How to Coach Vertical Set Pass Protection in Football

Drop Back Pass Protection is one of the most difficult skills to teach to Offensive Linemen. Learning the traditional Kick-Slide to form a secure pocket for the Quarterback takes a huge amount of time and practice. For must of us, running the football is the priority. So how can we still have effective drop back protection? The answer is the Vertical Set pass protection.

Vertical Set Pass Protection involves dropping your offensive linemen back in an even line. On the snap, they back pedal with their shoulders square and set at a depth of about 3 yards off the Line of Scrimmage. The fast back pedal creates the same separation that kick sliding does.

The quick separation lets the linemen see what the Defensive scheme is going to do. Are they going to twist, blitz, drop off into coverage? Your vertical set pass protection lets the scheme unfold in front of the line. Our players do not even touch a defender for the first second after the snap.

The technique to get separation is simple to teach. We work out of a two point stance on the Varsity level, though our JV Players have done the same technique from a 3-point stance (to help with their run blocking). Do not mix 2-point and 3-point stances as you will tip the Defense to your intentions.

On the snap of the ball, we step with the inside foot back first. Work your players on taking no false steps, and stepping straight back with the inside foot. We are not as concerned with depth, since we start with our linemen as far off the ball as possible. Therefore, their drop needs to only be about another 1 1/2 yards. We use a 4-step Vertical Set for all of our 5-Step passes.

The first step is inside, followed by the outside foot, then the inside again, and then the outside foot sets lets. On the last step, we sink the hips, bring the elbows in, and prepare to strike the rusher.

You can use any protection scheme with your Vertical Set Pass Protection. Because we are only dropping back and setting a new line of scrimmage, the protection works with BOB Protection, Slide Protection, or common Half-Man, Half-Slide protections. Most one-back teams will use the Half-Man, Half-Slide protection and leave the running back accountable for a Linebacker on the man protection side.

Work your Vertical Set Pass Protection every day in practice. It is important for the Offensive Line to take their steps in sync, finish in an even line at 2 1/2 to 3 yards from the original Line of Scrimmage, and keep their shoulders square. Protect the inside first! If someone has to run around the linemen, they can stay between him and the QB.

Your biggest danger is the bull rush, but if your Offensive Line can stay between the defender and the QB, you will minimize any big hits on him.