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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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.

Shovel

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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:

Tavon

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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:

Hi-Lo

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Mills Concept

“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:

Denver Mills

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Chip Kelly’s (Buck) Read Sweep

The Eagles Chip Kelly has taken the NFL by storm, bringing many exciting nuances and concepts to the league. One of these concepts is the Buck Sweep. Kelly’s Eagles run the Buck Sweep while reading an unblocked defensive lineman, making it more of a Read Sweep. Traditional buck sweep involves pulling both guards with the play side Tackle and Center blocking down, as pictured below:

Credit: Smart Football's "Does anyone still use Lombardi's Packer's Sweep"

Credit: Smart Football’s “Does anyone still use Lombardi’s Packer’s Sweep”

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Peyton to Demaryius: Breaking down the Broncos Tunnel Screen, Now Slant, and Trips X-Drag Concepts

With Demaryius Thomas franchise tagged and Peyton Manning officially returning to Denver for 2015, let’s take a deeper look into the QB-WR duo that has combined for nearly 300 Catches, 4,500 yards, and 35 TD’s in the past three seasons. Peyton gets the ball to Demaryius in a variety of ways, but particularly loves three Pass Concepts designed specifically to get the ball to his favorite Receiver: The Tunnel Screen, the “Now” Slant, and the Trips X-Drag.

TUNNEL SCREEN

The Broncos run the Tunnel Screen (a/k/a Jailbreak Screen) more than any team in the NFL, with 6’3 230 Thomas on the receiving end almost every time. Denver runs the play from a variety of formations. Below is the play, with Denver is in Trips tight:

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Assignments: (#1 WR): Sell Vertical, Bend back square to QB (#2 WR): Block out CB on #1 WR (#3 WR): Arc Block to Safety over #2 WR( Right Tackle): Sell Stretch Left, arc to first defender outside box (Right Guard): Sell Stretch Left, arc to first defender inside box

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How Malcolm Butler knew what Play was Coming on the Interception that Changed NFL History

By now everyone knows the story: With under 30 seconds to go and the Patriots about to lose in heartbreaking fashion, Malcolm Butler jumped the 2nd & Goal route, and made an impressive interception to win the Super Bowl for the Patriots. The Seahawks were in a Stack formation and ran a pick play with a slant route coming underneath the pick. The Patriots were in man-to-man coverage and had Brandon Browner jam front Seahawk Wideout Jermaine Kearse:

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Butler attacked and drove hard downhill to make the interception. After the game, he eluded to the fact that his decisiveness in going for the interception was based on him anticipating the route combination/pick play from film study. He also said he had been beaten by the route in practice during that week.

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