“Power O” Play Is Likely To Return and O-Line Reset

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“Power O” Play Is Likely To Return and O-Line Reset

Postby DarthMonk » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:03 pm

It should be noted that a zone blocking system and big linemen are not mutually exclusive. Also, "zone blocking" and "stretch play" are not synonyms. Zone blocking can be used inside and the stretch can be run with man blocking. Every team in the NFL uses zone blocking. Some teams base their entire offense on it. This past year those teams included the Redskins, Colts, Texans, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Packers. Having said that ...

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2014 at 2:11 pm.
Written by Emmanual Benton

The Washington Redskins have been primarily a zone-stretch running team under Mike Shanahan for the past several seasons. With Jay Gruden now running the show, many have wondered if he will continue running the zone-blocking system. As the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive coordinator, Gruden ran more power and man schemes with pulling lineman. However, even with all the issues Washington had last season, they still managed to produce the league’s fifth best rushing game. The old saying is, “don’t fix what isn’t broken.”

“They’ve done some good things here offensively… so they have a system in place that’s very good,” Jay Gruden said at his introductory presser. “They’re an outside zone blocking team that can do inside zone. I like the power plays. I like the gap blocking plays. I don’t think any offense in the NFL anymore is just, ‘We are this.’ I think we have to adhere to what we have offensively, talent-wise. We can do the read option. We can do naked bootlegs. We can run outside zone… I think the whole idea to be a successful offense is to be diverse and be good at a lot of different things and not just one.”

The Washington Redskins will have a “multiple offense” under Gruden, there’s no doubt about that. Meaning, each week you may see the same core principles but things will change based on the opponent. From the numerous Cincinnati sources I’ve talked to, they believe Jay Gruden is a power run guy all the way. But there is a synergy with the power and zone schemes. Will Gruden run zone-stretch plays? Probably not. But I think you will see inside/outside zone, as it mixes nicely with the power scheme.

In Cincinnati, Jay Gruden started using the “Power O” play that was famously used by Redskins’ great John Riggins. The Bengals benefited from an offensive line with good size and power. They were able to take over a couple games using that “Power O” philosophy. To explain exactly what the Power O play is, I found a excellent piece (published in 2009) from the guys at SmartFootball.com , giving a detailed breakdown:

The play itself is very basic:

The lineman to the side the run is going (playside) essentially “down” block, meaning they take the man to the inside of them. For the guards and center, that includes anyone “heads up” or covering them, but for the playside tackle, he does not want to block the defensive end or other “end man on the line of scrimmage.” These lineman use their leverage to get good angles to crush the defensive lineman, and the fact that they don’t have to block a couple of defenders on the playside frees them to get good double teams and block the backside linebackers. To use Vince Lombardi’s phrase, the idea is to get so much force going that direction that they completely seal off the backside.

They can do this because they get some help to the playside. First, the fullback (or, more often nowadays, some kind of H-back or other player) is responsible for blocking the otherwise unblocked end man on the line of scrimmage (“EMLOS”). He uses a “kick out” technique, simply meaning he blocks him from the inside to out, in order to create Lombardi’s famous “seal” going the other way.

The final piece of the puzzle is the backside guard (sometimes nowadays a tackle). He pulls and “leads,” meaning he retreats, looks first for the fullback’s block to cut off of, and then heads into the crease looking to block the first defender that shows up — typically the playside linebacker. He can block him whatever direction is best; it’s the running back’s job to find the open lane.

The runner takes a lateral or slight delay step, takes the handoff from the quarterback, and follow’s the pulling guard’s block. As stated above, he wants to cut off that man’s block and get vertical quickly. It is a power play so he has to be willing to hit the hole fast; it’s not as much of a “read the defense” run as are zone runs, though it is a good complement to it.

If it all works well, the line should have crushed anyone to the inside of the offensive guard, while the fullback has kicked out the end man on the line, and the pulling guard is the running back’s personal protector. The defender that the guard blocks should never be right, both because the guard has freedom to push him wherever, and the runner’s job is to cut off his block to make him correct — the runner cannot just guess.

The Power O play is great because it’s very flexible. You can run it in numerous formations. Good news for Darryl Young — while a lot of teams are using the fullback a lot less, it’s valuable to have one. Some of the best teams in the NFL continues to use fullbacks, including the World Champion Seattle Seahawks. However, when in one-back, the power scheme can be utilized in spread formations. Spreading the field takes a defender out the box. So by removing a blocker, you add a receiver to move a defender out the box. With that, you also have options. If that extra receiver goes out and the defender stays in the box, you can simply change out of the run play and throw to that receiver.

You could also see the Redskins take advantage of having a Quarterback with world-class speed. Although, I’m sure people would prefer him not to run, that threat keeps the defense honest. You could see “Jet QB power” plays or “Power reads” where the QB has an option to run or pitch.

So by using the power scheme, Gruden could have a plethora of branches coming off that scheme. It’s simple, yet complex. That’s Jay Gruden in a nutshell.

The Redskins will likely try infusing the offensive line with bigger players. The signing of Shawn Lauavo, who is 315 lbs, signals to that. Washington showed interest in the big tackle Donald Penn who is between 330-340 lbs. They also have interest in Matt McGlynn who is a 325 lb guard.

It’ll be interesting to see this offense unfold. In Jay Gruden, I believe the Redskins have a guy who likes to live “outside the box.”

Resetting the roster: Offensive line
March, 19, 2014
MAR 19
By John Keim | ESPN.com

On the roster: LT Trent Williams, G Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus, C/ G Kory Lichtensteiger, G Josh LeRibeus, G Adam Gettis, G Maurice Hurt, T Tom Compton, OL Tevita Stevens.

Added in free agency: G Shawn Lauvao. The former Browns lineman will start at one of the guard spots.

Lost in free agency: None. But they did release center Will Montgomery. He visited with Denver earlier in the week, but left without a contract.

In talks with: C Brian de la Puente. De la Puente visited the Redskins on Wednesday. He has good quickness, which would make him a solid fit in an outside zone run scheme.

UPDATED: The Redskins also on Wednesday hosted center/guard Mike McGlynn, who has made 48 career starts -- including four with the Bengals in 2011 when Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator. At 325 pounds, McGlynn would provide more size inside.

Also on the market: C Kyle Cook, C Mike Gibson, T Charles Brown, T Bruce Campbell. Cook played for Redskins coach Jay Gruden in Cincinnati. Brown started 14 games last season, his fourth in the NFL – but his first as the full-time starter. He might just be depth for whomever signs the former second-round pick. He’s going to visit the New York Giants. The Redskins had a deal with Campbell, but that has never been signed and he has visited the Giants.

What it means: One person in the organization earlier this offseason said they did not view the line as the major problem that many others did. Also, because they would stick with the same run game, they could get away with bringing a lot of this group back. But Jay Gruden casually mentioned the need for some improvement at the scouting combine. And their actions suggest that’s what they’d like to do. They signed Lauvao, who was inconsistent in Cleveland, flirted with Donald Penn about playing right tackle and now are entertaining de La Puente. They might not end up making wholesale changes, but they certainly understand the need to improve, especially inside. They plan to move Kory Lichtensteiger to center, but he still needs to gain about 10-15 pounds. That would put him in the 295 range. De La Puente is listed at 306 pounds. So it could just be that Gruden wants more size inside – he talked about guys getting pushed back; he also had bigger fronts in Cincinnati. If they signed de La Puente and already have Lauvao, then it’s real hard to keep both Chester and Lichtensteiger. They could save $2.7 million against the cap by releasing Chester and $1.1 million if they cut Lichtensteiger.

I thought the two biggest holes last season were right guard and center. And it was never a stretch to think they should look at an upgrade at right tackle. Though Tyler Polumbus has some supporters in the organization, it’s certainly not unanimous (nor should it be; though he improved they could still upgrade here). I don’t think general manager Bruce Allen is one of those supporters. So don’t be surprised if that position is targeted in the draft as well. Just a guess. In the end, this is what happens when you change coaches like the Redskins do. They drafted and worked with several young offensive linemen and then after a coaching change, they’re perhaps back looking for a different style of linemen. If they thought the current young backups were ready, I doubt they’d be searching this hard for upgrades. This will be a big offseason for Gettis, LeRibeus and Compton and an even bigger preseason.
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