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 11 Opponent – Los Angeles Chargers
Game reviewed vs New England Patriots
Q1 10:08 – 3rd and 7 from the NWE28
New England – 11 personnel
Los Angeles – Dime, Cover 2 Man
The Patriots line up with three receivers to the right and with one in the tight slot in the left. The running back is flanked to the left of the quarterback who is in shotgun. Los Angeles is in their dime package and will play Man coverage under a Cover 2 look.
Prior to the snap, Kendrick Bourne (84) who was lined up wide to the right will motion to his left passing Nelson Agholor (15) who is in the slot and settling inside of Jakobi Meyers (16). With the motion, the corner Asante Samuel Jr (26) that was across from Bourne will shift inside to Agholor. This puts nickel corner Chris Harris Jr (25) on Meyers and safety Derwin James Jr (33) on Bourne.
At the snap, Meyers angles his route to the inside and aims for James. This causes Harris and James to collide briefly. Agholor will also angle his route to the inside before breaking back outside on a deeper shake/corner route. Bourne will hesitate to delay his release to break under those two routes and with the defensive backs colliding he is left all alone on the outside for an easy 14 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – The Steelers receivers have trouble separating against Man coverage so this play forces a “rub” on the DB’s that would greatly help the receivers. I would use James Washington to force the rub, use Diontae Johnson on the deep route and run Chase Claypool underneath to receive this pass.
Q2 10:07– 1st and 10 at the LAC37
New England – 21 personnel
Los Angeles – Nickel, Cover 3
New England has a receiver to each side tight to the formation with a tight end inline to the right. There is a running back and fullback in the backfield in an offset “I” formation with the quarterback under center. The Chargers are in their nickel defense and will drop into a Cover 3 look.
Quarterback Mac Jones (10) will open to his left and fake a handoff to the running back Damien Harris (37) who will stay in to block. To the left, Agholor will run a post route that occupies the cornerback Samuel and safety James. The full back Jakob Johnson (47) will chip the blitzer and then will aim to the middle of the field as a check down. Tight end Hunter Henry (85) will run a deep crossing route.
The Johnson/Henry combination is the focus here. The Chargers have three defenders in that area. Nickel corner Harris is going to come on a blitz. Safety Nasir Adderley (24) is going to creep up and toward the outside in case Johnson breaks that way. Linebacker Drue Tranquill also seems to be focused on Johnson and ignoring Henry who cuts right in front of him.
Someone makes a mistake in coverage leaving Henry run wide open to the area vacated by Samuel. The result is a 33 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – The play action and the inclusion of the fullback to the right side seems to confuse the defense. The Steelers haven’t used 21 personnel very often but it could be a good chance to get Pat Freiermuth open on deep ball.
Q4 6:38– 2nd and 10 at the NWE46
New England -21 personnel
Los Angeles – Base, Cover 3
The Patriots have one receiver to each side and a tight end inline to the right. The quarterback is under center and the running back and full back are in a traditional “I” formation. Los Angeles is in their base defense and will play a Cover 3 look.
This is fourth quarter play with the Patriots up seven and trying to run some clock. At the snap, Jones will open to his left again and fake the ball to the tailback Harris. In this late game scenario the Chargers are geared up to stop the run so the fake is going to draw up linebacker Kyzir White (44), Tranquill and safety James who is aligned over the tight end.
The corner to the defensive left side Tevaughn Campbell (20) also bites on the fake taking one step toward the backfield. This allows Meyers, the receiver he was covering to go untouched on a shallow crossing route. On the other side Agholor runs a deep post taking the corner to the that side with him. Meyers makes an easy catch and stays inbounds to keep the clock moving after a sixteen yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – Late game execution is huge when trying to run time off the clock. I feel the Steelers would pound the ball into the middle three times for three total yards and have to give the ball back. Plays like this win you games. Run Claypool deep and Johnson on the crossing route to ice the game.