Anatomy of a Scoring Drive: Power Left

In part #13 of the OBR's ‘Anatomy of a Scoring Drive: A Play a Day’ series, the Bengals' offense ran two concepts in one play, giving quarterback Andy Dalton the choice of one-back Iso or a wide receiver Smoke screen. After seemingly stopping the offense due to an errant throw, the Browns' unit finds themselves facing 1st and goal from the 3-yard-line after a devastating defensive offside penalty.

Play #13 Recap

Down/distance - 4th and 2

Field Position – Right hash of the Browns’ 6-yard line

Formation – Wing Stack Right

Concept – Wide receiver Smoke Screen/Tailback Iso 

Result - Incomplete Pass to A.J. Green/Defensive Offsides leading to 1st Down

Bengals' offensive coordinator shows his gusto going for it on fourth down, foregoing an easy field goal for six points. Jackson decided to give quarterback Andy Dalton two play calls, a run and a pass concept. Dalton scanned the defense at the line of scrimmage and made a decision to go with the pass playplay to run based on factors such as box count, alignment, leverage, and depth. 

With the right giving up a 6-yard cushion to All-Pro A.J. Green, Dalton correctly ran the Smoke or 'Now' screen betting that his receiver could beat the defender in space for two yards and a first down.

Dalston failed to execute what should have been a fairly simple pitch-and-catch due to mechanical issues.

"Focus on Dalton's feet as he receives the snap. The throw starts by stepping towards the target with the lead foot. The step should be short, straight and quick. Dalton appears to overstride with his lead foot, preventing the body from transferring his weight over his front foot as he releases the ball. This causes the ball to take a downward path on release, likely causing the underthrow."

The defense appears to have made stymied the Bengals' offense, however defensive lineman Randy Starks lined up in the neutral zone, resulting in a 5-yard penalty and automatic first down.

The offense now has 1st and goal from the 3-yard-line. Anything less than a touchdown will be disappointing here.

Trends through 13 plays:

  • After running the ball four of the first five plays, the Bengals' have now thrown the bal lsix of the last eight.
  • 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 six of the previous ten 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.

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Play #14

Down/distance - 1st and goal

Field Position – Right hash of the Browns’ 3-yard line

Formation – Tank I

Concept – Power Left

The offense brings in their goal line package, showing '22' personnel and an extra offensive lineman, tackle Jack Fisher (#74). Due to down/distance and personnel grouping, the offense is either going coming at the defense's throat with the downhill ground game or running a play action concept as all signs points towards a run.

As his offense has experienced considerable success on the ground thus far, Jackson dials up a short-yardage favorite, 'Power Left'. The classic ground-and-pound concept is a gap-blocked scheme utilizing downblocks and a pulling guard to create a hole--usually the B or C-gap-- for the tailback to press. The offense will run the concept towards the extra offensive lineman, loing to down-block the 6i-technique while bringing a puller through the hole to stuff the down-hill linebacker.

This is a man's play; the unit that demonstrates superior get-off, leverage, and speed will likely win the down.

The defense responds with a goal line package of their own, utilizing five defensive linemen, two stand-up rushers to hold the edge, second-level linebackers, and a safety. 

The defense manages to get the stop on first down with a creative run stunt to the strongside of the formation (more on that in a moment). 

Locate the fullback and note his path to the line of scrimmage. Generally, the fullback will kick out the EMLOS (end man on line of scrimmage) or lead through the hole on 'Power'. Instead we see #89 enter the line of scrimmage in the area just vacated by the pulling guard away from the play. So why is this happening?

The two most likely answers are:

1. The offense was attempting to 'false key' the play-side linebacker in as many teams will look to the fullback's path for run-direction

2. The fullback simply ran the wrong play.

If forced to choose, I would say number one is the more-likely option as the fullback and tailback's initial paths make the play look like 'Iso weak'. Without the exact play call, it is impossible to say for certain.

The tailback's initial lateral steps away from the play also serve to give the pulling guard time to cross the center and get to his block at the play's aiming point, the C-gap.

As the tailback bends the ball back to the strong side, we can see what appears to be a run stunt developing between safety Tashaun Gipson and linebacker Paul Kruger. 

Focus on Kruger as he crosses his blocker's face into the C-gap, opening up a hole in the D-gap for Gipson to shoot. Concurrently, Karlos Dansby (#56) has correctly read the left guard's down block is quickly filling the hole as should expect a puller to show up.

Kruger's fight across the tight end's face has dramatically squeezed the C-gap, reducing the size to the point that the pulling right guard cannot insert cleanly and block the filling Dansby.  The restricted gap also gives Gipson a great angle to the ball, allowing him to aggressively shoot the gap and tackle the ball carrier by the legs for a negligible gain. 

The Browns' defense has executed to get a stop on first down, but in light of Jackson's earlier fourth-down conversion, the unit should expect to be on the field for three more plays. Does Jackson keep the ball on the ground or attempt to catch the defense leaning with a play action call. Tune into our final installment of 'Anatomy of a Scoring Drive' to see....


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