Monday, October 6, 2014

Inside the Playbook - MSU Jet Sweep Package

Originally posted at The Only Colors on 12/6/13

The jet sweep has become increasingly popular over the past decade or so, really coming into form when Houston Nutt first introduced his wildcat formation at Arkansas. It's important to distinguish this from an end around and a reverse.

Reverses, End Arounds, and Jet Sweeps are 3 different plays designed to take advantage of different things from a defense. Reverse initially attacks 1 side before reversing fields and takes advantage of horizontal over-pursuit. End-Around has middle action attached & takes advantage of vertical over pursuit (by getting depth and around squeezing EMOL). A jet sweep has no misdirection in and of itself (though it will often be paired with a run call and used in its own right as misdirection) and is simply a sweep with jet motion attached. It is designed to get to the edge before the defense and is often utilized by teams with receivers that have more speed than their power backs.

So Michigan State uses the jet sweep as a way to get outside the defense. This is especially important for teams that specialize in inside runs, particularly plays like Power O which can be squeezed down to take away any run creases. But as DEs squeeze down or LBs attempt to read and react, the easier and more important it becomes for a WR to beat the defense to the corner.

Keys here for an effective jet sweep are that the snap should occur when the motion player is between the tackle and the guard. The QB does a reverse pivot from under center and hands the ball to the WR. As soon as the WR receives the ball, he'll take another bucket step back to gain enough depth to get around the edge and not get grabbed from inside. The WR will threaten hash, numbers, and then sideline to cut upfield. Once upfield, you want him to get outside and run up the alley down the outside of the field.

Jet Sweep Fake - Inside Zone
As teams become more successful running jet sweeps, you'll start to see defenses adjust. For instance, when OSU faced Wisconsin's jet sweep, they automatically brought down the safety to the playside to shoot upfield in the alley and gain leverage at the snap, forcing the ball carrier back inside and into run support or gain depth to allow time for support to get to the corner before the ball carrier.

Other teams will try similar things with OLBs (or even by widening the DE, though this requires very athletic and aware DEs and isn't really a recipe for success) and the concept is the same. At the same time, the inside LBs and backside LB will tend to scrape over the top to track down the play from behind in run support.

To counteract this, many teams install an inside zone run off of jet sweep action (you can run it will basic Power O blocking, but in my opinion this tends to be more difficult to get the blockers in good position to pull it off unless you're blocking the front side with a read option (read: inverted veer); so if you insist on running a man scheme to block it, I recommend a down G look instead). Running away from action or to action will vary depending on the team or simply by the call, but both work equally well becomes of the concept of the inside zone. Running away from the jet motion will take advantage of LBs scraping over the top. Within the inside zone there are three reads: 1) Read playside A/B gap; 2) Cutback to backside A gap; 3) bounce outside on the playside.

So running away from jet motion will take advantage of LBs flowing with the jet motion and often times provides a natural cut back as the LB to the jet sweep tries to gain outside leverage.

Running the jet sweep to the same side still sucks up the backside LBs rather than allowing them to flow in run support. Still, it takes a LB out of the play and makes the bounce back even more threatening as the defense rolls with the jet motion.

Here's a video of Wisconsin running a jet sweep with an inside zone away from the jet sweep motion.

Jet Sweep Fake - Counter Trey
So now you've forced the defense to flow both outside and upfield to protect against the jet sweep and the inside zone. Particularly when the inside zone looks to be going in the same direction as the jet sweep motion, it really pulls the defense in that direction and upfield. This really allows a defense to fairly easily get outside leverage and seal them inside as they get caught in the wash.

This almost works similar to a reverse, in that you are heavily selling one direction and then getting outside on the back end. As defenses roll their coverage toward the jet motion and get sucked up to the initial movement, MSU opens a big running lane on the backside.

MSU uses counter trey action this play (on the above blocking the playside TE and playside OT would actually double the DE to the backside backer - this is the "trey" block in "counter trey"). Note here that the first puller would prefer to seal the EMOL inside, but if he gains too much depth he will simply kick that defender and the RB will run off his butt.

Here's the video:

Jet Sweep - Weak Long Trap
The long trap has the advantage of looking a lot like an inside zone run play at it's inception. Each of the blockers blocks one direction except for the farside OT. However, instead of an aiming point to the movement side portion of the defender, the OL will all down block into a gap and seal a team away from the play.

Now, I think the trap block is by far the most under-utilized run block at the college and pro level, particularly given the way DEs get vertical against the pass rush these days. Most high school teams are used to the standard FB short trap, where the OG traps a 3-tech, for instance. But the standard blocking for the TB trap is to have the OT pull, and the long trap targets the first defender outside the playside OT. MSU utilizes the long trap to initiate flow toward the jet sweep side. The RB even begins with a handoff in that direction, before running a designed cutback behind the trapping OT.

Here's the Video

Jet Sweep - Run Play Action
Michigan State has been running variants of this from shotgun simply because the footwork is easier for Cook (it also gives him a peak of the defensive backfield). But there is little that prevents this from being run under center and with the same backfield action to carry the defense out of coverage.

Defenses start bring safeties up when they see the jet motion or blitzing off the back end with the CB and now you attack them over the top.

This video is a bit of a variant, mind you. It's off an end around look where the RB fake is first, but that's only because of the shotgun look and the fact that they are trying to run inside zone to the backside of the jet motion (if you ran jet sweep with that, the two players would run into each other, though you could jet sweep and run inside zone to the same side).

Against Nebraska, MSU also utilized a hard sell in which they utilized a Counter Power or Counter Trey play action blocking and kept in the TE, FB, and RB to block. This hard sell works because MSU can utilize a Power O or Counter Trey (which typically has one more blocker, but you don't need to sell it that well) or of the jet sweep motion (either for the fake or for the jet sweep give). On the outside, because the hard sell sucks up the safeties, it puts the DBs in a man coverage situation essentially, regardless of the called coverage. Here, Nebraska looks to be rotating their safeties in a Cover 1 look anyway (meaning man coverage on the outside). MSU will run the out-and-up and a wheel route from the jet player in order to attack both the man-to-man CB as well as the underneath coverage designed to stick to the jet motion receiver and carry him throughout the duration of the play (this has benefits later when MSU runs with the RB out of the same look, as a defender must continue to carry the receiver rather than work back to the RB in run support).

Here's the video:

Jet Sweep Reverse
I spoke about at the top of the article how an end around and a reverse are not the same. To prove that point, MSU paired a jet sweep with a reverse, where the eventual ball carrier took the ball in the reversed direction of all the initial flow. Here, all the OL initially blocks in the direction of a Counter F blocking scheme with a jet sweep added on. The tackle in to the reverse side will then perform a loop (actually goes upfield and then circles back around to seal the DE inside) or a scoop (pulls into the backfield and scoops the DE to seal inside). The TE works immediately up field and will look to block the first off-color inside of him. If no off-color comes, he continues to work vertically until he meets a defender. The remaining OL will block the DL for a count so that they can't get immediate penetration into the backfield, they will then release to the second and/or third level and block the first off-color inside of them to seal them there. Again, if they don't meet a defender, they'll continue to work vertical. There is no reason for these blockers to seek out a defender to block, let them meet you, otherwise they'll be out of the play. The two RBs and the pulling OG successfully can seal the run direction to prevent immediate penetration into the backfield that would otherwise blow up the play.

Here's the video

Area to Grow
The question is now, is this all there is to the Jet Sweep Package, has it reached it's limit? In my mind, no, it hasn't yet. There are three plays that I would like to still see added that take full advantage of the misdirection provided by the jet sweep look: Slow Screen, TE Slip Screen, and the FB wheel route. All force the defense to maintain discipline with their eyes and run coverage, and that's why these plays would also be successful. Without going into full detail, I'll provide the diagrams.

Slow Screen

TE Slip Screen

 FB Wheel

Update: MSU ran the wheel route. LINK here on how they did just that.

So out of this jet sweep package, MSU can quickly attack the edge. When defenses start trying to gain leverage on the outside, Michigan State can also run a quick hit interior run game more effectively by drawing those defenders outside of the tackles. As defenses start rolling the defense and bringing extra defenders to the play, they can get out-flanked on the back end with the counter look. Lastly, as defenses try to attack off both edges or bring both safeties down in run support, then the play action can be used to attack them over the top. For defenses that are very athletic but tend to be undisciplined, especially with their eyes and with their flow, this package can lead to some big gains for the Spartans.

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