EARLIER in the THE 12, I covered taking away a TE’s clean release. Here we’re going to get into disrupting a QB’s rhythm with his WR’s. The idea is to get one of two things to happen:
1) The QB either holds the ball a little longer, as he goes to his next read, giving the pass rush time to get to him.
2) The QB forces an ill-advised pass, in an attempt to “make something happen”.
Again, disrupting the TE was covered earlier. That said, trying to treat a WR like a TE can set an entire secondary on fire. So the approach has to be different. It has to be more cerebral. Generally a defender cannot rely on one approach all game long, but here are just a few that they can mix and match for 30 minutes or so.
Man Press gets a CB in the WR’s face, and makes the QB sort out whether the WR can win that down and get open. As long as the CB can keep the WR in front of him, this approach is golden. Problem is, when the WR gets past the CB, the defender is left in the trail position. Given the speed, and leaping ability of many WR’s, man press played wrong, could be a death sentence. (High risk/High reward)
Hand-fighting is for WR’s who like to stem their routes to get the defender off balance. Hand-fighting at the line of scrimmage, gets the defenders hands into the chest/shoulder area of the WR. It doesn’t allow the receiver to lean quite the way he wants. This erases the time the receiver would use to stem, and forces him to go directly into the route.
Hand-fighting is not quite the same as press, because hand-fighting “feels” the route and bails sooner than press. All a defender is doing, is taking away what the early part of what the receiver wants to do. The idea isn’t to stop, it’s to delay, and maybe get the QB to look elsewhere. (Moderate risk/Low reward)
The next two are a one-two combo, that not only affects the receiver, but it can make offensive coordinators question how they utilize their players, and call the game.
The 100 Yard Defender. The sideline is a defensive player. Stepping on it end plays, and a receiver who steps on it prior to catching the ball, can’t catch a forward pass on that down. If the WR lines up close enough to the sideline, shoving him out of bounds (within the first 5 yards), is totally legal, and basically takes him out of the play. (Low risk/High reward)
Lowering The Boom comes with a great deal of risk, since refs are very aggressive about throwing flags for the same hits that used to comprise the entire opening sequence of a Madden game. Still, a CB taking away the sideline, basically “opens up” the middle of the field for the receiver. Which is where beasts like LB’s and S’s roam.
While a ref may throw a flag and award 15 yards as a result of that play, coaching staffs may think better of running that player into harm’s way again. Question: Is a potential 15 yard penalty during the first possession, worth limiting how the opposing team calls the rest of the game? Answer: You bet your ass! (Just don’t do this in the second half.)
Not to mention how rattled the QB would be for getting his buddy fucked up, to start the game.(Sky high risk/Sky high reward)
So there are tools. We just have to be willing to use them.