Spy-Backer Defense

Some of you might have read the recent Ask Vic on

He was asked about his high praise for Nick Perry and the reasons for that high praise and answered by describing him as a "Spy-Baker", meaning a big, athletic player that can play in space, take away the outside run and chase down QBs or other gimmick runners on the outside. (Kaep, RGIII, Wilson, but I'd assume also players like Percy Harvin or GBs Randall Cobb when they line up in the backfield)

This idea got me thinking. How would a defense look that incorporates the spy-baker? I'm guessing that Mr. Ketchman simply meant it as an OLB that wasn't full out rushing when facing certain offensive sets, but kind of standing back to let the play develop and then react.

However, The way I see it, to successfully run a high pressure defense, you have to bring pressure from both sides of the line, otherwise a good QB will just roll out and complete a pass. So if you have a player like Perry spying on the QB or some other gimmick offensive player, how do you set up the rest of the defense to be able to stop both the run, and the pass?

The way I see such a defense working, is the following:

The defensive line shifts over to one side a little bit, while the Rush-Backer (Matthews) moves a little closer to the line of scrimmage. The Nose Tackle moves from the 0-technique, right across from the Center, to the 1-or even 2-technique, lining up in across from the gap between Center and Right Guard. The DT on the side of the Rush-Backer moves in closer, and lines up as basically a 3-technique, across from the gap between Left Tackle and Left Guard. DT and NT are responsible for the gaps they're lined up across off, and share responsibility for the gap between C and LG. The Rush Backer is responsible for the outside run and basically goes one on one with the LT. On the other side, the DT turns into a true DE, going up one on one against the RT. He, too, has outside responsibility, as well as shared responsibility for the gap between RG and RT with one of the ILB.

The Spy-Backer lines up a few yards off the line of scrimmage, right across the Center. He's ready to rush any gap, or to go sideline to sideline when the QB starts moving out of the pocket in any direction.

The ILBs have different responsibilities. One has shared responsibility for the gap between RG and RT together with the rush-end. On top of that this ILB has outside support on that side of the line or could drop back in a shallow zone coverage, though not deep, because of the run responsibilities. This ILB would be the bigger ILB, the thumper, to stop the run, unless there's a TE lined up to this side of the line. In that case, the ILB would have to have good coverage skills and take on the TE.

The other TE will play a little deeper and serves somewhat of a cleaner role. He's there to clean up all kinds of plays, over the middle as well as to the outside. On top of that, he could drop anywhere in coverage, from shallow to deep.

Behind this front seven, I believe you can play a variety of different coverage schemes, from 2 deep, to Tampa 2 with the more cleaner ILB dropping deep to straight man.

I hope that this is some food for thought and not too cryptic in the description. I meant to add two illustrations, but failed to figure out how!

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