Cleveland Browns: 15 phrases O-Line coaches use explained, Part 3

Dec 11, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns center Cameron Erving (74) during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns center Cameron Erving (74) during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Browns fans may hear phrases relating to offensive linemen without knowing what they mean. Here is Part 3 of a series explaining those phrases.

A recent article by Doug Samuels for highlighted the 15 most common things offensive line coaches say to instruct their players. As an offensive line coach, I could not help but to laugh. I have said many things like this and more to my players.

Tuesday, we covered the first five phrases. Yesterday, we covered phrases 6-10. Here are the final five phrases, including a bonus one.

11. “Run it again”

This simply means to run the play again. Usually this is an attempt to correct a mistake made by an offensive player.

12. “You can hold all day long as long as your hands are inside the numbers”

Sad but true. I personally never taught people to hold. Correct body position, footwork and leverage should put the lineman in position to block without the necessity of holding. A good lineman is the one that does not have to hold.

However, there are times when holding is necessary. Those times including holding the defender to prevent the quarterback from getting hit. Always hold if your man is about to get a clean shot on the quarterback. Holding in this scenario is taking one for the team. But getting the block right should prevent holding from happening.

13. “Root him out of there!”

The difference between a 4-3 defense and a 3-4 defense is the objective of the defensive linemen. In a 4-3 the linemen are trying to make the plays (depending on style of 4-3). But a 3-4 defense looks to get huge defenders (like Danny Shelton) to get a low base and basically take up space forcing two offensive linemen to move them. The result are free running linebackers to make tackles.

When facing a 3-4, it is imperative that offensive linemen move those defensive linemen around without having to use double teams. Hence, “root him out of there.”

Related: 15 phrases O-Line coaches use explained, Part 1

Coach’s Note: A 4-3 lineman attempts to defeat the offensive lineman by gaining position off the snap. Two completely different styles of playing defensive line. This explains why the Browns drafted two defensive tackles in 2017 and why 4-3 versus a 3-4 scheme remains important regardless of how much nickel is played in the NFL.

14. “Play with leverage”

The concept of leverage has been explained multiple times so far. Leverage is how offensive linemen can move defensive linemen. It requires staying low off the ball, using an effective punch, generating movement and throwing the hips to finish the block.

No leverage, no block.

15. “Get two feet on the ground before contact”

Getting two feet on the ground before contact allows the lineman to have a strong base when delivering the punch. It is a key component of leverage.

If a punch is thrown on one foot, it will be ineffective. It requires channeling all the force generated in the progression into the defender. Having two feet on the ground allows the force to move toward the defender.

Bonus: “Win the first step! I can only coach two steps.”

My favorite line to tell players is “Win the first step”. I said it all the time because after the second step, anything goes.

Winning the first step is the key to all offensive line play. The first step is the one advantage a lineman has over the defender. He needs to use it to put his body in position to succeed.

The first “step” is not really a step. If the lineman consciously thinks “step”, he will raise up out of his stance and generate the movement with the “stepping” foot. This will rob him of all his power and cause him to lose leverage.

Instead the first “step” must be a push off the “non-stepping” foot. At the snap, the lineman pushes off the opposite foot propelling him toward the defender. The first “step” is a natural movement of the non-pushing leg to keep the lineman from falling. The result is a perfect six inch “step” that generates force and keeps the lineman low putting him in perfect position under control to punch the defender.

The first step also sets up the entire offensive line for success. Watching a good offensive line is like watching a perfectly choreographed group dance. Each step is in sync with each other. One lineman moves his foot, the other lineman places his foot in the vacated spot.

I used to run the bird-dog drill every day. In this drill, I would line up the players then yell “one”. Everyone would take their first step. I would make any corrections necessary. Then we would yell “two” the linemen would take the second step. Getting the whole line in sync with the first two steps will put them in position to win their blocks.

My lineman hated me for it. But they learned how to push off, gain position, use leverage, punch effectively and finish. They played well together as a unit as a result.

Next: 15 phrases O-Line coaches use explained, Part 2

I can only coach the first two steps of a play, the rest was all on the lineman. Everything for an offensive lineman in determined in the first two steps. Get them right, it is a good day. Get them wrong, just start holding now.