PS Dynamic Opposition has taken over the NFL – Divisional Saturday

Posted: January 12, 2019 in All Things Power Spread

Over the last two to three years, Power Spread has exploded on the NFL scene. This year every NFL team runs some version of PS with concepts and schemes evolving at a surprisingly fast rate. Teams maximizing their Space Time & Talent through Aggressive Variety in all three phases of the game – Offense, Defense and Special Teams.

A Wild WC Weekend

The Power Spread explosion in the NFL this year created all kinds of close games and wild endings. The opening weekend of the playoffs started slow, but finished with a bang. I was almost correct on my initial pick of all 4 road wins, as only one home team won.

My PS Meter actually had Dallas and Baltimore as home favorites so I changed my pick on both. One one lost one. So a 3-1 start for me either way you look at it.

Letting my Seattle pick go was tough, but the right call. Baltimore, with PS2020 Schemes was the right move as well. After finally evolving his Offense, the probability was low that Harbaugh would shut it down at playoff time and hamstring his talented dual-threat QB. But he did and they loss.

The first three games weren’t that close, but the weekend finished up with a barnburner. We may see the same this weekend. Or not. The Colts may surprise and make the first game a barnburner as well. The best game may be the Chargers knocking off the Pats on Sunday. The Eagles could finally bow to injury or give us another classic. We will see…

Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens

Frank Reich – Pederson Plus!

The Plus in this case has a lot to do with Andrew Luck on Offense and the TampaPS on Defense. but make no mistake about it – this is all about Reich. Like the man he coached for last year, he has resurrected a top football franchise very quickly. It all came together against Houston last Saturday.

Offense – Dynamic “Breaking Tendency”

If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and watch the first two Colts Drives of the game. This is a flawless example of Breaking Tendency which I wrote about last year when breaking down Pederson’s genius as a coach. All kinds of misdirection, play action and play call deception were on display.

If you look at my video breakdowns in last year’s articles, you will see the same exact type of concepts and schemes with the Colts. The difference is Andrew Luck. He’s better than anyone the Eagles currently have and it shows.

Even with a young Oline he has enough talent around him with Milton and co. at WR and scatback Hynes playing the role of Sproles in Philly. Like I said last week, Houston’s Defense won’t be able to stop this Offense. Only slow it down some. Which is what they did in the second half with more aggressive schemes by DC Crennel. But by then they were down 21-0. Too little too late.

Defense – TampaPS

I explained the TampaPS last week. It started with Marinelli at Dallas and continues with his Passing Game Coordinator, Colts DC Matt Eberflus. The scheme overwhelmed Deshaun Watson who was made to sit in the pocket and try to read this tricky Defense.

Bill O’Brien FINALLY took the reigns off Watson in the 2nd Half and Houston almost mounted a comeback. Using an Up-Tempo Spread strategy, and most importantly – Watson’s Legs with his arm – the Texans drove the ball effectively late in the game.

In the end, the Colts pumped up their aggression from the TampaPS concept. They brought some surprise blitzes and coverage mixes which shut down Watson at the end of the game. Again for Houston – too little too late, but maybe O’Brien learned something for the future of his QB and Team.

Andy Reid’s Full ProPS

One day we will see a FULL PS system used all over football. That day isn’t here yet, but Andy Reid’s Offense is the first signs of what’s to come. If the Defense continues improving into the playoffs, the Chiefs will have a shot at getting into their second Super Bowl and first in almost 50 years!

Offense – From West Coast to Full ProPS

Wow did Andy let the reigns go on his Offense this year with 1st year starting QB Pat Mahomes. Andy was growing in this direction for years with Alex Smith. Obviously, the talent of Mahomes created a perfect storm – not only for Andy to expand his creativity, but the success he’s having with it.

Had Reid gone towards this direction years ago he may have won a Super Bowl already. With the Eagles in the 00s, Reid had a dual-threat type of QB, Donovan McNabb, playing in a strict West Coast Offense. PS was still only in College back then. I didn’t even know the term Power Spread at that time, but I always felt Reid needed to take more advantage of McNabb’s mobility.

Andy’s creativity has always been well known. His roots aren’t purely the Bill Walsh School of West Coast Offense. His alma mater is BYU, which had a different style of West Coast Offense, though it came from the early Bill Walsh/Sid Gillman ideas. BYU’s “Air Raid” back in those days was a looser version of WC Offense that let the QB run a lot if that was a strength. Think Steve Young.

The last few years Reid slowly developed a ProPS version of Jim Harbaugh’s Offense which of course was more creative. A lot of what Reid has innovated is continuously being copied around the league.

This year with athletic Mahomes and speedy wideouts led by Albert Hill the Offense is off the charts. So much motion, misdirection and play-action, Reid makes the Field feel twice the size.

Last year I wrote that Doug Pederson was Andy Reid Plus. Well, no one has it on Andy when it comes to offensive scheme innovation. Hopefully Andy will keep aggressive in the playoffs where he has a tendency to go passive when the pressure mounts. I think with Mahomes as his QB he will.

Can the KC Defense hold up?

Over the last few years the KC Defense has struggled with age and injuries. I do feel that towards the end of the year they were improving as some younger guys were stepping forward and staying healthy. Still, this is the concern going forward in these playoffs.

Bob Sutton is an old time DC with new time concepts. He’s definitley jumped on the PS Defense train with a mix of pressures and coverages. He has really done well to survive the last couple of rough years.

As his D started to grow this year, he was able to add a lot more press coverage with the zone stuff he does. There has been solid improvement for sure, but his star safety who has missed much of the last 2 years, Eric Berry, is hurt again.

KC has real weak points at Safety and with their 3rd CB, but their DLine pass rush is strong. Sometimes with their 2-4 package they can be powered pretty easily. But this is always a problem going against the Power Spread.

Sutton has a tendency to get conservative under pressure – like a lot of NFL DCoaches. Hopefully with better trust in his D the 2nd Half of the year he will stay aggressive thru a whole game. He will need to for the Chiefs to keep winning.

Prognostication – Chiefs

I love what Frank Reich has done. The Houston victory was HUGE! This could very well be a big letdown game for the Colts. It’s asking a lot for a young team coming off a huge road playoff win with a first year head coach to do it all over again versus one of the greatest offenses we have ever seen.

The Chiefs are rested and ready. They needed the bye week as they were pretty banged up to end the year. If G Jeff Allen misses this game it could hurt. But overall the Chiefs have the more veteran club which should cover any injury and Mahomes inexperience.

If the Luck and the Colts score enough points to stay close, then legendary kicker Adam Vinateri could very well win the game at the end. I’m just not sure we get that far. The Chiefs have the Offense and Special Teams, plus an improving Defense. If the Colts do have a letdown and start slow, then they will have a long hill to climb. I’m sticking with the Chiefs.

Dallas Cowboys at LosAngeles Rams

Cowboys Resurgence

The Cowboys have put together a good season after a slow start. Injuries, age and player defections started to really take a toll. Big name players who carried the Cowboys in recent years were suddenly gone. WR Dez Bryant, TE Jason Witten, C Travis Frederick, LB Sean Lee and K Dan Bailey were the biggest of those absences. The midseason trade for WR Amari Cooper and the emergence of some young talent really boosted Cowboys, who have only lost one game after Week 9 and got through a tough wildcard matchup last week with Seattle.

Marinelli’s TampaPS

As I said last week, Rod Marinelli’s TampaPS Defense would make it tough for the Seattle Offense. When the Seahawks started using QB Russel Wilson’s legs more in Read Option and play-action rollout passes, the Offense opened up and got some points. Still, in the end the aggressive surprise mix of Marinelli’s D closed the deal.

Sean Lee is still not 100% and didn’t play much. He is nowhere near his former great level of play. The good news is the other young LBs are stepping up. Jaylon Smith has been great all year. And the young secondary is playing better. Marinelli’s able to use more press coverage now.

Offense is back on track in Dallas

I said a young Seattle Defense would struggle to stop the Cowboys O. They actually played well through most of the game, but the Secondary continued to give up big chunk plays at crucial times. At the end of the game Dallas got a big pass play to Cooper and some big runs from Ezekiel Elliot. Zak Prescott also had a big run on a QB Draw to set up a score.

The Dallas Oline will never be as good without their top center, Frederick, but the cohesion is better than it was early in the year. The problem is they now have a lot of guys banged up on that line. Everyone is probable to play vs the Rams, but one has to wonder if they will be effective. Seattle was able to pressure Prescott from a 4 man rush at times.

The WR group came through again. What a difference Cooper has made. But there is another injury concern. Ongoing theme for the Cowboys. Cole Beasley – a very good slot wr – is questionable with an ankle he injured late in the playoff game. Tavon Austin is a suitable replacement, but Beasley is a clutch performer and a guy you want ready to go.

Rams – ProPSAR to ProPS Gillman+

What in the world am I talking about?! Basically the Rams HC Sean McVay and his staff used some Air Raid concepts in their Offense last year, but this year it’s completely McVay’s innovative brand. The Rams Offense has been progressively brilliant during McVay’s two years.

McVay has also done an amazing job as a Head Coach. His Grandfather was the GM Legend who constructed the 49ers dynasty of the 80s/90s. His dad was also a well respected coach. McVay used his knowledge and contacts to make a brilliant hire in DC Wade Phillips. He also was wise enough to rehire Jim Fisher’s Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel.

The D has struggled some, but more importantly Phillips has leant his vast experience in how to mange an organization. The Special Teams was always a big hallmark of Fisher’s teams. They continue to flourish with talented kickers/returners and the top notch schemes of Fassel. They have definitely been an underrated part of McVay’s success.

Goff and the Air Raid

QB Jared Goff flourished late in his college career under what I call a PSAR Offense – Power Spread Air Raid. McVay wanted to bring this into the NFL as a help to his QB. This concept was first innovated by Dana Holgerson at the start of the Decade and is now run by a lot of college teams. Of course, in the NFL it needs to be meshed with long used Pro Concepts. It takes a lot of work and expertise, but McVay pulled it off – the first to do so in the NFL.

This year his schemes made a jump towards PS2020 and beyond. I do believe that further in the future, after the 2020s, we will see certain teams with an incredible Order to their System. What I would call Gillman+. Specific yet simple designs based on Timing in both play calling and execution. We have seen some futuristic Timing and Route Design in McVay’s schemes this year.

Gillman+ also requires an aggressive mix of play calling + misdirection play-action. Pass on 1st down, run on 3rd. Throw on short yardage, run in long yardage. Throw from heavy sets, run from spread sets. All of this the Rams do to keep the Defense off balance and hesitating. It’s not always easy to execute, because of the precision it requires, but when it works and there is some talent involved, it’s unstoppable.

Phillips’ Aggressive Variety?

Wade was an innovative DC for a long time. He mixed press coverages with Zone Blitzes in ways that were ahead of its time. More recently at Denver he started implementing a lot of 2-4 Zone Blitz w/ Press that is now being used all over.

This year for the first time I see chinks in his armor. He’s becoming a little more stagnant in his variety. Too much press coverage at times. Not enough front looks and not enough blitz. The lack of variety slowly has eroded his aggressive nature.

Now, for sure the Ram’s had to make a big change from Fisher’s style of Defense. Sorting out the talent isn’t always easy. Injuries and some aging vets are playing into the equation as well. But Phillips’ now needs to catch up to the rest of the League, which had followed behind him for so long.

There are signs that he is doing just that. By the end of the year I was seeing more variety. There was more and more Zone Coverage mixed into Phillips’ standard press man. It has been really helpful for their big free agent acquisition in the offseason, CB Marcus Peters. He loves to free lance and jump into passing lanes. Better for aggressive zones than man to man.

Phillips is also starting to mix his fronts and blitzes. Not so much 4-3/3-4 and 2-4 now. Some 3-3 and even some Psycho looks. This is definitely confusing the Offenses, who started to get used to the Phillips “standard” of Defense. His younger players in the back 7 and older guys on the DLine are taking to this new Aggressive Variety. The Rams are a better Defense now than they were, even at the midpoint of the year!

Prognostication – Rams

I really think this is all Rams. I’m not saying it will be a blowout. The Dallas Defense is tough, but their Secondary is still young and the Dline old. This is a bad combo versus the Rams ProPS Gillman+.

With the recent improvement of the Rams Defense, the Cowboys will struggle more to score than most would expect. They are beat up on Offense and will probably try to control the clock to keep the Rams Offense off the field, but this will hurt their own offense. Extended drives need points.

Due to both teams “eating” some clock, the score will be lower than expected. Unless the Rams run away with it. But if they do jump out quick, they may pound their great RB Todd Gurley and use a mid range passing attack to control the game, thus reducing the score.

Even if Dallas stays in range, the Rams have a great Special Teams unit and should win that phase of the game as well. Either way the Rams win and McVay gets the monkey off his back for his playoff loss last year.

Hard to believe in today’s Social Media Frenzy it only takes one playoff loss to have a Monkey on your Back!?

~DP

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  1. […] PS Dynamic Opposition has taken over the NFL – Divisional Saturday […]

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