Yesterday we covered how our defense wins with not only sheer talent and ability, but also with what that talent allows us to do creatively with packages and play calling. Today we’ll look at both of those things.
If you haven’t checked out yesterday’s part 1, we’ll wait right here while you do so.
Let’s dive in.
The first play we’ll breakdown is from the Week 4 game against Minnesota, in which we sacked Teddy Bridgewater seven (yes you read that right) times. Wade Phillips deployed a variety of looks and blitzes to confuse the young QB.
The Vikings were put on notice early that T.J. Ward would be coming after the QB.
This is a pretty standard safety blitz. The Broncos are in their base 3-4 defense and T.J. Ward will creep down from a 2-deep look and blitz from the offense’s left.
The reason I include this one is that this was the 4th offensive play of the game. This will be important later.
Now, on to the main course!
Here is where we get into creativity in package and play-call. This is another play where T.J. Ward is going to be brought off the edge. This resulted in the game clinching strip sack.
Here we are in our most popular sub-package, the big dime. This consists of 3 corners and 3 safeties. This package give us flexibility to move T.J. Ward around and do a lot of different things. Here he’s in the box getting ready to blitz off the right side, while David Bruton and Darian Stewart are up high showing a 2-deep look.
The secondary will actually rotate at the snap into a Cover-3 shell and Bruton will drop down into a more shallow zone. Harris mirrors his zone on the other side in the slot, and DeMarcus Ware will actually drop into the middle zone. Again, versatility.
The D-line is going to slide to their right, sucking the O-line that direction as well; remember they’re planning to block Ware also. Watch how much attention Von Miller gets on this play. This is really what opens up such a large hole for T.J. Ward to come off the edge, and Marshall to loop around on a delayed blitz.
So now remember that the first play we showed. The Vikings have already gotten a look with T.J. Ward coming down in the box to blitz off the edge.
This is going to get pretty cool so stay with me. We’re in our big dime again and this time Bruton is going to rotate into a single high look with Stewart creeping down into the box this time to join T.J. Ward who is already in the box playing more of a linebacker role on the defense’s right side.
This time, instead of blitzing though, Ward is going to feign the blitz and drop into coverage, letting Stewart rush instead. This positions Ward perfectly to defend the flat, and if Teddy had thrown it hot due to the blitz (which he likely would have had it not been 3rd and long) Ward would have been in prime position to jump the route.
So we’ve seen each of our 3 safeties play a variety of roles within this package. Wade uses them like queens on a chess board, they can do just about anything.
Now, there is something else interesting going on during this play that I want to highlight. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are going to start lined up in their typical edge spots, and walk up into the A-gaps pre-snap to rush.
This is what it looks like pre-snap. Can you imagine what’s going through young Teddy’s mind right now? Two of the scariest pass rushers in the NFL are now right your face and pass rushing against your slowest linemen.
And this is 3rd and long so the corners are playing way off and just waiting for the blitz to get there.
Even if it hadn’t been 3rd and long, they have this play covered up pretty nice anyway with T.J. and Marshall dropping into zones.
Wade’s creativity knows no bounds. I mean, sure, I do this in Madden, rush my best pass rushers in a double A-gap blitz, but not a lot of coordinators have the balls to do it in real life.
But wait, there’s more
So that last play was a feign blitz from T.J. Ward based on a look they had shown earlier in the game.
Well, as I was studying the Packers game, which is a few weeks after this one, I noticed this double A-gap look again.
This time, they fake the blitz and loop back around the outside. This completely fools the Packers O-line, and Rodgers makes a heck of a play to avoid what was almost a sure sack. Chris Collinsworth made the comment that only Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson could have escaped that play alive.
Last one. I promise.
One more note on this big dime stuff. I absolutely love the potential with this package this year and see Justin Simmons fitting right in as another tool in Wade’s toolbox.
This time, against Detroit, they are in the big dime look and Bruton is playing MLB. When I originally drew this up I was thinking it was a quarters coverage, but the more I look at it, I think it’s actually a Cover-3 and T.J. just doesn’t come up as shallow in the robber type role, and Stewart is keying on Calvin Johnson.
They’ve just kind of dropped everyone back and left Bruton free to roam over the middle, and he eats Stafford’s lunch.
There’s actually a bit of an opening as Calvin hits the break in his skinny post. He likely would have been lit up by Stewart, but this is Megatron so who knows what happens. Bruton just reads it all the way and makes a great play with his long arms.
So there you have it. Versatility, creativity and Wade’s wizardry at its finest.