Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Football Fundamentals: RB and HB Blocking

In this post we are going to look at the complexities of blocking from the RB position. To the average fan, a FB tends to look like a meat-headed, helmet crunching, out of control thumper. Well, in some ways, that is true, but a FB must also be intelligent, quick to adapt to what is in front of him, and absolutely in control of every situation. Often times in two-back plays, the read for the ball-carrier is defined by the technique and capability of the FB. It is not an easy position, despite often being filled with walk-ons or lower recruited players at the college level. In no ways is this position easy, but that's what makes it so critical, and the variety of blocks that can be performed makes having the option of a lead blocker extremely powerful for any offense. For this exercise, an ILB should be considered a LB that's within the tackle box, while an OLB is a LB that is outside the tackle box. 


Return of the Fullback? Photo Courtesy of Detroit News


Run Blocks
B Block
Goal: Block of playside OLB/DE to 2nd level overhang defender (if first disappears)

Aiming Point: OLB’s/DE Inside Foot (if on LOS)

Pre-snap: Locate OLB and note his alignment. Also note alignment of playside DE as the two players often work in conjunction with each other.

Approach: Be quick out of stance, taking a 6 inch step at the aiming point. Bend at knees, not at hips, and rip through with upfield arm to get needed burst out of stance. If OLB crowds LOS, he will likely crash down inside; do not allow penetration. Aim for inside foot of OLB, then take him straight down the middle and knock him back.

Contact: OLB will attempt to take a side; your head should go to the opposite side. Pads must stay below his pads. You do not have to take the OLB anywhere, the main goal is to maintain your block, but utilize his momentum against him. The harder he comes, the lower you should block him; if he comes full speed, block is thrown between waist and knee. If he scrapes outside, kick him out, aiming to hit his inside numbers; if he stays tight, turn and wheel, aiming to hit his outside number and pin him inside. Initial contact is with tip of the shoulder. Keep elbows in tight and finish with hands, locking onto the defender.

Common Faults:
  1.  Twisting or turning shoulders
  2. Approaching with pads too high
  3.  Making contact with the tip of the shoulder
  4.  Not sustaining block
Example:

Belly - Some will utilize just a Power block for the belly, but with the play design, it also makes for a nice play to bounce outside, particularly if you are a zone based team and the LBs are fast flowing. In that way, we differ it from Power, because it is more nominal to pin the DE inside.

BIM Block
Goal: Execute a cut block on the Playside DE or work to 2nd level ILB (if first doesn't flash)

Aiming Point: Outside knee of DE

Pre-snap: Locate the DE; be prepared to exchange assignments with OT.

Approach: Explode out of stance as quickness to the LOS is important as you have to beat penetration to the point of attack. Work tight to the LOS. Aiming point vs a 4-3 DE is the outside of the knee. Contact should be made above the knee, with head on the outside. Aiming point for 3-4 DE is outside foot of your OT, which is important to have a chance to get outside the OT’s block and get up onto the ILB. Take care of first level first, but just as often (depending on play call) you will eventually be working to second level. So keep head up and look for a defender flashing.

Contact: Make contact with shoulder above the DE knee, knocking the DE’s legs from under him. Make sure you go through him, not to him. Need to drive through knee to ensure defender hits the ground.

If DE pins himself inside, continue up onto the ILB. Block on ILB is a “Cut Down Block” if possible, or a lead block if you can't get proper position. Be prepared for no first level defender to flash (the exception would be something like a SAM/DE twist) and work to the 2nd level.

1st level block is always made with head on the outside.

Ect: Some offenses will define a difference between "BIM" and "BOM", in which BIM has a designated first level blocker as described above and "BOM" is designed to look like BIM at the inception of the play, but the intention is to work the block to the 2nd level ILB. Differentiating the two can depend on your teams skill level, your FBs ability to adapt on the fly, and your playbook.

Some also use "BIM" as another term for a "Wham" block

Common Faults
  1.  Not getting to the LOS quickly enough
  2. Not recognizing the combination and potential charges by the defense
  3. Not hitting through the target
  4. Hesitating when the end goes inside and not getting out to ILB.

Example:



Counter F - In the example of Counter F, some will designate this a "BOM" block, because the intention is to get to the second level. Here, we designate it a "BIM" block in the event the DE and SAM exchange gaps. With that DE going inside (but not all the way inside), the FB is responsible for handling him.

Bluff Block
Goal: Bluff the SAM/DE and perform an arc block on the first defensive back out of secondary.

Aiming Point: Aim for outside foot of TE

Pre-snap: Identify the SAM LB and eye the secondary to determine the most likely defender to threaten down into the box.

Approach: Explode out of stance and attack the SAM on the path of your aiming point. Get the SAM’s attention and set him up for the block that will eventually come (or set him up to bite on the first fake). At the last moment, avoid contact with the SAM, working to the outside, and then take a frontal approach onto the first DB out of the secondary.

Contact: Your block is a stalk block: down the middle, knock the DB straight back and giving the RB a two-way-go (though think “protect inside first”).
  1. If the DB tries to avoid block to the outside, take him further outside with block
  2. If the DB tries to avoid the block to the inside, take him further inside with the block
  3. If the DB is playing soft, the block is a frontal approach and knock him straight back
  4. If the DB retreats, chase him down and go right down the middle, number to number.
  5.  If he should try to penetrate, must stop him by cutting him down.

 Ect: This could bluff a seal block, a power block, a BOB block, a stretch block, etc. It's dependent on the design of the play. The key is that the first defender is set up for the next blocker or fake to take him out of the play.

Common Faults:
  1. Slow getting to the SAM
  2. Not avoiding the SAM or clearly kicking him out (which results in his tying up two men)
  3.  Losing the DB to the inside

Example:

Jet Sweep - Selling the seal block on the backside of the inside zone look is a good way to sell the IZ before the jet sweep hand off. This is also a common block for trap plays and for a lot of front side reads in modern spread offenses.

BOSS Block
Goal: Stalk block first DB out of the secondary.

Aiming Point: Outside of TE’s block

Pre-snap: Check alignment of the DBs and OLB. This alignment will indicate their responsibilities. If OLB is in outside position, it is likely he is the force defender; if he is inside, then a DB is likely the force.

Approach: Get outside the TEs block cleanly in order to get a frontal position on the DB. Should the TEs block go outside and obstruct your route, must immediately work underneath that block and attack the DB from the inside. Once around or underneath, stalk block the DB.

Contact: Your block is a stalk block: down the middle, knock the DB straight back and giving the RB a two-way-go (though think “protect inside first”).
  1. If the DB tries to avoid block to the outside, take him further outside with block
  2. If the DB tries to avoid the block to the inside, take him further inside with the block
  3. If the DB is playing soft, the block is a frontal approach and knock him straight back
  4. If the DB retreats, chase him down and go right down the middle, number to number.
  5. If he should try to penetrate, must stop him by cutting him down.

Common Faults:
Getting to the LOS too slow
Not checking the alignment of the OLB and DB and identifying force
Losing the DB to the inside

Example:

A BOSS block is commonly utilized when there is a crack block, or when another blocker is brought into the point of attack. In that way, you are exchanging assignments with the new playside blocker. For many read teams or option teams, the option is used as that additional blocker, and the BOSS block can be used to handle the DB level defenders.

F Block
Goal: Cut Block the DT or BOB block the MIKE.

Aiming Point: The OG-OT gap.

Pre-snap: Recognize the defensive front and adjust to 4-3 or 3-4 defense and where penetration may occur.

Approach: Explode out of stance. Aim for OG-OT gap. Expect a 4-3 DT to flash. If he does, block him using a cut block through the outside knee. The same approach moves apply to a 3-4 NT. If the DT is blocked or doesn’t flash or get penetration, flatten approach in an effort to chase down the MIKE and BOB block him. Run course full-speed until you have good position to block MIKE, then penetrate LOS and block him. Must read on the run; once decision is made to pass up on DT that option is done, go get MIKE.

Contact: Outside knee of DT with shoulder. Hit through defender and get him down. BOB block if you get out onto the MIKE, making sure to get head and shoulder past MIKE to avoid clipping.

Common Faults:
  1. Throwing too low on cutdown block
  2. Hesitating coming out of stance
  3. Not penetrating the LOS quickly enough to block MIKE

Example:

Bounce Zone is a play designed to look like inside zone but ultimately is intended to bounce outside. This induces the playside DE to fight back inside and often gets the SAM to try to crash what looks like a Lead block, however, the FB and OG in the diagram above are really doubling the point of attack and then working to the second level. The defense is sealed inside, and the RB can bounce. You'll also see an "F-Block" for some teams on Counter F, in which they will double the DT before moving to the second level, to ensure that the first level is moved. There are some inside Belly runs that can also cut with the F block immediately by having the OG work straight to the second level.

Hook Block
Goal: Hook block the SAM or SDE

Aiming Point: Two feet outside the outside foot of defender

Pre-snap: Locate your LB on pre-snap look. Try to determine by his alignment what his action at the snap of the ball will be.

Approach: Explode out of stance stepping with near foot to aiming point. Rip through with hands to get full burst. Run full speed. Approach block with knees bent, head up, and feet apart.

Contact: Get head and inside arm past the defender when contact is made. Contact should be made with hip at a point between the defender’s waist and knee, throwing back into the LB. An intensified effort must be made to keep your feet moving.
  1. If the LB widens as you approach him, you must adjust your route and continue to run with him.
  2. If LB crosses your face, you must now be prepared to kick him out.
  3. If LB tries coming underneath your block, adjust and cut him.

Do not allow penetration.

This isn’t a devastating block, this is a block that pins the defender inside and allows a clear outside alley for the ball carrier.

Common Faults
  1. Not getting to man quickly enough
  2. Not approaching block with intensity unknown to mankind
  3. Leaving feet too soon
  4. Leaping or lounging rather than hitting through the LB
  5. Not finishing the block

Example:



Some teams will run a hook block with standard outside zone as well, particularly shotgun teams that intend to get to the edge. It really depends on how you utilize outside zone within your scheme: is it a stretch play or is it a outside play, or are they two different plays completely. That's one way to better define the blocks for the FB, have a stretch zone that utilizes the stretch block below and another that needs to get outside. It can depend on the capabilities of your FB (can he beat the LB to the edge) or the capabilities of your RB (can he beat the defense to the edge), or both.

Lead Block
Goal: To execute a running shoulder block on an ILB.

Aiming Point: Butt of the OT vs a 4-3; butt of the OG vs a 3-4. Half helmet and inside shoulder on upfield shoulder of defender.

Pre-snap: Recognize the defensive front and key the alignment of personnel for possible charges.

Approach: Explode out of your stance, bending at knees, not hips. Rip through with hands to gain burst. Stay low! Be efficient with feet! Your job is to block the second level defender, either the OL in a 4-3 or the ILB in a 3-4.

Contact: Half the helmet and inside shoulder on the up field shoulder of the defender. Pads under pads. Keep your head up, eyes driving to the sky on a 45 degree ramp. Keep elbows tight and thumbs up.  If the LB attempts to penetrate, cut him down. You are a freight train, get him out of the path and knock him out of the hole. If you knock him back, keeping running the feet and get hands on him. Get him on the ground and don’t allow him to separate. The harder he comes, the lower you block. Should DT or DE attempt to penetrate, cut them down if they are clear of their blocker.

Common Faults
  1. Not blocking with an intensity unknown to mankind
  2. Twisting the shoulders
  3. Poor base
  4. Allowing separation after a hard hit

Example:

Iso, Lead, Lead Draw, it works the same way. The difference is identifying the LB you are lead blocking.

Power Block
Goal: Execute a kickout block on SAM or DE

Aiming Point: Butt of the TE

Pre-snap: Locate DE and SAM by alignment; try to determine defensive assignment by alignment.

Approach: Work off of the TEs Butt. Work from inside out as you approach the block at full speed. Quickness to the defender cannot be over emphasized – hesitation allows defense to constrict. Work tight off the TE/OT’s butt, do not knock them off their path.

Contact: Work to get head on the inside and the shoulder pads beneath the pads of the defender. Knees bent, head up, with good base on contact. Intensity is as important as anything. Hit through the man and work to turn the man out. It is imperative that the feet continue moving throughout the entire block. Your outside shoulder cracks his inside shoulder, then finish with hands.
  1. If defender closes and becomes pinned down on inside, make contact outside-in and hook him inside
  2. If defender is between squeezing and maintaining outside force, get pads below defender and knock him right down the middle, then slide helmet to one side or other and continue to drive. Contact made with half the helmet and then the shoulder.
  3. If LB works to get penetration with a hard charge, stop him by throwing block slightly lower.
  4. Should LB over-commit inside, continue block upfield, blocking first made from inside-out. Block reverts to “BOB Block”

Common Faults:
  1. Twisting and turning shoulders
  2. Approaching with pads too high
  3. Making contact with tip of shoulder
  4. Not staying with the block
  5. Not approaching block with intensity unknown to mankind.

Example:


Seal Block
Goal: Seal the backside EMOL on the backside of the play, not allowing him to fight across the formation.

Aiming point: Butt of the backside OT; inside shoulder of defender

Pre-snap: Identify the defender that is not accounted for by the front and take the biggest threat to the play. Blocking the inside of two free defenders seals both on the backside.

Approach: First step explodes out of stance and points directly at target. You want to get to the backside of the play as quickly as possible to widen the defense. Stay as tight to the LOS as you can. Do not allow the defender to get between you and the OL. Keep eyes up and find target.

Contact: This does not have to be a devastating block, it is more important that the block is maintained. Keep low, bend at knees, get elbows inside and thumbs up, staying square to your defender. Get on inside shoulder of defender and do not let him split you and the OL. Maintain base and surface area, be a wall on the backside of the play. No one gets inside of you, be wide. Do not widen too much, keep eyes up and onto second level, looking for an immediate threat trying to get inside. If defender works upfield, kick him if he remains a threat to the play. If he takes himself out of the play, do not widen and chase, stay tight and work to the 2nd and third level in the event the play bounces back.

Common Faults
Not staying tight to LOS and allowing defender to split
Widening out and allowing a secondary defender to get inside
Not keeping the feet moving and active and maintaining the defender

Example:

A seal block works really on any backside block, including Counter OT. The intention is really just to keep the defense to the backside so they can't track the play down from the backside. The wider you keep the play, the more you allow the ball carrier to cut back.

Stretch Block
Goal: Block of playside OLB or 2nd level overhang defender

Aiming Point: 1 yard behind and 3 yards outside Y-TE.

Pre-snap: Locate OLB and note his alignment. Also note alignment of playside DE as the two players often work in conjunction with each other.

Approach: Be quick out of stance, taking a 6 inch step at the aiming point. Bend at knees, not at hips, and rip through with upfield arm to get needed burst out of stance. If OLB crowds LOS, he will likely crash down inside; do not allow penetration. Aim for inside foot of OLB, then take him straight down the middle and knock him back.

Contact: OLB will attempt to take a side; your head should go to the opposite side. Pads must stay below his pads. You do not have to take the OLB anywhere, the main goal is to maintain your block, but utilize his momentum against him. The harder he comes, the lower you should block him; if he comes full speed, block is thrown between waist and knee. If he scrapes outside, kick him out, aiming to hit his inside numbers; if he stays tight, turn and wheel, aiming to hit his outside number and pin him inside. Initial contact is with tip of the shoulder. Keep elbows in tight and finish with hands, locking onto the defender.

Common Faults:
Twisting or turning shoulders
Approaching with pads too high
Making contact with the tip of the shoulder
Chasing too far outside trying to hook defender
Not sustaining block

Example:


T Block
Goal: Execute a cut down block on the playside DT in a 4-3 Defense or a DE in a 3-4 defense.

Aiming Point: Inside foot of OG vs 4-3 D. Inside foot of OT vs 3-4 Defense.

Pre-snap: Check alignment of the man you are to block on pre-snap look.

Approach: Aim for the inside foot of the OG vs a 4-3 D or the inside foot of the OT vs a 3-4 defense. Do not hesitate in an attempt to determine the defender’s charge.

Contact: Make contact with pads under pads. Helmet should be on the inside.
1.     If defensive man crosses face, cut him down; knock his legs from under him.

The block can only be made with an intensity unknown to mankind.

Common Faults:
  1. Twisting shoulders.
  2. Dropping head
  3. Allowing penetration

Example:

This is a block that doesn't come up too much anymore, the frontside block of the tackle with the FB. Back when teams ran more split back sets, it used to be a way for the QB to reverse pivot and hand the ball off on the backside for a run in the playside A gap, really like a trap play is typically run (with the FB replacing the trapping OL). Anymore, the main use would be for a draw situation. Or, it can be interchangeable with the Wham block.

Wham Block
Goal: Execute a seal block on the DT in a 4-3 Defense or a DE in a 3-4 defense (first defender backside of center or 3T and backside, depending on offense).

Aiming Point: Inside foot of OG vs 4-3 D. Inside foot of OT vs 3-4 Defense. Inside shoulder of defender.

Pre-snap: Check alignment of the man you are to block on pre-snap look.

Approach: Aim for the inside foot of the OG vs a 4-3 D or the inside foot of the OT vs a 3-4 defense. Do not hesitate in an attempt to determine the defender’s charge. Stay as tight to the LOS as possible and do not let a defender split you and the OL.

Contact: Make contact with pads under pads. Helmet should be on the inside. Keep elbows inside and thumbs up and maintain the block. Do not stop feet and keep inside leverage. If defender goes deeper into backfield, carry him out of play if he can't be cut. If defender retreats into the wash, check if he is being replaced, then be prepared to follow and carry past the play upfield. The hard the defender charges, the lower you go. Cut down if he's sprinting to play, keep him as far on the backside as possible to widen play.

Common Faults:
  1. Twisting shoulders.
  2. Dropping head
  3. Allowing penetration or splitting inside

Example:

Pass Blocks
Pass Block
Goal: Execute a drop back pass block on the OLB

Aiming Point: Inside-Out on LB

Pre-snap: Note alignment to determine responsibility. If DE is widened with OLB off LOS, expect inside blitz. If DE is tight or head-up, expect OLB to come off edge.

Approach: Get out of stance quickly and advance toward the LOS. Meet the LB as close to the LOS as possible (do not catch him). Get inside-out position on the LB with inside foot up, taking away inside rush lane. Shoulders should be slightly less than 45 degrees to the LOS. Be prepared to let the blitzer determine which way he will be blocked.

Contact: Thumbs up, elbows in, heels of hands in the defenders numbers; feet constantly moving. Neutralize defender’s momentum. If defender takes inside rush lane, get into and under his pads, knees bent, and block him down into the pile into the middle of the pocket. The harder the blitzer is coming, the lower you should take him.

Common Faults:
1.     Not getting close enough to the LOS and set quickly enough
2.     Over extending on first contact

Bounce Block
Goal: Execute a partial block on a blitzer, stopping his momentum, then releasing into route.

Aiming Point: Middle of the defender

Pre-snap: Check alignment of your LB. Cheat up in stance if necessary. Be prepared not to get knocked around; must be under control.

Approach: Release out of stance quickly and meet the LB as close to the LOS as possible.

Contact: Take the man down the middle. Meet him flush and get him stopped. Force him outside of his rush lane if possible. Upon contact, have a good, strong base with bent knees. Once you have stopped defender, release into route.

Common Faults:
  1. Not meeting blitzer flush
  2. Not maintaining control at contact

Cut Block
Goal: Cut the OLB

Aiming Point: Outside knee of LB

Pre-snap: Locate OLB; if necessary, cheat up in alignment.

Approach: Explode out of stance with attention forcused on outside knee of LB. Must get to LB before he gets penetration into the backfield.

Contact: Helmet on the outside knee. Must take one or both of defender’s legs from under him. If he jumps, must raise block.

Common Faults:
  1. Getting to the OLB too late
  2. Throwing the block too low

Play Action Protection
Goal: Fake the run action and execute pass protection block

Aiming Point: Inside-Out on LB

Pre-snap: Recognize the defense and locate the LB. Understand if LB comes on blitz when you must abort play fake.

Approach: Burst in the direction of the play or the action you are faking. If faking the handoff, bring inside elbow up as if you were receiving the ball; far hand should be against your stomach. As you pass the QB, drop near elbow to sell the fake. Keep your head up and looking at your respective LB to blitz. Now begin to gather and prepare for the pass block. Should your LB drop, then carry out the fake and run your designated pass route.

Contact: Contact is the same as “Drop back Pass Pro”, but you may not be as set due to executing the run fake.

Common Faults:
  1. Failure to recognize the defense
  2. Fake with head down and unable to see blitz coming
  3. Not gathering in time to make proper contact

Roll Protection
Goal: Execute a stand-up pass protection block on in the roll out passing game. Block is used against a LB on the opposite end of the LOS in relation to the back designated to do the blocking.

Aiming Point: Outside hip of the OT

Pre-snap: Identify LB that may blitz off the edge. Cheat over if necessary to clear the QB.

Approach: Once you have cross the backfield, be prepared to pick up the blitzer. Should he cross your face, kick him out. Should he come underneath, knock him down into the pile. If he takes you down the middle, get pads under pads and work inside-out to execute a pass block. If he retreats, get on outside hip of OT and help him with DE.

Contact: Contact should be made with pads under pads. The LB’s rush will determine which side the helmet will go to. Goal should be to get head in inside position, working inside-out. When helping the OT block, head should be on the outside while making contact with the inside shoulder.

Common Faults:
  1. Not taking a proper path to meet the LB before he gets penetration
  2. Over running the play and allowing the inside move and direct line to the QB.

Stay Protection
Goal: To execute a double team block with the OT on the DE.

Aiming Point: If DE uses inside rush, back takes inside half. If DE should use outside rush, back with set on inside hip of OT.

Pre-snap: Check the alignment of the LB and ensure he is dropping into coverage.

Approach: As quickly as possible, determine OLB’s intentions. Once you are sure he is dropping, follow aiming point. If DE beats OT outside, sprint back and get outside of the OT to stop DE from getting to QB.

Contact: Pads under pads. This is a shoulder block.

Common Faults:
  1. Hesitating to step up and get on inside hip of OT
  2. Not being firm enough when helping inside
Conclusion
These are not all possible blocks, but are the main blocks that FBs/H-Backs are responsible for. In the run game, teams will have different methods of handling different blocks. We previously discussed Zone tags, and depending on what an offense entails and how many adjustments a FB can make on the fly, these blocks may want to be reduced or expanded. But the idea here is, as you approach a block to make a play, things change, and they can change quickly, even in the middle of a play. It is important that the FB knows how to handle all situations, because the weakness of the defense and the path for the ball carrier depend on the lead blocker correctly handling his assignment.

In many spread offenses, all RBs, including TBs, are being asked to learn these blocks. This is a circle back to the way it was when the FB was a primary ball carrier in an offense as well as the TB. Now with QBs running more and more, it is important that all the backs (and TEs) understand these blocks, both in terms of how to execute them, but also what to expect when running behind them.

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