Golden Tate’s Tool Kit.

Author- Bryan Trulen

Many People are blaming the Vikings defense for the “collapse” on sunday against Detroit. While placing blame on the defense is convenient for fans, it is far from the truth. The Vikings defense did not play bad they  just happened to be playing against one of the most highly skilled and nuanced offenses in football as relates to play-calling, perimeter conceptual design, route running, intelligence, toughness and formation multiplicity. For times sake we are going to look at a defining play from the All-22 vantage point – Matthew Stafford to Golden Tate for the win in OT.  (All visual content courtesy NFL Game Pass)

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On 3rd and 8, Minnesota comes out in a single high safety look with 7 interior defenders threatening rush. Detroit deploys (11) personnel with their X WR, Golden Tate in a fairly tight alignment while CB Xavier Rhodes is assigned to him at the top of screen
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As we can see, the Vikings have allocated 7 defenders threatening to blitz pre snap. Harrison Smith however has  curl to flat responsibility so Stafford knows he is stunting.
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As the Ball is snapped, Harrison Smith is now retreating back into coverage at SS and CB Xavier Rhodes (Top of Screen) is not playing man to man but is actually retreating into Cover 3 responsibility.
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Detroit is able to protect Stafford well as evidenced by their textbook looking offensive line deployment. By now, Xavier Rhodes (Top of Screen) has turned his hips and is sprinting down the field giving Golden Tate his inside. Harrison Smith, due to faking blitz pre snap has been forced to turn and run to cover the flat with his back to the ball because he was out of position pre snap.
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Golden Tate tilts his route angle to threaten the possibility of running across the field with subtle nuances such as shoulder dip, angled release and eye/head deception. As we can see Harrison Smith and even Rhodes are influenced slightly by Tate’s route stem development.
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More of the same here as Tate continues to deceive the Viking Secondary of Smith and Rhodes as we see again their positioning becoming compromised within the Cover 3 design. Smith has now fully turned his back and is playing catch up and guess against Tate.
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Harrison Smith again is out of position as Stafford begins his release of the ball. Rhodes has been pushed vertically by Tate and Smith is clearly fooled as well with his wide leg cuts.
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Rhodes is STILL retreating into deep third protection as Tate begins his out break. Notice how Tate does not press to the sideline during the build up to his break rather though Tate leaves ample room to the sideline for Stafford to lead him to, which will come in handy later.
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Smith again is out of position as he has been fooled further by Tate. Remember Harry was playing catch up from the get go due to attempting to show blitz only to retreat back into coverage with his back to the ball.
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As Tate Catches the ball, Smith is still running full speed go as he has been in a dead, out of control sprint since the snap.
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Tate stops on a dime While Rhodes attempts to put a shoulder to where he thought Tate would end up after the reception.
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More of the same from the sideline angle.
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Harrison Smith in full sprint mode attempting to  throw his out of control body into the ever aware and controlled Golden Tate.
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Tate delivers a punishing and humiliating stiff-arm to Smith on his way for six points.
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Smith and Rhodes both end up on the ground.
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No words for this
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En route to the end zone

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Analyzing Matthew Stafford’s game winning Touchdown Drive to beat the Redskins.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford again showed why he is a legitimate MVP candidate as he engineered yet another 4th quarter comeback victory over Washington. Stafford effortlessly moved the Lions down the field with under 2 minutes remaining in a drive that showcased traits such as awareness, a quick release,functional mobility, accuracy, timing and sheer arm power.  Let’s go to the tape and take a look.

All Video Capture courtesy of NFL Game Pass.

With just over 1:00 to play, Detroit comes out in 10 personnel and the Redskins are deploying a two high safety shell pre snap with their cornerbacks 5-7 yards off the ball. screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-06-14-am

As the ball is snapped Josh Norman (CB, Top of Screen) begins his back pedal and is now 10 yards away from WR Marvin Jones who is a legitimate down field deep threat. Washington still has their two high safety look in tact. screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-06-30-am

 Stafford sets up in the pocket we begin to see excellent route spacing and design taking shape. Washington has now (Post Snap) retreated into a Single High Safety look as their SS is now playing a hybrid robber/deep curl defender. screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-07-08-am

After Stafford’s initial setup, he is forced to step up and out of the pocket to his left as defensive end Ryan Kerrigan rushes up-field and creates a void for Stafford to buy more time to throw. screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-07-27-am

As Stafford buys more time, the Lions receiving threats are doing an excellent job of horizontally stretching the Redskin defense with a concept specifically designed to beat this particular defense. Marvin Jones is running a deep in breaking route and the WR at the bottom of the screen – Anquan Boldin, is running a deep comeback to the outside.screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-08-43-am

Stafford releases the ball with a flick of the wrist while not setting his feet, this clearly is a special throw by a special quarterback. Also notice how he is throwing somewhat across his body and into a window he expects Marvin Jones to eventually be. screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-07-40-am

The pass is complete and the Lions are rolling into Washington territory. screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-12-08-02-am

With momentum on their side but time running out, the Lions need a big play. Detroit deploys trips to the field side of the formation with their TE attached to the LOS. Attempting to decipher the Washington coverage at this point is tough to do. Stafford most likely has his eyes focused on the SS at the snap of the ball as that will be his coverage indicator. screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-33-10-pm

At this point, we begin to see elements of the SS coming down into the box. This will signify to Stafford that there is a high probability of single high safety coverage with the “weak” safety rotating to the middle of the field.screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-33-30-pm

As Stafford sets up into a clean pocket it becomes evident that Washington is electing to play coverage and rush three which in theory tightens any potential throwing windows down the field. Meanwhile we see again how Detroit has perfected the use of WR spacing as their receivers use angled releases which stresses the defense horizontally. Detroit also runs their TE on an “Under” route which will further stress the under-coverage of Washington.screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-33-56-pm

As Stafford begins his throwing motion the picture is now clearly defined. Washington is in a single high safety look and Anquan Boldin who is in the slot, is creating leverage to come back into the weak area of this defense. Golden Tate is now running across the FS face in this modified four vertical concept. screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-34-04-pm

The Window to place the football to Boldin is indeed very small but Stafford is one of the few QB’s who can actually make this throw happen. Stafford is essentially betting on his arm to fit the ball into a very small window. Also notice how the TE is in Stafford line of sight and actually influences the Will Linebacker just a bit. screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-34-52-pm

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