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- By Alex Kirby
Learning the ins and outs of the run game is a big part of learning how to coach offensive line, so lets take a look at three examples of zone run plays from the past week of NFL games.
1- Dolphins vs Bills
The offense takes the field with 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) and puts both receivers to the left side. This forces the defense to show their hand and “declare” for one side or another.
The strong outside linebacker starts to widen and try to split the difference between the tight end and inside receiver, which in turn gives the tight end to that side #48 Marqueis Gray plenty of room and a good angle for his kickout block on the front side of the play.
At the snap, the left tackle and left guard have to deal with a defensive end at the five technique slanting into the play, but they do a great job of working together here. The left tackle gives the DE a shove and passes him off to the left guard, which because of the way he knifes into the backfield here, makes the decision a lot easier for running back Jay Ajayi.
On the backside of the play, the right defensive end does what he’s supposed to do here, reading the movement of the offensive tackle and trying to restrict his movement. The right guard is supposed to work in tandem with the center to get movement on the nose tackle, but in this case the nose slants where the offense wants him to go, and the guard is freed up to go after the inside linebacker on the backside. He doesn’t quite get there, but fortunately for Ajayi and the offense, he isn’t able to change direction quickly enough, and the cutback path is all clear for a big gain.
2- Broncos vs Texans
This time the frontside DE slants inside once again, just like the play before, but this time the frontside tackle does a much better job of getting hands on him and passing him off to the guard, while the tackle continues his climb to the near inside linebacker.
Meanwhile the tight end kicks out the outside linebacker to his side to create the other half of the running lane.
The backside of the play is set up to accommodate a cutback run if the defense forces it that way. Having the fullback Andy Janovich lead up on the near inside linebacker adds a more “downhill” element to this play. The backside tackle and guard block out on the defensive linemen across from them, so it’s almost like two plays in one.
3- Jets vs Ravens
Baltimore lines up the fullback out wide at first, before sending him in motion back to his traditional spot in the backfield.
The fullback is inserted on the weak side of the formation as a lead blocker, but for all intents and purposes, Baltimore has the same number of bodies to the weak side as if they ran to the tight end side.
The fullback leads up on the near inside linebacker, but not before he gives the three technique defensive tackle a good chip. Meanwhile, the center blocks out to help on the three technique, and once he’s sure the guard is getting movement on him, he’ll turn his eyes to the backside inside linebacker and try to seal him off from the frontside of the play.
He’s unsuccessful, but by the time the linebacker makes contact on the ball carrier, he’s already several yards downfield, and the play has served its purpose.
Want to learn more about the run game?