When a team is running the football well it can really open up things for them in the passing game. Sound familiar? Cliché? Yes, but so very true, and we saw this early on in the Pittsburgh Steelers game Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
In addition, when one play works out of a certain formation it opens up other plays being successful out of that same formation.
Let\’s start with the Chiefs very first running play of the game, which is illustrated in the first two animated gifs.
The Chiefs are using their 12 personnel grouping with Jamaal Charles lined up single back. The gif picks up after Dwayne Bowe has motioned from outside to an h-back position weak-side. Both tight ends are on the right. This screams run.
The Steelers are in their base cover-2 defense using off man coverage. The Chiefs run their zone stretch play to the right and it goes for 9 yards. On the play, everyone on the Steelers defense has good gap control except for Ziggy Hood, who gets banged on and turned by the initial double team before the guard releases and takes out Larry Foote attempting to fill the gap. Casey Hampton almost gets an arm on Charles, who breaks free until Ryan Clark is forced to come up and make the play. Notice the play of Keenan Lewis here. He has responsibility of tight end Tony Moeaki, the outside eligible on the play. If he reads Moeaki staying in, he then becomes the outside contain against the run and must attack it, which he does pretty well.
I have outlined in the past the problems the Steelers have had with zone blocking schemes and they certainly had a rough go of it against the Chiefs Monday night.
Fast forward now to the Chiefs second play of their second drive. The down and distance is second and three after a another nice run by Charles off right guard for 7 yards on first down.
Look at the personnel and formation in the next two animated gifs. Look familiar? Now this is the perfect down and distance for the Chiefs to either run the same stretch zone to Charles or use another run or pass play out of the same formation.
The only difference in the Steelers defense on this platy is that Will Allen rotates down low to provide backside run support. The rotation down leaves Clark as single safety and essentially the defense is cover-3 with Lewis, Clark, and Ike Taylor all responsibly for a third of the field and the deepest eligible in that area.
At the snap it looks just like the zone stretch is coming again except this time Moeaki releases. Lewis is caught with his pants down as he reads run all the way and falls for the play fake. Clark has to stay in the middle of the field to respect the run and simply can\’t cover up for the mistake of Lewis quick enough. Matt Cassel hits a wide open Moeaki for an explosive play and the Chiefs would wind up scoring two plays later on another zone stretch play to the right out of a different formation.