2017 Divisional Round Review

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:

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Split Zone

With many NFL teams using zone blocking concepts to run the ball, the Split Zone is a variation of both inside zone as well as the zone read. It is a great complimentary concept because it aligns with an offense’s zone principles but gives the defense a different look and blocking scheme. Split Zone can be run from both Shotgun and under center. Here, the Seahawks run Split Zone against the Packers for a Touchdown from Shotgun in 11 personnel (1RB 1TE 3 WR):

Split Zone (like inside zone or zone read) entails all lineman taking a play side zone step, or stepping with their play side foot first toward where the run is designed to go. Like Zone Read, the end man on the line of scrimmage is left unblocked by the offensive line. Continue reading

Rodgers Play Action Progression leads to long Jordy Nelson Sting Route TD

The first quarter of Week 5’s Thursday Night game featured a 66-yard Aaron Rodgers Touchdown to Jordy Nelson. Rodgers put on a QB clinic on this play with an excellent Play Action fake, going through his progression, looking off a safety, and then throwing an accurate deep bomb to Jordy Nelson on a Sting Route. Green Bay only needed a 2-man route to score a Touchdown. Here is the pre-snap look with the routes: Green Bay is running a Play Action pass faking Outside Zone to the left. Randall Cobb, (#18) at the bottom of the screen is inside releasing and running a deep “Post-Dig” route at 15 yards. Finally, Jordy Nelson, (#87) the Wide Receiver at the top is inside releasing, stemming to the corner, and then running a Deep Post (called a Sting Route):

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Minnesota is in a base 4-3 Cover 2 look, with both Safeties responsible for one “Deep-Half” of the field, and each of the Cornerbacks and linebackers taking an underneath zone for five defenders across underneath: Continue reading