Not many have been praising Brian Schottenheimer, but in the wake of their upset victory in NFL Week 11 over the Denver Broncos, the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator deserves some for designing the play that broke the game open – a long touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Kenny Britt.
The St. Louis Rams entered 2014 with young and talented players on both sides of the football. However, injuries have wreaked havoc on their quarterback situation and prevented Jeff Fisher’s squad from making “the leap” to playoff contention in the NFC. With veteran backup Shaun Hill returning to action after missing ten weeks, their potential was on display Sunday as the Rams secured an impressive victory over the visiting Denver Broncos. St. Louis jumped out to an early 10-point lead in the 1st quarter thanks to a 63-yard touchdown pass from Hill to wide receiver Kenny Britt. Praising Brian Schottenheimer isn’t easy, but this play is an example of offensive coordinator using his personnel to create holes in the defense.
Creating Space in the Secondary
St. Louis puts Hill in the pistol formation with 11 personnel on the field. To the quarterback’s right the Rams array a wing tight end and a stack slot, with Britt split wide to the left. Denver counters with nickel personnel showing Cover 2 in the secondary:
The first element of this play is the pre-snap motion from Tavon Austin. Circled in white below, the WR utilizes jet motion from the right to left. Two defenders, cornerback Chris Harris (#25) and safety Rahim Moore (#26), are circled in black:
As Austin comes in motion, watch how Harris and Moore react:
The CB follows the WR across the formation as the S rolls forward. The Broncos shift the coverage to Cover 3:
Now the high-low opposite concept becomes the focus. Quinton Carter (circled in red) is the deep middle safety and the two receivers circled in yellow (Stedman Bailey to the top of the screen and Britt to the bottom) execute the high-low. Bailey runs a crossing route in front of Carter while Britt runs a deep post pattern. Austin’s motion pulls Moore and Harris away from the middle of the field and the QB reads the deep middle safety: if Carter looks to Britt on the post route, Hill should have Bailey open; if Carter squats on the crossing route Britt simply needs to beat Bradley Roby on his post route.
Your move, Quinton:
The safety squats on Bailey’s crossing route and Hill uncorks the throw to Britt:
Both receivers were open on this play thanks to the creative design from Schottenheimer. The jet motion from Tavon Austin draws two defenders away from the middle of the field, freeing up space for Bailey’s crossing pattern. Hill could have taken the easier throw to Bailey, but, with Carter moving to intercept, the deep post pattern was the safer decision. The QB takes the deep shot, and 63-yards later the Rams are out to an early 10-point lead. Staked to the early lead, the Rams defense took over and frustrated Denver’s offense throughout the contest, enabling a St. Louis upset.
All video and images courtesy NFL.com and NFL Game Rewind.
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