Thoughts about DT's in the pass rush...

Flagg the Wanderer

Sonic sez: Clawk Moar Ringz!
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Messages
15,300
Reaction score
4,131
Points
113
Age
45
Location
Iowa
So, watching football growing up there was always a lot of talk about your top-end DTs splitting double teams. It's impressive.

I've noticed we don't see it much anymore (and least on most teams) and I finally figured out why. If this is all old news, I apologize - I was mostly totally away from digging through film and X's and O's for a long stretch, and have only started to get back to it recently.

Anyway, what I've noticed is that somewhere along the way - and let me be totally clear, it may have been before I took my decade-or-so-break and I just never noticed - the prevailing wisdom of coaching DL shifted. Someone looked at the probability of splitting (or otherwise beating) a passpro double team and realized it was sucky. Then realized that there was a prospective benefit that was lost by trying to beat the double team that outweighed the low probability of QB pressure that came with success.

Look, any decent coach has always taught DL to get their hands up to make vision and the passing lanes messy. But that doesn't go with all the hand techniques used in the pass rush, and OL were taught to subtly hold the DL's arms down.

But what I'm seeing a lot of now is (I think) different. Not new, but I think the fact that it seems to be normal/default is at least new-ish:
When a DT draws a double team in pass rush, more often than not I see him forgo the small possibility of beating the double team to not-quite-drop into not-quite-coverage: close enough so the OL don't disengage, but lurking in the passing lanes in what is essentially an extremely short zone. It still does the job of taking 2 guys out of the pass protection, but the focus seems to be on clogging the passing lanes, being in position for dumps to the middle of the field, and making life miserable for a QB trying to hit short crosses.

I remember when writing the Barmore breakdown there was at least one play when I said Barmore drew the double team and kinda mailed it in. I still don't think the effort was redlining or anything, but now I'm thinking that was his assignment.

I have some question about whether in Barmore's case his ability to beat a double team might be high enough to change the calculation, but it was interesting to see.

Again, maybe this is all old - I missed it the first time around, or it was a change and talked to death at a time when I wasn't paying as close attention. But I figured it was worth bringing up as an "evolution of the game" type thing.
 

DropKickFlutie

Active member
Joined
Mar 27, 2010
Messages
363
Reaction score
220
Points
43
So, watching football growing up there was always a lot of talk about your top-end DTs splitting double teams. It's impressive.

I've noticed we don't see it much anymore (and least on most teams) and I finally figured out why. If this is all old news, I apologize - I was mostly totally away from digging through film and X's and O's for a long stretch, and have only started to get back to it recently.

Anyway, what I've noticed is that somewhere along the way - and let me be totally clear, it may have been before I took my decade-or-so-break and I just never noticed - the prevailing wisdom of coaching DL shifted. Someone looked at the probability of splitting (or otherwise beating) a passpro double team and realized it was sucky. Then realized that there was a prospective benefit that was lost by trying to beat the double team that outweighed the low probability of QB pressure that came with success.

Look, any decent coach has always taught DL to get their hands up to make vision and the passing lanes messy. But that doesn't go with all the hand techniques used in the pass rush, and OL were taught to subtly hold the DL's arms down.

But what I'm seeing a lot of now is (I think) different. Not new, but I think the fact that it seems to be normal/default is at least new-ish:
When a DT draws a double team in pass rush, more often than not I see him forgo the small possibility of beating the double team to not-quite-drop into not-quite-coverage: close enough so the OL don't disengage, but lurking in the passing lanes in what is essentially an extremely short zone. It still does the job of taking 2 guys out of the pass protection, but the focus seems to be on clogging the passing lanes, being in position for dumps to the middle of the field, and making life miserable for a QB trying to hit short crosses.

I remember when writing the Barmore breakdown there was at least one play when I said Barmore drew the double team and kinda mailed it in. I still don't think the effort was redlining or anything, but now I'm thinking that was his assignment.

I have some question about whether in Barmore's case his ability to beat a double team might be high enough to change the calculation, but it was interesting to see.

Again, maybe this is all old - I missed it the first time around, or it was a change and talked to death at a time when I wasn't paying as close attention. But I figured it was worth bringing up as an "evolution of the game" type thing.

This makes sense. Although it may not be totally new. I remember the 2001 Pats and Crennel defense, those DLinemen seemed to have their hands up quite often to bat down balls at the LoS
 
OP
OP
Flagg the Wanderer

Flagg the Wanderer

Sonic sez: Clawk Moar Ringz!
Joined
Jun 24, 2004
Messages
15,300
Reaction score
4,131
Points
113
Age
45
Location
Iowa
This makes sense. Although it may not be totally new. I remember the 2001 Pats and Crennel defense, those DLinemen seemed to have their hands up quite often to bat down balls at the LoS
That's definitely true. A lot of DL coaches preach hands-up for sure - most, I'd say - and Romeo was a huge proponent of that. Guys like Anthony Pleasant and Big Ted Washington were tremendous with this. What appears to be newer is the emphasis on this "pseudo-drop" into passing lanes at the expense of trying to slip through to pressure the QB. It looks like the only reason they aren't fully dropping like a classic 90s-Steelers zone blitz is to make sure they keep both OL engaged with them rather than freeing them to break off and provide help on other rushers.

And while I kinda like this, I do see a potential problem: getting your hands up just a few feet farther back means the ball has time to rise over your hands. If you're pushing in and getting hands up closer to the release point that's less likely. So this would ONLY significantly impact the low passes into those short middle zones.

Also, I don't think I've noticed this with edge rushers, just interior rushers. I guess that makes sense, as the only value to it on the edge would getting hands into the passing lanes for screens and flats. And in those cases there's more freedom to arc higher and the QB has a much wider lane to avoid you, so the value is limited.

Some of it might also be a focus on pocket containment as well, given the relatively higher percentage of mobile QBs. After all, collapsing the pocket is a double edged sword, especially when the QB is more than just an opportunistic scrambler.
 
Top