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:
Focus on the circled defender, #20 Safety Deone Bucannon. Bucannon would be in position to make the tackle on Gurley, but actually runs away from the play because he is influenced by Austin on the end around. Cignetti has set this up over the course of the season with his playcalling. Jared Cook (#89) coming across the formation also gives Bucannon a mixed flow read which is hard to diagnose for a 2nd level defender. This allows the right tackle to block him, which would not otherwise be possible. The result is a huge run for Gurley:
Just a few minutes later, the Rams run the exact same play. This time, #28 Justin Bethel is influenced by the end around action and Cook coming across the formation, once again leading to a huge play:
Cignetti has also incorporated a play action pass deep shot off of the split zone end around. The week before, the Rams used the same look and threw the ball down the field for a big play:
This will help keep the secondary back on their heels when they diagnose the play correctly as the season goes on:
Look for the Rams to continue having success with the split zone end around package, as Gurley and Austin are both playmakers who only need a sliver of space to make a huge play. Cignetti’s play design also greatly helps the offensive line. As for the next step in this package, look for the Rams to run two plays. First, a screen, where the Rams fake the split zone and end around, have a deep route, but then set up a screen to Gurley off the original fake. Next, play action to Gurley with Austin swinging behind, and a throw to deep crossing patterns from the Wideouts. The Rams may also incorporate some Ghost Motion throws to Tavon Austin.