This offseason, I looked at some other teams to find passing concepts for the Packers to steal for the upcoming season. My first post saw us stealing a Slant/Flat variation from the Rams. Today, we will steal a double post/wheel concept from the Patriots.
This was the very first offensive plan run of the 2017 season. Having beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl the previous year, the 2017 season kicked off on Thursday night with the Patriots facing the Chiefs. That’s not really relevant to the breakdown, but I thought it was a cool little tidbit.
You may disagree with me on whether or not it’s actually “cool” and that’s perfectly fine.
Dwayne Allen  motions across the formation – right to left – before the snap. At the snap, the two outside receivers to that side run post routes while the running back runs a delayed wheel route. You can see Allen is open as soon as he turns up the field. On this particular play, the throw is late and high, and it falls incomplete.
As I mentioned above, Allen motions across the formation before the snap. Since no defenders follow him across the formation, that signals to Tom Brady  that he is looking at some variation of zone coverage. The cornerback on the outside receiver is playing straight-up, which usually indicates that he is in man coverage. So right away he likely knows he’s looking at Cover 1 Zone Under, with man coverage on the outside receivers.
Let’s see why this play works.
The two outside receivers take off on their post routes, dragging the two outside defenders to that side down the field. In addition to that, the single-high safety is drawn to the inside post. Right away, three defenders have been removed from the play.
The running back takes off on a delayed wheel route.
Here is why I refer to it as a delayed wheel; it looks for all the world like he’s running a flat route until the last minute. For all I know, he is running a flat route and just takes off upfield at the last minute. Just watch him on this route:
See how he kind of pulls up at the edge before continuing upfield? That’s why I call it a delayed wheel.
It doesn’t matter so much for how the linebacker plays it in this particular instance, but the threat of this delayed wheel could be hugely important for the success of this play. If the linebacker just sees a flat route, he could fall back under the wheel route from the tight end. That wouldn’t cut off the throw entirely, but it would certainly make the window a little tighter.
The threat of the wheel would hold that linebacker a little closer to the running back, keeping the tight end wheel open.
Again, it doesn’t matter in this particular instance. The linebacker appears to be in man coverage on the running back, so he’s not thinking of what the tight end is doing. But if that were a zone defender, the threat of the wheel can make a big difference.
With all that movement, what do we have? A great big open space on the sideline, completely devoid of defenders.
The tight end runs a wheel right into all that open space. He just runs right between all the action. With a series of a few routes, the sideline has been cleared out.
Here’s the beautiful part of this play: given the defensive alignment, one of the four receivers on that side of the field would be open. If the outside cornerback drops wide and takes away the tight end wheel, the outside receiver has room to move. If the safety drops wide, the inside post is open. If the linebacker drops deep to take away the tight end wheel, the running back wheel is open. That’s four routes, three of which could pick up some nice yardage.
I would say the reads for this would be (working inside to outside):
1. Safety – Is he sprinting to the sideline? If he’s not, move on.
2. Inside Linebacker – Is he immediately breaking into a wide drop? If he’s not, move on.
3. Outside Linebacker – Is he picking up the tight end’s route? If he’s not, move on.
4. Outside Cornerback – Is he dropping to the sideline? If he’s not, you’ve got the tight end wheel open.
Like I mentioned at the top, the throw was late and high on this one. The main reason is was late?
It looks like Brady wanted to hit Rob Gronkowski  on a drag over the middle, but he was covered. He stuck a little too long on that – he was waiting on Gronkowski to pull up on the route, but Ramik Wilson  mirrored his movement – then briefly looked to the post routes before coming back to the sideline. If the tight end wheel is the second read, this would have been a pretty nice gain.
If you know me, you know that I am a sucker for a wheel route. This double-post/double-wheel concept is something I would absolutely love to have in the playbook.
For what it’s worth, I’m currently working on a triple wheel, but I’m not sure the world is ready for it yet.
Picture Davante Adams and Randall Cobb/Marquez Valdes-Scantling running downfield on post routes while Aaron Jones runs a delayed wheel and Jimmy Graham runs into all the vacated space on the sideline. It’s almost too lovely to think about.
Album listened to: Free Nelson MandoomJazz – The Organ Grinder