The language of football is often confusing: play calls, alignments, techniques, and concepts litter the commentary and writing about the game. Inside the Pylon wants everyone to understand and appreciate the game more deeply, so our glossary entries will give you a clear explanation and a video example. We hope you learn something and enjoy the games in a new way.
Double A Gap Blitz
A defensive maneuver in which two linebackers execute a blitz through both A gaps (on either side of the center) in order to apply pressure on the quarterback as quickly as possible by taking the shortest linear route to the passer. A variant, the Crossfire blitz, has the linebackers cross over each other’s path, switching sides and blitzing through the A gap opposite their initial alignment in a maneuver similar to a stunt or twist by defensive linemen.
The Philadelphia Eagles line up with six men on the line of scrimmage, with linebackers on each shoulder of the center Daniel Kilgore (#67). At the snap, the wide players drop in coverage, and four Eagles are facing six San Francisco 49ers blockers, five of whom are awful on the play. Left tackle Joe Staley (#74) takes care of his assignment, leaving left guard Mike Iupati (#77), right guard Alex Boone (#75), right tackle Anthony Davis (#76) and running back Frank Gore (#21) against three Eagle rushers. All of whom eventually share in the sack of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The 49ers clearly expected the linebackers over Kilgore to drop and the edge players to rush. Both guards look outside off the snap, and they are both out of the play milliseconds after the QB has the ball. Kilgore has no chance once Boone and Gore misjudge the direction and location of the blitzers. That Fletcher Cox (#91) flat-out beats Davis is the icing on the cake and there’s a meeting at the quarterback.
Good offensive lines usually block the Double A Gap Blitz, especially with a running back assisting in pass protection. As you can see, it is the outside focus of both guards and Gore that allows the rushers to spring free. While Trent Cole (#58) eventually beats Kilgore and Cox escapes Davis, it is Casey Matthews (#50) who forces Kaepernick to scramble before completing his drop. If either Boone or Gore gets into Matthews path, Kaepernick steps up and escapes the pressure.
Teams will show the Double A Gap Blitz far more often than they will utilize it. Some, like Philadelphia, use the threat of the interior rush to create one-on-one matchups for their edge rushers, a tactic known as “sugaring the A gap.” This is where coordinators earn their keep – disguise and the unexpected, resulting in a big play.
The ITP Glossary is curated by Mark Brown. Others contributing to this entry are Jake Vincent, Mark Schofield, and James Mastrangelo.
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