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Football 101: Deciphering pressure

Posted Oct 23, 2017

Here’s a great example of how preparation, awareness and understanding by the entire offensive unit helped the Texans get off to a great start in a 33-17 win over the Browns.

Football coaches worry about everything. They will tell you otherwise, but they look for as many ways to mitigate risk as possible. That’s why they study oodles of tape on a daily and weekly basis. From that study, they want to provide their players with the tools to handle any situation that arises on the field. As such, coaches tend to fret more about all 11 players being on the same page, seeing the same thing and executing based on that shared knowledge.
When there’s a rookie in the mix, no matter the position, there tend to be hiccups that can cost an offense or a defense. Put that rookie at quarterback and there’s a more heightened level of stress on the coaching staff to ensure that the 11 on the field are still on the same page. The Cleveland Browns wanted, more than anything, to put that theory to the test against the Deshaun Watson-led offense.
The Browns defensive staff determined that they wanted to disrupt Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson’s rhythm by bringing a variety of pressures from different areas on the field. Unfortunately, for the Browns’ sake anyway, Watson and his offense were all on the same page, not only beating the pressure, but exploiting it for significant gains.
Here’s a great example of how preparation, awareness and understanding by the entire offensive unit helped the Texans get off to a great start in a 33-17 win over the Browns.
The Texans had 11 personnel in the game (1 RB - Lamar Miller, 1 TE - Ryan Griffin). DeAndre Hopkins went in motion to the left side of the formation.
(INSERT Picture No.1 - Reading the pressure)
When Hopkins went in motion, safety Jabrill Peppers motioned to fellow safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun to move toward the line of scrimmage to account for Hopkins’ presence. He didn’t move quick enough or at all, really. The reason that Peppers wanted Boddy-Calhoun to adjust was that he knew that the Browns were bringing edge pressure with Jamie Collins Sr. (defensive right side) and Christian Kirksey (defensive left side). If Hopkins were to read the blitz and circle up (as he did and you’ll see in a bit), Boddy-Calhoun would be the only player in the area to make a play.
(INSERT Picture No. 2 - Reading the pressure)
The Browns also planned to drop nose tackle Danny Shelton into coverage looking for crossing routes in the middle of the field, while Joe Schobert did the same at the inside linebacker position.
So, when the ball was snapped, Watson immediately noticed that Boddy-Calhoun was slow to react to Hopkins motion. When DeAndre got out to the left that created a three on two situation - Miller, Griffin and Hopkins v. Jason McCourty (CB) and Boddy-Calhoun who was late). So, Watson knew that he could find what he wanted on that side of the formation. What also helped that situation were two other things. Schobert turned immediately to the boundary side of the field where the Texans had an open Bruce Ellington and Will Fuller V. The other was that Shelton dropped but because he doesn’t do that normally, he wasn’t going to make an impact in the slightest, as long as the Texans stayed out of the middle of the field.
(INSERT Picture No. 3 - Reading the pressure)
The key now, seeing as though this play was there to be made, was if Watson, Griffin and the rest saw the same thing. Did they all see the zone pressure and adjust? Yes and yes.
(INSERT Picture No. 4 - Reading the pressure)
Watson really had his pick of receivers as Ellington, Griffin and Hopkins all circled up five yards downfield and got their eyes back to Watson. Griffin, though, was Watson’s choice and one that he made relatively quickly. He didn’t really have to scan the field at all, just wait for Griffin to get his eyes back to Watson to ensure that they all read the same thing.
(INSERT Picture No. 5 - Reading the pressure)
Once Griffin turned back to Watson, the ball was out of Deshaun’s hands, into Griffin’s hands for a huge 18-yard gain and a first down.




Football coaches worry about everything. They will tell you otherwise, but they look for as many ways to mitigate risk as possible. That’s why they study oodles of tape on a daily and weekly basis. From that study, they want to provide their players with the tools to handle any situation that arises on the field. As such, coaches tend to fret more about all 11 players being on the same page, seeing the same thing and executing based on that shared knowledge.

When there’s a rookie in the mix, no matter the position, there tend to be hiccups that can cost an offense or a defense. Put that rookie at quarterback and there’s a more heightened level of stress on the coaching staff to ensure that the 11 on the field are still on the same page. The Cleveland Browns wanted, more than anything, to put that theory to the test against the Deshaun Watson-led offense.

The Browns defensive staff determined that they wanted to disrupt Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson’s rhythm by bringing a variety of pressures from different areas on the field. Unfortunately, for the Browns’ sake anyway, Watson and his offense were all on the same page, not only beating the pressure, but exploiting it for significant gains.

Here’s a great example of how preparation, awareness and understanding by the entire offensive unit helped the Texans get off to a great start in a 33-17 win over the Browns.

The Texans had 11 personnel in the game (1 RB - Lamar Miller, 1 TE - Ryan Griffin). DeAndre Hopkins went in motion to the left side of the formation.


When Hopkins went in motion, safety Jabrill Peppers motioned to fellow safety Briean Boddy-Calhoun to move toward the line of scrimmage to account for Hopkins’ presence. He didn’t move quick enough or at all, really. The reason that Peppers wanted Boddy-Calhoun to adjust was that he knew that the Browns were bringing edge pressure with Jamie Collins Sr. (defensive right side) and Christian Kirksey (defensive left side). If Hopkins were to read the blitz and circle up (as he did and you’ll see in a bit), Boddy-Calhoun would be the only player in the area to make a play.

The Browns also planned to drop nose tackle Danny Shelton into coverage looking for crossing routes in the middle of the field, while Joe Schobert did the same at the inside linebacker position.

So, when the ball was snapped, Watson immediately noticed that Boddy-Calhoun was slow to react to Hopkins motion. When DeAndre got out to the left that created a three on two situation - Miller, Griffin and Hopkins v. Jason McCourty (CB) and Boddy-Calhoun who was late). So, Watson knew that he could find what he wanted on that side of the formation. What also helped that situation were two other things. Schobert turned immediately to the boundary side of the field where the Texans had an open Bruce Ellington and Will Fuller V. The other was that Shelton dropped but because he doesn’t do that normally, he wasn’t going to make an impact in the slightest, as long as the Texans stayed out of the middle of the field.

The key now, seeing as though this play was there to be made, was if Watson, Griffin and the rest saw the same thing. Did they all see the zone pressure and adjust? Yes and yes.

Watson really had his pick of receivers as Ellington, Griffin and Hopkins all circled up five yards downfield and got their eyes back to Watson. Griffin, though, was Watson’s choice and one that he made relatively quickly. He didn’t really have to scan the field at all, just wait for Griffin to get his eyes back to Watson to ensure that they all read the same thing.

Once Griffin turned back to Watson, the ball was out of Deshaun’s hands, into Griffin’s hands for a huge 18-yard gain and a first down.

Content on HoustonTexans.com does not necessarily represent the views of the Houston Texans front office staff, coaches or executives.

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