Welcome to One Big Play! I decided Eye in the Sky was a bit too long for everyone to read every week, so I wanted to introduce this condensed version. Every week, I’ll take a look at one big and/or interesting play and talk about it a couple days after the game, then have my full Eye in the Sky up a day or two after that. I’m excited about it. It makes it look like I’m writing two articles, when I’m really just doing the same amount of work. Everybody wins!

So just think of this as Eye in the Sky Presents: One Good Play. (I’m not married to the name, so I’ll welcome suggestions.)

Let’s get to it.

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This is the game-winning touchdown throw to Mohamed Sanu [12]. I started this gif a bit earlier than usual because I wanted to show the interaction between Jake Ryan [47] and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix [21], both on the left side of offensive line. Before the snap, you can see Ryan looking back and making a hand signal to Clinton-Dix. I don’t know what this is about, but it’s clear they’re communicating about something regarding the alignment.

When I saw this live, I assumed Clinton-Dix was at fault. “He should have rotated over the top,” I said to my TV, alone in my house. I believe I saw my dog nod in agreement, but she was probably just dreaming about chasing a rabbit. Or perhaps she was dreaming of chasing a receiver downfield.

Back to the point at hand. If you watch Clinton-Dix, you’ll see why he wasn’t able to rotate. On the left side of the line, Sanu and Julio Jones [11] are in a stacked formation, with Sanu off the line. At the snap, Jones runs straight up the field. With Ladarius Gunter [36] playing outside position, Clinton-Dix has to help to the inside or else Jones is wide open.

Let’s look at what Morgan Burnett [42] is doing on the other side of the defense. The outside receiver on that side is running an in route, taking both Demetri Goodson [39] and Blake Martinez [50] with him. That leaves Austin Hooper [81] running free on a corner route. Burnett can’t help in the middle or Hooper would be wide open.

This appears to be man coverage on the outside, which means Goodson can’t just drop back into coverage to take away the throw to Hooper. If Goodson was in zone, it would have been a mistake to follow his man to the middle of the field, but I don’t believe that’s the case.

That leaves Micah Hyde [33], starting the play over Jones at the bottom of the screen. He is man-to-man with Devonta Freeman [24] out of the backfield. So he can’t drop back and help.

Given all these factors, the only thing left to do would have been for Jake Ryan to start the play a little further off the line so he could drop back a little deeper, but even then it’s a tall task for an inside linebacker to cover a receiver like Sanu.

Something else that could have made a difference would have been if Martinez and Ryan had swapped places. Martinez is better in coverage than Ryan. With the stacked look on that side, it would make sense to have your best coverage linebacker on that side of the field. I don’t know if Martinez would have been able to get back in time, but he would have had a better shot than Ryan.

Here’s what this comes down to: it was a well-designed play by the Falcons to take advantage of the Packers playing man coverage. It was a perfect call given the coverage they were facing.


Welcome to One Big Play. I hope you enjoyed it. I’m excited about it. I’m always trying to get better, so feel free to hit me up at any time if you have something you think could make this better. Do you like this? Hate it? Let me know in the comments.

This is the part in Eye in the Sky where I normally put what music I listened to while working on the post. I’d like to try something new here. If any of you all have released music, let me know where I can listen to it and I’ll link it here.

Thanks again for the support, everyone. I think this new little segment is going to be a lot of fun. The full-blown Eye in the Sky will be up soon.

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