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Courtesy of Saints Report: How the Falcons formationed their way into success in the run game


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Saw this on their forum and this guy appears to be their version of @PeytonMannings Forehead . He gave a great breakdown. Not sure if copying and pasting the YouTube links will give the corresponding clips. Going to link it here just in case. Good job TCUDan.

Edit: clips should work now.

https://saintsreport.com/threads/how-the-falcons-formationed-their-way-into-success-in-the-run-game.479228/

Hey, guys. There were a lot of questions about this yesterday, revolving mostly around "which Saints' defensive players are to blame for the Falcons running the ball so well." So I'm going to break down three plays from the same drive to show how they really came in with a great gameplan that was both well-executed and seemed to catch the Saints off-guard.

As usual, I recommend watching the clips at half-speed.

https://m.youtube.com/clip/UgkxjI6d2wX3x-UziomHHnjiKKiVkP4XFBhG

1st & 10. The Falcons come out in 11 personnel, pistol, with reduced splits to the field. The Saints are in their nickel big look with Evans in the slot, with the strength declared to the boundary. They are aligned in a cover 2 shell.

From the way the play unfolds, the Saints appear to be expecting some sort of play action/bootleg. The reduced splits, and then the speed motion just prior to the snap all confirms this. Understand that in Tampa 2, the Mike linebacker is what you call the "middle runner". He has a very deep drop to the middle of the field and will carry anything up the seam. This is why in a Tampa 2 defense, your WILL linebacker has to be an absolute DAWG, is essentially a 2-gapper in the run game (remember when Derrick Brooks was with the Bucs and got defensive player of the year and all that? That's why).

So with the Saints in Tampa 2, Davis is pretty much keying #2 and playing pass first here. He sees a vertical release at the snap and immediately opens to carry the seam deep. The motion the Falcons use is specifically to manipulate Werner (the WILL) and take him out of the run count. This is also likely something the Falcons or their OC has put on film in the past, and for the Saints, it confirms play action (not to mention the Saints are extra cautious due to the mobility of Mariota to get out on bootlegs).

Let's be clear that this is all "window dressing" and is an example of tremendous self-scouting on the part of the Falcons. The actual play they run is super simple: outside zone to the boundary. Even with solid penetration by the DE and DT to that side, the Falcons have the Saints outgapped and outnumbered. They actually get +1 in the run game (you see the LG reaching playside and running free with no one to block). Evans does his best to outrun his block, gain leverage, and force the play back inside. But in the end, the Falcons just outsmarted the Saints right there.

https://youtube.com/clip/Ugkx3v9A7qVn2cKAkLbAIBS8-x3IxmDj5Cmb

2nd & 2. The Falcons come out in 20 personnel, pistol, with the slot to the field. The Saints are in their same nickel look, playing quarters.

The play here is just straight split zone. The FB has a sift responsibility, meaning the OL is leaving the backside end unblocked, so he's going to sift back and kick him out. Werner is cross-reading the FB and tries to plug fit... straight downhill. Davis then has to overlap and tries to slow play it. The backside DE is Davenport (I think) and he's staying wide to play the bootleg with his eyes on Mariota. The sift back from the fullback takes him out (hard to defeat a cut block without your eyes) and opens up a huge cutback lane for the RB. It's quarters, so this is on Maye to come down and insert as the free hitter... which he does, but like Davis and the other guys, he is slow playing it. This, again, is because the Saints do not want to give up the big play on play-action.

So on one hand, you have another example of great execution by the Falcons. On the other hand, you have the Saints defense slow-playing their run fits. I hate the term 'bend but don't break', but this is kind of what they're doing. One way to get absolutely smoked in quarters coverage (where the safeties have run fit responsibility) is for the safeties to fit overzealously downhill. The Saints did not scheme to stop the first down right here.

And as frustrating as it is, I said in another thread... the fact that the Saints kept the score relatively low, despite getting absolutely battered in the for 3 quarters, kept them in the game and gave them the chance to win.
 

https://m.youtube.com/clip/Ugkxq7CsO7sWI0t4t5CuNjZTnWC7Ve4vngFL


1st & 10, this time in the red zone. Falcons come out in either 11 or 20 personnel (not sure if the H-back is a TE or FB), pistol, with reduced splits. This time the Saints are in a true 4-3, with Kaden Ellis on the ball as a SAM LB. They are in a cover 3 look.

Again, the Falcons use speed motion presnap to manipulate the WILL backside. Werner is forced to peel out of the box at the snap to play the wheel route. The Falcons run split zone again, this time to the left, but the RB is on an A-gap 'mid zone' track. The H-back has sift responsility on Cam Jordan backside.

Because of the back's tight track, Davis has to plug, but the gaps are super compressed and he's forced to stack and shed off the guard. Maye is the down safety and is slow-playing playside B-gap. The playside DT defeats the center, but the RB cuts it back and he misses the tackle. Once again, good window dressing, strong execution by the Falcons, and slow-playing run fits by the Saints results in a significant gain.

This was pretty much the tale of the first three quarters. Anytime fits are off, blocks are not being shed, and RBs are getting space in the run game, there will be downstream mistakes that happen (missed tackles, bad angles, etc.). Every player looks great when they're correctly anticipating the play and able to execute their assignment a couple of steps faster. When everyone fits right, fewer tackles are missed, etc. Once a RB breaks loose and you gotta abandon your fit and go into chase mode, a lot of technique goes out the window.

This is why I keep saying "the entire defense struggled." If you were to grade out Demrio Davis, this would have been one of the worst games I've ever seen him play. Now the worst thing I could do is then jump to the conclusion that he's lost a step/isn't as good/etc. The defense played poorly... so everyone had a bad game as a result of that.

In terms of scheme, yeah... there's things that could have been done better. I think the Saints came into the game with a conservative defensive gameplan and expected the offense to really kind of lead the way here. The lack of productivity on offense really rippled over to the defense and got them out of their gameplan. They went in, wanting to stop the QB run, the RPOs, and the play action--and keep broken plays from busting. But with the Saints offense being super anemic, the Falcons were able to just pound the ball all game and do whatever they wanted for the first 50 minutes.

I would expect a much more aggressive gameplan at home, to be honest, with the crowd noise is in their favor and a lot more up-to-date film on the Falcons.

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We're going to have to dig deeper in the playbook and pass from the pocket more effectively as teams get more film of the offense. It was promising that they were able to catch the saints off guard a bit and execute the game plan effectively.

Stating how the defense keeping the saints scoring in check was a big point. Over the years, we've never been a low scoring team but not being able to get off the field on D led to a lot of shootouts or late game losses. Growth on defense will be as important as any improvements on offense.

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First of all, I’ve never read a Saints fan forum and maybe you should check into detox for that. 
 

Next, I love the analysis and even though that guy seems to be a Saints fan which is intrinsically stupid I appreciate that he isn’t negative in his analysis. So I suppose today I learned even the Saints can have a sane fan. 
 

And last, gotta say I can’t wait for the day we can look back at a win and dig into the reasons we almost lost. That’s a luxury. 

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46 minutes ago, Run 'n' Shoot said:

We're going to have to dig deeper in the playbook and pass from the pocket more effectively as teams get more film of the offense. It was promising that they were able to catch the saints off guard a bit and execute the game plan effectively.

Stating how the defense keeping the saints scoring in check was a big point. Over the years, we've never been a low scoring team but not being able to get off the field on D led to a lot of shootouts or late game losses. Growth on defense will be as important as any improvements on offense.

Will definitely need to be able to develop a counter punch as film comes out and weaknesses can be exposed. What it all boils down to though is you can scheme and adjust all you want, what it comes down to us guys gotta make plays. We will see if the first three quarters were because of scheme or was the 4th quarter an outlier and guys just didn’t make plays 

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I would expect a much more aggressive gameplan at home, to be honest, with the crowd noise is in their favor and a lot more up-to-date film on the Falcons.

Crowd noise? At MBS?! Oh, you mean the beer vendors hollering GET UR BUD LITE! to the dozens of fans in attendance? 😂 but I digress...

 

The beauty of AS's offense is you can look at all the film you want. With the team running completely different plays from the same formation, you probably aren't going to know jack about what is coming until the play actually unfolds. Hopefully some of those plays will go to our WR's many yards downfield. 

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37 minutes ago, PokerSteve said:

I would expect a much more aggressive gameplan at home, to be honest, with the crowd noise is in their favor and a lot more up-to-date film on the Falcons.

Crowd noise? At MBS?! Oh, you mean the beer vendors hollering GET UR BUD LITE! to the dozens of fans in attendance? 😂 but I digress...

 

The beauty of AS's offense is you can look at all the film you want. With the team running completely different plays from the same formation, you probably aren't going to know jack about what is coming until the play actually unfolds. Hopefully some of those plays will go to our WR's many yards downfield. 

Imagine a throwing QB like ridder in the offense. Once he get experienced. They are going to rip some azzes 

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I've got to say that that was a dang good break down. 

Also we can bet our butts that McVay watching the heck out of our game versus the Saints. He's not going to come in with a vanilla plan. I think it's pretty clear that he's going to have his work cut out for him scheming against Pees and Smith.

I'm really hoping this is a competitive game for us. Last season I would have gone ahead and written this game off because I would assume that they will beat us on both lines of scrimmage. 

But this season I think we have a chance. Our DL looked so good compared to last season, and their starting center is injured. 

With the way Jarrett played last game, I bet that we'll be able to use him up the middle to crack that line open and let Carter and Ebiketie get some good pressure off of the edges. 

I'm thinking that if we have any chance of winning this game that it's going to start with the defense pressuring the f out of their OL.

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2 minutes ago, Iron Saint said:

Dan's an absolute stud. Very valued poster on our home boards. No matter how much you know about football, you'll usually learn something new every time he posts his in-depth breakdowns.

That guy's a gem. He's also a good writer. That was very easy to understand.

We're very lucky to have our own version. 

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