This week’s Play of the Week is Driver’s TD vs. the Browns. Zebra (three WRs, TE and one RB) 3 Jet "which is a term protection", trips left (formation).
S1 S M W CB N E1 T T E C 87 O O O O O 89 85 80 O 30
Cleveland had shown a tendency to play a "two man coverage" on third down, meaning CB was "manning up" (covering) Terrence Murphy (85), N was "manning up" Donald Driver (80) and C was "manning up" Robert Ferguson (89). Also, M was "locked up on" David Martin (87) and W was 'locked up on" Ahman Green (30). In other words, the five receivers were all covered one-on-one by the CBs and the LBs. The two safeties "expanded" to play "half safeties", going deeper and toward their respective sidelines in order to play two deep zone.
87 ran a go route straight up the field. 80 ran a "square in", running about 4 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and made a sharp cut to his right. 85 ran a deeper square in - cutting to his right at about the level of where S1 lined up, about 14 yards beyond the LOS. 30 ran a "check wide" to his left, which drew W to the offense’s left. 89 ran a go route.
Sherman said if Brett sees a single safety defense instead of the 2-deep they anticipate, he can go to 89 who is single covered. Otherwise, they are working the combination on the left side of the formation. He referred to the routes as "levels" 80 runs a route at the first level and 85’s route is at the second level. What happened, Sherman explained, is 87 actually ran a pick (Sherman said he "ran interference"). As N tried to cover 80, he was "rubbed off" and unable to cover 80. Against this defense, 80 is Brett's first read and 85 is his second read. Sherman made the point that something they did well during the game was coverting 3rd downs: They were 10 for 14 on 3rd down including, of course, this play.
Green (30) didn’t go directly to his left as the diagram showed but stepped forward, angling to his left a little and then came back to help Clifton as E1 got by Clifton’s outside shoulder. The tape showed a big gap open between Clifton (LT) and Klemm (LG) which gave W a clear path to Favre. But he followed Green as he went to block E1. The threat of Green going to the left flat kept him from rushing Brett.
The play took longer to develop than the diagram indicated. Brett took a 5-step drop. The ball was placed on the left hash mark and Driver lined up more than 10 yards to the left of that hash mark. He caught the ball about 5-yards to the right of the right hash mark. The tape did show that the two defenders almost ran into each other and M definitely got in N’s way. It also showed 87’s route - he kind of worked his way up field but to the inside a little. It wasn’t a "clean" route.
The play worked because of the pick (which certainly was legal by the way) but it turned into a TD because Robert Ferguson (89) sustained his block downfield for a very long period of time.
This week’s play is the TD pass to Ferguson (89) vs. the Saints, a play Sherman said was a key play in the game. It is run out of "Solo Left" formation using Tiger (2 TEs, 2 WRs, 1 RB) personnel. The Packers had the ball at the Saints’ 25 yard line.
S1 S B M W CB E1 T T E CB 87 O O O O O 86 80 O 89 RB
Sherman made the point that they have run a lot out of Tiger and they changed it up by passing a lot out of Tiger vs. N.O. This play is a "play pass": It is a fake of the run "96 Counter Gap". The LG pulled to the right and blocked E. Donald Lee (86) ran an "over route". He ran around E to the outside (right) to run up the field and then cut left behind where the LBs lined up running parallel to the line of scrimmage (LOS). The play action (fake of the run) is designed to get the LBs to take a step toward the LOS and to the right of the offense. Favre faked to the RB who ran toward where E lined up. After the fake, Favre bootlegged to the left. "Solid" in the play call means David Martin (87) blocks E1. On many of the bootlegs to the left, the TE on that side releases into the left flat. But on this play, they want Favre to have time to look for Driver (80) who ran a "run back" route. His route is to run about 25 yards straight down the field and then cut back toward the left sideline at a sharp angle.
The Saints were playing "quarters coverage" on this play - the four DBs each cover a quarter of the field. Ferguson’s (89) route had him run inside the CB, Mike McKenzie, and "over" S and then angle toward the back line along the back of the end zone. Sherman drew the route going up the field to the left of where CB lined up and then continuing to a spot behind where S lined up and then continuing to angle, going deeper, toward the left. CB had "over coverage" and S had "under coverage" on 89. (CB was behind 89 and S was in front of 89). S1 came up to cover 86 on the over route, and that created a void in the coverage and the ball was delivered right on the money.
The tape showed that the LG, Klemm, missed his block on E. Martin (87) sustained his block pretty well but E1 did pressure Favre just as he released the ball. Driver (80) ran a step or two into the end zone and as he was cutting back, the ball was thrown. S had pretty good coverage - Ferguson was behind him but it took a great throw to complete the pass. Sherman didn’t say it but from the name of the play, my guess is Driver was the primary read on the play as he was the "Z" receiver running the "run back".