Splash plays. Every team wants them but how do they happen? This article is going to look at the defense of the upcoming opponent focusing on the three big plays they allowed the previous or recent weeks. 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 – Cleveland Browns
Game reviewed vs Arizona Cardinals
Q1 8:40 – 3rd and 21 from the CLE21
Arizona – 10 personnel
Cleveland – Dime, Cover 6
The Cardinals have three receivers to the left and one to the right with a running back flanking the quarterback to the right who is in shotgun. Cleveland counters with six defensive backs in their Dime defense and will be in a Cover 6 which has two defenders deep to one side of the field and one on the other.
To the left the offense has DeAndre Hopkins (10) split wide to the left, Rondale Moore (4) in the slot and rookie Christian Kirk (13) inside of him. A.J. Green (18) is split wide to the right and will run a go route with safety help over the top.
Hopkins is going to run a curl route with Denzel Ward (21) covering him. This keeps Ward from getting depth. Kirk and Moore are going to run a scissors routes. Moore is going to accelerate about fifteen yards out and will give a little head nod to the outside before breaking inside on the post route. Kirk from the inside does the opposite. He turns his head to the inside before breaking outside on the corner route underneath Moore. The move by Moore gets the slot corner Troy Hill (23) to bite to the inside leaving Kirk open for the touchdown on the outside. The two routes in the area put Hill in a conflict to make a decision. Quarterback Kyler Murray leaves a clean pocket but makes a nice throw.
Steelers Scenario – You don’t want Ward to get depth so using Diontae Johnson on the curl route should hold him there. Ben Roethlisberger can even use a pump fake there to hold him. Chase Claypool would draw the attention deep so use him on the post route inside and sneak James Washington under him for the out corner route.
Q2 2:44– 2nd and 6 at the ARI44
Arizona – 11 personnel
Cleveland – Nickel, Cover 3 Zone
Arizona has one receiver in the slot to the left and two receivers to the right. The tight end is on the wing and the running back is behind the quarterback in the pistol formation. The Browns counter with their nickel defense with a safety walking down into the box.
For the Cardinals the tight end is going to stay in and block and the running back will check release into the right flat. From the right slot, Kirk will release to the inside and run right up the seam at the deep safety before breaking to the left about twenty yards deep. Green split wide to the right will run a go route drawing the attention of rookie corner Greg Newsome II (20). From the left side Hopkins will run a deep over route making his break to the right at about 15 yards.
With the Browns in Cover 3 the two deep routes take the defenders in the middle and right. Hopkins runs underneath those deep and over the intermediate defenders playing Zone and is wide open with no defenders within 8 yards of him. Murray has a huge window to throw into and it leads to a 33 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – Here I would think Washington would run the go route and Claypool the deep over route to take the deep defenders. Johnson can be the beneficiary on this deep over route between the defensive levels.
Q3 6:20– 3rd and 10 at the ARI46
Arizona -10 personnel
Cleveland – Dime, Cover 3 Man
Arizona has a group of three receivers bunched to the right and one wide left. The running back is on the wing to the left with the quarterback in shotgun. The Browns are in their dime defense and have a lot of activity milling about the line of scrimmage to try to confuse Murray.
The Browns are going to bring the blitz on this play. Three defensive linemen along with two safeties, Ronnie Harrison (33) and Grant Delpit (22), rush the passer. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (28) will also come on a delayed blitz. Running back Chase Edmonds (2) will chip Myles Garrett (95) before picking up Delpit. Takkarist McKinley (55) drops into coverage in the middle of the field.
With the blitz, it’s basically one on one with the three deep players. Hopkins runs a go route on the left side. Kirk from the tight slot will run a deep in breaking route that gets safety John Johnson III (43) to come up and take that route. Green who was on the outside of the bunch to the right also runs a deep in route and with Johnson coming up to take Kirk the middle is wide open for a 34 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – The Steelers could run this out of 11 personnel as well with Pat Freiermuth in the place of the fourth receiver who runs into the flat. Johnson runs the go route to the left, run Washington as the middle route and Claypool on the outside and hit him. If he breaks the tackle it’s a touchdown.