Mental Process Breakdown Of An NFL LB

By Will Cinelli on Sep 3, 2020

By Will Cinelli, The Scouting Academy

Thursdays here on the FirstDown PlayBook Coaches Community website we feature a breakdown of personnel and technique. This is provided by our friends over at The Scouting Academy who are our go to experts in this field

One of the things we love to highlight here in this space are the little nuances in the game of football that go completely unnoticed by the casual observer, but actually make a huge difference.

This particular clip shows great mental processing and patience by Denver’s Alexander Johnson enabling him to make a play.

Here, facing an Inside Zone concept from the Bills, Johnson is responsible for the B gap. He reads run quickly and reacts quickly to fill the gap. Many inexperienced defenders will see this and just go screaming downhill with their hair on fire. But not Johnson.

He first eludes the RG’s backside hand, then recognizes the swiping fullback coming back across the formation. Most fullbacks, in these situations, are heading for the backside DE, but are told that if they see penetration to block it. So if Johnson blows through that hole, it’s likely he’ll run into Patrick DiMarco’s block.

Instead, Johnson plays back into the block of the RT. By being the aggressor, he keeps the OL off balance while also appearing to the FB like he has been blocked. The RT can’t cut Johnson off from the ball carrier, and the FB realizes this too late. Now Johnson plays off the contact and is able to make the tackle on the back.

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