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.
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.
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.
So why did the the second play fail? A few possible reasons
All images taken from videos on NFL.com and posted via s18.postimage.org.