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In depth: Ellis Hobbs' Record Kickoff Return

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by unoriginal, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. unoriginal

    unoriginal In the Starting Line-Up

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    As near as I can tell...
    [​IMG]
    This was how the Jets kick coverage team lined up:
    Code:
                    42 Rashad Washington    15 Wallace Wright    1 Mike Nugent    16 Brad Smith        26 Erik Coleman
    96 David Bowens    45 Stacy Tutt        55 Brad Kassell                        53 Cody Spencer    52 David Harris        81 Justin McCareins
    The New York Jets ran a stacked kickoff, with their safeties and gunners hidden behind their wedge busters and contain players. Washington, Nugent, and Coleman are the safeties. Bowens (!) and McCareins are outside contain. Kassell and Spencer are the wedge busters, Smith and Wright are the gunners, and Harris and Tutt are inside contain.

    [​IMG]

    The stacked kickoff is designed primarily to get the gunners downfield quickly, protecting them from frontline blocks by running them in the same lanes as the wedge busters. The wedge busters are supposed to get them into the wedge, where the gunners either tackle the returner or force him wide into the contain players. Inside contain players generally aim for just outside the wedge, pending any returner shenanigans. Outside contain is supposed to constrict the field of play and protect the sideline alleys. Safeties trail the coverage wave at 10-15 yards in a cover 3 look. Gunners and inside contain make the majority of tackles in this scheme.

    Now the Pats:
    PHP:
    84 Ben Watson    52 Eric Alexander    53 Larry Izzo    46 Corey Mays    24 Mel Mitchell
                                44 Heath Evans

                90 Le Kevin Smith            61 Stephen Neal            58 Pierre Woods
                                            23 Willie Andrews
                                            27 Ellis Hobbs
    Note: On Hobbs' touchdown return, Le Kevin Smith was in for Kyle Brady, who was the left side of the wedge for the earlier and later kickoff return. Brady also was the first teamer at this position on kickoff return during the pre-season.

    The Pats run a 1-5-3-1 kickoff return, and have been running it for some time. One of the outside players in the front line, in this case Mel Mitchell, runs to the middle of the field, harassing who he can along the way, and throws an inside-out block on the backside safety, in this case Erik Coleman. This is the touchdown block because it opens the end of the "wall" the Pats are building down whichever side of the field the return is going to.
    [​IMG]
    You can see in this picture that one frontline player, Heath Evans, is set back from the others. This is for onside kicks. Mitchell and Watson are the other "hands" members of the frontline, stationed at the ends of the line.

    The wedge aims for the hash mark on the side the return is called to, and the returner runs out towards the numbers, a standard return scheme. In this case this return was called to the left. The first return (in the second quarter) was called right.

    [​IMG]
    (Note: In the picture in this post, Mitchell is shown currently harassing Nugent. He blocks Coleman [to his right at the 40] shortly thereafter.)

    The remaining five frontline players block inwards from left to right: Watson blocks in on inside contain player Tutts, Alexander blocks in on gunner Wright, Evans blocks on wedge buster Kassell, Mays blocks fellow buster Spencer, and Larry Izzo blocks gunner Smith. These are difficult open field blocks, and they don't slow down the coverage as much as they shift the coverage lanes away from the return.

    The wedge, meanwhile, travels from right to left, towards the hash with the wall. The only player to the outside of the wall is outside contain player David Bowens. On the other side of the field, contain players Harris and McCareins are allowed to go unblocked. Willie Andrews, who leads Hobbs into the wedge, has his first responsibility to the backside; if either contain player is too close to the wedge, Andrews has to pick him up to stop them from chasing the play down. Otherwise, the return scheme gambles that Hobbs can beat backside contain around the wedge and up the other side of the field, eluding playside contain player Bowens.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 11, 2007
  2. unoriginal

    unoriginal In the Starting Line-Up

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    The Play Unfolds

    [​IMG]
    You've probably by this time heard the old coverage adage, "Stay in your lane." Here the Jets do not stay in their lanes. David Harris, backside inside contain, is far too close to Justin McCareins, who has outside contain. Harris should be closer to Cody Spencer, the backside wedge buster, than any other teammate. It is actually difficult for me to say what, if anything, David Harris is doing out there. The Jets are basically a man down on this play because David Harris is chasing Justin McCareins down the field.

    David Bowens, playside outside contain, is way too far outside. He should be much closer to Stacy Tutt, who is faster downfield, and in his correct lane, despite being harassed by Ben Watson. The gap between Bowens and Rashad Washington (unblocked at the 30 yd hash) is the gap Hobbs will spring through for the touchdown.

    Also highlighted on this pic is the TD block now being thrown by Mel Mitchell on Erik Coleman.

    [​IMG]

    Here we see the outcome of the poor lane choices by the Jets backside. That's 4 different Jets (McCareins, Harris, Spencer, Smith) trying to run Ellis Hobbs down from behind the wedge. Only McCareins belongs there.

    Compare and contrast the play of wedge buster Cody Spencer (3) with Brad Kassell, who demolishes Pierre Woods, Stephen Neal, and Willie Andrews in one fell swoop. Cody Spencer, cutting off the back end of the wedge, only succeeds in demolishing David Harris (2), his teammate.

    Larry Izzo is marked here as one of two frontline players (the other being Mel Mitchell) to successfully hold and finish their blocks on this play. Izzo prevents gunner Wallace Wright from following behind Brad Kassell playside and doing some damage.

    In the foreground you can see Le Kevin Smith, the sole survivor of the wedge, leading on Stacy Tutt. Watson, who was blocking Tutt, is turning upfield along with Evans and Mays to form a moving wall up the hash.

    [​IMG]

    In the bottom left, you can see the outcome of Le Kevin Smith vs. Stacy Tutt. Tutt will actually end up halfway outside the numbers. Watson, first person in the wall, is engaging Rashad Washington, playside safety, while David Bowens is trying to get into the hole from way outside. Having beaten backside pursuit, Hobbs' only task here is to beat outside contain to the outside. Who is faster, David Bowens or Ellis Hobbs?

    [​IMG]

    Hobbs is. Evans leads on the last unblocked Jet (Nugent) while Mays heads upfield from Mitchell, who is still holding his block. Impressively, Willie Andrews is up off the turf and rejoining the play, as is Le Kevin Smith, who naturally makes very wide right turns upfield.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2007
  3. unoriginal

    unoriginal In the Starting Line-Up

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    The End

    [​IMG]

    Shown here are the last two blocks on the play. Erik Coleman finally disengages downfield from Mel Mitchell, and is picked up by Corey Mays, leaving Willie Andrews (trailing at the 30) free to hold hands with Ellis and skip into the end zone.

    Meanwhile, Le Kevin Smith finishes Heath Evans' angle block on Mike Nugent by steamrolling him. The body language of Mike Nugent is telling you he is in a place he doesn't want to be right now.

    A big thank you to folks at CBS for actually providing a workable replay shot, from an endzone cam no less.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2007
  4. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #3 Jersey

    Awesome work, sir. As encouragement, to quote one of our friends from across the pond, "I shall give you some stars." :rocker:
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2007
  5. Seymour93

    Seymour93 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    Moral of the story: the importance of ST aces, such as Mitchell and Izzo, cannot be stated enough.

    Thanks for the quality thread, BTW.
     
  6. smg93

    smg93 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    #54 Jersey

    Great thread. I just had a real good lesson on what actually happens in ST play. Thanks a lot.
     
  7. Wotan_the_Wanderer

    Wotan_the_Wanderer Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Great thread and excellent work OP!
    Please keep 'em coming.

    And perhaps you can help me to identify this guy who seemed to come out of nowhere on the play....
     

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  8. VJCPatriot

    VJCPatriot Pro Bowl Player

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    Nice film breakdown.
    The bottom line is that the Pats ST unit executed the play almost perfectly and Hobbs is a very explosive returner.
    I like the look of our ST this year. ;-)
    Oh yeah, grats on setting the record Hobbs. That's real nice.
     
  9. Mike the Brit

    Mike the Brit Minuteman Target PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Disable Jersey

    Wonderful stuff, unoriginal. Bravo! You're going to HAVE to change that misleading screen name! :rolleyes:
     
  10. Danny Boy®

    Danny Boy® Banned

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    Great post...next time though, give us a little more detail. :D
     
  11. sebman2112

    sebman2112 In the Starting Line-Up

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    If you ask me the block Ben Watson made was among the most important, as it came just infront of Hobbs and if I remember correctly he ended up running through the area Ben cleared out for him?

    Edit: I just rewatched the video and the block Ben Watson makes is the block that keeps two Jets defenders from tackling Hobbs. See, Hobbs was able to break the tackle of the other Jet defender but if not for Watson's block both Jet defenders would have hit Hobbs at the same time, and it's very unlikely he breaks the grasp of two defenders at once.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2007
  12. Brownfan80

    Brownfan80 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Great post, UO.

    And great one liner:

    "Meanwhile, Le Kevin Smith finishes Heath Evans' angle block on Mike Nugent by steamrolling him. The body language of Mike Nugent is telling you he is in a place he doesn't want to be right now."

    Seeing that breakdown it becomes obvious that there was a major gaff in their coverage and I'm sure that Hobbs saw it from the time he caught the ball.
     
  13. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #3 Jersey

    Yes, that may well be the comment of the day. :)
     
  14. PatsFan37

    PatsFan37 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Great post. Good to see some real football analysis of the game.
     
  15. upstater1

    upstater1 Pro Bowl Player

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    I never knew any of this stuff, not even the designations, nor the specific tasks.

    And I played special teams in high school football (in a New England state, I will not mention where because I'm embarrassed). We had gunners, yes, but for the return side, we just established a wedge, and the other blockers picked our guy and had responsibility for him and only him. LOL.
     
  16. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #3 Jersey

    :rofl: :rofl:
     
  17. RoughingthePasser

    RoughingthePasser Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    Long time coming.
    Im glad he busted that one out!

    You cant win if you dont play!
     
  18. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    Another excellent still-frame breakdown. Five stars.

    Regards,
    Chris

    P.S. It appears that there are interlacing artifacts in some of the images. Is there a way to use single fields instead of interlaced frames?
     
  19. Mainefan

    Mainefan Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    I just learned more about special teams in 15 minutes of reading and studying these pictures than I've learned in the last 10 years. My deepest thanks.
     
  20. tedylb

    tedylb Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Great post, UO! I learned a lot. Your commentary was only exceeded by the execution of the ST on the return.
     

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