ZAN February 1, 2012 0

Forward Progress #7 – “What Do I Do When I Can’t Facethrow?!”
(Levels Passing Concept)

Welcome back everyone.

Let’s dive right in. Harrisburg was the weekend before (January 21st), and I’ll be honest; my defense was unbelievable. I sacked the guy with the best “Vick stick” in the nation seven times. I was holding everyone under 21. But I wasn’t winning games. Why? My short game on offense left a lot to be desired. I got into the popular “Hike throw check face throw” offense, and I didn’t run the ball enough. That would be my best explanation as to why I was losing games 21-17, while watching other players scoring in the 50’s and 60’s (No, seriously …. CannonSmoke vs. TDavis had 107 points scored in 3 quarters!).

So what was wrong with me? Tournament nerves? Not really. I was relaxed during every game I played. I knew what I had to do … but I just didn’t execute it. I guess I was tunnel visioned to my original gameplan. I was also very heavily invested into my base formation. I should have tested the waters to see what my opponent disliked most.

I saw a lot of zone coverage at this tournament, as most expected. Some people had a dominating bump and run coverage, but that really wasn’t an issue for me. I was just too greedy and didn’t check down enough.

So this week, I’m going to tell you to do as I say, not as I DID. We’re going to look at the staple of the Peyton Manning offense:

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the “Levels” concept. The above play is actually from the Colts’ playbook, and is called “Colts Ins”, from the Singleback Trips Colt formation; but it’s actually called “Levels” in other teams’ Madden 12 Playbooks.

Peyton Manning goes to this route combination many times in nearly every game; in fact, so does Tom Brady. Wes Welker has made a living on the shallow dig. The beauty of this route combination is that it’s useable vs. any coverage. When you have one setup that beats man and zone, you will always dictate the pace of the game from the offensive side of the ball.

Notice how simple the route combination is. You have a backside isolation pattern (either a curl or go/streak pattern), while you have everyone else running a “Dig” or “In” pattern over the middle of the field. In this case, you have the runningback running a swing pattern into the flat. On the backside, you either want a “Curl-Flat” route combination, which we have in the play above with the X-receiver on a curl and the RB running a swing pattern to the flat. If you don’t want the backside “Curl-Flat” combo, you need to send the X-receiver vertical and block the RB, or motion the RB out of the backfield to go empty, and have him run an out pattern with the X-receiver still going vertical. This is up to you, and can be dictated by the amount of coverage/pass rush your opponent is sending your way.

Now, the primary read in the Levels Concept is actually NOT the tight end on the 10 yard dig. Your primary read is actually your slot WR running the short 3-5 yard in pattern.

Versus Man: (block the RB if you read man)

*Look primarily at your slot wide receiver. If he beats his man over the middle, you’ll have a very short, easy throw over the middle.
*Your 2nd read is to make the easy transition from the slot wide receiver outside to the right flanker. He’s also running a shallow in-pattern.
*3rd read would be the backside hitch-pattern. These are very effective vs. man coverage in Madden 12, and I recommend using these curls vs. man coverage.
*4th read would be to the deep dig run by the TE at a 10-yard depth. Deep in patterns are also very successful throws vs. man coverage in this game.

This play is great because all four routes are good man beaters in this game. When your 4th route is your deepest pattern and probably your most effective option, and you’re making your opponent defend short areas of the field, you’re going to win a lot more ballgames.

Versus Zone: (leave the RB on the swing pattern and utilize the backside curl-flat if your opponent takes away the Hi-Lo read … OR … motion the RB out to the split end’s side on an out pattern, and run the coverage off with the split end)

*First you’re going to have a VERY easy read. You’re essentially going to isolate the linebacker or safety nearest to the TE. Watch that area of the field; if they follow the TE on the deep dig, throw to the vacated area underneath as the slot WR crosses into it. If they play tight, wait for the TE to break over the middle at the 10 yard depth.
*If your opponent keys the Hi-Lo read, utilize your backside curl-flat combination, or look for the streak on the far left if the matchup presents itself.

Let’s take a look at the real-life application of the “Levels” concept. In this game, we’re going to look at the Packers when Brett Favre was at the helm. In this look, the Packers are in Shotgun: Ace Empty. You can achieve this look from the undercenter play above by simply motioning out the RB to the left and emulating the route combination seen in the video below:

In this look (see above video), Favre takes the shotgun snap, quickly identifies that it’s zone coverage, and looks to his Hi-Lo read of tight end, Donald Lee, and slot wideout, Donald Driver. The Chargers LB corps drops deep with Donald Lee, and Driver leaks underneath the zone for an easy delivery by Favre, and a gain of nearly 15 yards after the catch and run.

As you can see, this play doesn’t involve routes of over 10 yards; but with the popularity of streaks in Madden 12’s competitive scene, you can attack underneath and pick up just as many yards when someone is protecting against the deeper stuff. The fact that you’re utilizing routes that beat man to man coverage, in a combination designed to also beat zone coverage, makes this a very popular offensive concept in the NFL that’s used in a variety of formations!

Take this concept, throw it into your Madden 12 offensive schemes, and start scoring MORE points with LESS risk.

Until next week,

Zac Neal (ZAN)
Twitter: @PeytonZANning
AIM: ZAN71789

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