Scheme Freezes The LB. Rodger Saffold Does The Rest.
The cliche goes, “It’s not about the X’s and O’s, it’s about the Jimmies and Joes.” At this point, the saying is beyond overused. The saying is correct, of course, as you cannot line up inferior talent and win, no matter how good your scheme is. But, in reality, you need a scheme that maximizes what your players do well, too.
This intersection of talent and scheme is on full display here. The Titans combine this outside zone scheme with return motion and some nifty backfield action. Specifically, we’re checking out Left Guard Rodger Saffold, who’s a very athletic lineman.
Pre-snap, Saffold is really disadvantaged by alignment. The Linebacker he’s targeting, #54, Anthony Walker, is aligned way outside of Saffold in the direction the run is going. No matter how athletic Saffold is, he is going to have a tough time getting to Walker on a traditional outside zone run.
So here’s where the scheme comes in. Tennessee utilizes this return motion, with the QB Ryan Tannehill reversing out and hiding the ball from the defense. As a result, the Linebackers are staring into the backfield and are unable to react quickly.
In fact, the athletic Saffold almost has his fourth step in the ground before Walker moves. As a result, Saffold has put himself in position to win the rep with his helmet well past Walker’s playside shoulder, walling him off from where the pitch to Derrick Henry is going.
Add in a nasty and violent finish from Saffold, and Walker is completely wiped out of the play with no shot with no chance to make the play.
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