with the team. These guys seem lost at times when the other team puts pressure on them. I see linemen doubling on one guy and let someone else through. This isn't something thats new since Harbaugh has been here, this has been a problem for years with this team.
As for the defense, f*gio continues to rush just 4 guys and the other teams have figured out how to deal with it. He is going to have to come up with some sort of blitz packages or they will never get any pressure on the QB. Some have said that he runs his defense like the coach at Green Bay, I don't see that because they use pressure blitzes quite a bit. In this The way that teams are doing things different each week then they need to change and make adjustments or it will never work.
The OL just seems to be in flux, not only were they just struggling to pass protect, but now they've been struggling to run block since the Giants game. Im not gonna single out certain players, but we all can see that the OL is vunerable to stunts alot lately.
rudedog, agree with your observations, but this is Coach Harbaugh's team, and he is very knowledgeable about each and every position on the team, having coached most of them...either in college or pros. So I feel this is JH's problem, not Solari's, and JH is the one whose feet should be held to the fire. I have no idea how coaching jobs are delegated, how fiefdoms are split up, esp on game day. So OL and O playcalls, are and should be Coach Harbaugh's bailiwick. I am afraid , looking at results of Balt game and now AZ, 1 month later , that JH is not taking these two responsibilites personally...and he should. We look exactly like we did against Ravens, and worse, just like Texans and Saints preseason games. That is not doing a good job of HCoaching, and I hope Coach realizes that fact. I truly believe HE knows how to fix the play calling to coach around our deficiencies, namely the OL . Also, WRs need a big dose of personal 1 on 1 with Coach H. I hope I am correct in this and that Coach Harbaugh has just been too busy with other aspects of the game to personally attend to these two monumental problems. If not, he needs to engage , immediately, or he is allowing underlings to sabotage all the terrific work he has done with this team in a mere 3 mos.
Yup...mixing in some hurry-ups, more actual WCO plays (utilizing TE's, go to a spread, quick slants, crossing patterns, WR/RB screens, etc.). Right now we are letting defenses dictate us. Period. And on defense, we are not dictating their offenses.
[ Edited by NCommand on Dec 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM ]