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Football Outsiders (via NBC Sports) Key Plays

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Part 1 of a series of articles explaining the bread-and-butter plays that helped each team reach the postseason. All plays are taken from game tape of the 2010 season. This article covers Saturday’s wild-card games. New Orleans Saints No NFL ...

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Old 01-05-2011, 11:41 AM   #1
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Football Outsiders (via NBC Sports) Key Plays

Part 1 of a series of articles explaining the bread-and-butter plays that helped each team reach the postseason. All plays are taken from game tape of the 2010 season. This article covers Saturday’s wild-card games.

New Orleans Saints

No NFL team has as many playmakers in the passing game as the Saints, and Sean Payton excels at finding ways to get all of his receivers, tight ends, and backs involved. Combine Payton’s schemes with Drew Brees’ ability to read coverage, fool defenders and deliver pinpoint passes, and the Saints remain one of the toughest teams in the league to defend.
Figure 1 shows the Saints in a 1st-and-10 situation while protecting a third-quarter lead. The Saints don't typically run out the clock, so they attack the defense with an empty backfield and four wide receivers. Note that the Saints’ two possession receivers, Marques Colston (12) and Lance Moore (16) are stacked on the left side, while speedsters Devery Henderson (19) and Robert Meacham (17) are spread out on the right side. The defense has no choice but to play its secondary deep: Brees does not have to worry about a blitz with the defense back on its heels, though he has an extra blocker at the line (his tight end) just in case. While Colston and Moore run decoy routes to occupy defenders on the left, Henderson and Meacham run a variation on the “double posts” route combination. Both receivers release straight up the field, then slant inside on deep patterns. The goal of the combination is to force the deep safety to commit to one receiver, allowing Brees (9) to throw to the other receiver. Brees helps the cause by “looking off” his defender: the red line in the diagram shows Brees staring down Henderson and the deep safety. The safety has no choice but to cover Henderson. As a result, he is in no position to help the cornerback assigned to Meacham. Brees also was able to read a Cover-3 zone defense at the snap, so he knew that one of the cornerbacks to Meacham’s side would not pursue the receivers deep. Both Meacham and Henderson are too fast for most cornerbacks to cover without safety help, and Brees’ pass is right on the money.

Payton moves his receivers all over the formation, making it hard for defenders to assign double coverage or set up jams on the line. Often, receivers are stacked in tight formations, like Moore and Colston are on this play, allowing them to crisscross and “rub” (a football-legal way of saying “moving pick”) defenders. Other times, burners like Meacham are aligned in the slot, while slower targets like Jeremy Shockey are split wide, causing further confusion. Even the league’s best defenses have difficulty compensating. The Seahawks will have to hold on for dear life.

Seattle Seahawks

It’s hard to select one signature play for the Seahawks; they do so many things poorly. They have no go-to guy on offense and little big-play capability. Matt Hasselbeck has been described as a “point guard” this year, distributing the ball to a bunch of unknown players so they can create in the open field. In keeping with the basketball metaphor, their signature play looks as much like a screen along the three-point arc as anything you see on the football field.

Figure 2 shows the Seahawks facing 2nd-and-10 early in a game. They initially line up with two receivers tight to each side of the line of scrimmage, but one of those receivers is fullback Michael Robinson, who goes in motion before the snap. The wiggly line shows where Robinson ends up: as a blocker in an offset I-formation. The defense is thinking inside run; notice that two defenders are lined up right over the center. Marshawn Lynch (26) takes the handoff and starts to run inside. This is a designed cutback play: Robinson blocks an outside linebacker while tackle Russell Okung (76) climbs out to block an inside linebacker, which would ideally create a hole for Lynch. With so many defenders crammed between the tackles, Lynch has little room to run. Luckily, he has another option: he bounces to the outside, where Mike Williams (17) has sealed off the cornerback with a tough block. Once Lynch reaches the outside, the defense is in trouble, and Lynch gains 39 yards before a safety brings him down.

Plays like these make the best use of the Seahawks’ available personnel. Lynch is a powerful inside runner who also has some start-stop ability, allowing him to surprise defenders with sudden cuts. Williams is a king-sized receiver who finally figured out how to block. And Robinson is one of the NFL’s most interesting square pegs: a college quarterback who reinvented himself as a fullback, special teams ace, and sometime Wildcat quarterback. He’s one of the league’s most tenacious blockers, and he much faster than the average fullback, making him a great open-space thumper. The Saints have an aggressive defense, and their defenders will sometimes miss tackles or get out-of-position while trying to make big plays. If they over-pursue or go for too many knockout hits, the Seahawks can surprise them with Hasselbeck’s point-guard routine or the physical backfield. It’s a long shot, but it’s the best the Seahawks have.

Tanier: Plays NFL wild-card teams can't do without - NFL- NBC Sports

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Old 01-05-2011, 12:32 PM   #2
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Whoa! Magnificent write up. Xan - gotta any game film for me to see?
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:42 PM   #3
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really thats a ear full of info xan

wow you just gave away about 2 plays we run lol. then the last was best. a dream that the hawks have a shot. ( longshot)
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Old 01-05-2011, 02:29 PM   #4
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Ahhhhh yes! Good info. This is the kind of stuff that helps watching the game a little easier.
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