How did Jacobs beat the Eagles on the 'rail' route?

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Anytime we can take a look at the Xs and Os of the game, we can learn something from the NFL. Today, let’s go back to Sunday’s Giants-Eagles matchup, check out the Eli Manning’s TD pass to Brandon Jacobs and breakdown the “Rail” route.

A quick set up. The Giants are in Ace (or 221) personnel in a “Unit Slot Wing” alignment vs. the Eagles base 4-3 front playing Cover 1 (man-free). Watch the replay and then we will get into some coaching points.

WR Splits: A reduced (or “nasty”) split by the both the X and Z receiver to the open (weak) side of the formation. This is done to beat man-coverage. The Giants will get a hard inside release from X and Z (which will hold the FS in the middle of the field) and create room for Jacobs to work one-on-one vs. LB Casey Matthews.

Play action: The Giants are using 7-man protection here—because this is essentially a one-man route with Jacobs. Use the play fake and draw the Eagles’ LBs to the line of scrimmage. Now they can work Jacobs up the numbers on the “Rail” route. An easy throw from Manning and a route concept that will consistently show up with Mike Martz and the Bears.

Run-Pass keys: Why is Matthews late to react to Jacobs in this route scheme? Poor run-pass keys at the line of scrimmage. Check out the LT for the Giants. That is what I call a “High-Hat” read—and it shows pass all the way. Matthews need to focus his eyes on his keys instead of looking in the backfield. Because that is exactly what gets the rookie beat.

Field position: Ball between the 40’s in the NFL equals one thing—a shot at the end zone. You have to know that as a defender, expect play action and look for a vertical route scheme. Check it out next Sunday, because offensive coordinators in this league love to use the deep ball when they have this field position.

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