Each week our own Coach JL will break down a play, stripping it down and showing how the X’s and O’s truly matter to our sport. If you’d like a play to be given the Coach JL treatment, let us know in the comments. Like many things in life, Gridiron becomes easier when you have experience, a veteran's savvy. Great pros like Ray Lewis not only practice with intensity and focus, they also spend numerous hours studying the opponent’s game film and know how to exploit a weakness. Generally NFL coaches breakdown at least three of their opponent's game films to work out their tendencies and provide the players with competitive information. On top of all that players like Ray Lewis study individual plays for the smallest details to give them clues about their upcoming game: Run or pass, direction of a run, etc... This play comes from Week 2 of the 2009 season and a terrific Chargers v Ravens game.
Chargers have the ball on the 15 yard line, right hash, 4th and 2, 4th quarter, 36 seconds on the clock. They trail the Ravens by 5 points 31-26 and need a first down to stay in the game.
San Diego have their 'Jumbo' personnel package on the field: 6 OL, 2 TEs and 2 RBs. The extra OL lines up in a TE position on the right side of the formation.
The Ravens have their base defense on the field, 3DL, 4LBs and 4 DBs.
The run the Chargers come up with on this crucial down and distance is the 'Power' play. 'Power' is a run where the blockers on the point of attack block back (towards the center) and the full back and the backside guard come around to block for the running back. Power is a very common play that is used on all levels.
Play recognition is extremely important for a defense, a huge part of practice and film study is based on recognizing the opponent's blocking patterns. That is exactly what the great Ray Lewis does in this great defensive play.
Before the ball is snapped Ray presses the line of scrimmage and hits the “A” gap at full speed when the center snaps the ball.
In the drawing above you can see how the gaps are named and where they are located. The "A" gap is between the center and left or right guard. As we can see in the video the Chargers don’t have a player looking after the “A” gap and Ray Ray hits #43 Darren Sproles in the backfield moments after he is handed the ball.
Without knowing the defensive call it will be hard to really say what to put this play down to: A called LB blitz? Ray Lewis instinct? Pure luck? Or the veteran savvy of a future Hall of Famer?
Either way it's a defining play for Ray Lewis and that rock-solid Ravens defense.
WHAT PLAY NEXT? IT’S UP TO YOU!
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