The Electric Commentary

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Gruden v. The Packer Secondary

Michael David Smith paid very close attention to the way that Tampa Bay coach John Gruden created mismatches in the Packer secondary on Sunday in his Every Play Counts column. It's a must read for a Packer fan. Poor Michael Hawkins. Here's a clip:

Tampa Bay’s first drive demonstrated the way Gruden’s offense uses formations with three receivers clustered together to create mismatches, often getting the primary receiver matched up against the weak link of the opposing team’s defense. In the Packers’ case, the weak link is rookie fifth-round draft pick Michael Hawkins, and the Bucs targeted him on both of the key passes on their opening drive, which resulted in a touchdown. Facing a third-and-10 at the Green Bay 37-yard line, wide receiver Michael Clayton lined up split to the right, with tight end Alex Smith and flanker Edell Shepherd also on the right of the formation. Brian Griese knew that Smith would release down the middle of the field, and the crossing pattern of Clayton to the inside and Shepherd to the outside would create one-on-one coverage with Hawkins on Clayton. That is a huge mismatch, and Clayton slanted inside, grabbed the Griese pass and gained 18 yards.

After four straight Williams runs, the Bucs were down to the Packers’ 5-yard line. Joey Galloway lined up wide to the right with Ike Hilliard on his inside in the slot. A play fake to Williams kept the Packers’ linebackers close, and Hilliard’s presence inside kept the safety there. That meant one-on-one coverage for Hawkins on Galloway. Griese rolled to the right, where Hawkins was stuck: He could maintain coverage on Galloway and let Griese run in for a touchdown, or he could pressure Griese and leave Galloway alone in the end zone. He chose the latter, and Griese easily tossed the ball to Galloway for the touchdown. Gruden knew the Packers had to respect Williams’ presence on the fake and Hilliard’s inside route, and that isolated Hawkins in the end zone.

Read the whole thing, if for no other reason than to get inside the mind of a very good coach.


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