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 4 Opponent – Green Bay Packers
Game reviewed vs San Francisco 49ers
Q3 8:40 – 3rd and 9 from the GB24
San Francisco– 11 personnel
Green Bay – Dime, Cover 2
San Francisco is going to start with a two by two formation with 2 receivers in the slot to the left and the right. There is a running back flanking the quarterback to the left in shotgun. Green Bay has their dime personnel on the field and will be in Cover 2 Zone coverage.
George Kittle (85) is lined up outside on the left with Brandon Aiyuk (11) inside of him. Prior to the snap, Kittle will motion into the backfield and line up to the right of the quarterback. Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, who is lined up outside to the right, will run 14 yard curl routes turning to the outside. The inside man to the right, Mohamed Sanu (6) will run a 12 yard curl to the inside. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk (44) and Kittle will run routes into the flat to their respective sides.
The Packers in their Zone coverage have the safeties dropping to 20+ yards from the line of scrimmage leaving Aiyuk and Samuel open and the flats are open as well. The three players that drop in the middle of the defense are very close to each other triangulating around Sanu. Quarterback Jimmy Garappolo (10) makes the more difficult throw to Samuel for a 16 yard gain over the outstretched arm of slot corner Chandon Sullivan (39) but Aiyuk was more open on the left.
Steelers Scenario – The Steelers have been struggling to gain separation versus Man coverage so Zone coverage may be a welcome site. You have Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth run the flat routes with Diontae Johnson on the left and Chase Claypool on the right running the outside curls and Juju Smith-Schuster in the middle curl.
Q4 11:45– 1st and 10 on the GB50
San Francisco– 11 personnel
Green Bay – Nickel, Cover 6
The 49ers again have two receivers to each side with the running back flanking the quarterback to the left. Green Bay’s coverage looks a little confusing but I think it is supposed to be a Cover 6 with Man coverage on the receiver to the bottom.
Prior to the snap, Kittle is going to go in motion to the right and settle on the right wing. That is followed by Jauan Jennings (15) who will go in orbit motion to the left behind Garappolo. This gets the linebackers to shift to their right.
At the snap, Kittle will come back left across the formation with the offensive lineman blocking to the right making it look like a gap running play. Garappolo will take the snap and put it in the belly of running back Trey Sermon (28) drawing up the linebackers about two yards. Wide receiver Trent Sherfield (81) is going to run a Go route taking rookie corner Eric Stokes (21) with him deep.
From the right slot Sanu is going to run a route which starts across the field and then he will angle up field to get Darnell Savage (26) and Jaire Alexander (23) to open their hips. Sanu then flattens the route to the sideline getting wide open for a 16 yard gain that could have been more with a better throw.
Steelers Scenario – Play action to pull up the linebackers and great route by Sanu get him wide open. Claypool would likely be used in the orbit motion and send Johnson deep to draw the attention. Get Smith-Schuster on the over route for the good gain.
Q4 0:43– 1st and 10 at the GB12
San Francisco-11 personnel
Green Bay – Dime, Cover 6
Late in the fourth quarter, the Niners again have 2 receivers to the left and two to the right with a running back flanking the quarterback to the left. The Packers have their dime personnel on the field and are going to play a Cover 6.
Prior to the snap Sanu will go in motion to the right to form a bunch formation with Samuel and Aiyuk. Kittle from the slot to the left will run a go route with coverage from Stokes. To the right Samuel will run and in breaking route and Aiyuk and out breaking route in the end zone. Sanu will run a curl underneath the other two.
This coverage has four Green Bay defenders on the goal line and two underneath to the bunch side leaving safety Adrian Amos (31) one on one with Juszczyk. He is going to run an arrow/Texas route were he angles to the outside before slanting inside getting good separation and he proceeds to run through safety Henry Black (41) to the end zone.
Steelers Scenario –I don’t think the Steelers run angle/Texas routes at all. I know I was beginning for them last year but with Harris it would be perfect. I would use Claypool on the go route, Johnson on the end zone out route, Freiermuth on the end zone in route and Juju on the underneath route. Harris could duplicate what Juszczyk did on this play easily.