One thing in particular I look at are different ways teams feature a given receiver. While the old standard of simply putting your best guy at X (the wide receiver opposite the TE) is time tested, the ability of a defense to negate easy completions to the split end is simply a matter of choice. Sure, there are other vulnerabilities, but most defenses would like for the offense to "take what they give em". This is because it represents the lowest threat level to the defense, and thus not always what an offense should strive for.
Below, the X at the bottom of the picture clearly has a rolled corner, who is supported by a safety to his side. If an offensive coach will allow a defense to simply take away his best receiver BY ALIGNMENT, that coach is showing a serious lack of accountability to his team.
Below, Calvin Johnson is "starred" while one can clearly see the strong safety rolling down on the tight end side. Because of the presence of a tight end (and thus an extra gap for the defense to cover), most disguises are predictable. Combined with 2 receivers away, which almost always results in a "3 over 2" look by the defense, the result are almost uncontested short completions to that player. Further, even though the free safety is seen running back to the deep middle, note the distance he must travel in order to affect a throw to Z. In other words - he will be on the dead run (and uncontrollable drop) just to get there, and almost worthless in making getting back to the side he came from.
Dallas aligned Dez at Z for a handful of snaps early this preseason, which tells me they have a larger plan in this regard.
I'm eager to see how they incorporate recent acquisition Tim Wright. With their use of personnel and formations, combined with tempo,
As an example, the highlighted player in green (Z) represents the spot Maclin has played (where Jackson played last year) this summer. By moving people around Z, coverage can be standardized for him, and because of the constraints of the offense, relatively simple pitch and catch opportunities can result.
- It's an offense based on a downhill running game
- The QB doesn't need to be the runner people think you need to be in the spread, but the defense must still account for it
This results in very standardized coverage techniques by the defense, even at the NFL level. From there, the Eagles just play ball. But what really sticks out to me is the culture of toughness the receivers play with. Last week, Celek took some hard shots on a couple of great receptions, and Maclin came back from a scary moment to make some nice catches. Toughness allows a coach to attack the with screens and crossing routes, and generate explosives while minimizing turnover risk.
There is no excuse for failing to give one's best player the chance to affect the outcome of a game. I have written of (and illustrated with video) examples of how coaches should reciprocate the accountability they demand of players in my latest iBook, Coaching Concepts, Developing an Offensive System Part 1. For high school coaches out there, these elements can be added THIS SEASON without changing your current system.