As we’ve written about so many times, the preseason offers the ability to adjust and respond. Normally, we highlight individual response, but occasionally, we’re able to look at schematic changes. Last week, we broke down the Green Bay Packers successful two point conversion play. It was a solid scheme by the Packers, easily exploiting the weaknesses in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense to allow James Starks to walk into the end zone.
Funny enough, the Buffalo Bills ran the exact same play against the same exact look from the Steelers. But with a couple of tweaks, the Steelers were able to snuff this one out. Let’s break it down.
To recap, the Packers – and Bills – ran a draw out of a Power O scheme. Pull the backside guard with the running back following through. In each instance, the Steelers are in nickel. A one technique and a three technique with a linebacker, Ryan Shazier each time, removed from the box to cover the #2 receiver to the draw side.
Against Green Bay, the three tech gets kicked out by the pulling guard while the outside linebacker, Arthur Moats, is responsible to defend the edge and gets shoved upfield, taken out of the play. I have Stephon Tuitt highlighted from last week’s article but you can see #55 – Moats – sealing the edge.
The key in stopping it the second time around has nothing to do with pre-snap alignment. Instead of the outside linebacker being responsible for the C gap, setting the edge, the Steelers tweak it and slant Bud Dupree into the B gap. Ryan Shazier becomes the edge defender.
Quick picture of the design below.
Compared to how the Steelers designed their run fill the first time.
There is a slight variation to the way the Bills block it as opposed to the Packers, the Bills down block the three tech with their right tackle instead of having him pass set and punch the OLB upfield, but Dupree’s slanting allows him to penetrate and makes the pulling guard unable to kick him out. And even if he gets blocked, Dupree has clogged the lane and Shazier is free off the edge.
Dupree knifes through and meets the running back near the line, bringing him down and preventing the conversion.
Had the Steelers scheme been the same as last week, with Dupree setting the edge, the guard would have had no issue kicking him out and opening up a lane between the trap block and down block from the right tackle. The Buck linebacker would have a tough time closing and filling the lane.
But the Steelers made the adjustment, putting themselves into an advantageous pre-snap assignment. It might not seem like much on a day where the defense allowed 43 points but this is undeniably one positive for Keith Butler. Something as small as changing run fills can mean the difference between a play in the backfield or the opposing offense dancing in your end zone…again.