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There are three plays that stick out from Sunday night. These are the box busters. None of them worked... YET THEY CANNOT BE RETIRED JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT EXECUTED. Yes, Mitch, Jacobs had some success running but ...
1) Jacobs would still be running (well, okay for 20 yards and then tackled) if more flares were thrown. That flare to Jacobs in the left flat had no one near him. It is easy to execute except Manning overthrows him. DO IT AGAIN! Is there a law against running more than 1 or 2 flares per game? Warner threw dozens to Marshall Faulk. Brady throws dozens to Kevin Faulk. This is how you beat the box. The LBers and one Safety get caught in the box's wash and there is all kind of daylight in the empty flat.
2) Bradshaw would still be running if Adrian Wilson did not blow up the screen. He's got three beefcakes looking 20 yards upfield but the right blocker (is oblivious and) completely misses Wilson, or else Bradshaw is STILL RUNNING. Yes, just like with the flare, the flat is completely vacated and there is daylight as far as the eye can see. DO IT AGAIN! DIAL UP THAT PLAY AGAIN. Is there a law, Gilbride, that says that you can only call one RB screen per game? Predictable. If I ever see Gilbride call two RB screens in the same game I may have to check the channel to make sure I am watching the correct football game. If I ever see Gilbride call three RB screens in the same game I may have to reach for the defibrillator.
3) Yes, the bomb to Hixon. Agreed with all that Hixon is the wrong WR for the play.. if you check the intragame comments on Sunday night, we noted that immediately. Nicks is the guy to go get that ball. But the reason why this play is on the list is that it was play action and Manning had all day and all night back there to throw that ball. The play action worked. It gave the QB a tremendous setup. The fact that it did not get the final result was irrelevant because you want that setup again to enable Manning to pick them apart. DO IT AGAIN! Keep using play action.
The message here is that we don't say it was a good playcall when it works and it was a bad playcall when it does not. It took a poor throw by Manning for the flare to fail. It took a great play by Wilson and an AWOL blocker for the RB screen to fail. It took a less than perfect pass and the wrong WR for the play action to fail. Just because these plays did not get properly executed does not mean they were not proper calls. And the offensive coordinator has to recognize that these plays will continue to be there when the defense continues to load the box. There is no law restricting you from using these plays (with minor modifications out of different sets etc..) many times per game. We like to remind you (apologizing in advance for repeating) that the Cardinals in last year's NFC Championship used the screen SIX TIMES against a similar loaded box. You keep dumping the ball off into the flat on these delays (either with screen or flare) ALL DAY LONG because now there will be only one man to beat, either a Safety or more likely a LBer. Bradshaw can make that first guy miss and he'll still be running. Do not give up on these plays when they load that box. Good defensive coordinators will recognize your efforts and will stop loading the box. THEN RUN JACOBS TILL YOUR HEART'S CONTENT!
This is why the 2 back set with both Jacobs and Bradshaw is so needed:
If there are 7 in the box now, you hand the ball off to Jacobs.
If there are 8 in the box, you fake the handoff right to Jacobs play action and throw a flare to Bradshaw in the left flat. Guaranteed that if the left WR (use your strongest one like Nicks, 215 lbs.) can make his block on the CB, Bradshaw can run for 50 yards on that play.