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Playbook: Falcons Put On A Clinic Vs. Cover 2


vel
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First, I want to point out just how far we have come from last season. Against the Bears and Giants (first and last games of the season), we couldn't beat the Cover 2 if our life depended on it. It seemed like that was our kryptonite. It was actually quite pathetic. But now, suddenly we can beat the Cover 2 defense and are actually used as an example of how to beat it. Wow. But here is an article from National Football Post with a break down. Enjoy!

Watching the Rams-Cardinals game on Thursday night, I saw a lot of Cover 2 from St. Louis in the red zone. How do you beat it?

Let’s go back to the Falcons' win over the Panthers this past Sunday and breakdown Matt Ryan’s TD pass to Roddy White. A solid example of how personnel, alingment and route scheme can beat the 2-deep shell.

Panthers vs. Falcons

Personnel: Posse (3WR-1TE-1RB)

Alignment: Doubles Slot “Dakota”

Route concept: Double Smash-Post

Defensive Scheme: Cover 2

WHITE1.png

- I want to start with the personnel and alignment before we get to the Falcons’ route concept because it tells a story. In a “Dakota” formation (TE removed as backside X receiver in 3x1 alignment), you can get speed down the middle of the field. Look at the pre-snap alignment of White (highlighted in yellow). He is the No.3 to the open side of the formation—and that allows him to matchup vs. the Mike Backer (highlighted in orange) on the post.

- The route is a classic Cover 2 beater. A 7 (corner) route to the closed side of the formation from TE Tony Gonzalez (occupy the SS) and two inside smash routes from No.1 and No.2 to the open side. That leaves White on the post down the middle of the field.

- Base Cover 2 from the Panthers. Rush four, drop seven into coverage. Two deep safeties with the Mike Backer running the “inside vertical seam.”

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WHITE2.png

- The Falcons have the matchup they want: White on the post vs. a Mike Backer in the middle of the field. The LB will open his hips to the passing strength (open side of formation) and carry the inside vertical.

- I mentioned the 7 cut from Gonzalez above. This occupies SS Charles Godfrey and prevents him from overlapping to the middle of the field on the throw.

- Keep an eye on FS Haruki Nakamura (highlighted in red). He isn’t threatened vertically by No.1 or No.2, so he should be in a position to drive downhill on this throw.

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WHITE3.png

- Now you start to see the separation from White once he stems to the post. Remember the Mike LB has his back to the QB. He has to drive to the inside hip of the WR and roll to the post. Not an easy technique when matched up the speed of the Falcons’ wide out.

- Check out Nakamura. As a Cover 2 safety in the red zone, you have to play for the 8 (post) or the 7 (corner) and you can’t take any false steps (or be slow in your read). The speed of the game increases in the red zone.

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WHITE4.png

- End zone angle of the catch. Even with the Mike Backer trailing White (and the FS slow on his break) this is a very tight window for Ryan to target the WR. Great throw and execution on this play. And it all started with the pre-snap alignment of the Falcons.

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The thing about this play and having a good OC now is that:

HD is wide open. Look at the final still and you can see HD could potentially walk into the endzone he's so open.

You can put HD where Tony G is in the formation and have more speed to stress that safety on the closed side of the play.

You can make Julio run a fly on the open side of the play and really stress both safeties. This play will be ran again later in the season with more variations to it, you can bet on that. I was really impressed with this play and the fact that I'm happy we have a Cover 2 beater shows you just how bad the last person we had running this offense really was.

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Don't the Bears run mostly cover 2?

Yes. Do you remember the first game of 2011? We scored 0 TDs because we couldn't move the ball against the Bears playing only Cover 2. It wasn't the Bears dominating like this year. We checked down all game and the offense looked purely anemic. Same thing happened against the Giants and Steelers 2010.
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Whether it was because he sucks, or because Matt was pissed that he picked him off, I think every big play for the rest of the game was aimed at Nakamura.

So true. I think it was a combo of both, but a little more Ryan being pissed.
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I think it's moreso Matt fitting the ball in a tight window. I mean, wasn't the argument against Mularkey was the lack of receivers running wide open? HD is wide open in the last still because it's a coverage play and everybody is chasing the ball in the air at that point. Koetter brings new wrinkles to the passing game no doubt, but Ryan's improvements have just as much an imprint on our passing success this year.

Edited by Wjcorner
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excellent writeup! love the explanations and route trees well done!

And I agree wholeheartedly, the coaching staff is making this team look like.... well... look like a coached team. Who knows what would have happened if MM and BVG were gone a year ago? I'm just glad we have DK and MN now.

Go Falcons

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This just further proves how much better Koetter is than MM.

MM would have ripped Ryan a new one for trying to throw into that tight a window. He was not into taking chances at all.

"If he's not wide open, check it down. Our kicker never misses."

Vel--

As far as HD being open, he was after the throw. If you look, everyone of both teams has broken routes and coverage and is just flowing to the ball in that final still. The previous still shows that Harry was on an underneath route...he was the check down option. There is a defender over the top of him at the 10 yard line protecting the chains until Ryan starts his throw.

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