Running Back Re-Direct Pass Protection
By FirstDown PlayBook on Oct 21, 2015

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Any of you who are checking out FirstDown PlayBook’s Tuesday 10 each week see that there are a lot of touchdowns and a lot of sacks included. The NFL defensive coordinators love to bring pressure and the offensive coordinators are looking for a shot to take advantage of a favorable one on one matchup when they do.

One of the things that has stood out as we have been drawing up the big plays from each Sunday is just how good defensive coordinators are at scheming up protections. Some NFL teams can be pretty multiple when it comes to how many protections they have and even if they don’t take them all into a game the defensive coordinator doesn’t know which ones are in the game plan and which ones aren’t.

Even so, an NFL defensive coordinator more times than not will know which way the Center is turning in protection and if he does not know he will often set the defensive pressure up to where the Center has no choice but to turn in a certain direction.Re-directThis is where the really special Running Backs in the NFL earn their pay. The protection back is often given the job of scan protection, meaning that if safety rotation tells him to protect his assignment to the side he is on then great but if safety rotation is away from his side then he needs to re-direct and pick up a DB or maybe even a LB coming from the opposite side.

The play drawing above is from the Chargers vs Packers game Sunday. It was 4th and goal from the Packers two yard line and only two seconds remained in the half. In other words, the Chargers were all in on this play. It was either seven points or hard feelings.

A lot of things happened on this play as the Chargers motioned over to a Bunch look and created some traffic for the Z who was running a shallow route. Rivers also made one of his many great throws from the game. However, none of this may have had the chance to happen if the Chargers RB had not de-directed to block the Packer defender coming off of the edge. Knowing to re-direct is only part of the job too because often times when the back re-directs in protection his assignment has a pretty good head of steam by the time the block is made.

Of course there are other ways to offset pressure such as hot throws and screens but if you are going to get that shot down the field the RB is going to have to eventually step up and play a big role in pass pro.  If your favorite team has a really great young Back and he is not seeing as much playing time as you would like then this could be the reason why. Coordinators want to make sure that the QB is not in danger and if the Back can’t understand protections yet this is one sure way to be on the bench other than obvious run downs.

So tomorrow night or this Sunday when you are watching the NFL take some time to focus on the Running Back at times other than when he is running the football. You will see that he is involved in a world that can be every bit as important as when he has the ball in his hands.

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