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Anatomy Of A Play: Preseason Week 1

Take a look at my new series, “Anatomy of a play”!

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

I’ve thought of an idea which could be fun to Los Angeles Rams fan, and obviously myself. In this series, we can jump into the tape and breakdown a major play, or any impressive play from the prior week. I’ve decided to start during the preseason just to see what you guys think, and to see whether it’s worth continuing or not. With the intro out of the way, let’s get into it.

The play I’ve chosen to take a look at was in the first quarter of the game vs the Dallas Cowboys. It was a roll-out on offense that resulted in a 19-yard gain by rookie WR Cooper Kupp, which ultimately put the team in scoring position.

This was the play. The Rams alignment here is a simple 2x2 formation with Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee (in-line) on the left, with Cooper Kupp and Pharoh Cooper on the right side of the formation. Todd Gurley is the singleback making this “11” personnel, which also means that on this play there are only one RB and one TE.

Here is a breakdown of the routes across the board for the Rams weapons. Far left Robert Woods is running a deep comeback. Also on the left, TE Tyler Higbee is running a jerk route breaking back out as opposed to crossing the field. On the right side of the formation, slot WR Cooper Kupp is running a crosser, and far right is Pharoh Cooper running a post route.

This is where things become fun. The Cowboys, they’re lined up in a simple nickel package. Pre-snap, the Cowboys are lined up in man coverage across the board, with two out of three of their CB’s playing press-man. With the safeties playing deep on either hash, pre-snap this looks to be a cover-2.

What makes this play fun, is the Cowboys actually disguised their play. Rather than playing a cover-2 man-to-man coverage, the nickel CB (with the red arrow) is actually coming off the edge to blitz. which puts the weakside SS (#38 - creeping up into the box) in man coverage across slot WR Cooper Kupp. This leaves him at a disadvantage because Kupp’s route takes him to the left side of the field, ultimately leaving the SS to work through a lot of trash as well as starting behind Kupp.

The play does not go as planned for the Cowboys defense. There is a clear miscommunication between the MLB and the SS as to who had to cover Todd Gurley coming out of the backfield, but not only that, there are multiple Cowboys caught peeking into the Rams backfield with a hard sell by Jared Goff on the play action fake. With a well executed fake, and a mistake on the Cowboys part, WR Cooper Kupp is wide open crossing the field, and Jared Goff composes himself outside of the pocket, gathers his feet, and finds his target for a 19-yard completion.

Something this bad camera work doesn’t show, is the QB. Now, with the Cowboys rushing five, Jared Goff and the Rams do luck out a bit. The RE on the Cowboys slips on the play, which allows Goff to buy some time and allow Kupp to cross the field and pass the LB’s, opening up a passing lane for Goff to find him in.

Here’s a different view:

Well, it wasn’t anything crazy, but it’s nice to see the Rams first team move the ball with effectiveness. You see some play-calling that fits Goff’s skill-set more favourably, Cooper Kupp being the reliable WR everyone expects him to be, and most importantly, Jared Goff was not fooled by the Cowboys pre-snap defense, re-acclimated himself outside the pocket, and threw a nice accurate pass.

Let me know what you think of the new series “Anatomy of a play”, and whether we should continue this ride together or not!