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Falcon's blocking scheme with OL-Coach Alex Gibbs.

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Atlanta has hired Alex Gibbs to be their new offensive line coach. Gibbs has a reputation for teaching his players dirty tatics. I hated to hear he is in our division. I found a few articles on him. Let's hope ...

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Old 05-24-2004, 09:59 AM   #1
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Falcon's blocking scheme with OL-Coach Alex Gibbs.

Atlanta has hired Alex Gibbs to be their new offensive line coach. Gibbs has a reputation for teaching his players dirty tatics. I hated to hear he is in our division. I found a few articles on him. Let's hope none of our guys are injuried due to chop-blocking or illegal leg-whips!!

"Anytime you talk about the Denver running game, you've got to start with the offensive line," Bengals linebacker Brian Simmons said. "They do an excellent job of blocking guys and getting guys off their feet. The backs are just waiting for that one guy to get out of his gap and then they're going to find it."

The Broncos have won 22 of the last 24 games when one of their running backs has gained 100 or more yards, a streak that has been accomplished with four different ball carriers.

In years past, Denver's offensive linemen gained a reputation as being dirty players; guys who weren't afraid to illegally chop block an opponent or go directly at a defensive lineman's knees. Their techniques were defended as borderline and were rarely disciplined by the league. That's changed the past few seasons.

In a two-week stretch in 2001, tackle Matt Lepsis and guard Dan Neil each received $15,000 fines for illegal blocks. Lepsis' action broke the ankle of San Diego's Maa Tanuvasa while Neil's hit broke the leg of Patriots linebacker Bryan Cox. Last season, San Diego's Jamal Williams had his season ended prematurely when he was hit from behind by Denver guard Steve Herndon. Herndon was fined a game's pay for the hit.

Denver's offensive lineman are traditionally on the smaller side of the league average -- only one of their nine linemen this season is listed above 300 pounds -- so the blocking scheme was developed with that in mind. Some describe it as finesse -- if you can call men that big pounding into each other for 17 weeks as finesse -- but the system does save on the wear and tear an offensive line faces in a season.

"At one point, they were doing so much dirty stuff that guys were more worried about getting hurt than playing the game," said Bengals defensive end Duane Clemons, who played two games a season against Denver each of the past three seasons while a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. "It's not like it was in years past. Obviously, the fines and the other things the league has done have changed some of the ways. For the most part, they try to do the same things but I don't think it's quite as effective without that same style that they were doing maybe two or three years ago."

This one from 2002.

Rams Notebook: Broncos are still considered to be cut-blockers
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch

For the Rams' defensive line, playing the Denver Broncos means just one =
thing: watch your knees.=20

For years, Denver has had a reputation of having one of the dirtiest =
offensive lines in the National Football League. The Rams' game with =
Denver to open the 2000 season did nothing to change that reputation.=20

After the game, the Rams sent about 10 plays to the NFL office for =
review. The league office later agreed than on most or all of the plays, =
the Broncos were guilty of holding or otherwise illegal blocks. But no =
penalties were called on the plays in the game, and no fines were =
subsequently levied.=20

"It's definitely something you have to be aware of because that's what =
they're going to do," said Rams defensive lineman Brian Young, who was a =
rookie in 2000. "That's how they get the yards that they get. They =
figure if they cut you, they get you on the ground, you can't chase the =
running back.=20

"That's why this week, I think we're going to have to do something =
different. I don't think we'll be able to fire up the field as much as =
we want to."=20

Cut blocking is a term used to describe blocks below the waist. If it's =
done in front of the defender, it's legal. It may be distasteful, =
because if you go for a man's knees, you threaten his career. But it's =

However, if you cut block from behind a defender, that's illegal. Also =
illegal is the high-low block, in which one blocker hits the defender =
low, while another hits the defender high.=20

Looking at film in preparation for Sunday's game in Denver, Young says =
the Broncos do their share of the illegal stuff. "It's going to happen," =
he said. "Sometimes they'll call it in a game, but nine times out of 10, =
they're not. You're just going to have to play with it, and deal with it =
- play the way we can, and try to keep them off our legs."=20

After that 2000 game, former Rams defensive end Kevin Carter said the =
Broncos' three interior offensive linemen were the worst offenders. Two =
of those three players still start for Denver: center Tom Nalen and =
guard Dan Neil.=20

Heres another.

Riddle me this. If opposing players continue to complain, and the league keeps fining them, how long will it take before there is an overall crackdown on the Broncos offensive line? Right guard Dan Neil just got hit with his second fine. A whopping $52,941 for two leg whips in the game against the Raiders last week. This follows his $15,000 fine for ending Brian Cox's season. That follows a $15,000 fine to Matt Lepsis for a cut block. Oh, and I forgot to mention left guard was fined $12,500 for leg whips, too. The grand total is $127,529 to Broncos linemen this year.

There have been numerous fines over the last several years, and some missed ones as well. The one that really still bothers me, though, is the Broncos-Jaguars playoff game in January 1998. Early in the game, Jaguars defenders were complaining of the Broncos linemen having a slippery substance on their jerseys. The officials checked, and sure enough, there was. They made the players go to the sidelines and wipe off their jerseys. Isn't the damage done? Isn't the substance already soaked in? At the least, they should have made them change jerseys. At the most, they should have been ejected. It's illegal!

The continuous problems with Broncos linemen needs to be addressed. While the recent fine to Neil was the largest of its kind, its not the first of its type. Nor is it the first fine to a Broncos lineman. It's an ongoing problem, and if the league can dole out fines for dress code so easily, shouldn't the crime fit the punishment? Suspensions need to start being the fine. It won't happen, and I'm ranting here, but to watch players go down to injury because of out right cheating, something's wrong. Maybe the size of the last fine is indicating there's a problem there. We'll see.

I did like the quote from Neil's agent. "He has never been fined before this rash of fines," Marvin Demoff stated, "I can't imagine he's playing any differently than he had in the previous four years." Hey, Marvin, it's because he's never been caught.

And another.

Gibbs arrived with Shanahan in Denver nine years ago and immediately employed a successful zone- blocking scheme that was carried out by smaller, quicker linemen. He also emphasized, and helped perfect, the art of cut-blocking - which other teams call chop blocking.

[Edited on 24/5/2004 by GumboBC]
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Old 05-24-2004, 11:40 AM   #2
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Falcon's blocking scheme with OL-Coach Alex Gibbs.

Yikes! Good post Billy; very interesting.

Are the Falcons linemen of the same build as the Bronco\'s? I.e. are they also small and agile? We can hope that the Falcons linemen are simply built for a different style of play, can\'t we?
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Old 05-24-2004, 11:41 AM   #3
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Falcon's blocking scheme with OL-Coach Alex Gibbs.

PS - Why is Gibbs out in Denver?
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Old 05-24-2004, 11:48 AM   #4
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Falcon's blocking scheme with OL-Coach Alex Gibbs.

PS - Why is Gibbs out in Denver?
He said he was burned out. Putting in 100-hour work weeks and he needed a break.

I don\'t know the size of the offensive linemen in Atlanta. What I do know is they will be taught to chop block. That\'s Gibbs way of teaching. With that style you don\'t need great size and power.

I think you can look for the Falcons run game to improve this year due to the blocking scheme they will use.
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Old 05-24-2004, 01:58 PM   #5
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Falcon's blocking scheme with OL-Coach Alex Gibbs.

I guess I was just kinda hopein\' that they\'d be too fat and unagile to be good chop-blockers.
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Old 05-24-2004, 02:08 PM   #6
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Falcon's blocking scheme with OL-Coach Alex Gibbs.


If someone wants to know just how dirty Alex Gibbs is, this is a great article on illegal blocks by offensive linemen. I think eveyone should be well aware of what we are going to be facing 2 times per year!!

Taking on the oxymorons

The \'legal foul\' has been out of hand for 20 years
Posted: Wednesday October 31, 2001 3:43 PM

Here\'s the problem. I quote from page 495 of the 2001 NFL Record and Fact Book, under Digest of Rules, subhead, Definitions:

Clipping: Throwing the body across the back of an opponent\'s leg or hitting him from the back below the waist while moving up from behind unless the opponent is a runner or the action is in close line play.

Close Line Play: The area between the positions normally occupied by the offensive tackles, extending three yards on each side of the line of scrimmage.

We all know, of course, that clipping is a foul, a dangerous tactic. But what the league is telling us is that it\'s dangerous everywhere except near the line, where just about anything goes. I have never understood the reasoning behind this. I guess the thinking is that you can\'t hurt a guy by clipping him within a confined area because you can\'t get up enough momentum. You can only break his leg, as two Denver linemen have done to opponents in successive weeks.

The first one, Matt Lepsis\' dive on the back of San Diego DE Maa Tanuvasa\'s legs, drew a $15,000 fine but not a penalty. It\'s tough for officials to spot this kind of thing away from a play, and maybe, if he actually did see it, the referee thought that Lepsis was within the legal clip zone. I saw the clip. It was a nasty cheap shot, but it looked legal by the league\'s definition. If he was outside the zone, it was only slightly.

Last week\'s second installment, Dan Neil vs. the Patriots\' Bryan Cox, also drew no flag. Within the zone, I guess, although for cosmetic purposes the league might fine Neil. Why? It was probably a legal play.

I have been on the anti-legal-clip soap box for almost 20 years. At the league meetings in the spring, the writers used to get a daily briefing from the NFL\'s Competition Committee. Rule changes, proposed rule changes, etc. Occasionally they\'d address a particularly filthy practice by offensive linemen, consisting of one guy propping up an opponent while his partner took him out at the knees. So Don Shula and Tex Schramm, who headed the committee for many years, would mention proposed rules to modify this tactic, and my hand would go up, as usual, and I\'d repeat the same litany:

\"No cutting unless you\'re face up. Simple rule. No cutting unless you\'re face up.\"

It became a joke, year after year. Every time I\'d raise my hand, there would be a groan throughout the room and Schramm would say, \"There he goes again, Johnny One Note.\"

\"No cutting unless you\'re face up,\" I\'d repeat in my monotone. \"Simple rule. No cutting unless you\'re face up.\"

We all know that rules are made to favor the offense. Just look at the way they\'ve wrapped the quarterbacks in cellophane. To Schramm, basically a trinket salesman representing America\'s Team, the Cowboys, offensive fireworks meant more sales. To Shula, who had been a defensive back in the NFL, offensive football meant protecting his superstar quarterback, Dan Marino.

After one meeting, in which I\'d recited my shpiel a good nine or 10 times, until everyone in the room was practically screaming at me to shut up, Shula got me outside afterward.

\"What the hell\'s the matter with you?\" he said. \"You want to cripple all our quarterbacks? We\'ve got to slow those guys down.\"

\"Hey, Don,\" I said, \"Were you really a defensive player in the NFL?\"

Well, the 49ers and Broncos, tactically the two filthiest offensive teams in the NFL, took the legal clip to new heights, making it the basis of their running games. After one Competition Committee session, in which I\'d embarrassed myself for about the 100th time, George Young looked me up and spoke rather sternly.

\"You know you\'re becoming a real annoyance,\" he said. This was after George had left the Giants and had become the league\'s vice president of football operations. In his playing days, he\'d been a tackle at Bucknell and a Little All-American.

\"No cutting unless you\'re face up,\" was my answer, switching my brain to the automatic pilot. \"Simple rule. No cutting unless you\'re face up.\"

It didn\'t take much to get George mad, and this served nicely. \"Look, we\'ve already changed the rules, and that\'s as far as we can go,\" he said. It was true. The set-up-and-chop tactic had been outlawed. In the current rule book there are six articles dealing with the illegalities of this tactic, but the legal clip is still OK.

\"It\'s not enough,\" I told George.

\"Yeah, I know,\" he said. \"No cutting unless you\'re face up, but if you put that in, teams won\'t be able to run the ball anymore.\"

\"They\'ll have trouble because the blocking techniques stink,\" I said. \"When you were playing, what would you have said to a guy who told you that you couldn\'t run the ball unless you clipped people?\"

Now he was really mad. \"OK, you win the argument,\" he said, \"but we\'ll still do it our way.\"

The league isn\'t into player safety, it\'s into offensive player safety. It\'s very concerned with the image of the game. It doesn\'t want its pretty people roughed up. I haven\'t done an actual count, but I\'d bet that at least 80 percent of the fines handed out were for something an offensive player did to a defensive player. The irony of the NFL\'s approach, although I think they\'ve toned it down a bit recently, is that many of the promos you see on TV, in an attempt to sell the violence of the game, involve a vicious hit that normally would draw a fine.

Let\'s protect the game from the violent types, but let\'s use them to promote it.

In 1971 I covered a Jets-Patriots game at the new stadium in Foxboro in which a New England halfback named Carl Garrett wrecked the knees and ended the season for two Jets defensive linemen, Gerry Philbin and John Elliott, both on the same kind of block. Garrett lined up on the flank, and came swooping inside and cracked down on the outside of the knee. Football doesn\'t get any more vicious than that, but at the time it was legal.

Then the league outlawed the move, but do you know how long it took them to get around to it? Three years. Three years of screaming and begging and pleading by Jets defensive coordinator Walt Michaels and other people in the same boat. For god\'s sake, give our people some protection.

Since then, the NFL has moved by inches, fiddling with a rule here, establishing a new zone there, never fully addressing the problem.

In 1984, the night before a Redskins-49ers game in Candlestick, I was talking with the Niners\' tight end, Russ Francis.

\"Watch the first play carefully,\" he said. \"There\'s gonna be a fight at the end of it. They put in this thing to slow down Dexter Manley.\"

Manley was the Skins\' sack-specialist defensive end.

\"They\'ve got me split and coming back in motion and cracking down on him from the blind side. He\'s gonna be pissed on that first play and there\'ll be a fight. Watch.\"

Sure enough, Francis gave Manley a serious jolt, chest high, and there was a fight. Afterward I thanked Francis for making me a genius in the press box for accurately calling the first play.

\"I told Dexter, \'Hey, stay cool, at least I didn\'t cut you,\'\" Francis said. \"I could hear them yelling at me from the sidelines, \'Cut him! Cut him!\' The coaches were mad at me, but I said, \'He didn\'t make the tackle, did he? I\'m not taking anyone\'s leg out.\'\"

\"You could coach that stuff all you want,\" Chuck Noll once told me, \"but there are players who simply won\'t do it. Could you see Franco Harris or Lynn Swann cracking down on someone\'s knee?\"

And the irony is that the two coaches who were most notorious for teaching it, the late Bobb McKittrick in San Francisco and Alex Gibbs in Denver, were both excellent line coaches and, personally, very nice people off the field. It\'s just that they believed that if it were within the rules, then by golly, they\'d coach it.

Howie Long, after an afternoon of getting leg-whipped by Niners tackle Keith Farnhorst, challenged McKittrick to a fight in the tunnel of the L.A. Coliseum.

\"Get a helmet,\" Long said.

\"Can\'t find one,\" McKittrick said. \"Head\'s too small.\"

The Raiders once threatened McKittrick that if his guys did all that clipping at the line, they\'d go after San Francisco noseguard Michael Carter, who had chronic problems with his knees. Even Bill McPherson, the 49ers\' defensive line coach, complained about the tactics.

\"They\'d do it to my guys in practice,\" he told me once. \"I told McKittrick, \'Hey, lay off, these are our own guys.\' He said, \'Well, we\'ve got to practice it.\'\"

So Bryan Cox has sworn that someday, somehow, he\'ll pay Dan Neil back, and then he added this very sad line, \"If I ever play again.\" Do players still get even on the field? It seems to be a lost art. Once I had a talk with Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado after Jets tackle Chris Ward had fouled him. Alzado had ripped Ward\'s helmet off and had thrown it at him, thereby prompting an NFL rule outlawing helmet throwing. \"The Alzado rule,\" it was called.

I asked him if there\'s still such a thing as payback.

\"It\'s hard but not impossible,\" Alzado said. \"The first thing you\'ve got to do is get the guy\'s helmet off, and there\'s a technique to that. If you do it right, you can pop it like the top of a Coke can.\"

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Merlin Olsen once told me that there was only one time in his life that he ever tried to take retribution in a nasty way. It was against the Cards\' Conrad Dobler, of course, one of the real bad boys in the league.

\"Dobler had been leg-whipping me and clipping me all day, and finally I worked it out that I\'d prop him up, and Jack Youngblood playing next to me would take out his ribs,\" Olsen said. \"We tried it, but Dobler was a pro at this kind of stuff, and we were amateurs. He\'d been over that route before, so he just turned at the last minute, and Jack wound up hitting me instead. I never tried anything like that again.\"

Well, you know where I stand on this whole issue of legal fouls on defensive players, but you might want to know where I stand on the matter of punishment of any extremely vicious tactic on the field, offense vs. defense or vice versa. This is something I once proposed to a member of the Competition Committee and he had to sit down because he was laughing so hard.

I proposed Biblical justice, the eye-for-an-eye punishment. If the guy who is fouled is forced to leave the game, then the offender is thrown out. If the injured player misses the next game, then the offender is suspended, too. Miss the rest of the season, then so be it for the fouler. If a player\'s career is ended, then it\'s see ya, nice knowing ya, for the guy who put him out.

This sounds like a joke, but I seriously believe in it. It\'ll never happen of course, so until then, all I can do is regularly attend the league meetings and keep repeating my mantra. No cutting unless you\'re face up. Simple rule. No cutting unless you\'re face up.

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the writer.

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