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How to block two guys on a field goal

When I posted this item about Fred Davis and the blocked field goal the other day, a few people asked me -- via e-mail and comments -- how one player was supposed to block two rushing defenders. Seems tough. And yet, when you take the holder and kicker [and the deep defender] out of the equation, it's obvious that someone will have to successfully execute a one-on-two.

Sadly, asking Mike Shanahan to explain how it works would yield as many valuable insights as asking my dishwasher. Happily, I suddenly realized who would be able to help. Chris Cooley.

Cooley, if you haven't noticed, would actually be a terrific broadcaster one day, if he wanted to stay around football instead of setting up a pottery studio in some patch of Wyoming wilderness. And he was happy to help, especially since he plays the same position as Davis on field goals, except on the opposite side. And let me emphasize that he was just trying to help explain the principles, not give away strategy or blame his teammate for Sunday's block.

"The wing is responsible for two gaps in the field-goal protection," Cooley began. "The inside gap he protects with a stab with his inside arm, and he interlocks legs with the [adjoining] end. So he sets up at a little bit of an angle, and his first step is to interlock legs with the end, which stops someone jumping through that gap. (They'll try to jump through that gap, which also sucks, because their knee rams into my thigh every single time.)

"So, stab and punch with your inside. And then our goal is just to hit that outside guy. You don't have to block him. The time of the field-goal operation, combined with you touching him, creates enough time to get the field goal off. If the wing hits the outside guy, there's no chance he can get there. And I'm not selling out Fred, because he had perfect technique, he just missed with his arm. And he wasn't trying to miss."

How much contact would Davis have needed to make with Bernard Pollard to prevent the block?

"[Just] touch him," Cooley said. "Touch him."

Cooley said the wing player on the "field side" of the field-goal operation will always be facing two defenders, since the overload is placed in the direction the ball will travel. Thus, on the blocked kick -- which came from the left hash -- Cooley faced just one man, while Davis was responsible for two.

"So when third down ends, you look and see what hash you're on, and go this is gonna be [crappy], or this is gonna be easy," Cooley said.

And the [crappiness], he explained, is not a mental challenge, but a strictly physical one.

"You're getting bum rushed," Cooley said, "and to then try to dive out and get a piece of that guy, it's pretty hard."

And so sometimes you get the touch. And sometimes you miss, and the defender flies into the path of the ball, and you wind up 1-1 instead of 2-0. That's me talking, not Cooley, incidentally.

Thanks to Cooley for his help on this.

By Dan Steinberg  | September 22, 2010; 4:01 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Nice breakdown. Thanks!

Posted by: CByrd1 | September 22, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse


You need to get a tele-screen and do this with Cooley every week or something.

Also, ask Chris if he would be interested in doing color work once Sam and Sonny retire?

Posted by: alex35332 | September 22, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. I was one of those that thought it's not fair to blame to Davis for blocking 2 guys...but I guess I was wrong. So, don't miss the guy with your arm next time Freddy D.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 22, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Sam and Sonny, did anyone listen to Sam in the booth? Respectfully, I think he needs to step out of the booth. Several times late in the game, he asked why Kareem Moore wasn't on the field, and similar comments that were quite embarassing for him. Perhaps they can give him an honorary chair and take away his mike.

Posted by: hj12 | September 22, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Please do this sort of thing more often. It is much better than hearing the latest on a defensive linemen with pockets too heavy to get on the field.

Posted by: SCDowns | September 22, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Davis and Cooley take turns getting bumrushed by two guys while Jammal Brown has nobody to block so he doubles some guy who has no chance of blocking the kick. There's gotta be a better way.

Posted by: FrancoNiell | September 23, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Interesting. Good piece. It also looks from the photo that Gano should have sped up is his kick a little. From the looks of the last photo there's no way that defender should have made it in time to get a piece of the kick if Gano is already into his kicking motion.

Posted by: rpetersen | September 23, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, why can't we get this kind of analysis on RI? Great work, Dan.

Posted by: crashinghero | September 23, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I blame Vinny

Posted by: jpfterps | September 23, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

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