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 8 Opponent – Indianapolis Colts
Game reviewed vs Denver Broncos
Q1 – 3rd and 10 from their own 11
Denver – 11 personnel
Indianapolis– Dime defense, Cover 1
Denver has two receivers left and one to the right. The tight end, Jeff Heuerman (82), in on the wing to the left of the formation. Pre snap motion is going to bring Fred Brown (19) from wide left to inside the slot receiver. The slot receiver is a familiar face, Diontae Spencer (11), who was in camp with the Steelers in the preseason.
The motion causes a little confusion between Kenny Moore II (23) who is going to take the inside WR Brown and Marvin Tell III (39) will be in coverage on Spencer. The Colts are showing a cover two look but are going to rotate to a Cover 1 with Man coverage underneath.
At the snap, Brown is going to run a Corner route with Moore on him that draws the attention of the safety. Heuerman is going to delay before releasing up field taking safety Khari Willis (37) with him. This opens up lots of space for Spencer who is going to run a Whip route and break back to the inside. Joe Flacco (5) is going to feel pressure from his left, step up and think about running before dumping it to Spencer who gains 20 yards and just gets tripped up or he may have gone the distance with one man to beat.
Steelers Scenario – This is a Diontae Johnson route. He probably has the best change of direction among the WR’s. Use JuJu Smith-Schuster to motion to the inside and let him draw the attention downfield. Vance McDonald can run the hesitation route to open up the space for Johnson.
Q2 – 2nd and 16 from their own 36
Denver – 11 personnel
Indianapolis – Nickel, Cover 1
Denver has 3 receivers to the left and one to the right. Tight End Noah Fant (87) is in a tight slot formation to the left with DaeSean Hamilton inside him. Courtland Sutton (14) is the receiver split wide to the right.
The Colts are again in the Cover 1 with the single high safety with Man Coverage underneath. DB Rock Ya-Sin (34) is in off coverage and has outside leverage on Sutton.
The routes are pretty simple as Fant is going to run up the seam and Sutton is going to run a Dig route. With Ya-Sin playing with outside leverage Sutton is able to easily create space with quickness to the inside. I’m not sure what the safety Malik Hooker (29) is doing as he completely overruns the route giving Sutton lots of space to run and gets 23 yards after the catch and mushes Clayton Geathers (26) who is coming off a block to try to make the tackle.
Steelers Scenario – James Washington ran some similar Dig routes last week and was open but Mason Rudolph’s accuracy was off especially early in the game. We’re all waiting on the college teammates to get on the same page and they were close last week. I expect to see them go back to this route again this week.
Q3 – 1st and 10 from their own 25
Denver – 21 personnel
Indianapolis – Base 4-3
The first play of the third quarter Denver comes out in an I formation with the TE in the right wing and single WR’s to either side. The formation is going to hold the linebackers who might be expecting run but it really has no bearing on the play.
Sutton is the WR split wide left and is going to hesitate to the inside before releasing to the outside. Ya-Sin is again in coverage and is in good position on the inside hip of the receiver. Flacco is going to do a simple five step drop, hitch and get ball out to Sutton on a back shoulder throw. The accuracy isn’t great but the play is still effective for a 25 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – The back shoulder is something we haven’t seen a lot of to date from Rudolph and hopefully will be something added to his game going forward. Any of the Steelers WR’s could be used on this route but it fits Smith-Schuster and Johnson the best.