NFL Big Gain Week 15: Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett

The Seattle Seahawks clinched a playoff berth with their victory over the Cleveland Browns. A fourth quarter touchdown from their Super Bowl winning quarterback helped seal the victory. Mark Schofield looks at the pass from Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett.

With a seven-point lead as the fourth quarter began, quarterback Russell Wilson found rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett on a beautifully-designed and perfectly-executed wheel route. The play call exploited the Browns’ Cover 4 matching coverage and let the rookie wideout show off his impressive traits.

The Seahawks face 2nd and 15 on the Cleveland 27-yard line with Wilson under center and 11 personnel on the field, a single receiver on the left, and a bunch to the right. The Browns counter with 4-2-5 nickel personnel in the game, showing a two-high safety look. The three receivers, working inside-out, are wideout Doug Baldwin (#89), tight end Luke Willson (#82) and Lockett (#16). Jermaine Kearse (#15) is alone on the left, split very shortly off the left tackle:NFLReview15Still1

Lockett comes in motion from right to left, settling in a stack-slot behind Kearse. In response, cornerback Johnson Bademosi (#24) slides toward the sideline while linebacker Christian Kirksey (#58) slides outside, over the stack-slot:NFLReview15Still2

Cleveland uses a Cover 4 matching scheme on this play. As with standard Cover 4, four secondary players each drop to cover a quarter of the field. The matching aspect comes from the flat defenders to each side of the field: Kirksey to the right side of the defense, and nickelback Charles Gaines (#43) to the left side:NFLReview15Still4

These defenders are tasked with reading the #2 – or inside – receiver to their side of the field: Should that receiver run a vertical route, then the defender attempts to jam on the receiver before working to the flat zone. If that player cuts to the inside, the defender instead carries him to the inside and passes him off to and adjacent zone defender while anticipating a receiver crossing from the other side of the field. And if that receiver run a wheel route, then the defender is tasked with staying on him in man coverage.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has dialed up the wheel route for the speedy Lockett:NFLReview15Still3

On the opposite side of the field, Wilson runs a deep post pattern while Baldwin releases to the flat ‒ an easy route combination for this coverage scheme to handle. But to Lockett’s side of the field, Kearse releases on a go route while the rookie WR first cuts to the outside, and then up. Kearse occupies Bademosi and the playside safety, Tashaun Gipson (#39), leaving the linebacker Kirksey alone in man coverage:

[jwplayer file=”http://cdn.insidethepylon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/NFLReview15Video1.mp4″ image=”http://cdn.insidethepylon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/NFLReview15Still3.jpg”]

This is a difficult assignment for the linebacker. The vertical release from Kearse creates traffic that the LB must fight through while Lockett heads to the outside. While the linebacker finally catches up to Lockett’s inside hip, he makes the mistake of glancing back to the football. That is when Lockett accelerates, creating separation. And the moment Wilson has identified the mismatch.

Wilson unleashes a throw that leads the rookie into the end zone. Gipson tries to help but cannot prevent the touchdown. Lockett secures the football before the safety delivers a strong hit, and helped Seattle secure a playoff spot as well.

*Danny Kelly wrote this excellent article using this play to show how Wilson has evolved as a pocket passer at FieldGulls.com.

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.

All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.

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