Monday, 23 April 2012

A study in LeGarrette Blount's 2011 season, part one: Week 1 vs. Lions

Before we start, a quick note about format. As with the Mike Williams study, I will be using a double line to separate between series', like this:

==========================================

However, because I'm looking deeper into Blount on this occasion, I'll be separating between plays, as well I'll separate between them with three dashes, like this:

---

The reason for going deeper is because the running game is so very much dependent on the offensive line. It's also not as simple as receivers, who either are open or covered. Rather, I'll be looking and seeing what Blount could have done better, and whether he did badly, or well, on a play because of the blocking in front of him, or his own actions on each play.

Lastly, Mike Williams was in on an very high percentage of plays. Blount, I imagine, was not. As a result, I'll only talk about down & distance, and time left on the game clock, on plays when Blount is in or out, rather than almost every single play as I did with Williams, regardless of whether Williams was in or not.

Think that's about it. As usual, any comments or complaints can be left in the comments or, more likely to get you a response, tweet me at @FredTheGur.

On with the show.


======================================================================

1st Quarter

(8:45) 1st & 10: Blount lines up as a single back, Freeman under center. In front of him, as well as the O-line, is a tight end (Stocker), lined up left, and an H-back (Winslow), also lined up left. Pre-snap, Benn motions so that he's lined up between the right guard & right tackle at the snap. Blount initially runs to the left side of the line. He sees a linebacker in front of him, and cuts back to the right side of the line (Faine was responsible for blocking the linebacker). The linebacker was heading to the ground but would have still been in position to wrap his arms around Blount's legs. Having cut back to the line, Eric Wright, who came around the side of the line unblocked, forces Blount inside, but gets his hand around Blount's feet. A defensive tackle, who has bull rushed Larsen into the backfield, sees Blount pass by him, takes his arms of Larsen and turns to his left, wrapping up Blount. Another linebacker, who Trueblood failed to block, adds to the gang tackle.

What could Blount have done better?


Not much in this case. Had Blount continued forward initially, he would have likely been brought down by the linebacker. When he cut to the right of the line, Wright essentially had contain. Blount might have tried to run through Wright, but he couldn't get past Wright, he would have been brought down for a loss of 2, maybe three yards. Had Larsen and Trueblood both blocked their men, there was a running lane that would have taken him up to the safeties.


---


(8:08) 2nd & 10: Blount lines up at tailback in an I-form formation - Lorig at FB, Freeman under center. In front of him is the O-line with a TE (Winslow), lined up left. The play will be a TE screen, off of play-action to Blount. Blount fakes receiving the handoff, running to the right of the line. Blount tucks himself down, lowering his shoulders, then stops his feet and looks up. He sees Joseph in front of him blocking Suh. He then sees Suh going around Joseph, and noticing this, pushes on his arm, but Suh is past him.

What could Blount have done better?


Two things on this play. The first one is to do with Suh. Seeing Joseph blocking him, Blount doesn't go to double team, but instead seems to relax momentarily. He does then make an attempt to do something when he sees Suh going around Joseph, but he should have tried to help double block in the first place. The second is something that I'm not sure is something Blount was meant to have done or not, but could have made a difference. After the faked handoff, Larsen lets the DT go and runs to the left of the field to set up the screen. The DT of course comes free, then turns round to chase down Winslow after the pass is thrown. The DT forced Winslow out of bounds. Now, the question is, was Blount in a position to block that DT? It depends, it's not a question I can answer without knowing how the play is drawn up in the playbook. Blount did run in a straight line to the right tackle, faking that he was carrying the ball, then looked up. By the time he looked up, there is no way he could have made any block on the DT. That said, was Blount meant to run straight to the right tackle? That is the hole that Lorig runs through, so it would make sense. If that was were Blount was meant to go, there was nothing he could have done. However, IF Blount was meant to actually fake as if he was running up the middle, then he would have been in position to block the DT. If that were true, then Blount did mess up the pass protection. All that said, the fact that Lorig also headed in that direction, and the Freeman did run to the right side of the line as if it were a stretch play, I imagine that it wasn't Blount's responsibility to deal with that DT, but rather, the DT was meant to be sucked in by the screen. So, I will say that in this case, Blount did know his assignment in pass protection. HOWEVER, he should have unquestionably made more of an effort to block Suh - unless his assignment was, if he doesn't see an unblocked man, to wait and watch for a delayed blitz (Blount does then looks back downfield after he's finished faking that he's carrying the ball). That does seem unlikely to me, however, so I will put this down to Blount not making an effort in helping out with Suh.

---

Graham subbed in for Blount on third down.

==========================================================

(0:52) 1st & 10: Blount lines up, singleback, Freeman under center. As well as O-line, TE (Winslow), left and H-Back (Stocker), left. Play is a drop-back pass. Blount runs to the left (looks as if he's responsible for any blitzers off the left edge, but none come). Blount turns back inside. Sees a linebacker coming up the middle on a delayed blitz. Blount meets him and blocks him. (The pass had just been thrown, but the linebacker would have been close enough to Freeman that, had he been unblocked, he would have legally gotten in a QB hit)

What could Blount have done better?


Nothing. He appeared to check for a strongside blitzer first, and seeing none coming, checked back inside, then picked up a linebacker coming up the middle on a delayed blitz. Solid pass protection in this instance.

---

Graham subbed in for Blount on second down.

=========================================================

2nd Quarter

(12:52) 1st & 10: Blount lines up, singleback, Freeman under center. As well as O-line, TE (Stocker), left and H-Back (Winslow), left. Play is a roll-out pass off of play-action. Blount fakes receiving the handoff, running to the left, then looks back up and sidesteps back to the middle, looking for any blitzers. Freeman rolls out, chased by the weakside DE, then scrambles for a gain of one.

What could Blount have done better?

Two-part answer. In terms of pass-protection, there's nothing he could have done better. Yes, the DE came in unblocked, but that would have 99% definitely not been Blount's man - the only reason I won't see with 100% certainty is because I don't have a copy of the playbook, but I am as certain as anyone who doesn't have the playbook could possibly be. It's a pretty standard zone-blocking play. The O-line (as well as TE & H-Back) are zone blocking to the left. In those situations, the DE that the line are blocking away from will almost always come free. The idea of the play is that he bites on the play-action, chases down Blount, and by the time he's seen that Blount doesn't have the ball, the QB has already rolled out past him and can get off a pass unaccosted. In this case, the DE did not bite on the play-action at all, so immediately went to chase down Freeman. I would say this was Freeman's fault - he never attempted to 'hide' the ball behind his thigh away from the DE, but rather was holding it up by his chest, making it very obvious that he still has the ball.

The second part of the answer, is that Blount should have given more effort after the play broke down. When Freeman scrambles, you see a few Bucs jogging towards him while Lions defenders rush towards him looking to hit him. None of the Bucs players make an attempt to block the Lions defenders. Blount was one of the Bucs who just jogged towards him, along with Joseph and Trueblood.

---

(12:05) 2nd & 9: Blount lines up as tailback in I-form, Lorig at FB, offset to the strong (in this case, left) side, Freeman under center. As well as O-line, TE (Stocker), left. Play is a dropback pass. Lorig runs to flat, Blount stays in for pass protection. Blount appears to look at the linebackers, then moves to his left, where a bit hole has opened up between Penn and Larsen, and a blitzing linebacker is coming through. It looks like Blount waited to see where the blitz was going to come from, rather than automatically going to the left (there is a momentarily delay between the snap and Blount running to the blitzer). Initially, Larsen is doubleteaming a DT with Faine, but he peels off when he sees the blitzing LB. However, he is too late in peeling off, and only gets his hands on the LB but at a side-on angle, so that he doesn't actually stop the LB. Blount comes up and blocks the LB, doubleteaming with Larsen. Blount's block stops the LB which was previously getting through Larsen. Freeman throws the pass.

What could Blount have done better?

Absolutely nothing. Blount read the blitz, and made the block, allowing Free to get the pass off.

---

(11:36) 1st & 10: Blount lines up as tailback in I-form, Lorig at FB, Freeman under center. As well as O-line, TE (Stocker), right. Pre-snap, Benn motions infield, sets up between Trueblood and Stocker. Play is a simple stretch run to the strong side. Lions set up with eight defenders in the box - 4 DL, 3 LB, and 1 CB (lined up over Stocker). When Benn motions into the infield, it brings the FS, who was lined up across from Benn, into the box, effectively making nine in the box. The play is very well executed. Stocker blocks the strongside DE out of the play. Benn goes through the C gap (the initial running hole by the looks of it) and blocks the CB, who was lined up over Stocker, out of the play. Lorig runs through the rightside C gap and  blocks the SLB out of the play. Trueblood initially blocks the MLB, but the MLB gets off the block, so Trueblood goes and blocks the FS, setting the left edge of the running lane for Blount. Joseph blocks the DT (holding slightly but releasing once the play is past him so that he doesn't get caught). Faine moves the other DT out the way, and though he doesn't lock the DT up, the DT has been moved enough so that when he's free of Faine, he's too far out the play. Larsen pulls across the line and goes up on the inside of Lorig, blocking the LB that got through Trueblood's block, setting the right edge of the running lane for Blount. Penn, as usual, drops back in a pass-pro-esque stance, rather than going to block the DE. As a result, when the DE doesn't come to him, but rather reads the play, dropping back and running cross. Penn then has to try and chase him down, but has no burst, and doesn't do anything to take the DE out of the play. If the safety hadn't brought down Blount, the DE would have made the tackle; as a result, Penn is the only one of the Bucs in the box to fail to execute their assignment at least passably (e.g. Faine, Joseph and Trueblood, who while not executing their assignments perfectly, did well enough to come good on the play). As for Blount; he receives the handoff, and runs to the C gap. However, he sees Lorig and Benn are blocking in front of him, and that there's a huge hole to his left. He cuts inside, reading Larsen's block. Seeing Larsen block towards the sideline, he cuts inside of Larsen. The WLB is there, unblocked, and comes down to tackle Blount. Blount takes a sidestep, making the WLB miss, then continues downfield. The SS has come down, and he wraps his arms around Blount's legs, bringing him down for a gain of 5.

What could Blount have done better?

Nothing, really. It was a solid form tackle by the safety that brought him down - the safety came in from the side rather than front-on, so hurdling was out of the question.

---

(11:05) 2nd & 5: The camera angle by Fox here is terrible so I can't get a great read on the formation (they just cut back from a 'game break') but it looks like Blount is lined up at H-Back, right hand side of the line. The play appears to have been an attempted receiver screen to Benn, though Benn drops the pass. Looks like Blount was responsible for blocking the DE on his side. Blount only gets a hand to him, which the DE knocks away easily.

What could Blount have done better?

The simple answer is "block the DE". But since when have I ever done anything simply? Because of the camera angle, you can very clearly see that Blount is looking back and forth between the DE and an LB, who's standing heads up on Blount. Blount looks like he's deciding which one to block, then settles on the DE. It's not as simple as "block the DE" for me, as much as it is, looking how he could have blocked the DE better. In this case, I think it would have simply been a matter of decisiveness. Pick either the DE or the LB, and block them. By hesitating while he decides, he's lost any advantage of the burst out of the three-point stance, or that split-second advantage of knowing what the snap count is, making it harder to block. In short, Blount needs to be more decisive with his actions on plays where this is his assignment.

---

Graham subbed in for Blount on third down.

---

(10:34) 1st & 10: Blount lines up, single back, Freeman under center. O-line + TE (Stocker), left and and H-Back (Winslow), left. Play is a play-action pass. Blount fakes receiving the handoff, heading up the middle, then stands up and looks for someone to block. Blount stays in, checking both DTs, seeing if either is coming free, and looking downfield for a delayed blitz. Seeing none after a few seconds, he looks back, basically presenting himself for a checkdown. Freeman has oodles of time and throws a deep pass, which is picked off.

What could Blount have done better?

Pretty much nothing. The play action sucked in both LBs (Lions in nickel package), then he stayed in for the blitz pick up. Only thing you might say is he could have gone to look for the checkdown sooner, but to be honest, that was Lumpkin's problem - too often bailing on his pass pro in order to present a checkdown option rather than waiting in to check for delayed blitzes. So, no complaints here (about Blount).

=======================================================

(7:16) 1st & 10: Blount lines up tailback in I-form, Lorig at FB, Freeman under center. O-line + TE (Winslow) right. Play is a misdireciton run. Lorig runs to the left side of the line. Blount takes to steps the left, then curls back, receiving the handoff and heading for a huge hole that's opened up between Trueblood and Winslow. Blount runs through the hole, but sees the safety thundering down towards him. Blount cuts to the right, where there's a small gap between Benn, who's slanted infield, and Winslow. Benn, however, blocks the safety, leaving the CB who was covering him free. The CB hits Blount low; meanwhile, the DE who Winslow was blocking comes off his block, hitting Blount high. Blount stays on his feet, so the DE pushes Blount over but in a downfield direction, leading to extra yards. Gain of 4.

What could Blount have done better?

On this play, a few things. The first one for me is, with Blount being as big as he is, he should have unhesitatingly lowered his shoulder and tried to go through the safety. He shied away from the contact, and as an ex-lineman, I don't approve of that at all in a pro. The second thing is again about his decision to cut to the side so that he could avoid contact - this time, about his decision to cut to the right. Here's a question: if you're running a misdirection play to the right, meaning all the linemen are blocking to the left, where do you think you're going to get the more stable blocks? On the left, where you've got five linemen and a fullback? Or on the left, where you've got a WR and a terrible run-blocking TE as your only blockers? Exactly. Had Blount cut to the left, there were two cut-back lanes right there - one between Faine and Joseph, literally just to his left, or, slightly further to his left, a huge hole between Faine and Lorig. But instead, Blount cut to the right, where the CB was unblocked, and the DE was being blocked by Winslow. Even if Blount thought Benn would block the CB, not the safety, it's still a stupid move, considering who you have on your left and on your right. Ultimately, poor decision making by Blount, and, quite frankly, he's very lucky he got pushed downfield by the DE - had the CB brought him down where he stood, it would have only been a gain of 2.

---

(6:41) 2nd & 6: Blount lines up, singleback, Freeman under center. O-line + TE (Winslow), left and H-Back (Stocker), left. Pre-snap, Stocker motions infield, sets up behind Larsen. Play is essentially a variant on the  Power-O run, with Stocker pulling across as a lead blocker. Blount receives the handoff, sees a DT heading towards him (Faine's assignment), but sidesteps back inside until he's past Faine, then cuts back to the right behind the center, who blocks the DT from making a play from behind. There are four defenders in front him - a DT and the three linebackers - but each one has a Buc blocking them (Penn on the DT, then Larsen, Stocker and Joseph respectively from left to right). Blount runs to the right sideline, following the angle of the blocks, slanting downfield. Once he's gotten outside Joseph, he cuts straight downfield. The LB Joseph was blocking is on the floor, but gets a hand to Blount, which causes him to spin round to maintain his balance. A safety, who Mike Williams was meant to block but failed, comes in and wraps up Blount's legs from behind, while a corner, who was unblocked, wraps him up around the waist, bringing him down for a gain of 4.

What could Blount have done better?

Very little. There's an argument to be made that Blount could have cut inside Larsen and Stocker, but the gap is very narrow, and so a defender could have easily gotten off their block to wrap Blount up, and there was a corner there anyway waiting to meet Blount had he picked that hole, so Blount definitely made the right decision. You can't really fault Blount for losing his balance either.

---

(6:01) 3rd & 2: Blount lines up, singleback, Freeman under center. O-line + TE (Stocker), right. Play is a drop-back pass. Blount runs up to the right side of the line, to the C gap between Trueblood and Stocker, where an LB was showing blitz pre-snap. Blount goes to cut block him, but the LB pulls up short and sidesteps him. While the LB isn't blocked, he's delayed by having to go around Blount's attempt long enough that he never threatens Freeman.

What could Blount have done better?

While Blount did execute his assignment - keeping the blitzing LB from being able to make a play on Freeman - I don't like seeing that being left up to chance. Cut blocking is a very effective way of taking defenders out of a play IF you connect. If not, you just take yourself out the play. Blount delayed the LB enough, but you'd really want to see him hitting him high and blocking him properly. Still, Blount clearly knew his assignment, and attempted to go for the block - that's the important part. What's need now is an improvement in blocking technique, and that will come with good coaching.

======================================================

Bucs go to the hurry-up offense on their next series - Graham remains the back throughout.

======================================================

3rd Quarter

Bucs receive the ball to start the second half. Graham remains the lone back on first and second down.

(13:43) 3rd & 1: Blount lines up tailback in I-form, Graham in at FB, Freeman under center. O-line + TE (Stocker), right. Winslow motions across formation, sets up at H-Back, left. Freeman hands off to Graham, then fakes a pitch to Blount who's running towards the left sideline. None of the defense bites on the fake pitch, stop Graham.

What could Blount have done better?

Nothing, he was essentially irrelevant to the play, as the defense didn't bite on the fake toss.

======================================================

Blount is not in on the next offensive series.

======================================================

Blount is not in on the next offensive series.

======================================================

In the next offensive series, Blount is sat through the first seven plays. Blount is then put in the game.

(10:01) 2nd & 10: Blount lines up on Freeman's left, Freeman in shotgun. O-line + TE (Winslow), left. Play is a running back draw. The play is designed to go up the C gap, between Trueblood and Winslow. Larsen had pulled across as a lead blocker. Two defenders came into the hole, Spievey and and Tulloch. Spievey was Benn's responsibility, but he took a bad angle to block him - that would have left Tulloch to be blocked by Larsen. However, as Spievey is unblocked, Larsen, who had set his feet to block Tulloch, instead blocks Spivey. Tulloch comes down unblocked and hits Blount at the line, wrapping him up. Blount fights for an extra two yards.

What could Blount have done better?

An interesting question. Anyone familiar with the technicalities of football know this, but for any casual fans who happen to read this (though I doubt this type of nuts-and-bolts blog would appeal to casual fans), when running backs have lead blockers, they are taught to not only follow the blocks, but to read the blockers. So, in this case, Blount should be reading Larsen's hind quarters, and pick a running lane keying off Larsen's block. The problem is that Blount was reading Larsen's block - initially. When the broadcast goes to a replay, showing the play from a camera positioned high behind the Lions D, you can see that Blount does read Larsen's lead block when he sets his feet to block Tulloch. The problem is that Larsen, having set his feet for Tulloch, changes his mind and goes off to block Spievey - meaning Blount is still facing towards the left sideline, as, had Larsen blocked Tulloch, his running lane would have been outside of Larsen, leaving him to face Spievey face-on, allowing for him to be in the best position possible to contend with him, be it sidestep, hurdle or, I would hope, lowering his shoulder and powering through him. With Blount expecting to be going outside Larsen, on the assumption Larsen is blocking Tulloch, when Larsen moves away, leaving Tulloch free to hit Blount, Blount is side-on to him, meaning that Blount had no real chance of evading the tackler. Assuming that Benn would still have not gotten to Spievey in time, there could have been two alternative outcomes, had Larsen been more decisive. First, Larsen sticking with his first choice and blocking Tulloch - as already explained, this would have left Blount to go outside of him and go up against Spievey. The second alternative would have been Larsen going straight for Spievey. This would have been the worse decision in my opinion, as an LB is of course a more even matchup with Blount than a safety would have been. Regardless, in that situation, Blount, reading that block, would have (or at least, should have - there's no way of telling since it never actually happened) cut inside, so that at least he's be dealing with Tulloch head on. In that situation, there was a pretty sizable hole inside of Tulloch, that Blount could have tried to side step into and run downfield (albeit, in this scenario, Blount would have run into a DT who had just gotten off of Faine's block). Of course, the ideal would have been if Benn had blocked Spievey, leaving Larsen to block Tulloch, and the two of them thereby setting the edges of a massive running lane for Blount. If only. With the play unfolding in the way it did, however, there truly does appear to be very little that Blount could have done to get more yards on the play - the short gain is a result of Benn's poor angle to the safety, and Larsen's indecisiveness on the pull.

---

Graham subbed in for Blount on third down. Blount remains on the sideline for the rest of the series.

=========================================================

Blount is not in on the next offensive series.

=========================================================

Blount is not in on the next offensive series, the Bucs' final possession of the game.

No comments:

Post a Comment