Breaking down Bradford vs. the Raiders

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Let’s spend some time talking Xs and Os as we all get back to reality after the long holiday weekend—and focus on Sam Bradford. The Rams QB (and 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year) was impressive last season with his reads, ball placement and taking advantage of the play action game.

Today, we will check out a play from early in the 2010 season vs. the Raiders to break down Bradford’s TD pass to WR Mark Clayton working against Oakland’s Tampa 2 defense in the red zone. A classic play action scheme that will target the Mike Backer and split the two deep safeties. Take a look at the video replay and then we will get into some detailed coaching points…

Coaching Points:

Personnel and Alignment: Nothing out of the ordinary in today’s NFL to see Posse personnel (3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB) on the field in a 2nd and goal situation from inside the 10-yard line. However, check out the alignment of two players: Clayton and RB Steven Jackson. Clayton is aligned on top of the numbers with the ball on the near hash (called a “nasty” split). Now take a look at Jackson. His depth? 8-yards. From a defensive perspective, both of these alignments tell you to play the run. And this is a great example of why you have to read your keys after the snap of the ball and play football.

Play action game: This is solid from St. Louis. Keep the TE (Y) in the blocking scheme and pull the backside guard (counter protection). With Jackson aligned at a depth of 8-yards, this looks like a run from the backend. And if you aren’t reading the offensive line (“high hat” vs. “low hat”), you will look exactly like the Raiders Mike Backer—attacking the line of scrimmage.

The route: I call this a “Stutter 8” from Clayton (skinny post, or “bang” 8). Drive off the line of scrimmage with a hard inside release and show run to the deep half safety. With the Raiders playing Tampa 2, Clayton has to force the SS to settle his feet and break to the post. And with the Mike Backer closing on the run fake, the middle of the field is wide open for an easy pitch and catch from Bradford to Clayton with the safety playing outside leverage.

Defending the route: I have talked about Tampa 2 in the red zone before (called “Red 2”) and this is no different. With the CBs playing a “soft squat” (no jam, sink hard to the outside), the defense is essentially playing a 2-under, 5-deep coverage. However, for as easy as Tampa 2 looks on the chalkboard, it is a defense that relies on each player in the backend to play their responsibilities. Force Bradford to throw the option route to the W receiver (slot man in motion) in the flat, make the tackle and live to play another down.

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