Leafing Through Pages: Analysis of Sports and Other Topics

07/12/2009

The Effect The Zone Blitz Had On the Run and Shoot Offense In the NFL

Dick Lebeau is most famous as being the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1995-1996 and 2004-Present. He also came up with the Zone Blitz in part to counter what Detroit, Houston, and Atlanta were doing with the Run & Shoot Offense. The Zone Blitz is largely credited with partly being the reason why the offense as a base use was driven out of the NFL but is there any proof? I’ve decided to take a look at the game logs from 1989-1991 when LeBeau was defensive coordinator for Cincinnati and 1995-1996 when he was defensive coordinator for Pittsburgh.

Successes
1989 Cincinnati @ Houston: Warren Moon was 17 of 33 for 198 yards and 1 TD vs. 1 INT. I’d call this a success for the zone blitz, although Hoston won 26-24.
1989 Detroit @ Cincinnati: Bob Gagliano and Rodney Peete combined to go 13 of 27 for 171 yards and 0 TD vs. 2 INT.
1989 Houston @ Cincinnati: Warren Moon and Cody Carlson combined to go 16 of 34 for 181 yards and 0 TD vs. 3 INT.
1990 Houston @ Cincinnati: Warren Moon went 25 of 48 for 288 yards and 1 TD vs. 1 INT. Cody Carlson went 1 of 6 for 12 yards and 0 TD vs. 1 INT.
1990 Houston @ Cincinnati (Playoffs): Cody Carlson went 16 of 33 for 165 yards and 2 TD vs. 1 INT.

Failures
1990 Cincinnati @ Houston: Warren Moon went 21 of 33 for 369 yards and 5 TD vs. 1 INT. Cody Carlson came in and was 3 of 7 for 32 yards with 0 TD vs. 0 INT.
1990 Cincinnati @ Atlanta: Chris Miller went 13 of 18 for 124 yards and 2 TD vs. 0 INT.
1991 Houston @ Cincinnati: Warren Moon went 22 of 37 for 315 yards and 1 TD vs. 1 INT.
1991 Cincinnati @ Houston: Warren Moon went 24 of 37 for 289 yards and 3 TD vs. 2 INT. Cody Carlson came in and went 4 of 7 for 92 yards and 1 TD vs. 0 INT.
1996 Pittsburgh @ Atlanta: Bobby Hebert went 24 of 36 for 234 yards and 2 TD vs. 1 INT. Although Pittsburgh won 20-17, Hebert had a good game.

As is the case when looking back, Dick LeBeau and his Zone Blitz scheme had its share of successes but also had a fair bit of failures as well when going up against the Run & Shoot Offense. The key statistic when measuring defense is of course how the team did in the win/loss column. Here’s how Dick’s teams did: 5-5 for a .500 record overall.

So while the Zone Blitz had some impact and may have slowed down the Run & Shoot Offense at times, it’s clear looking back that it wasn’t as shut down as many pundits and media members seem to remember it being.

1 Comment »

  1. 1990 Cincinnati @ Atlanta: Chris Miller went 13 of 18 for 124 yards and 2 TD vs. 0 INT.

    Exactly how is that a failure? They dominated the game by a LARGE AMOUNT!

    Comment by runnshooter — 11/23/2013 @ 11:59 PM | Reply


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