A trend around the NFL is utilizing play-action passes (PAP) at unusual rates, and no one in the league is doing it better than the Rams. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Rams and Jared Goff utilize play-action on 37% of their dropbacks. The old adage that you need to get the run game going in order for play action to be effective simply isn’t true.
Getting the play-action game going with rookie QB Josh Allen at the helm has been offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s core tenet, and he has excelled. Having a young quarterback turn his back on the defense while executing the play-fake then processing the pre- to post-snap picture was something that many coaches used to worry about. But times are a changing; they would have to be for a highly criticized quarterback like Allen to be succeeding, especially without a run game.
The play-action game has many benefits. It generally can help a struggling offensive line like the Bills’, which is why Daboll and his staff called play-action on 44.4% of Allen’s dropbacks last week against the Jaguars. On those plays, he had a +23.8% completion percentage and averaged +15 yards per attempt surrendered, all with no sacks! The PAP game slowed down the Jags’ aggressive pass rush by forcing them to diagnose run to pass, which gave the offensive line time to secure their blocks.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll streamlined Allen’s decision making. He was asked to execute a lot of half-field or one- vs. two-high reads, which is why he averaged 17.9 yards per attempt on all play-action passes (per PFF).
As it stands, Allen is one of the most efficient QBs when he executes play-action, and that bodes well for the future.
Step into the film room to get an idea of how Allen has looked in the play-action game.
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