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Denver Broncos X's and O's: Psycho front

Continuing our series on every sack the Broncos registered last season, this time around we are treated with a "Psycho" front.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

What is a "Psycho" front?

The easiest way to identify a psycho front is by watching how many players are standing around or meandering around the line of scrimmage. The key to a psycho front is to camouflage the defenses' intention ie front, who's rushing, who's dropping, is it a blitz etc. You might have a couple guys set in a three-point stance, but for the most part, you're going to get a whole bunch non-structure. Before we go any further let me show you how it looked in this instance:


You have two guys set to the top of the formation. Malik Jackson is your 3-tech, Wolfe your 7 or 8 tech. From there you have four linebackers (labeled) and two corners standing in a bunch inside the box. Von Miller (2) is meandering in the middle and will act as a spy on QB Andrew Luck on this play. TJ Ward (3) is being deployed as a box LB while Marshall (1) is your MIKE and Ware (4) is in his standard rush stance. It looks like man coverage with Cover 2 behind (Moore is off screen).

Just so we are not getting confused--going forward, if a hybrid or two-way player is standing up, he is a linebacker, if his hand is in the ground, he's a lineman. Despite the "psycho" arrangement you could label this as 2-4-5 nickel. Some might see 2-3-6 and count Ward as a S but that's not his role here. Others might see 3-3-5 or 3-2-6 but remember, we are labeling according to role.

Broadcast View

malik jackson sack 11

In the end, Del Rio brings three rushers and drops everyone else into coverage. Malik Jackson does beat his man but in all honesty this is more of a coverage sack. Luck has time to take his drop and make a step into his throw...but nobody seems to be open. Jackson and Ware are both credited with the sack but Malik did all the hard work to flush Luck to the edge where Ware was waiting.

All-22, View 1

jackson sack 12

Looks like there's a "China" concept to the right side and Talib is actually beaten. Luck never looks there and from this angle it isn't clear if Luck could have stepped into a throw deep to the right sideline. I can tell that two of the deeper receivers to the playside were a bit late to get into their breaks because Luck has already come out of his break and stepped up with their backs still facing him.

All-22, View 2

jackson sack 13

Jackson gets away with a slap to the head from the onset. He also gets upfield so fast he gets the RG to lunge, then beats him with a quick a good violent hand swipe. Luck has a strong arm but I doubt that he has enough time to step into a throw to the right sideline.


This is twice now that we have seen Del Rio bring a blitz against Andrew Luck, and both times Luck was absolutely clueless in diagnosing it. This is something to keep in mind going forward. How many times have we seen Manning check into the right hot read and deliver after directing the protection change presnap? This is not a skill I have seen Luck demonstrate in my limited film study of his play.

As far as a "Psycho Front" goes, it is also a good way to disguise a zone blitz and to bring an overload. I'm sure we will see examples of those as we go forward.