Super Bowl 52 was the most prolific offensive game in NFL history with 1,151 total yards and countless records broken. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels were spectacular; both designed creative schemes and were able to repeatedly create favorable matchups for their respective offenses. Let’s take a look at how the offenses were able to score at will:
The Eagles used running back motion, the wheel route, and the mesh concept repeatedly to take advantage of the Patriots decision to predominantly play man to man coverage. The Patriots were weak against pass catching running backs all year, particularly wheel routes. In the AFC Championship, Jacksonville missed their opportunity multiple times to hit an open running back against a linebacker or peeling defensive end; but the Eagles cashed in.
2nd Quarter, 1:46, 3rd & 3 on Phi 37 (Phi 15 NE 12)
Late in the first half, the Eagles make a huge play using both the mesh concept and the wheel route. Defensively, the Patriots are in Cover 1:
The 2017 NFL Divisional Round ended with one of the craziest finishes in recent memory, and had plenty of X’s & O’s to breakdown. Let’s review a bit from each of the four games this weekend:
Eagles v. Falcons
The play call on Atlanta’s do or die 4th and Goal from Philly’s 2-yard line is understandably what everyone is talking about. After motioning Tight End (#80) Levine Toilolo across the formation, the Falcons ran sprint right with two short outs:
Let’s take a further look at the X’s & O’s of a concept that caught my eye from Week 2: the Kansas City Chiefs shovel pass touchdown, which also features jet motion and power read concepts.
Shovel, Jet, Power Read, and More
Andy Reid utilized his fastest players in (#10) Tyreek Hill and (#13) DeAnthony Thomas as decoys to beautifully set up (#87) Travis Kelce for a touchdown. On 2nd & 5 from the 15 with six minutes remaining in the game, the Chiefs aligned Thomas in the backfield and sent Hill in motion. The Eagles came out in a 4-3 alignment with one high safety:
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:
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.
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)
QB G/T Counter Read or “Flash”
Jet Sweep Split Zone
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 zoneconcept. 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 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:
“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: