It’s diagram time again! This week, we’ll break down some signature plays of the eight remaining playoff teams, including plays that helped teams through last week’s wild-card weekend.
All plays are taken from game tape of the 2010 season.
The Falcons do not try to outsmart anyone on offense. Their gameplans are simple and a little predictable — funnel the ball into the hands of their best playmakers, most notably receiver Roddy White.
Coordinator Mike Mularkey can afford to run a no-frills offense because he knows Matt Ryan can deliver pinpoint passes and White will haul in even the toughest catches.
But let’s face it: White is the only player Ryan wants to throw to on 3rd-and-long, and everyone knows it.
So how does White get open? As shown, the defense has three safeties deep; no one should be open 20 yards down the field. The blue double line shows Ryan’s eyes. He stares down the middle safety, never looking White’s way until the last second. White doesn’t tip his route; the defense doesn’t know whether he will cut inside, outside, or run straight up the field until he makes his sharp break for the corner.
The deep corner pass is incredibly difficult to execute — only a handful of NFL quarterbacks have the arm strength and accuracy to fire a pass into such a tight space so far down the field. Ryan’s eyes, White’s route, and the difficulty of the throw all force the safety to stay deep. He must worry about a go-route or post first, a hard-to-execute corner route second. Ryan fires a laser that only White can get to. The pass comes in a little low, but White dives, scoops up the ball, and keeps his body inbounds.
The Falcons' simple system is hard to stop because the team is fundamentally sound. They block and tackle well, run routes properly, and always execute their assignments. The Packers like to be exotic and creative on defense; the Falcons’ no-nonsense approach on offense provides the perfect counterattack.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
The Packers had difficulty establishing the run after Ryan Grant got injured. Grant was their only fast running back, so the Packers were forced to resort to cloud-of-dust rushing tactics that didn’t always complement the team’s wide-open passing attack.
Against the Eagles on Sunday, the Packers were able to grind out rushing yardage using a wrinkle they have tinkered with for years: the full house backfield featuring two fullbacks and a power-running halfback.
At the snap, Rodgers pivots left, Starks jab-steps left, and the offensive line opens up to the left side. This gets the defense flowing in that direction. Kuhn and Johnson head straight for the outside linebackers, and each lays down a solid block. The center and right guard double-team the nose tackle, pushing him to their left and opening a large cutback lane for Starks. Starks obeys an age-old coaching point by “hugging the double team,” and uses the tandem block as a wall to cut to his right and go upfield. Only the middle linebacker has a chance to stop Starks, but he flowed to his left, got caught behind the double team, and can only muster a feeble attempt at an arm tackle. Starks plows downfield for 27 yards.
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