This is a great play to look at because it showcases a great design and is run to beat the coverage the Broncos are giving them. This speaks to really good game planning, structure, and execution by the Raiders.
The Raiders are lined up in a bunch right with the ball on the right hash. They know that the Broncos are a quarter quarter halves team. By that I mean, if you look at the bottom of the screen you can see a pre rotated cover 2. At the top of screen they’re playing what in universal football terms is know as quarter coverage. When you play quarter coverage, the basic rule is that the widest corner and safety each have a 1/4 of the field, but then how they cover is based on the release of the outside #1 receiver at the top and the #2 which is the RB. Coverage is determined by releases.
A primary part of the play is at the top. On the vertical release by #1, the corner has got him essentially in that quarter man to man.
As soon as #2 takes it to the flat, the #2 defender (the safety) is now in position to double the wide receiver.
The receiver runs a post, so the corner and safety are going to capture him. The wide receiver’s job on game plan day if you get quarters is to take two. Taking two means on the post route you take both the corner and the safety out of there to clean up the outside 1/4 of the field.
A primary part of the play is at the top. You can see on the vertical release by #1 that the corner has got him essentially in that quarter man-to-man, but as soon as #2 takes it to the flat, the #2 defender (the safety) is now in position to double the WR. The reason why you want the receiver to do that is in quarters coverage, with the vertical release and a flat by #2, the LB is now responsible for covering him man-to-man. Quarter quarter halves is a zone coverage, but it reverts to man-to-man based on releases. Particularly the side of the quarters.
Right now the Raiders have exactly what they want. They’re selling a flat by the #2 (the RB), they’ve got a matchup which all coaches and quarterbacks want, which is matching up a linebacker on a running back. That’s a good matchup in most cases, which goes the value of an outside linebacker when he has to cover man-to-man. That’s why speed is so important because of the type of player they’re covering.
Derek Carr gets exactly what he wants. He’s cleaned up the outside half of the field and gives the back a 1 on 1. The back does a terrific job selling the flat which causes the linebacker to overplay it.
By overplaying it, he gives the back leverage when he snaps it vertical to squeeze the linebacker and give the QB enough field space to make the throw.
Carr delivers a throw to the outside number over the inside shoulder, forcing the linebacker to play through the body to get to the ball. He does a great job of accurately throwing the ball so the defender can’t make the play and the back does a great job of finishing the play and scoring the touchdown.
The bunch at the bottom creates the Cover 2 shell. The #1 receiver takes two and the back is 1-on-1.
The rest of the route for the QB would be second hitch, to the shallow crosser, and then finish with the your feet to flare control, which in this case is TE who helped the play by chipping and running to the flat. The final stage of that would be to climb to the dig route at the top of the screen.
So Carr takes a three step drop then looks at the hitch. He takes a good look at the flat and up and makes the throw. His next read would’ve been at the second hitch to the shallow cross and then to the TE on the chip flat. Also, be ready when you climb to take the WR down the middle of the field. Great design, great execution, and great looking explosive play on 1st and 10 in the shot area of the field.
Offensive Line Breakdown
With all great plays from the pocket, it starts with protection. This is really an even front with 4 down linemen and 2 stand ups at the end. You’ve got the LB on the inside eye of the LG, which is really the A-gap. This is free release by the back in the flat to Carr’s left. Because of that, if the center doesn’t come with the back to this side, the LG and LT would be forced to MDM. They’d have the vertical and block the most dangerous two of three because the center would be working away from the back to protect Carr’s backside. The center does a great job of looking at perimeter and saying, “I can go,” and leaving the guard and tackle to the tackle and the end, which takes away the issue of the back having to worry about HOT, because the center is going to work to the left. Now the 3 lineman (C, LG, T) will be responsible for those three guys and allow 23 to run his route.
You see it right here, the center is working left.
The center and the left guard double the DT.
Really good job by the LT. Because it’s an up the field throw, they brought in the WR who does a nice job of chipping and reducing the pass rush of the defensive end. It takes 11, and on this touchdown by Raiders, all 11 did their job.