Beating The Bears: Three Plays To Attack Their Defense

Diontae Johnson and Ben Roethlisberger

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 10 Opponent – Detroit Lions

Game reviewed vs Los Angeles Rams

Play One

Q1 7:23 – 1st and 10 from the LAR 18

Los Angeles – 11 personnel

Detroit – Nickel, Cover 3

The Rams are going with and empty formation with three receivers lined up to the left in a bunch formation and two to the right with the quarterback in shotgun. Detroit is in their nickel defense and look like they’ll be dropping into a Cover 3 defense.

To the left the Rams have wide receiver Van Jefferson (12) at the front of the bunch with Cooper Kupp (10) on the outside and running back Darrell Henderson (27) on the inside. Kupp will run a curl with Henderson cutting under him to the flat. Jefferson will run a deep in route to get over the linebackers and under the deep coverage.

To the right, Robert Woods (2) will run a route the breaks to the inside before reversing to the outside while remaining in contact with Amani Oruwariye (24). Tight end Tyler Higbee (89) will run into the flat. With Oruwariye paying so much attention to Woods there is no one to the outside to cover Higbee. The result is an easy 16 yard gain.

Steelers Scenario – The Woods route sells this play. Staying in contact with the DB makes it feel like the ball will be coming his way. I’d like Chase Claypool in this route if he’s available. If not Diontae Johnson can draw that attention. I actually like Zach Gentry on the TE route as he would draw the least attention to the outside.


Play Two

Q2 4:58– 3rd and 6 at the DET 43

Los Angeles – 11 personnel

Detroit– Nickel, Cover 3

Los Angeles has a three receiver bunch to the left, a receiver in the slot and the running back split wide to the right with the quarter back in shotgun. The Lions are again in their nickel defense and look to be dropping in to a Cover 3.

Prior to the snap, Henderson is going to motion to the backfield and Jefferson will shift from the slot to out wide. Henderson moves several times but eventually ends up in the A gap to pick up blitzing linebacker Alex Anzalone (34). To the left Higbee is at the front of the bunch and will angle outside to run a fade route. Kupp from the inside slot will angle toward the sideline before heading up the seam. Woods will run a crossing route from the outside slot underneath the other receivers.

Higbee draws the attention of cornerback Jerry Jacobs (39) and safety Will Harris (25). Kupp has cornerback A.J Parker (41) with him leaving Woods across the middle. With the inside linebackers running a cross dog blitz, this leaves only safety Tracy Walker (21) to cover him from the deep safety. He takes a poor angle leaving Woods leverage to the outside to get up the sideline for a 22 yard gain.

Steelers Scenario – In the bunch you have Freiermuth on the tight end fade route. Johnson runs the curl route and I like James Washington on the crossing route. He has a chance to break a tackle and make a big play.


Play Three

Q4 3:36– 3rd and 1 at the LAR 32

Los Angeles -11 personnel

Detroit – Nickel, Cover 1 Man

Once again the Rams have three receivers bunched to the left with a receiver in the slot and the running back split wide to the right with the quarterback in shotgun. Detroit again is in their nickel defense but they are going to play Man coverage with a single high safety.

Prior to the snap Kupp will go in motion to the right slot taking a defensive back with him. This along with linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) splitting out wide with the running back signals Man coverage. Kupp will run an out route and Jefferson, also in the slot, will run up the seam.

To the left, tight end Higbee will run a shallow cross taking the safety/slot corner Harris with him and drawing the attention of linebacker Derrick Barnes (55). This design leaves Woods one on one on the outside with Jacobs. Woods will angle outside before breaking on a slant for an 18 yard gain.

Steelers Scenario – Johnson is the Steelers best route runner so this sets up well for him in off Man coverage. It would be a big tougher against Press Man but it could be effective as well.

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