Splash plays. Every team wants them but how do they happen? This article is going to look at the upcoming defense of the upcoming opponent focusing on the three biggest plays they allowed the previous week. It’ll take a look at the whole play including details such as personnel, formations, blocking schemes and route combinations. As a follow up to each play, there will be the Steelers Scenario identifying the player or players who could benefit by running similar plays.
Week 13 Opponent – Cleveland Browns
Game reviewed vs Miami Dolphins
Q2 – 2ND and 8 from their own 44
Miami – 11 personnel
Cleveland – Nickel, Cover 2 Man Under
Miami comes out in 11 personnel and Cleveland counters with a Nickel defense that is going to show Cover 1 but is going drop Damarious Randall (23) deep into a Cover 2 look with Man coverage underneath.
Before the snap, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) flips the formation going from a trips right to a trips left bunch formation. In that bunch, from outside to inside, you have Allen Hurns (17), Mike Gesicki (88) and Albert Wilson (15). Cleveland counters with, from outside to inside, Greedy Williams (26), Justin Burris (31) and T.J. Carrie (38). To the right the Dolphins send RB Myles Gaskin (37) and WR Devante Parker (11). This puts the Browns best corner Denzel Ward (21) and best linebacker Joe Schobert (53) to the far side of the field and out of the play.
Gesicki performs an impressive rub route that will occupy all three defenders. He’ll release to the outside that blocks Williams from getting inside and Carrie from getting outside leaving two WR’s wide open. Wilson runs underneath Gesicki to the flat and is uncovered while Hurns also runs under Gesicki on a slant and is open over the middle. The safeties are 20+ yards off the ball giving Hurns room to get yards after the catch taking a 4 yard pass and making it an 18 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – Insert James Washington, Vance McDonald and Tevin Jones in this scenario. McDonald runs the rub with Washington running the slat to the inside and let him much another defender for a big gain.
Q2 – 3RD and 7 on the Browns 40
Miami – 11 personnel
Cleveland – Nickel, Tampa 2
On a drive late in Q2 Miami is using 11 personnel with RB Patrick Laird (42) in the backfield and Gesicki on the wing. The Browns are in their Nickel defense and are using a Tampa 2 coverage.
Gesicki is going to release up the seam before breaking to the outside. In the Tampa 2 the linebacker, in this case Schobert, has the deep middle of the field so he’s going to carry any route up the seam. Wilson from the right slot is going draw the attention of Randall with a curl. Laird is going to run a Stab route out of the backfield in front of LB Mack Wilson (51). Parker split wide left is going to run a Dig route behind Wilson.
This creates the conflict. If Wilson drops deep to stop the Dig, you hit Laird. If he steps up (or stumbles in the case) to take the RB, you hit the Dig behind him. One note, you can see Fitzpatrick slide to his left in a clean pocket. I think he may have been expecting Parker to cut off his route and settle in the Zone coverage instead of continuing inside and was trying to create a clean throwing lane.
Steelers Scenario – For the Steelers I’d put McDonald in the curl route and have Washington up the seam to put more pressure on Schobert. Jaylen Samuels runs the Stab route and Diontae Johnson on the Dig. This should be an easy throw to gain positive yards.
Q3 – 3RD and 6 at the Browns 32
Miami -11 personnel
Cleveland – Dime, Cover 3 Zone
The Dolphins come out with three receivers to the right and Gesicki to the left. The Browns are in their Dime defense and their going to bring a blitz.
This is another route combination designed to create conflicts. There are three routes to focus on: the shallow Cross, the Dig and the Go. The shallow Cross run by Hurns is going to occupy the two underneath defenders. Parker is going to run the Dig route below the safety and Gesicki is the Go route to the outside.
Fitzpatrick’s first read is on safety Sheldrick Redwine (29) and the Go route. If he moves up, to the Dig route or to his left, Gesicki will have one on one on the outside. Next, Fitzpatrick reads the shallow Cross and that is covered. So he moves to the Dig route and that open for a 21 yard gain.
Redwine is the first conflict; does he stay deep to help with the outside route or does he move up for the Dig. The underneath defenders have the second conflict. Do they get depth to take away the Dig or step up and follow the crosser? You want to force defenders to make a choice.
Steelers Scenario – I like this play for the Steelers. I am using Deon Cain on the Go route. I want as much speed as I can get out there. The shallow Cross is Johnson as his quickness will draw the attention. Washington is the Dig route. I think using the speedy Cain in the Gesicki role would put more pressure on the safety and if the safety doesn’t keep his depth this could be a TD.