Blue Bomber Report Record: 3–15–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Run more? How about run better

A bad ground game is worse than no ground game

  • Print

It's only Week 2 of the CFL schedule, but we have already been witness to some grumblings from at least one member of the Winnipeg offensive line that wants to run the ball more.

The hope is that, as a result, the offence will be more effective and the offensive lineman's job made easier.

The idea you will hear over and over again in newsprint, is that, "running the ball keeps the defence honest," and it certainly does, but it's never as simple as it sounds.

First and foremost, the threat of a multi-pronged attack will only change the approach of a defensive lineman in a particular kind of defence, a gap- control defence. In this scheme, everybody in the front seven has a gap they are responsible for.

When a team is capable of running the ball, and it is first down, or second and medium, a defender always has to be mindful of his gap responsibility. If your initial step at the snap of the ball is too aggressive, and therefore too long and vertical, and the offence reach blocks you the opposite way, you will lose control of your gap immediately, and that void can be exploited to great effect.

When the threat of the run is real, your first step as a defensive lineman has to be shorter so you can change direction faster to respond to the blocking scheme, and this shorter step is why offensive linemen like being able to run the ball. It makes pass blocking, when you throw on run downs, exponentially easier.

But if I'm a defender in a gap-control defence and I don't respect your ability to run the ball, I switch my approach on every snap to something many call a "jet" technique. The focus of a "jet" technique is simply to get off the ball and get upfield as fast as possible. This is a harder block for offensive linemen to make because the defence is no longer hesitating with that shorter step. They are merely screaming out of the blocks and coming at you and your quarterback without any worry of being overly aggressive.

However, in a defence like Tim Burke ran last year, which is very similar to what is being run this season, there is little difference between a defensive lineman's approach, no matter what down it is.

It is predicated on the front four penetrating and getting upfield, whether it is run or pass, which is simpler and easier to teach, and more of a risk/reward approach. The reward is that you get a lot of tackles for losses in the backfield, putting the offence in second and long. The risk is that when the offence does break a run on you, you are gashed along the lines of what we saw from Andrew Harris in the Grey Cup, when he scored a TD early in the game.

Most defences in the CFL are of the gap-control variety, so a run game is a definite edge to the offensive line, as it keeps the defenders somewhat hesitant in possible run situations. Yet this reality still doesn't make the point for offensive linemen wanting to run the ball more, especially after what we saw Week 1 in B.C. Here's why.

Nine out of 10 offensive co-ordinators want to have a balanced offence. They want to run the ball, they want to be successful running the ball, and they want to have defences respect the threat of that run.

But nine out of 10 offensive co-ordinators will also tell you that if they are losing yards every time they try to run the ball, or gaining at best two or three yards, then they are wasting a down. An incomplete pass is decidedly less harmful than a failed run that makes it second and 13.

While I think it's prudent, even with a poor showing in the first half, to make adjustments at the half and try to re-establish the run in the third quarter, the best way for an offensive line to satisfy an appetite to run the ball, is to run it effectively when the calls are initially made. To get to run the ball more, you have to run the ball well. Everything else is just an excuse.

Doug Brown, once a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays and game days in the Free Press.

Twitter: @DougBrown97

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2012 C2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Blake Wheeler talks about past season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Someone or thing is taking advantage of the inactivity at Kapyong Barracks,hundreds of Canada Geese-See Joe Bryksa’s goose a day for 30 days challenge- Day 15- May 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google