Each week, I have looked to breakdown two of the best or worst plays (or situations) from the previous game, but I’ll be listening to Stampede Blue to choose which plays should given a closer look as I hope to explain what happened in greater detail than the broadcasters can. Often you’ll hear “how did that guy get so open?” and I hope to be able to answer that question for Colts fans this season.
Week 12 was an ugly win, but a win all the same. It’s often said that good teams find ways to win those ugly games rife with mistakes and bad breaks. The offensive line gave up more pressure than it had in weeks and the Dolphins responded by keeping pace and entering the fourth quarter with a lead, something I know I didn’t expect. There were a lot of big plays to look at from this game and the two winners, somewhat surprisingly were the second quarter interceptions from Andrew Luck and Andrew Luck’s amazing fourth quarter play, escaping pressure and hitting Chester Rogers, which set up the game winner.
I’m also going to take a look at Kenyan Drake’s 14 yard touchdown run, it didn’t win but I want to take a look and write about it and since this is my article, I’ll do what I want. Because no one voted for it I’ll open with this play and we’ll eventually get to Luck’s amazing play.
This play is difficult to break down because I’m not positive what everyone’s gap responsibilities are, it isn’t obvious and I am in no way sure that what I’m about to tell you is accurate. With that said this is what I believe the gap assignments were on this play:
In theory this would be great. If everyone fills every gap, Drake has no where to run. The problem is that tight end works his way back across the line in this split zone run. That means that the gap that used to exist between he and the left tackle, isn’t there. That’s just the edge now.
So Darius Leonard is responsible for setting the edge, which he does well, Anthony Walker believes he’s responsible for the “c” gap between the tackle and tight end. He wasn’t able to see over the line and recognize that the tight end was coming back across the formation and the gap he was going to fill is now being filled by Leonard. Had he recognized it, he would have most likely stayed home to fill the gap that the flowing tight end was creating.
The only reason I’m not comfortable saying that this is absolutely accurate is because it means that Kenny Moore, all 185 pounds of him is responsible for filling the “b” gap. Generally speaking, that’s a bad idea. I understand that given the coverage shell (cover 2 from the safeties) there weren’t a lot of good ways to fill that gap with someone more well equipped to take on blockers while still matching up with the offense’s personnel, but I almost don’t want to believe that was actually the plan on this play. Kenny Moore has been a great find at corner, but this ain’t it.
I don’t believe this was a huge mistake by any one player as much as it was a well timed play call from an advantageous personnel grouping. You would have liked to see Walker recognize the tight end, but he’s human and he’s been a nice surprise, vastly outplaying his draft position.
For those of you that enjoyed the doodling I did above, just wait for what you’re about to see below. I can tell you exactly why Andrew Luck threw this interception; the Dolphins disguised their coverage in a really simple but effective way.
Here’s what happens:
The Dolphins come out in a man to man look with two safeties playing deep zones covering half of the field, also known as man cover two (or more simply, man-two) the Colts come out and run two receivers down the middle of the field, which is meant to stress the two deep safeties. Hilton’s deep-in combined with those two routes in the middle of the field is designed to get someone open against this coverage.
The problem was that while Andrew Luck got a man cover two look, he didn’t know that the safety and cornerback on his right weren’t playing a traditional man-two. Traditionally the corner will stay with the receiver while the safety drops to his deep half. Instead, at the snap the safety comes up to cover the receiver running the five yard dig, while the cornerback drops to take the deep zone.
It’s a simple change. There’s nothing complicated about it. Two guys just switched roles but it was enough to fool Andrew Luck. I can’t be too upset, Luck believed the Dolphins had busted their coverage and after the Jags game the week before where he saw busted coverage after busted coverage, he took his shot when he saw yet another bust, except that it wasn’t. It was a subtle change but a good play design called against the perfect offensive play to trick Luck into throwing a pick.
This interception is much easier to explain; the Colts needed to move the ball down the field quickly. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton have great chemistry. T.Y. Hilton is easily the Colts best receiver.
Translation: Andrew Luck forces a pass to his favorite target who was blanketed by great coverage.
He shouldn’t have thrown this ball but he had one-on-one coverage and trusted his receiver to go make a play. The problem is that the pass he threw didn’t allow Hilton any ability to make the play. This was just a bad pass.
Andrew Luck’s amazing play:
I’m giving you both angles because there are two aspects of this play that are impressive. The first is the route Chester Rogers runs. Okay, so its not really the route as much as it’s the fact that he had the awareness to feel that if he dropped just a little deeper and towards the sideline he would give Andrew Luck enough room to fit a pass between the defenders.
We learned earlier in the week that Rogers wasn’t even in the progressions for this play. He knew he was essentially a decoy, yet he had the presence of mind to get open when the play broke down. Luck made a great play and throw, but Chester Rogers got open.
This angle shows just how close Andrew Luck was to getting sacked. Number 93, Akeem Spence runs into Luck, off balance and Luck glances off, regained his balance, got his eyes downfield and got off a beautiful pass.
There aren’t a lot of quarterbacks in the league who make this play. It’s a great time to be a Colts fan.