The Playbook Abides - KC’s goal line pick route

After looking at a lot of game tape on the Chiefs, one thing strikes you immediately about this team.

Charlie Weis is an excellent offensive coordinator.

After spending hours watching game film on the Chiefs, it was hard to discern many patterns--believe me, I looked.

In one game, Weis opened up out of the shotgun.  In the next he ran a lot of two-back sets and play action. Then the next game there was a lot of shifting and motion out of the backfield and with the tight ends. He runs out of power formations and the max-protection shotgun.  In short, Weis keeps his opponents off balance.

Near the goal line, however, when facing 5-10 yards to pay dirt, he does enjoy several varieties of the fade route to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

In today's Playbook, we'll take a look at a very clever pick route Weis ran near the goal line against the Jaguars in Week 7.  It's a play I would expect the Chiefs will also run against the Broncos on Sunday if faced with a similar down and distance.

The Goal Line Pick Route

The premise of this play was simple.  Ahead 28-20 in the 4th quarter and facing a 2nd-and-goal from the 6-yard line, KC came out in a 3-wide receiver set (a 113 Package just like Josh McDaniels is fond of).  They left the tight end and the running back in to help pass block.  On the far side of the field, KC ran a pick route with the split wide receiver.  The slot receiver Dwayne Bowe utilized the pick and then ran a fade to the corner of the end zone.  Matt Cassel took what amounted to a 4.5-step drop (3 plus a step and a hop, to be exact) and lobbed the ball over Bowe's shoulder for a touchdown.

Here is how KC (and Weis) drew up this sweet play:


This is an extremely difficult play to stop with two defensive backs playing in man coverage.  Before the snap, the Jags actually had the play correctly defended, with a linebacker playing Bowe in the slot.  But pre-snap, the linebacker moved to the line of scrimmage for a blitz.  The Chiefs made a simple line call upon seeing this and slid their protection left.  This also forced the free safety for the Jags into man coverage in the slot.

We've highlighted a few things for you here.  First, the area in which the pick takes place (illegally, one might argue).  The second is the route that Bowe runs in red.  It doesn't get much more complex. If you put two players in the path of a defender, he's going to have a hard time covering his man.  

Here's how the play looked when animated on the chalkboard:

Sweet little play, don't you agree?  If you'd like to see the live version, click here.  

You might not have liked Weis as a head coach at Notre Dame, but he ain't bad as a play caller.

So how should the Broncos stop this play?  First, they need to recognize when Bowe is in the slot.  He's not  normally a slot receiver, so recognizing that he is there in a goal-line situation is critical to knowing that the pick is coming.  Second, they could simply switch receivers--a trick defenders have been forever using in basketball against the pick-and-roll.  Third, they could do what the Jags were going to do if they had decided to hold off on the blitz.  They were going to play a triangle zone, like this:


I hate to say it, but this kind of defense goes against an aggressive blitz.  What it loses in aggression, however, it more than makes up for in coverage.  And at the goal line, with limited space, it's an advantage.  

Will the Chiefs run this pick play against Denver on Sunday?  Perhaps.  Weis is a master at mixing it up.  But on Sunday, if you see Dwayne Bowe lined up in the slot on the far side of the field in a similar alignment, you'll have spotted the play first.  

Just be sure to yell really loudly at Perrish Cox through the television.

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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