So I just have time to throw this up before I must depart to the land of sheep. No, not Wales. I mean going to sleep. Ok this is going all kinds of wrong. Let's just get to the point.
One play in particular intrigued me during the Eagles/Falcons game last Sunday night and I want to throw it out there using my new diagram drawing skills (uh huh, stop laughing). The reason it caught my eye is because it shows that the old styles of football never really seem to die. They just disappear and then reappear every now and again.
The play in question is a fake toss into a dive play, from a split backs formation, that harks back to the sort of seventies and eighties style of football. Here's the picture;
And no, I still haven't figured out to stop Blogger from blurring the ass out of the image. But there you go. I even coloured the offense in a shade of green to represent the Eagles... albeit in a shade of green not entirely representative of the Eagles uniforms. I've also omitted the three wide receivers and the corners covering them, because this is a running play and receivers not named Heinz Ward never seem to block these days anyway.
What you can see is the center and left guard doubling down on one of the defensive tackles. The Left tackle is supposed to pull and trap block the other defensive tackle. The right guard pulls to help influence the defense and then takes the end, or if he pushes too far upfield then he ignores him and goes for the "S" backer. The right offensive tackle comes up and then cuts inside to wall off the mike linebacker. Now it is a simple matter for the quarterback to pivot out, fake the toss to the running back on the right who immediately darts outward at the snap, before actually handing off to the left back, marked in the image with a blue line.
It's a simple yet cunning play, reminiscent of a bygone era, right down to the formation. What always makes me chuckle as well (being the sad bastard that I am) is that this is precisely the kind of play teams like the Steelers would use, only for them to be described as a "downhill, smash mouth, power football" team. Except this play is anything but smash mouth. It's a finesse play, based on angles.
You have a double team. You have a tackle pulling to trap one of the defensive tackles. You have a guard pulling to trap an end. You have another tackle heading upfield to blindside the poor "Mike" backer. This is not grinding it out on the ground football. This is a play that involves deception, quick feet, precision practice and great technique. It is the complete opposite of "ground and pound" as far as the running game is concerned.
And that's why I love this kind of play so much. It speaks of the versatility of the old split back sets. And it demonstrates the creativity, tactics and finesse that a running game can possess. A lot of people associate running the football with being an inferior method of moving the ball. They consider it a method for the dumb knuckle heads of the footballing world, compared to the skill and artistry of the passing game. I believe those people simply don't understand the running game and the true depth that it offers.
Of course we'll gloss over the fact for now that the left tackle missed his block, and as a result Falcons defensive tackle Peria Jerry got a clean hit on Vick who then fumbled the ball away...
Hey, there are good running games and there are bad running games. Then there's the Eagles.
On a quick note, you're more likely to see the play above run out of the I-formation in the modern NFL and indeed it has been making a strong comeback in recent years.
On another quick note, I'll be back Saturday night with my picks for the weekend.