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 Pittsburgh Steelers scenario identifying the player or players who could benefit by running similar plays.
Week 11 Opponent – Cleveland Browns
Game reviewed vs Buffalo Bills
Q1 – 3 RD and 2 from their own 34
Buffalo– 11 personnel
Cleveland – Nickel, Cover 1 Man Under
Buffalo comes out with two receivers to either side with Robert Foster (16) in the slot left with Cole Beasley (10) on the outside. Cleveland is in their nickel defense and are showing blitz with the two linebackers mugging in the A gaps. Greedy Williams (26) is lined up over Beasley initially with T.J. Carrie (38) over the slot.
Beasley is going to motion into a stacked position behind Foster and with the motion, the DB’s are going to switch with Williams taking Foster on the Go route to the outside. This route is also going to grab the attention of the deep safety. Beasley is going to run a delayed Slant hesitating for a two count before jabbing hard to the outside, dropping his inside knee nearly to the ground and accelerating to the inside.
With the linebackers blitzing and the safety shading to the Go route this leaves the middle of the field wide open for a 26 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – This route and change of direction would be ideal for Diontae Johnson. Send JuJu Smith-Schuster on the Go hoping he will draw the attention and let Johnson beat the slot coverage. Even with a blitz this is a quick pass against one on one coverage and has big play potential.
Q2 – 1 ST and 10 on the Browns 48
Buffalo – 11 personnel
Cleveland – Nickel, Cover 1 Man Under
Buffalo aligns with trips left and the TE inline on the right side. Cleveland is in their nickel defense and their going to send one of their linebackers up the middle.
Prior to the snap, Isaiah McKenzie (19) is going run a jet motion taking a defender with him showing its man coverage. The Bills are going to run play action pulling their left guard to the right to simulate a run to the outside. McKenzie’s motion is going to turn into a wheel route up the right side. John Brown (15) lined up outside left is going to run a post taking his man and attracting the safety. Underneath Brown, tight end Dawson Knox (88) is going to run a crossing route against safety Morgan Burnett (42). It becomes and easy catch and run for 21 yards.
Steelers Scenario – Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Steelers need to get the tight ends more involved in the passing game. This is a nice play design to do that. Motion Johnson across the formation, use play action to James Conner and get Vance McDonald isolated on the safety.
Q4 – 1 ST and 20 at the Browns 37
Cleveland – Dime, Cover 3 Zone
Buffalo is in an empty set sending Brown wide left with RB Devin Singletary (26) in a tight split left. Knox is in a tight split to the right with Beasley in the slot and Foster wide right. Cleveland is again in their nickel defense but this time they are going to play Zone.
The route combination to watch is on the right. Foster is going to run a Post pattern and will carry the corner to his side and to occupy the safety so he can’t jump the route underneath. That route is a deep In route from Beasley. His job is to get behind and between Zone defenders in the middle LB Joe Schobert (53) and Burnett. QB Josh Allen (17) is looking left right up until he releases the ball and this holds Burnett just enough to squeeze the pass between them.
Steelers Scenario – As far as play calls go there aren’t many that are usually this successful on first and 20. Maybe you don’t use this where the linebackers can get so deep but the concept is sound vs Zone. Mason Rudolph and James Washington have started to show a nice connection on deep In routes and would be a good choice here.