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Author Topic: Is the "zone blitz" passe?  (Read 817 times)
PittsburghPA
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« on: Dec 09, 2007 at 20:12 »

I wonder if teams have now found a critical weakness in "zone blitz" scemes. The sceme seems to be every "dink-and-dunk" and/or "West Coast Offense" QB's wet dream. Sure, it normally prevents the big play, but with DBs playing so damn far off the line of scrimmage, they can be eaten alive by the short passing game. Teams may not score quickly against them, but they certainly can move down the field methodically. Move the chains about six or seven times, and the next thing you know, you're in the end zone.

On that note, I wonder if today's game will ultimately make Mike Tomlin convert the defense to a "Cover 2."
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Hercules50.
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 09, 2007 at 20:20 »

I think not -- whatever schemes we've been running this year have worked pretty well. I think it's true that our scheme doesn't work against the Patriots, as they score plenty of points on us each time we play. But I'd say in general the scheme works:

> Our pass defense numbers this year are staggeringly good

> We really haven't been dinked and dunked on, successfully, by many teams in the last couple-three years -- certainly not like we were in 2002 and 2003 when teams threw 50 straight passes on us in successive weeks. The Seahawks run a West Coast offense and we shut them out.

> We just played one of the best offenses ever without either of our starting safeties.

So.....I don't know. Not saying what you're asking isn't possibly so. Maybe we need a better scheme just for Tom Brady.

One thing I find distressing about our defense this year is how few interceptions we've had. What's up with that?
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PittsburghPA
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 09, 2007 at 20:22 »

Well I'm worried that Tom Brady will slay us for the entirety of his career unless the scheme changes. He knows how to counter EVERYTHING we throw at him.
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Hercules50.
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 09, 2007 at 20:29 »

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Well I'm worried that Tom Brady will slay us for the entirety of his career unless the scheme changes. He knows how to counter EVERYTHING we throw at him.
No doubt.

We have no solution for that guy. He throws it deep on us when he wants. He dinks on us when he wants. He converts any fourth down on us. He murders us in the red zone.

And you definitely have a point that it's the Tampa-2 teams like the Colts that seem to have had the most success against him. It does seem like the Pats have our pass rush solved, completely. Although even they got torched in the AFCC last year, and in the last ten minutes of the game this year. I don't think anyone has them solved. Philly played a nice game on them, and the Ravens are just talented on D. So if anything, it's maybe the Philly scheme we could borrow from.

But heck, if I had the answer I'd be a wealthy man!
« Last Edit: Dec 09, 2007 at 20:30 by Hercules50. » Logged
sysadmin7
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 09, 2007 at 20:36 »

"Zone Blitz Schemes"...what zone blitz schemes? I can honestly think of about 9 zone blitz plays that were called. I watched our entire defense rush 3 to 4 guys all fucking game long. Brady had more time to pass than I would've liked, that's for sure. Yeah, our safeties bit hard on a few plays...but all in all, it was the lack of pressure/Brady having time to throw that fucked our defense. Staying in a 3-4 D against a 5 wide attack isn't the smartest idea if you don't intend to "bring pressure", and not just 4. Our D lacked the instinct to rattle Brady, thus leading to a complete beat-down through the air. On one full drive, Wes Welker ALONE caught every fucking pass leading to every fucking yard down into the red zone. He didn't catch one ball all game...it goes to show how ineffective our passing game is against a 4/5 wide set passing attack if we stay in a solid 3-4 without overloading the O-line.

Drop back and let Brady pick you apart...I fucking love that hard nosed front 7 D that we forget to use. Dropping back in zone against a 4/5 wide set...hilarious, and no pressure!!

Un...fucking...real.  
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steelerfaninCO
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« Reply #5 on: Dec 09, 2007 at 21:01 »

The Steelers just don't have the dominant pass rush from their DL to get consistent pressure on Brady while dropping 6 or 7 into coverage. The Ravoons were able to pressure Brady with 4 or 5 guys and drop everyone else. If the Steelers could do the same, they would have a better chance. I think a D like the Giants could give Brady problems. Two dominant pass rush DE's who don't need a blitz to get pressure. We saw how inaccurate Brady can be when he gets hurried in the 1st half today. If you can hurry him while dropping into coverage, you might have a chance. I don't know if the zone blitz will work against the Pats. It seems like a team like the Steelers just needs to score 40 points to win.
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« Reply #6 on: Dec 10, 2007 at 00:27 »

Agree on the requirement of a better offense.  Although Brady put up the big yardage in H2, it still remains that the PSD gave up 17 points in each half.  The offense did not close the deal on any drive after the first TD, which won't get it done.

I don't think yunz are calling for abandonment of the zone blitz, per se.  All teams have elements of that in their defense, and a lot of the zone blitz concepts come out of the package schemes, not the 34 base.  Every team has zone blitzes and Cover 2 schemes in the playbook.  Further, a Tampa 2 (favored by Dungy and Tomlin) is a specialized version of Cover 2.

What the 34 Okie base of the past and present Steelers does do, though, is require D-line personnel that are not going to get to the QB early or often.  If teams can pick up the extra rusher (or recognize the 3 man rush), it's a problem for the Steelers.  It's not easy to do, but for an elite passing attack, it's possible to beat the LeBeau fronts when they don't have a young Joey Porter or Greg Lloyd creating havoc.

Problem with converting to a Cover 2 or Tampa 2 is that without pressure from the D-line, that defense can be had.  Exhibit A would be the Bears this year.  Second problem is that a Tampa 2 requires a lot of fast LB's who can cover TE, at least within a zone.  Remember, there's only three of 'em in the "conventional" front.  The Steelers only have that in part.

Part of LeBeau's challenge each year is to determine how to morph his base and package defenses with the personnel available.  With Clark and Maul out, it gets to be a problem.  One thing that the Steelers cannot do defensively is get beat over the top, and the FS has to be a sure tackler.  Although he didn't get a lot of picks, Chris Hope was the bright, steady FS needed in the LeBeau defense.  Ryan Clark is a poor man's version, but still OK, and Anthony Smith's lack of disciplined play is a minus in the LeBeau system.

Back to the question of whether the Steelers' defense is passe?  I don't think so, but I'm not sold on whether the front seven has enough collective talent to make it go at full throttle.  The D-line is good, but not of the four LB's have real speed, and all are hitting 30+.  The failure of Woodley and Timmons to make an immediate impact isn't helping, at least to date.
« Last Edit: Dec 10, 2007 at 01:08 by padgfrombf » Logged
steelerfaninCO
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« Reply #7 on: Dec 10, 2007 at 00:55 »

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 and Anthony Smith's lack of disciplined play is a minus in the LeBeau system.

 
Exactly...Smith has been a liability in coverage since day 1. There was a reason why Clark was the starter. The Cover 3 schemes, with Troy doing his thing, requires great discipline from the deep safety to stay deep and not allow the big over the top play. Smith sometimes has the big hit, but other times hit's a receiver late in the EZ which could have easily been flagged. He's young and he does have talent, so I hope he learns to operate within the system and STFU. Hideously ironic that he was telling Brady when they were jawing after the 1st Moss TD to "throw it my way bitch", and then the very next Pats offensive play was the PA fake over the top to Moss. Ouch...
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aj_law
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« Reply #8 on: Dec 10, 2007 at 10:04 »

I must've missed all of those plays where Pittsburgh dropped 8 in "coverage" because I saw a lot of five guy pressure.  Who and from what direction those five were varied (mostly Harrison and Foote with the down guys), but it was usually five and sometimes six with the corners playing soft and safeties giving support over the top.  I dunno, but that sounds an awful lot like a zone blitz scheme to me.

The problem was they just couldn't get there fast enough because Brady was getting rid of it quickly.  Notice that with the exception of the flea flicker and one bomb with the blown coverage, Brady had very little success with the intermediate range routes.  On those plays, he was usually rushing his throw because pressure was coming or a lineman was being pushed into his face.

Everything, and I mean everything they were having success with was less than 10 yards.  And, if the play went for 12 or 16, it's because of YAC.

Again, I'm no expert or coach, but to me, when an offense is doing that, I think it renders the blitzing part of that zone blitzing moot.  IMO, I don't have a problem with the scheme, I just didn't like the defense that they ran from it.  An example that I'm thinking of was during that long 3rd quarter New England drive, Pittsburgh repeatedly had 2 guys with their hands down and several others sort of dancing around the LOS.  Instead of doing something crazy like show 6 coming and dropping 3 of them, they'd show 6 and drop 1 with the usual suspects going forward (guys like Keisel and Foote, mostly Harrison) and the others going back.  
Where was the safety or corner blitz?  Where was the unpredictability?
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Y2Joyce
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« Reply #9 on: Dec 10, 2007 at 17:35 »

The Steelers had the #1 D versus the pass until they ran into Randy Moss and Tom Brady. Zone blitz has had plenty to do with that.

Passe? No. Whatever is french for "still pretty damn good and had a bad day" Oui Oui.
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