Football is littered with specialized terminology. From punt gunner to climbing the pocket, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.
The vertical set is a version of the kick-slide that an offensive tackle utilizes to achieve depth in the quickest way possible. Through use of the drive-catch™ phase, offensive tackles set vertically (straight back) in order to cut off the path of pass-rushers to the QB. This technique requires deliberate and explosive movements off of the drive leg in order to generate the necessary force to move the body backwards at a high rate of speed. The initial drive off the inside leg sets in motion each subsequent movement, and is the key to achieving the desired set point that intersects the rusher.
The vertical set is most often used when the offensive line is tasked with creating a tall, narrow pocket for the QB, as opposed to a flat, wide pocket. It also is most effective against speed rushers who are aligned in wide-9 techniques off the edge, but can work against a variety of other defensive alignments as well.
Seen here, from the Cleveland Browns’ Week 15 matchup with Seattle, Joe Thomas has DE Bruce Irvin (#51) aligned in a wide-9 technique to his left, and RT Mitchell Schwartz has DE Frank Clark (#55) aligned in a wide-9 technique to his right.
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Both tackles execute vertical sets, with the interior three offensive lineman tasked with providing the quarterback room to step up once the outside rushers move past the quarterback’s spot. The tackles are put in a great position to cut-off speed rushes to the outside because of their straight line path to their set points but, because a narrow pocket is formed, they are much closer to the quarterback and must be hyper-sensitive to the pass-rusher converting speed-to-power into a bull rush, which could push the tackles into the quarterback’s lap.
This requires the hips of the tackles to stay square for as long as possible (to not give the rusher a two-way go) and a strong anchor. Cleveland was one of the teams that set their tackles vertical in 2015, creating a tall, narrow pocket for their quarterbacks to step up into.