Kirk Cousins and the Redskins’ season ended last Sunday after a 35-18 defeat against the Green Bay Packers. After the half ended 11-17 in favor of the Packers, the Redskins were able to drive down the field and score to take the lead 18-17. In this breakdown, we will take a look at the packaged goal line play the Redskins ran to gain the lead.
Before we begin, what is a packaged play? A packaged play is a group of plays inside of one play where the quarterback has the option, based on the defensive match-up, to choose a passing play or a running play. The players have defined roles and based on these roles he can scan the field looking for the weakness in the opposing defense.
Let’s take a look at this play:
Situation: 3rd and Goal at GB 3
Description: (9:41 – 3rd) Kirk Cousins 3 Yard Rush D.Hopkins extra point is GOOD, Center-N.Sundberg, Holder-T.Way.
The Redskins take the field with 01-personnel (one tight end, four wide receivers) on this 3rd and 3 play call. Cousins is in empty-set shotgun with quad bunch on his left, while tight end #86 Jordan Reed is alone to his right. The quad bunch is composed of wide receivers #11 DeSean Jackson, #14 Ryan Grant, #80 Jamison Crowder, and #88 Pierre Garcon.
This play has three components:
- Wide receiver screen to #11 DeSean Jackson using Grant, Garcon, and Crowder as blockers.
- Fade route to Reed.
- Cousins on a quarterback draw up the middle through one of the A-gaps.
How does Cousins decide? It’s all based on match-up.
Cousins sees that there are four men (numbers highlighted in green) sitting over the quad bunch. That eliminates this option as there are more defenders than blockers. Additionally, circled in green, is linebacker #52 Clay Matthews who is watching Cousins in zone coverage waiting for the screen pass to intercept it. Cousins wisely moves on to his next read.
The next read is Jordan Reed on the fade route to the backright portion of the endzone. Due to the press alignment of the underneath zone defender (#1 in red) and the deeper zone defender (#2 in red), this play is eliminated.
Finally, Cousins reads the middle of the field. There are three defensive lineman down on the line of scrimmage, while two drop into zones. Based on how close Cousins is to the goal line, all the center has to do is block out the underneath zone defender and Cousins has the walk-in touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, you will notice that the Packers’ drop eight men into zones across the goal line and into the back of the endzone, while only rushing three. This is a very common defensive front for the Packers and without the quarterback keeper option, this play probably would not have worked.
One other thing to notice is how Scherff lets #76 Mike Daniels rush right past him. This is by design to ensure Cousins has a more clear running lane. The same goes for #71 Trent Williams and #76 Morgan Moses.
I have only ever seen this quads bunch formation one other time this season and it was against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a similar 3rd and goal situation. In this play, the Redskins scored a touchdown to take the lead in the Redskins’ biggest comeback victory in franchise history.
What’s the difference between this play and the same play versus the Packers?
Just like in the touchdown above versus the Packers, Cousins counts four men over the quad bunch part of the formation. He, then, sees a one-on-one match-up versus free safety #30 McDougald. This is Cousins’ key to throw him the ball on the quick-slant.
After the snap, Reed’s excellent release off of the line of scrimmage to turn McDougald’s hips outwards is what frees him for the instant touchdown pass.
Kirk Cousins finished the season with 4,495 passing yards and 30 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. He will be a free agent this off-season and will look to sign a long-term contract with the Redskins. If an agreement can’t be reached he’ll be franchise tagged by the Redskins.
Follow Samuel Gold on Twitter: @SamuelRGold.