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Inigo Montoya

Defending Allen in "empty" this year will be brutal

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Posted (edited)

Both Daboll and Allen seem to like the "Empty" formation with 5 receivers and no RB in the backfield.  I have tried to find some stats that break down how often the Bills used this formation compared to other sets on pass plays last season, but I haven't been able to find them on line.

 

The addition of Diggs this year completely changes this formation for opposing teams to defend.  Defenses would typically sub into their Nickle or Dime packages and move a safety over to John Brown's side to cheat on him and cover him high boxing him between the corner and the safety.  That takes two of the 5 or 6 DB/LB out of the play covering Brown leaving 3 or 4 DBs / LB to cover the other four receivers in the play.

 

Now defenses are going to have to cheat to Diggs side with that safety coverage over the top which will leave Brown with a single defender.  Can they double Brown too?  They are running out of DBs to cover all of the receivers on the line now.  Do you put Foster and McKenzie out there with Diggs and Brown and have them all sprint deep and clear out the entire middle of the field for Beasley on a quick slant to the middle?  That play sounds like an easy 7-10 yards 4 out of 5 times. Do you curl Beasley and Duke into the middle of the field and pull coverage down into the box and leave a corner one on one with Diggs, Brown, and Foster streaking straight down the field? One of those guys is going to have one on one coverage with no safety help over top and will be there for a big play.

 

There are only so many CBs to go around.  Who ends up with the LB or Safety on him... Foster, McKenzie, Beasley?  I'll take that match up every time.

 

What happens when Daboll has all the receivers run deep and then pulls the guard, Allen tucks the ball and runs behind those big O-lineman into the cleared out side of the field.  Let Allen get a couple nice chunks of yardage on that play and now the D-Coordinator is going to have to worry about dropping all his LBs into coverage to help his DBs on these empty sets.  If Allen sees the LBs cheating into coverage he audibles to the run play.  If the LBs are tight to the line, he sticks with the pass play.  What a nightmare for the defense.  

 

You just have to pick your poison if you are the defensive coordinator and decide who you are going to cheat on and just pray you don't get burned.

 

The amount of variations and twists and different combinations that Daboll will be able to scheme up with this "empty" formation will be crazy this year and I expect that we are going to see tons of this 5 WR set this season.  The line should give Allen the time and now he has the weapons out there with Diggs in the mix to make it very dangerous for defenses to cheat.  I'd love to see Beane pick up a vet WR4 like Rashard Higgins and let him push Duke, Foster, McKenzie and the rookie WR in camp to get on the field.

 

I don't think Allen is going to have too much trouble throwing for 300 yards in a game this season.   This is going to be fun to watch.

 

Edited by Inigo Montoya
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40 minutes ago, DBilz2500 said:

In front of empty stadiums? 🤔

 

Another one has been snowed in.

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If he can improve against the blitz, he could feast. He was the most blitzed QB in the league last year in empty sets, because DC's know that's where he struggles the most. They know he loves the big play and will hang onto the ball. I'm sure this will be his biggest focus this offseason. He's got to get more automatic at processing the blitz and taking what's there. If he does that and gets rid of those WTF plays and he's a dangerous man, capable of some filthy things.

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Sounds nice, but it isn't usually that simple. They'll be blitzing and it's up to Allen to find the open man before they get there. Plus, if they are playing press coverage as well it can take a bit for the receivers to get off the line.

 

Whatever offensive scheme you put out there, there's a correct defense to defend it. So you try to exploit specific matchups and get them into a defensive package that you can exploit as well. And you can't be predictable because then they'll always have the right defense out there.

 

Diggs will help a ton because there aren't many corners who can cover him one on one due to his quickness and precise route running. He explodes out of his breaks to gain separation and even if the defender stays with him, he is great at making the contested catch. Should open up the offense a lot IF Allen continues to progress and takes advantage of it.

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Raleigh • √eff said:

If he can improve against the blitz, he could feast. He was the most blitzed QB in the league last year in empty sets, because DC's know that's where he struggles the most. They know he loves the big play and will hang onto the ball. I'm sure this will be his biggest focus this offseason. He's got to get more automatic at processing the blitz and taking what's there. If he does that and gets rid of those WTF plays and he's a dangerous man, capable of some filthy things.

24 minutes ago, MJS said:

Sounds nice, but it isn't usually that simple. They'll be blitzing and it's up to Allen to find the open man before they get there. Plus, if they are playing press coverage as well it can take a bit for the receivers to get off the line.

 

 

 

I agree with both of you.  If Allen isn't able to identify the Hot Route and get the ball out to the right receiver in year three, then as much as I like Allen and his physical abilities, then I think we are probably looking at his ceiling right now.

 

We're not thinking of anything that Allen himself and the coaching staff hasn't already thought of.  If Allen isn't studying game film, watching play after play of these blitzes during this off season to help him better identify the blitz and decide where the ball needs to go quickly, I'd be shocked.

 

 

 

Edited by Inigo Montoya
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I really want to get on board with this. Theoretically, schematically, the empty set is intriguing with the Bills personnel. Obviously Daboll thinks so, given his use of it at critical times last season.

 

But...

 

Didn't the Bills struggle against pressure when in empty sets? Whether it was difficulty diagnosing the blitz and adjusting protections, or dealing with stunts and twists, or with the QB (and WRs being on the same page) executing the hot reads with any consistency--I recall some significant issues against aggressive defenses. 

 

It's possible the numbers don't support my recollection. I'll bet they do. Allen and co.'s greatest weaknesses (and therefore, also their greatest opportunities for growth) might have been on display in empty sets. So it will certainly be interesting to see how that plays out in 2020 (IF 2020 is a thing). 

 

I agree that Daboll likes the idea of empty sets, for sure.

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I’d love to add Higgins as the 4th wr.  
 

I believe that DCs are going to force JA to throw deep and prove that he can make that throw consistently.  If he can’t, he might not be our guy.  
 

fwiw, I feel he is the guy and will get it figured out.  I don’t think he’ll ever be a safe qb.  He’s going to be booming and busting for his entire career, but he makes it fun and I like his moxie 

33 minutes ago, Inigo Montoya said:

 

 

I agree with both of you.  If Allen isn't able to identify the Hot Route and get the ball out to the right receiver in year three, then as much as I like Allen and his physical abilities, then I think we are probably looking at his ceiling right now.

 

We're not thinking of anything that Allen himself and the coaching staff hasn't already thought of.  If Allen isn't studying game film, watching play after play of these blitzes during this off season to help him better identify the blitz and decide where the ball needs to go quickly, I'd be shocked.

 

 

 

I believe he’ll get the mental aspect of the game down.  Not saying he’ll be tom Brady vs the blitz, but I thought he showed marked improvement from year 1-2 in that respect and expect more improvement this year.  I’m more worried about him putting the deep ball in play

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It only gets truly interesting if they add Shenault or Bowden in the draft. If they do that then the threat of a run or formation change exists every time they line up in a five wide set. 

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Posted (edited)

The problem with Daboll’s empty formation is that two of the five guys In the formation are DiMarco and Lee Smith. They don’t use a true 5 WR formation, they use it as a way to create a mismatch. They go empty with 21 personnel. 

Edited by MrEpsYtown
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4 hours ago, Inigo Montoya said:

 

 

I agree with both of you.  If Allen isn't able to identify the Hot Route and get the ball out to the right receiver in year three, then as much as I like Allen and his physical abilities, then I think we are probably looking at his ceiling right now.

 

We're not thinking of anything that Allen himself and the coaching staff hasn't already thought of.  If Allen isn't studying game film, watching play after play of these blitzes during this off season to help him better identify the blitz and decide where the ball needs to go quickly, I'd be shocked.

 

 

 

Receivers need to do a better job as well.  On most plays either the slot guy, the TE, or RB has the responsibility to read the blitz and break off his pattern to create the hot route.  When you watch the game film, this did not happen very often.  Singletary and Knox being rookies was probably the main cause.  If Allen and these other guys can make this minor improvement, the big negative plays will be greatly reduced.  Once they show that they can handle this, teams will not blitz as often.

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5 hours ago, Raleigh • √eff said:

If he can improve against the blitz, he could feast. He was the most blitzed QB in the league last year in empty sets, because DC's know that's where he struggles the most. They know he loves the big play and will hang onto the ball. I'm sure this will be his biggest focus this offseason. He's got to get more automatic at processing the blitz and taking what's there. If he does that and gets rid of those WTF plays and he's a dangerous man, capable of some filthy things.

     This is exactly what I was thinking when I read the OP’s post.

      My boys home from college and we got the free NFL pass and rewatched the Cowboy  game. In the third quarter JA played some of the best football of the season IMO. After listening to a half of Romo barfing his Cowboy bias all over the TV he finally starts to give JA kudos.

     There is a play where the pressure is coming and JA seamlessly hits Singletary on a short out and Romo just starts gushing.

    There is a lot of talk about the long ball, which clearly needs improvement. However, if “Mr. Knows how to scheme like the Pats” Daboll can get JA to consistently get the ball out quickly by recognizing the open man presnap, all the rest will also become available. A couple good games of negating/ exploiting the Blitz and we become one of the most dangerous teams in the league.

5 hours ago, MJS said:

Plus, if they are playing press coverage as well it can take a bit for the receivers to get off the line.

This is an important ability Diggs brings to the team .

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24 minutes ago, MrEpsYtown said:

The problem with Daboll’s empty formation is that two of the five guys In the formation are DiMarco and Lee Smith. They don’t use a true 5 WR formation, they use it as a way to create a mismatch. They go empty with 21 personnel. 

 

They ran some type of 21 grouping 11% last year. 

 

They did not use a 5 wide set at all, or a 4 wide with a TE.

 

This offense was mostly 11 (1 back, 1 TE, 3 WR)personnel last year at 60%.  This was the 3rd highest percent in the NFL according to Sharp Football Stats.

 

https://www.sharpfootballstats.com/personnel-grouping-frequency.html

 

 

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5 hours ago, MJS said:

Sounds nice, but it isn't usually that simple. They'll be blitzing and it's up to Allen to find the open man before they get there. Plus, if they are playing press coverage as well it can take a bit for the receivers to get off the line.

 

Whatever offensive scheme you put out there, there's a correct defense to defend it. So you try to exploit specific matchups and get them into a defensive package that you can exploit as well. And you can't be predictable because then they'll always have the right defense out there.

 

Diggs will help a ton because there aren't many corners who can cover him one on one due to his quickness and precise route running. He explodes out of his breaks to gain separation and even if the defender stays with him, he is great at making the contested catch. Should open up the offense a lot IF Allen continues to progress and takes advantage of it.

I like all that.  I think the bigger improvement is that we have Brown and Diggs, and both of them are guys that the other team would like to double cover or at least have a safety over the top. (and you can do route combinations that would force a double cover).   That puts the slot guy against a linebacker, which is a mismatch in our favor, so the other defense has to drop a linebacker and put in another defensive back.  What works on first down against 5DB, 2LB and 4 DL-  the running game.

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7 hours ago, Raleigh • √eff said:

If he can improve against the blitz, he could feast. He was the most blitzed QB in the league last year in empty sets, because DC's know that's where he struggles the most. They know he loves the big play and will hang onto the ball. I'm sure this will be his biggest focus this offseason. He's got to get more automatic at processing the blitz and taking what's there. If he does that and gets rid of those WTF plays and he's a dangerous man, capable of some filthy things.

 

this is where we need to kill teams with the screen game and Singletary. 

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Diggs will make all the difference in the world, the trickle down effect to open up Smoke  and Beasley is going to be an eye opener in my opinion. Last year you take smoke out of the equation and then our core was kind of  weak. It’s a testament to Smoke for the year he had. And it almost insanely important to get Knox involved too, we are going to some really favourable matchups . Devin will have some great opportunities as well with his shiftiness.

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18 minutes ago, Tesla03 said:

 

this is where we need to kill teams with the screen game and Singletary. 

https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2018/11/14/18094875/new-orleans-saints-screen-pass-nfl-offenses-cowboys-ezekiel-elliott

 

I can find that 10% of the Bills passes were towards the RB, but can't find how many screen passes were thrown.   I don't remember many.

 

't

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The screen play has been terrible for us for years.  Hard to run a good screen with a loaded box in front of you. Diggs and Brown should definitely thin the box out especially if JA starts hitting a few deep ones. The Diggs signing will have a tremendous trickle down effect. 

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