Ron Chenoy/USA Today

College To NFL: Training Dancing Bears

In Part II of his 'Dancing Bears' piece, Doc Bear evaluates Broncos OT Michael Schofield, the zone blocking scheme and how the second-year player has acclimated to it.

Talk abounded about Michael Schofield after the third preseason game. I’d seen differing things, so I took to the film. It’s a useful way to clarify someone’s play.

I spent a lot of time sitting with the clicker and a 32-inch high-def screen, watching Schofield on every play in the second half of the San Francisco 49ers game. I began to realize what the Denver Broncos were doing. They were not running much of the full stretch zone blocking that Alex Gibbs brought to an artform. It’s was the mix, but not key—in this preseason game, at least. It’s preseason. The scheme was vanilla.

Other than his pass blocking, Schofield was in on a series of outside zone and inside zone runs, with just an occasional full stretch zone run. The term ‘zone blocking’ can mean three things. It’s not just the Alex Gibbs format.

The three are inside zone, outside zone and full stretch zone blocking (Gibbs). Every team in the league runs some inside and outside zone runs. The full stretch zone was run to perfection in Houston under head coach Gary Kubiak, but it’s not common.

Right now Kubiak’s running a hybrid scheme that accommodates Peyton Manning’s passing game, as well as the usual Gibbs blocking scheme. The outcome is that the term ‘zone blocking’ doesn’t mean what it did in Houston.

Schofield, by the way, missed on a few pass pro blocks. He expected help from the right guard on one and didn’t get it. I think he needs to anchor better. He has to ride the defender a bit farther outside past the QB. That’s an angles issue. Sometimes he lets the defender get too close for the next level.

It was his only third preseason game of the year and he had a slightly above average performance. Pro Football Focus has him in positive grades the last two games. Given the issues for lineman coming out of college, that’s pretty good. I thought that he looked like good material, just not yet completed. 

The offensive line is perhaps the most technical of all the positions. I’ve written on drive blocks, combo blocks, inside zone blocking, reach blocks and the full stretch zone blocking. The whole outside zone block scheme is discussed in that grouping.

Each of these forms of blocking—along with many others—require tremendous amounts of time to internalize. Too few assistants know all the key details and are capable of teaching them. It takes deep knowledge to have the expertise required to answer the inevitable slew of questions that teaching them will bring.

It’s not going to be an easy situation to cure. Somehow, we need to get the information to the college kids before they’re training for the Combine. Hopefully, talking about it is a first step.

Don't Miss Part I of Doc's 'Dancing Bears' piece. Click HERE.

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Doc Bear is a Featured Columnist for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @alloverfatman.

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