Play to watch: Scheme allows Bills to go against grain for yards
One of the reasons Doug Marrone was so attractive for Buffalo's head coaching opening last year was not only because of his vast experience, but his ability to adapt offensive systems to the strength of his teams.
When Marrone was hired away from Syracuse in February, there's no doubt he instantly recognized that the strength of the Bills' offense was running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
The two combined for 1,681 yards last year while running under then-head coach Chan Gailey. They have continued that this year under Marrone despite Spiller nursing an ankle injury for the majority of the season
The two have combined for 980 yards and seven touchdowns and are ranked in the top 20 in the NFL in rushing — the only such duo in the league.
Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett used a run-first offense while at Syracuse and have directed the Bills to an NFL top 10 rushing attack midway through the season. A lot of those yards have come while running the “single back tight double inside zone weak” — a run call that plays to the strengths of Spiller and Jackson and one that's resulted in a number of long gains this year. Jackson had a 59-yard run against the Jets, and Spiller had 46-, 54- and 61-yard runs.
The play is a basic inside zone blocking scheme by the offensive linemen that takes advantage of an over pursuing defense and a running back that can cut back against the grain.
The most important part of the play is the zone blocking scheme.
The linemen block to an area and move to the next level to block a linebacker as they go. There are a lot of double teams at the point of attack. The running back can pick his hole and cut back as the defensive front gets stretched along the line of scrimmage.
The key to the play is the running back cutting back to the weak side of the formation.
The Bills use the zone scheme cutback run out of a lot of different formations, including out of the shotgun, but the tight double is one of their favorite formations.
The play has tight end Scott Chandler lined up strong right with receivers Marquise Goodwin in the tight slot to the right and Robert Woods just outside him. Stevie Johnson is set far to the right side.
Chandler motions from the right side of the formation to the left just before the snap of the ball.
At the snap, quarterback E.J. Manuel will pivot and hand the ball to Spiller or Jackson, and it initially resembles a basic off tackle or dive play.
With the line inside zone blocking to the left, the running back has the option to bend the play back to the weak side where a lane can form because of over pursuit by the defense.
The play also can be used to set up the zone read for Manuel — a play the Steelers are all too familiar with since Terrelle Pryor's record-setting run against them.
The play requires a defense to be gap sound at all times.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big plays cost Steelers defense in 43-19 preseason loss at Bills
- Rossi: Beleaguered Steelers need MVP from Big Ben
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin mum on Bryant suspension
- QB Vick hits ground running in debut
- Healthy, confident Steelers LB Shazier ready for full speed ahead
- Steelers won’t change scheme after Pouncey injury
- Steelers ink QB Vick, new teammates OK with signing
- Starkey: Steelers stopping themselves with suspensions
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin leaving `light on’ for injured players
- Veteran quarterback Vick is vowing to make Steelers proud
- Steelers rookie receiver Coates learning on the fly