Football 101: Savage to Griffin

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The Texans trailed the Jaguars by eight points last weekend as they went into halftime. For as much as they struggled in the first half, there was some good news. The Texans had done a stellar job of producing points just after halftime the past few weeks. As such, they needed to put points on the board as quickly as possible in this matchup with the Jaguars. Quarterback Tom Savage entered the game in the second quarter and led the Texans down the field a couple of times late in the first half. He needed to do it again early in the third quarter.

So, after a Lamar Miller 11-yard run, the Texans had a first down at the 30-yard line. They put 11 personnel on the field (one running back and one tight end) with Miller in the backfield. Will Fuller V aligned to the outside on the left, while Keith Mumphery was aligned on the perimeter to the right. DeAndre Hopkins was in the slot on the right with his shadow in tow - Jaguars stellar rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

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The Jaguars were in cover one with post safety coverage (Jaguars Tashaun Gipson) in the middle of the field. Texans tight end Ryan Griffin was in a tight slot, attached to the line of scrimmage to the left side of the formation. Savage faked a power run to Miller and set up for play action. Guard Oday Aboushi pulled from right to left to give Savage protection on that side of the formation.

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Griffin knew based on the coverage that he had to win down the seam against safety Jonathan Cyprien. On the snap, he set Cyprien up with a little hesitation okey-doke, for just a split second, before he sprinted down the seam. Cyprien bit, if ever so slightly. In just a few steps, it was clear that Griffin had the Jaguars safety beat.

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As Griffin was running away from Cyprien, Griffin's only concern was where the middle of the field safety was at that point. He knew that he had already beaten Cyprien, but could Griffin get to a point where he was definitively clear of Cyprien, without having Gipson make a play on a throw up the seam?

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Savage thought Griffin was there and let fly when the Texans tight end had enough space away from Cyprien. The key on that throw was to lead Griffin away from Cyprien, but put enough zip on it such that Gipson couldn't make a play on it. In essence, Savage threw Griffin open to the one and only spot where he could avoid trouble, be it an interception or big hit on his tight end.

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Gipson saw where Savage wanted to go rather quickly, so Savage knew he couldn't hold it long. So, Gipson took off for Griffin rather early. As he left the middle, Hopkins was leaving Ramsey in his wake from the slot. Had Gipson jumped that route just a tad earlier, Savage could've had Hopkins down the middle of the field with two steps on Ramsey, with no safety help over the top. But, Savage had what he wanted on this play with Griffin. He just had to deliver a strike.

He did.

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The 23-yard catch gave the Texans even more momentum on this drive and it would lead to another scoring drive to start the second half.

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