Friday, November 12, 2010

Split Safety-Zone Blitzes

Much has written about fire-zones. The zone-blitz is a great change up for the defense and creates a lot of offensive confusion. In fire zones you bring 5 and drop into 3 under 3 deep coverage essentially. Most teams have incorporated some form of fire-zone into their packages, and with the nature of football teams are beginning to adjust to it. As football evolves other things are needed to keep the offense off balance. Another reason for utilizing other kinds of zone pressure is that cover 3 can be kind of constricting to people who run a lot of split safety coverage.

The thing about it is, teams that don't run a lot of 3 deep (or don't care to) are used to being in split safety coverage. Split safety coverage is a completely different animal than cover 3. For 1, cover 3 is a full field concept, split safety coverages operate on a 1/2 field concept. This gives need to the ability to bring zone pressure with split safety coverage, and be able to control the coverages on each half of the field.

The ideas behind split safety zone blitzes are simple and close to the ideas behind fire-zones.

  • Confuse the protection scheme and create pressure
  • Play aggressive squat/halves zone coverage
  • protect the defense against the screen and draw
  • Simple and adaptable to different formations.

  1. Zone-blitz with split-safety coverage concepts
  2. Bring 4-man pressure and play halves coverage to both sides
  3. Bring 5 or use a double spy, and play 1/2's to one side and man to the other. (mixture of zone blitz and man blitzes)
  4. Put a spy (or two) on the back to protect against screen, draw, scramble, and dump off
Just like fire zones, there are many different ways you can put blitzes together and be sound. I am not going to go into a bunch of different blitzes, but I will use 1 blitz to illustrate the concepts. As a coach it comes down to applying concepts. I am sure given a particular front and scheme that many effective zone-pressures can be put together.

EXAMPLE-Zone 1 side, Man 1 side

The first step in executing an effective zone pressure is pre-snap disguise. You have to be able to present a normal alignment to the offense and then stem into your pressure, this puts pressure on the O-Line and QB. It is difficult to recognize and communicate blocking assignments in a short amount of time. Consider the alignment below:

This is a basic 4-2 split safety coverage look. Now with proper stemming the defense can move into position to execute a zone blitz. Versus the gun it best to do it when the QB calls for the snap.

This leads to the final alignment just before the snap

The FS side will be in 1/2's coverage. The corner will be making a hard read of #2 covering him on any outside break, but running with #1 if #2 is vertical. The FS is in deep 1/2's technique, while the Read Side backer is walling #2 from the inside and up. the away side of the coverage is man with the weak safety on #2 and the corner on #1. The blitz will involve a double spy:

The SS and Mike backer are off the edge, the ends engage the tackles then drop to spy screen, draw, scramble, and the tackle and nose are executing a twist stunt with the tackle going first.

EXAMPLE- Zone on Both Sides

Simple adjustment with a 4-pressure and a single spy.

Now both sides are playing 1/2's coverage, there is still a 4 man pressure, and a player responsible for screen, draw, scramble.

The coverage is flexible and simple, even versus a trips look the adjustments are easy.

Both backers are walling #2 and #3 with the FS over the top. The corner and weak safety on the back side are free to play multiple coverages like they would with special coverage to the read side.

You can even change up the blitz versus a trips look. Bringing another safety and using a double spy is simple.

The options are near limitless. This zone-pressure concept is a natural fit for coaches who like flexible split-safety coverage. Also, it is easy for the safeties to get each side into coverages. It follows common sense principals that fit naturally into any 2-high defense.


  1. Good stuff...I worry about leaving the middle of field open for run by walking those backers over to trips like that. We see so much 3x1 just to get that single guy with man coverage or to run the middle by walking backers off..

  2. It is not an ideal run stopping blitz, then end who is spying the back is key for falling in, plus the backers are run first, they should be able to play the run and keep it minimal. The only situations I would use this blitz is in situations where the only run I will see is draws. Which this blitz can effectively play.