Mb Nfl Double Your First Deposit Football Team Vs Bucs Pewter 728x90 Jpg

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians’ offense is based on relatively simple and sound designs. One of the most fundamental passing plays at all levels of football is Dagger. Designed to beat zone defenses, Dagger is a two-receiver concept that can be tweaked in several ways to stress multiple layers of a defense. 

Dagger Concept Bruce Arians

It’s a simple play the No. 1 receiver (the receiver closest to the sideline) runs a deep dig, and the No. 2 receiver (the receiver second closest to the sideline) runs a clear route. That clear is usually either a seam, fade, or post. While the dig and clear are technically the only two routes needed for a concept to fall under the Dagger category, teams often use a third option underneath, such as a shallow cross.

The Eagles are one of the most zone-heavy teams in the league. Thus, it was no surprise that the Buccaneers dialed up Dagger variations four times in their 28-22 win on Thursday night. They completed passes on all four of those dropbacks for 61 yards and a touchdown. 

Defensive coverage for Eagles Arians

A little more than a minute into the game on first-and-10, the Bucs came out in 12 heavy personnel. Chris Godwin motioned across the formation and the Eagles indicated quarters coverage. Tom Brady took the snap, faked the handoff, and delivered a strike to a wide open Mike Evans. 

There are a few reasons why Evans was so open. Play-action brought down Eagles’ linebacker Davion Taylor, creating an easy throwing lane for Brady. Further, Godwin’s seam route moved safety Rodney McLeod up the field. And finally, Evans’ beautiful jab step baited Darius Slay into opening his hips toward the sideline, allowing Evans to break free over the middle.

Later in the first quarter, the Eagles adjusted by dropping linebacker Alex Singleton into the dig route’s passing lane. Brady quickly recognized the Cover 2 zone and checked it down to Leonard Fournette, who made the best of a short pass by dropping his shoulders and finishing through contact. 

Byron Leftwich went back to the well for the third time in the first quarter from just outside the red zone. The Eagles were playing Cover 9 (half, quarter, quarter). This meant they were, again, playing Cover 2 zone to the playside. However, Singleton was unable to get in the passing lane because of the play fake and because he had to eye the No. 3, O.J. Howard. Since Dagger is a slow-developing concept, it was important that the offensive line protected well. Brady bought even more time by re-setting outside of the pocket. This let Antonio Brown get wide open for a touchdown.

On third-and-11 in the fourth quarter, Leftwich went to Dagger one last time in hopes of icing the game. The Eagles played a zone blitz with four deep defenders and two more in the intermediate area. This left Howard wide open in the flats. The inaccurate pass from Brady didn’t let Howard immediately turn upfield, thus allowing linebacker Genard Avery to close in for the tackle a few yards short of the first down. 

Many quarterbacks are only reading the high-low created by the dig and the underneath route. They expect the clear to be occupied by the safety, and the route is therefore not truly “live”. That’s not the case with Brady. Whether it’s an alert or a clear, every route is live with Brady. This takes the Bucs’ passing game to another level. 

Brady and Godwin almost connected for a huge gain in Week 1 against the Cowboys. After seeing Jourdan Lewis not carry Godwin’s vertical route, Brady fired the deep shot, placing the ball away from safety Damontae Kazee.

The big play worked in Week 12 of the 2020 season. Despite intense interior pressure, Brady delivered a strike down the field for Godwin, who made an unbelievable diving catch. 

Arians’ game plans are relatively simple. He expects his players to find answers for different coverages within the same fundamental concepts. And when players execute on the level that these Bucs do, and when they have the ability to turn down good plays for game-changing plays, the strategy works brilliantly.

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About the Author: Paul Atwal

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1 month ago

Nice explanation of plays that worked Paul. Seems our coaches must be bi-polar in that here they called successful “brilliant” plays and then without warning became “stubborn” and “stupid” as was the case with the failed 4th and 2 against the “lesser” Eagles.

Just in case there are those who don’t have a sense of humor out there……….I’m being sarcastic. C’mon “sad eyes”, we’re the defending champions, leading the Division, and won the game, all with a banged up Defense,…………be happy.

Mb Nfl Double Your First Deposit Football Team Vs Bucs Pewter 728x90 Jpg