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I want to go back to the 2011 season and take a look at Wes Welker’s 99-yard TD to talk blitz adjustments, route scheme and DB technique. Check out the video replay below and then we will break down some key coaching points that allowed QB Tom Brady to target the veteran WR vs. Cover 1 pressure.
Patriots vs. Dolphins
Personnel: Ace (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB)
Route concept: Smash-Seam
Pressure Adjustments: The Dolphins “check” into a blitz front (6-man pressure) when the Patriots motion RB Danny Woodhead to the closed (strong) side of the formation to create an empty alignment. This isn’t uncommon to see a defense check to man-free pressure vs. an empty formation with the offense is in a backed-up situation. Play with safety help in the middle of the field and force the ball to come out.
Protection scheme: How does Brady react to the Dolphins moving to a pressure front? When both LBs in Miami’s Nickel sub package walk to the line, Brady brings in TE Aaron Hernandez to create a 6-man protection scheme. Now the Pats have 6-on-6 to block up the blitz.
Route concept: The Patriots get the outside “Smash” routes (similar to the Smash-7 concept) from Woodhead (R) and WR Deion Branch (X). Inside of the numbers, both TE Rob Gronkowski (Y) and Welker (Z) will release with a slight outside stem and then press the seam route up the field vs. DBs playing from an off-man position.
Coverage vs. Welker: Dolphins CB Benny Sapp is trying to show pressure with his initial alignment. However, this is a poor pre-snap look and it puts him in a position where he has to recover to play the seam route (with inside leverage). Either show pressure at the line (where you can get hands on the WR) or back off and get in a stance. With a single-high safety in the middle of the field, Brady is looking for pressure. This alignment from Sapp isn’t fooling anyone.
FS angle: Even with Sapp beat on the seam route, this play should never go for 99-yards. However, take a look at the FS and his angle to the ball. You cannot take a flat angle from the middle of the field vs. a vertical route if you want to make a play. This FS is playing for the ball to come out, but you have to understand that the blitz might not get home. Backpedal, create some depth and drive at a 45-degree angle that allows you to play the ball or at least make the tackle.
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