Zone Blocking Scheme

Posted: June 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 39 Comments »

Alex Gibbs is the king of the zone blocking world. His blocking scheme led to Terrell Davis becoming a star. And then guys like Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson proving to be capable replacements. Then Gibbs went to Atlanta and Houston to help coach their running games. Both teams had dominant rushing attacks.

Here is an 8-minute clip of Gibbs talking to college coaches about how he wants things to happen (blocking and running). Gibbs isn’t necessarily teaching things the exact same way Chip Kelly will want them, but it gives you a glimpse into the ideas behind zone blocking and also what an NFL coach is looking for.

The most interesting comments to me come when he talks about how there was a chance for a big play, but the RB made the correct read on the play and went elsewhere, gaining just a few yards. Shady McCoy and Bryce Brown have developed the bad habit of looking for big plays on every play. Coaches don’t want that. They want you to carry out the play as it is designed. Their belief is that if you do that, the big plays will come.

This is NSFW. Gibbs has a salty vocabulary.

I am looking forward to seeing the Eagles run game in 2013. We’ll have Kelly’s system, with possibly some NFL tweaks from Pat Shurmur, and then we’ll have Jeff Stoutland coaching the big boys up front. That’s an interesting mix.

One note here…Gibbs was never just the OL coach. He was hired to run the entire running game. That won’t be the case with the Eagles staff.


39 Comments on “Zone Blocking Scheme”

  1. 1 Mitchell said at 12:25 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Favorite quote: “I can bet you, when he came back to the sideline, he got his nuts ripped!” Lol. Get ’em Gibbs.

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 12:33 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Tough love.

  3. 3 Anders said at 12:40 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    I love his comments about CB and tackling. “We dont block CBs, we block safeties, we let CBs tackle”

  4. 4 TommyLawlor said at 12:47 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Yeah, that is great. Also informative. Leave the CBs alone. Make them be relevant.

  5. 5 Anders said at 12:53 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    I still remember the Atlanta game last season, where we faced Samuel and Robinson, two horrible tacklers and we just wouldnt run outside.

  6. 6 T_S_O_P said at 1:01 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Marty had a plan!

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 1:02 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    And thankfully that plan is safely in NYC.

  8. 8 TommyLawlor said at 1:02 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Shady did beat Sammie for the TD, but you’re right overall. Didn’t make sense.

  9. 9 Mac said at 4:28 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    I’m pretty sure we saw some things…

  10. 10 Derek / IgglesBlog said at 1:08 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    If this whets your appetite, how about eight hours more?

  11. 11 TommyLawlor said at 1:19 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    I’m in the middle of this 3 hr, 22 min opus of Gibbs on blocking.

    Not sure it is for the average fan. I’m only an hour in, though. We’ll see.

  12. 12 Derek / IgglesBlog said at 1:21 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Yeah, I’ve been in the middle of the Florida thing for a couple months. It’s dense.

    It’s fun when he talks about Vick, though.

  13. 13 poetx99 said at 2:47 PM on June 5th, 2013:

    i’m 2.5 hrs in. i always appreciated the hell outta warrick dunn, but even moreso watching these cutups.

  14. 14 ACViking said at 1:32 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    [REPOSTED from T-Law’s Prior Topic]

    Here are the career stats for two QBs.

    The first stat-line is for a HOF QB, who appeared in 169 games.

    The second stat-line is QB who played in 167 games and, by most accounts, is not a HOFer.

    94-49-0 2667 com 4149 atts 64.3% 33,124 yds 232 TDs 107 Ints 17 GWDrives

    98-62-1 3170 com 5374 atts 59.0% 37,276 yds 234 TDs 117 Ints 25 GWDrives

    Line 1 is the career numbers of Steve Young — 3 NFC Title Games, 1 SB win

    Line 2 is Donovan McNabb’s — 5 NFC Title Games, 1 SB appearance.

    Besides the SB win for Young, I’d say the one difference between the two of them was Jerry Rice — with whom Young played in every game. And Young’s other WR was either John Taylor or TOwens.

    That’s a pretty big difference, when compared to McNabb’s receivers — in all but the 23 games he had TOwens: Johnson, Small, Pinkston, Thrash, Freeman, Brown, Stallworth, and Curtis. How many of those guys would even have made the 49ers’ 53-man roster?

  15. 15 Mac said at 2:53 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    If we were talking “baseball”, then I think there is no doubt #5 makes it to the HOF. He should be a legend in Philly, but I just don’t see how the rest of the league of fans would care.

  16. 16 TommyLawlor said at 2:54 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Interesting comparison. Complicated, though. Young spent time in the USFL and then in Tampa. His SF breakthrough came at the age of 30. McNabb turned 30 in 2006. Had a couple of good years ahead of him, but not many. Had Young gotten on the field in the NFL earlier, he’d have blown away McNabb’s numbers.

    Also note that Young’s career ended due to concussions, not performance or coachability.

    McNabb showed the ability to put a team on his back and carry it to the playoffs.

    Young never had to do that in SF. He had better talent around him. Young did deliver great results. SF led the league in scoring 4 times with him. They led the league in yards 3 times. In 1998, they finished 1st in Pass, Run, and total yards. That is a rare, rare feat.

    Young did play on TB teams that were bad. Unfortunately they were so bad that one player could not make a difference. Both years the team went 2-14.

    Both guys were special, but Young was definitely better in my mind.

  17. 17 GEagle said at 7:49 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    The best arguments I have heard for who belongs in the Hall of Fame:
    1)Players who change the game (Like an LT for example)
    2)The rule I go by when trying to form my oppinion on whether a player belongs..lets use McNabb for example: Pick any current Hall of fame QB, Now If Im a coach, and I had(insert any current hall of fame QB, lets say Marino), would I be comfortable trading Marino for McNabb?…Hell NO!
    I could see cases for trading Marino for Elway, trade Elway for Montana, Montana for Brady, Brady for Peyton, Peyton for Brees…NO ONE in their right mind would be ok with trading an hall of fame QB for McNabb, thus he clearly doesnt belong, IMO..

  18. 18 TommyLawlor said at 8:54 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Interesting way to look at it.

    I think Donovan just needed a 2nd act to his career. Kurt Warner had that in ARZ. Donovan flamed out when he left Philly. That hurts him.

  19. 19 ceteris_paribus1776 said at 10:06 AM on June 5th, 2013:

    McNabb had 1200 more attempts than Young and could only muster comparable numbers, not better. That’s 3 seasons of additional work at the rate Young threw the ball. Could you imagine the comparison with 3 extra years of work? That’s there the comparison really fails. Young was one of the most efficient to ever play the game and why he is in the hall.

  20. 20 Anders said at 2:20 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    This was just posted by

  21. 21 ACViking said at 2:26 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Re: The Men Who Gibbs Made Famous / Gibbs and Kelly on Defense

    Maybe it’s coincidence. Maybe it’s karma. Anyway, Alex Gibbs and Chip Kelly both started their coaching careers as DB coaches in college.

    Looking back at Gibbs’ time as an O-line coach and all you see is great runners. That’s gotta be more than a coincidence.

    From ’75-’78, Gibbs was the O-line coach for Woody Hayes at Ohio State. The Buckeyes ran from the I-formation and had the same 1-cut zone running-scheme that Gibbs used in the NFL.

    Gibbs’ O-lines at OSU blocked for 2x Heisman winner Archie Griffin, Eagles RB Calvin Murray (Millville HS – Class of ’77 . . . and UNSTOPPABLE from personal experience), and Cowboys’ RB Ron Springs. Each of those RBs was a classic 1-cut guy. No one was better at it in college than Griffin.

    From OSU, Gibbs went to Auburn for 2 seasons — when the Tigers were running the wishbone. Backside cut-blocks galore for future NFL stars Joe Cribbs and James Brooks.

    Gibbs move to Georgia for two years in ’82 and brought the I-formation with him. The star runner who tallied 2 miles of yardage . . . none other than Heisman winner and future Eagle Herschel Walker?

    In ’84, Gibbs began his first tour with the Broncos. No star runners. Only 2 SB appearances in ’86 and ’87 with Elway at QB and the likes of Sammy Winder at RB and Steve Sewell at wing back.

    From Denver, Gibbs went to the Raiders, Chargers, Colts and Chiefs.

    The runners there? Bo Jackson. Marcus Allen (Raiders and Chiefs). Marion Butts.

    Then back to Denver for 9 seasons . . . where afterthoughts like Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, and Olandis Gary piled up yards. As did 2nd-Rd pick Clinton Portis.

    Gibbs moved onto Atlanta in ’04. Boom . . . NFC title game w/ 1200+ yard runner Warrick Dunn.

    After Houston hired Gary Kubiak, he brought Gibbs to the Texans. And Steve Slaton became a 1,200+ yard runner in ’08.

    Gibbs’ scheme must work. Not all those RBs were uber-backs.

    Chip’s been dealt a great hand in the backfield. So the RBs shouldn’t pose any problem in terms of just raw talent.
    And the projected Eagles’ starters on the O-line should be the kind of linemen that excelled in Gibbs’ system. He — like Howard Mudd — loved athletic guys up front who can get to the second level.

  22. 22 TommyLawlor said at 2:42 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Great stuff, ACV.

  23. 23 theycallmerob said at 3:58 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    …I wasn’t sold until you mentioned Slaton

  24. 24 Stephen Stempo said at 4:58 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    If only he had been there when “mastermind” mike shanahan drafted maurice claret

  25. 25 poetx99 said at 5:32 PM on June 5th, 2013:

    fantastic post, acv, as always. i knew of gibbs work in DEN and ATL, but had no idea the extent of the rest of his pedigree. that 3hr video was really impressive. dude knows the run game inside and out.

    and that’s a key point about the scheme being compatible with the type of athletes already here. this is actually a more talented OL than gibbs usually went for. he seemed to take it as a point of pride to take 6th and 7th round guys for the OL. for a team, that allowed them to spend money elsewhere. but it bordered on hubris when teams he was on seemingly were indifferent to spending a high draft pick because the ‘system’ could do without it. chip’s preference (Agile AND Big) puts a bit more premium on the positions, which is why lane johnson was such a good pick. hopefully this translates well.

    and more importantly, hopefully shurmur can do a good job of putting a complete passing game on top of the run concepts.

  26. 26 Ark87 said at 3:04 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Anyone else pretty jazzed about practicing with the pats before our preseason game with them?

  27. 27 theycallmerob said at 4:00 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    I’ll second that. In my opinion, it can never hurt a team trying to (re)establish a winning culture with many new faces by being in the presence of a legendary coach and a “professional” team.

  28. 28 Jack Waggoner said at 7:20 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    I would be more so if those practices were open to the public

  29. 29 Ark87 said at 8:28 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Good point, I’d love to see it as well. Would be something of a spectacle.

    It’s kinda strange, these organizations have been somewhat close for some time now, especially active in trading draft picks. Now we have 2 coaches who are somewhat like-minded and seemed to have built a professional relationship in the past (Tommy said Belichick has brought in Chip in the past to pick eachothers’ brains).

    Definitely wouldn’t mind being the NFC equivalent of the Patriots one day. Perennial contenders that is.

  30. 30 Jack Waggoner said at 4:15 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Jimmy Kempski ‏@Jimmy_Beast2h
    Trash can lineup today: Gray I at LT, Gray II at LG, Yellow I at C, Gray III at RG, Gray IV at RT. Yellow II out today getting teeth cleaned

  31. 31 Mac said at 4:36 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    With the injury to JPP is Daniel Te’o-Nesheim now the best DE out of the class of 2010?

  32. 32 TommyLawlor said at 4:44 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Seems that way.

  33. 33 GEagle said at 7:51 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    huh? Nesheim couldnt have come out the same year as Graham and JPP…Did we draft Graham and Te’o in the same draft? im confused

  34. 34 TommyLawlor said at 8:56 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Just making a joke.

  35. 35 GEagle said at 7:33 AM on June 5th, 2013:

    The joke is me, scrambling to go back and research it lol. Way over my head. We all have our “dumb blonde” moments

  36. 36 ClydeSide said at 4:41 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    Gibbs uses the outside zone as the base play. Kelly uses the inside zone.

  37. 37 GEagle said at 7:43 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    I cant believe Im saying this, but I strongly suggest listening to Sal Pal on Misanelli’s show today. He had some very interesting things to say about todays practice, and I normally find Sal to be Wiggit WIGGITY wack, but always gotta give respect when its due

  38. 38 S.Paxson said at 7:29 AM on June 5th, 2013:

    Checked it out, it was rather interesting

  39. 39 Mark Sitko said at 8:41 AM on June 5th, 2013:

    Tommy – you have been dropping some wisdom bombs recently – the Ravens PPT and this video have taught me an incredible amount about the game, more importantly have given me glimpses into the possibilities of our new offensive and defensive schemes – thanks man, amazing work.