I took the time to diagram some of the productive offensive plays ran against the Panthers last week. Most of these cutups come from the first half because we didn't seem to care about throwing the ball in the second.
This play was early in the first quarter. A simple play-action bootleg towards the boundary. The Panthers are showing a cover 2 shell which actually turns out to be a cover 3 with the free safety coming into the box after the snap. The contain players, the end aligned on Trueblood and the play-side linebacker (Kuechly), are both left unblocked.
After the fake, Kuechly is left in no mans land. It surprised me how many times he would get lost off of the play-action in this game. I thought instincts were his strong point? Apparently Lorig wasn't in his scouting report. The play turns into an easy pitch and catch for 15 yards.
Later in the drive- Panthers show blitz! I believe this is the play that gave the offense more confidence than any other. It was third and 2 in a crucial area of the field. The Panthers end up bringing the free safety and a linebacker while the RE drops into coverage (and does a surprisingly good job jamming the receivers). Jackson ends up one-on-one with a corner scared of his deep play ability.
Good route, good read, good catch. First down. I would personally like to see the Bucs attack the blitz with more big play potential, but you can't argue with a first down compared to last years play calling. Oh, and by the way, LOOK AT THAT POCKET.
The last play of the touchdown drive and a continuation of great play calling. The Bucs go play-action to the left, but actually pull a guard to the right. I'm not really sure why they did this, but it worked. It's not too often that teams go with three man route concepts. I personally believe they are more difficult to complete due to the amount of players in coverage vs. receivers in routes and also the quick decision making needed by the quarterback. However, Freeman makes a great read and throw. On this play what I call "The Power of Jackson" comes into effect and the safety completely ignores Williams.
Jackson attracts the safety and Williams demolishes his corner off of the line. Check and mate. This is going to be a very common occurrence all season long. Also, look at that pocket!
Two common themes happen in this play- play action and the power of Jackson. The offense is in a twins power I formation. We are showing running strength to the strong side and pass towards the weak. The defense goes into a very common call versus this formation in the Cover 6. They are, in basic terms, playing cover 3 towards the receivers with two deep safeties play 1/4 the field and Cover 2 towards the running side with one deep safety playing 1/2 the field. I am very impressed with the route combinations in this play versus those in previous plays. There is built in cover 2, 3, and man beaters. Freeman just has to recognize the coverage. The key to this play is the deep half safety over Clark.
Where is the safety running? Why is he just blatantly ignoring Clark? Oh, that's just the power of Jackson. Imagine this play with last years offense. That would be Williams running the middle of the field with the safety not caring. Oh, and who is the tight end running that route? Only the offenses favorite target in Winslow. This would've been an easy in-completion last year. Regardless, clean pocket with three open receivers- I want to be the quarterback of this team. Another great route and throw for a completion of 33 yards.
On this play the Panthers are showing double A-gap pressure with their linebackers. Freeman checks to the shotgun and has both running backs chip out of the backfield. The Panthers end up bluffing and going into a Cover 2. It may be a Tampa 2, but the linebacker takes an awkward drop and its hard to tell. Jackson in this situation would have been given several route options in this offense. What he reads is the middle of the field. It is either MOFC or MOFO (middle of field closed or open). If it is open, cover 2, then he runs a deep in and settles in the void.
Jackson does a great job of pushing his safety into a horrendously deep backpedal. That is a good 10 yards of cushion 30 yards down the field. I don't think this safety wanted to be on Jackson's next highlight real for a touchdown. Williams does a good job of widening the opposite safety and a void is created. Jackson throttles it down and settles for a good throw by Freeman- gain of 21.
Last cutup. This is in the fourth quarter when we went into run only mode. This play surprised me by how well Larsen pulled, something that he routinely blew throughout the game. Larsen and Zuttah are going to pull to the outside while Stocker(?) and Trueblood attempt to block down on their men- both fail miserably.Larsen will end up on #50 and drive him completely out of the play while Zuttah pancakes the coming strong safety.
That is a massive seal to the outside by both pulling lineman. Those players chopping at Martins backside? Thank Stocker and Trueblood for that.
This last picture is to emphasize Larsen's block. Go back to the previous picture and look at where #50 is. He is on the 40 yard line marker. Now look at this picture, good block eh? If Larsen can block like this on a consistent basis then we may not be in too bad of shape in the running game. Martin runs and spins for 12 yards.
Offenses like to make everything look the same until the last second where they will break into their routes. It helps from defenses recognizing route combinations and pattern reading an offense into an oblivion. However, the Bucs appear to be doing this in a different way. We are making everything (or as much as we can) look like a run. The amount of play-action used in this game was awesome. The defense could not find a balance or rhythm at all in the first half.
The Power of Jackson. That is all.
One thing scares me. Where did the passing game go in the second half? We were excellent at protecting Freeman for many big gains and the receivers were having a field day. Why did it stop? I'm not going to take a shot at this question, but it's something I'm going to keep my eye on in future games. Lets hope we don't take the pedal off the gas next week vs. the Giants.