Each week Inside The Pylon takes a look at some of the standout offensive plays from around the NFL in Reel Film Recap. In this edition Mark Schofield looks at Teddy Bridgewater beating the New York Jets blitz, how the Arizona Cardinals righted the ship, the Denver Broncos‘ revamped offensive line, and the key to the Oakland Raiders’ upset over the San Francisco 49ers.
With the Vikings on their own 13-yard line and facing a crucial 3rd and 5 early in the extra period, Teddy Bridgewater lined up with 11 personnel on the field. The defense counters with nickel personnel showing a soft Cover 2 in the secondary:
The quarterback adjusts the play at the line, and so does the defense:
Rex Ryan blitzes both linebackers and a defensive back, looking to pressure the rookie QB. The secondary plays Cover 0 in the backfield. But whether it was the rookie changing the play or the original call from the sideline, the Vikings found the antidote:
Bridgewater quickly delivers the ball to wide receiver Jarius Wright on a bubble screen. Notice how wide open the middle of the field is with the secondary in Cover 0 and blockers converging:
The blockers execute and Wright needs to make one player miss. He does:
Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (#37) whiffs on the tackle and Wright is off to the races. After 87 yards the Vikings have themselves an overtime win, and the defensive genius is looking for a headset to throw:
Drew Stanton and Arizona Take a Vertical Approach
Three weeks ago the Arizona Cardinals were arguably the story of the season, sitting atop the NFC West with a 9-1 record. But in the wake of back-to-back losses they entered Sunday’s tilt with the Kansas City Chiefs needing a win to remain in first place.
With 3:32 remaining in the third quarter the Cardinals trail 14-9 and face 3rd and 16 on the Kansas City 26-yard line. Quarterback Drew Stanton is in the shotgun with 01 personnel on the field. The Chiefs counter with a dime package and show Tampa 2 prior to the snap:
As the play develops the Chiefs rotate to a Cover 3 zone underneath. Arizona runs a vertical route concept as indicated below, with Jaron Brown (circled in red) running a simple go pattern from his slot alignment to the left. In the slot to the right is Larry Fitzgerald, who also executes a go pattern:
As the play unfolds watch free safety Kurt Coleman (#27 – circled in white above). As the defense rotates to Cover 3 he is slow to get to the middle of the field, perhaps preoccupied by the vertical routes from Fitzgerald and company on the backside:
Notice that Brown has beaten his defender and as Stanton delivers the ball the rest of the secondary is unable to help, especially Coleman:
The WR secures the throw and fights through a tackle to score the eventual game-winner:
Coleman’s hesitation opened up a huge throwing window for Stanton to find his slot receiver for the touchdown. Brown makes a great move on his defender and is open for the score.
Denver Follows their Offensive Line to Victory
On a day when an ankle injury slowed top receiver Demaryius Thomas and quarterback Peyton Manning completed only 14 of 20 passes for 173 yards and two interceptions, the Denver Broncos gutted out a 24-17 win over the Buffalo Bills on the backs of their ground game ‒ and their offensive line.
Running back C.J. Anderson scored three touchdowns, the first of which was a six-yard run in the first quarter that illustrates the newfound cohesiveness of the big uglies up front. Manning is in the shotgun with 11 personnel on the field against the Buffalo nickel defense:
The Broncos run Anderson off of the right tackle. Turning to the end zone camera here are the blocking assignments from the guys up front:
The initial blocks are in yellow with secondary blocks illustrated in white. On the left side the tackle and guard execute a combination block at the start of the play on the defensive tackle, with left tackle Ryan Clady (#74) then working to the next level to take on Preston Brown (#52), while left guard Orlando Franklin stays on the tackle. On the play side, tight end Julius Thomas handles defensive end Mario Williams,using his wide-9 alignment against him and driving him wide of the run lane. Right tackle Louis Vasquez (#65) leads through the hole, taking on defensive back Da’Norris Searcy (#25).
Center Will Montgomery (#64) and right guard Manny Ramirez (#66) execute the crucial combination block on this play. They initially attack defensive tackle Stefan Charles (#96), but Montgomery peels off to handle linebacker Nigel Bradham. Watch the pieces fit together:
Each block gets perfectly, aided by decisive running from Anderson. He initially angles for the A gap, which draws the linebackers inside, then bounces quickly into the B gap where Charles can only get a fingertip or two on him as Anderson clears the hole:
Second-level defenders arrive to meet Anderson at the goal line, but it is too late.
Winning games in the NFL proves difficult when your offense becomes one-dimensional. But on this day, the Denver running game paved the way for an important conference victory for the Broncos.
Live By the Blitz, Die By the Blitz
The Oakland Raiders earned their second victory on the season with a 24-13 win over their neighbors from across the bay. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr turned in a solid performance, completing 22 of 28 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns against zero interceptions. His second touchdown pass of the day was this 9-yard strike to Swiss-army knife Marcel Reece. This is another example of a defense choosing to blitz a rookie quarterback and paying the price.
Facing 3rd and 1 on the San Francisco 9-yard line with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Carr sets up in the shotgun with 21 personnel on the field against the base 3-4 defense from the 49ers:
Running back Latavius Murray motions outside to the right, giving the offense a stack slot to the left and tight end trips to the right:
Each defender is within five yards of the ball; San Francisco plays Cover 0 on this play and goes after Carr. The offense has the perfect play called for this situation, a simple quick slant to Reese out of the stack slot:
The blitz opens the middle of the field for Reese’s slant route, as shown in this still from the moment Carr releases the football:
The receiver secures the throw and beats cornerback Dontae Johnson (#36) to the goal line:
This is a great play call in the situation against the blitz. Oakland simplifies the game for their quarterback, giving him a one receiver read. Carr knows exactly where he is going with the football at the snap. The blitz opens up the middle of the field for the slant route, and all Carr and Reece need to do is execute the pitch-and-catch.
Great designs, timely play-calls, and perfect execution lead to offensive success in the NFL. These plays demonstrate the potential for production when all three of those elements are present.
All video and images courtesy the NFL and NFL Game Rewind.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.