Zone blocking: Real NFL plays and how it looks

Doug Pensinger

After showing you the theory, here are some actual NFL stills showing how it works.

After the schematic drawings I have shown you in previous posts (see the far right of the page for the other articles in this stream) I want to give you a real world zone blocking play that we can watch as it develops. I want you to go with me. I am going to start a running play that is just a little bit different than the one I did. It is a two-back set in the I-formation with no tight end. The defense is lined up in the 4-3 and not the 3-4 like my example.


As the ball is hiked, you can see that the first step of the entire offensive line is the exact same thing -- a hard step to the right. These first steps are important and as the whole line moves as one. That is a tell-tale sign of zone blocking at work. You will notice that the weak tackle (#78) is going to pick up the blitzing linebacker, or the first person to cross his face.


As we go forward, you can see that the linebackers are already starting to flow to the ball, heading in the direction the play is going. The weak side defensive end is unblocked as he in this case is a non-factor.

In the next screen, you will see my "double team;" in this case, from the center and strong guard. In my examples this is the same thing that you would see with Daryn Colledge and the Bobby Massie. Maybe a half second double team all the while keeping your head up watching the linebacker. You can even see the center looking straight at the weak side linebacker in this photo.


As we progress even further into the play, you can see that the defensive tackle that is on the strong guard actually wins. The fullback that was supposed to get into the hole and block the linebacker in this run had to actually pick up the tackle. The defense did a good job here stopping at the point of attack between the guard and tackle.,

You will see in this next one a couple of things. There is a lane forming for a cutback run for a back that is willing to trust in his offensive linemen, and the back has already made his decision, making his cut to take the lane instead of going outside.


At last you see the hole formed. The center is able to keep his head on his linebacker and make a block. You can see that the strong side linebacker was forced to follow the fullback as it looks like he was trying to seal the edge to get outside.



There you have it. A successful run play using zone principles. We might see some of this in 2013.

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