The New Orleans Saints must limit the effectiveness of the Vikings’ play-action game. This battle within the battle is the key to success for both teams.
There are mostly two ways that teams have success have off play-action and bootlegs: by getting quick and rhythmic throws, and by having time to attack deep down field. The New Orleans Saints need to find a way to limit both of those for the Vikings run-heavy offense.
The Rams have a very similar style of offense to the Vikings.
In the first half of their Week 16 matchup with the 49ers, they had a ton of success using a sail/flood concept, which is designed to beat Cover 3 — the 49ers primary coverage. On each play Jared Goff faked an outside zone and bootlegged.
Early on, the 49ers’ defensive line were aggressively shooting the gaps, which forced their linebackers to flow with the outside zone as they had to fill up cutback lanes.
However, after they got gashed repeatedly, their defensive linemen started two-gapping, which is when they attack the blocker in front of them, allowing them to defend both gaps, instead of attacking a single gap.
This allowed their linebackers to stay in position and they were able to defend the underneath and intermediate routes better.
The play-side LB flows with the outside zone, giving the receiver running to the flat a ton of space.
The play-side LB stays in position, taking him out of the picture if it were a run, however, as it’s a play-action, he’s in a perfect position to take away the underneath route.
Something to note is that bootlegs are usually run towards the field side, which is the side with more space- i.e if the ball is on the right hash, the field side is to the left.
The obvious downside of this is that the defensive line won’t get much penetration, however, I think it’s more important to take away the quick and rhythmic throws that come off bootlegs and force the Vikings to beat them on the ground.