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Colts Offensive Staples: Crunch Run

The Indianapolis Colts under Frank Reich have consistently had one of the best offenses in the league, despite the team starting four (and five) different quarterbacks over four years. In this new series, I hope to shed some light on why the Colts offense managed to stay effective despite the turnover.

In the Colts’ Staples Offensive series, I’ll explore some of Reich’s favorite play calls for this offense. Obviously things change with new quarterbacks, but Reich has remained pretty consistent on a few of his go-to calls over the years.

Sticking with the ground game for this series, our next game call to analyze is called Crunch. Crunch is a stylized run of extended attack that uses a guard trap block and a wham block to give space back in the middle.

In today’s Colts Offensive Staples article, I define some key terms for this call, analyze an example of the deep call, and talk about how the Colts have used this call in 2021.

Defining Trap and Wham Blocks

Before we dive into the appeal of the game itself, it’s important to define what these two blocks are, as they’re both critical to the success of this rushed game. As always, I asked for help from the Inside the Pylon Glossary to define these terms (I highly recommend reading their catalog).

wham block According to ITPylon:

A skilled player executes a wham block when running behind the line of scrimmage to block an inside defender to the side. The inside rusher often believes at first that he is unblocked and does not expect a hard blow. Upset is key because the blocker is usually a tight end or H-back when facing a 300+ pound monster on the inside. By blocking the inside defender with a skillful player, an offensive lineman is freed up in front of the defender to step up to the second tier and block other players.

trap block According to ITPylon:

Trap blocking is a run blocking task that draws a blocker from the playing side of the formation to block an uncovered defender. Most linemen block in one direction, while the trap blocker runs in the opposite direction towards the defender. The defender is intentionally left unblocked by the rest of the offensive personnel, allowing the trap blocker to move to the opposite side of the formation and take them out of play.

To put these definitions in simpler terms, wham and trap blocks are exactly the same block. The only difference is that wham uses a tight position or skill player to block, while the trap uses an offensive lineman. On these block calls, the player executing the block moves away from the flow of play, while the rest of the offensive line flows to the side of the play.

Breaking down the crunch step by step

Crunch is a call that is usually exhausted by the gun that uses both trap and wham blocks on the same play. It’s definitely a risky play design, but it has the potential to hit hard against aggressive defensive fronts.

Let’s look at one of the Colts’ crunch calls against the New York Jets last season. Jack Doyle is lined up as H-Back on the play side on the right. Once that ball is broken, Doyle will perform a wham block on the inside 3-Tech defensive tackle. Right guard Chris Reed will perform a trap block on the 2-Tech back defensive tackle:

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While these players are blocking against the flow of play, the other lineman will move with the run to the right. Center Ryan Kelly and left tackle Eric Fisher are both climbing inside linebackers.

With Doyle going down on the 3-Tech, right tackle Braden Smith is also free to chase the strong defensive end.

Crunch 2

When all of those blocks are in sync and hitting at the same time, it’s an absolute beauty to watch. Running back Jonathan Taylor is gifted with a big open hole on this play, which he is able to explode for 12 yards.

Crunch 3

Full game in action:

How the Colts use Crunch

While Crunch isn’t a call that can be used a ton, due to the misguided nature of the call, it’s a play that’s been used on the Colts’ offense over the years.

Frank Reich likes to dial this one when playing against aggressive defensive fronts. Teams that encourage their defensive linemen to get upfield quickly are largely susceptible to this call (since call depends on the instant penetration of inside defensive linemen).

It’s no wonder Reich has used this call far more frequently on teams with aggressive fronts in 2021 (like the Jets with Robert Saleh and the Bills with Leslie Frazier).

The essential

Crunch is a run call perfectly designed to counter an overly aggressive defensive front. Reich has used this call a lot in the past, and it’s slowly become a staple of the Colts’ rushing offense.

Just like with yesterday’s Split Zone article, the loss of Jack Doyle could hurt this game a bit going forward. Doyle was instrumental in the success of those calls and his loss could certainly impact Crunch’s future use. Mo Alie-Cox and Jelani Woods are sure to show their worth on racing games like this in the near future.

Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.

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