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Football 101: The West Coast Offense

Diagrammed Packer's Plays

By Mark Lawrence

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Zebra Spread Right Back Right Scat Shadow

This weekís Mike Shermanís Play of the Week was the first Packer TD of the Tennesee game. The Packers had the ball in the red zone at about the 5-yard line. Zebra means 3 receivers, one TE and one back. This was the diagram on the board:

    S1                         S

CB1  W         M             B     CB
		E	 T	  T	  E
80       O  O  O  O  O       TE
     89        Q                   84


The RB does "step up" motion (runs at the QB) and then goes to the right of the formation. At the snap Walker (84) takes one or two steps forward and then bursts inside (to his left). His route is "flat" but not parallel to the line of scrimmage so after his step or two heís running toward where M lines up. The RB, Tony Fisher on this play, at the snap curls in front of M (remember he was in motion so at the snap heís at about where the RT lined up and just turns up field and curls in front of M and continues to the left. Heís the first option, if he beats M the ball should go there. If M runs with him and Bubba Franks (TE) is doubled by B and S, then Walker (84) should have an easy TD.

The D Tennesee deployed on this play was "vice coverage" where "they double the number two receiver strong and the number one receiver weak". Bubba (TE) is the number two receiver on the strong side of the formation and Donald Driver (80) is the number one receiver on the weak side (away from the TE). If TE goes vertical (straight ahead), they "stay on the double" (both S and B cover TE). If TE goes to the right flat, B covers anyone else coming into his area (on this play he would double cover 84 with CB). Taking that into consideration, 88ís job on the play is to go vertical to occupy both S and B. On the other side, Ferguson (89) runs a corner route (straight at S1 and then angle toward the back corner of the end zone) which should occupy both W and S1, even though the vice coverage was supposed to be on Driver. Driver runs a smash route which is a short sideline route (to Driverís left) and CB1 covers him.

There was a bit of a disconnect between the diagram and what happened. B didnít double cover TE with S, instead it looked like he was trying to cover Walker (84) but he was about 3-yards away from him when he caught the TD pass. CB looked like he didnít move on the play while S had Bubba covered well. Wayne Laravee mentioned what a mismatch it was to have a LB attempting to cover Walker. The play developed quickly but I donít know why CB froze. I believe "scat shadow" has to do with Walker "shadowing" Bubba, but Sherman didn't say so.

Three Jet Double Go Zebra Arrow

This is the play on which Javon Walker tore his ACL and was lost for the year. It was called on third down. This is the play call: East Right (formation) Minus (RB is in "minus" position) Three Jet (personnel) Double Go (two "go" routes) Zebra Arrow (83ís route).

          S1                  S
             B1    E*     B    N
C1       E1     T      E             CB
80        O  O  O  O  O      83
                Q        89          84


Detroit had shown a tendency to play "middle safety" (one deep safety) on 3rd and medium and Sherman called this play anticipating that would be the defense on this play. Detroit lined up in "two shell" (two safeties deep, or cover two) but at the snap they brought S1 "down weak" (came toward the line of scrimmage (LOS) on the weak side of the formation) to "marry up" (cover) the RB and S went to the deep middle (deep behind T). The CBs were "locked up in man coverage" so Sherman got the defense he was anticipating.

B and N "banjo" the routes of 83 (Chatman) and 89 (Ferguson). This coverage is like a "switch" in basketball where two defenders simultaneously switch to cover the otherís man. Itís man-to-man coverage with B covering the "inside" route (of either 89 or 83) and N covering the outside route of either. This coverage is designed to prevent the defenders from being "picked". Again, a "pick" in basketball is a good analogy: If B was supposed to cover 89 and N was supposed to cover 83 no matter what and 89 and 83 did a cross, the defenders might run into one another. Switching allows them to avoid hitting each other and the "other" receiver.

Sherman said Detroit ran a "spinner" defense with E1, B1, T, E*, and E all rushing the passer on this play. By the way, E* is a rush end lined up as a linebacker. RB (Green) picked up B1 and although T got some penetration, Favre had time to throw.

80 (Driver) and 84 (Walker) each ran "go" routes and run straight down the field. 89 ran a basic crossing route: He looped behind where 83 lined up and ran to where S lined up and then cut toward the middle of the field (to his left), about 10 yards beyond the LOS. 83 ran a "zebra arrow" route. He makes it look like heís running a "drive route" by looping toward where E* lined up. By "looping" I mean 83 doesnít make a "square", 90 degree, cut as 89 does on his cut where S was lined up. Instead he ran a "rounded" route. His job is to sell the defenders on the idea that heís going to continue to his left. When he gets to about where E* lined up he stopped and went to his right, parallel to the LOS and just a couple of yards beyond the LOS. By faking an inside route and then going toward the right flat, he "gains leverage" on B.

84 (Walker) is single-covered and he "presses" the CB, fakes a break to the inside, and went right by him. He saw the CB reach out for Walker and Walker just pushed his hands away. Walker beat the one-on-one coverage and caught the pass and was forced out of bounds inside Detroit's 5-yard line.

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