FanPost

Blitzkrieg

Jamie Squire

From the FanPosts -Joel

The word "blitz" is maybe the most exciting word in football. Like a football Mexican standoff, it conjures up the ultimate him-or-me scenario - a mass of defenders in single-minded, blind pursuit of the quarterback, and an offense that knows it might be only a missed tackle away from a long touchdown. Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden once gave a clinic lecture about the blitz aptly (and neutrally) titled, "Hang Loose - One of Us Is Fixin' to Score." A blitz is the closest thing we have to football bedlam.

Link to the Grantland article on the evolution of the zone blitz.

We hear all the time that the Blitzburgh defense is the final evolution of the answer to Joe Montana and the Bill Walsh West Coast offense. Defeat the quick strike offense with a attacking zone defense in the secondary. While the blitz at the line of scrimmage is what you see, the back-story is the secondary defense of six DBs.

The DBs have to scheme the coverage of 4-5 route runners. The offense could flood a zone, or take the top of the defense, or run the ball. As the article states, a blitz is sending a fifth defender in addition to the the normal four rush lineman. This rusher could be a corner or safety and then the coverage includes either an OLB or defensive lineman.

Something the Chiefs have rarely done in the last three years: Blitz. Another something the Chiefs have rarely done in the last few years: garner sacks.

Romeo's scheme was simple: prevent. The Chiefs would be a fence at the line of scrimmage with their three down lineman and send Tamba Hali and then Justin Houston around the edge. The secondary would play their zones and the Chiefs would hope for a sack, penalty, interception or fumble as the enemy drove the ball 80 yards down the field.

All well and good. The Kansas City Chiefs were inept enough to turn the ball over far short of 80 yards from the enemy score. Equally inept, the Chiefs offense rarely scored at all.

New Season, New Schemes

Andy Reid has decided that the Zone Blocking scheme is not his forte. Huge offensive lineman and a power blocking scheme are on the way. In 2010 or so, the Eagles had the largest offensive line ever assembled in the NFL. We just drafted a mean tackle, a large drafted center, in free agency grabbed a 340 lb. guard, back to the draft we took the best blocking TE. The Chiefs lineman leftover were ZBS players but nasty like Jon Asamoah and Rodney Hudson.

As in the Navy, the Chiefs just built a platform for the big guns to go deep.

Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter and Wylie are the longer range targets. Fasano, Moeaki, and Kelce will be the mid range. Charles, Gray, and Davis will be the check-downs and the clean-ups as the Chiefs take the coverage downfield.

The attackers had gotten in unimpeded because our fighters, which had engaged the preceding wave of torpedo planes only a few moments earlier, had not yet had time to regain altitude.

Consequently, it may be said that the American dive-bombers' success was made possible by the earlier martyrdom of their torpedo planes. Also, our carriers had no time to evade because clouds hid the enemy's approach until he dove down to the attack. We had been caught flatfooted in the most vulnerable condition possible - decks loaded with planes armed and fueled for attack. - Midway 1942

The Chiefs deep threat will draw of the mid range coverage and the running backs out of the backfield will have open field to run. Blitzkreig was always envisioned as a deep attack into the enemies defenses.

Blitzkrieg (German, "lightning war") is an anglicised word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken, proceeding without regard to its flank. Through maneuver warfare, the blitzkrieg attempts to keep its enemy off-balance, making it difficult to respond effectively at any given point before the front has already moved on.

Infantry, tanks, artillery, and air power.

Offensive lineman, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers, and a General to command them.

Seems so simple.

But then we have counter-measures:

In the mid-1980s, defenses across the NFL faced a common problem: how to stop the precision-passing offenses becoming so prevalent throughout the league. Most notably, it was how to stop the San Francisco 49ers, led by resident NFL offensive genius Bill Walsh. Walsh, one of the most meticulous men football has known, had studied the passing game with and under some of the game's masters - Paul Brown, Sid Gillman, and Al Davis - but had taken the next step by planning every detail, every subtle movement by quarterback, offensive line, and receiver. Walsh transformed passing from a combustible, high-risk, high-reward strategy into something certain and predictable. His quarterbacks completed a higher percentage of their passes, didn't throw interceptions, and didn't take sacks. He'd kept the reward and reduced the risk, and defenses needed an answer, fast. - Grantland

Dick Lebeau adopted the Bill Arnsparger scheme and created his own - Blitzburgh

What makes the zone blitz successful is that it allows the defense to bring outside linebackers and safeties to one side or both sides without using man-to-man blitz coverage. Normal blitzes use man-to-man coverage. The offensive line and one or two backs are assigned to block the defensive line and linebackers. In the zone blitz, the linebacker blitzes along with a secondary player, but the offensive pickup is different. It is different because defensive linemen who usually rush are now dropping out to short inside zones to replace the linebacker and secondary player that blitz. Because of the blitzer's path, it is difficult for the offensive linemen to adjust. - Grantland

But the offenses did adjust and now the latest derivative of the zone blitz has modified the back end coverage. The front end is still the same but the cover scheme has morphed into a hybrid man-zone coverage. The Kansas City Chiefs have a mix of secondary players that are good in zone or good in man, or are yet to be trained in either at the NFL level. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has mainly had man coverage while the Chiefs secondary coach has taught Romeo's quarters zone coverage.

The answer that Saban, Belichick, and many others developed was "pattern-match" coverage - essentially man coverage that uses zone principles to identify the matchups. As Saban explained at the 2010 Coach of the Year Clinics Football Manual clinic:

You can play coverages in three ways. You can play zone, man, or pattern-match man. Pattern-match man is a coverage that plays the pattern after the pattern distribution. That means you pick up in man coverage after the receivers make their initial breaks and cuts. We number receivers from the outside going inside. If the number-one receiver crosses with the number-two receiver, we do not pick up the man coverage until they define where they are going.

In other words, the zone blitz had come full circle. What began as a way to blitz without playing man coverage had started incorporating man coverage all over again, this time in an entirely new way. - Grantland

We have Javier Arenas, DeQuan Menzie, and Nico Johnson out of Saban's mesh cover scheme. We have Brandon Flowers and Sanders Commings who are man corners, though Brandon has been excellent in the zone scheme. We have the free agents that have man/cover skills. We have the players to implement the back side of the Blitz-burgh defense, we have the coaches to and some players that have played a "Bear" style defense.

What are the Kansas City Chiefs going to be in 2013? I bet it is something far different than Haley/Romeo/Pioli had planned in 2010.

Geaux Chiefs

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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