Thursday - Jul 9, 2020

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FIR Week 10: Playbook Artist, Spotlighted Player and After Further Review

The presidential election is finally over and our world is about to change. However, we still have Sundays for now and you know that means — praise, followed by chips and football.  No Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, or Arizona Cardinals though this week.  Make your adjustments sensibly.

P.A. — Playbook Artist

It’s first-and-ten for the Houston Texans on the Buffalo Bills’ 39-yard line late in the first quarter. The Bills have deployed their base 3-4 defense and look to be utilizing a Cover 1 scheme, which is the right call against a Texans offense that tends to lean on it’s rushing attack.

The Texans are in a single back, two wide receiver, and two tight end set. The wide receivers, Andre Johnson (dark blue route) and Kevin Walter (light blue route) are both flanked out to the right side of the formation, while the two tight ends are lined up on the left with James Casey coming down in motion from the top.

Quarterback Matt Schaub gets the ball, goes play-action fake to running back Justin Forsett, and rolls to his left. Johnson runs a slant drag across the field and to the defense looks to be the primary target. Walter runs a deep slant, keeping not only the cornerback on his right hip pocket, but the Bills safety (circled blue) on assignment pinned towards the middle of the field. This opens up the whole right side of the field.

Tight end Owen Daniels (red route) will drag down across the defense and turn it up field on a fly route. He is the primary read, because Schaub knows he‘ll be in man coverage with the Bills right outside linebacker (circled red), who has to get past his fellow linebackers to come all the way down the field to cover Daniels. The end result was a wide open Daniels, and an easy touchdown due to no safety help and a trailing linebacker.

This play was successful not because of the Bills’ lack of defensive support, but because of the offensive coordinator’s willingness to go against the grain and have his quarterback move against the flow of the play to the left. This isn’t the first time the Texans offense has executed a play like this, and it won‘t be the last.

In fact, don’t be surprised if they pull out a play like this against the Chicago Bears this week. The Bears defense has been very tough for opposing offenses to score on, so creativity will be key. Daniels remains a solid play this week as the Texans are likely to air it out against a defense that is allowing a sixth best 88 rushing yards per game.

S.P. — Spotlighted Player

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson has quickly risen to become a force both on the field and in fantasy lineups. Lately though, he has been also having a much bigger impact on the Tampa rushing attack.

Depicted above is how the Oakland Raiders defense lined up on a first and ten in the third quarter last week. Bear in mind that this was about one quarter after Jackson scorched the Raiders defense for 84 yards on two catches during one drive.

The Raiders are in a Cover 2 defense. The linebackers will swarm the line of scrimmage, which is the right call and defense for the offensive play the Buccaneers actually ran. However, the safeties are positioned 15-25 yards away from the line of scrimmage, which is too far for supporting against run. This was likely due to the fact that safety Matt Giordano didn’t want to get burned deep again by Jackson via any post or fly routes.

Running back Doug Martin was able to explode through the line thanks to some great blocking up front. With no safety support within 15-20 yards it was easy for Martin to make a few moves in the open field and accelerate past Giordano and opposite safety Tyvon Branch to the end-zone; all set up by the presence of Jackson to that side of the field.

This week the Buccaneers will host a highly aggressive San Diego Chargers defense. Look for Josh Freeman and the offense to emulate much of what they did early on last week to loosen up safeties Eric Weddle and Atari Bigby (Probable), and keeping them away from the line of scrimmage.

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