Doug Pederson in 2 Plays – Epitome of PS: In Spread and Power!

Posted: February 3, 2018 in All Things Power Spread

One play in the 3rd Quarter of the Vikings Playoff Game epitomized the essence of Power Spread Football on the field in terms of Offensive Scheme. This kind of schematic idea or concept is where Kurt and I first started getting our “big” ideas about the new College Offenses sprouting up in the new millennium. We never liked the term “Spread” as it really didn’t describe the full effect of what was happening. Thus the term “Power Spread”.Doug Pederson uses a lot of PS concepts in his schemes on Offense. The idea of widening the field to attack the middle is maybe the quintessential idea on which all of Power Spread is based. Not necessarily where the ball ends up or the details of any particular play. More the idea of creating or expanding space with Dynamic Opposition. In other words – thinking out side the box – Aggression.

Aggression is how it all starts. Leading to Variety in SpaceTimeTeam and eventually Flexibility. It works. Even versus a top NFL Defense like Minnesota.

For this article, I want to focus only on Pederson’s brilliant simplicity in Aggressively creating Space. Spread for Power. Power for Spread.

Play #1 – Spread

Before I look at the 3rd Quarter Play, lets take a quick glance at a very early play in the game. This play uses more of the Spread side of Power Spread. The 3rd Quarter Play or Play #2 brings in the Power portion of this equation.

Packaged Plays

A lot of College “Spread” Teams began using a packaged play years ago that became a staple of Spread Offenses everywhere. Tom Herman famously used these plays with the Ohio State Buckeyes in their National Championship Season of 2014.

Now the NFL is finally using them as well. Pederson, of course, has tweaked it to simple perfection.

RPO vs an Original PP

A specific type of Packaged Play has now been popularized into what is called an RPO or Run Pass Option. Basically it gives the QB a choice of Run or Pass based on post-snap reads.

The early PPs were more wide-ranging and creative than your basic RPO. The RPOs now seen in the NFL are very static, but still effective.

An Original – Bubble Screen Option

One of the original PPs that became very popular at the college level in the early part of the decade was the Bubble Screen Option. This really didn’t have the option for the QB to run, but the Bubble Screen is considered a “type” of running play. A Bubble Screen is where the WR steps back, to let his Lineman and/or other WRs block for him. The QB throw a quick pass to the “bubble” WR who now has a “screen” of players blocking for him downfield.

The second part of this design is that another WR is paired inside the bubble WR. The inside WR fakes to block, then runs downfield for a deep pass. The QB can either throw to the Bubble WR, or fake and throw to the deep WR. A very simple Read. If the defenders run up close to stop the short WR – throw deep. If the defenders run deep – throw short. Simple.

Pederson Tweak

This original design takes place on one side of the field – either left or right – using both the short and long areas of the field.  Vertical Space Dispersion.

Pederson uses BOTH sides of the field. A true Spread with both Vertical and Horizontal Space Dispersion. A simple thought, but brilliant concept in terms of Space.

Below I break this down with some screenshots I took of the game. Clicking an individual image will blow it up so that you can follow along. You can see the actual footage of the play here.

Breakdown #1

  • Starting at the top left, see #17 setting up for a quick Bubble Screen with the inside WR running downfield to either block for #17 or or set up for a deep pass.
  • The Defense for Minnesota is way off the ball.
  • Pederson keeps his design very simple.
    • Not much of a blocking scheme.
    • A simple 3 man game with a QB and two WRs.
  • Work your way down, left to right, and notice the QB has already turned away from the left side action by the 3rd image!
  • Defenses across the whole football landscape have seen this play design many times now and are ready for it.
    • Therefore they will have many defenders racing to the side of the Bubble Screen.
    • What they are not ready for is Pederson’s tweak.
  • In the image, three defenders have already committed to the action on the left.
    • Pederson’s design may never have inteded to use this as a an Option Play for the QB, but rather as a Fake.
    • In other words, The QB looks left – draws the defense over – then immediately throws to the right.
    • Notice in the very first pic (tap on the image to blow it up!)  at the top left corner of the image. A WR running deep down the field, almost out of the picture. This is the intended target!
  • All the action on the left sets up the WR on the right- UNLESS – it doesn’t.
    • Possibly Pederson is using this as a Triple Option Packaged Play. Short Bubble Screen Left / Deep Left / Deep Right – depending on what the Defense does.
    • It’s hard to know if this is an Option or Fake, but either way it’s a brilliant use of all the space – vertical and horizontal.
  • Pederson is also excellent with Team
    • He is brilliant at making the design execution as simple as possible.
      • I wouldn’t be surprised if there was only one read here – deep right. All the action left as just “window dressing” to move the Defense away from the right side of the field.
      • Or it’s an Option play, where the QB made a a very quick decision.
      • Either way it’s a brilliantly simple design, based upon a deep concept.
    • Besides easy execution, Pederson’s scheme increases the feeling of SpaceTime for his players, while decreasing it for the opponent.
      • The CB covering the lone WR on the right side of the field felt a squeeze on his Space and Time, while the WR seemed to have plenty of Space and Time.
        • The simple concept for the WR was running fast straight down the field.
          • The WR “feels” a lot of freedom of space.
          • The Defender feels a pressure – or reduction of space.
        • The scheme also drew away the “help” defender’s, leaving a single player all to his own  “on an island”.
          • Time pressure ensues as this defender’s responsibility increases.
          • Meanwhile, the receiver, who feels linked to his team – through the route design and the quarterback – has plenty of Time.
      • In pure Power Spread Concepts, the SpaceTime is expanded for the Team, but contracted or squeezed for the opponent.
  • Possibly, the Eagles players felt too much space and time as the QB threw late on this play, then the WR dropped the ball. Easy execution, that was still not properly executed.
    • Maybe due to early game jitters or taking too much Time to be “perfect”.
    • Even when the play fails, it sets up further plays later in the game.
    • There are many extensions created off this one simple design! Brilliance.
  • Pederson Spreads the Field Horizontally as well as Vertically in such a simple way that it’s easy for his team, while creating Space/Time pressure on his opponent.

Play #2 – Power Spread

Now we look at the Play #2 later in the game. Here we are, still analyzing Space, but now it’s about Spreading the Field to open up the Power and completely put the other team off-balance.


Nothing is really “ONLY SPACE” as it all connects. We can focus on one element at a time, but it all works together in direct proportion.

Any effect on Space, effects Timing and Personnel as well. When a coach schemes to spread the field, he also expands the time for his team, squeezes it for the opponent, eventually throwing the other team completely off balance and reducing their talent.

In the case of of this design, Pederson is giving the perception of TOO MUCH Space for his opponent as you will see.

Too much Space or too little – either concept keeps the opponent off balance.

Below is a breakdown of Play #2. Here is a the actual footage.

Breakdown #2

  • First, take a quick look back at Breakdown #1, the 1st Image. You will see a Spread Formation. WRs wide across the field.
  • The formation in Breakdown #2 is the opposite. What is called a tight formation.
    • It is still the same 3 WR Personnel, but now all the receivers are bunched in tight.
    • From this tight set the players will spread across the field.
    • I call this “sub”concept – Spread Power.
      • The overall concept is still Power Spread, but just from the opposite end of the spectrum.
      • Another perspective on Aggressive Variety.
  • So in this Formaton there is a Tight Trips Set to the right.
    • Trips is 3WRs bunched together.
  • At the Snap, #13 runs right to left under the QB, who is looking to hand off to the RB running right.
  • The QB fakes the hand-off and prepares to roll-out to the right.
    • The Fake is not good.
    • It doesn’t matter, because the design is superb!
      • Misdirection left by #13
      • The left Wideout is going to cross left and occupy the middle space.
      • The right outside receiver in the “bunch” or Trips Right is going to run straight downfield to occupy the deep space.
      • The RB-  after the fake – is going to race out into the right flat.
    • The defense is about to be torn apart – split at the seam – as they race to their right, middle, deep and left. Leaving a hole up the gut!
  • Follow the images left to right and down. Notice the defense breaking apart.
    • Spread Power has the opposite effect of Power Spread.
      • Power Spread squeezes space on the Opponent after starting from a open variable space.
      • Spread Power starts from a more closed controlled space, but quickly makes the defenders feel space opening all around them.
        • Another way to think of it is “rifting” the Space for the defense instead of squeezing it.
      • The defenders now feel there’s too much Space! Like they are in an ocean and don’t know where to turn.
      • Notice some heading to one sideline, while others head to the opposite sideline. Still, others are heading downfield. No one is sure what is happening.
    • Notice the Left Defensive End for the Vikings, #99. He thinks the TE of the Eagles is trying to block him. He sheds the block and chases after the QB. This was all part of the design.
      • The TE fakes a pass block.
      • Once the Defense is ripped open at the seam, the TE settles into this area of space to catch the pass.
      • As #99 is about to excitedly get the QB, he realizes – too late – that he left the TE wide open.
      • The LDE’s feeling on this play is that there was way too much space to cover. When there actually was not.
  • The end effect is always the same – increasing the Talent on your Team while reducing the Talent of your Opponent.
    • Two very good Viking defenders, #96 and #54, are reduced to wobbly kneed clumsy athletes.
      • #96 is the Left Defensive Tackle. Look at the images one at a time. He is trying to twist his body from right to left as he realizes the play is not going to the right.
        • The problem – he isn’t sure WHERE the play is actually going??
        • All of this hesitation has his motor functions (Brain to Body) completely confused.
        • The Eagles Offensive Lineman merely has to push him and he goes tumbling to the ground.
          • That is the big athlete on the ground on the 18 yard left hashmark in image 6 and 7.
      • #54 is one of the best Linebackers in the NFL. He almost falls WITHOUT ANYONE TOUCHING HIM!!
        • As he also becomes aware that the play is to his left, not to his right, he twists his body violently to get to the open space.
        • Again, like #96, he isn’t sure what space to cover??
          • One WR is crossing the Middle, while the other is racing Deep. Plus a RB who faked the hand-off is racing out to his left.
        • #54- a great athlete mind you – is now completely twisted up. And almost stumbles to the ground.
    • Go to the video  and watch each individual in this 5 second play. It’s incredible. The power of Scheme Concepts.
  • PS=st² = SpaceTimeTeam = Game Energy
    • Take a look at the final Image. What do you see. Dejected defenders for Minnesota. It’s even easier to see in the Video.
    • Pederson’s use of SpaceTime increased the Talent and finally the Energy of his team, while decreasing the same for his opponent.
    • Minnesota had a great year defensively, but were now a confused, dejected bunch.

Whether it’s Power Spread, Spread Power or simply an old “Spread” design with a new tweak, Pederson masterfully manipulates Space with Aggressive Variety, which in turn creates the Energy needed to win Super Bowls. 


  1. […] Eagle’s team has gained some experience. Just as Atlanta had last year. The Eagles play more aggressive schemes than Atlanta, which gives them even a better shot to overcome their inexperience once again. […]

  2. […] making a run in the playoffs with or WITHOUT QB Carson Wentz based on the incredible job done by Pederson. Well, this year things have changed. Not just for the Eagles but around the […]

  3. […] a bit of mess in Philly when he took the job. He quickly transformed this team with PS Strategy on and off the […]

  4. […] is great at mis-direction, breaking tendency and using space. All of this is helping his QB and taking the pressure of his shoulders. Wentz can […]

  5. […] is great at mis-direction, breaking tendency and using space. All of this is helping his QB and taking the pressure off his shoulders. Without […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.