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UFO (Defense) Sighting Possible

We've covered one of the Browns' unusual offensive formations -- the single wing -- so in the interest of equal time, this being the election season and all, let's riff on the quirky package the Browns run on defense: the UFO.

The Browns put the entire defense in an upright stance, with guys milling around, showing different looks. Linebackers and linemen might flop spots. Everything appears chaotic. It's something the Browns will show once or twice per game, and, talking to Jim Zorn, I got the sense he's hoping to get a few cracks at it.

Just reading Zorn's body language, listening to him talk about it, I got the sense that the the Redskins might be able to do some damage against this formation. As I noted earlier in the week, I think running heavy power stuff to one side, and forcing a "UFO" defense to react on the edges is not a bad way to go. Zorn said he would not adopt any particular plays to counter the UFO, but would simply run whatever the team had already planned to call.

"You can't get a real feel for who is going where," Zorn said, "but what happens is as you set up they seem to come to you. We call it circus and it looks like a little circus and they start milling around, and then at the snap of the ball it's a choreographed plan. They don't run it a lot, because you can get gashed on it, but it's a good change-up. It's a change of pace for them."

Zorn seemed intrigued about how some of his plays might work against this defense.

"We're just going to run the play," he said. "If we have a great play on, we could gash them. And if they have a better defense on, well, we're going to get stopped. Now, could they do that all the time? Well, sure."

There is an obvious gamble being made on defense in this formation, however, with players not in a set position and trying to pounce into formation at the last possible second.

"If you're not gap sound, if you don't have a plan, you could get really hurt by milling around," Zorn said. "You could be a step late. So you can only use that so often. I would like to see that all the time."

By Jason La Canfora  |  October 17, 2008; 9:40 AM ET
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Posted by: redpitbull98 | October 17, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't Mangini do this in NYC?

Posted by: Gweez | October 17, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

If you look at all the formation that Madden says implement the UFO, and this is hardly an accurate account of who does, it seams to be a scheme that evolved out of the NE style 3-4 D.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Great way to counter UFO is with some misdirection running plays. When they go into their inital gaps after putzin around there headed one place after their adjustment, a nice cut back and youll have them tripping over themselves.

Posted by: Stu27 | October 17, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

To hype a cool topic on the other segment of the sports blog on the post "the league", sorry, I know thats your job Cindy. But they ask a good question on playoffs format, and I think I came up with a excelent proposal to changing the format but its rather long.
If the NFL ever does expand again (I assume it will be to 40 teams, yikes!) then go to an 8 team playoff per conference and make the first round a Division championship game, this will help divisional rivalries become strong again, and no team should be handed a trophy or title for not playing a championship game.
For now I see only one change I would like to have happened, 7-9 and 8-8 teams should not be allowed in just for wining their conference, unless that record actually gets them in the top 6 teams. So if the Seahawks win the NFC west at 7-9 and the Eagles are sitting at 9-7 at the end of the year, the no 1 WC would supplant the Seahawks. This would make the playoff quality far better and force teams to build to beat the conference and not the division. But if the Seahawks can go 9-7 & the no 3 in the WC race is 10-6 than the Seahawks are still in.
It only happens every 3-5 years but let’s get rid of it anyway. No team should ever be allowed in the playoffs at .500 or less unless there are not enough teams to fit the format.

Posted by: alex35332

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree! The ARE reverse/pass play could really cause some damage to the UFO.

Posted by: siris | October 17, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Bellicheck has been doing the same "UFO" for a few years now
Where else does Romeo get his stuff from.

Posted by: Stu27 | October 17, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

See I think you just go up the B gap and have those big line men knock everyone back on their butts

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Why not stick to the power ground game when they line up in the UFO?

As for the single wing, it's just a different look trying to confuse the D. If the defensive formations are sound, and players stay at home(big if sometimes), we should be ok.

If we're ready to play(ie...control lines of scrimmage and time of possession) I think we'll be okay...barring the turnover bug!

Posted by: cosomfla | October 17, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Also am I right in thinking that the best way to go against the Wing is a 7 in the box cover zone?

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

got to wonder why when Vick was in Atl they never did single wing.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

It could be a long day for the Skins if Springs, Smoot and Horton are out this Sunday. Springs tweaked his calf, Smoot is doubtful with a groin and Horton is questionable with an ankle. This doesn't bode well after Anderson and Edwards woke up last week.

Kareem is raw and Torrence is shaky. Skins better plan on having a good, strong ground attack and keep the Browns offense off the field.

Posted by: redpitbull98 | October 17, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

jasno, please please please please please please don't pick the skins this week on your video thingmajiggie...

Posted by: dealer1 | October 17, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Viny said Horton will play.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"...Smoot is doubtful with a groin."

Posted by: redpitbull98 | October 17, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | October 17, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

man this thing is dead

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

“We didn’t deserve it, but the Titans in the playoffs?” he said. “Tampa Bay? The Redskins! You can’t tell me we couldn’t beat the damn Redskins.”

Braylon Edwards last year.

Posted by: Gweez | October 17, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

The injury report for the secondary from "The Vinny Show" C-los will play, Smoot's 50/50, Springs is the worst of the three health wise.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Springs is a great player...when he does play. Problem is he can't stay healthy. They're paying him a huge salary and he's never willing to renogotiate. I love the guy but it might be time to move on next season. Carlos is a beast this year. He's changed his habits...dropped the clubbing, gets in his film work and stays after practice to work on conditioning and rehab. Just goes to show what a little focus can do for you.

Posted by: redpitbull98 | October 17, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I don't mind the number of the teams in the playoffs but i think they should be seeded according to record. An 11-5 wild card team shouldn't have to play an away game against a 9-7 division winner. It's just not right.

Also, I think the Wildcat formation in DC would be fantastic with Randle-El behind center and JC split out.

The Jets ran the UFO against us last season. It look cool, but seems pointless. the O line knows to block the guy in front of them and the backs pick up anyone who gets through.

Posted by: Original_etrod | October 17, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

The Wildcat may win a few game for the Fins but it will eventually go the way of the 'Run N Shoot'. Those systems rarely seem to go far in the playoffs. I guess the Rams ran somewhat of a Run N Shoot with their Greatest Show on Turf but the Oilers could never get past the title game with it. I'll never forget the Bills coming back from a huge deficit against Warren Moon in Houston. That seemed to end the fascination with the Run N Shoot

Posted by: redpitbull98 | October 17, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Did Springs come back too soon from his calf injury?? Get the thing fixed and don't bring him back to soon. These friggin calf injuries are killing me.

Okay, what d-backs are available? we need some semi-quality relief in the secondary!

Posted by: cosomfla | October 17, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Springs should never practice, he is a risk to get injured at any point. He is very fragile. I love the guy, he is a great player and a shutdown corner but he it seems with his age that he is made of paper.

Posted by: Skins28 | October 17, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: Cindy Boren | October 17, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse


The Wildcat is a change of pace formation, It's kind of like an offensive version of a blitz or cover 2. The Run and Shoot is an offensive philosophy. It works like magic in college where teams can have superior talent to others but when the playing field is leveled it fails.

Posted by: Original_etrod | October 17, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Gotcha Etrod. Miami has been running it a bit more than others and it appears to be successful for them. I guess my point is that defenses will eventually catch up to it. Thanks for the clarification though. Good lookin out!

Posted by: redpitbull98 | October 17, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I think you are right, it just is a matter of time till the NFL re-learns how to block the scheme.

Posted by: alex35332 | October 17, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Running a power run vs the UFO defense would probably be the best bet (although power running depends on the personel group on the field). If the Skins drop back to pass, the defense has a good chance of confusing the pass protection and putting pressure on JC. The hot route would be the best pass although it might take a bit longer to read who drops back into short coverage since many defenders are all standing and moving around near the line of scrimmage. A run would be the best option, but from Zorns comments looks like the Skins wont audible when they see this, he said they would just run what they had called. I would have JC ready to call an audible when they show UFO whether they like run or pass vs this defense. Im not sure how Zorn feels about JC audibling at this stage, but I think it would be ideal since Cleveland only runs this defense a couple times a game.

Posted by: TonyButterFingersHomo1 | October 17, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I think so too Alex. Miami was desperate for wins and they resorted to an alignment that no NFL DC's were prepared for. They caught their opponents off guard but eventually they figure out how to defend that stuff.

Posted by: redpitbull98 | October 17, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

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