Zeke Elliot’s 60-yd Split Zone TD with a Special Influence

Ezekiel Elliot all but sealed a Cowboys victory with a 60 yard touchdown run to put Dallas up 28-0 in a Week 5 matchup against the Bengals. The play was a traditional under center split zone scheme, but included one wrinkle that made all the difference, Jason Witten’s flat route:

Zeke 60

The Cowboys offensive line executed textbook combination blocks in the split zone scheme, with left tackle (#77) Tyron Smith blocking out, left guard (#65) Ronald Leary and center (#72) Travis Frederick combining to block the defensive tackle up to the left outside linebacker, and right guard (#70) Zack Martin combo blocking with right tackle (#68) Doug Free to take care of 3-technique (#97) Geno Atkins and middle linebacker (#58) Rey Maualuga. Tight End (#87) Geoff Swaim blocks across the formation to pick up “EMLOS”, or the end man on the line of scrimmage, (#96) Carlos Dunlap.

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Week 1 X’s & O’s Review: A.J. Green vs. Revis

Week 1 Film Study–An X’s & O’s look at a big play from the past week in the NFL, Darrelle Revis and A.J. Green:

Bengals Play Action Yankee Concept TD vs. Jets Cover 3

Week 1 resulted in quite a bit of buzz around Darrelle Revis and his subpar performance against the Bengals. One particular play was a 54-yard touchdown to A.J. Green. Let’s take a further look and break down exactly what happened.

Below, the Bengals are running a play action Yankee Concept with a wide receiver running orbit motion behind the quarterback and running back. A.J. Green is at the top of the screen running a deep over, while Brandon LaFell is at the bottom of the screen running a deep crosser. Revis is lined up outside of the motion man and Green:

Bengals PA Yankee

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Jimmy Garoppolo: Breaking down the 2nd preseason game

With Tom Brady suspended for the first four games of the season, all eyes are on Jimmy Garoppolo. In the preseason, demonstrating traits of a successful QB is far more important than wins, losses, or statistics. This article analyzes Garoppolo’s second preseason game. My breakdown from the first preseason game on his accuracy, progression, pocket presence, and decision making can be found here.


Garoppolo was once again up and down with accuracy. On a 3rd and 2 on the first drive of the game, Aaron Dobson is open for a first down on a quick out route, but Garoppolo misses behind him.

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Analyzing the Unique Panthers Running Game

The Panthers made it to Super Bowl 50 with one of the most dangerous running attacks in the NFL, having racked up at least 100 yards rushing in 29 straight games. Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula has utilized the strengths of Cam Newton to create a versatile and unique running attack that is very difficult to prepare for because of its mixed flow and deception. This article breaks down 6 key concepts from the Panthers running game that Denver will have to prepare for:

  • QB Buck Sweep (RPO)
  • Counter OF
  • QB G/T Counter Read or “Flash”
  • Jet Sweep Split Zone
  • Inverted/Power Veer
  • Triple Option

QB Buck Sweep (RPO)

Carolina is not the only NFL team that runs Buck Sweep, but Cam Newton allows the Panthers to run QB Buck Sweep, opening up other possibilities for the offense. Like the traditional version, the Panthers Buck Sweep involves 2 pulling lineman leading the way for Cam to run around the edge:

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Arizona Game Winning Shovel Pass & Various Shovel Option Concepts

Arizona finished off their 26-20 overtime victory against Green Bay on a shovel pass from Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald. Shovel pass is a common play used around the goal line in the NFL. Let’s analyze how Bruce Arians designed a shovel concept with no option element or QB run threat, along with other variations of the Shovel Option Concept.

Shovel option is a combination of Power blocking along with option principles. In traditional shovel option, and as seen here, the backside Guard pulls through the hole up to the second level, while the Center and playside Guard down block. The playside Tackle leaves #96 Outside Linebacker Mike Neal and also goes up to the second level. Mike Neal is the “read” man. If Neal widens with QB Carson Palmer’s half roll, Palmer will flip the shovel pass underneath to a scraping Larry Fitzgerald.


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Cam Newton’s Big Run: A look at the Inverted/Power Veer

In the Panthers Week 15 win, Cam Newton became the first player in NFL history with 5 passing TD and 100 rush yards in the same game. He gained 47 of these yards on one play with one of the Panthers favorite QB run concepts: the Inverted or Power Veer. Let’s take a further look at the concept.

The Panthers start with two receivers left and one receiver right along with Tight End Greg Olsen. The Giants are in a 4-3 defense, with the 1 and 7 technique to the left side, and a 3 and 7 technique to the right side. Even on 1st & 10, with 2 high safeties, the Giants are outnumbered 8 on 6 in the box:

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Rams Split Zone End Around

Rams Todd Gurley broke out in Week 4 for 146 yards on 19 carries while Tavon Austin had 116 yards from scrimmage with 2 touchdowns. Rams Offensive Coordinator Frank Cignetti has put both players in a position to succeed with excellent play calling and creative play design. One particular set of plays that Cignetti has set up is a split zone end around package. The package begins with the end around threat from the speed of Tavon Austin:

From there, Cignetti incorporates the split zone concept. Split zone is a zone run scheme with an H-Back/TE/FB coming across the formation to kick out the back side. When Cignetti incorporates the two concepts to form the split zone end around look, the defense is given a very difficult mixed flow read:


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Week 4 X’s & O’s: Steelers 2-Read Fire Zone Coverage

Week 4 Film Study–An X’s & O’s look at a key concept from the past week in the NFL:

Steelers 2-Read Fire Zone Coverage

The Steelers intercepted Joe Flacco on Thursday Night Football with a zone blitz pattern reading defense known as “2-Read Fire Zone.” 2-Read Fire Zone involves a 5 man pressure scheme with very specific rules for the LBs/DBs who are in coverage. To get a better understanding of 2-Read Fire Zone, let’s first look at what routes the Ravens are running on 3rd and 6:

Ravens Out/Drive

At the top of the screen, the Ravens are running a 5-yard speed out and a vertical. At the bottom of the screen, the Ravens are running a “Drive” combination, which involves a drag and a dig route.

The Steelers have the perfect defense called to not only stop the play but also force a turnover. First, the Steelers are sending a 5 man pressure scheme via a Fire Zone blitz using multiple DB’s. The blitz should make the ball come out of the Quarterback’s hands before he can fully identify the trap coverage behind it. Quarterbacks are often taught to throw “hot” by throwing the ball where blitzers are coming from, or replacing blitzers with the ball. 2-Read Fire Zone baits Quarterbacks into throwing to a trap:

Steelers Fire Zone 2-Read

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Week 3 X’s & O’s Concept Review

Week 3 Film Study–An X’s & O’s look at a couple big plays from the past week in the NFL:

Eagles Hi-Lo Concept with RB Wheel

The Eagles got there first win of the season on Sunday with some help from the Hi-Lo concept. The Hi-Lo concept is a man coverage beater which involves an underneath “mesh” (crossers), with a curl route over the mesh. Chip Kelly adds a wheel route from the Running Back for two reasons: to clear out Linebackers from the middle of the field, and to potentially hit a big play if the Linebacker can’t cover the RB up the sideline. Below, the Jets are in a Cover 1 scheme with Man-to-Man across the board except for a “Centerfield” Safety in the middle of the field:


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Patriots Four Tight End Red Zone Attack

One of the keys to New England’s 28-21 Week 1 win over the Steelers was their red zone success, where they were 4/4 with 4 TD’s. Three of the touchdowns came from a unique formation: Four Tight Ends and One Back– or “Aces.” Using a four Tight End set in this manner is difficult because it requires all four Tight Ends to be capable run blockers, and at least two of the tight ends to be above average receiving threats. The Patriots personnel fits; #47 Michael Hoomanawanui is a solid run blocker and #85 Michael Williams played Tackle for the Lions but Tight End at Alabama. Meanwhile, #88 Scott Chandler is an average run blocker and a massive target at 6’7 260. And of course, there’s all-world Tight End Rob Gronkowski. Let’s further analyze how the four Tight End set was used in Week 1 and how it will be used by New England going forward.

2nd Quarter, 4:06, 2nd & Goal at the 6:


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