Hybrid and multiple front defenses in the NFL

Submitted by Callahan on September 1st, 2011 at 8:43 AM

SI's Peter King wrote an interesting story for the NFL issue about hybrid/multiple front defenses, and how teams are confusing the hell out of opposing offenses with various fronts and attacks.It's very on-topic considering Michigan has an NFL defensive coordinator.


The stars of the article are Sean Payton and Rex Ryan, Mattison's predecessor in Baltimore.

Many teams have started doing what Rex Ryan did as coordinator for the Ravens and now does as Jets coach—flood one gap or blocker with two, three or even four defensive linemen or linebackers. That challenges a quarterback to change his protection call to keep more blockers in. On one play in that 2009 Jets-Saints game, New York showed a heavy rush on the left side; Brees kept a running back in to block ... and at the snap the Jets dropped a lineman and a linebacker from the group into coverage, negating Brees's protection call. "They rushed four but ate up six of our guys," Payton said. "They were able to double two of our receivers without leaving anyone open."

Lots of good things in this article.



September 1st, 2011 at 9:21 AM ^

I don't know if we will be doing a whole lot of this kind of stuff early in the season, but I fully expect it to happen later, and even more in subsequent seasons. Mattison seems to be moving guys around (see Clark, Beyer) and recruiting kids to fill situational pass rush roles. Should be fun.


September 1st, 2011 at 9:33 AM ^

Once players know what they're doing in the base defense, it wouldn't surprise me to see some of these specialty packages, say about the time of the MSU game. Green Bay, in particular, ran a lot of 1 and 2 front defenses last year on passing downs. By the end of the year, a 2-4-5 was almost their base defense, and they created a lot of havoc based on the unpredictability of the pass rush, with Woodson, their LBs, and even their CBs coming on blitzes or dropping back (see the Raji interception TD in the NFC championship game). I could see Martin doing that.

Perhaps the misuse of Roh last year could actually pay dividends as he's at least experienced, if not comfortable, playing standing up.


September 1st, 2011 at 9:34 AM ^

I believe Mattison's defense is less complicatied than GERG's. We will run 4-3 under most of the time with multiple different shifts and player personnel packages. I think making things simple gives the defenders more time to make plays instead of thinking too much. "If you think, you stink" -Tim Ryan, former Bears DT and radio host on NFL Radio's "Moving the Chains"



September 1st, 2011 at 10:47 AM ^

I could even see some 1-5-5 this year. from what i'm reading there is some depth at linebacker.  Martin with Roh and Ryan and the normal core of LBs comming in could really creat some mayhem. imgagin us comming out with that package for the first time against OSU. inexpexerienced freshmen Miller trying to figure out how to deal with that.


September 1st, 2011 at 11:13 AM ^

Mattison has already installed a lot of this stuff.  Go back to the spring game and watch how many times QW and BWC drop from the nose into the middle hook/screen zone.  I think it's at least 4.  One play, Mattison brought the boundary corner, a backer and two linemen from a 3 man line while Denard/Borges had his 5 linemen and a back.  Denard took the hurry and the play went nowhere because the backer and corner came from the same side and overloaded the RB who stayed into block.  It was glorious.

That's how you keep from giving up conversions on 3rd and long, GERG/Gibson/Whateverwasresponsbileforthatnightmare.  Win the numbers game. 7 defenders on 4 receivers + actual pressure?  Yesplz.

Hank Scorpio

September 1st, 2011 at 11:47 AM ^

My 2 cents on Mattison's influence / pedigree:

I was a ballboy for the Ravens for 8 years, through Mike Nolan, Rex and Mattison. Got to know Chuck Pagano pretty well too, prior to his takeover. My stepdad has been the equipment manager for that organization for just under 750 years.

Rex was the first guy to really go outside the box, even from what Marvin Lewis was doing back in 2000 when they won the Super Bowl. Back then they had two HUGE DT's (Siragusa & Sam Adams), which basically commanded at least one double team, Michael McCrary coming off the end, and Rob Burnett (I believe) on the other end. But the focal point of the defense were the DT's, which prevented the interior lineman from getting to Ray Lewis, Boulware, Jamie Sharper, et al... leaving them free to run running backs down like grass (assuming they even made it past the 2nd level.)

Rex's defenses were a mish mash of all kinds of ridiculous stuff. He had the benefit of having a DT like Ngata who's plenty athletic enough to drop back into coverage and do a pretty damn good job of it. Rex's defenses were always extraordinary at disguising their blitz packages. That's what set them apart. When Mattison arrived, the players felt that his schemes were too vanilla. Obviously, he learned a lot about what Rex had devised (truthfully, mostly through #52) over his tenure here, and he's lucky enough to have an athletic enough kid at Michigan in Martin to sort of "play the role" of Ngata.

I'll say this: if Mattison sticks around, we'll see some things on the defensive side of the ball at Michigan that'll drop some jaws. The Hoke - Mattison combination is going to create a friggin' FORCE in the B1G in the coming years.

Always liked Coach Mattison and got to know his kid Bryan relatively well given his exile to the practice squad. (The smaller role a kid has, the more time he has to hang out with "the help.")

Very excited for the season and to see what immediate impacts Coach Matts has. He's an old dog that learned a ton of new tricks during his stay in Baltimore, and I'm psyched to see the early returns.