Breaking down Baldwin and the vertical game

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Earlier this week, we took a look at Washington QB Jake Locker throwing the 9 (fade) route vs. Cover 4 out of the “pump-seam” combo. Today, let’s stay on the offensive side of the ball and talk Pitt WR Jonathan Baldwin.

From what I have heard, multiple NFL teams have Baldwin as the No.3 WR on the board (after A.J. Green and Julio Jones) and there is some belief that he could be a late first-round selection. Size (6-5) and will attack the football, but not great separation speed to his game. However, don’t discount his ability to go up and get the football down the field.

To illustrate Baldwin’s deep ball ability, let’s watch the replay of his TD vs. Utah in the “Dino Double Post” route scheme and then get into some detailed coaching points.

Coaching Points:

1. Stacked WR look: To run the “Dino” combo, you want to get your WRs to align in a stack look (as we see from the replay) or by using pre-snap motion. With the ball on the far hash (remember we are talking about college hash marks), the WRs are still aligned in a reduced split (inside of the numbers) for one reason: to create space. This is a route that takes time to develop and the offense needs room outside of the numbers to set up the CB with Baldwin. Plus, with the ball in between the 40’s (deep ball field position), Pitt has the Utah defense set up for the vertical passing game.

Jonathan BaldwinICONBaldwin is the No.3 WR on multiple draft boards across the NFL.

2. The “Dino” double move: To breakdown the “Dino Double Post,” think of one post route designed to break inside (or in front of) the FS in the middle of the field with a deep post over the top. The key, however, in this situation is Baldwin. He has to eat up the cushion of the open side corner, force him to turn his hips (open the gate) to the sideline on the 7 cut (corner route) and create leverage back to the inside. And, as we can see from the TV tape, this is exactly what we get from Baldwin. A vertical stem, widen the corner by breaking to the 7 and then get up field on the post. Solid route because Baldwin has complete control of the CB.

3. Versus three-deep coverage: Utah is running an open side zone blitz scheme and that translates into a 3-deep look (similar to a Cover 3 shell). Why is this important? Because of the FS. He has to use an “open angle technique” (hips open to the underneath post) and head-turn (or “closed angle technique”) to break back to the middle of the field. But, the Utah FS takes the bait and opens up the deep ball opportunity for Pitt—with the CB in a trail position. In reality, we aren’t looking at a busted coverage. Instead, a break down in technique by both the FS and the CB that gives up the big play. No need for the CB to point the finger on the replay, because he was beat from the start as well.

4. Scheme familiarity: Just like we discussed with the Locker breakdown, I like seeing these route concepts at the college level, because they are pro style schemes. Baldwin will run the “Dino Double Post” in the NFL. We practiced the technique of defending from the safety position all offseason during my NFL career. Where you will see it more in the NFL is inside of the red zone vs. Cover 4 and Cover 2 defenses. But going back to the Pitt WR, what we just looked at was a clean route that set up a TD pass for the Panthers. A prospect with big play ability.

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