Week 4 X’s & O’s: Steelers 2-Read Fire Zone Coverage

Week 4 Film Study–An X’s & O’s look at a key concept from the past week in the NFL:

Steelers 2-Read Fire Zone Coverage

The Steelers intercepted Joe Flacco on Thursday Night Football with a zone blitz pattern reading defense known as “2-Read Fire Zone.” 2-Read Fire Zone involves a 5 man pressure scheme with very specific rules for the LBs/DBs who are in coverage. To get a better understanding of 2-Read Fire Zone, let’s first look at what routes the Ravens are running on 3rd and 6:

Ravens Out/Drive

At the top of the screen, the Ravens are running a 5-yard speed out and a vertical. At the bottom of the screen, the Ravens are running a “Drive” combination, which involves a drag and a dig route.

The Steelers have the perfect defense called to not only stop the play but also force a turnover. First, the Steelers are sending a 5 man pressure scheme via a Fire Zone blitz using multiple DB’s. The blitz should make the ball come out of the Quarterback’s hands before he can fully identify the trap coverage behind it. Quarterbacks are often taught to throw “hot” by throwing the ball where blitzers are coming from, or replacing blitzers with the ball. 2-Read Fire Zone baits Quarterbacks into throwing to a trap:

Steelers Fire Zone 2-Read

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Steelers Motion leads to Le’Veon Bell 81-Yd Run

Week 3’s Sunday Night Football game featured the Panthers hosting the Steelers. In the 3rd Quarter facing 2nd and 22, Le’Veon Bell ripped off a back breaking 81-yard run. In unbelievable fashion, this run happened without Carolina’s best two linebackers ever being blocked. (Defensive player of the year Luke Kuechely as well as Thomas Davis). How does this happen? The Steelers took advantage of a heavy set (3 Tight Ends, 1 Running Back, 1 Wide Receiver) and motion against the Panthers base 4-3 defense (4 D-lineman, 3 Linebackers, 2 Safeties, 2 Cornerbacks). Here is how the play looks before the motion; throughout the play the focus will be on the three highlighted Carolina Panthers: #59 Luke Kuechely, #58 Thomas Davis, and Carolina’s weakside Defensive End (#95).

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The picture below shows each Carolina defender’s run game responsibility before the motion, represented by the lettered gaps. (A-D). Continue reading