PJ Gibbs Brings The Pressure [AFCA Virtual Clinic Series]

PJ Gibbs Brings The Pressure [AFCA Virtual Clinic Series]

In this virtual clinic session, P.J. Gibbs, the Defensive Coordinator at Palmetto Ridge High School (FL), covers 2-4-5 Nickel Package concepts and 4-down pressures he uses to make the offense uncomfortable.

Primary Goals

Prior to installing coverages and packages on defense, there must be goals to drive success. Coach Gibbs emphasizes an equation that he uses as an overall goal for his defensive unit. This equation is (S+T-X=W) which means (Sacks + Turnovers – Explosive Plays = Wins). Other goals include winning with a desire to excel and become great. It is vitally important for players and coaches to not become complacent as the season goes on, but to continually improve and sharpen skills.

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“If you ask my athletes, I say this probably 100 times a day, ‘You don’t wake up to be average,’” said Coach Gibbs. “What are you going to do to be better every day?”

Some of the more defense specific metrics that Coach Gibbs highlighted include:

  • Create one more turnover than TD
  • Intercept 2 of 15 passes
  • No runs over 20 yards
  • No rushing TDs in the Red Zone
  • Hold opponents to 3.3 yds/carry
  • No passes over 25 yards
  • You have a 93% chance of not allowing a score if you get a sack on a drive

Personnel Fit

Coach Gibbs reflects on his time as a 4-3 minded coach, but ultimately believes that to be successful, you need to fit what is best for your personnel. After graduating some key players on his defense, Coach Gibbs did some research and discovered that the best fit with his given personnel is a 2-4-5 concept. This allows for the best defensive players to capitalize on their strengths while countering what the offense will likely run.

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“My goal as a coordinator is to frustrate the quarterback,” said Coach Gibbs.

Bringing The Pressure

One sure way to frustrate a quarterback is by bringing pressure against him. Out of the Nickel Package, Coach Gibbs likes to show simulated pressure up-front, which alters the pre-snap protection calls. The purpose of the blitz shown below is to bring pressure from the boundary while maintaining trap coverage.


This next concept brings pressure while covering the crossing routes. For Coach Gibbs, the call is Nickel Rat. The quarterback will feel the pressure of the linebackers, but won’t have an easy-open target to throw to on the crossing routes. Communication is key with this concept, so the players know exactly where their landmarks are at.

This pressure scenario is one of Coach Gibbs’ favorite to utilize. With a “Magic” call, athletes are able to bring pressure and make plays. This concept uses trap coverage in the secondary, but ultimately forces a quick and uncomfortable decision by the quarterback.

Coach Gibbs also highlights a unique take on Thunder, a boundary blitz concept. This allows for the corner on the boundary side to bring pressure against the quarterback while the safeties roll over and play trap coverage to the boundary. One issue with this install is getting the safeties eyes over the number one wide receiver.

Coach Gibbs also highlighted six different blitzes that he has installed at PRHS; Clemson, Jump, BlueJay, Panther, Bama, and Michigan. Each of these blitzes is disguised with simulated pressure.

For a complete breakdown of each coverage, blitz, or pressure situation listed tune into Coach Gibbs’ Virtual Clinic. To view numerous other videos, please log in to your AFCA membership account and search through the AFCA Educational Library.

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