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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
“Mills” is a pass game concept used both at the NFL and NCAA level, originally made famous by Steve Spurrier. Mills is executed with a Post route from the outside Wide Receiver and a Dig route from the slot. In today’s NFL, it is primarily used as a Cover 4 or Quarter/Quarter/Half beater and is most often seen in offenses associated with Dirk Koetter, Norv Turner, Mike McCarthy, and Peyton Manning. Mills is also sometimes referred to as the “PIN” concept (Post/In combo). This article analyzes the Mills Concept and how it can be utilized in various ways depending on personnel. Below, the 2014 Broncos run Mills against the Rams at the end of the 1st half on 3rd and 10 against a 2-deep safety look:
The Dagger concept is a pass game route combination that is commonly used both at the College and NFL level. Dagger is most often associated with Mike Martz and Norv Turner, and is similar to the “Hi-Lo” concept. In its most basic form, Dagger is a 3 man combination involving a vertical route from the slot receiver, a drag from the weak side for a horizontal stretch, and a 15 yard deep dig or square-in from the primary receiver: