This topic will examine the Leos tendancies and the strategies that could be utilized to make the Leos offence even more dangerous.
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.
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.
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.
The Leos rarely screen, dump, hitch pass, or run reverses. They also do not run quick slants or posts to negate blitzes.
The Leos use Warren mostly as a blocker in their five reciever set and like to throw intermediate and crossing patterns from this formation.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!!!!