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  1. Ok, every now and again run across a play allows me to clearly illustrate what the quarterback is seeing and reading on any given play. I hit on a few route concepts earlier in the year -- in fact I think I hit on this one -- but we love football, right, so let's go over it again. Both teams Monday night ran a lot of what's known as the sticks concept. It's perfect against Cover-3 and it can give any type of man problems, also. But it really wreaks havoc on Cover-3. Basically, what it is, is this: you're going to have two receivers to one side. The outside most receiver is going to run a flat. The inside receiver is going to release and he has the option to run a hook if it's zone, or and out route if it's man. The quarterback is going to read the man over the receiver running the flat. IF THAT MAN runs with the flat receiver, he is going to throw the hook. Of course, if he sits inside and disregards the flat, then he'll throw the flat. Now here's the actual play. Julio is in a tight wing formation next to Toilolo. We've got 12 personnel on the field. You can see clearly the routes drawn up and the key defender Matt is looking at. Now note, this happens fast. Matt is only looking to this side of the field. And he's looking at the movement of that defender to tell him where to go with the ball. Here it is at the snap. Two steps into Matt's drop and he already knows where he's going with the ball. #52, Garvin's eyes are all on Toilolo, pretty much disregarding Julio. Matt gets to his last step. Before that back foot hit, #52 is screaming where to go with the ball. He's turning and running right at Toilolo.. and Julio sees it too. Don't ever let anyone tell you playing receiver is just about athleticism. There's a lot of nuance, a lot thinking that goes into this position. Receivers at the NFL level are oftentimes put in positions where they have to be able to read coverages as well as quarterbacks. Easy money. Nothing that groundbreaking. This is in every offense in the NFL. Something nice and simple to get your QB some rhythm and some easy yards. This is almost that long handoff you often see associated with the WCO. And you can run it from any formation, with any personnel grouping.
  2. I'm kind of in a hurry today, so this one's gonna have to be quick. @BIRDLAND 2.0, I'm still gonna go over that second half for you. I promise. But for right now I wanted to talk a little about something that jumped out to me Sunday. It's nothing big, or highlight reel worthy, but I thought it was pretty cool when I noticed it. "Sticks" is one of those old, old fashioned route concepts. I don't even know if it's a WCO staple, I think it pre-dates the WCO, and everyone runs it. It's just a nice, simple route concept that can get your quarterback an easy completion to get him into rhythm if your offense is stuck in neutral. You'll notice a lot of teams with young quarterbacks will go to this and a couple of other route concepts like spot or flood or dagger to get their guy going. Basically, sticks is a horizontal route combination, and it puts the defense in a bind and it gives the quarterback options off of a simple read. For my Madden players, this is what it looks like. This is the exact play we're going to look at. This play from the second quarter. The Falcons are in what's called a Trio formation. Three wide receivers to one side, the Tight End is in-line all by himself to the wide side of the field. Now I LOVE this formation, because it puts the defense in a bind. Just about anything you run can jam them up because they are going to have to align funny to defend it, just like here and that is going to give away your coverage. You can run a spot concept, a flood, sticks, all of that is going to be open. Okay, now this is how you read it. Let me back up. I'm not 100% how the read system has changed with Kyle's WCO. It looks like a progression read system to me, but I'll explain it the way I know to read it using the coverage read system. In the coverage read system, you read defensive players (KEYS). Your key in the sticks concept is going to be the guy playing the receiver running the flat route. If it's zone, which it is here. Matt can tell it's zone because Julio is uncovered. If it's zone, key the flat defender. If he covers the flat route, throw the sticks to Julio. If he covers the 'stick" route, throw the flat to Sanu. If they are clouded to that side and the corner squats then look at the vertical. If that's covered, work your way back to the TE... but usually one of the first two reads is almost always open. You read that one flat defender and it's all but impossible to be fooled. And this look tells Matt one of them is going to be WIDE OPEN because the linebacker to that side is mugged up on the LOS, so he isn't a factor. The KEY defender here is pretty much going to have to play two receivers. At the snap, the two linebackers drop out. Looks like the Saints are in what looks like a 3 Cloud coverage. Matt sees it immediately. Look at what the key defender is doing. He's all over Sanu. And that linebacker doesn't have a chance against Julio. That's basically stealing. Here, you make the read in real-time. Key the corner over Sanu. The great thing about working from "concepts" is that they are easy to teach and you can run them from any formation. Now there are two different concepts working here. Matt can work the top of the screen with the tight splits, or the bottom with Sanu and Julio. Sanu motions from across the formation into the slot. The LB walks out over him. A linebacker on a receiver. Guess where #2 is going with the ball on 3rd and 6. And once again, the pre-snap read. The linebacker walks out on Sanu, so we know it's zone. Again, watch how the motion tips the coverage. Stealing. So, if you're ever watching a game and you wonder why an offense seems to start getting easy completions that look like nothing, but the defense looks inept, it's stuff like this. It's the coordinator going to his base concepts and stretching the defense in odd ways it doesn't wanna go. The defense didn't want a linebacker on a receiver. The motion put them in a bind and the linebacker knows he can't cover that much space -- he doesn't know what kind of route is coming, so he has to play it safe.
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