Pass Protection Manual

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1 Pass Protection Manual Presented by Football-Offense.com Joe Daniel Football-Offense.com

2 Please do not copy or distribute this digital ebook without the written consent of the author. This ebook is available exclusively from Football-Offense.com and approved associates. Copyright 2013 Football-Defense.com, LLC Football-Offense.com 1

3 TABLE OF CONTENTS: Protection Philosophy.. 3 What Schemes Do You Need Step Pass Protection Step Pass Protection Sprint Out Pass Protection Play Action Pass Protection.32 5 Pass Protection Rules 37 Pass Protection Playbook Football-Offense.com

4 CHAPTER 1: Protection Philosophy Protecting the Quarterback is a major priority for most football teams. He is our best athlete. He has the best understanding of the offense. He and the Center are the only players who touch the ball on every snap. Your attention to pass protection needs to reflect that importance. 3 Football-Offense.com

5 Simplicity is Key Only Run What you Need A major error coaches make is running more than what they need. Identify the talents and abilities of your athletes, then choose the passing schemes, and coinciding protection schemes, they need to execute. Do not try to execute too many pass protection schemes. Your team will become a jack of all trades, master of none! This manual presents all of the protection schemes your team needs for a full passing attack. More importantly, each scheme uses similar technique to keep teaching time to a minimum. 4 Football-Offense.com

6 Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated. -- Lou Holtz Playing on the Offensive Line is a thankless job. No matter how well you play, your name will never be in the newspaper. Contradictory to most of the other players on the team, the Offensive Linemen are not going to play harder in pursuit of personal glory. Do you have the right guys up front? Do you know how to push their buttons and get more out of them when touches, yards and touchdowns are not the motivation? Your Offensive Line is a cohesive unit. They play together for each other, for the success of the team, and for the safety of your Quarterback. If that is not the case, change needs to occur. 5 Football-Offense.com

7 CHAPTER 2: What Schemes do you Need? How can you build a complete playbook with just a few protection schemes? If you ve been studying football for a while, you know there are a lot of really attractive-looking concepts and schemes to run. Your team does not need to run every good looking scheme out there. They need to run the handful that fit their talents best. And they need to run them to perfection. 6 Football-Offense.com

8 Drop Back Passing The first piece to address is your drop passing game. Every team needs to have the ability to run a simplistic drop back passing scheme. Drop back passing schemes can be broken down into two categories: 3-Step and 5-Step. 3-Step Passing Quick Game Passing is commonly referred to as the 3-step passing attack, because of the number of steps a Quarterback under center needs to take. In Shotgun or Pistol, the Quarterback only needs 1 step to account for timing. The distance of the snap accounts for the other two steps. Every team needs to have a quick passing, or 3-step, attack. There are multiple ways to protect a 3-step drop. This manual focuses on a basic Slide Protection scheme that is simple and easy to install in minutes. 7 Football-Offense.com

9 5-Step Passing When most people think of passing the football, they envision the 5-step passing attack. This is what coaches are commonly referring to when they speak of drop back passing. Not every team needs to have a 5-step, drop back passing attack. You will need a Quarterback who can read the defense, and an Offensive Line who can give quality protection. Without those two elements, you are wasting your time with the 5-step passing game. Many of the most popular passing schemes rely on 5-step passing. Don t let the allure of running what the big boys run draw you to a 5-step scheme if you do not have the Quarterback to use it. But if your football team can do it, 5- step passing will really open up your offense through the air. 8 Football-Offense.com

10 Sprint Out Passing Can your Quarterback run? Can he throw on the move? Sprint out passing may be a key concept your for your offense. Sprint out pass protection has different goals from drop back passing. If you have a Quarterback who can threaten the defense with both his arm and his legs, though, sprint out passing can be a big benefit to your offensive attack. 9 Football-Offense.com

11 Play Action Passing When your rushing attack is the strength of your offense, you can use it to your advantage in the passing game. Play Action Passing uses backfield action and Offensive Line footwork that look like a run play during the first few steps of the play. Play Action Passing draws the Linebackers up and opens up holes in zone coverage underneath the Safeties. 10 Football-Offense.com

12 What do I need? Choose your pieces wisely 3 step passing is a must, at any level of football. The ability to throw quick, safe passes will loosen up the defense and help your running game. Play Action passing is also necessary for most teams. If you can run the football at all, you will want to have play actions. The good news is that you can combine 3-step and Play Action protections to limit teaching time for the Offensive Line. 5 step passing is needed in all but the most run-heavy offensive schemes. If you want to have a more dynamic passing attack, you will need 5-step pass protections. Sprint Out Passing will depend on your personnel and ability. If your QB cannot break contain and win with his feet, don t bother. But if he has athletic ability to threaten the perimeter of the pass rush you should use Sprint Out passing. For very athletic Quarterbacks who lack a strong or accurate arm, Sprint Out can replace your 5 Step package. 11 Football-Offense.com

13 What about the Screen Game? Screens and Draws can be a huge part of your Offensive attack. They are vital to slowing down the pass rush and taking advantage of overaggressive defenses. Screen Protections are very different from Pass Protection, however, and beyond the scope of this ebook. For more on building your Screen Game, be sure to check out Football- Offense.com. 12 Football-Offense.com

14 CHAPTER 3: 3-Step Pass Protection 3-Step pass plays do not require much time. Any group of offensive linemen can give the QB time to get off quick passes, if they learn a sound blocking scheme for it. There are lots of ways to block quick passing plays. We will focus on Slide Protection because it is simple and leaves little room for error. While some coaches like to use Slide Protection for their 5-step passing as well, we do not like leaving a running back on a lineman for that long. 13 Football-Offense.com

15 3-step slide protection is a Zone Protection. The protection call is made to either the Right or the Left. Each blocker is responsible for the next gap in the direction of the call. Stunts and blitzes are passed off as the play develops. 14 Football-Offense.com

16 In the Figure 1, the protection call is Slide Right. Each Offensive Lineman handles the gap to his right, while the Running Back is responsible for the back side C Gap. Here the Right Tackle handles the Defensive End to the right. The Right Guard has the Tackle in B Gap. The Center steps to his right. There is no immediate threat in his gap, but he checks the Linebackers for potential blitzers and line stunts. The Left Guard will be responsible for the Nose Tackle. The Left Tackle has no immediate threat on the line, but steps to his right to check for potential blitzers and line stunts. The Running Back needs to get inside of the Defensive End and kick him out. 15 Football-Offense.com Figure 1: Slide Right

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18 Keys to 3-Step Pass Pro The Running Back is responsible for a Defensive End. He does not need a big block, just a piece of him. The ball needs to come out fast! This is a Zone Protection, so do not chase men outside of your area. The Quarterback is responsible for a 7 th pass rusher, or a 2 nd rusher off the edge. Edge blockers always take the inside pass rusher. In Quick Protection, we give our Offensive Linemen the green light to cut block. Cut blocking helps to handle power rushers when we don t need to block them for long. 17 Football-Offense.com

19 CHAPTER 4: 5-Step Pass Protection 5-Step pass protection is needed for more sophisticated passing routes. If you have a Quarterback who can read the defense and throw with accuracy, 5-Step passing can open up your offense. 18 Football-Offense.com

20 Our preferred 5-step pass protection uses a Half- Slide, Half Man blocking concept. This is a 6-man protection. To the Man side, the Running Back will be responsible for Linebackers. The call side Guard and Tackle handle the first and second down linemen, respectively. On the Slide side, the Center, Guard and Tackle handle the A, B and C Gaps just as they would on 3-step protection to their side. 19 Football-Offense.com

21 In the Figure 2, the protection call is Half-Slide Left. The call side will speak to the Running Back, and set the side for man protection. The side away from the call works slide protection. The Center will declare the first backer on the call side as the Mike. This is the first defender the back should check. In this example, the Mike Backer is the Mike (not always the case!). The back will check Mike first, then work inside out to check for the Will Backer or any Safety blitz off the edge, before releasing into his check-down route (if assigned). The call side Guard handles the Nose, the first down lineman on his side. The call side Tackle is responsible for the Defensive End on his side. The Center, Guard and Tackle back side will be working their protection just like it was a Slide Right call. 20 Football-Offense.com Figure 2: Half-Slide Left

22 Half Slide Right Half Slide Right Football-Offense.com Half Slide Right 21

23 Protecting Against the 30 Stack The 30 Stack, also known as the or 5-3 Defense, requires a slight adjustment for our Half- Slide protection. The adjustment simply moves our slide over one man. Against the 30 Stack, only the Tackle on the call side will be in a man protection. He is responsible for the Defensive End, wherever he goes. The Running Back is responsible for the Linebacker stacked behind that end (the Center declares him as the Mike), reading from him to the Outside Linebacker. From the call side Guard back, we are using slide protection. 22 Football-Offense.com

24 Half Slide Left Half Slide Left Football-Offense.com Half Slide Left 23

25 Special Protection Calls Along with the 30 Stack, we have two other special protection calls that the Center will make. Both calls are set up to put us in the best position to protect our Quarterback. Box Calls Whenever the number of defenders in the tackle box adds up to just 5, the Center makes a Box Call. With only 5 defenders in the box, our 5 Offensive Linemen will be in man protection on those potential pass rushers. The Running Back is responsible for the most dangerous outside rusher. 5-0 Call If there are 5 true defensive linemen on the Line of Scrimmage, the Center makes a 5-0 call. The Offensive Line is responsible for the 5 linemen. Any linebackers are handled by the Running Back. 24 Football-Offense.com

26 Half Slide Left Half Slide Left Football-Offense.com 25

27 Keys to 5-Step Pass Pro The Running Back will always be responsible for a Linebacker or Safety. He is never responsible for blocking defensive linemen. Communication is crucial. Our Center will identify the defensive front and the Mike (Running Back s first responsibility) on every play we run, so as not to tip off the defense on passing downs. Any time that the Center does not have a defender immediately on the Line of Scrimmage, he can help the call side Guard. But his eyes need to stay up for delayed blitzers. We do not cut block in 5-step protection. The length of time for the passes to take place would allow the cut defender to get back up and continue his rush. 26 Football-Offense.com

28 CHAPTER 5: Sprint Out Pass Protection Sprint Out passing is a great way to use your athletic Quarterback to stress the defense. There are many ways to protect for sprint action, but all have the same goal. The Quarterback must get around the edge of the pass rush in order for sprint out protection to be effective. Sprint out protection uses the same zone concepts that we have used already in Slide protection. The Running Back will protect to the same side as the slide, to help the Quarterback get around the edge. 27 Football-Offense.com

29 In our Sprint protection, each Offensive Lineman is responsible for any defender attacking his zone to the call side. This is the same as in Slide Protection. If no rusher attacks their call side zone, the lineman will pivot out with his back side foot. He looks to help the first adjacent lineman away from the call first, then opens up to pick up any back side rushers that are unaccounted for. The Running Back attacks to the call side edge and tries to hook the edge rusher. He expects to get into a double team with the call side Tackle on the Defensive End, but will first check for outside linebackers blitzing. He needs to hook the widest rusher so the Quarterback can get around the edge. 28 Football-Offense.com

30 In the Figure 3, the protection call is Sprint Left. The biggest change for the Offensive Line from other protections is in their aiming point. On drop back passes (3 and 5 Step), they work for inside position relative to the football. On sprint protection, they must work for inside position relative to where the Quarterback is going. This means they are working to get to the outside shoulder of the man in their zone. The call side tackle works for the shoulder of the Defensive End. The call side Guard is trying to get to the shoulder of the Tackle. The Center steps call side and checks for a blitzing backer or stunt in his A-gap. When no one comes, he opens up his left foot to help the back side Guard if necessary. If the Guard has his block handled, the Center opens up and looks for back side pursuing rushers. In Figure 3, the back side Tackle has picked up a back side pursuing rusher when no one attacks his B-gap. The Running Back checks for a blitz by the Strong Safety. If he comes, the back will hook his outside shoulder. If he does not, the back gets into a double team on the Defensive End. Figure 3: Sprint Left 29 Football-Offense.com

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32 Keys to Sprint Pass Pro The most important block is the block on the edge. Whenever possible, use your Running Back to get a double team on the edge rusher. This is a Zone Protection, so never leave a man in your area. If no one shows up, look to help to the back side first, then open up for unaccounted rushers. There are times when a back side rusher is accounted for. This becomes a numbers game. With 7 rushers, there will either be an uncovered receiver or no one available to account for the Quarterback run. 31 Football-Offense.com

33 CHAPTER 6: Play Action Pass Protection Play Action pass protection is set up in large part by your ability to run the football. The run plays that you use most frequently and effectively will help to set up your best play action plays. 32 Football-Offense.com

34 Play Action passing is meant to take advantage of a defense s eagerness to stop your best running plays. If you do not have an adequate running game, your play action pass protection will likely not be very good. Our play action plays rely on backfield action to simulate top run plays in order to get the Linebackers biting up and vacating zones behind them. We also want to get the Defensive Ends to attack hard inside in order to get the Quarterback out of the pocket on roll out plays. We do not feel it necessary to pull offensive linemen in our Play Action passing. Most Linebackers today are keying on the backfield, so the benefit of pulling Guards is not significant. 33 Football-Offense.com

35 We have two styles of play action, but both are simple to install and run. Off of zone plays and off tackle plays, we will use a variation of slide protection. The call will always tell us the direction the Quarterback is going. On play action passes, the Offensive Line blocks away from the call side on these plays. This is our pass protection for any play actions off of Inside Zone, Outside Zone, Power or Counter plays. We only use one play action off of an inside running play. The Iso Pass works off of the Iso or Lead Play backfield action. Because this play does not involve a kick out to entice the Defensive End, we will simply block the play as we normally would. The only exception is that linemen cannot go down field. Teach the initial 3 steps to be just like the run, and from there to get into a mirror slide with their defender. 34 Football-Offense.com

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37 Keys to Play Action Pass Protection The back field action on Play Action plays should simulate your top run plays. Use effective run game to set up your Play Action. Play Action can be as simple as telling your blockers to block the run play, but don t go down field. We also do not pull. But your players must understand that they cannot go down field on pass plays! Know where the Quarterback is headed, and position yourself to keep your defender from getting to him. On roll outs, attack the roll side shoulder. On drop back play action plays, always protect the inside path to the Quarterback. 36 Football-Offense.com

38 CHAPTER 7: 5 Pass Protection Rules Your players will not block every play perfectly. As coaches, we put a lot of faith in young kids to execute perfectly on every snap, but unfortunately that is unrealistic. By teaching your blockers these 5 MUST DO Pass Protection Rules, they will always have something to fall back on. Even when scheme is not executed properly, you can usually make something of a bad situation if your players follow these rules. 37 Football-Offense.com

39 The 5 MUST DO Pass Protection Rules 1) You MUST take away the inside path to the Quarterback of any rusher. The fastest path to our passer is inside. Make them go around! 2) You MUST keep your shoulders square as long as possible. Turning your shoulders will open doors for the rusher. 3) You MUST move your feet throughout the entire duration of every passing play. Stopping our feet and lunging your body gets blockers beat every time. 4) You MUST know who needs the most help if you do not have a defender to block. The Center has the toughest job, help him first. The backs spend the least amount of time in pass protection, help them second. 5) You MUST communicate on every play. Communication is the key to being sure we have every rusher accounted for. 38 Football-Offense.com

40 Rule #1: Take Away the Inside Path The fastest path to the Quarterback, on drop back passing schemes, is through the inside. Going through either A Gap creates the shortest route to the Quarterback. At all cost, we must not give up inside rush moves. When in doubt, your Offensive Linemen should always step inside to be sure they do not give up an inside rush lane. Your Quarterback is trained to get the ball out quickly no matter what the play, or protection scheme. Always take away the quickest route to the Quarterback. This is a key rule and it leads us into our other rules. 39 Football-Offense.com

41 Rule #2: Keep Your Shoulders Square The most common mistake that young pass protectors make is to open the door, rather than create a wall. Pass protection is about creating a wall around the Quarterback. Many coaches teach pass rush moves that are specifically designed to get your linemen to open up their shoulders. The most common technique is for speed rush defensive ends to take 2 hard steps on an outside rush path, then rip back underneath when your blocker opens up the door. By keeping the shoulders square, we can keep our wall. As long as the blocker moves his feet while keeping shoulders square, he does not open the door up for the pass rusher. 40 Football-Offense.com

42 Rule #3: Keep Your Feet Moving Our second most common mistake by both offensive linemen and pass protecting backs is to stop moving the feet. As long as your feet are moving, the rusher is having to adjust! We work fast feet drills with our offensive linemen so that they are used to constantly pumping their feet. The most important drill for pass protectors is the Mirror-Slide Drill, which emphasizes simply moving your feet and staying in front of the rusher. The worst mistake a pass blocker can make is to give a free rush lane that results in a big hit on your Quarterback (usually the most difficult player on your offense to replace). As long as he moves his feet, even if he gets run over, your blocker will not give up a free rush path to the QB. 41 Football-Offense.com

43 Rule #4: Know Who to Help If there is not an immediate threat to a blocker, he needs to look for work. But we have to be thoughtful about where to look for work. The Center has to snap the football and then pass protect. He is closer to the line of scrimmage than everyone else and usually has someone lined up directly over him. For many opponents, the defender over the center will be their best defensive lineman. Guards who do not have an immediate threat should always look to help the Center first. Unless the defense is sending a blitz, you will usually have one Guard with no immediate threat on 3-step and 5-step protections. His help can greatly reduce the stress on your Center, reducing the risk of bad snaps on passing downs (particularly for shotgun and pistol schemes). The second weakness in your protection is the running backs. They do not spend as much time working their protection and, usually, do not take as much pride in pass protection as the linemen. While our linemen can rarely help on an inside blitzing backer, they can help with edge rushers. We teach our Guards and Tackles who have no threat to check the Center first. If he has his man under control, open up and look to help with edge rushers that the back may have a hard time picking up. 42 Football-Offense.com

44 Rule #5: Always Communicate Communication between your offensive linemen is so important. They should be communicating on every single play that you run on offense. We give our offensive linemen a base set of line calls, and then let them run on their variations. They work as a unit and make their own calls. We do not care if the defensive line is trying to figure out the calls we want them to! That means they are not focused on their own job. Communication means letting each other know who is cutting, who is doubling, and who is responsible for whom. We have certain communications that are a must, because they talk to the entire line and the running backs. Other communications are more insider information between two adjacent linemen. If we communicate up front, we can usually be sure that every relevant defender will be accounted for. Above all else, communication will solve problems we have with forgetting the scheme. Usually, someone up front will know their neighbor s job anyway! 43 Football-Offense.com

45 Pass Protection is All About One Thing! Pass protection is about one thing, and one thing only. Stay between the defenders and the Quarterback, in order to give the Quarterback enough time to find his athletes open down the field. All of your pass protection technique and scheme should be geared toward this goal. It is not about how your players look or how impressive your scheme is. Put your players in the best position to give your Quarterback time to distribute the football. Keep your technique teaching to only what is necessary to accomplish that goal. Manage your practice time wisely. Keep your protection schemes simple enough to protect your Quarterback. More complex passing offenses will require more complex scheme. Match your protection to your offensive scheme in order to maximize your football team s success. 44 Football-Offense.com

46 Pass Protection Playbook Pass protections are numbered. The first number indicates the protection series. 50 protections are 3-Step, 60 protections are Sprint Out, 70 protections are 5-step. The second number indicates whether the protection call is to the left (1) or right (2). 52 Protection is Slide Right. 61 protection is Sprint Left. Play Actions are called by their run action name and the direction the Quarterback will be moving. 45 Football-Offense.com

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53 Slide side passes off twists and stunts. Man side does not pass off twists! BOX Call BOX Call 52 Football-Offense.com

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57 Build Your Offense for Success! If you want to build a complete offense, check out With hundreds of articles, videos and more, you ll have everything you need to build a powerhouse playbook. 56 Football-Offense.com

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