The Element of Surprise:Blitz

20 Jan

The element of surprise is a mainly military concept that has uses in other aspects of life.  Often times football strategy is similar to the battle strategies employed by the greatest military minds of the past.  For example you will often hear an announcer or coach talking about the point of attack during a running play.  Which is the exact same concept for a unit in an army to hit with as much force as possible at a singular point to force an opening into the defensive line.  The term blitz is derived from the German Blitzkrieg of WWII, the term line from the basic lines formed in combat up till modern time and even sack is the hostile takeover of a city by an enemy army.

The element of surprise is critical in Tecmo because in most situations a blitz will not work.  The computer leaves too many WR’s open to blindly blitz in more than once or twice a game.  Often even a running back left open in the flat could be a gain of 30 to 40 yards.  Guessed plays are not even guaranteed.  Most of the players playing this long can throw to a hot read and often avoid the blitzing defense on run plays.  The running backs with high ms can occasionally scamper for ten to twenty yards on a guessed run play.

Despite the odds against a blitz working its success can change games around.  Pressure gets your opponent out of his comfort range.  It leads to more missed passes, more chances at pass deflections at the line of scrimmage and a chance to put your opponent in a long yardage situation.

Delayed Blitz

The best blitz I’ve found is the delayed blitz.  A delayed blitz is when you go into coverage for a short time or longer then commit to rushing the qb.  The advantages of the delayed blitzes are as follows.  If a player is wide open down field you still have a chance to get into pass coverage.  By not rushing immediately you put yourself out of your opponents thought process.  If he is not thinking about you then you can surprise him.

You want to look for a weakness in your opponent before leaving coverage.  See how much pressure he is under without help.  Perhaps everyone is covered or the one open receiver is a tough throw from where he is standing.  Maybe you will notice he is grappling and you are nearby.  Maybe he is too close to the line of scrimmage.  Perhaps he doesn’t pay much attention to you as you run near his qb.  These are all signs that you have the element of surprise and a blitz might work.

Playbook Weakness

These are blitzes designed to take out a weakness in a running play or play action.   A weakness in a play means that a certain defensive player, typically a linebacker, will break up the play 9 times out of 10.  Lots of plays have them but often you need a good linebacker to take advantage.  Several plays are weak to the LB4 lurch.  Mostly up the middle runs and play actions off up the middle runs.  The single set back run plays off tackle are weak to good LB2 and so are the play actions.  At the same time you must be careful if they have another play in the playbook to counter the weakness of a play.  The same single set back runs off tackle that are weak to LB2 can be combined with the single set back pitch.  That play is not weak to LB2.

Run Blitzes

This type of blitz is designed specifically to go after a single run play that you might be expecting.  The best example of this is against r and s sweep right.  DB2 can be used to blitz this play while giving up little on most of the pass plays.  At the same time the DB2 can contain all the other run plays in the run and shoot formation.  That means you can risk trying to break up this play in the backfield without risking as much.  The difference between this type of blitz and the other type is that a weakness is almost guaranteed to work.  This type of blitz described often fails and its up to the user to contain as best as he can if it fails.

Faking a Blitz

This technique is useful in containing a QB scramble.  It can result in interceptions too.  Simply run at the QB along the line between the qb and the open wr you where covering.  Then at some random point turn around to go back to coverage.  If you remember our mid point lesson and are at that point just stop.  Even if you dive often you will reach the receiver on a short pass.  This can result in an incomplete pass or an interception as well.

Every Down Pass Blitzes

There have been very few players that have exclusively devoted there strategy to blitzing on every down against the run and shoot playbook.  The best at it I can recall was an online player from Mexico named Eifer.  Since he played online he had a fast LB right where he wanted him at all times.  Its rare in a live game you get a fast Linebacker to try the following technique on.

With that being said this works better the slower the QB or the faster your linebacker.  If you can tap better than the other guy it is more likely to work.  Yet even without taping pressure you will sometimes get help.  If a DL is breaking through on his own with you that is the best for this.  If not you can risk freeing a DL or risk the dive.  Please note most humans can easily avoid a dive from a blitzer so you have to be really sure of it.

For the example lets assume your opponent is running all three r and shoot plays, the shotgun in pass three and both run and shoot pitches.  Lets say he is Mia and you are Minn.  Which means he has 6 ms Dan Marino and you have Millard’s speed.  Not to mention two good DB’s in coverage.  Also we are assuming your opponent is inside his own 40 yard line.

1. Guess the second run and shoot pass play the first couple of tries and whenever he is lined up  at the bottom hash mark.  Marino has high passing speed and will not be able to complete the timed JJ on this pass from the bottom hash mark.  Also due to his 6 ms he will have trouble escaping the pressure.  Your job is to rush in the gap between the linemen with Millard.  On the first pass play a big hole will open but on the 4th play you need to be careful to not run into the lineman.  Mia has a good ol and you cannot afford to be crumpled.

2. If you notice one of the deep wr’s is open break off and cover.  If he has been completing the short passes too often fake the blitz and turn around and cover once in a while.  If not keep blitzing him.  If you are winning the tapping battle force him to throw or grapple.  If not you can either risk a dive or just run around in circles near him.  There is always a chance you will deflect the ball, interrupt his progression or that help will come later.

3. After doing this plan for a while change your plan.  Guess either the first pass or the fourth pass.  Your opponent will think you are still relying on the blitz to stop these plays.  Which means he will not be expecting you to guess the play.  With Marino’s low ms it could result in a sack.

4. Do not blitz as often if your opponent is at midfield or further.  Do not blitz the shotgun play.  Occasionally guess the shotgun play as your opponent will call it to rid himself of the pressure.  Most likely he will call it after you are successful and sack him.

5. If he calls the sweeps just run straight forward.  The beauty of this blitz against the run and shoot is it accounts for both run plays.  You will survive the line of scrimmage 9 times out of 10.  Once you get through the line contain the run as best as you can.

6. Keep changing your plan on.  Rotate through guessing the second play and blitzing, faking the blitz or guessing the 1st/4th play.

I would like to conclude this article with a reminder that any blitz in Tecmo carries a very high risk factor.  There is always a chance the computer will release a deep wr open while you blitz.  Even then the chances of all the short routes being covered are small.  The advantage to trap the opponent in a long down and distance on 3rd or 4th down is rare.  This is why I recommend strongly that you only blitz on occasion.  If you try the every down blitz strategies then to do so against teams with slow wr’s and bad quarterbacks.   Later this week I will write another team report and take a look at a few more plays.

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