Oakland Raiders No-Huddle Possibilities: A Chalkboard Preview

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The Beauty of Packaged Plays

Dec 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) prepares to run a play against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the 49ers 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Packaged plays are one of the absolute best aspects of Chip Kelly’s system that Musgrave can bring to Oakland, and they fall right into Derek Carr’s strengths. What are packaged plays? Think of it as a read-option play – except the option is a pass instead of another running choice. In a basic read-option play the QB rides the RB through the mesh point during the handoff and reads a defender, usually an intentionally unblocked edge rusher. If the defender stays home to contain the QB run threat, the QB hands the ball off and the RB runs through the hole with one less defender to worry about. If the defender crashes down to stop the run, the QB pulls the ball out and runs around that defender to the outside. It’s all about a numbers game. Using the read to eliminate one defender from stopping the play allows the offense to allocate that blocker elsewhere, shifting the blocker to defender ratio in their favor.

In a packaged play that read might be on a keyed inside linebacker or nickel corner. The offense blocks for a run, but some or all of the receivers run quick passing routes. The QB rides the RB through the mesh point the same as before, but this time he’s looking to see if his keyed defender breaks coverage to crash down on the run. If the defender stays in coverage, the QB hands the ball off. If the defender crashes down on the run, he pulls the ball out and guns it to the wide open receiver. This suits Derek Carr’s strong arm and quick release very well. The goal of plays like these are for the QB to get the ball out of his hands very fast. Often these plays result in passes just past the 2.25 second mark.

Below is a play the Eagles used effectively with which highlights their TE, a play that would be very well-suited for Mychal Rivera. For video check out Bill Barnwell’s article on Kelly’s offense. He also looks at this play.

This is a great packaged play for all involved. Let’s set this up as 21 personnel right now (though it could easily be 22 or 11 personnel and work as well). Murray at H. Reece at F. Rivera at Y. Finally, Streater and Butler or Holmes at X and Z.

The defense is in nickel with a 2-high safety look. The beauty of this play is that it can work against both zone and man defenses. The reason for this is because of the specific keyed defender. In this instance the key is the Sam (strong side) linebacker. His behavior will dictate what Carr will do with the ball, very quickly.

Option 1 is the run to Murray. Carr catches the snap and rides Murray through the mesh point while watching the Sam. If the Sam drops into coverage Carr hands the ball off. With the Sam in coverage the offense has five blockers against 5 box defenders at the point of attack, leaving Murray free to run. The offense will take that numbers advantage every time.

If the Sam steps down to challenge the run there’s no inside help for the Y’s (Rivera in the case) quick stick route. Carr makes his read, pulls the ball out and fires it to Rivera before the safeties can close the gap. That’s an easy 7 yards at least.

What if the nickel corner (¢ in the graphic) has perfect coverage? Well, then Carr goes to option 3: the screen to Reece on the right side. Now there’s no one on that side of the field except Reece and the Z, who is blocking the corner. At this point the play action and Carr’s eyes will have worked together to keep the safeties from flowing to the screen side and Reece will have plenty of room to work with.

Packaged plays like this are fantastic ways to keep defenses honest and attack what they give you. The plays are simple if you look at it. The stick and bubble screen are West Coast classics. The inside or outside zone run is a staple in today’s game, and plays well into Murray’s one-cut strengths. Packaged plays just put them all on the field at the same time.