Tale of the Tape from NFL Week 13

Matt Bowen @MattBowen41NFL National Lead WriterDecember 2, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 01:  Wide receiver Eric Decker #87 of the Denver Broncos catches a pass against defensive back Marcus Cooper #31 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half on December 1, 2013 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Every Monday, former NFL defensive back Matt Bowen takes you inside the X’s and O’s of the game. Here are his five key plays from the NFL Week 13 Sunday schedule.

Eric Decker, Broncos Beat the Chiefs in the Red Zone

Decker caught four touchdowns from Peyton Manning during the Broncos' 35-28 win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead, and two of those scores came versus quarters technique (pin, double-post). Let’s take a look at the double-post and break down how Manning targeted the wide receiver versus cornerback Marcus Cooper.

Broncos vs. Chiefs

Personnel: Posse/11 (3WR-1TE-1RB)

Formation: Doubles Slot Gun Far (Bunch)

Offensive Concept: “Dino” Double-Post

Defensive Scheme: Cover 4


Before we get to the route, check out the pocket for Manning. The quarterback has time to look down the field and step into the throw because of the protection up front.

The “dino” double-post is a classic Cover 4 beater in the red zone. To the closed (strong) side of the formation, tight end Jacob Tamme runs the inside post to remove the safety (responsible for No. 2/tight end on the vertical release) with Decker working versus Cooper. This gives the Broncos a one-on-one matchup against the rookie cornerback, who is playing from an outside leverage position.


With safety Kendrick Lewis now playing over the top of Tamme, Decker can work to create some separation back to the inside with the “dino” stem (short stem to the corner route, break back to the post). That slight stem at the top of the route forces Cooper to widen in his pedal and open up the inside to the post.


Cooper takes a “bucket step” (step behind) on his transition out of his pedal. And with Lewis occupied by the tight end, there is no help to the inside on a ball that Manning puts on the upfield shoulder of Decker for the score.

Eagles' Hi-Lo Crossers vs. Cover 0

Nick Foles and the Eagles have won four straight ballgames, and they continue to run man-coverage beaters to put stress on opposing defenses. Here’s a look at one of Foles’ three touchdown passes during the 24-21 win over the Cardinals on the Hi-Lo concept.

Cardinals vs. Eagles

Personnel: Ace/12 (2WR-2TE-1RB)

Formation: Slot Split Gun

Offensive Concept: Hi-Lo Crossers

Defensive Scheme: Cover 0


Inside of the 5-yard line, offenses in the NFL will use pick routes or “mesh” schemes to beat Cover 1 (man-free) and Cover 0 (blitz man). Here, the Eagles send Riley Cooper in motion to create a reduced stack alignment to the open (weak) side of the formation, with the Cardinals showing double A-gap pressure.

At the snap, Cooper runs the shallow drive route (Lo) with No. 1 on the dig (Hi) and tight end Brent Celek coming back across the formation. The idea is to create traffic inside of the numbers and force safety Tyrann Mathieu to fight through the mess to match Celek in coverage.


As a safety playing Cover 0 technique, you want to take an inside angle versus the underneath crosser and target the upfield shoulder. However, looking at this play from the end-zone camera, Cooper stems his route toward Mathieu. That forces the Cardinals safety to bubble over the shallow drive route—creating separation for Celek.


Because of the scheme—and the traffic the Eagles create inside of the numbers—Mathieu has to recover and chase versus the crossing route. That’s trouble when you are stuck in a trail position inside of the 5-yard line. A good call from the Eagles resulted in points on a scheme that consistently shows up in Chip Kelly’s offense.


Michael Crabtree Beats the Rams with the Double-Move

The 49ers receiver only had two receptions (on four targets) in his return to the field during the 23-13 win over Rams, but we did see his explosive-play ability on the double move. Let’s break down the hitch-and-go off the levels concept and discuss why Colin Kaepernick was able to target Crabtree versus cornerback Trumaine Johnson. A good opportunity to talk technique in the secondary.

Rams vs. 49ers

Personnel: Posse/11 (3WR-1TE-1RB)

Formation: Doubles Slot 

Offensive Concept: Levels/Hitch and Go

Defensive Scheme: Cover 1 


Working versus Cover 1, the 49ers set up the double move in their Posse personnel from a 3-by-1 alignment. Inside, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin run the levels concept with Crabtree matched up versus Johnson outside of the numbers in a third-down situation.

With Johnson playing from an off-man position, Crabtree releases up the field and sells the smash route (or hitch). That forces Johnson to plant and drive downhill to the receiver. However, look at the cornerback’s eyes here. Instead of driving to Crabtree (gives the defensive back an opportunity to recover versus a double move), Johnson sticks his eyes in the backfield. That immediately puts him in an adverse position once Crabtree stems this route vertically up the field.


When you are beaten in coverage (and stuck trailing the route), get your eyes back to the receiver and run to the inside hip. However, as we can see here on the vertical stem from Crabtree, Johnson again looks back for the football. That allows Crabtree to create even more separation down the field. As a general rule in coverage, don’t look back for the ball (ever) unless you are “in-phases” with the receiver (in a position to play the ball).


This is a rough play for Johnson. The Rams cornerback does get back in a position to make a tackle versus Crabtree after the catch, but the wide receiver uses the stiff arm to get loose and picks up even more yardage on his way to a 60-yard gain. And this all started with poor eye discipline versus a basic double move we see at the lower levels of the game.


Andre Brown, Giants Produce with the G-Lead

Trailing 14-0 in the Sunday night matchup, the Giants started their comeback on the ground with Andre Brown’s 23-yard touchdown run versus Washington’s 3-4 defensive front. Let’s take a look at the G-Lead, break down the blocking scheme and focus on Washington’s second-level defenders.

Giants vs. Washington

Personnel: Regular/21 (2WR-1TE-1RB)

Formation: Pro I

Offensive Concept: G-Lead

Defensive Scheme: Cover 1


The G-Lead looks very similar to the Power O: another two-back power scheme with the Giants pulling the front-side guard up through the hole and leading with the fullback. At the snap, the tight end kicks out the outside linebacker with the right tackle blocking down on the 5-techniqiue defensive end. That allows guard David Diehl to work up to linebacker London Fletcher on the pull and fullback John Conner to lead on safety Reed Doughty.


Fletcher takes a wide angle to attack the outside shoulder of Diehl, and Doughty goes one-for-one on Conner as he attacks low on the fullback’s knees. However, with the center coming off the nose and cutting the open-side linebacker, the Giants have now created a clear running lane for Brown to attack the second level and work vertically up the field.


Once Brown gets into the open field, the running back can eliminate the angle from safety Brandon Meriweather and throw the stiff arm to get into the end zone for six points. Remember, this is a base power scheme. But when the defense widens to create a running lane (and loses backside pursuit), that base scheme can turn into an explosive play if the secondary support fails to get the ball-carrier on the ground.


Andrew Hawkins Sets Up the Bengals in Scoring Position

During the Bengals' 17-10 win over the Chargers out west, Cincinnati converted a third-down conversion in the fourth quarter with Hawkins on the H-post (or” follow” route) versus man coverage. A key play in that ballgame resulted in points to cushion the lead for Marvin Lewis’ team. Here’s a look at the route.

Bengals vs. Chargers

Personnel: Posse/11 (3WR-1TE-1RB)

Formation: Doubles Slot Gun Far Bunch

Offensive Concept: H-Post

Defensive Scheme: Cover 1


The Bengals align in a bunch formation to the closed side of the formation with Hawkins as the No. 3 receiver. At the snap, tight end Jermaine Gresham releases on a vertical stem with A.J. Green on the shallow drive route. Hawkins will stem his release to the flat and then break back inside on the angle route. This gives quarterback Andy Dalton a high-to-low read with both Hawkins and Green on inside breaking concepts versus Cover 1 (defender’s play with outside leverage).


Chargers defensive back Johnny Patrick has to slide with the initial stem from Hawkins to the flat to maintain his leverage, but he can’t give up the inside path back to the middle of the field. As we can see here, Patrick widens to play Hawkins’ stem to the flat, but he is slow in his transition. That allows Hawkins to win inside—creating an easy target for Dalton.


This is where the skill set/talent of Hawkins takes over. Once the receiver gets into the open field, he outruns the angle from the free safety and produces an explosive gain that sets up the Bengals in scoring position. And this all started on a five-yard angle route from a bunch formation.

Seven-year NFL veteran Matt Bowen is an NFL Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.