By Ken Wilmesheer
Offensive Line coach
Pass protection is perhaps an offensive lineman’s toughest challenge. Offensive line play is an unnatural task. It is a skill that is acquired through many hours of hard work. Offensive linemen must take pride and have the confidence in their ability to protect the quarterback. There are four areas in measuring the success of offensive linemen – the number of times the quarterback is flushed out of the pocket and the number of times the quarterback is hurried, hit, and sacked.
The objective of an offensive lineman in pass protection is to keep his body between the defender and the quarterback’s launch point. A great pass blocker must be disciplined in their technique. Linemen need to be patient but aggressive. Keys to pass protection are how fast can I get from my three point to my two point stance. Train the eyes on where to look at the target (inside or outside target). Don’t lean. The center of gravity is down and maintain a good base of support.
PERFECTING PASS PROTECTION STARTS WITH COMMUNICATION
IDENTIFING FRONTS AND COMMUNICATION AT THE L.O.S. FOR PASS PROTECTION:
Each lineman will be responsible for making a line call. It is imperative the linemen get a pre-snap read; identify who you have.
Identify the front. Center will identify the front, which will alert the entire offensive line. Center will locate the Mike LB.
Guards echo the call of the center.
The strong tackle identifies the Sam LB, Strong Safety and the weak tackle identifies the Will LB and the Free Safety.
THERE ARE CERTAIN TIPS A DEFENDER WILL GIVE THAT WILL HELP YOU IDENTIFY WHAT IS COMING BEFORE THE SNAP
LINEMEN NEED TO BELIEVE WHAT YOU SEE:
It is important for linemen to see the field. As they approach the line of scrimmage they should scan the defense.
Anticipate stunt tendencies; look at the structure and the alignments within the defensive structure. (anticipate but never guess).
Anticipate blitz tendencies, look at the alignments of second level defenders (anticipate a blitz, but never guess).
LINEMEN SHOULD STRIVE TO TRUST THEIR TECHNIQUE. AS LONG AS LINEMEN ARE SOUND ON PASS PROTECTION FUNDEMENTALS IT SHOULD NOT MATTER WHAT THE DEFENSE DOES.
LINEMEN NEED TO BELIEVE IN AND TRUST THEIR TECHNIQUE:
Have confidence in your footwork. Understand the set system your coach is teaching.
Have confidence in your body posture and pass protection demeanor. Balance is the key.
Have confidence in your hand carriage. Don’t holster the hands, but don’t carry the hands to high.
Have confidence in your punch. Punch inside the framework of the defender. Hand replacement is critical.
The greatest tool of all is your eyes. Have confidence in your eyes. Keep eyes open on contact. BUG YOUR EYES.
Most importantly is having the confidence in your ability in your technique.
This is a call made by two adjacent linemen exchanging their blocking assignments vs. two crossing defenders on a pass rush. The switch call is called during the blocking action.
Never pass a rusher off until you “feel” your adjacent teammate, and he forces the switch. The penetrator makes the “switch” call. It is important to stone the penetrator.
Never get your head into a rusher on the initial set. Keep head back.
Always keep a 90-degree angle in your knees.
Guards have the depth of the pocket. Tackles have the width of the pocket.
Offensive linemen – always have your butt to the quarterback.
DEFENDER – outside foot to just his inside foot (set half a man inside).
TARGET (LANDMARK) – inside neck of the defender or top of the numbers.
Know the launch point of the quarterback. The launch point of the quarterback will change the pass rush angles of the pass rushers.
POST and SET – set to a stagger, point toes out slightly for balance. All cleats are in the ground. Inside foot is your post foot while the outside foot is your set foot.
ARMS – elbows tight, thumbs up, set firm, set head back (big chest), chin tucked, good hand carriage.
FLATTEN INSIDE DEFENDER – power step and 6 inch slide step (slide to base or equal and opposite). Put weight on the inside foot (or post foot) lead with hips so body is in front of the defender. Control defenders inside shoulder. Good shoulder tilt.
OUTSIDE DEFENDER STRETCH – kick slide 6 inches back, kick slide 6 inches. If feet are to narrow you’re too tall, Have a good base. Good shoulder tilt. NO BASE, NO BALANCE, NO POWER.
PULLED – behind head – squat – (push – pull).
LATERAL LOCKOUT – bar out, elbow with thumb up.
ARM OVER – bar out, lead with hips, block defenders arm over. Lag behind to prevent defender from spinning, get separation.
ARM UNDER – bar out, place hand on defenders hip, lag behind to prevent defender from spinning, get separation.
SPIN – lag to prevent defender from spinning, get separation.
HANDS – elbows tight, drive the heel of your hand through the defender’s breasts. Have the defender lean forward; do not catch the defender. Time your punch. DO NOT DROP OR HOLSTER YOUR HANDS.
KNEES – punch and drive your knees to the ground (slightly).
PUNCH – punch and reset, punch and reset. Your punch will be approximately 6 inches. Time your punch.
LATERAL PUNCH – keep hands up, feet wide, hard post. No weak hips.
HAND REPALCEMENT. Maintain inside leverage.
BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITY AS OFFENSIVE LINEMEN. TO BE SUCCESSFUL YOU HAVE TO WIN THE FIRST 1 ½ SECONDS. TIME OF DOMINATION IS THE KEY.