This past weekend I had the pleasure of hearing formers Raiders assistant OL Coach Tim Holt speak on Bunch Run Game Concepts. One of the concepts Holt spoke about was “DUO”. Duo seems to have taken over the social media coaching fraternity in the last year. I first heard about duo about 2 years ago. I saw a few diagrams and saw a few cut ups of a play quite often called “Power without the puller”. I REALLY started to notice it more and more watching NFL games this past season.
At first glance it can appear like just another Inside Zoneplay; I think it is a bit more powerful, with better angles like you get in GAP schemes.
Coach Holt did an excellent job of explaining how they teach it and the key to making it all work.
The play starts with the Center “ID”ing the Will LB(#1 LB). He will work with the BSG to double team on a path to pick up the Will.
The BST can work OUT on the backside DE similar to how he would by himself on an inside zone block.
The PSG and PST can double back on the DT on a track toward MIKE(#2 LB) like how they would on Power. Coach Holt made a very specific point that they ONLY need to worry about the Mike IF he fills A gap. They don’t need to worry about him if he goes over the top into B gap because the RB is reading him (more on this later).
The TE and 2 WRs in the bunch are what make the play work. The TE (aligned off the ball) kicks the DE out.
The 2 WRs in the bunch HAVE to account for the #3 LB(Sam in the diagrams below). This was Holt’s biggest key to making the play work. Duo can only work if they are able to get #3 blocked. Their general rule is to “zone it” both working inside to pick up the #3 LB and the next closest box threat (Diagram 1).
If the defense aligns with a defender heavy on the point man on the bunch, they can also use a fold scheme… having the point man block out, and the other WR go behind him to pick up #3 (Diagram 2).
The last blocking variation they use is to Push the outside bunch WR to Safety when they see a Cloud Corner… they figure the Corner can’t make a tackle on an inside run so they are better off getting the safety blocked (Diagram3).
The success of the play is built around being able to block #3 (drawn above as the Sam). IF the QB feels the WR can’t get to him because of his alignment (too far inside or too shallow) the QB must check out of the play. They would most often just check to Stretch to the bunch (Diagram 4), which makes sense if Sam is playing tighter inside or they can check to a pass concept.
RB READ: The RB is READING the Mike LB. This is what allows the PSG/PST to focus on their double team getting vertical push… whichever gap Mike fills, the RB should cut into the opposite gap.
I like this version of Duo from the bunch set. I have always felt that GAP doubles are more physical than zone doubles and this scheme allows you to get 2 double teams. By using Bunch you can usually get a consistent alignment from the Defense.
They just opened up and handed the ball off to the back… his aiming point being outside leg of the guard, and let him read the Mike.
Some teams, specifically the New England Patriots work almost counter steps/mesh in the backfield in an effort to freeze the LBs which lets them stay with the double teams longer.
This concept is also often run from 21 or 12 personnel as well. Using one TE to block OUT on the DE and using a FB or off the ball TE to account for #3.
Below is a clip James A Light posted of Sean Kugler talking Duo when he was with the Steelers.
Here is a solid play action scheme from the New England Patriots (you can also see the counter like Qb/RB mesh in the backfield). This is from Ted Nguyen.