Cleveland Browns' X's & O's - Anatomy of a Scoring Drive Play #12: All Hitches

In part #11 of the OBR's ‘Anatomy of a Scoring Drive: A Play a Day’ series, the Bengals' offense went to the air for a 5-yard gain using a Boundary Flood concept. On 3rd down we stay in the air to analyze the West Coast offense 'All Hitches' concept.

Play #11 Recap

Down/distance - 2nd and 10

Field Position – Right hash of the Browns’ 14-yard line

Formation – Gun Trey Left X Nasty Back Weak

Concept – Boundary Flood/Backside Levels

Result - 5-yard gain on a Tyler Eifert reception

Facing a 2nd and 10 Bengals' offensive coordinator Hue Jackson went to the air yet again, running a 'Boundary Flood' concept out of a 'spread' formation, showing 'Trey Left' (two receivers and an inline tight end) with the boundary X receiver aligned in a 'nasty' split (reduced distance to the formation to create space for his out-breaking route).

The left cornerback's depth and leverage took away the first read, (A.J. Green speed out), moving quarterback Andy Dalton to the shallow/flat combo in which he found his Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert for a 5-yard reception. While the offense wanted six points, they will happily settle for a 5-yard gain to set up 3rd and 5.


Trends through eleven plays:

  • After running the ball four of the first five plays, the Bengals' have now thrown the ball four of the last six.
  • The defensive front-seven alignment continues to create large run bubbles
  • Hue Jackson has attacked the outside gaps three out of five running plays with the Counter OF (C-gap), Pin-and-Pull (D-gap), and Outside Zone (D-gap). He has also attacked large interior run bubbles with the Iso/Lead on two of the previous three running plays
  • The offense has consistently created numbers at the point of attack via well-designed blocking schemes 
  • NT Danny Shelton has yet to prevent a scoop to the second level when he is combo-blocked (three plays). As a result, the Browns' linebackers are unable to freely scrap to the ball, leading to solid gains on the ground. Jaime Meder's single appearance this drive resulted in the nose tackle bullying his blocker into the backfield, altering the tailback's path to the hole and likely saving the defense some yardage.
  • Hue Jackson is now attacking match-ups through the air. In four of the previous eight plays he has schemed one-on-one coverage in space via alignment and concept for Tyler Eifert, A.J. Green, and Mohamed Sanu.
  • The Browns' defensive intergrity continues to consistently break down due to errors in alignment and technique.


Play #12

Down/distance - 3rd and 5

Field Position – Right hash of the Browns’ 10-yard line

Formation – Gun Quad Hi (tailback aligned to right of quarterback)

Concept – All Hitches/Spacing

Bengals' offensive coordinator Hue Jackson elects to stay in a 'spread' formation with a Gun Quad Hi, placing twin receivers to each side of the formation. Notice the spacing created by the alignment. There is ALOT of open field to use here (if you have viewed Browns' first round draft pick Corey Coleman's highlights you should see some immediate similarities to Baylor's offensive spacing).

The tight splits by both slot receivers allow the Browns' defense to show seven legitimate blitz threats. Notice that the unit has aligned a wide-nine defensive end and a stand-up rusher to the tailback's side of the formation. Based on the alignment quarterback Andy Dalton can reasonably suspect man coverage with no help behind should the Browns' bring extra rushers, with a split-safety Cover 4 being the next likeliest coverage. Playing a MOFC (middle of the field closed) coverage in this proximity to the goal line is asking to be killed in the seam by the slots, so we are likely looking at a case of extremes. Bring the house and play Cover 0 behind or bluff the blitz and drop several defenders into the underneath zones.   

The pass concept is a Bill Walsh-favorite, the 'All Hitches/Spacing' concept. The play is designed to horizontally stretch a defense across the field, leaving large holes for the receivers to sit down in. The play is often read from inside-to-out, although pre-snap clues such as safety alignment, and cornerback depth and leverage will often create a pre-snap determination of where the ball will go. The in-breaking routes should be run past the first-down marker, as the receiver should expect to work back to the ball after making his cut.

Based on the lack of pre-snap safety rotation, the overload to his right side, and cornerback Tramon William's depth Dalton very likely knows where he wants to go with the ball before the snap here. Should the stand-up rusher drop out to play an underneath zone, tight end Tyler Eifert's route will screen him from flashing into the throwing window to the outside receiver, Marvin Jones. In addition, with the ball on the right hash and Jone's alignment to the boundary (short-side of the field) the throw has less distance to travel, giving the defender less time to break on the pass.

After bluffing the blitz,defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil drops eight defenders into coverage, blanketing the underneath zone as he correctly anticipates a quick-game concept aiming for the first down marker. Move your eyes to the #1 receivers on both sides of the formation. Notice the slot defender (top of the screen) immediately gain width and depth to flash through the slant/hitch window. This is how you take away the quick-route game with extra men in coverage. 

Move to the bottom of the screen and focus on the stand-up linebacker aligned just inside Tyler Eifert. This defender should execute the same technique as the slot. Open the hips to the sideline, gain width/depth, and alternate eyes between the quarterback and receiver. Because he must cross Eifert's face, he is unable to place himself in the quarterback's vision to squeeze the throw. 

Many will place the blame on cornerback Tramon Williams here as his depth and pedal at the snap creates room for the hitch route to hit in front of him, but he is very likely coached to retreat to the goal line (protect against a double-move or end-zone shot). William's alignment and leverage are predicated on the linebacker squeezing any short throws, creating a pseudo hi-lo on the outside receiver. When the defender can't cross Eifert's face in time to squeeze the throw, the play is over. On the surface, it is easy to point fingers when in fact the defender is doing his job. Team defense is contingent on all eleven players executing their role; we can see what happens when just one responsibility breaks down.

Williams gets a good jump on the throw and is able to tackle the receiver after a 3-yard gain (Notice how the receiver stemmed his route right at the sticks and worked back to the ball), putting the offense in a 4th and 2. Does Jackson kick the field goal or go for the jugular? Tune in for our next installment to find out!

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