Step Two: Setting the Edge

Against a 3-4, Seattle could double the opposing right defensive end a few different ways. Each has its respective strengths and weaknesses, but because we are attempting to attack the outside, I would suggest the latter two are best. Much of the decision depends on matchups and alignment.

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In this one, the right defensive end is sealed and the left guard is allowed to pull out and attack the right inside linebacker. We assume the inside rush is Jones primary option. He will read the action of the right outside linebacker and pick his hole. The major problem with this attack is that it depends on Seattle's line to control the Cardinals defensive line and allow Jones to get through the hole without being slowed or tackled by the right defensive end or nose tackle. It's clear how easily and quickly the hole can collapse around Jones. It does, however, free Chris Spencer to concentrate and assist Max Unger.

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In this next one, the left tackle and left guard attempt to seal the right defensive end ‘in'. John Owens then must move out and engage the right outside linebacker, Unger and Spencer must move out the nose tackle and Spencer must pull out and engage the right inside linebacker. This is the best way to attack the outside edge, because if Seattle succeeds it will be able to rush Jones off left edge and into the second level with only the right corner and free safety to beat. It also has the most ‘moving parts', so to speak. Owens must accomplish his block or Jones is stalled. Spencer must accomplish his block or Jones is stalled. Because the left outside linebacker is free to pursue, an edge too long (the right defensive end holds his ground or is able to move offensive left) or a failed block by Spencer or Owens will allow the backside pursuit to catch up and tackle Jones from behind.

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The final option is high-reward, but relies on a position of weakness for Seattle. This is the long edge approach, the most 'outside' of the three options and the slowest to develop. It compensates by pulling out the left tackle and matching him against the right outside linebacker. The block on the right defensive end is weaker, but the block on the right outside linebacker is, theoretically, stronger. When this type of stretch is successful, the back uses his quickness to help nullify the right end, running away from him even if he does get good push. The edge is longer in a good way and a bad way. Jones must run longer to get to it, but should he, the left tackle should be able to seal off the outside linebacker effectively enough that Jones has a long lane into the second level.

This step fails if:

1. The right defensive end pushes the blockers back and forces Jones to bubble back his route to the outside.

2. The blocker assigned the right outside linebacker misses his block and allows the outside linebacker to tackle or at least cap the outside rush lane.

3. The line and/or linebacker dictate the flow of the play and continue to push outside left. That makes Jones route to the outside progressively longer, putting the opposing outside linebacker back into play through backside pursuit and the right corner into play by taking the rush too far outside.

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