During the preseason game 3 against the Washington Redskins, Joe Flacco threw a 24 yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith Sr. Let’s take a deeper look at the touchdown pass. For this analysis, I am going to look at Steve Smith Sr’s side of the formation and describe what Joe saw.
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The Redskins lined up in a 2-Man formation. In the coverage formation, the Cornerbacks are in man coverage on their receivers with help up top from the two safeties playing zone coverage. The benefit of this coverage is that the safeties can help in double coverage against the two receivers if necessary. During the pre-snap read, there are two major reads that Flacco needs to make to validate that the coverage formation is 2-man:
- If the CB Biggers has lined up close to the wide receiver (also known as press-man coverage) and are head-up over the Smith Sr.
- The Safety Ryan Clark is near the hash marks and is deeper than the Cornerback Biggers.
Once the 2-man formation has been confirmed there are a couple of routes that can expose the weakness of the formation.
After the snap
The first route is the Fade Route run by the WR Steve Smith Sr. In a Fade Route, Steve Smith Sr will run a vertical route breaking down Bigger’s cushion. Then Smith Sr will run by the CB on the outside (closer to the sideline). This will allow Flacco to throw the ball in front of Steve Smith Sr where only Smith Sr can attempt to receive the ball. If Smith Sr is unable to make a reception, the ball goes out of bounds.
The next route that exposes the weakness of the 2-Man coverage is the route run by the TE Pitta. This is the key route to the play. Remember, 2-Man formation has two safeties playing up top to help double cover a receiver if necessary. The offense must find a way to keep the Safety Ryan Clark from coming over to double team the outside receiver, Smith Sr. By running a vertical route along the hash marks (also known as a seam route), the TE Pitta is able to hold the SS Ryan Clark briefly and allow Joe to make a throw to Steve Smith Sr who has beaten Biggers in one on one coverage.
Great play call. Great read. Great Route Running. Touchdown.