The Rams and The Delayed Release

It’s Super Bowl Week! I already looked at a series of plays from the Patriots passing offense, and now it’s time to look at a couple plays from the Rams win over the Saints in the NFC Championship Game.

You ready? I’m ready.

Play 1: 3rd & 8, 5:39 remaining in the 1st quarter, Rams trailing 0-6

On the right side we’ve got a bunch look. The man in the mirror middle is running a curl, while the men on either side of him are running digs on the same plane.

I’ve talked about follow routes and what they can do, but let’s recap it for a second. This combination can put the middle of the defense in a bind. If the defense leans towards the first dig route, there will be a hole behind that route to hit the follow route. If the defense sags on the follow, the first route is open.

I’m a big fan of the release of Brandin Cooks [12] from the middle receiver position. He stays in his stance for half a second before releasing. That action could help to hold the defense in place for a beat, allowing the dig to get open over the top.

As it stands, the Saints defense played this well. They fell back under the dig and helped to force an incompletion. Still, it’s a nice look and an example of something small that could lead to something big.

Play 2: 2nd & 10, 1:12 remaining in the 4th quarter, Rams trailing 20-23

Later in the game, we basically see the same thing. It’s on the other side of the field, but the general idea is the same with one minor-but-kind-of-major difference. That difference is that, instead of running dual digs, the inside receiver is running a post route.

We even have Cooks out of the middle spot with a delayed release.

But let’s get to the post. On the initial break, it looks like the inside receiver is rounding into a dig route – just like he did on the previous play – but he heads upfield on this play. Why is that important?

The Rams had shown this look earlier in the game – right down to the delayed release from Cooks in the middle – so the defense may be looking to jump these routes. If the deep safety jumps the dig route only for it to turn into a post route, this could turn into a huge play.

Get the defense to think they know what they’re seeing. Make them aggressive. Make them think they’re the ones outsmarting you. Then change it just enough to catch them out of position.

It doesn’t pay off here, but I like the thought. It’s something very small, but it could be a game-changing play.

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