Week 12: Falcons vs Bucs - Film Review

A lot of people were of the opinion that the Ronde Barber pick yesterday was because Ryan was staring down Tony Gonzales. I wasn’t so sure, so I decided to go back and look at the film and I ended up looking at a few other plays also. I’m going to give you a brief review of what I saw below. Note that what you’re about to read is my interpretation of what I see; I have no access to either the Falcons or the Bucs playbook. Moreover I have no formal football training either so this may all be incorrect. Proceed at your own risk.

1. Ryan Sack Fumble

In this play, the Bucs were bringing an overload blitz from the right side of the offense – they brought two extra rushers from the right side (in yellow circles) while the down lineman on the left of the line (red circle) dropped back into coverage.


Ryan misread the defense and sent Quiz out to the flat for a screen pass. Quiz should have instead moved to the other side to pick up the blitz in which case Roddy would have had a one-on-one with a safety.

Here's the video of the play.

2. Ronde Barber Picks Ryan

The Bucs show a Tampa two look with three down linemen and four other defenders in the box in position to blitz. I suspect Ryan expected bracket coverage on the outside receivers and a zone in the middle where Ronde Barber (orange circle) and one of the other three non-linemen in the box (yellow circles) drop into coverage while the other two blitz. Based on Ryan’s read, the Falcons sent Roddy and Julio deep (this would pull the safeties wide) while the tight end on the right (red circle) ran a short out to the right this would pull Ronde to the right flat). This would give Tony a one-on-one in the middle of the field with a safety. It’s a good play design but the problem was that Ryan misread the defense. The next screenshot shows the Bucs pre-snap read and what Ryan expected to happen.


The next screenshot shows what actually happened. Instead of blitzing, the Bucs send 8 in coverage with only the 3 down linemen rushing. In addition, only Julio on the left had bracket coverage. The CB on Roddy was in a shallow zone to the right, which means he picked up the tight end that was supposed to pull Ronde away. As a result there are 3 bucs (yellow circles) patrolling the shallow middle (where the pass was supposed to go) while the middle LB (red circle) drops back to cover the deep middle. It would have taken a phenomenal pass to beat that coverage which Ryan did not deliver. On the bright side, did try to look off Ronde (so he wasn’t staring Tony down) – he just didnt do a very good job.


The next screenshot shows the field just as Ryan’s about to throw the pass. From Ryan’s point of view Tony is about to come open and that is a good pass. Unforunately, Ronde was sitting there. The real tragedy is that there was a massive hole in the zone on the right side of the field (red circle) where Roddy was wide open for an easy catch and only a safety to beat to get into the endzone.


Here's the video of the play.

3. Falcons Defense –Blitz Plays

The next two screen shots show two different plays where the Falcons blitzed Dunta Robinson but got differing results. The basic play design is the same, Dunta blitzes from the left while the safety on his side covers his receiver. Meanwhile, the Falcons show blitz in the box but rush only four(from the box). The first play resulted in a sack while the second a 31 yard completion to Vincent Jackson.


Successful Blitz


Failed Blitz

So why did the the second play fail? A few possible reasons

  • Dunta is lined up deeper so he takes longer distance to get to the QB
  • Freeman is in shotgun so he can see Dunta coming
  • They ran the same exact play earlier in the game and so the Bucs could see Dunta's Blitz coming and adjusted accordingly. I will let you draw your own inferences as two why the coaches ran the same blitz again
  • Stray Thoughts

  • I have defended the use of Michael Turner to a certain extent because I saw him as a useful late game rusher who helped run out the game clock by providing productive rushing yards against a tired defense. This was supported by the stats (Turner was averaging 5.85 YPC on 26 carries at the time) when I did a midseason round up of the Falcons during the bye week. Turner’s awful backwards run at the end of yesterday’s game prompted me to go back and have a second look at the stats. Since the Bye, he is averaging 2.73 YPC on 26 carries. Admittedly both of these sample sizes are very small but considering how he has looked on film I no longer think a Turner run brings any positive value to the offense, no matter the game situation. The Falcons RB rotation should ideally be Quiz/ Snelling with Turner as relief more than anything.
  • On a related note, I have often defended Mike Smith against the charge of being conservative because I think he is a good coach who is smarter and more adaptable than people give him credit for. However, it’s getting harder and harder to do that as Turner continues to get more carries than Quiz and Snelling combined and Dominique Franks continues to drop back to catch punts (and occasionally return them). On a more positive note, Quiz had significantly more snaps than Turner (31 Vs 23) against the Bucs (Turner averaged 34 snaps in the previous 3 games). Hopefully, this means Quiz is atleast replacing Turner as the primary back. Albeit, more slowly than most Falcoholics would like.
  • Although Spoon’s return was a big reason for the improvement in run D, I also want to give props to the increased use of the three tackle alignment. It was used on 75% of the snaps against the Bucs. Last time we used the alignment more than half the time (60% against Dallas) we held the Cowboys’ running game to 3.6 YPC despite the absence of Spoon. The sustainable improvement is good news considering that every NFC playoff team outside of Green bay has a good running game but it puts a significant amount of pressure on the pass defense as well as the DT rotation and I’m afraid Babineaux especially may be playing too many snaps (he’s averaging 52.25 snaps in the last 4 games).
  • All images taken from videos on and posted via

    <em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>

    Log In Sign Up

    Log In Sign Up

    Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

    As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

    Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

    I already have a Vox Media account!

    Verify Vox Media account

    Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

    Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

    As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

    Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

    Forgot password?

    We'll email you a reset link.

    If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

    Forgot password?

    Try another email?

    Almost done,

    By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

    Join The Falcoholic

    You must be a member of The Falcoholic to participate.

    We have our own Community Guidelines at The Falcoholic. You should read them.

    Join The Falcoholic

    You must be a member of The Falcoholic to participate.

    We have our own Community Guidelines at The Falcoholic. You should read them.




    Choose an available username to complete sign up.

    In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.