Blitz (gridiron Football) - Defensive Shells and Techniques

Defensive Shells and Techniques

Blitzes are usually run from "Cover 1" coverage shells, which assign one man to guard the entire deep field, though blitzes can be employed in nearly any coverage scheme. Cover 1 is most effective because it allows a larger number of defensive players to tighten down on the line of scrimmage, thus increasing the variety of blitzes possible.

Since the main goal is to disrupt the offensive play before it even develops, many blitz packages encourage cornerbacks to play tight man bump and run coverage to disrupt the wide receivers' release and prevent them from running their pre-assigned routes. The non-blitzing safety, usually the free safety, has an enormous amount of field to protect and is at a serious disadvantage if the blitz is unsuccessful and receivers threaten his coverage area. As such, he usually works for depth upon the snap of the ball, backpedaling into his assigned zone.

Linebackers are either blitzing or in pass coverage. Blitzing LBs can employ various stunts to confuse the offense's blockers and break down their protection scheme. Coverage LBs in a Cover 1 scheme will usually have man responsibility on a halfback, fullback, or tight end.

Some defensive schemes employ "key" blitzes where a player will blitz only if his assigned man stays in to block, thus keying his action off the action of his man. If his man releases into a pass pattern, then the defensive player will cover him. For example, if weak side linebacker has the fullback as his man, if upon the snap of the ball the fullback blocks, the linebacker will blitz.

Lineman can also be blitzers.

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