Dictating to the Offense with Blitzes
The best blitz designs dictate to the offense. They show an initial pressure look, force the offense to set the protection to account for it, and then attack the vulnerabilities of that specific protection.
Current Giants Defensive Coordinator (and former Ravens D-Coordinator) Don “Wink” Martindale is a master at utilizing this approach. He often uses disguises that force the protection to focus its attention away from where the pressure is actually designed to attack.
The below plays from Martindale’s time with the Ravens are perfect examples. On this first play against the Giants in 2020, New York was in an empty formation (5-man protection). The Ravens aligned with 4 potential pass rushers to the right:
To make sure they could handle those 4 potential pass rushers, the Giants used a 4-man slide to their left:
The right tackle was left alone to handle the remaining down lineman:
But the Ravens wouldn’t be attacking with those four potential pass rushers to the right. Instead, two would drop out into coverage:
Baltimore then attacked with an additional linebacker and safety off the edge to the left, where there was only one blocker:
When it was all said and done, the Ravens were able to force the Giants into using 4 offensive linemen to block 2 pass rushers on one side, and 1 offensive lineman to block 3 pass rushers on the other. The results were predictable:
That’s not a fun place to be for a quarterback.
Here was another example from the 2021 season against the Lions. This time, the offense was in a 6-man protection, and the Ravens were showing 6 men on the line of scrimmage (with lots of movement behind them):
The Lions set the protection to try and have their 5 offensive linemen responsible for the 5 biggest pass rushers (3 defensive linemen and 2 linebackers):