Gridiron Guru started a string in this forum, basically saying defensive coordinators were going to start blitzing Travis Lulay. Now think about that. That's like saying dogs are going to start barking, or the Pope is a Catholic. No kidding, huh Sherlock?!
Lulay and the offense have tended to struggle against all out blitzes since last year, where the D rush seven guys:
- Usually four down linemen and three linebackers,
2)Less often three linemen and four linebackers,
- But it could be any seven guys.
The Lions and most other teams use a five man front on offense on second and long and they may or may not have a running back in to read blitz and help out any of the five O linemen. Sometimes you see a back start from behind one tackle ( i.e. the strong side) and after the snap he must work all the way across the formation to get an outside chip block on the Defenses' best rush end. When there's "empty backfield", there's no running back to pick up the blitz. Blitzing just six against five O-linemen means you have still have six DBs or linebackers playing zone behind you, and one rusher has a straight shot to the QB, unblocked. It happens really fast, barely over a second sometimes.
Last Tuesday the pressure got to Lulay, partly because:
- Our O-line didn't pick up the blitz,
- Norman is getting schooled where the veteran Angus Reid usually plays,
- Fabien went down with a blown-out knee and Dean Valli had to take his spot at right guard,
- Khalif Mitchell was kicking butt and beating the double team of Matt Norman plus one guard or the other
- Toronto's linebackers and secondary were bumping our receivers off the line,
6( Toronto's D was more desperate, played more physical and won the line of scrimmage, something we used to do before dealing away the most ferocious d-lineman in the league for an overweight, useless receiver and a late pick next year.
Bumping receivers disrupts the timing between the receivers and QB and makes the QB hold the ball longer than he'd like to. This often takes away short and intermediate routes and several times since the middle4 of last year has proven to be a very sound strategy against the Lions. That leaves Lulay or any other QB with three options:
- Most often, pull it down and run, try to get what he can,
- Move laterally to buy time and either pass or run,
- Heave it up over the top on low percentage passes.
Twice Lulay tried a kind of middle screen pass but the Toronto secondary read them and reacted quickly. Those plays weren't successful. Chapdelane could help his QB out in a number of ways:
- Try some outside screens
- We're the only team in the league that still signals plays into the QB by hand, where everybody else uses a hot mike on the offensive coordinator's headset and speakers in the QB's helmet to communicate. Jacques, how about joining the 21st century
- Try running the toss play
- Try running those quick hitting slants. All you have to do is beat one guy and you have a big play
- Get the ball to guys like Iannuzzi and Foster a bit more often
- Be a little, maybe a lot less predictable with your play calling
This struggle against the blitz will continue until we block better up front and our receivers find ways to get open. Teams like to blitz near their own goal line or the other team's goal line, because they' have less ground to defend so can afford to put a few secondary or linebackers in the rush.
Lulay can help himself out in several ways. Usually the guy to throw to during a blitz is the inside receiver on the wide side of the formation. The QB has to be reading blitz, especially on second and long, and the receivers need to turn their heads inward prior to the snap to read whether blitz is likely. If so, stem down field for five yards (two steps), curl inward and be ready to catch it and get some YAC yards. That's how you beat the blitz, five yards at a time, something Cavillo, Ray and Dave Dickenson were very good at. If Lulay is to become a true elite CFL QB, this is a skill he has to get better at, something the coaches have been drumming into him since he got here.
And Lulay needs to be a bit more cautious when throwing down the middle, late. He has had one bad pick every game this year, all but one on similar plays. That is clearly an area where he has been better in the past and he needs to 're-improve" in that way. Sorry Travis.
I'll be adding a similar type or critique of the defensive performance against Toronto in a later post. Thanks for reading, guys.
Dooger in Surrey :cowboy: