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Smash-Mouth 3-3-5 Defense:

Implementing Seven Winning Blitz Strategies

By: Joe Arpasi


Defensive Coordinator
Westfield High School
Westfield, Indiana
Phone: (317) 435-9380
Email: coacharpasi@yahoo.com
Implementing Seven Winning Blitz Strategies

• Single Zone Blitzes


• Traditional Zone Blitzes
• Traditional Man Blitzes
• Overload Blitzes
• Fire Zone Blitzes
• Illusion Blitzes
• Secondary Blitzes
Why Understand Blitz Strategies?
In the 3-3-5 defense there are tons of blitz possibilities to choose from.
In order to ensure your players can play without thinking too much, a coach
must be selective in what blitzes are put into the blitz package.
The types of blitzes selected must match-up to the forms of offense that you
face each year.
Understanding the concepts of blitzing will allow blitzes to be specifically
designed to stop those offensive systems.
Understanding what each blitz strategy is best for will help in understanding
what blitzes should be used in specific situations.
Sending pressure for the sake of sending pressure is not as effective as
sending selective & specific pressure to match your opponent and the situation
at hand.
You will be able to design blitzes with a greater understanding of how they
work.
Single Zone Blitzes
Single Zone Blitzes
Single zone blitzes are a way to get into other defensive schemes from a 30
front look.
The 3 down linemen allow for different combinations of stunts and LB
pressure to gain the ability of other defensive schemes.
Zone coverages are played in their normal structure.
Flat zone defenders are left in coverage, allowing the players inside to blitz.
The different deep safety alignments dictate what coverages are available.
1 Safety Look Coverages:
3 Deep
2 Safety Look Coverages:
2 Deep
4 Deep
¼, ¼, ½
Single Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep

E N E

B S M W
$
One Inside LB can blitz, with the other
LBs taking the Hook-to-Curl Zones.
C C
F
Single Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
HOOK-TO-CURL HOOK-TO-CURL
Single Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
HOOK-TO-CURL HOOK-TO-CURL
Single Zone Blitzes – 2 Deep

E N E

B S M W
One of the LBs can blitz and the other 3 LBs can
handle the remaining under zones.
C C
F $
Single Zone Blitzes – 2 Deep

E N E

B S M W

C C
CURL CURL
HOLE
F $
Single Zone Blitzes – 2 Deep

E N E

B S M W

C C
CURL CURL
HOLE
F $
Single Zone Blitzes – 4 Deep

E N E

B S M W
One Inside LB can blitz, with the other
LB play the Hole Zone.
C C
F $
Single Zone Blitzes – 4 Deep

E N E

B S M W

C C
HOLE
F $
Single Zone Blitzes – ¼, ¼, ½

E N E

B S M W
One Inside LB can blitz, with the other LBs
C playing the Hole and Curl Zone C
F $
Single Zone Blitzes – ¼, ¼, ½

E N E

B S M W

C C
CURL
HOLE
F $
Single Zone Blitzes – ¼, ¼, ½

E N E

B S M W

C C
CURL
HOLE
F $
Single Zone Blitzes
Advantages:
Can generate point specific pressure with safe zone coverage behind
Flexible pressure combinations are available out of multiple coverages
Can be used to generate non-30 front base defenses
Disadvantages:
Picking where and how pressure is applied becomes a guessing game in
hitting the offensive point of attack
Must teach positions multiple pass drops for the same coverage
Must teach LBs different gap fit responsibilities
Best Situations For Use:
1st Downs
Long yardage situations where coverage is the main focus
Traditional Zone Blitzes
Traditional Zone Blitzes
Allows 2 or more LBs to blitz instead of the 1 LB used in single zone blitzes.
Linemen are used in pass coverage to replace the blitzing LBs.
Coverage is still run with the normal amount of zones defended.
QB may see the blitzing LBs and dump the pass off to the area the linemen is
dropping to, allowing the QB’s reads to deceive him.
Since most passes get dumped in the underneath coverage, it is important to
use a coverage that has 4 or more under zones.
The more under zones that are in a coverage creates a “minefield” for the QB
to throw into, and provides the linemen with more help in covering the routes.
Traditional Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
DL ZONE BLITZ
F
Traditional Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
DL ZONE BLITZ
F
Traditional Zone Blitzes – ¼, ¼, ½

E N E

B S M W

C C
DL ZONE BLITZ DL ZONE BLITZ
F $
Traditional Zone Blitzes – 2 Deep

E N E

B S M W

C DL ZONE BLITZ DL ZONE BLITZ C


F $
Traditional Zone Blitzes – 2 Deep

E N E

B S M W

C DL ZONE BLITZ DL ZONE BLITZ DL ZONE BLITZ C


F $
Traditional Zone Blitzes
Advantages:
When applied with other blitz strategies, the defense can generate
mismatches with the offense.
Coverage remains in a basic structure that is safe to handle the pass on
3rd down situations.
Disadvantages:
Coaches must teach the “punch & read” technique to defensive linemen
to ensure they can read the difference between run and pass accurately.
Requires linemen to play pass coverage instead of rush the passer.
Best Situations For Use:
Passing Downs
1st / 2nd Down Run Situations
Traditional Man Blitzes
Traditional Man Blitzes
Defense will always have 5 players committed to covering the 5 eligible
receivers of the offense.
Deep help for the 5 players committed to man coverage can range from no
help, 1 safety deep, and 2 safeties deep.
The players that are not committed to man coverage or deep help are freed to
blitz.
LBs that are assigned to cover RBs are freed to follow the flow of running
plays and “clean up” what comes through the blitz.
Discussed Coverages:
Man
Man Free
2 Man
Traditional Man Blitzes – Man

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Traditional Man Blitzes – Man

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Traditional Man Blitzes – Man

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Traditional Man Blitzes – Man Free

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
Traditional Man Blitzes – Man Free

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
Traditional Man Blitzes – 2 Man

E N E

B S M W

C C
F $
Traditional Man Blitzes
Advantages:
Good for playing the run since the LBs in coverage can flow behind the
blitz and adjust to how the play develops.
Tight man coverage can disrupt the timing of routes and force the QB to
hold the ball longer, leading to a high success rate of the rush getting to
the QB before the ball is thrown.
Disadvantages:
Blitzers can over penetrate into the backfield and allows cracks in the gap
assignments of the blitz.
Players with man coverage responsibilities can be placed in mismatch
situations when the offense matches a better athlete on a poorer athlete.
Best Situations For Use:
Short Yardage Run Downs
Goal Line / Redzone
Overload Blitzes
Overload Blitzes
Overloads are created by outnumbering the offensive players in a specific
area of the formation.
They are always used with at least one other blitz strategy.
Most commonly used as a pass blitz.
Different pass protections require different types of overloads to effectively
beat the pass protection.
Gap / Slide Based Pass Protection:
Two In A Gap
Two Off the Edge
Man Based Pass Protection:
Overload the Guard
Overload Blitzes – Two In A Gap

Identify the RB
Edge Side

E N E

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes – Two In A Gap

Provide A Rush Threat


for RB To Block

E N E

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes – Two In A Gap

E N E $
Send the Nose To Occupy
The Guard Inside

B S M W
Overload Blitzes – Two In A Gap

E N E $
Send the End To Occupy The
Tackle & Drive Him Back

B S M W
Overload Blitzes – Two In A Gap

E N E $

B S M W
The Overload Occurs When A LB Is Sent
Into The Opening Between the Nose & End
Overload Blitzes – Man
Two In A Gap – Traditional Man Blitz

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Overload Blitzes – Man Free
Two In A Gap – Traditional Man Blitz

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
Overload Blitzes – Two Off the Edge

Will Attack The RB In


Edge Protection

E N E

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes – Two Off the Edge

E N E
Send the End To Occupy The
Tackle & Drive Him Inside

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes – Two Off the Edge

E N E

B S M W $
The Overload Occurs When Two LBs Are
Sent To Attack The Isolated RB
Overload Blitzes – Man
Two Off the Edge – Traditional Man Blitz

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Overload Blitzes – 3 Deep
Two Off the Edge – Traditional Zone Blitz

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W

C C
DL ZONE BLITZ
F $
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard

Center and the Tackles will block the Nose and Ends in Man Protection

E N E

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard

Guards will look to pick-up possible blitzers Inside-Out

E N E

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard

When LB comes in an inside


blitz the Guard will pick up
blitz in man protection

E N E

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard
RB will pick up the outside Blitzer

E N M E

B S W $
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard

Or QB will have to throw Hot Read


if RB is set to the other side,
creating the Overload

E N M E

B S W $
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard

When outside blitz is shown the Guard will


kick out to pick-up in a man protection

E N E

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard

Or Guard will make a fan call with the Tackle


and they will zone protect the C & B Gaps

E N E $

B S M W
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard

Now the Overload is created when a delayed


blitz is used in the A Gaps

S E N E $

B M W
Overload Blitzes – Overload the Guard

Sending two LBs at the Guard will also create an Overload

E N E

B S M W $
Overload Blitzes
Advantages:
Can effectively beat an offense’s pass protection
The different blitz combinations available make offenses have to create
new rules to try and block the blitz package.
Disadvantages:
Must be able to breakdown and identify what type of pass protection your
opponent has run on film.
An overload blitz can provide an open gap, making some calls susceptible
to runs.
Best Situations For Use:
Long Yardage Passing Situations
Fire Zone Blitzes
Fire Zone Blitzes
Five man pressure package.
Can run multiple blitz strategies from a Fire Zone Blitz framework.
Pressure package uses a 3 deep, 3 under zone coverage.
Allows the defense an alternative to providing effective pressure with man
coverage behind.
The under zone defenders play a match-up zone style of under coverage.
The coverage puts lots of pressure on the Safety to defend routes up the
hashes.
The zone coverage allows for all defenders to react to run faster than blitzing
in man coverage.
The Fire Zone Blitz strategy provides the most flexible format for blitzing in
multiple play situations.
Fire Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep, 3 Under

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
Fire Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep, 3 Under
Overload Blitz – Overload the Guard

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
Fire Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep, 3 Under
Overload Blitz – Overload the Guard

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
Fire Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep, 3 Under
Overload Blitz – Two Off the Edge

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
Fire Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep, 3 Under
Overload Blitz – Overload the Guard & Traditional Zone Blitz

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
DL ZONE BLITZ
F
Fire Zone Blitzes – 3 Deep, 3 Under
Overload Blitz – Overload the Guard & Traditional Zone Blitz

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
DL ZONE BLITZ
F
Fire Zone Blitzes
Advantages:
An effective blitz strategy for run and pass situations.
Can employ multiple blitz strategies with the Fire Zone Blitz format.
Disadvantages:
Under zone coverage areas area stretched verse the Spread Offense.
2x2 formations put a lot of pressure on the Safety to defend the deep
hashes.
Best Situations For Use:
2nd & Long Situations
3rd & Medium / Long Passing Situations
Illusion Blitzes
Illusion Blitzes
Illusion blitzes are variations of Traditional Man Blitzes.
All eligible receivers around the LOS are accounted for in man coverage.
All of the RBs or one of the RBs will be covered by a Spy Rush player.
The Spy Rush player can be a DL, LB, or DB.
The positions used for the Spy Rush player can be different on each side of
the blitz.
The Spy Rush player will give the illusion of rushing/blitzing, while running a
spy/mirror coverage on the assigned RB.
This allows for maximum number of defenders to rush the offense.
Most commonly used as passing down blitzes.
Illusion Blitzes – Man
Overload Blitz – Overload the Guard & Two Off the Edge

SPY RUSH SPY RUSH

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Illusion Blitzes – Man
Overload Blitz – Overload the Guard

SPY RUSH SPY RUSH

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Illusion Blitzes – Man
Overload Blitz – Overload the Guard

SPY RUSH SPY RUSH

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Illusion Blitzes – Man
Overload Blitz – Two In a Gap

SPY RUSH SPY RUSH

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C F C
Illusion Blitzes – Man Free
Overload Blitz – Two Off the Edge

SPY RUSH

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C C
F
Illusion Blitzes
Advantages:
Provide maximum amount of pass rushers to overload the pass
protection.
Good at defending RB slip screens when C Gap rushers play the Spy
Rush.
Disadvantages:
By not having LBs assigned to cover the RBs like Traditional Man Blitzes,
there is no one left to flow behind the rush. This puts Illusion Blitzes in a
bad match-up to defend the run.
Outside Spy Rush players will have a hard time covering the sneak route,
and inside Spy Rush players will have a hard time covering the swing route
when combo/swap rules are not applied.
Best Situations For Use:
2nd/3rd & Long
3rd & Medium When Pass Is Expected
Secondary Blitzes
Secondary Blitzes
Secondary blitzes are a high risk, high reward blitz strategy.
Most commonly used against the pass, but secondary blitzes can be useful
against the run in specific situations.
Most pass protections don’t assign players to account for defensive backs.
When the blitz is timed up late the pass protection doesn’t have time to adjust,
and the only option is to throw a hot route.
If coverages are effectively disguised in combination with a secondary blitz,
the QB will be forced to hold the ball longer and allow the blitz to get there.
The biggest concern when blitzing a defensive back is the crease that is
created in the zone coverage.
Secondary Blitzes – 2 Deep
Single Zone Blitz

DB BLITZ

E N E

B S M W

C C
F $
Secondary Blitzes – 3 Deep
Single Zone Blitz

DB BLITZ

E N E

B S M W

C C
F $
Secondary Blitzes – 3 Deep, 3 Under
Fire Zone Blitz & Overload Blitz – Two Off the Edge

OVERLOAD DB BLITZ

E N E

B S M W

C C
F $
Secondary Blitzes – Man
Illusion Blitz & Overload Blitz – Overload the Guard & Two Off the Edge

SPY RUSH

OVERLOAD

E N E

B S M W
$
C F DB BLITZ C
Secondary Blitzes
Advantages:
Offensive pass protections can’t effectively account for defensive backs
in the rush.
When secondary disguise calls are also used in the defense, it adds to the
confusion level of the QB in reading the defense.
Disadvantages:
When zone coverage is used there will be creases in the coverage that a
good QB can exploit.
It is hard to practice effective timing of the blitz in a game speed climate
where the blitz is not shown too soon.
Best Situations For Use:
Long Yardage Passing Downs
Opponent Specific High Passing Down Tendency
Smash-Mouth 3-3-5 Defense:
Implementing Seven Winning Blitz Strategies

By: Joe Arpasi


Defensive Coordinator
Westfield High School
Westfield, Indiana
Phone: (317) 435-9380
Email: coacharpasi@yahoo.com

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