The Rams pulled off the upset against the Seahawks. While a lot of it was due to their dominating defense, the Rams’ run game also played a huge part in their win. Los Angeles racked up 164 yards on the ground which is their second highest total since Week 3 against Buffalo. Getting Andrew Whitworth back and having Cam Akers fully healthy certainly helped. Let’s look at how the Rams’ outside zone functions and what can make it so effective.

View written breakdown below:

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How outside zone works

Outside zone always has the goal of getting on the edge. In reality, it’s pretty rare to be able to hook the contain defender and get outside. Most of the time, the ball ends up between the tackles. Within the goal of getting outside, you can create a lot of horizontal flow from the linebackers which opens up lanes for the running back. As a result, the blocks on the backside of outside zone are equally as important as the play-side blocks. …

There might not be a hotter offense in the NFL right now than the Buffalo Bills. They just put up 56 on a very good Miami defense. What’s more, John Brown is back in the lineup and can put the offense over the top. While John Brown and the Bills starters only played for the first half in their game against Miami, that was more than enough to get the Bills get up 28–6 going into the 3rd quarter. It started a little shaky but Buffalo made some good adjustments to attack the blitz-happy Dolphins.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

Mitchell Trubisky may be in the midst of saving his career and simultaneously saving the Bears’ season. In his last four games, he’s completed 72% of his passes, has seven touchdowns to two interceptions, and the Bears offense is scoring 35 points per game. In comparison, they were scoring just 16.7 points per game when Foles was starting. Bears fans might be conflicted after watching these ups and downs through Trubisky’s career but Chicago seems to have found a formula for success with Trubisky.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

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(Getty Images)

Use of Play Action

In the last four weeks the Bears have run play-action at a much higher rate than they had previously with Mitchell Trubisky. In weeks one through three and his first week back in week 12 against the Packers, they ran play-action just 25.8% of the time. …

The Titans drafted a star when they selected AJ Brown in the 2019 NFL Draft. He brings physicality and play-making ability to every snap and has 56 receptions, 881 yards, and 10 touchdowns on the year and has implemented more and more route technique and nuance. He might only be 6’0” but he plays with size and aggressiveness. Sometimes that can get him into trouble, but he’s a perfect complement to what Tennessee can do in the run game.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

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Physicality

AJ Brown is a physical player. He isn’t afraid of initiating contact and letting corners run with him and he uses that contact to extend at the top of his routes to create separation. He will even search for that contact if corners are squatting on his route and use his momentum to push off. …

Jalen Hurts finally got his first start and led the Eagles to a win with 273 total yards and one touchdown. It’s a small sample size, but let’s take a look at how Hurts looked and what the Eagles asked of him against the Saints.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

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Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, left, scrambles past New Orleans Saints’ Demario Davis during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Good

Doug Pederson frequently moved Hurts outside the pocket. This helped simplify his reads by cutting the field in half. The Eagles ran rollouts seven different times. …

The Packers offense is flying high thanks to Matt LaFleur and an MVP caliber year by Aaron Rodgers. The Packers defense however, is very… average. They have a ton of draft capital and talent invested on the defensive side of the ball with Kenny Clark, Za’Darius Smith, Kevin King, Jaire Alexander, and Adrian Amos. In fact, four of their last five first round picks were on defense and all are starters right now. So why is the talent not matching the production?

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

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https://packerswire.usatoday.com/2019/10/27/packers-olb-zadarius-smith-celebrates-sack-with-pennywise-the-clown-dance/

Part of the issue is that Mike Pettine, the Packers defensive coordinator, just does not care about stopping the run. His scheme and plan reflects that. He bases out of Nickel personnel and asks a lot of his defensive tackles while allowing his EDGE players in Za’Darius Smith to roam and freelance. That doesn’t excuse poor run fits and putting defenders in places where they can’t succeed, though. …

There are some concerns to be had about Tom Brady’s deep ball in Arians’ system. The Buccaneers are 7–5, are ranked 9th in passing yards per game and 15th in total offense through Week 12. On the flip side, Tom Brady has had flat out awful stretches through the season. He has had two separate four-week spans where he was 3/28 and then 0/19 on deep passes. These lulls are what cause the Buccaneers offensive inconsistencies from week-to-week.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

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Mark Lomoglio / Associated Press

Brady is having difficulty reading deep at times, having miscommunications with his receivers, and has also developed some mechanical issues when he tries to push the ball downfield. To understand why Brady is struggling, we also need to know what he does well. Tom Brady’s deep ball issues aren’t because of arm strength. He is still lethal in the intermediate game and shows great anticipation and touch. …

Taysom Hill finally got his shot to start for the New Orleans Saints and he did not disappoint. He showed good mechanics and accuracy and was routinely able to move through reads. He dealt well with pressure off of play-action, understood where his hot routes were, and his ball placement helped keep his receivers out of harms way. While it wasn’t a perfect game and he was inconsistent with his anticipation throws, it was a very good showing for his first start as a quarterback.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

The LA Rams have a new defensive coordinator in Brandon Staley and have been shutting down the run game while maintaining a two-high look, adapting to their opponents, and pairing excellent play from defensive front and their secondary. They’ll use Jalen Ramsay to lock down receivers in man which opens up their safeties for run fits and more aggressive play and have mastered using Eagle and hybrid fronts to bring pressure and simultaneously have the 5th best run defense in the league. …

Lamar Jackson is one of the most unique quarterbacks in the NFL right now with over 2,000 yards rushing in his career paired with almost 6,000 passing yards and a 102.1 passer rating. A lot of talking heads diminish Lamar’s ability calling him a running back playing quarterback like it’s some kind of knock or dig at his ability. Some of the criticisms are valid, he can struggle mechanically and can overly rely on athleticism but trying to box Lamar into the strict definition of what a quarterback is as foolish as trying to tackle him in the open field. He isn’t a normal quarterback. So why try to define him as one? Lamar is an all-world runner so people try to point out his his ability, or inability, to throw — especially this year where his completion percentage has dropped (although his receivers have dropped 4.9% of his passes) along with his sack numbers rising and a higher rate of fumbling and interceptions. He’s not producing at his 2019 MVP level but let’s take a look at Lamar the player and not just as a pure passer — though we’ll look at that too. …

About

Casey Sully

I am a varsity football offensive coordinator at Tamalpais High School in California. I enjoy diving the schemes, strategies, and nuances of the offensive game.

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