Deciphering Level Reads in Offset Formations

Feb 5, 2017 | Defense, Game Planning

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Research Manager
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikeKKuchar

Editor’s Note: The following research was conducted as part of special report on Virginia Tech’s Bear Defense, which can be accessed in full below.



Let’s get one inalienable truth straight: the entire Bear package is designed to stop the run. We know that shouldn’t come as a surprise, but remember the roots of the Bear system is centered around two main objective: get plus one in the run game and eliminate combination blocks at the point of attack. If teams are running the ball on Bear, there is a technical problem, not a structural one. In fact, when Virginia Tech used the Bear package they surrendered 2.9 yards per carry. That is nearly one yard less than what the Hokies gave up per run play using any other defensive structure.

Level Reads on Single Back:

Foster and his defensive staff place a premium on the horizontal and vertical level of the offset back in one-back offenses. In fact, the Mike will call out the level of the back on every snap because it affects how the defensive line, Mike linebacker and secondary defend the run game. Foster was hell-bent on this being a big key to decipher which run or pass concepts can be used. He told us that a lot of what he does with his front is based on the anticipation of the play concept he is getting with the offset in that position. He did tell us that the level could be disguised if the team has a dynamic center and the ball gets back quickly, but in most occasions this is not the case and the back cannot lie in order to get to the mesh point. Since the Bear package puts a nose on a zero technique on that center, it’s much harder to both snap the ball and block efficiently. In any case, we detail each of these levels below.