Austin Hooper scored the first touchdown of his career against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4 of the 2016 season. One of the staples of the Shanahan style of offense over the past 20 years is the tight end throwback.
The throwback is built off of the outside zone, a key cog in the Falcons' rushing attack last season. The offensive line sells the run to the left, Devonta Freeman fakes the action on the outside zone, and Matt Ryan keeps the ball on a bootleg action.
Atlanta sold the hell out of the outside zone; the offensive line and Devonta Freeman ran about 10 yards across the field before slowing down. This draws the front seven far away from Matt Ryan giving him plenty of time to set his feet and find Austin Hooper running wide open down the field.
What sets Austin Hooper to get so open is his initial camouflage as a blocker on the outside zone. His ability to sell those first couple of steps as a blocker causes the defense to treat him as an extension of the offensive line.
From Shaq Thompson's point of view, all Austin Hooper has done is scooped him on a reach block. He's still close enough to the line of scrimmage to appear as a blocker to the linebackers.
What opens the play wide open are the routes run by Julio Jones and Jacob Tamme, in conjunction with the offensive line's play action. Take a look at where the Panthers linebackers end up on the play.
Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, and Shaq Thompson play their initial run fits to attack the outside zone. When Shaq Thompson sees Jacob Tamme running back across the formation he leaves his pursuit of the run play to chase Tamme in coverage.
Davis and Kuechly are still focused on the run, the secondary is chasing Jones and Tamme, and there's no one in position to guard Austin Hooper.
Hooper is all by his lonesome. All he has to do is wait for Matt Ryan to lob him the ball before he can stroll into the endzone for six.
With the Falcons running the same offense as last year, definitely expect the tight end throwback to be a major part of the offense again. Austin Hooper will likely be the beneficiary of many of them.
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