In my coaching career, I have noticed that Double Teams, while they serve the same purpose (moving the down lineman) are vastly different depending on the scheme. Differences are minuscule but that is the point of Offensive Line play and being successful playing and coaching the position depends on the small details. My Number One small detail is Aim Points. I believe everything stems from understanding our aim points pre-snap, from steps, sets, pulls, and of course double teams.
Of course, there are a million and one ways to skin a cat but as I describe my coaching method and double teams concept I will be referring to 1/2 Man concepts unless otherwise noted. I believe, especially for our Offense at Bethany College, that linemen benefit from a 1/2 half concept since we heavily depend on our Inside and Outside Zone plays. While we do a considerable amount of gap schemes and we try to emulate similar steps to our zone concepts to keep it as simple as possible.
4 Steps For A Successful Double Team
Four steps are taught to my OL are a 6 inch, a lead step referred to as a “Zone Step”, a 6-8 inch, depth step called a “Bucket Step”, the third step is called a “Tough Step with a Hard Shoulder” and a “Drop Step.”
The Tough Step is the foundation of the double team as the person who is taking it, Posts the D-Linemen up for the Driver to move the double team. The Tough Step actually consists of two steps. The first step is having the uncovered foot of OL pick up and put down in place. There are some caveats to this first step due to the athleticism of individuals; the first step shouldn’t cause the OL to rise up at all, the picking up and putting down needs to be relatively quick. More imperatively though, the man taking this step cannot false step (step backward) or escape.
Escaping the block is taking a lateral step and having their body position removed from their 1/2 half position on DL. However, it is acceptable for a Poster to step laterally as long as they do not move their body position from their original alignment. False stepping or stepping laterally and moving body position will inevitably make the driver have to work that much harder to get their aim point due to the immediate upfield pressure from the DL. If an athlete struggles with keeping their first step in the same spot or moving laterally without moving body position there are some corrective exercises that can be done. For false stepping, stand directly behind their first foot with either your toe or in-step touching their heel.
What is very beneficial for correcting or ensuring the small mistakes do not translate over to play, is breaking the motion of each step individually, executing each step multiple times before progressing to the next. For taking the lateral step, there is an extensive amount of band work around the ankle and pulling at the waist opposite of the first foot stepping. Along with standing right next to the first foot with your own to get them frightened to step on your foot.
As the poster is making contact, he has to remember that he is playing 1/2 man and his responsibility is to stand the DL up or Post Him Up to allow for the driver to take over. To accomplish his job, the poster will take his second step upfield trying to “Knee the DL in Crotch”. This step should be relatively fast, gaining an adequate amount of ground. This will change depending on each athlete’s leg length and relative bend.
For my athletes, I tell them to take at least a 6-inch step upfield to ensure that they are moving vertical and getting their footing as fast as possible. I do not allow for their second step not to move or step backward. If this is happening, you must reassess their first step (stepping up field too far or false stepping). Contact with DL should happen as the second step hits the ground. The key to getting the DL’s pad level up is by the use of the covered arm and hip of the Poster.
As always there are multiple ways of getting a DL posted up in regards to use of the covered arm. For my athletes, I teach them to “get their whole arm in the block” by using “A Bruce Lee Uppercut.” What I mean by “getting their whole arm in the block,” is using their hand, elbow, and shoulder to drive an uppercut into the breastplate of DL.
The uppercut should start with the hand in the holster and is thrown with the hip pop as the second step hits the ground. When contact is made the hand should be in the breastplate, the hand placement should be right down the middle of the breastplate at the bottom of the shoulder pads. I teach hands to have fingers angled out and thumbs slightly up, “creating a Nike swoosh.”
The reasoning behind the Nike swoosh is for optimal hand grabbing ability and to keep their elbow in alignment. OL’s elbow is directly below and in line, tight to the body, driving up through the hand. The shoulder needs to be as close as possible to the hand, as a fail safe if the uppercut does miss. It does also help with driving the DL up, an athlete just needs to be aware that too much shoulder lean will not allow for an effective uppercut and is susceptible to losing balancing when making contact with DL. As a Poster engages in contact with DL, he will need to continually try to “knee the defender in the crotch” with his covered leg, drive up not out (extension) with the covered arm, and pump uncovered arm and leg upfield to create drive vertically.
It will be extremely difficult to move the defender substantially off the line scrimmage. All that I ask for is for them to win at contact and drive for one whole second. If they can do this, the Driver should be at his point of contact taking over the double team.
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From a technique standpoint, the Driver has more options of how he wants or should attack the defender. Once again there are many ways of accomplishing an end goal of creating a solid double team that creates vertical movement and allows for a clean release for one of the linemen to take on a linebacker. For my athletes, and their driver/ down blocking technique, I teach a natural drop step. It is a cross between a bucket and point and step, where the OL opens up slightly to allow them to get on a proper angle to attack their aim point. The aim point for any gap scheme double team as Driver is “Down the middle of the defender in relations to you.”
This aim point is a generalization and a guiding rule to allow OL to cover up their half a DL with their whole body. I believe that if an athlete is given a defined aim point on gap schemes that they will have a higher potential to slip off the block as they try to get their head and feet across to reach their aim point. Hence, if a man is angled towards me so that I am only able to drive on his near shoulder, my aim point will be that shoulder as it is the middle of the man in relation to me. With the Driver’s aim point relatively defined, their first step will reflect their aim point. As a defender gets further away, the more drop an OL’s step will have; the tighter a DL the flatter the step will be. If we are running a zone concept, the driver’s aim point is dependent upon if he is frontside or backside of the call. If frontside, the aim point is inside “V” of the neck and if backside the aim point is frontside “V” of the neck, getting their hat across is imperative to ensure the Poster is able to come off and that the DL does not shed the block and make an arm tackle at the line of scrimmage. Their steps will be a 6-inch “zone” step or a “bucket” step to get to their aim point.
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The mechanics of being the Driver requires them to attack fast on his aim point shooting his hands from their holsters, making contact on both sides of the aim point. I try to keep it as simple as possible for the Driver because I want them to solely focus on moving the down DL. With that being said there some coaching tools that have to be employed. Often I see athletes who are hell bent on knocking the defender out in one blow that they end up knocking the poster off his path making the double team go sideways.
I give them an analogy of being a “mass shooter” or an “assassin” too focus on the aim point and attack it more than anything else. The double team itself is tricky as it works up to a linebacker, it requires two guys to work in unison, acting as an extension of one another, which is a tough concept to develop if they have not learned about each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
How I coach it, is by having one guy in charge of guiding the double to the double team (poster) and a workhorse (driver). The poster will have the eyes on the Linebacker and will communicate who needs to come off to attack the Linebacker with either a “Me, Me” or “You, You” call. Driver’s eyes are buried into the block only worried about what the Poster is directing him to do. If a Poster is to come off ( “Me, Me” call) for a LB he will and should naturally slide off with his free arm and leg to attack the LB with high foot fire and repent ankles and knees to give another hip pop. The driver will resume his role of driving the whole man now by blocking his 1/2 man rule and aim point. If a Driver is to come off (“You, You” call) for a LB, he will extend his innermost arm to finish the drive to push the defender across the Poster’s face and to propel himself off the block onto the next level. As the Driver is giving this final push, the Poster will take his uppercut hand to literally drag the defender across his face, giving him proper leverage to man block the defender. If done effectively the Poster will not have to spend much effort in dragging as he can use much of the momentum from the Driver to drag the defender.
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As far as technique goes, everything has its strengths and weaknesses. There is no doubt that this technique on double teams that I have just described is impervious to this. I believe this technique is great because it allows for optimal movement of down linemen and its ability to get up to Linebackers for both Poster and Driver. The downside is not much hip to hip action in the double team; I usually end up seeing the Driver slightly behind the Poster, more of a thigh to thigh concept, creating a small gap for the DL to slip through. Along with the transition of a Driver coming off for a LB; if there is not enough movement by the Driver or the Poster doesn’t drag the DL across his face in that small amount of time, an Offense could be in some trouble, especially if the ball carriers aim point is near or at the double team. But like I said at the beginning of the article Offensive Line play revolves around the small details and it can either make or break plays for you.
Jeremy Macauley returns for his second year as an assistant coach on Bill Garvey’s staff, where we will coach the offensive line. Macauley’s offensive line helped pave the way for Second-Team All-PAC performer Raekwon Wright to average 5.3 yards per carry in 2017, the sixth-highest total in the PAC. A three-year starter Division I Nevada, Macauley started 35 games over four seasons at guard for the Wolf Pack under former Head Coach Brian Polian.