Film breakdown: More love for Antrel Rolle, and the value of a versatile cover linebacker like Jacquian Williams

Yesterday, we looked at Antrel Rolle and his great job of disguising zone coverage before the snap, which led to an interception by Prince Amukamara.

On my drive home from the Lions-Eagles game, I heard a quick interview with Bob Papa and Antrel Rolle in the locker room after the Giants-Niners game.  Rolle was talking about his two interceptions, and he gave credit for each of them to a couple of his teammates.  On his first interception, it was another case of Rolle fooling QB Alex Smith before the snap.  Rolle gave credit to Ahmad Bradshaw, who was yelling from the sideline, “Trel, he’s reading you!”  This means that Smith was watching Rolle’s pre-snap movement, trying to diagnose what coverage the Giants were in.

Here was Rolle’s initial position:

Pre-snap, and post Bradshaw warning, Rolle drops into more of a deep middle position.  It’s a very subtle move, but it gets the attention of Smith.  Note Rolle’s movement from the first picture to the second:

With the down and distance being 3rd and 16, Alex Smith knows it’s not going to be a single-high safety look.  It’s more than likely going to be a 3-deep coverage with Rolle taking deep middle, and the two corners dropping back into deep 1/3.  Smith is right in assuming a 3-deep look, except it’s Jacquian Williams that will be dropping WAY back from his linebacker position to deep middle, and Rolle taking one of the intermediate zones:

The wide receiver on the right side of the Niners formation, Michael Crabtree, is running a seam route designed to find a spot in between the corner playing deep 1/3, and the safety playing deep middle:

At the snap, Alex Smith looks to the left side of the formation to keep the “other” safety right where he is, and perhaps to try to draw the deep middle safety (who he likely thinks is Rolle) toward that side of the field as well:

By the “other” safety, just FYI, we’re talking about Stevie Brown, noted here:

Then Smith comes across to the other side and fires:

He does not see Rolle who has unexpectedly come up from his initial deep coverage and is in perfect position to make the play:

Easy pick, and Rolle is off to the races:

Having a LB in Jacquian Williams that you can trust to play deep middle on 3rd an 16 is a luxury for defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, and it allows the Giants to be aggressive with their safeties.  Also, another gold star for Antrel Rolle, who disguised his coverage pre-snap very well, and made a big play…  at the end of the day.

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8 Comments

  1. ct17 says:

    I like these play breakdowns. Keep ‘em coming.

  2. Arthuro says:

    Great stuff.

    Williams’s been dropping in deep coverage quite a lot (at least from a LB stand point) and QBs never seem to attack him when he does. I’m not sure why.

  3. RogerPodacter says:

    keep the great stuff coming, jimmy!
    (as an eagles fan, its still cool to see this stuff done, even if it is for the other teams in the division)

    1. Thanks. It’s a shame Keenan Clayton couldn’t develop into the same kind of player as Jacquian Williams.

      1. RogerPodacter says:

        though i dont think we ever really called Clayton’s coverage into question. my understanding was that he was an empty body when opposing teams ran the ball. its great if the LB can run and cover, but you have to be a functional run defender too! lol

      2. deg0ey says:

        I wonder whether Kendricks could do it?

        1. Good point. I think he could.

  4. Thiergow says:

    Again a great job by the Giants D to disguise the coverage. I think they really did pretty well when they knew that a pass was coming but as soon as the Niners faked the run, they were and had huge coverages flaws (I don’t know if you are going to dissect the 55 yards Moss reception but that’s the best exemple that comes up IMO).
    Had the Niners kept running the ball (I have counted 27 passes for 4 designed runs in the 2nd half) like they did in the first quarter, this game could have been a lot harder for the defense.

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