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Skol Schemes, Week 15: In Appreciation of Duke Shelley

From practice squad to making plays

Indianapolis Colts v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Duke Shelley has had quite the season.

To start the year, he wore a Bears jersey to work everyday. On August 31, he was waived by the Bears. On September 6, Shelley joined the purple people’s practice squad. November 12 was the first time Shelley was activated to the 53 man roster, and he made a game saving play as the Vikings stormed the castle against the Bills:

On December 17, Shelley had 2 pass break ups, a key first down saving tackle, and played tight to routes all day long. I wrote about how the Vikings defense changed it up in week 15 here:

With the Colts up 23-0 and hope fading fast, the man coverage parade was on its way. Shelley was in man coverage here against a stick return route. He closed the space quickly and got his hands on the ball:

One way for offenses to get the advantage back against tight coverage is to get into stacks (two receivers) and bunches (three receivers). A stack generally allows for one of two receivers to have a free release off the line. Certain route combinations from a stack can also take advantage of defenses needing to communicate at full speed with small margins for error. On a massive 3rd down late in the fourth quarter, the Colts got into a stack to free up Michael Pittman. Duke Shelley came off his receiver, attacked Pittman, and was able to stop him before he could make the line to gain. The Colts then took a false start and punted the ball away:

As our emotional battery continued to drain, Duke Shelley continued to make plays. With around 3 minutes left in OT, the Colts once again went to a man coverage beater. The Colts wanted to create a rub to get Shelley off his spot. Instead, Shelley was shot out of a cannon for another PBU:

The Vikings second cornerback spot has been an adventure this year. Multiple injuries have hobbled the Vikings secondary, but Duke Shelley has found a way to make plays. Shelley’s performance on Saturday was encouraging, and we all hope the win was a jump-start for the Vikings defense.