New Grantland blog: Darren McFadden’s touchdown

It’s up over at the Grantland Triangle:

The key play for McFadden and the Raiders was his 70-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, which came on the Raiders’ base run play: the inside zone. The theory behind “zone running” is that, given all the multitude of shifts and maneuvers a defense can present — and the many formations offenses use nowadays — you need clear rules to run the ball effectively. The zone allows the offensive line to work together, double-teaming the defensive linemen before sliding off to block the linebackers (the “second level defenders”), while the running back has freedom to find the open crease. Against the Jets on this play, McFadden attacked the interior of New York’s defense before bouncing it around end for the big gainer.

Read the whole thing.

  • Anonymous

    The play that was actually run by the Raiders and the description of the inside zone are not the same.

    On the McFadden 70 yard touchdown run, the right tackle cuts the end leaving the right guard free to basically do nothing.  The right guard actually pulled but he winds up running into the back of the center who was blocking the nose tackle.  There is really little chance of a cutback inside since the Jets outside linebacker pinching down takes himself out of the play and does not need a blocker.

    I suppose one can argue on a previous run right, McFadden did cut back; but the 70 yard touchdown run was basically created by the Jets inside linebacker taking a horrendous angle inside that ran him right into his own defensive linemen who were already set to make any play inside.  Combined with the outside linebacker free pinching in and it appears to be more a blown defensive assignment by the inside linebacker.

    The Raiders are an interesting team to follow because both within the organization and within its fandom there has been a long-running debate on whether the team should use zone blocking versus driving blocking principles more.  The speculation the past offseason had been with the departure of Tom Cable the team would shift more to drive blocking principles.

  • Anonymous

    John: You never can be quite sure unless Hue Jackson tells you the specific playcall so I don’t claim clairvoyance, but it’s pretty clearly a zone play to me. That the backside guys sought to cut and the backside guard sought to get his head in front of the backside defenders is just a technique point rather than making it a pull play. (They’re very clearly running zone on the playside.)

    And I agree there was no cutback lane given the front the Jets used, but again I think it was the zone play bounced to the outside.

  • Anonymous

    tomato tomatoe, but it has the tell-tale signs off stretch instead of inside zone.
    Based on angle both the QB and RB open up and the lateral steps taken by the line. Most folks would never cut backside on inside zone, either (the point is to get vertical movement to open up the backside A, not leave trash in it)

  • Anonymous

    As I said, I don’t know for sure as I wasn’t in the huddle. I considered it being stretch but it looked like the RB’s aiming point was a bit tight — I’m used to stretch’s aiming point being at the tight-end versus the guard. In any event, it was clearly a zone play and the OLB and inside LB each got reached inside allowing the big play.

    I never really said anything about a cutback did I? I think the illustration was just to show some color.

  • Mr.Murder

    Backside cut = OZ, the backside guard does the scoop block so deep that almost looks like a pull.
    Used to always teach OZ from the guard out and IZ from the guard in so the initial steps seemed the same and if the nearest backer commits to the initial hole it sucks everyone to the gap as the back bounces(OZ) or cuts(IZ).
    For a speedy back if you make the aim point wider the opponent flies outside as well. Think of backs who actually aimed for the OZ point you mention being the Edge or Benson size guys who are power types, they have to get out there by design to make the defense widen, you want the big back’s cut to be north-south.

    You want that D to compress inside when running outside with a speed guy because you want the bounce yardage east or west. So you aim him inside on the mesh(handoff) and let his speed get him out there to the cut point landmark where he can turn upfield.

    They flexed the slot as well. Makes for an easier read on the alley to get upfield. If that guy was close to the form the contain man would be close. They knew the opponent was trying to pinch inside so the nasty split there forced a conflict between assignments for the alley force and left one guy from oustide in with someone on him.