The New England Patriots offense is often looked at as a juggernaut. Watching the game live, it was amazing to see just how simplistic the offense was. Whether that is a product of play calling or the Redskins not putting up much of a fight is up for determination. The Patriots used a lot of repetitive concepts based on down and distance. They used the quick screen, the draw, the fake quick screen draw, the slant/flat concept, the counter run and the power run. One concept they used on two big plays is called the spot concept. One was a big play for the Patriots and one was a big play for the Redskins. Let's take a look:
Here is a general Spot concept. Now, it doesn't always have to come from this line up. It can be 3 WRs, 2 WRs 1 TE, it can involve the RB, etc. As long as there are three pass catchers to one side it can be run. With 3 pass catchers, it attacks three levels with a corner route, spot route, and flat route. Teams typically call this play when they are expecting zone coverage. It's called a spot concept because they want to hit the spot route in the middle of the field/zone. As plainly as it sounds, the route is not a predetermined depth or distance. The quarterback literally just wants the WR to sit in an open "spot" in the zone. If it's man coverage then you have two out-breaking routes that will be a race to the sideline (the corner route is also a Cover 2 zone alert). With the group bunching, it's easy for defenders to get lost in traffic. Let's see how it worked this past Sunday.
The first time the Patriots called this play was on 4th and 2. Remember how I said the Spot concept can come out of anywhere as long as there are three pass catchers to one side? This looks like a normal 3WR set, with an inline TE and a RB in the backfield. Tom Brady is going to motion Julian Edelman in.
As soon as the defender crosses Edelman's face to chase the flat route, Edelman sits in his "spot" in the zone.
Tom Brady puts it on Edelman's outside shoulder and there is no way Keenan Robinson can get an angle on it. 4th and 2 becomes a 1st down.
The Patriots run it from a different set a few drives later. This time it's on 3rd and 8. Again, the Patriots start Edelman out wide and motion him in before he runs his spot route.
The flat route is open right off the bat as the flat defender gets caught up in traffic. The Patriots need 8 yards and Brady saw that it was zone coverage so he holds for the spot route. Edelman's route needs more depth this time. Keenan Robinson, who was within feet of the last one has already seen the Edelman motion-to-spot-route before. Robinson starts trailing over.
Brady lets go of the ball and Robinson steps in front of it. This was a great read by Robinson. I still don't understand how you let Tom Brady tackle you. If Robinson stays outside, Kerrigan might be able to get a body on the outside and this might become a pick-6.
This was a great play by Robinson, but also shows what has been lacking. Primed for a big year, Robinson has yet to reach that projection and now he's dealing with an injury. The flashes he showed last year had some thinking he'd become an All-Pro or at the very least a pro bowler but inconsistency has hurt him in both the run and pass game. To this point, the flashes just remain flashes. If you look around the league, top ILBs are making plays to keep defenses in the game. The Redskins could really use Robinson to step up so they can lean on him more.