Brian Hoyer Uses the Mills Concept

On paper, the meeting between the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans did not appear to be a big matchup, but the game did have postseason implications, as both teams try to keep pace with the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South. Mark Schofield breaks down the big play: a long touchdown throw where Brian Hoyer uses the Mills concept to attack the free safety off of play action.

The game was close into the second half, when the hosts used ten unanswered points en route to a 20-6 victory over the Titans. The Texans face 1st and 10 on the Tennessee 42-yard line with Hoyer under center and 11 offensive personnel on the field. They have slot formation on the right, with Washington on the inside and rookie WR Keith Mumphery (#12) outside. To the left, the offense has DeAndre Hopkins (#10) on the outside with tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz (#87) in a tight wing outside the left tackle. Running back Alfred Blue (#28) is the single-back in the backfield.

The Titans employ a 3-3-5 sub package, with veteran safety Michael Griffin (#33) down in the box over the TE, and Cover 1 showing in the secondary, with Da’Norris Searcy (#21) as the free safety:NFLReview8TexansStill1

Houston uses the Mills concept with Washington and Mumphery to attack this coverage:NFLReview8TexansStill2

This design is often referred to as a quarters coverage beater, as the design tests the playside safety in Cover 4. But when run against a single-high safety look such as Cover 1, the scheme puts the discipline and vision of the free safety under stress. If the defender maintains proper depth, he can prevent the post route from coming open. But if he spots the dig route and breaks on the shorter pass pattern, that opens up big play potential deep:

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Searcy breaks on the underneath dig route, exposing a big hole, deep in the Titans secondary. Hoyer winds up and delivers, with Washington high-pointing the football before crashing into the end zone with a crucial score. The WR landed hard on his hip, and limped off after the play. But he was rewarded with a critical touchdown for his efforts.

A look at this replay angle shows how Searcy keyed on the dig route and broke on Mumphery, running right past Washington:

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The score extended Houston’s lead to 11 points, and they tacked on a field goal for the final score of 20-6. With the Colts still struggling, and facing a tough test of upcoming games, the Texans are actually in position to challenge for this division title. Some more execution like this in the passing game will bode well for their chances.

Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.

Mark Schofield has always loved football. He breaks down film, scouts prospects, and explains the passing game for Inside the Pylon.

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