The ZBS, in laymen terms, means blocking the defender, in your zone, while on the run. In a Man-Blocking scheme, depending on the play, each man has an "assigned" man to block. With the Zone Blocking scheme, you are to block the defender in your zone, depending on the lineman's blocking direction. A blocking assignment in the ZBS, may be, as simple as sealing the edge, or kicking out a certain defender after motion. The ZBS relies heavily on motion to set up runs, and determine defensive coverage; wether man or zone.
To start, I am going analyze video of a certain play from the most recent game, Seattle Vs. Philly. The play I chose, is a perfect example of "assignment correct" football, by the Seattle Seahawks.
The play came at the opening of the second quarter, exactly at the 15:00 minute mark. The Seahawks are lined up, at the left hash mark of the 40 Yard line in Eagles territory. The Seahawks are in a 2 Tight End (TE) set with TE Cameron Morrah (88) lined up, off-set to the left, behind Left Tackle (LT) Russel Okung (76). Wide Receiver (WR), Golden Tate (81), lines up wide left, with WR Ben Obomanu (87) lined up left, in the slot. Running Back (RB) Marshawn Lynch (24) is the lone man in the backfield, with TE Zach Miller (86), lined up on the right shoulder of Right Tackle (RT) Breno Giacomini (68). Before the snap, Ben Obomanu motions right, across the formation, to wide out right. The following picture shows the formation, the Seahawks are lined up in, after Obomanu motions right.
When the ball is snapped, TE Zach Miller (86) "seals" the edge by crashing left on the defensive line. The play is a designed misdirection play to the right. The OL blocks left, the RB runs left, and cuts back right, into the crease created by the blocks by Cameron Morrah (88) and Zach Miller (86). Morrah moves right behind the line of scrimmage, across the formation, and kick-out blocks DE (Defensive End), Jason Babin (93). Please excuse the videos, they were shot with my smartphone.
You can see, from the animations, how the key blocks help to develop a running lane for Lynch.
First, lets focus on the right side of the offensive line. Giocomini gets good push on the D-lineman, while Right Gaurd (RG) Paul McQuistan (67), gives a little arm shove to Giocomini's man, and then moves to block the pursuing Linebacker (LB), Jamar Chaney (51). McQuistan gives Chaney enough of a block to help disrupt the other LB pursuing from the left.
Look at the hole to the Right side. Lynch stutter steps slightly to the left and breaks around the blocked defender to the right.
Zach Miller holds his block long enough for Lynch to get to the cut-back lane, and Obomanu's down field blocking on the Defensive Back (DB), Sets the edge for the long run down the sideline.
In the next clip, we see how the play develops from the broadcast POV (Point of View). Now lets focus on the left side of the formation. Golden Tate (81) gets inside position on the defending DB, and blocks him away from the run, pushing him, to left sideline. Russel Okung and Robert Gallery handle their men with ease.
Notice how the motion by Obomanu causes the defense to show man coverage and press the line of scrimmage. This brings the Free Safety up to play the run left and drops one the Strong Safety into deep coverage in the middle of the field.
This is a perfect example of how a running play, is suppose to develop, when an offense plays with discipline and execution. Marshawn Lynch has had a Rushing Touchdown in his last seven games. His performance on Thursday, December 1, 2011 marks his 10th career game with 100 plus yards rushing. The Seahawks are trying to find their identity on offense; I think they found it. Run first, Run hard, and you control the game. It looks like this young group, even with the injuries, are starting to play well together. Along the offensive line, there is nothing more important than continuity.
So, now you should have a basic understanding of what a ZBS schemed OL does, and how it does it. Later we will discuss, individual positions along the line, and their assignments and responsibilities on a passing play.