Let's take a look back at the play that resulted in a Matt Ryan 44 yard TD pass to Roddy White against the Lions this past week. The Falcons started out by lining up in 22 personnel with 2 TEs, 2 backs, and 1 WR out wide (White). The Lions come out in a cover one scheme which means they’ll have one deep safety and everyone else will be playing man. Originally Atlanta stacks the formation to the left but then Matt Ryan motions Michael Palmer to the right side and sees that the Lions are in a cover one after Louis Delmas follows him across the line. The Falcons are going to run PA with Turner which causes the linebackers and the deep safety to step up.
As you can see the Falcons are in max protection with only 2 men going out on routes. For this reason the Falcons and QB Matt Ryan will live or die based on how effective the PA is on this play. If the LBs bite up then Matt will likely have the one on one match up that he wants. The key here will be getting the lone safety to bite to one side of the play and leave the other one in a clear one on one.
The playaction works to perfection and all of the linebackers and the lone safety bite up. This allows Tony Gonzalez to get a clean release on his corner route and get behind the defense. This puts the SS Don Carey in a tough spot. He can either roll towards his left and double Roddy White, who is running a double move route, or he can roll towards his right to try and catch up with Gonzalez who is running a corner route to the end zone.
Carey chooses to roll to his right but he’s late getting over there as well so Tony Gonzalez has a clean break to the end zone. However, Matt Ryan has already made up his mind and is throwing to his go-to-guy Roddy White who is matched up with Chris Houston. Carey notices that Ryan has chosen to go to Roddy White but he’s already out of the play since he initially rolled to his right to try and pick up Gonzalez. Roddy was running a route which had a double move in it but doesn’t get the necessary separation he needs from the double move so instead he employs a veteran push off which allows him to get just enough separation.
Ryan drops the ball into White who now has a step on CB Chris Houston and gets into the end zone for six. You can see at the bottom of the screen is Lions SS Don Carey who was too little to late getting over to the play.
The main reason this play worked was the playaction fake. The man assigned to cover Tony Gonzalez bit on the play fake which allowed Tony to get behind him. Carey had to roll that direction which gave Matt a clear one on one with Roddy to his right side. If the linebacker doesn’t bite on the fake and sticks with Tony off the snap then Carey can likely stay in the middle of the field and read the QB the entire way. That would have led to a much more difficult pass.
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