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The Giants Defense of the 1950s

Posted: 6/9/2009 10:14 PM

The Giants Defense of the 1950s 

The Umbrella Defense as described by Steve Owen("Illustrated History of the New York Giants" by Richard Whittingham)on page 72 of the book:

The nickname refers to the four backs who roughly assume the shape of an open Umbrella, with the two Halfbacks shallow and wide and two Safety men deep and tight. Then, when we have a 6-1-4 formation, there is the backer-up to suggest the handle of a bumbershoot.

In general, it is the role of the Umbrella to act as a sort of flexible basket and adjust itself to contain any attacking situation, by moving in one side or dropping back on the other, but always as a unit and never without interdependence.

To give another idea of variations on a basic formation, we use the umbrella most often in a 5-2-4 and work eight changes off it.

1. We can red-dog the backers-up through the line, with the Ends holding to protect the outside.

2. We can send in an End from one side and a backer-up from the other, with the backer-up on the end side sliding off to cover and the End on the backer-up side dropping a few yards to protect the vacated area.

3. We can send all seven linemen and backers-up charging in.

4. With a man in motion, we can wheel the Umbrella to pull three men onto the strong side. We do that depending on the quality of the opposition.

5. We may play Zone defense in the backfield, with backers-up dropping straight back watching out for hook passes.

6. We may play Man for Man in the backfield, with the backers-up covering the Fullback and one flat. To give that a minor change-of-pace variation we sometimes slide an end out to cover the flat, in lieu of the backer-up.

7. We may go into a 5-1-5, with a combination of some men man for man and others in zone defense.

8. We may go into a 6-1-4, to shift rapidly into a 4-3-4, with a combination of man for man and zone, if a pass develops after the snap.
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  • Blue5611
  • Just Drafted
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Posted: 7/14/2009 5:00 PM

Re: The Giants Defense of the 1950s 


Nice quality post!  I have time to read them now...   I remember as a kid, my Dad acquired an old sports encyclopedia.  He never got a chance to reference it as he worked split shifts every other week (e.g., 3 to 11, 11 to 7, 7 to 3).  This was the old "blue coat" pattern... and my mom would always shush us kids when he was sleeping.    But that old encyclopedia smelled like mildew and read like "Old Spice."   Your quote from the "Illustrated History of the New York Giants" by Richard Whittingham leaves the reader with the same atmosphere and patina.   I think I might have read a copy of it or a more recent printing at my local library.  Back then, the writers knew how to parse subtle, eloquent, and apt descriptions of arcane athletic coaching genious .  The sports radio broadcasters of yore could also bring metaphorical and mythological dimensions to the average Joe.   It would be those choice phrases, quoted from either the locker room chalk board or Homer that gave the listener or reader the full balance and impact of the game.  I still listen to Papa and Banks first, then watch in B&W every once in a while.   In this age of the Kindle and YouTube, the quality of the writing so much more important.   Especially when it is quoted and interpreted from the past.  Thanks.  Go Big Blue! 

Last edited 7/14/2009 5:05 PM by Blue5611

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  • Martin75
  • Just Drafted
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Posted: 6/17/2013 5:24 PM

Re: The Giants Defense of the 1950s 

Arnie Wienmiester biggrin Best Defensive Tackle IN THE HISTORY of the NFL!
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