An Inconvenient History Lesson

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September 16, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau (center) talks to the Steelers defensive backs on the sideline against the New York Jets during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

While the WCO attempts to open up running and passing lanes for the backs and receivers to exploit by causing the defense to concentrate on the establishment of short passes, it fundamentally relies on a quarterback to make instinctive passes based on situational awareness reads of the defense.  What LeBeau’s Zone Blitz attempted to do was give the quarterback less information with which to make his ‘hot read’ while not giving up any portion of the field to offensive exploitation.

By maintaining zone coverage, pass-rushers could be alternated at the last minute from the secondary or linebackers while the defensive linemen would drop back into assigned coverage.  The aim was to cause significant confusion within offensive line assignments in order to achieve penetration while at the same time keep the 15-yards in front of the line of scrimmage flooded with personnel, clogging the central attack and establishment point of the WCO.  Thus, the Zone Blitz and the 3-4 defense became its natural enemy.

Nonetheless, in the past decade several notable Head Coaches have still found success with the WCO.  Mike Holmgren took the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl with it in 2005, Andy Reid has ran versions of it throughout his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles and John Gruden won the Super Bowl in 2002 with it.  Will brother Jay be able to construct his own West Coast legacy in this decade?  We’ll know Sunday when he faces the architect of the scheme designed to expose it.

 

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