Blitz- 09/28/99
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One of the aspects that makes a defense great is its ability to blitz. There are several different ways to blitz in football. There is the corner blitz, a safety blitz, a zone blitz and your typical linebacker blitz. Each of these is implimented into a defensive scheme in order to confuse the quarterback, the offense and as a result hit the quarterback or come up with a big play. Naturally there are risks to sending men after the quarterback, but if a team doesn't blitz in today's NFL, they are destined to failure. Here is an inside look at how each blitz works and what an offense can do to try and counter it.

To undestand a blitz, one must first understand the history. The blitz became popular when defenses found that the "West Coast Offense" was virtually unstoppable with the current schemes. Defensive coordinators worked long and hard at developing something that would disrupt the offense enough to make the defense successful. A conclusion was established and basically the philosophy was to stop the "West Coast Offense" the timing of the receivers and quarterbacks needed to be disrupted. At first teams began playing bump and run, but they soon found this still was in effective. Finally after much time and deliberation, somebody realized that by moving more men up to the line of scrimage then there were blockers the quarterback would not be able to develop a rhythm.

Thus the linebacker blitz was born. Teams began to send 4 defensive linemen plus 3 linebackers and the offenses just couldn't handle the pressure. Defensive coordinators claimed triumph, but it didn't take long before the offense began keeping the tight end and running back in to help block, thereby voiding the use of a linebacker. That was when disguising the blitz became a necessity.

With the linebacker blitz becoming less and less effective, defensive coordinators began sending the safety up to the line of scrimage. Now the quarterback would be unaware of who was coming from where, and who was dropping into coverage. This helped disguise the linebacker blitz, and it gave defensive coordinators a few more ideas. On a safety blitz offenses have found that the best way to combat the defense is by sending your fullback or running back on a play action fake, therefore keeping the safety "honest" to their position.

With that defensive coordinators began to develop new schemes, where linebackes would cover a safeties duties, while the safety would cover for the corner, allowing the corner to come free from the outside right at the quarterback. This today is still one of the best disguised ways to blitz. This scheme utilizes the speed of the corner to get to the quarterback on the third step right before he throws, therby resulting in mainly sacks. The problem with the corner blitz is that when a screen is run, the running back can usually go for a long gain as there is nobody there too stop it.

Evolution continued and the Zone Blitz became popular. The Zone Blitz is by far the most complicated of all the different ways to blitz. It starts with zone coverage where each defender has a certain area to cover, and depending on where the offense is, the defense floods that zone. The linebackers, safties, corners or a combination of all of the above will charge the quarterback, while a defensive line man will cover for a linebacker who could be blitzing or covering for a safety who could also be blitzing or possibly covering for a corner who is blitzing. One of the reasons the Zone Blitz is so effective is because the possibilities are endless, players move around the whole field, and quarterbacks need to be very quick in making a throw. Offenses have begun to combat the Zone Blitz with quick slants over the middle, draw plays, and screen passes, but to completely stop the Zone Blitz is virtually impossible at this moment, and one way or another, your quarterback is going to get hit.
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