There’s a special challenge for linebackers in defending jet sweep motion. When they see it, they forget everything they’ve been taught and start chasing the shiny object. The Jet Sweep run play is a lot more dangerous because of what it does to your defenders, than it is as an actual yardage gainer.
This week’s JDFB Quick Clinic focuses on how to adjust to Jet Sweep motion. It doesn’t matter what defensive front you’re running, because your defensive front shouldn’t be the ones trying to stop the jet sweep. This is more about your coverage.
Threats from Jet Sweep Motion
There are more threats from the jet sweep motion than just the jet sweep itself. Your plan for defending the motion starts with knowing the biggest threats it creates for your defense.
Along with the jet sweep, you need to be ready for plays that can attack your defensive front. Those include the Jet Read variation of Power Read, and any inside run game where the jet sweep motion is just being used as window dressing.
You’ll also need to be ready for passing concepts that use the flat route that is usually run by the sweeper. Concepts like Curl-Flat, Slant-Arrow or any number of 3×1 passing concepts will threaten your coverage. And there’s always the possibility of an RPO to the sweeper if your force defender loses his leverage.
How to Adjust Your Defense
The adjustments for defending jet sweep motion all start with an understanding of run fits. You need to know how the umbrella works. Check out my article on Umbrella Principle run fits to learn the simplest way to get your players to understand their role in stopping the run.
Spill defenders under the umbrella must stay focused on their key reads. Nothing about the jet sweep will hurt you as bad as having linebackers and defensive ends jumping outside at the sight of motion. Then you’re trying to stop Inside Zone with 4 or 5 spill defenders left.
The jet sweep is handled by your force defender and the alley defender. They need to be ready to shut it down.
Start with your force defender. Pull the alignment lever to get him wide enough to stop the sweep. Don’t forget that he’ll need to maintain that width in case of RPO’s to the sweeper after the initial mesh.
You can also roll an alley defender over. When moving from double formations to Trips with the jet sweep, I always want to ‘Check Roll’ to a 1/4, 1/4, 1/2 coverage. That way you get your alley defender in better position to come down and help out on the play.
For all the details on how to defend jet sweep motion, check out this week’s podcast below!