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How Dirk Koetter fooled the Panthers defense

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggled to get a passing game going against the Carolina Panthers, with Jameis Winston ultimately passing for just 219 yards and one touchdown. They focused on the running game instead — but when you need to get down the field in a hurry, that’s not quite sufficient.

Despite those struggles, the Bucs had a few beautiful throws. Winston will produce some highlight-reel plays even on his worst day, but this one was also a beautiful example of play design, fooling the entire Panthers defense and getting Cameron Brate wide open down the field for a 38-yard gain.

This is a beautiful play design. The line blocks as if this is a classic zone run to the left — pretty convincing, given how frequently the Bucs ran the ball in this game, but the key is the way the linemen block, which is what the defense keys on. Vincent Jackson is the only receiver on the field, and this is a very run-heavy formation.

The beauty isn’t just that, though. It’s that through the first three or four seconds of the play, the ultimate target of the pass isn’t even releasing down the field. Cameron Brate stays in to block for a long time, with only Jackson and Cross releasing down the field, and breaks loose so late that the Panthers simply aren’t really covering him anymore. You can see Brate leak out — he lines up on the right side of the offensive line.

Of course, Luke Kuechly’s speed still gets him pretty close to Brate, which is why this is a big gain but not a touchdown. That would come on the very next pass, where Mike Evans just fooled the cornerback with a double move. Also a beautiful play, and these two pass plays were key to the Bucs’ victory, with Winston struggling to move the ball throughout the rest of the game.