We categorize the scoring zone as beginning at the +25. We will have four field zones:
- +25 to +15
- +14 to +10
- +9 to +6
- +5 to GL
Here, we will create a mini-field of sorts, as we now consider down and distance as well as field position. Run and Pass situations are studied here separate from the open field (especially from the +9 and in), as the lack of depth to defend allows the defense to play more aggressively.
As we approach the +25, we will closely examine any opportunities we have to CREATE big plays. While this is true for any strategic situation, the Scoring Zone obviously is different because of how defenses look at this area of the field. One example of MANUFACTURING a big play would be the use of play action tags on pocket passes. Below, the stacked formation gives assures the X of great leverage on the corner (who must play outside). The quick run fake can help hold LB drops momentarily and isolate the B safety.
Another example of MANUFACTURING a big play would be a thorough examination of EMPTY SETS. It isn't uncommon for a defense to check to some sort of pressure package vs. no-backs, especially in this part of the field. We can use this tendency to our advantage:
In the diagram above, we align with in an empty set to encourage the defense to make it's standard empty blitz check. Our play call is a standard 3 level pass with a six man protection, but we start with an empty look with a predetermined motion back into the backfield. If we had simply lined up in the one back set; the defense in all likelihood played its basic 2 high defense. Here, we give our offense the extra look at the post by getting the defense to check to a blitz (and thus a vacant middle)...
Conversely, many zone-based defenses will stay in the called defense versus motion. Thus, we can get to empty sets by MOTIONING TO the desired formation. Below, the late movement can cause some confusion as the B safety must go from cross keying (in a 3-1 set) to having 2 receivers on his side. At any rate, he is not a factor in the play, as we want the confusion to be on the defenses part, not the offense. In the play below, we are hoping for a shot to the post, but if not, having a standard SCAN concept from the drag to the middle.
As, the team approaches the +14 to + 10, we lose the ability to run traditional FLOOD routes, and things happen faster in the decision process. The Scoring Zone thought process of thinking "Touchdown to checkdown" is nothing new; what we are able to do in this system, however, takes this a step further, as we are able to COMMUNICATE the desires to the QB as part of the play call. Here, the REDSKIN tag let's the QB know he is thinking B to Y if the seam is not thrown. It is a departure from the normal thinking on DRIVE, and one of the benefits in having this play calling flexibility.
One of my favorite Scoring Zone plays from the +14 is something I learned back when I was a player at Texas. The structural tag is FIT, which stands for FORK INSIDE A TWO. The featured route, the Fork, is a post or flag option off of the Deep Safety. Using a formation with a wing can help isolate the backside safety as the front must cover two extra gaps; a single-high coverage will be vulnerable to the T's seam.
From the +9 to the +6, the use of fast motion here can also give favorable leverage and a more decisive read for the QB when using the RAM advantage principle. The linebackers bumping with motion will give a pre-snap indicator of direction (hopefully to the TURN/ FLAT), and if the Y can cross the defender's face, a quick-rhythm touchdown can be had.
The "mesh" play is an obvious choice in this situation, although our system offers an interesting twist: using the numbers advantage principle, we can attack a defense that will man up the backside corner and try to roll the coverage strong:
Using the NUMBERS Advantage Principle, we are able to direct the QB to backside crossers vs. 1 high (in this instance, we are treating the backside safety inside the hash as 1 high). The corner chasing X gives us a clear shot to Y. If it is 2 high, the QB still has a complete pattern available that will defeat that coverage.
It's important to note in these two examples how the presence of Advantage Principles allows the coach to control the defense, but also lead the passer into the most advantageous combinations possible. If a passing game consisted of simple progressions only, it would be difficult to get the ball distributed without special learning. Our intermingling of Advantage Principles and Read Concepts allows for a seamless transition in attacking multiple defensive looks.
As we get to the +5, many of the classic staples are present, including play action passes and quick fade routes attacking the back corner of the endzone. We will also build patterns that will take advantage of "banjo" techniques that defenses will employ to prevent being "rubbed" in man coverage. One such pattern can be seen below:
If the "ANGLE 8" is not thrown, the passer can scan to 2 receivers working the back line of the end zone. Greg Davis taught me this combination more than a decade ago during his run of success at The University of Texas.