Taylor Gabriel was an electric weapon in Atlanta's offense last season. His speed and ball carrying ability made him a perfect option to combine with Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman. Gabriel is responsible for producing what was arguably the most exciting offensive play of the 2016 season.
In Atlanta's game against the Arizona Cardinals, Gabriel did his best Evil Knievel impersonation and shot himself out of a cannon for a 32 yard touchdown.
Let's a look at this play from the All-22 angle. The first thing to take note of is how Arizona lined up to the Falcons' formation. Atlanta is in 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends), but they have Devonta Freeman lined up at receiver and Levine Toilolo and Austin Hooper are flanking the tackles.
This is a 3x2 "empty" formation: three receiving options to the left, two receiving options to the right, and nobody accompanying Matt Ryan in the backfield. This is a clear passing play. This isn't Carolina, where Cam Newton might take the snap up the gut on a quarterback power. Matt Ryan isn't that guy. The first disadvantage for Arizona came when they kept seven defenders in the box on a clear passing play.
There's only one reason to keep seven defenders in the box on this play and that's if you intend to blitz, which the Cardinals did. Arizona called a Cover 1 blitz which means one safety playing over the top and the rest of the defensive backs in man coverage.
Atlanta called a jailbreak screen that gets the ball into Gabriel's hands immediately and puts everyone else on offense in a position where they have to block downfield. After the blitz happened, Atlanta had the ideal numbers matchup they were looking for.
Each playside defender across the line of scrimmage was accounted for by a blocker. In theory, Gabriel should only have to beat the safety in the open field to score a touchdown.
Luckily, the play developed just as it was designed to. Gabriel was left one on one in the open field against D.J. Swearinger.
Taylor Gabriel did his best Lindsey Vonn impression and skied around Swearinger leaving him grasping for air. Markus Golden broke off from his man coverage on the backside and joined the pursuit. Gabriel snatched his soul too.
Turbo Taylor: 2
Cardinals defense: 0
Here is completely unedited footage of Gabriel slaloming through the Cardinals' defense.
The playcall as a counter to the blitz was brilliantly timed and breaking the huddle with two tight ends and a running back forced Arizona to stay in their base defense. No defensive lineman has a chance to catch Taylor Gabriel once he gets going and the vast majority of linebackers can't catch him either.
Brilliant playcalling and exceptional execution allowed this play to happen.
Here's the full play on more time. Bask in its glory.
Once again, leave suggestions for plays in the comment section. I'll host a poll on my twitter account (@FourVerts) when the responses load up.