With the Inside Zone becoming popular defenses are beginning to create ways to give the Quarterback false reads and force the least dynamic ball carrier to end up with the ball. When done effectively this can leave the offense grabbing at straws in an attempt to get their best player touches. By using the Bluff Tag Off of the Inside Zone Play the offense can counter the defensive strategies to stop the run and ensure the ball ends up in their playmakers hands.
Using the Bluff Tag Off of the Inside Zone Play
Defensive Coordinators are constantly working to find solutions to counter the latest developments by the offense. When the Inside Zone Read began to decimate defenses by reading the C gap player on the backside of the zone defenses needed to find a way to ensure they were protected against the A gap run from the Running Back and the threat of the Quarterback keeping the ball around the edge.
(See Also) Inside Zone Wham Series
To counter the Inside Zone Read they started using the Scrape Exchange. In the Scrape Exchange, the C gap defender is going to chase after the Running Back and force a pull from the Quarterback (if the Quarterback doesn’t hand the ball off he will make the tackle on the Running Back behind the line of scrimmage). Because there will be a pull read that will leave the Quarterback with the ball, the linebacker will scrape to the C gap and tackle the Quarterback as he comes off the mesh. When it is run effectively it shuts down the Zone Read play and can lead to some huge hits on the Quarterback.
Not to be outdone Offensive Coordinators started turning to the Bluff Tag. In the Bluff Tag the Quarterback will open like he is going to run the traditional Mesh off of the Inside Zone. The difference in the Bluff Tag is that once he holds the position he will then run a Speed Option out to the read side. By showing the mesh the C Gap defender will scrape down preparing to make the tackle on the Running Back which will take him out of the play. As the Linebacker scrapes off the C Gap expecting to catch the Quarterback blind, the Quarterback will pitch the ball to the Running Back who has gotten into pitch relationship. The result is that the ball is in the hands of the most dynamic runner in space.
While the Bluff is good for a first down it’s impact is much bigger than that. By showing the defenders that the offense can open up and show the Inside Zone Read before attacking the edge, they slow down the games that defenses and defensive coordinators play. The result is they protect the Inside Zone scheme which the rest of the offense is built around.
(See Also) Inside Zone Wham