Wade Phillips is football royalty, he's the son of longtime NFL coach Bum Phillips, and he has forgotten more about football than all of us will know in our lives. He's truly one of the sport's smartest men. So you can understand if he gets a little peeved when people misinterpret his “dogs” for “blitzes,” especially when it leads to criticism about being too aggressive in the preseason.
The coordinator of the NFL’s best 'D' had some tweets about blitzing terminology that got brought up Thursday after camp.
“Funny how 'experts' don't know a blitz (6rush-5cover eligible receivers) from a dog (5rush-6cover) - there are also pseudo blitz & dog schemes,” said Phillips, who took to Twitter to vent.
The ol' football coach explained further on Thursday, giving the media a graduate-level course on the subject.
“If there’s a guy deep in the middle of the field, it’s not a blitz,” said Phillips. “A blitz is—and the common term ‘blitz’ means that somebody’s rushing. If they say, ‘so-and-so is blitzing, so-and-so is blitzing, this is a zone blitz,’ well, it’s really just four guys rushing or five guys rushing. When there’s six— it’s pretty simple—when there’s six guys rushing, there’s five eligible receivers with five guys that have to cover all of those guys, so there’s nobody in the middle of the field. Anytime somebody gets sacked or whatever, and there’s somebody in the middle of the field, it’s not a blitz.”
If you think of it from a scheme perspective, in a 3-4 alignment, the front three rush the quarterback along with the two outside linebackers. Those would be your standard five rushers; that’s what Phillips calls a dog, with several variations, of course. If someone on top of those five is rushing, say an inside linebacker, a safety or a nickel corner then that’s a blitz. This, of course, leaves the rest of the defenders in coverage in straight up man to man assignments with no extra help.
Phillips also talked about how none of the five sacks against Chicago in the preseason opener came off of a blitz.
“5 sacks were 4 man rush -2 sacks were 5 man rush— 0 sacks were blitzes,” always from Phillips’ Twitter account.
With all the talk of blitzes, Philips also spoke on how there’s been a switch recently in the usage of an extra rusher in preseason games.
“There isn’t an ‘unwritten rule’ anymore,” said the longtime NFL coach. “When I first started in the league, people didn’t blitz during preseason and didn’t game plan for it during preseason. I pretty much stuck with that, but everybody else kind of changed, it looks like.”
Just one last question, Wade: If you send 10 men at the quarterback and just leave one guy in the middle of the field, that's not a blitz?
"That's right," he said with a laugh. "That's also a touchdown."