Getting on the Edge of the Blocker
One of the primary purposes of pass rush is to get on the edge of the blocker and to work your way around him. We teach our players that we cannot run into the blocker head on, we cannot block ourselves – and that’s what you’re doing when you do that.
We know we can’t run over the blocker to put cleat marks on their chest in this league, and I don’t think in any league, so we try to work the edges in everything we do.
Now to get around an offensive blocker, you’ve got to get your shoulder pads and your hips turned. To emphasize that, what really happens is that there’s a foot shuffle in there.
Or there’s a foot crossover as you work around the guy as you’re getting up the field to the quarterback. We work this every day to get the feel of it.
To practice this, set up four Gilman pop-up dummies and then have your linemen go right, left, right, left around those dummies.
The key here is the footwork. Your lineman should reach like he’s reaching against that blocker and he’s going to get himself by him. He’s trying to get perpendicular to the blocker’s pads. If his shoulder pads are perpendicular to the blocker’s pads, then he’s ready to make a move. If he makes his move in front of the blocker, they react to it and stop him.
To emphasize the movement of the feet and the fact that we do shuffle by a guy when we rush, go all the way around the dummy this time. You can work this with your guys, you can have four of them going at once if you have four dummies.
Sometimes in a rush you’ll notice a rusher actually crosses over. There’s nothing wrong with that. He’s trying to get his pads turned to get by and get skinny on the offensive blocker. So sometimes we do this drill as a change-up where the lineman actually crosses his feet over as he works around the dummy rather than just shuffle. Because that happens in the rush sometimes.
A second important fundamental is the fact that once we get on the edge of that blocker, we must sink the inside hip and point the toe of the inside foot at the quarterback so that we go as tight as possible around the blocker.
We don’t want to waste any steps going up field after we’ve defeated our blocker. It gives a quarterback a longer time to get rid of it.
Do you think these pass rush fundamentals will help your youth football players better understand what pass rushing is all about? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments below!