Pass Defense: Being at the Right Place at the Right Time

21 Dec

When playing defense in a game of Tecmo Super Bowl there are two skills that rate higher above any other defensive technique.  The first skill was covered in the earlier article Containing Runs.  The other all important defensive ability is to jump with the defender you control as a pass sails over your head.  We’ll call it the jumping man.  The place you want to be at to get jumping man is the sweet spot,

All it takes is to be at the right place at the right time.  Getting to that point will take some skill but if you get good.  You can take plays like the JJ int in the last article (I’m back: Tecmo Film Database.) and do it whenever the opportunity is there.   Please, note the JJ int only happens in select match ups.  This article isn’t about getting interceptions.  This article is about defending passes.

The primary goal of a defender on a pass play is to force an incomplete pass.  If you pick the pass off its even better.  The secondary goal is to minimize the gain.  Give your opponent two yards on a dump off in the flat.  Give him three if he sneaks out of the back field.  With this defensive mind set you might be able to keep those three yard gains by the qb from becoming 6 to 10 yard gains.

First we will go into the theoretical and then the practical.  As you should know by now the success of a pass is determined by the QB pc and receiver rec.  This is a roll of the dice that more than often is completed even with low level players.  If your defender makes it in time the odds of incomplete are higher but a coverage catch or interception could happen.  Now here is the beauty of jumping man.  If the jumping man is a defender than the receiver has nothing to do with the determination of the play.  It will either be an interception, a deflection or the defender will whiff.

Most defensive backs in most match-ups will be able to at least deflect the passes thrown by almost every quarter back in the game.  Please, note the almost for some qb’s have big sweet zones for the defense and others have puny spots.  If a qb is rated highly in pc then the sweet zone may not exist for some defenders yet be there for others.  If the defensive back has an int rating at least 3, preferably 4 or more the pass will be picked off.  JJ int is automatic under the right conditions and so is JJ deflection under the right conditions.  For a deflection it might take more than 6 or 7 levels to be assured of no deflections.  There might be less but it is still possible.  Jumping man is no joke.  If your on offense and you throw over a cpu defender in the sweet spot don’t be surprised if even qb bills has it deflected.

Let’s take a look at a small clip of this concept.  This will give you an idea if you did not know where the sweet spot is.

The answer is at the midpoint of the line segment between the quarterback and receiver.  In this example O’Brien 50 pc is throwing over the head of Minniefield who has  44 int.  Twice in a row I was in the sweet spot and twice my defender jumped.  Twice when my defender jumped he deflected the pass.  Naturally half way is only a good rule of thumb for short passes.  On deep paces it is hard to control position at times.  That will be covered later.  This is teaching you to defend what is visible and stationary.

On these plays try to run in as small of a circle as possible in the sweet spot  between qb and wr.  If the qb changes direction you must move to adjust.  The biggest danger on defense is to be caught flat footed.  Practice so you don’t stop your circular motion till a pass is made.  When the pass is made stop moving.  Trust that you are in the sweet spot.  If you are in the spot stopping motion will prevent your defender from locking on.  That in turn will prevent the auto dive and make the jump more likely.

Never get to close to the wr or the qb.  If you get to close to the wr you will most likely auto dive short.  Once this happens your manned defender becomes a lazy bum for about 2-3 seconds.  During that time guys like Drew Hill and Jerry Rice have covered 20 yards on you.  If you get to close to the qb you will most likely jump uselessly.  This jump is for that rare deflection upon pass release.  There is a little chance you can get the deflection.  There is a little chance you can throw off the qb.  There is a much bigger chance that you will jump uselessly.  Your defender will be a bum for 1 to 2 seconds while the likes of Super Duper and Flipper are taking you to the house.

Then there is still luck.  Lucky breaks favor offense 9 times out of ten.  The qb will just move the ball to the wrong spot costing you a sure int.  Your other defender might jump and ruin it for Haddix.  QB’s with ps below 44 can sail the ball to far above the head of a defender.  That moves the sweet zone closer to the wr.  Sometimes it just won’t show up against a guy like Testaverde because the closer you get the more likely an autodive.  QB’s with high ps generally have low pc.  They are weak against the JJ int but if you have less time to get into position.  Against Elway with his mobility and ps it is hard to stay in the right spot.

Again trust your positioning and lay of the controller when the opponent passes.  If your right its incomplete if your wrong tackle and try again.

Of course in each example there where other receiving options wide open that would most likely catch the ball if thrown too.  Which means this defense can only account for one defender that is left open.  Sometimes it might account for two if the second one is close enough for your defender to get to on the run or with a dive at the last second.

I’m sure your wondering why I am putting so much stock on this defense.  The answer is that by taking a defensive position half way between receiver and quarter back I have reduced the amount of yards the qb can sneak for.  Then by recognizing the sweet spot I can make a wr look open to a less experienced player.  That player might then throw either an incomplete pass or an interception.  Even a more experienced player might be tempted to test it out once or twice.  Those two deflected passes can change the entire game plan.  Finally the more instinctual getting a defender to jump becomes the more often you can use it.  Till the point where you can even time it deep down the field, on many guessed plays and to set up other defensive options.

Its not a perfect defense and there are no perfect defenses.  Its an important skill.  Find the right situations for jumping man it and your defense will improve by leaps and bounds.  This is also a skill that needs to be practiced.  At first I will show you a drill for recognizing the sweet spot.  After that you have to learn how to use it in an actual game.

Pass defense drill 1: Finding the sweet spot.

In this drill you need two humans to play each other.  Choose any teams though it is best to start with average quarterbacks.  For starters Jets vs Vikings is good as there are lots of defenders to use.  Each team needs to have the three R and s pass plays.  Pass 1,2,4. Make pass 3 shotgun x drive.  Kickoff and get the return away from the end zone.  Now the player on offense will always pick pass 2.  R and S z fly.  The player on defense will always pick a run play.  Let the defender pick his man and hike the ball.

At first the player on offense should declare which of the two curl routes he intends to throw too.  Always assume the guys going deep are covered when your doing the drill.  Then allow the defender to get to a sweet spot and throw the ball.  Do this till you deflect the pass a few times in a row.  If your having trouble you need to focus on being on a line between the qb and wr.  If your getting to close to the qb you will jump uselessly.  If you are too close to the wr you will auto dive.  Always remember that you want to take your thumb off the d pad and trust that you are right.  If you are it will be deflected.  If it still is not working switch defenders.  I suggest you start off with NYJ LB3 Clifton or MINN DB4 Lee.  Use NYJ DB 3 McMillian and MINN DB4 Browner last.  The JJ int is counterproductive as I want you to do this over and over again.

On 4th down allow the offense to get the first down.  Then repeat three in a row.  As you get better the qb should move around more and throw at random times.  Always declare or move the arrow on the wr you want to throw too.  Don’t try to trick them at first.  This skill cannot cover two defenders.  In this drill only one player is open.

Once you get inside the redzone punt so the other guy can do the same thing all the way back down the field.  Once you feel comfortable switch to the other plays.  Remember to declare which guy is open.  By this point the goal on offense is to trick the defender to move out of position.  The player on offense should by now be attempting to run with the qb.

Later try using the other plays.  Always assumed deep routes are covered.  Notice the difference on longer passes than shorter ones.  Be aware of the other defenders naturally in sweet spots.  Also the pass rush needs to be avoided.  Next try using other defenders.  Throw in the backups and bust out Browner and Mcmillian.  By this point you should both be able to get several JJ int’s on each other.  Work on containing the qb at all times.  Never get caught flat footed.  The only time you stop is when you are sure the pass has been released and that you are in the sweet spot.  if you stop early the run contain is thrown right out the window.

Now use harder qb’s with more running speed, high ps, low ps and high pc.  Use different defenses and go through the various match ups each time you drill.  There are DL with high int as there are LB’s with high int.  At the same time there are defenders who can’t catch for beans.  In some matchups all the DB’s can get the job done.  In other matchups all defenders are useful in pass defense.  Then there are match ups where there might be one defender at best if there is one.  For ex Buf has a hard time deflecting a Montana or Moon pass and it is a common matchup.

Finally take everything you learned and use it as a good tool among many tools to play defense.  Always remember it works best when one player is open and stationary.  The goal of the defense is to contain the qb or to force an incomplete pass.  It might work only two or three times.  It should teach you a good spot to try to be in.

Here is the video of Louis and I when I made this drill up earlier today,  In the example I am Cle with Pagel at qb against the Jets.  There are examples of everything talked about in this post.  The video earlier is taken right out of this video.  Enjoy and good luck.  The next article will be Play Analyzing: R & S Draw, T Sweep Strong and the Okoye Special.

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