We hammered them through the air and gained extra possessions thanks to our defense, but the run game stalled and for the third week in a row we couldn’t block Inside or Outside zone. Versus Inside Zone, Oakland cancelled out the interior gaps and forced Perine to bounce his runs outside into an overmatched Tight End.
On this run, Scherff thought a defender would penetrate through his gap (probably because of the NT’s initial step toward him) and never made it upfield to seal out the Linebacker. Instead the Linebacker came to Scherff at the line, clogged the gap, and forced Perine to bounce it outside into a Khalil Mack-Niles Paul matchup:
Oakland played aggressive on the interior and forced runs outside. In response we tried several antidotes:
First we tried replacing the tight end block with a QB Zone Read to freeze the DE but Kirk’s speed wasn’t enough to keep them honest.
Then we ran an RPO where if the conflict defender crashed down toward the running back, we threw it and if the conflict defender stayed outside we handed it off. Oakland chose to allow the handoff and we averaged meh results.
We split the Tackle out to widen the DE alignment. It was used once but we didn’t go back to it probably because it tipped off the call.
We made use of Split Zone blocking so our Tight End could have a better angle to block the DE:Most teams use this to solve DE-TE matchup problems, however we had to ditch it after one play because Vernon Davis had no idea how to block it:
And last but not least, we sprinkled in a few Gap runs (Power, Counter, etc.) so our Tight Ends could kick out the DE instead of Zone block him:In the previous game we had success with Gap runs which led to a balanced run scheme but this week nothing seemed to work against this front:
Zone Runs: 20 carries for 65 yards (3.3 ypc)
Gap Runs: 9 carries for 25 yards (2.8 ypc)
We won thanks to our defense and big plays through the passing game like this 52 yarder to Doctson:
Aaron Donald and company toppled our pass protection and took away any plays that involved long developing routes; even our max protect concept resulted in a sack. Their defense left us no choice but to resort to quick throws and a punishing run game.
We stretched out their 5 man line and attacked the middle with an Inside Zone double team:
Once we established that, the linebackers were looking to cheat inside so we responded by shifting the double team to their 3-technique (‘Counter’ run shown here):
The Rams responded in a couple of ways, first they shifted their 3 technique outside (5 technique) and made us use a Tight End to double team him,
while our Tight End corps will burn you in the passing game they can’t block a college walk-on much less an NFL defensive lineman.
Versus our 11 personnel, Detroit went with their Nickel:
When we went heavy, the Lions usually responded with a 4-4 look that had Cover 3 behind it:
Detroit sometimes messed around with their DL alignments. Here they have 3 defensive lineman aligned from the left guard to outside the left tackle and the safety is stacked behind them:
In the chart, I called that one, “Nickel Trips DL”
RT: Moses (73)
RG: Scherff (58), backed up by Kouj (15)
C: Long (73)
LG: Lauvao (73)
LT: Williams (72)
TE: Davis (71), Paul (12), Nsekhe (11)
FB: Paul (7), Kelley (2)
RB: Thompson (43), Jones (22), Kelley (8)
WR: Garcon (57), DeSean (54), Crowder (55), backed up by Grant (20) and Mo Harris (4)
Rob Kelley got both his Fullback snaps at the goal line. Scherff missed 15 snaps with an injury and was backed up by Kouj. Nsekhe is really a 6th offensive lineman, but he’s eligible for a catch when he checks in so I’m classifying him here as a tight end.
The biggest theme from the 1st drive was missed opportunities. It started on the third play of the first drive, where we ran Counter on 3rd and 1. Lauvao and Scherff will eliminate 2 guys each–something that rarely happens at this level–and Niles Paul is left to dig out the most immediate threat as he pulls through the line:
As Paul pulls through he doesn’t see his target coming from the left:
If he did, Matt Jones is one on one with a safety and has a chance to flip field position and/or put us in field goal range. Instead Paul got blind sided:
We end up getting the first but were so close to getting much more.
[AFTER THE JUMP: The ‘9-6’ route, Grades, Cliff Notes, and a link to the Chart]
We lined up in our usual 11 and 12 personnel for most of the game, but we deployed the tight ends a little differently:
We sent Davis deep on this play and he had his guy–a 180 pound defensive back that ran a 4.46 40–beat. When Davis wasn’t out wide we tucked him inside in our heavier packages:
When multiple tight ends are lined up like above, Davis will always be tucked furthest inside. He has a bigger body built to take on bigger guys like outside linebackers and defensive ends. Reed will occasionally take on bigger guys but we position him to normally see linebackers and defensive backs.
Niles Paul, our third tight end, is the only one we moonlight at fullback:
Our Depth Chart for this game:
RT: Moses (backed up by Nsekhe, who came in on drives 6 through 10.)
TE: Reed (Davis is second off the bench, Paul is third)
Matt Jones was backed up by Robert Kelley and Chris Thompson. Garcon and Jackson were the outside guys, Crowder was our starter in the slot. Rashad Ross backed up the outside guys, Ryan Grant backed up Crowder.
We usually lined up in 11 (1RB, 1TE) personnel, but also threw in a few heavier formations throughout the game. In the first drive we came out in 12 (1 RB, 2 TE) personnel:
with a WR split out wide to either side. The Browns dropped a safety into the box and played Cover 3–meaning the 2 cornerbacks and 1 free safety (off the screen) played deep coverage. Cousins attacked this by throwing quick 3 step drops to Garcon and Desean on the outside. On 3 back to back plays it picked him up 9, 3(first down), and 5 yards.