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Can Someone Please Explain Why We Stunt Our D-Line?


John Waylon

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Coyer did it sparingly his first season. He did it quite a bit last season, and I saw a ton of it last night, and I just cannot figure out, for the life of me, why.

First of all, let me say that stunting along the D-line is, IMO, a badly outdated tactic much the same as icing the kicker. When it was introduced it worked for a number of reasons... O-linemen had never seen such a thing, and had to make quick decisions to combat it. The slower speed of the game allowed it to be mildly successful. But now, it is a basic ability of an O-linemen to be ready for a stunt. O-linemen are brought up to be ready for it. It's really an advantage for the offense when a D-line does it, especially when we do it...

When a QB lines up to pass against us and Freeney and Mathis are in, he knows he has to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. By stunting our interior 2 linemen we're taking more time to get pressure on the pocket, and by the time it would be effective the QB is already rid of the ball, or will be within a second or two.

But it really, really gets under my skin when he does it with Freeney and Mathis. It's kind of insulting to them, IMO. Freeney and Mathis are good enough to straight up beat their man around the edge. Why slow them down and try to send them inside with a stunt? No one on our line is a great bull rusher who can power through an O-linemen, and stunting just allows the linemen to set his feet and make his best block possible. IMO, stunting a D-line is something you have to resort to because your linemen can't beat theirs... We don't even remotely have that problem.

It seems like every time I notice the D line pull some kind of stunt we get pressure on the play only if an O-linemen makes a mistake, but we seem to be doing it more and more and more and I just cannot for the life of me figure out why. We have a good enough D line to spread rush, pinch rush, edge rush, or gap rush and still get pressure. But we stunt instead and take the D line pretty much out of the equation...

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Hm...I'll go with a theoretic answer, I'm not sure if this is the real reason why though. Our DEs have lots of speed and we like to find DL players that are fast and quick. When you have fast DTs and fast DEs stunting, it can create confusion for the O-line. When you have 2 guys moving very quickly, the offensive lineman has very little time to take his eyes and focus off of one player and shift it to another player that is stunting. With the speed Mathis and Freeney have, most O-lineman won't have the time to get their eyes, body and arms in position to stop them, allowing us to get pressure on the QB. Again, this is just my guess.

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Well Waylon if you figure it out please let everyone know.lol By the time the player makes a tackle they already have enough yards to get another 1st down. :excited: Hoping it changes in regular season. :dancing:

I do too, but history seems to indicate we'll do it more and more.

Most frustratingly of all this season when it looks like we're finally going to get some pressure and true production from the DT position. Instead of utilizing that we're going to make them run around and try and confuse the O-line (which isn't going to work) instead of straight up beating them like we'll be able to.

With two ends who aren't safe unless double covered we don't need to use any tricks and crutches to get to the QB.

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Hm...I'll go with a theoretic answer, I'm not sure if this is the real reason why though. Our DEs have lots of speed and we like to find DL players that are fast and quick. When you have fast DTs and fast DEs stunting, it can create confusion for the O-line. When you have 2 guys moving very quickly, the offensive lineman has very little time to take his eyes and focus off of one player and shift it to another player that is stunting. With the speed Mathis and Freeney have, most O-lineman won't have the time to get their eyes, body and arms in position to stop them, allowing us to get pressure on the QB. Again, this is just my guess.

Good in theory. The fact is, though, O-linemen really aren't ever confused by it. Like I said, it allows them to drop, see their man coming, set their feet, and make the best block possible.

The quickest way to the QB is straight ahead, and we're good enough to use that route alone and have success.

I don't recall ever seeing Dungy do it, and we had no trouble getting to the QB under him, 99% of the time with under performing DT's.

If you can't just straight rush the QB, then you have a reason to try it. But we don't have a problem straight up rushing the QB.

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I am glad you posted this. I totally agree. It is the most ineffective defensive thing we do. Right up there with the "showing we are blitzing". Drake Nevis is a beast on the inside. When he stunts he gets nowhere. Same thing with the other defensive tackles. I think teams that play the Colts, or just the Tampa 2 in general, know you have to get the ball off quickly on short routes. Stunting basically kills any chance of inside pressure because it takes that much longer to get to the QB.

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I can't comment on what the rationale is for why WE do it when it clearly negates Freeney and Mathis' best attributes, but when I see other teams do it (especially the Giants!) I see them wreck absolute havoc on opposing offenses.

I believe the INTENT of stunting is to free up blitzing linebackers through the vacant gaps either at the QB or the ball-carrier ...problem is, we don't have any LBers (or really anyone) who can blitz the gap effectively - in fact, I can recall off the top of my head (even if the facts contradict this) a general impression over the past 2 years that we seem to get burned more often when we blitz, in general, than actually achieving anything.

I think stunting is an effective tactic to mix things up in an attacking-style offense where an offense is already weary of the multiple directions the D is coming from - stunting only adds further to that confusion, but by itself and given our preference to sit in a passive zone, I'm not sure again, what the rationale is because it simply hasn't been effective.

If you watch the Giants, you can see them do it to perfection. Unfortunately whenever I see Freeney doing it, he looks like he's trying to negotiate sidewalk traffic flowing against him in NYC.

I really want to believe that alot of the head-scratching philosophies on D are a function of our flood of injuries last season. I hate the cushion far more than I hate the stunting. Maybe coffeedrinker can give some insight from the POV of the O-line on what challenges a stunting D is MEANT to impose on an offense (as opposed to what we do)

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Could it be because our defensive coordinator is bad or doesn't know what he's doing, lol. I kid I kid, but it is a possibility..

Sometimes I think part of it is to do with the fact we maybe don't have the sort of personnel on the roster to run the sort of D Coyer wants (which requires solid corners) ..if you see the Denver D in 2005 which annihialated the Patriots in the play-offs and had Brady completely confused, it was a very aggressive, attacking style of offense with multiple looks, pre-snap movement and blitzing ...we don't exactly have great blitzers and our corners prior to Powers and Tryon were more suited to playing zone.

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I never understood this either. It seems to me, the only way stunting works is if by chance or by a mistake on the offense. They have to watch the film on this. They have to see that Freeney gets to the QB 2 seconds slower than if he just spins or bull rushes. So frustrating to see a DT finally getting penetration and then you "mix" it up by taking everyone's ability to get the QB. I ranted about this last year so if I say anymore I'm going to boil over.

No stunts in regular season.

CB don't give a 10 yard cushion.

Disguise the blitz.

Top 10 Defense, Done.

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I never understood this either. It seems to me, the only way stunting works is if by chance or by a mistake on the offense. They have to watch the film on this. They have to see that Freeney gets to the QB 2 seconds slower than if he just spins or bull rushes. So frustrating to see a DT finally getting penetration and then you "mix" it up by taking everyone's ability to get the QB. I ranted about this last year so if I say anymore I'm going to boil over.

No stunts in regular season.

CB don't give a 10 yard cushion.

Disguise the blitz.

Top 10 Defense, Done.

Prepare to go 0 for 4 on that list.

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http://football.calsci.com/Positions8.html Maybe you guys should read up on football if you don't know why we stunt our line. We don't want to be predictable b/c then scoutting us is easier. You can see when we cross with freeny he can still generate a sack from the inside but more importantly it opens up the zone blitzing scheme.
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It is the most ineffective defensive thing we do. Right up there with the "showing we are blitzing".

We show the blitz to get the quarterback to throw hot, and then we can clean up with a tackle for a short gain and get off the field. Nothing wrong with that. The key is actually pressuring the quarterback and then actually making the tackle.

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http://football.calsci.com/Positions8.html Maybe you guys should read up on football if you don't know why we stunt our line. We don't want to be predictable b/c then scoutting us is easier. You can see when we cross with freeny he can still generate a sack from the inside but more importantly it opens up the zone blitzing scheme.

Ok and let me ask you - how many times has Freeney generated a sack from the inside? And more importantly, when have we ever run a zone blitz scheme to take advantage of the confusion stunting creates? Also, besides stunting, what other mechanisms of confusion do we utilize for stunting to not be predictable?

IMO stunting is only effective when your D is an attacking style D that varies its looks and actually has players that can shoot the gaps that stunting creates - what players do we have that are effective at this?

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u know how u cant give up on the run, even when it isnt working, because u have to keep the D guessing...I would compare it to something like that. Even if it isnt always effective, it may be helping set up other plays.

I agree in principle, but the problem is, aside from stunting what else do we do to create confusion so that stunting, itself, doesn't become predictable? (in addition to being ineffective)

If stunting is part of the mind-game of setting up an offense towards a certain way we want, we need more variety of looks to help create the confusion

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I agree in principle, but the problem is, aside from stunting what else do we do to create confusion so that stunting, itself, doesn't become predictable? (in addition to being ineffective)

If stunting is part of the mind-game of setting up an offense towards a certain way we want, we need more variety of looks to help create the confusion

100% agree... i hear briggs wants a trade, i bet him shootin the gaps would make our stunts look better ;)

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I would assume it's pretty simple math. Freeney is facing a LT, with the guard coming over to help on Freeney's left and a TE or RB on freeney's right. So rather than have him face a 3 on 1 they stunt him to the inside where all he has to face is a guard or center or maybe a guard/center.

When they do it in the preseason like they did last night they do it not based on the offenses tendencies but just to see how everyone handles their assignments.

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If I remember right, Coyer stunted the D-line a number of times in his first year and we had some success with it. I remember a Sunday night game where we stunted lots and Collinsworth was talking about how we were doing it really well and getting lots of pressure on the QB

we played 8 yards off a receiver on 3 and 4 and the receiver dropped the ball once!once

is not good odds. jmo

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I very rarely recall us seeing the line pull stunts under Dungy. We never had difficulty getting pressure under him, and we had inferior DT's (far inferior) to what we have now...

Meeks did not call it as much as Coyer, but he would call it, usually in that 3rd and 7-9 yard range. The call is not made to give the advantage to the DTs it's to give the advantage to the DE.

I do think Coyer calls it wrong though. The best move the oline can do when they see this, is to all bunch towards the center. Then you are just creating a log jam that no one can get through, so the Colts need to do the stunt and then bring and OLB or nickle back or safety on a delayed blitzed on the outside, with all the lineman jumbled in the middle the delayed blitzer will have a free shot at the QB.

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we played 8 yards off a receiver on 3 and 4 and the receiver dropped the ball once!once

is not good odds. jmo

I'm talking about pressure on the QB, not converting 3rd downs or the play of our secondary. Collinsworth was specifically looking at Freeney and Mathis stunting, no one else on the defense was even mentioned.

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Meeks did not call it as much as Coyer, but he would call it, usually in that 3rd and 7-9 yard range. The call is not made to give the advantage to the DTs it's to give the advantage to the DE.

I do think Coyer calls it wrong though. The best move the oline can do when they see this, is to all bunch towards the center. Then you are just creating a log jam that no one can get through, so the Colts need to do the stunt and then bring and OLB or nickle back or safety on a delayed blitzed on the outside, with all the lineman jumbled in the middle the delayed blitzer will have a free shot at the QB.

Even without the blitzer, stunting the DT's can, like you said, cause the 2 guards and center to bunch up on the inside. That would leave Freeney/Mathis on the outside one on one with the opposing OT or maybe getting double teamed by an added back or TE. I saw several plays during the Bengals game where they stunted the DT's and the DT's didn't get anything done because the 2 G's and C bunched up just like you said. The biggest difference is that Freeney and Mathis weren't on the outside to take advantage.

Oh and after seeing Phillip Wheeler this preseason, I think he could be a very effective blitzer.

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Even without the blitzer, stunting the DT's can, like you said, cause the 2 guards and center to bunch up on the inside. That would leave Freeney/Mathis on the outside one on one with the opposing OT or maybe getting double teamed by an added back or TE. I saw several plays during the Bengals game where they stunted the DT's and the DT's didn't get anything done because the 2 G's and C bunched up just like you said. The biggest difference is that Freeney and Mathis weren't on the outside to take advantage.

Oh and after seeing Phillip Wheeler this preseason, I think he could be a very effective blitzer.

Two different scenarios. When the Colts stunt only their DTs it's to get one DT unblocked. The idea is to have him free to flow to the ball if it's a running play or exploit an opening to rush the QB if it's a pass. I hate that play, I have yet to see it be effective.

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Coyer did it sparingly his first season. He did it quite a bit last season, and I saw a ton of it last night, and I just cannot figure out, for the life of me, why.

First of all, let me say that stunting along the D-line is, IMO, a badly outdated tactic much the same as icing the kicker. When it was introduced it worked for a number of reasons... O-linemen had never seen such a thing, and had to make quick decisions to combat it. The slower speed of the game allowed it to be mildly successful. But now, it is a basic ability of an O-linemen to be ready for a stunt. O-linemen are brought up to be ready for it. It's really an advantage for the offense when a D-line does it, especially when we do it...

When a QB lines up to pass against us and Freeney and Mathis are in, he knows he has to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. By stunting our interior 2 linemen we're taking more time to get pressure on the pocket, and by the time it would be effective the QB is already rid of the ball, or will be within a second or two.

But it really, really gets under my skin when he does it with Freeney and Mathis. It's kind of insulting to them, IMO. Freeney and Mathis are good enough to straight up beat their man around the edge. Why slow them down and try to send them inside with a stunt? No one on our line is a great bull rusher who can power through an O-linemen, and stunting just allows the linemen to set his feet and make his best block possible. IMO, stunting a D-line is something you have to resort to because your linemen can't beat theirs... We don't even remotely have that problem.

It seems like every time I notice the D line pull some kind of stunt we get pressure on the play only if an O-linemen makes a mistake, but we seem to be doing it more and more and more and I just cannot for the life of me figure out why. We have a good enough D line to spread rush, pinch rush, edge rush, or gap rush and still get pressure. But we stunt instead and take the D line pretty much out of the equation...

I think you are absolutely spot on with this post. I thought the same thing while watching the game. There is no reason to be doing it. It actually takes away from Mathis/Freeney's strength. They aren't the biggest guys in the world but they are being asked to use more strength than speed when they go back inside. Perhaps a big, strong, DT LIKE Haynesworth or Rogers would do the trick!!!!!!!

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I would assume it's pretty simple math. Freeney is facing a LT, with the guard coming over to help on Freeney's left and a TE or RB on freeney's right. So rather than have him face a 3 on 1 they stunt him to the inside where all he has to face is a guard or center or maybe a guard/center.

When they do it in the preseason like they did last night they do it not based on the offenses tendencies but just to see how everyone handles their assignments.

yep

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I remember somebody saying that Colts started stunting the DL during the playoffs the year they won the Superbowl and that helped with stopping the run.

I don't know if that's true and if it is I don't understand how that affected the run defense positively.

Which is why the coaches are in charge of this, not us. We don't understand why they do it, but they understand football 10x better than the combined efforts of all of us in here.

If they believe, see, and know it works (based on comparative results, film study, etc.), then they are right.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It's being pointed out on national that we're doing ourselves no favors with our stunts...

Of course our coaching staff will ignore it... But still, it's hurting more than its helping.

Yeah, stunting Mathis all the way around the line cost us big on two 3rd and long conversions. Our guys played great today but didn't see any improvement in play-calling. I would possibly go so far as to say our defense played as well as they did in spite of the coaching/play-calling.

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Yeah, stunting Mathis all the way around the line cost us big on two 3rd and long conversions. Our guys played great today but didn't see any improvement in play-calling. I would possibly go so far as to say our defense played as well as they did in spite of the coaching/play-calling.

Well, we took full advantage of an inferior offensive line, make no mistake. Since about 2006 they're pass blocking has been suspect at best, and Ben's apparent desire to hold the ball until Christmas just compounds that. When we play a good line like New Orleans, or Baltimore, don't expect to see us that active up front again. If Coyer goes stunt crazy against the Patriots, god help us all....

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I was watching Football Night in America before the game and Tony Dungy explained how they would be stunting either Freeney or Mathis.

With the pressure that one of the ends would bring (in the video they showed Mathis bringing pressure and Freeney stunting) Roethlisberger would then be forced to step up into the pocket and into one of his favorite passing lanes and when Ben steps up into the passing lane Freeney (which would be stunting) would meet him and get the sack.

It was something along those lines Dungy explained it way better than I did

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Once it was determined that Peyton would not be able to play this season, why did the organization not immediately sign a healthy veteran like Jim Sorgi whom remains on the Free Agent Wire? He is the only backup in the past fifteen or so years whom has actually played and had success when called upon by our team. We of course placed him on IR in 2009 and he was waived IR from the Giants. However, he is healthly now and acutally knows our system.

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