Zone Blocking Explained

Ever since the Denver Running Back Factory started getting elite production from vagrants that Mike Shanahan kidnapped on his way in to work, zone blocking has been a popular topic of discussion. Several teams have successfully mimicked the Alex Gibbs system (You're welcome, DeAngelo), while Dallas has gone the opposite route, finding some of the world's largest humans and coaching them with one simple directive ( "Flozell smash!"). As the Seahawks are switching over to a zone blocking scheme, wouldn't it be great to learn more about the concepts involved? Eric Williams at the TNT has your back.

The key to zone blocking is to stretch the defense horizontally, creating vertical seams at the point of attack which allow the running back to quickly get to the second and third level of the defense. That’s why it’s important to have a one-cut guy at running back who sees the hole and runs downfield quickly instead of hesitating at the line of scrimmage. Both Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett fit that description.

Here's my favorite of the proposed benefits:

Shorter learning curve – Because the scheme is easier to learn, younger players or players new to the team can come in and pick up the system easier. Also, with the proliferation of the spread offense in college, many young players already are familiar with the system, providing an easier transition from college to the pros.

Williams also posits that the Hawks could use their new blocking scheme to run the Wildcat with Seneca Wallace. Somewhere, Mike Holmgren is turning over in his chair.

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