Blitzing: Risk and Reward
Does anyone like watching the defense? Does anyone like watching Quarterbacks scrambling around and getting sacked? Is anyone a fan of the blitz? You might have figured out that I am a big fan of the defense by now, and right now I want to talk about the blitz.
Definition and history
What exactly does it mean to blitz?
Let’s start here. Blitz can be used as a noun or as a verb. As a verb, it means to attack suddenly and without warning. The word was derived from the German word “Blitzkrieg” which was used during WWII. A blitzkrieg is swift, sudden military offensive, usually involving combined air and mobile land forces.
In football, a blitz is a defensive maneuver in which one or more linebackers or defensive backs, who normally remain behind the line of scrimmage during a play, are instead sent across the line in order to try to sack the quarterback or force him to throw in a hurry. Linebackers, are the guys that line up right behind the defensive line. The defensive backs cover the receivers and they are called safeties or cornerbacks.
Risk versus Reward
There are many rewards for a blitzing defense. Blitzing can fluster the opposing QB so that all he has time to do is scramble and escape. If the QB throws to a questionable area, the ball may end up in the waiting hands of a happy defender and the all important interception has been made. Or maybe the QB can’t get rid of the ball, and the blitzing bunch can take him down for a sack and lost yardage. Either way, an offense has a hard time developing a tempo if the blitzing defense is successful.
Ah, but where there is reward, there must also be risk. Every defense would blitz all the time if there were no risks. The risk is that the QB avoids the blitz and completes a pass, or hands the ball off, and the guys that blitzed have overrun their target and left holes in the defense. The weakened defense may be unable to stop the long bomb or the big run. Some offenses and QBs handle blitzes better than others since they have built in an emergency plan to go to if the defense blitzes.
Many defenders can blitz at the same time, and as the numbers increase so does the risk and the reward. One, two, three, or four of the linebackers may blitz the quarterback, overwhelming the offensive linemen. Then it is just a question of the quarterback’s ability to get rid of the ball which determines if the blitz is successful.
It is very important for the blitz to be “without warning” or hard to predict. If an offense recognizes an alignment or coverage scheme, or a tendency to use such a scheme, they can often take advantage of it by throwing to a fast receiver, or throwing to a receiver left open by the blitz, or by dumping the ball off to a running back.
Types of Blitzes
Here is what I found, or…. made up.
Linebacker blitz – this is the most common type of blitz which involves sending one or more of the linebackers across the line of scrimmage.
Dog – This is a blitz by a single outside linebacker who goes outside the defensive end and into the offensive backfield.
Double Dog – A blitz by both outside linebackers at the same time.
Safety or Cornerback Blitzes – a blitz by a safety or cornerback. This blitz is more risky than a linebacker blitz, as it removes a primary pass defender from the coverage scheme, but is also more rewarding since the blitz is less likely to be picked up by the offensive team’s blockers.
Blind side Blitz – this is a blitz that attacks the quarterback’s blind side.
Red Zone Blitz – this blitz takes place inside the red zone, which is inside the 20 yard line. This is a risky blitz since there is little room for error and even a short pass or run can be all that is needed to score.
Run Blitz – This blitz is designed to sack the running back behind the line of scrimmage when a run play is anticipated.
Zone Blitz - In a zone blitz, a linebacker rushes the quarterback while a defensive lineman, usually on the other side of the field, drops back into pass coverage. One player blitzes, while another drops back into coverage. Problems can result when the lineman isn’t as quick as the receiver that he is covering or when the pass rush is not as effective because of his absence. Some people like to call this zone-switching instead of zone blitzing.
I was hoping to find some better sounding blitz names in my search. For you guys out there who have played football, please post the names of some blitzes that you have used. I was really looking for the fun names, like the double whammy, monster blitz, or maybe even the utterblitz.
Feel free to post the names of known blitzes, or make up new names for blitzes. I think we may be seeing a lot of blitzes this season.
Utter …. Complete and absolute… Blitz …. Attack without warning.
Re: Blitzing: Risk and Reward
"Bandog" was always a favourite that involved wicked stunts from a 3-4 base D.
Although I do remember that one of the D's favourite blitzes in my college days was a run blitz called the "chocolate factory". I won't elaborate for reasons of decency.
Re: Blitzing: Risk and Reward
Don't forget about the always exciting "jailbreak", where everybody blitzes.