In their week 6 matchup with the Green Bay Packers, the San Diego Chargers were gashed for a big gain when a key defender failed to do his job. Mark Schofield shows how Jahleel Addae’s failure to set the edge led to a touchdown by James Starks.
When a defender is tasked with setting the edge in run support, and fails, it can have disastrous effects for a defense. On this long touchdown run, James Starks ensured Monday’s film session was a painful one for the defense.
Late in the first quarter, the Packers have the football and a 7-3 lead. Aaron Rodgers lines up under center, and the offense has 21 offense personnel on the field in an i-formation with slot alignment to the left. The Chargers have their base 3-4 defense in the game and show Cover 1 in the secondary:
To the left side of the offense, Jason Verrett (#22) establishes inside alignment over the outside wide receiver, while Brandon Flowers (#24) moves to the opposite side of the formation to line up over the slot WR, also with inside leverage. This is a presnap indication of Cover 1 in the secondary. But, to the backside, strong safety Jahleel Addae (#37) lines up deep, almost like a safety in Cover 2. Without an additional cornerback outside him, however, this is not Cover 2, but rather an indication of something about to shift in the secondary:
Now this could be Cover 1, with Addae just giving the tight end a big cushion in off man coverage, but just after the snap the two CBs indicate a shift to zone:
Verrett is dropping into a deep outside area, while Flowers jams the slot WR before sliding to the flat. This is an indication now that the Chargers are rotating to Cover 3. But if that is the coverage… what is Addae doing backside?
Returning to the pre-snap look, if San Diego is using Cover 3 on this play, then the backside defensive back’s primary responsibility against slot formation is run support. He needs to work through his run/pass cues and, once he reads run, set the edge and force any runner back toward the middle of the field where there is help. If, however, the offense is throwing the ball, he needs quickly to sink deep to the outside ⅓ zone:
Returning to the play, Addae does a tremendous job of recognizing run and exploding forward, but his route to the football leaves a lot to be desired:
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Starks hits the left side and interior penetration has collapsed any hole. But the RB is still upright and, as he looks to bounce to the backside edge, Addae is eight yards away in the middle of the field. So when Starks makes his move:
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There is no one there to stop him. Addae gets caught up in the traffic inside and cannot make the play. From there, the RB simply outruns the rest of the defense for a 65-yard run, the longest of his career.
Addae will be getting a refresher course in Run Support 101.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.