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Let's Talk About: what preseason is actually for... (redzone playcalling edition)


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Once again, in lieu of a lot of panic over a preseason contest, I thought it would be interesting to dig little deeper into things -- anatomy of a play style.  Now I actually dropped this response in one of the other threads, but this one includes pictures.

First let's address what the preseason is for from a coaching perspective and why things don't always look as fluid as we as fans would like.  It is not about wins and losses (I think everyone knows that), and in some cases it's not even purely about execution per se.  There are things that coaches have to put out there to get on film in a live game to see how opponents will adjust to them.  Then tweaks can be made, or a play can be junked all together.  There are sets and plays that you decide going into a preseason game that you are going to call no matter what, irregardless of the situation.  You don't care if they have the perfect defense on, you're going to run it anyway to get a look at it.  That's why sometimes you'll see even the best offenses inexplicably look bad in preseason.  A perfect example of this is the redzone playcalling last Thursday, and one play in particular, the second and goal play.

Gun Trips Open - the halfback is to the weakside of the formation.  The X receiver to the bottom of the screen has his split cut way down.  See how tight he is to the formation?

The defense is in a single high look.  Both corners off.  Probably a straight Cover-3 Sky (zone) , right... or is it Cover-1 (man)??

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Now this is the part that the coaches want to get on film.  Tevin motions from the backfield out wide.  Now we have an empty formation...

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Note how the defense adjusts.  #20, the Strong Safety, Reshad Jones walks out to the receiver.  The corner, Maxwell #41, walks out wide to take Tevin.  If the safety had followed Tevin out wide it would signal man coverage, but this look this tells Matt it is zone... and more importantly, it tells him that he has a mismatch with a receiver on a safety... a strong safety at that.

Also, note the play design.  It's a China concept to the top (a redzone staple).  At the bottom, Tevin runs a vertical, which is designed to clear out the corner, and then it's just one-on-one Robinson vs. a safety.  In short, this is exactly where Matt should be going with the ball.

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Matt sees it immediately.. but the problem.  Being zone, Jones has the luxury of never having to take his eyes off of Matt, so he saw it too.  

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Jones keeps outside leverage.  Just incredible zone technique.

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... and then he mugs the **** out of the receiver.  Looked a lot tighter in real time, though.

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But you tip your hat.  This was a great play by the safety and there was nowhere else to go with the ball.  Everything was covered up.  Not a great call but...

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... this is the part that applies to what I was saying about preseason playcalling.  I didn't like that call in that spot, but I understand what Kyle wanted to look at.  He wanted to see how an opponent would adjust to that motion.  Now versus zone, with a safety matching the receiver's route, he knows that that route can be adjusted.  Now instead of an out route to the slot he can do this...

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That jerk route that Tony used to run so well would have been wide open in the back of the end zone and if the free safety had squeezed and the linebacker had sank underneath into that window then the Tight End has the option to sit down right there in that honey hole... but these are some of the things that you just can't know until you put a play on film against live competition. 

0828161345a_zpschngufvo.jpg

So, please, calm your nerves.  And if you happen to be watching a game and perturbed that the offense isn't putting up 40 a game, or some drives get bogged down with some WTF playcalls, fret not.  There is an actual reason for some of it.

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I'll go along with needing to see. I think there was a lot of that in the OL. Our zone blocking was set aside for straight up blocking because I think the coaches wanted to see who would stand up to better than average interior linemen.

Your analysis of the play is fantastic. But I think the most important issue you raised is it was not only a very poor play, but the wrong personnel package. But my biggest concern is how poorly the offense is executing. And our pace is very strange. We are supposed to be light and quick. 

Its not a panic moment and I can't believe folks are this crazy. But from a coaching evaluation point of view, that was not pretty. And in my opinion neither was Washington or Cleveland as far as our first team goes. 

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Thanks for this...it was educational and also should help shut up some of these people that want to lynch Ryan. This board has been Outrageous and hardly tolerable as of late minus a couple of threads. The cockroaches are coming out of their hiding spots to crucify our QB for a **** preseason game. This shows how ignorant they are.

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4 minutes ago, BCurt57 said:

Your analysis of the play is fantastic. But I think the most important issue you raised is it was not only a very poor play, but the wrong personnel package. But my biggest concern is how poorly the offense is executing. And our pace is very strange. We are supposed to be light and quick. 

Its not a panic moment and I can't believe folks are this crazy. But from a coaching evaluation point of view, that was not pretty. And in my opinion neither was Washington or Cleveland as far as our first team goes. 

Personally, I'd have liked to have seen a run mixed in there, but I don't take too much issue with 11 personnel down there at the 9 yard line.  The actual design of the play is the headscratcher.  If you're going to run China to the top of the screen, then you'd normally have the tight end run a vertical or post to clean out the underneath coverage and occupy the free safety.  Here the safety didn't have to give ground at all and could cheat over to help Jones on the slot.

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If there that close to the end zone.

I'd liked to have seen a run play pull Julio across the LOS to the right clearing out the left side and pull the whole line left and run Coleman.

Personally I thinking play selection Julio is the moveable piece in that zone you want to get alook you want move #11 around I guarantee the defense goes with him then run the other way.

I'd keep it very simple like that.

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It could have been sold much better also. But you're right. And the play itself squeezed and shortened the field a good bit. Something strange keeps popping into my head. In pro basketball, because of advanced analytics  it's understood that the most inefficient shot is the mid-range  2 at15-21 feet, or so. That keeps going through my head. That a number of our plays are strangely inefficient and feel tight and awkward. Are you a coach?

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PeytonManningsForehead, what are you seeing out of Ryan's mechanics, footwork in particular. 

They look fine on this play, but he went to his 1st read. I am seeing a lot of bad footwork when he is having to go through the progressions. A lot of happy feet, throwing while falling away, etc. That is what is concerning me. He still looks uncomfortable out there. 

Do you feel the same way and what do you make of it? I get you don't always have a perfect pocket and a base, but I am seeing it with a clean pocket. I need to rewatch the game. I deleted it though that night 

Edited by jeffro2000
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3 hours ago, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

 

That was a great explanation, PMF.  My only comment is that Kyle cannot expect every defense to react the same way to this formation/play.  Good defensive coordinators will mix things up, just like good OC's do.  

Edited by etherdome
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22 minutes ago, etherdome said:

That was a great explanation, PMF.  My only comment is that Kyle cannot expect every defense to react the same way to this formation/play.  Good defensive coordinators will mix things up, just like good OC's do.  

That's the chess game coaches play though....you can have a good feel for how teams are gonna adjust based on tendencies, alignment, etc

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6 hours ago, BCurt57 said:

It could have been sold much better also. But you're right. And the play itself squeezed and shortened the field a good bit. Something strange keeps popping into my head. In pro basketball, because of advanced analytics  it's understood that the most inefficient shot is the mid-range  2 at15-21 feet, or so. That keeps going through my head. That a number of our plays are strangely inefficient and feel tight and awkward. Are you a coach?

That's actually a good analogy.  And, no, I'm not a coach... but I was coached very well at one point in my life.

6 hours ago, jeffro2000 said:

PeytonManningsForehead, what are you seeing out of Ryan's mechanics, footwork in particular. 

They look fine on this play, but he went to his 1st read. I am seeing a lot of bad footwork when he is having to go through the progressions. A lot of happy feet, throwing while falling away, etc. That is what is concerning me. He still looks uncomfortable out there. 

Do you feel the same way and what do you make of it? I get you don't always have a perfect pocket and a base, but I am seeing it with a clean pocket. I need to rewatch the game. I deleted it though that night 

One thing I noticed in the Cleveland game was on a couple of those shorter routes, he kinda moved in the pocket a bit to find a throwing lane and his shoulders and his feet weren't aligned, and his elbow came down a bit to kinda sling it out there instead of coming over the top

And he's started to develop a little habit from shotgun, when he gets the ball his shoulders tilt up just a little bit instead of staying level.  That can have a slight effect on your accuracy.  But nothing too glaring.

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2 hours ago, Godzilla1985 said:

Wish I understood all the terminology but wow that explains a lot in simple terms. Thanks as always you should be doing work for ESPN or NFL Network. 

If you are talking about "China" it's a route concept.  You see the top of the screen where both wide receivers are running those short in routes?  That's a china concept.

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This is what is normally looks like.

DOUBLE.png

The thing that was odd about the particular play the Falcons ran, as I noted was that the tight end to that side also ran an in-route.  So in essence you've got three receivers all running in-breaking routes to the same side at the same depth.

If you look at the picture of (Double China Posse Doubles Slot), to the side where the two in-routes are run, the Y receiver is running a 7 route which is supposed to clear out the underneath coverage and influence the free safety.  

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