There are so many things you can do on a football field with so many different scenarios: D&D, where you are on the field, what personnel you have on the field, where they line up, bunch alignments, stack alignments, run, pass, draw, screen, play action, blitz, zone coverage, man coverage, man/zone coverage, zone blitz, max coverage, 1 Safety high, 2 Safeties high, 0 Safeties high, stunt, drop defensive linemen in coverage and each in a lot of different ways. It's very difficult to see everything that happens during a play. That's why the coaches watch a lot of game film to prepare - to help gain a good understanding of what the opponent could do making the plays easier to recognize. That said, perhaps the Steelers didn't show this play before Super Bowl XLIII. Clearly the Cardinals didn't see it coming.
The Cardinals have the ball on the 3-yard line, right hash, 1st and goal, 2nd quarter, 18 seconds on the clock. Arizona trails the Steelers by three points, 10-7. The Cardinals have their Ace personnel package on the field. 3 WR, 1 TE and 1 RB. WR #11 Larry Fitzgerald and WR #81 Anquan Boldin are in a “close” alignment (this means they are next to each other and “close” to the LT). QB #13 Warner is in the Shotgun and RB #34 Tim Hightower in a position to the left of the QB.
From the +3 yard line you will regularly see the offense put in their Heavy personnel grouping in early downs, as pictured below:
In this case however the Cardinals stay with their Ace grouping. In the picture below we can see both sides just before the snap.
The Steelers have their Base personnel on the field, 3 DL, 4 LB and 4 DB. The Steelers “show” blitz with all their Linebackers in position to rush the QB. Zone and Man pressure is what the Steelers are known for and they do it from all angles with a lot of different players rushing the QB.
At the snap of the ball, the Steelers rush with their three DL and two LB. #92 Harrison takes a step up field like he is rushing the QB but then drops in coverage. #94 Lawrence Timmons rushes through the “B” gap and the left guard has a really hard time trying to block him, as such he puts a lot of pressure on Warner.
The “Close” alignment from Boldin and Fitzgerald usually present a problem for the defense. In man-to-man coverage it is best to stagger the depth of the DB’s so they can’t get picked off. In this case the DB’s are basically on the same level and in an “outside leverage” position. As the receivers release you see that Fitzgerald pushes up the field and Boldin comes underneath him to the inside. They try to pick the outside defender so he cannot defend the Slant route. Warner, under pressure, gets rid of the ball quick and throws it straight into the arms of Harrison who dropped in coverage to help the DB’s on the inside routes.http://youtu.be/RqnQwKAI4OE
The run after the interception is impressive but to me it is all about the scheme before Harrison caught the ball. It was a great play and a 14-point swing before going into half time. It would have been great to be in that locker room .
It was a great offensive call by the Cardinals, but an even better call by the defensive guru Dick Lebeau!
What Play Next? It's Up To You!
Have a play from last season you’d like diagnosed by our resident Coach? Let us know in the comments including a clip from youtube for reference. If Coach likes it you’ll see it in the very next edition, published every Sunday afternoon.
This week’s play was suggested by Coach himself! A clear Steelers fan.
Also, if you have a specific question about the coaching side of the NFL and Gridiron in general you’d like to ask be our guest. We’ll endeavor to answer any and all questions.
Don’t forget to include a clip with your own requests!