The Lead Draw – Fox 2/3 Draw

By John Anderson
In any passing offense, you must have the ability to negate any strong pass rush. There are three solid ways to do that: a strong running game, screens, and draws. And the purpose of this article is to explain how to use the draw play to negate the pass rush, but also to give added value and a threat to the passing game. The idea behind the Lead Draw is very simple: pull up the defensive linemen up field in their pass rushes and use their aggressiveness against them so that you can slip the draw play to a back.. We want to take the defensive ends up field and kick them out, and push the defensive tackles to one side. This will allow us to use our fullback to isolate a inside linebacker, and possibly break a play. In the process, we want to cut off the pursuit of the rest of the linebackers. Depending on the front, by pushing the defensive tackles in the 43 defense to one side, or the nose tackle in the 34 defense, we create a cavity for the fullback to have room to push the inside linebacker to one side or the other. The ball carrier will read this as his key block on where to go with the ball from here.

As we draw up the blocking schemes versus the different fronts, you will see a great similarity between the way we block the 34 defense and the 43 under defense. The rules are almost identical due to the proximity of the defensive tackle and the weak side outside linebacker. This play is ideal against the 34 defense, and the 43 under defense in that it attacks the cavity over the play side guard. This puts the ball into the “B” gap, while against the 43 over defense, or a straight 43, the ball needs to come back inside to the “A” gap. Now you can run it to the “B” gap versus the straight 43, but you will have to be confident that your play side guard will handle the defensive tackle.

In our system “Fox Two” is directed at our right side, while “Fox Three” is directed at the left side. This is consistent with our even numbers being on the right side of the formation, and the odd numbered holes on the left side of the formation.

This is Fox Three against a slightly over shifted defensive front that we used to see often. We direct the play right up in between the defensive tackles. You will see in the cases against “Over” defenses, that the blocking will possibly flip over to take advantage of the alignment.

Blocking for the Lead Draw – We found out from watching film of the 49ers, and ironically, some old Baltimore Colts film that this play really hasn’t changed too much over the years. We start with the “Zero” or the “One” technique. We want to scoop that technique and move him to the backside away from the play to create the alley for our fullback to isolate the play side inside linebacker. This begins the creation of a tandem or “co-op” assignment to scoop the defensive tackle and scrape off to the backside linebacker.

We do not want to allow the 0/1 technique to be left without a double team until the last possible moment. By using the “co-op” technique, known by many other names, we can control the 0/1 technique until the very second that the backside linebacker commits to which side or the other. If the 0/1 technique drives for the weak side “A” gap, then the guard will peel off and cut off the linebackers pursuit. If the 0/1 technique drives into the strong side “A” gap, then the guard will finish the scoop, and the center will scrape off and cut off the pursuit of the linebacker. This is done by “feel” as to how the defensive tackle applies pressure. If we see the defensive tackles in “two” techniques (head up on our guards), then we tell the onside guard to take his opponent to the outside, and the center to hinge back on the backside tackle. We will then take the play back inside the “A” gap. This is what we classify as a even front. On even fronts, we change the rule to take the ball into the onside “A” gap vice the onside “B” gap.

But, we drill this tandem to only commit at the last possible moment so that they don’t disengage too early from the defensive tackle.

The backside guard and tackle are given the assignment to “area” block the two online defenders in the 34 and 43 Under defensive alignments. When the defense tries to execute a stunt against this play, it becomes harder to execute. We had times where the outside linebacker executed a stunt underneath, and made the tackle for a minimal gain. This was because the backside guard was either slow to recognize the stunt, or never saw it. We do our best to teach the guard to recognize the stunt from the outside linebacker and that he must work together with the tackle to impede the progress of the stunt to ensure the success of the play.

The fullback makes a move to the outside, as we are trying to sell the defense that we are showing our best running play, the power over end play. So by selling this action, or selling pass, we can place the fullback in a more favorable position to block the linebacker. If the linebacker reads the draw and plugs the hole effectively, we are in trouble.

The fullback is instructed to meet the linebacker as deep as possible, keeping in mind that the linebacker is taught to read the play and meet the fullback at the line of scrimmage and plug the hole. The linebacker is also taught to not give a side. This simply means to meet the fullback in the hole and play off the block and cause hesitation for the running back. So the fullback must make contact as far downfield as he can, and turn the linebacker one way or the other. The ball carrier is taught to read this block. Play action from Fox 2/3 – The play action off of Fox 2/3 is very important in the offensive structure, due to the fact that it pairs well with our draw package and helps to constitute a run threat that slows the linebackers read as to run/pass. Off this play action, we can hit several pass patterns effectively. Like “X and Y Hook”, the “Double square out”, or the “Double Fly” Routes. Most of the 24 pass patterns can be run from the Fox 2/3 play action.

The blocking for the play action is very much the same as in the draw. But, we give the halfback a duel role in this pass blocking responsibilities. We want him to check for a pass rusher both inside, and outside the offensive tackle with a priority to any pass rusher coming from the gap between the fullback and the offensive tackle. Many West Coast offense teams enjoy the success of the Fox 2/3 play action scheme because it gives them a full flow play action to one side, and puts a lot of receivers into the pass pattern. This is especially beneficial if you have a game breaker in your lineup. I personally liked running “Fox 2 – Bingo”. This sent the flanker on a post route over top of the tight end running a hook at 12 yards.

This may or may not be a ideal way to diagram this play, but the idea I wanted to get across, was the tight end being able to get open underneath and be a threat to the linebackers. When you can do this it forces the defense to change, for example, forcing the strong safety to possibly jump the tight end, This would leave a possibility to leave the back door open. The use of play action could also force this reaction out of the Cover Two strong safety. If we could see a indication that the free safety could be caused to hesitate, we could plan this to throw the seam, or fade route behind him as well. This pass play helped us to take advantage of teams that elected to use Cover Two or Cover Three invert to the weak side. Many times we had teams try to double cover our split end, and we had to devise ways to break that coverage. “Bingo” in conjunction with the play action put the strong safety in a quandary by hooking up the tight end in front of him and sending the flanker on a post. If the strong safety tries to jump the hook route, the flanker zips behind him. If the strong safety drops back to protect his zone from the post route, the tight end should be open in front of him. This play also works well against man coverage, or man – free. In conclusion, we have seen how the lead draw works with different defensive formations, and gone over some of the little nuances of the draw play, and showing how to use it to negate a fierce pass rush. The draw play in any form can open up some big plays for teams with a good passing attack. It was also my purpose to demonstrate pairing up this play with play action, and to give a small example of how you could possibly use different patterns.

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