Alshon Jeffery’s “Ghost Motion” Touchdown & how Brandon Marshall Affects Defenses

The second quarter of Week 4’s Bears vs. Packers game featured a wide open Alshon Jeffery receiving touchdown on a play where only 2 Bears ran routes. Jeffery is an excellent Wide Receiver, but got an assist from both fellow Wideout Brandon Marshall and Coach Marc Trestman on the score. Before the snap, Alshon Jeffery went in Ghost motion, which is to arc behind the line of scrimmage from the outside.

Here is the pre-snap look with how the Packer defensive assignments will match-up with the offense: Jeffery will run back to where he started toward the goal line. Brandon Marshall will run a skinny post from the slot. (Both in navy blue). On the defensive side, Sam Shields (#37) for Green Bay is playing Man-to-Man on Jeffery (in red). Brandon Marshall is being “bracket” covered, or double covered, which is highlighted in orange. The slot Cornerback will play outside leverage, and #33 will be responsible for any in-breaking route from Marshall. The play is accompanied by play-action to the right, with a “Max-Protection” of 8 blockers.


Safety and slot corner “bracket” inside WR Brandon Marshall

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Patriots Mesh Scheme beats Bracket Coverage for Touchdown

As Rob Gronkowski works back from his ACL & MCL tear, his snap count has steadily risen in every game for the Patriots. The area of the field he is most valuable for the Patriots is unquestionably the Red Zone. This was highlighted in last week’s match-up with the Raiders. The Patriots used a “Mesh” concept from inside the 10-yard line for a Touchdown. A Mesh concept refers to two Receivers crossing in close proximity to create a “rub”, or as defenses call, a pick. Mesh concepts work better against Man-to-Man coverage compared to Zone because zone defenders can see what is going on around them as opposed to chasing Receivers in Man-to-Man. Given this, how can the Patriots ensure they are running a Mesh concept against the defense they’d like? The Patriots have a built in mechanism: Motioning Shane Vereen.

In the picture below, Shane Vereen (#34) starts as the outside most Wide Receiver and motions in to the backfield. A Raiders Linebacker (#50) chases him all the way across the formation; this is a tell-tale sign of Man-to-Man coverage. This is highlighted by the squares in the freeze frame.


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Steelers Motion leads to Le’Veon Bell 81-Yd Run

Week 3’s Sunday Night Football game featured the Panthers hosting the Steelers. In the 3rd Quarter facing 2nd and 22, Le’Veon Bell ripped off a back breaking 81-yard run. In unbelievable fashion, this run happened without Carolina’s best two linebackers ever being blocked. (Defensive player of the year Luke Kuechely as well as Thomas Davis). How does this happen? The Steelers took advantage of a heavy set (3 Tight Ends, 1 Running Back, 1 Wide Receiver) and motion against the Panthers base 4-3 defense (4 D-lineman, 3 Linebackers, 2 Safeties, 2 Cornerbacks). Here is how the play looks before the motion; throughout the play the focus will be on the three highlighted Carolina Panthers: #59 Luke Kuechely, #58 Thomas Davis, and Carolina’s weakside Defensive End (#95).


The picture below shows each Carolina defender’s run game responsibility before the motion, represented by the lettered gaps. (A-D). Continue reading

Denver’s Improbable 58 Second Drive with the “Post-Wheel” Combo

Last week’s Super Bowl rematch featured the Seahawks keeping Denver’s potent offense mostly at bay for the first 59 minutes. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Denver pulled off a near miraculous 80-yard drive in 59 seconds with no timeouts. How did this happen against the best defense in football? Amazingly, Denver ran the same type of route combo (The Post-Wheel) 3 times on the drive, twice for huge completions, including the Touchdown.

The Post-Wheel combo involves the outside Wide Receiver running around 10 yards and breaking 45 degrees toward the goal post. The inside, or slot Wide Receiver will break as if he is running an out route, then turn up the field looking for a big play.

On defense, Seattle is playing Cover 1 Robber. Seattle defensive backs are all matched up man-to-man, except Earl Thomas (the robber) and Cam Chancellor (playing deep middle). Another indicator of man coverage is that Denver’s running back (Montee Ball) is lined up on the bottom of the screen closest to the sideline, and Seattle’s Linebacker Bobby Wagner follows him. Richard Sherman then moves inside to line up with Wide Receiver Wes Welker.

Here is a still shot of what Peyton Manning sees pre-snap and what will unfold schematically:


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Unconventional/Inverted Tampa 2 Zone Coverage w/ “Robber”

In last week’s Georgia v. South Carolina game, Georgia was able to create a huge turnover in the 4th Quarter with a less common version of Tampa 2 Zone coverage. Tampa 2 is a modification of traditional Cover 2 which goes back to the Steel Curtain, but was made famous by Monte Kiffin and Tony Dungy’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. As opposed to traditional Cover 2, Tampa 2 involves the Middle Linebacker dropping into the “Deep Hole” or vulnerable deep middle of the defense.

Tampa 2

MLB drops into the deep middle zone








Here is a video example of how each Safety attempts to cover a Deep 1/2 of the field on either side and the Middle Linebacker (Urlacher #54) drops in between to cover any deep middle routes from slot receivers or tight ends.

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