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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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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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

Keys to Victory: Previewing the 2015 NFC Championship

The 2015 NFC Championship features a rematch from Week 1, with the Green Bay Packers visiting the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks won handily in September, but the NFC championship will have different key players, schemes, and match ups:

WHEN GREEN BAY HAS THE BALL:

Green Bay cut the field in half when they chose not to attack the right side of the field to avoid Richard Sherman Week 1; Green Bay aligned #11 Jarrett Boykin to the right on the vast majority of snaps. The Packers must attack all parts of the field in order to be successful this week.  While the Packers will almost certainly line up #87 Jordy Nelson to the right more often, the emergence of rookie #17 Davonte Adams gives Green Bay a viable threat even when Jordy Nelson is on the left side of the field. However, attacking the right side of the field doesn’t necessarily mean attacking Sherman 1 on 1. Look for Green Bay to manipulate formations to move Sherman away from the outside most Receiver. Dallas was able to do this from a Trips tight formation, with the TE as the lone eligible receiver to the left, and 3 Wideouts to the right:

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Sherman moves with Dez Bryant to the slot

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