Make sure to read part 1 and 2 of this series
Setting up the game-plan for the Dolphins has been a methodical process. Greg has chosen what plays he wants to run in the week three match-up with the Dolphins. He has even chosen the Drive Starter plays that will open every single drive that the Bills will have. Since those plays are scripted Roman must now choose the set of plays that he wants to run as the Opening Sequence of the game. Offensive Coordinators love to script their first drive. Scripting and showing several formations is a way to test the defense to see how they are going to match-up versus certain personnel groupings .
Greg Roman didn’t disappoint. The coordinator showed three different personnel groupings: 21 personnel (2 RBs, 1 TE), 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs) and 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE)
On every single play he motioned at least one player. He ran four play-action passes and one screen, to keep the Fins’ pursuit at bay.
We had a specific plan to start the game. We wanted them running sideways to sideways.” -FB Jerome Felton
The Opening Sequence of plays are typically sprinkled in throughout the practice week. For example, Roman may have a specific run play for 2nd and 1-3 yards and they would typically practice that at 2:00 P.M., on Thursday. Well that play could be one of the plays that is chosen for their Opening Sequence, if that situations arises. So what typically happens is that the Opening Sequence plays are practiced based on their down and distance and then are chosen at the end of the week.
Yeah, actually we had all those scripted. The game-plan was to get those guys moving, get Ndamakong Suh and those guys running up-front, we knew they had a lot of talent. Just get those guys running sideline to sideline, try to get them tired.”-WR Percy Harvin
As you can see by the end of Thursday most of the game-plan has already been practiced. Around 1:00 P.M, on Friday, Roman and the coaches met and decided what plays they were going to run to start the game.
The chart above is hypothetical, the number of plays for each situation are already charted for the game. So the Bills chose ten plays that they would run during the Opening Sequence. Besides getting an idea on how the defense is going to defend your offense, the offense wants to accomplish three things.
According to Brian Billick, he liked to set three priorities for first and second down during an Opening Sequence.
- Get a first down
- Keep the team in a convertible down and distance
- Create an “explosive” play
With those parameters for an Opening Sequence set, how did the Bills fare? The Bills were able to stay ahead of the chains by getting two first downs and they created two “explosive” plays. An “explosive play” is defined as a play that gains 20 yards or more. So Roman and the offensive staff created a heck of an opening drive against the Fins early in the year. The player that was on display for the Bills was tight end Charles Clay. Clay had three catches on that first drive and he lined up in two different areas. One play he was in the slot then motioned to the fullback position, and the other plays he was aligned at the in-line tight end position.
So lets take a look what Roman and the staff created:
Opening Sequence Play #1
On the first play of their Opening sequence, the Bills chose bring in 12 personnel and run a play-action pass to Charles Clay.
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- Bills motion Clay into the back-field and sell the zone run to the offenses’ right.
- Sammy runs a deep comeback route, Harvin runs a crossing route.
- Fins are playing cover 3 read techniques.
- So as Harvin crosses, the safety and CB switch responsibilities.
- Clay sells the run then leaks out to the flats where Taylor hits him.
Result: 9 yard gain
Opening Sequence Play #2
Bills bring out 21 personnel. Roman dials up another play-action pass to Clay.
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- The Bills line up in a tight twins set with the WRs to the field.
- Taylor fakes the run to the offenses’ left and Felton slides over as a personal protector.
- The defense is in cover 3.
- Sammy runs a clearing route. He takes the CB and the safety with him.
- Harvin runs a pivot route to the flats, but is covered by the flats defender.
- Clay sneaks across the middle behind the LBs and into the medium zone that is unoccupied.
Result: 24 yard gain
Opening Sequence Play #3
Bills bring in 21 personnel and attempt a screen play to Harvin
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- Bills align in a twins set to the field with Harvin in the slot.
- The Fins are in their base defense and they bring their safety down to cover Harvin in the slot.
- Taylor takes the snap and turns to the RB to sell the run.
- Throws the ball to Harvin.
- The ball comes in a little high and the safety didn’t bite.
- The Fins are in great position to keep the mismatch in check.
Result: 3 yard gain
Opening Sequence Play #4
Bills are in 11 personnel in a 2×2 set.
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- Sammy is split wide on the bottom of the screen, Hogan in the slot and Woods tight to the tackle box at the top of the screen.
- The Fins are in their nickel cover 3 read defense. They are expecting a “shot” play. Which is typical from this part of the field, so they play off and soft.
- The Fins bring a slot blitz.
- Taylor fakes the sweep, the Fins LBs are caught not reading their keys.
- Watkins runs a deep comeback, Hogan a corner route.
- Clay runs an intermediate crossing route and Woods a shallow route underneath.
- The Fins blow the coverage. The safety doesn’t rotate over to help with Clay or Woods.
- Woods catches the ball and gets up-field.
- Roman took advantage of the Fins’ read techniques the whole drive.
Result: 16 yard gain
Opening Sequence Play #5
Greg Roman uses 12 personnel on this play and runs a “special” play. A play-action pass to Charles Clay.
- The Bills align in a 2×2 set. 2 TEs to the bottom of the screen and two WRs to the top, Mccoy alone in the backfield.
- It’s a two man route. Sammy running a deep post and Clay running a delayed crossing route.
- The Fins counter with their 4-3 under defense with cover 3 read on the back end.
- The Bills fake the outside run to the offenses’ right, center Eric Wood sells it then peels back as the personal protector.
- As Clay releases, the boundary corner and deep safety don’t communicate well enough. The corner is expecting the safety to drop down to help cover the crossing route, in essence swapping responsibilities.
- He makes the Fins miss in the open field and trots into the end zone.
Result: 25 yard TD by Charles Clay
Some of the plays he draws up like I said are very creative, you know whatever he says we are all believers.” -TE Charles Clay
So the Greg Roman game-plan for his Opening Sequence was quite successful. Roman dialed up 5 plays for 77 yards.
The Bills kept the defense on their toes by calling four play-action passes and one screen. The opening drive was critical to the Bills’ offensive success in a hostile environment. They averaged over 15 yards/play on the drive and really utilized their prized free agent Charles Clay. His emotions were running high returning to Miami, but he kept it under control and capitalized when his number was called.
We were able to go down there and score early, that was a big thing, especially on the road.”-QB Tyrod Taylor
To recap, Greg Roman game-planned his Drive Starter plays and the offense executed them to the tune of 8 yards per play. The Opening Sequence had even more success garnering 77 yards on 5 plays and put the Bills up 7-0. The next portion of the Game-Plan for Greg Roman is to script the majority of the Base Offense.
The Open Field Base Offense are your 1st/2nd down and 10 plays and they account for the majority of the plays that are scripted in a game-plan. As you know a lot of time is spent practicing third down plays but according to Billick generating first downs usually occurs on 1st and 2nd down 65%-75% of the time. As mentioned in part one, I broke down the Base Offense into two pieces due to the amount of plays run. So there will be a 1st and 10 portion of the game-plan and a 2nd and 7+ yards that fall under the Base Offense.
Stay tuned for the next portion of Greg Roman’s Game-Plan Series: 1st and 10