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Skol Schemes, Week 14: Anatomy of a TD

Looking at Jameson Williams’ big play

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

I know, I know. You are tired of seeing the Vikings’ defense let up points, yards, first downs, and completions. If this article will bring tears to your eyes, please feel free to skip it for your own mental health. If you want to see me break it down on video in 3 minutes instead of scrolling your phone with the lights out or during your work break, you can watch it here:

After going 3 and out on their opening drive, the Lions opened up their second drive with a 21 personnel (2 running backs, 1 tight end) run against the Vikings’ base 3-4 defense. On the next play, the Lions were in 12 personnel (1 running back, 2 tight ends) and motioned a tight end back into the fullback spot. The Lions’ ability to get into heavier personnel run looks puts the defense in a bind. In order to commit to stopping the run, the Vikings came out in a 6-1 front dedicated to clogging up interior gaps.

From this 6-1 front, the coverage menu is relatively limited. It is dedicated to stopping the run, and Bill Belichick used it widely in the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over the Rams:

Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson surely had a smile on his face before the ball was even snapped on the ensuing touchdown play. The play design is a variation on a classic play action shot play. To the top of the screen, the wide receiver will attack a landmark before settling down on what looks like a post-curl route. This is meant to hold the cornerback as well as entice the safety to commit to him. If the safety does cap his route, the receiver can then uncover by working back to the sideline. To the opposite side, Jameson Williams was in a foot race on a big post over the top. As long as the safety looked to the Miami route in some way, Williams had an advantage:

Assigning blame on the defensive end is a little bit harder in part because we are not in the room to know all the assignments of defenders. In his postgame press conference, Kevin O’Connell labeled it a Quarters look. One safety flew down in the run fit, and the other safety now had a choice. The safety to the bottom of the screen wanted to cut off what appeared to be a crosser and the rest is history. As someone who is committed to positivity, I label this as a good play by the offense. Every single coverage has a weakness, and offenses are better than ever about exploiting a defense’s rules. The Vikings ran the same play later in the game, but did not have the same results:

Again, I am sorry that we had to go through that. My sincerest hope is that next time we can have our Anatomy of a TD be the Vikings scoring a big touchdown. Here’s to hoping so as Minnesota returns home for a Saturday afternoon clash with the Colts.