Chalkboard session: Why Bills spread field to run

GRAPHIC

ABOVE: Crude version (apologies0 of the in-paper graphic that ran today
in the Toronto Sun,
breaking down the Bills’ first TD against the Chiefs.

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CHALKBOARD SESSION
Breaking down a key play last weekend

Here is a textbook example of why some teams, such as the Buffalo Bills, often run out of a spread passing formation.

On this play in the first quarter of last Sunday’s Bills-Chiefs game, Buffalo has a 2nd-and-10 at the KC 17-yard line.

The Bills line up in an “11″ formation — one running back, one tight end and thus three receivers.

The Chiefs go with a dime sub-package (six defensive backs). They insert only one true interior defensive linemen (rookie Dontari Poe at nose tackle), along with three linebackers and an end who’s lined up inside. The Chiefs are expecting pass all the way.

But it’s a run.

When the ball is snapped to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in the shotgun, tight end Scott Chandler (84) comes racing across to the right side of the formation — see above. And that’s where the play breaks down for Kansas City.

Both ILB-56 Derrick Johnson and S-34 Travis Daniels are keying on Chandler — Johnson likely thinking Chandler is lead-blocking for a running play going to that side, and Daniels probably because he’s in man coverage on Chandler for a pass. Both Johnson and Daniels flow hard to that side (see the yellow directional paths above), thereby leaving their defensive right side unguarded. Neither is even blocked, nor needs to be. They’ve taken themselves right out of the play.

Meantime, K.C.’s right outside linebacker — aggressive pass-rush specialist Tamba Hali (91) — breaks hard and wide around Bills LT Cordy Glenn, so Glenn just lets him go. The remaining four Bills offensive linemen do a great job of sealing off to their right all other Chiefs defenders in the box, with LG Andy Levitre and C Eric Wood double-teaming Poe, the nose tackle.

There is now a huge hole for Spiller around the left, and that’s the playcall. Fitz gives him the ball.

Because all three K.C. cornerbacks are in man-press coverage on the Bills WRs, they have their backs to the backfield the whole time as they stay with their men breaking deep and wide. They’re all out of the play.

The only defender with a chance to tackle Spiller is the deep safety, Abram Elam. But he can’t get over in time to stop Spiller from scoring, untouched.

“They were playing a defence that allowed us to have pretty good matchups in the run game out of certain personnel groups,” Bills head coach Chan Gailey said afterward. “We wanted to go take advantage of it, so that is what we did.”

Never more so than on this big play, which put the Bills up 7-0 — off and running.

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