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Let's Talk About: An Old Fashion Route Concept (Sticks)


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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Here, you make the read in real-time.  Key the corner over Sanu.

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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.

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Again, watch how the motion tips the coverage.  Stealing.

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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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Man as soon as I saw Sanu go in motion and saw the LB move out with him but didn't even look at Sanu, I knew it was an easy first down. Just poor football awareness by the LB. Not like he was in a good position but dam man just do the basics. Can't guard what you can't see. 

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17 hours ago, vel said:

Man as soon as I saw Sanu go in motion and saw the LB move out with him but didn't even look at Sanu, I knew it was an easy first down. Just poor football awareness by the LB. Not like he was in a good position but dam man just do the basics. Can't guard what you can't see. 

Atlanta did a good job using their formations and motion to force New Orleans to tip their coverage, but yeah, some of that was just bad.  They didn't look like they knew where the were in the first half.  That play in particular, you'd think someone would check to a different coverage.  I get being uncomfortable in space with a receiver and wanting to give some extra cushion, but I think that was Ellerbe, he didn't show any awareness of the sticks at all.

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I wanted to add a tiny bit of info to this that I neglected.

Typically, in the sticks concept, there is an option element to the route Julio runs.  Now I'm not 100% sure this is the way Kyle does it, but it's very common for the receiver running that stick to have the option to turn it into an out route based on the coverage.

IMG_1706_zpspywx5miw.jpg

So, if Julio sees that linebacker somehow come out and squat on his route, he can keep it going out to the sideline.

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Just now, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

You talking route-wise, concepts, or the game as a whole?

Actually , deleted that comment because I realized I was in the wrong thread. You got to it quick.

Wanted to know where you saw improvement from the defense from one game to another.

 

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32 minutes ago, falconidae said:

Actually , deleted that comment because I realized I was in the wrong thread. You got to it quick.

Wanted to know where you saw improvement from the defense from one game to another.

 

I'll go ahead and answer it here.  Everything was better on defense from the first game.  Looked like night and day as far as the leverages, the communication, the decisiveness.  

New Orleans had a lot more space to operate in the first matchup if you will.  You could see how tentative the young guys were in their zones, which left some holes.

This time around they were breaking on everything like crazy.  And I noticed there was a lot more press man played throughout the whole game, even into the 4th quarter.  That's another big reason why those easy throws weren't there.

The people who got up in arms about the supposed "comeback" and the Falcons taking their foot off the gas in the second half, they are really talking about 10 minutes of football in the 4th.  I went into more detail in Birdland's thread about where I saw the breakdowns.

It was really a couple of bad plays by Poole that allowed the chunk plays, and a couple of clever playcalls by Payton which led to some great Drew Brees throws.  It had nothing to do with a prevent defense.  There was nothing resembling a prevent defense until around the 2 minute mark.  

All in all, there's nothing to be concerned about.  The defense is far from perfect, but they aren't the sorry, swiss cheese unit you might be led to believe by some.

Edited by PeytonMannings Forehead
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28 minutes ago, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

I'll go ahead and answer it here.  Everything was better on defense from the first game.  Looked like night and day as far as the leverages, the communication, the decisiveness.  

New Orleans had a lot more space to operate in the first matchup if you will.  You could see how tentative the young guys were in their zones, which left some holes.

This time around they were breaking on everything like crazy.  And I noticed there was a lot more press man played throughout the whole game, even into the 4th quarter.  That's another big reason why those easy throws weren't there.

The people who got up in arms about the supposed "comeback" and the Falcons taking their foot off the gas in the second half, they are really talking about 10 minutes of football in the 4th.  I went into more detail in Birdland's thread about where I saw the breakdowns.

It was really a couple of bad plays by Poole that allowed the chunk plays, and a couple of clever playcalls by Payton which led to some great Drew Brees throws.  It had nothing to do with a prevent defense.  There was nothing resembling a prevent defense until around the 2 minute mark.  

All in all, there's nothing to be concerned about.  The defense is far from perfect, but they aren't the sorry, swiss cheese unit you might be led to believe by some.

Great thank you, not one of those worried about the 2nd half.

Although, I do wish they'd had one more sustained drive on offense that got Ryan his 5000 yards, added another 7 points to the total and ate up all the time that the Saints needed to add points. 45-25 would have looked nice,oh well.

Thanks for that, I could see it myself, but couldn't articulate it like you did.

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