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 – Los Angeles Rams
Game reviewed vs Cincinnati Bengals
Q1 – 3 RD and 5 from their own 30
Cincinnati – 11 personnel
Los Angeles – Dime, Cover 1
On a third down play, the Bengals go with an empty backfield and spread out the defense. To the top of the screen they have RB Giovani Bernard (25) split wide, TE Tyler Eifert (85) in the slot and Alex Erickson (12) in the tight slot. Bernard and Erickson are going to run short routes and Eifert will run a skinny Post. Eifert gives a little push to S Taylor Rapp (24) before making his break inside. He doesn’t create a lot of space but Andy Dalton (14) makes an accurate throw for a 27 yard gain.
This play had other options as well. Erickson gets good separation right at the first down marker and Tyler Boyd (83) is open with a Whip route from the near slot. Auden Tate (19) has a step on a Go route vs Jalen Ramsey (20) at the bottom of the screen but that would be the least likely option.
Steelers Scenario – The fans have been looking to get the TE down the field more and this could be an option. Vance McDonald can win that one on one battle vs Rapp. Put JuJu Smith-Schuster in place of Erickson, Diontae Johnson on the Whip and James Washington/Johnny Holton on the Go.
Q2 – 1 ST and 10 on the Rams 40
Cincinnati – 12 personnel
Los Angeles – 4-3 Under Front
The Bengals are going to get a big run on a DUO run play. Upfront the offensive lineman are going to double team block on the front side DE Michael Brockers (90) and 1 Tech Sebastian Joseph-Day (69) that opens a hole in the B gap. TE Drew Sample (89) does a nice job sealing LB Samson Ebukam (50) outside to open up the D gap.
The runner Bernard is reading the MLB Troy Reeder (51). Reeder takes a step toward the B game so Bernard goes outside. WR Robert Woods (17) gets a nice block as well keeping Rapp inside. Bernard isn’t touched until 5 yards downfield and breaks a couple tackles on his way to a 25 yard run.
Steelers Scenario – You’d rather see the Steelers run this with James Conner but that won’t happen this week. The play design is sound against the under front. The best defender Aaron Donald (99) and DE Dante Fowler Jr (56) are on the other side of the field basically out of the play and if McDonald/Nick Vannett can seal that OLB this could work with any back that can choose the right gap.
Q4 – 4 TH and 10 at their own 49
Cincinnati -11 personnel
Los Angeles – Dime, Cover 2 Zone
Midway through Q4 down 14 the Bengals had to make a play on fourth down. Bengals Head Coach Zac Taylor digs into his bag of tricks and runs a three man route? It worked so I guess that makes it a good call.
The Rams are in Zone and the three routes are designed to get behind the underneath defenders. Erickson will run a Post from the slot to try to hold the safeties in the middle of the field. On the outside, Tate and Boyd are both going to run a Stutter and Go.
When Tate does his stutter DB Darious Williams (31) is going to bite. When Tate does his go, Williams will commit pass interference so they Bengals would have gotten a first down anyway. However, with Donald bearing down on Dalton he gets the throw off and Tate make fantastic catch near the sideline.
Steelers Scenario – First of all, I don’t think a 3 man route in this scenario would have a high probability of succeeding. However, it looks like Ramsey also makes contact with the receiver so seeing both corners bite a bit would make it worth trying this route this week.
Q4 – 2 ND and 10 at their own 30
Cincinnati – 11 personnel
Los Angeles – Dime, Quarters coverage
This was actually the biggest gainer of the game but I don’t think we could convince Ramsey to play with this little effort against Pittsburgh.
They are in Quarters coverage so the corners and safeties each take one quarter of the field. I don’t know if Ramsey had checked out with less than a minute in the game or he didn’t expect them to throw his way but his body language before and during the play seems lackadaisical. His arms are at his side and he doesn’t move much at that snap.
All the receivers run Go routes and Ramsey looks surprised the play came his way. The result of the play is a 52 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – Start by convincing Ramsey to relax and take a play off and then get someone to run by him.