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 15 Opponent – Tennessee Titans
Game reviewed vs New England Patriots
Q2 14:22 – 1st and 10 from the NE21
New England – 11 personnel
Tennessee – Base 5-2, Man Coverage
The Patriots have two receivers to the left and one in the slot to the right. The tight end is in line to the right with a running back seven yards off the ball behind the quarterback who is under center. Tennessee has their base defense on the field and will play Man coverage.
Prior to the snap, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) will start in motion to the left. The quarterback Mac Jones (10) will take the snap and fake it to Bourne on the jet sweep and then also fake it to the running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38). The motion by Bourne will draw the attention of linebacker Monty Rice (56) and the fake to Stevenson pulls Jayon Brown (55) toward the line of scrimmage.
Outside to the left Nelson Agholor (15) will be covered by cornerback Kristian Fulton (26). Jakobi Meyers (16) is in the left slot and he will be covered by safety Amani Hooker (37) an advantage for Meyers. He will start his route by angling to the inside and then up the seam to get Hooker to open his hips to the middle of the field. Once Meyers sees this he breaks back outside on a shake route and Jones hits him near the numbers for a 22 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – In this scenario if the Steelers could get Hooker matched up with Diontae Johnson they would be golden. Run Chase Claypool on the deep outside route and James Washington on the motion. If Johnson is covered you can hit Washington or the tight end leaking out to the right.
Q2 12:50 – 1st and 10 at the TEN37
New England – 11 personnel
Tennessee – Nickel, Cover 1 Man
New England has two receivers stacked to the left and at tight end on the end of the line of scrimmage. There is a receiver split to the right and a running back to the right of the quarterback who is in shotgun. The Titans are in their nickel defense and will play Man coverage.
Prior to the snap, Bourne will go in motion and settle behind the quarterback to give it a piston look. Jones will take the snap and put in the belly of Stevenson and with the right guard pulling to the left it looks like a running play. This will pull up the linebacker Rice and the nickel corner rookie Elijah Molden (24). Bourne will swing out to the right and linebacker Brown will start to move with him.
Agholor who is split to the right will run a go route to take the corner with him and clear out the area. Meyers to the left runs a deep hook and is open. Tight end Jonnu Smith (81) runs an over route from the left side behind the drawn up linebackers. Molden who looked confused prior to the snap probably should be in Man coverage on Smith here but he plays the run. Jones hits Smith for a sixteen yard gain before the safety can bring him down.
Steelers Scenario – The play action and motion causes some confusion and the play goes after a rookie. I would use Washington on the motion to the backfield; have Johnson run the deep hook and Claypool on the go route to clear out the area. Pat Freiermuth runs the deep over route and Ben Roethlisberger can hit that or Johnson on the curl with Washington as the check down on the swing route.
Q3 14:20– 2nd and 9 at the TEN48
New England -12 personnel
Tennessee – Nickel, Cover 1
The Patriots have a tight end wide to the left and in the slot. To the right they have a receiver in the tight slot and one split out. The running back is seven yards off the ball behind the quarterback who is under center. Tennessee is again in their nickel defense in Man coverage.
Prior to the snap, tight end Hunter Henry (85) that is split wide to the left will motion to his right and settle inside tight end Smith who is in the slot. At the snap, the offensive line will all break to the left while Jones will fake the ball to the running back Damien Harris (37). This movement and fake get the defensive lineman, linebackers and slot corner to flow to their right thinking it is a running play but Jones will bootleg back to the right.
To the right the slot receiver Meyers will block the defensive end down to the inside to help Jones and Agholor who is split to the right will run a deep out drawing coverage from the corner to that side along with safety Kevin Byard (31) who is probably hoping to undercut the out route. From the left slot, Smith will run a crossing route behind the flowing front seven and inside of Byard who is breaking to the outside. He is again wide open and hit for a 20 yard gain.
Steelers Scenario – Motion and play action are in the cards this week and each got the receivers open easily. Zach Gentry is the motion man and use Washington and Claypool to make it look like run blocking personnel. Gentry’s movement along with the offensive line will make it look like a run. You ask Washington to block on the edge, Claypool to run the deep out and Freiermuth on the crossing route.