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. This week Coach looks at one of the most famous plays of the 2011/12 playoffs and a huge win for Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.
Focus, attention to details, angles, leverage and correct alignment. All played a huge role in the overtime loss of the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Denver Broncos. As to what really went wrong for the Steelers defense we can only speculate because none of us know the defense called. However, without a doubt we can say that some basic defensive principals went wrong!
Broncos have the ball on the -20 yard line, middle hash, 1st and 10, first play in over time, 15 minutes on the clock, score 23-23. Broncos have Deuce personnel on the field (2 WR, 2 TE, 1RB) and Tebow is in shotgun position.
The Steelers match the offensive personnel with their base defensive package, 34 personnel. In this personnel grouping they have 3 linemen, 4 linebackers and 4 defensive backs on the field.
They play a kind of man coverage. Strong safety #43, Troy Polamalu, has lined up at linebacker depth in the box. Free safety #29, Ryan Mundy, comes down in the box as Tebow goes through his cadence. With both safeties in the box there are none high (Cover O), no help deep for any of the defensive backs.
As the center snaps the ball we see the Broncos offensive line slide their pass protection to their left side, the running back releases to the right of the formation after #15, Tim Tebow fakes a handoff. Before the ball is snapped, #19, Eddie Royal comes in motion towards tight end #86, Daniel Fells. On 1st and 10 the Broncos fake a run and throw slant route to #88, Demaryius Thomas.
The play is designed to have the defense bite on the run fake.
The whole offensive line and the left tight end slide to the left while the right one blocks the end man on the line of scrimmage to the right. It's a play action max protection where both tight ends stay in to block and the running back only releases after he sees that he is free to do so.
Before the ball is snapped we see that cornerback #24, Ike Taylor, is in a press position with a head up to outside alignment on Demaryius Thomas. As the ball is snapped and the receiver runs down field, we see Taylor backpeddle for a few steps and then open up his hips towards the QB and play with outside leverage to #88. A cornerback would do this if he expects inside help from the free safety. With the free safety down in the box we can assume that Taylor doesn’t play with the right leverage, is not focussed and didn’t align correctly. A inside throw is the easiest for the QB to complete and defensively without help you need to take the inside away from the receiver.
As free safety #29, Ryan Mundy comes down in the box he really gets a bit too excited and over runs his position. The 9th defender in the box is there to stop Tebow from running with the ball and if Tebow had kept the ball the safety would have been in a great position to make a play.
However, the play is a pass:http://youtu.be/7zuUIhv8z3M
Although the play might be remembered as one of Tebow's finest moments he was in no small way helped by the Steelers defense. Coach LeBeau played the tendencies, personnel, down and distance, made the call and lost the game because one player didn’t play in the structure of the defense that was called...
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.
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This week's suggestion was from Tasman Stacey @tasfromtas. Don't forget to include a clip with your own requests!