Leos' Tendancies

This topic will examine the Leos tendancies and the strategies that could be utilized to make the Leos offence even more dangerous.

  1. The Leos use multiple set formations including two back formations, single back formations, six pack reciever formations, bunch formations, and lots of motion. Dickenson likes to throw intermediate passes and rarely goes deep early or often. The team likes to use a lot of crossing patterns, their recievers come back to the ball well, and their quarterback, recievers are adept at reading zone, man, or a combination of both.

  2. The Leos like to use two back formations often on first down and run the ball about 2 out of 3 times in this formation. They will play action out of this set and sometimes do not set up the run prior to using play action.

  3. The Leos have added diversity to their running game with more off-tackle, counters, and pitchouts to Warren. They now occasionally use Green in their running game as a change of pace.

  4. The Leos rarely screen, dump, hitch pass, or run reverses. They also do not run quick slants or posts to negate blitzes.

  5. The Leos use Warren mostly as a blocker in their five reciever set and like to throw intermediate and crossing patterns from this formation.

  6. The Leos used to pass most of the time from their bunch formation. They are now effectively running the ball to Warren from this set, making it difficult to tendancy this formation.

  7. Dickenson will hold on to the ball and take a hit in order to complete an intermediate pass. Against the blitz, in the six reciever set, he will often throw underneath to the flat to the wide reciever on the wide side of the field because this is the pattern the defence will give him in a zone defence.

8, The Lions will hand off the ball to Warren on first and second downs in their goal line offence. They will quarterback sneak if he is stopped. Warren has often been hit at the line of scrimmage down on the goaline as defences completely key on him. When he has scored its because he has been able to bounce off a linebacker and squeak in.

The best way to try to stop the Leos is to do the following:

a) in the two back set ...key on Warren with run blitzes. If the Leos play action the blitz still will have a chance to get to Dickenson. Run a zone pass defence behind the run blitz to take away the deep pattern. Double Geroy Simon. Take away the deep ball. Don't worry about screen passes. Ignore Green who will block. The deep pass to Lyle Green in the last Calgary game was an exception because Dickenson dropped the ball...they'll ignore him again.

b) in the five reciever set keep the pressure on by blitzing Dickenson. The Leos will run Warren in this set but will not screen to him or rarely dump to him. They like to use him as a pass blocker in their five reciever set. Play a zone defence. The linebackers who are not blitzing need to key on Warren. The Leos will not throw a quick slant or quick post so the linebackers can focus on Warren. Once in a while the Leos will run a fake inside to Warren and Dickenson will roll on a naked bootleg. The defensive ends should ignore the fake and tee off on Dickenson who will not have any blockers.

c) in the six reciever set the Leos have only five blockers. Send more men than the Leos can block. The Leos will rarely hitch screen or throw quickly from this set except to the wide reciever in the flat. The Leos never run the draw. Watch for the stop and go from the wide reciever. Keep beating on Dickenson. If Dickenson runs he often will not hook slide...be ready to deliver a blow.

d) on the Leos goal line offence every linebacker key on Warren. The defensive line needs to penetrate and occupy blockers. Let the linebackers try to tee off on Warren. He's not a power back down here.

Overall defensive game strategy...blitz Dickenson, sack Dickenson, hit Dickenson on every throw, hit him as hard as possible when he runs. The Leos are undefeated and have the best quarterback in the league right now.
The sportswriters will continue to talk about Dickenson's courage by taking hits and keeping on facing down defences. Fans who aren't knowledgeable will keep on blaming the offensive line for the sacks and hits even though the Leos were second in the league in quarterback sacks last year with the very escapable Printers who also took some huge hits. The Leos upgraded their offensive line and have the best quarterback in the league at reading defences including blitzes. The Leos are still leading the league in quarterback hits and sacks. Lets hope they don't figure it out and lets get Dickenson out of there....its our only chance. Printers has a rotator cuff problem and may not even be able to throw for a whole game. Pearce and Jackson haven't seen any game action.

The Leos need to start changing some of their tendancies. Some examples are:

  1. In the two back set run more screens and dumps. Screen to Green who is not accounted for. Look to throw to Green deep once in a while....as in the last Calgary game.

  2. In the five reciever set look to pass to Warren in the flat and also use throw back screens to him. Have him set to block as usual. Use more quick slants, quick posts to big recievers like Clermont and Jackson, hitch screens to Myers, Thelwell, and Simon who all have the ability to break one, and a reverse in this set to Myers or Simon. Also consider using a throw back screen to the slotback like Claremont. Revamp the inside fake to Warren and naked bootleg with a shovel pass to Warren or use Warren as a decoy and shovel pass to a reciever like Myers who has come in motion.

  3. In the six reciever set be prepared once again for faster releases with quick posts to the short side wide reciever, 'hot reads' to Clermont and Simon, along with the wide receiver flat pass. Consider using the quarterback draw (as long as Dickenson slides after) Change up by going to a double tight from the six reciever set with Jackson and Clermont as the tight ends and backside block with another wide reciever. This will give the Leos time to throw deep in the six receiver set.

The Leos offence is very well designed. However, against teams that are blitzing more than 75% of the time the Leos need to use the intermediate passing game less and the short and deep passing game more. Why? When linebackers are blitzing the short, underneath passing game can pay huge dividends. Why long? When teams are blitzing defensive backs the long game opens up....either in the deep middle vacated by the safety or the deep outside ball because the safety has had to fill in for the blitzing defensive halfback. Defensive teams also fear the long ball on blitzes. It's why the Leos need to throw the ball deep early against this defensive strateggy. An example of this was Printers against Edmonton, the best defence in the league at the time. Printers was rusty but he did threaten Edmonton deep and got some long pass interferance calls. When he stopped scrambling and began throwing deep and running Edmonton stopped blitzing as much in the second half.

The Leos offence is operating at 90%. With a few small changes they can become unstoppable. I want our quarterback, on the best team in the league, to be hit the least. I know Dickenson is courageous and a leader. I don't want him to go out and have to prove it each and every game.

I'm hoping the Leos will explode against Hamilton and we get a chance to see Pearce in the game. On an aside my buddy just bought me a new Leos hat as a gift....its going to look especially cool when we're 8-0!!!!


What an incredible analysis and read of the Lion's offence and how other teams should and do defend against them. I can quarrel with you on only four points:

  1. it is tendencies not tendancies...lol.
  2. It is Buck Pierce not Pearce...lol
  3. the pass to Green I don't think came from the QB dropping the ball at all. They drew that puppy up in practice as I see it.
  4. I suspect that they didn't use the screens vs Calgary as they did here as they thought they'd be waiting for that.

Your insights are excellent and superior to what anyone else could add to this topic.

I suspect you will see more variations again from the Lions over the year. They do tend to focus on execution of what they have over changing things up which is the coach's philosophy I suppose.

I concur that Dickenson is taking too many hits and he said on the radio that he was playing on the edge a bit as he knows we are deep at QB so he can. He did acknowledge though that tossing passes away was a preferred option. He did slide and got a nasty raspberry so he hates sliding on turf. He will avoid contact with Jason Clermont in future.

The O line is not the issue - glad you said that.

Good stuff as usual. Do you sit in Section 17 with the lionbackers.com people or go their tailgate parties - not that I do?


Pierce-I learned a lot about perseverance. Things aren’t always going to go your way. I’ve become so much more aware of the realities of the game and life…Things can be taken away from you. You can either sit back…or overcome it and fight through it....

Hey Football 16...great to read your post. I agree that we will see more variations from the Leos offence over the year. I also agree that exectution is always the most important factor.

I perhaps learned that best when I worked as a guest coach with Vic Rapp. Rapp wasn't the most endearing person but one thing I really learned from him was execution in the running game. Rapp came from a college background of runnning the ball and he was the best coach I've seen at working the running game. He would make his team run the off-tackle pitch to Larry Key over and over and over before moving on to the next play....working at various defensive alignments to properly block it and execute it.

I can offer no excuses for the bad spelling except to eliminate any thoughts of ever entering a spelling bee. With regard to your other responses to my original post Dickenson did drop the ball which effected the timing of the play. Perhaps the Leos had planned to hit Green but the Leos have sent him deep before in the two back set and not thrown to him. Perhaps they had picked it up on film or some other way and perhaps the Dickenson dropped ball and the blocking holding up enabled Dickenson to see Green wide open. Guess we'll never know until they tell us.

I agree with you that the Leos may have anticipated Calgary would be watching for a similar game plan from the Leos offence as their first meeting. However the Leos didn't have a good package for the Edmonton game and Printers, once he stopped scrambling used the deep ball and his legs to hurt the Edmonton defence. I'm glad that we both agree that the line is not the major problem...yes there have been some individual breakdowns at times as can be expected with some new linemen in the lineup but overall the line has done a decent job of pass blocking and done a very good job with the running game.

I tend to watch the games on my own!!

Are you Tom Larscheid?


Blitz... just having fun on the spelling....lol... Me too, I tend to watch games on my own or with a buddy but I don't do the party scene. I like to watch the warm up! lol.

We don't want the Pierce fans at your throat for misspelling his name.

I do think that the package of screens needs to be a part of the Lions plans more as that will keep teams a bit more honest when they want to blitz all the time.

Where is Vic Rapp now? Vic Rapp was a good coach who was I guess too fiery a personality to last at the head coaching level. There is a time and place for emotion as a coach but anger has to be used very sparingly and more of an act than actually losing it or guys will tune you out.

Good insights and good information. Keep it up.

Pierce-I learned a lot about perseverance. Things aren’t always going to go your way. I’ve become so much more aware of the realities of the game and life…Things can be taken away from you. You can either sit back…or overcome it and fight through it....

........excellent analysis men.....very informative and interesting.....

Good one Sportsmen

Sportsmen...you're frightening me when you ask if I'm Tom Larsheid. Larsheid drove me crazy with his colour commentary on radio and he drove his teammates crazy as a backup running back with the Leos.

Lionbacker...if I'm really starting to sound like Larsheid please tell me and I'll stop posting!!

Football 16...with regard to Vic Rapp I have no idea where he is now. Sometimes I think Vic Rapp hasn't recieved the credit he deserves. He wasn't the easiest guy to work for and for the players he wasn't an easy guy to play for....very intense, tough, full of fire. Had a temper without doubt and probably coached with too much emotion at times. He was also in tough in those days because Edmonton had a tremendously talented, well coached team.What Vic Rapp did was change the culture of the B.C. Lions.

When Vic Rapp became head coach he inherited a team in which a lot of players didn't practice hard, were undisciplined, and were known as a bunch of party animals. Vic Rapp cleaned house, created a no nonsense atmosphere, and brought in a lot of very good players. Rapp never managed to get them over the hump and Don Mathews came in and added the finishing touches to Rapp's team in taking them to the Grey Cup. However Mathews had a lot of advantages in taking over a talented football team with a strong work ethic. Mathews added the polish but most of the players like Roy Dewalt etc. had been brought in by Rapp. Best running game coach I've ever seen. He didn't have much of a sense of humour, the press weren't crazy about him, but he was a determined guy who did a lot of good things as Head Coach of the Leos.

No!!!! Don't stop. I will never insult you again by calling you Tom Larcheid! He used to drive me crazy too.

Seriously though,, you have a good understanding of the game. If you speak as good as you write, you should send a tape into CBC. We could use some intellegent insight to the game rather than Chris Walby's crap.

Your assessment of the Vic Rapp era brings up some memories of those party animals and yes, Edmonton where Rapp came from was very tough still. Last I read he was either with the Cards after the Bucs as WR coach. Haven't seen his name since 2001 I think it was.

He did build the foundation for Matthews the other assistant Esk coach to come here from Hugh Campbell's team.

Not to take this off topic too far, the Lions have a good opportunity to mix it up a bit more vs Hamilton but I suspect no pro team wants to bring out too many new things if there aren't needed and tip off opponents coming up. I assume it depends on how tight this game might be.

Hamilton has spent this week in Winnipeg so they should be ready for this one after 5 days or so there.

Blitz, it's all good. Larsheid drove me crazy being the colour guy for the Canucks but you're not that bad. I'll let you know if you are. Your insight is good but sometimes a little too long.

Man, do we agree Sportsmen.....Larsheid and Walby was and is my two least favorite colour commentators. I actually turn off the sound for CBC games and listen to the radio if I've ever had to watch a game on CBC when the Leos are on the road. The best thing about the upcoming CBC strike is not having to even watch Walby.....cause you still get stuck looking at him even if the sound is off!!

You're right Lionbacker....some of the posts have been long... sometimes.its difficult in football to talk about a complex concept without a lot of detail but shouldn't be as necessary in the future.

I agree with you Football 16....the Leos will only open up the playbook as much as necessary against Hamilton to keep certain plays out of the opposition film rooms. It will be interesting to see how Jones plays at quarterback for the Tiger Cats. I always hate it when a player gets a new opportunity to shine again...when that new opportunity begins against our Leos. Let's hope we can build up an early lead and get them down on themselves as soon as possible..

I couldn't agree with you more Blitz, but I have issue with the hitch screen in that to utilize it properly, requires the intended corner must be showing a huge cusion on the wideout for it to be effective...

If not this pass can be a most dangerous play in the book to execute, in that if it is not timed with percision and delivered on a line, more often than not there will be a turnover result, and an easy six points going the other way, as there is no one left on offence to get between the corner and the goal line.

This play makes me nervous at the best of conditions, rearely accounts for more than say a five yard gain, and remains one of the highest risk plays to excecute properly.

In many ways I totally agree with you Pigskin 53....usually I'm not a tremendous fan of the hitch screen either. When Joe Paopao coached the Leos he also overused the play a lot. In most circumstances it's not a play I would use a lot. It's just that teams have been blitzing our Leos so much, including bringing extra defensive backs on the blitz that I think it could be effective.

A second reason I like the play is that teams are giving up the cushion to the wide side of the field when they are blitzing...its why Thelwell and Jackson have been open underneath in the flat on the wide side of the field against the zone. Another reason I liked the play this year is that Jackson and Clermont are excellent blockers and could open up the hitch for Simon, Myers. or Thelwell. Thelwell made a huge play earlier this year on the hitch screen with Simmons and Clermont throwing big blocks.

You're dead on that it can be a dangerous play and if not executed properly can cost you six points. Running the hitch and go deep early helps the play because corners will not risk coming up on it too early. If the Leos can throw the wide out to Thelwell and Jackson with ease then they can also execute this play. You only want to run it two to three times a game against the blitz and only against corners who are playing soft...eg: I wouldn't run it against David Sanchez too often. I also agree that its a play that often doesn't pick up a lot of yards....mostly because teams don't have the recievers to do a good job of blocking for it. It's just one of an arsenal of plays designed to counteract blitzing teams and my least favorite of the anti-blitz package. Still, the play has its uses and defensive backs don't like it. A good variation off the play is to fake the hitch and go deep once establishing it once. I defintely wouldn't run it against a four man or five man rush and standard zone.

Your analysis of the hitch screen is outstanding!!

Thanks Blitz... it's always a pleasure to add to you're own brilliant takes on how to improve on the Lion's success this season...

Your very thorough, insitefull, and inovative thinking sets you apart from the average fan.

My real hope is that the countermeasures set out in your anti-blitz package would catch the eye of the Lion's coaching staff...

They would do well to adopt some of your wrinkles, and perhaps extend the life of our QB's to include a full season.

Exceptional work Blitz!