FFODC Checks In On The Offense

The bread and butter of our run game has been the outside zone run.  (This video shows outside zone and it's blocking assignments.)   It has afforded us the ability to horizontally stretch out defenses and compliment play action looks for Cousins that allow him easy throws downfield.

The reads for Matt Jones on this outside zone run are 3 fold:


[After the jump: Cousins…Play action…More arrows!]

Bounce:  If Jones sees that his outside blocker has sealed the defender to the inside then he can “bounce” the run to the outside.  If the outside defender is able to push his guy out wide to the sideline then Jones can “bang” the run and cut it up field behind the block.  If the defense has over pursued the run then Jones can “bend” his run and cut it back.


In this case the blocker, Silverback, is able to push his man out wide and an opportunity opens up for Jones to “bang” is run, which he does.  Now at the 2nd level he has made a linebacker commit to a hole and Jones can make him wrong by making a second cut for a few extra yards:


He fails to execute this part and the run ends for 2 yards:

Gruden has deployed this run all season long.  Teams have attempted to thwart it by throwing wrinkles in how they defend it.  In week 2 Dallas tried to slant their defensive line away from the run in an attempt to get penetration and confuse our lineman’s blocking assignments:


Moses should ignore the slanting defensive lineman–they have taken themselves out of the play–but instead he chased him inside.  This ruins his angle on the incoming linebacker:



Now Moses has to change direction and try to seal off #50 Sean Lee.  Reed has his man sealed out to the top of the screen.  If Moses sealed #50 to the inside, Chris Thompson would have had an alley to run through.  Instead Lee (below, hidden behind #76 Moses) gets outside of Moses and forces Thompson to cut back into incoming Cowboys.



Later on in the game Dallas tries the same stunt:


This time Moses does not fall for the bait and starts working outside to seal out the linebacker:



Moses (76) locks up with the linebacker and Matt Jones has an outside alley to run through:

mosesslant2dIn the season opener, Kory Lichtensteiger demonstrated a text book outside zone “reach block.”  Notice how he got all the way around his man and positioned himself between the defender and the running back:

The brutal throw down was icing on the cake.  Later on in the game, Pittsburgh’s lineman tried to penetrate our outside zone runs by shooting through gaps a la Ricky-Jean Francois.  So Gruden ran a “Wham” play which allowed/baited the defensive lineman to come into the backfield unblocked.  Then a 2nd blocker will come in from the side and blindside that penetrator.

In the following play Lichtensteiger will purposely ignore his man and attack the 2nd level.  Scherrf is going to Wham block the guy Lichtensteiger just ignored.  What about the guy Scherrf was lined up to block?  Vernon Davis will Wham block him:


The play results with Lichtensteiger hitting the 2nd level and Davis and Moses opening an alley for Jones:



Davis ended up holding on his block but up to that point that play was executed perfectly.  The Wham play was a good change up to keep the defense honest and not let them overplay our outside zone runs.  It’s the only time I’ve seen us run it this year, we could be shelving it until our tight ends block it better.


Cousins chart:

I Like That (+1) Meh (+0.5) Closed Door Meeting with Jay (-1)
17 13 9
Pressure/No WR Open (+1)   Better Option/WR Open (-1)
3 second sack   3+ sec sack (-1)
(Spikes/Kneeldowns: 3)
Final Score: 20/40 (50%)

err…I’m still learning how to get better formatting with tables but “Throws” grades are as follows:

  • +1:  In stride, great decision, and/or completion with under-3-second pressure
  • +0.5:  Inaccurate completion that slows WR down, Screens, Throwaways, Accurate throw but better options were downfield.
  • -1:  Bad decision on 3rd downs, Inaccurate throws

Scrambles get a plus if it’s the best option, they get a minus if he missed an open guy downfield.  If pressure is in his face in under 3 seconds then I give him a +1 for being able to make something out of nothing.  -1 if pressure got there after he babysat the ball too long.

Sacks will count against him if he stands in the pocket for longer than 3 seconds.

I take his total score and divide by total dropbacks (spikes and kneel downs are not counted.)  So, for the Giants he graded out at 50% which is not ideal.  it’s “Meh.”  For the season:

Steelers:  (+24, -12) 63%  *Last drive not charted

Cowboys:  (+28, -16) 57%

Giants:  (+30, -10) 50%

Against the Steelers they were taking everything away deep down the middle of the field.  Kirk started out the game with a few underneath throws and then on the 6th and 7th plays, Cousins opted for short safe throws instead of looking downfield where he would have found a guy open.  It looked like he tried to make up for those missed opportunities by forcing a throw downfield on the very next drive and an interception resulted.  After that he settled in and took what the defense gave him:

Distance Left Middle Right Totals
0-9 yds 6/7 8/10 8/12 22/29
10-19 yds 2/2 1/2 3/3 6/7
20+ yds n/a 1/1 n/a 1/1

For the majority of the game we ran deep seam routes and accompanied them with short routes on the outside.

More of the same next week versus Dallas except we were kind of predictable with some of the play calling.  We ran play action off of outside zone that the defense knew was coming.   By the 3rd look, Dallas started to tee off on it:

Crowder got annihilated before he could even get into his route.  We showed it again the following week versus the Giants and added a wrinkle with our routes:


Normally Reed will go in motion and run the bottom route from the top of the screen.  Then we will run a drag route over top of that (yellow.)  Instead Desean broke off his route to the outside and Reed stayed in to block.  The result:

We execute a few other runs besides outside zone but the core of this offense is built on it’s foundation.

Part of the reason for his lowest grade of the season in week 3 was missed reads:

A vertical route splitting cover 2 safeties:


And a deep drag route over top of linebackers that got sucked in by play action:



Spencer Long struggled at center but he will need time to gel with the offensive line.  Trent Williams didn’t like his switch to guard:

“There are so many calls, so many little intricate things that you have to pay attention to,” Williams said. “I didn’t know any of them. Spencer did a great job helping me out. I was confused … I took a tackle stance one time. Another time I was too far up on the ball thinking I was right next to the guard. I had to iron out some kinks a little bit. It was tough.”

and will move back to the outside with Arie Kouandjio getting the start at left guard.  Kouandjio’s draft profile lists a promising strength:

On-target with hand strikes and works to steer his man out of the play in run game. Good in short-pull game and will fire himself into linebackers with force. Understands how to work in tandem and finds a way to get guys blocked. Has long arms and uses his length for redirect

Working in tandem is the elixir of zone blocking.

Meanwhile said report denotes Cousins may not have the ample amount of time in the pocket he has grown accustomed too:

Is only marginal peeling off blocks to pick up blitzes and twists

Chances are both new guys will need a few weeks to settle in.  Overall the Skins rank 29th in rushing offense and 2nd(!) in passing offense.  In the run game it looks like Jones has some pick-the-right-hole issues to work out.  While the offensive line adjusts and blocks outside zone like they rep it in their sleep, a few problems have cropped up on non-outside zone runs.  Lauvao struggled on a few pulls when they attempted Power and our inside zone runs have a tendency to turn into rugby scrums that end in a stalemate at the line of scrimmage.

Pass protection par excellence has helped Gruden and his staff draw up designs that take advantage of aggressive defenses and free up big plays downfield.  In a passing league that makes for an optimistic outlook.

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