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hawaiiansteel
02-02-2011, 02:35 AM
Steelers' bunch formation complicates matters for Packers

By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
Senior Analyst
Published: Feb. 1, 2011


The Pittsburgh Steelers have taken the "bunch" set to new levels, and it explains why their run game was so effective against the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game.

Before breaking down what the Packers are up against when they face the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday, let's look at a few concepts that will help in following along.

Diagram 1: A bunch principle is when three eligible receivers are close together before the snap of the ball -- usually all within 5 yards of each other. Because of their close proximity, it makes it very difficult to play man-to-man coverage because if the three eligible receivers crisscross at the snap of the ball -- better known as a "star" route -- one defensive player is going to lose the receiver he is assigned to and there is an easy quick completion. Most defenses check to a zone call against a bunch look in order to be sound against the star route.

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/catch_all/nfl_image/bunch-play1.jpg

The Packers -- like the Jets -- prefer to play man coverages at times, and I expect we will see the Steelers run at least 15 to 20 snaps of some form of bunch principle in the Super Bowl to thwart that man coverage. The Steelers have expanded the traditional bunch package that features one tight end and two receivers. Against the Jets, they used the following combinations; one tight end/two wide receivers, three wide receivers, three tight ends, two tight ends/one wide receiver. The Steelers didn't just line up in the bunch set; they motioned and cheated to it. The Packers are going to have to recognize which three-man combination they see on the field because each one presents different problems. They really can't play the pass against it, either, because the Steelers' run game out of their bunch principles is very effective.

Diagram 2: In the first play of the AFC Championship Game (14:56 mark of the first quarter), the Steelers had three tight ends on the field and motioned the outside tight end Matt Spaeth from a wide receiver spot back to the other two tight ends, creating a bunch set. They then ran a toss play to the bunch, with tight end Heath Miller pulling and leading the way. That they ran the play to start the game provided a huge clue that they would rely often on the formation. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers might want to bring a corner off the edge to stop this run. But, what if it was a bunch pass? The flat would be wide open and likely would result in an easy completion for Ben Roethlisberger.

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/catch_all/nfl_image/bunch-play2.jpg

Diagram 3: Later in the first quarter, Pittsburgh lined up in a bunch set (6:30 mark of the first quarter) with two wide receivers -- Mike Wallace and Hines Ward -- along with tight end Heath Miller in a second-and-5 situation. Capers will look at this play and realize a jam on Wallace on the line of scrimmage could have disrupted the three-man release and made it easier for the defense to play the star route. But the receivers all got off clean and the Steelers added a wrinkle that made it very tough to defend. They brought the opposite-side tight end -- Spaeth -- all the way across the field to clear out the zone coverage, and Ward -- an original bunch receiver -- went inside and came back as a trail route behind Spaeth for the completion. The bunch package is perfect for Ward at this point in his career. He really isn't very fast but can shake himself open in all these star-route plays. He's also an excellent blocker when the Steelers want to run behind the bunch set.

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/catch_all/nfl_image/bunch-play3.jpg

Diagram 4: Close to 10 runs in this Super Bowl are going to be out of the bunch formation, and a second-and-10 situation from the AFC Championship Game (10:25 mark of the second quarter) is a prime example of the damage Pittsburgh is capable of doing from the set. On that play, Mendenhall Rashard Mendenhall followed his bunch set for 35 yards. This time, it was built with two tight ends and one wide receiver. The key block was Miller on a kick-out of the force player. The more I study the Steelers' bunch package, the more I see the importance of Miller, and I know Capers is seeing the same thing.

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/catch_all/nfl_image/bunch-play4.jpg

If the Packers decide to roll their defense to stop the power run out of that particular bunch set, the Steelers can counter by running a reverse to Wallace. That would slow down the Packers' rotation to the bunch set. The Steelers showed this in the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game.

Diagram 5: Even though the Jets struggled to slow the bunch down in the first half, the Steelers' second-half adjustments caused more problems for the Jets. Expect the Steelers to have a few adjustments for the Packers. In the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game, the Steelers lined up in a bunch formation to the left with Emmanuel Sanders, Ward and -- you guessed it -- Miller. On the snap of the ball, Miller pulled and led Mendenhall on a run to the opposite-side counter-sweep for 9 yards. With so many variations of the bunch set, it will be difficult for Capers to blitz this package.

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/catch_all/nfl_image/bunch-play5.jpg

Look for Pittsburgh -- with all the run success it had against the Jets -- to throw plenty. When you see Wallace in the bunch formation, think "deep" route, with Ward think "shake" route, and with Miller think "anything goes." The bunch formation also sets up well for Roethlisberger to use his quick count and not let the defense make adjustments. Capers is going to have his defense ready to go and understand the play happens fast whether it is run or pass, and Pittsburgh can set the rhythm of the game by employing this package.

http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/story/0900 ... _spotlight (http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/story/09000d5d81e0caae/article/steelers-bunch-formation-complicates-matters-for-packers?module=HP_spotlight)

sentinel33
02-02-2011, 02:52 AM
Holy crap! After reading that, I'm even more amped for the game. just to see the team deploy those bunches. I will be looking for that.. Thanks Hawaiiansteel.

Shawn
02-02-2011, 05:37 AM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.

Oviedo
02-02-2011, 08:51 AM
Any chance we have to win will be on Miller's shoulders in the passing game and Mendenhall's in the running game.

We need to have a significant advanatage in time of possession because I really don't see how our secondary can handle the Packers passing attack.

feltdizz
02-02-2011, 09:42 AM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.
:Hater

SanAntonioSteelerFan
02-02-2011, 10:08 AM
Holy crap! After reading that, I'm even more amped for the game. just to see the team deploy those bunches. I will be looking for that.. Thanks Hawaiiansteel.
:Agree :Agree Exactly my sentiments. What a friggin* great article - thank you for posting, Hawaiian Steel!

First question: :wft happened to our offense in the 2nd half? Did we go away from this formation in favor of Marty-ball? Did Captain Footsie come up with a neutralizing response at half time?

The next question is: - IF Capers comes up with some kryptonite for this formation, WILL Ariens have a counter?

Ariens Evolution:

1) Historically: Sucks (The Ariens we have come to know and love for so long). In terms of evolution, consider this state to be like the unicellular slime on the ocean floor.
2) Current state - evolved, but really not a whole lot. Think something like to the level of an iguana - beyond tadpole, but really still kind of slow: Given a little time (in geologic terms) he puts together a great formation (cue trumpets!) ... The Bunch Formation!.
3) ...Will evolution continue, or is he doomed to remain in a Permanent Iguana State??... Will he be able to think on his feet during a game and respond to what the D does to counter his bunch formation?

Northern_Blitz
02-02-2011, 11:38 AM
One of the best football articles I have ever read. I wish there was more like this on the net. It's cool to actually see the "science" behind the plays.

papillon
02-02-2011, 12:11 PM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.

I've been saying that all along, but many simply won't give the man his due. The Steeler offense lacks only consistency to be a top 5-10 offense in the NFL. They have yet to put together a complete game this year against a top defense. I'm hoping this Sunday is that game; it will come down to execution, not game plan.

The past 5 weeks have seen the offense change its tendencies and formations each week making it difficult to defend them. Here's to one more surprise that ends up putting Lombardi number 7 in the Great Hall.

Pappy

Ghost
02-02-2011, 01:18 PM
With some of the difficulty the Steelers have had getting into the endzone from inside the 10; seems as if a couple of these bunch plays would be the perfet calls for getting a TD.

Good post. Interesting and informative article.

flippy
02-02-2011, 01:22 PM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.

I've always defended Arians on his formations.

But his problem tends to be predictable play calling out of particular player groupings. He has been adjusting down the stretch. So has Lebeau for that matter. I wonder if Tomlin has been forcing adjustments on both sides of the ball. Someone has been emphasizing it.

In addition to BA's formations, his biggest asset is his relationship with Ben.

But he's still got some work to do.

Djfan
02-02-2011, 01:32 PM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.

I've always defended Arians on his formations.

But his problem tends to be predictable play calling out of particular player groupings. He has been adjusting down the stretch. So has Lebeau for that matter. I wonder if Tomlin has been forcing adjustments on both sides of the ball. Someone has been emphasizing it.

In addition to BA's formations, his biggest asset is his relationship with Ben.

But he's still got some work to do.


This and his strange personnel calls. Redman needs a lot more time. Moore is not the third down only option, particularly when trying to smash through a D line.

Starlifter
02-02-2011, 03:04 PM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.

I've been saying that all along, but many simply won't give the man his due. The Steeler offense lacks only consistency to be a top 5-10 offense in the NFL. They have yet to put together a complete game this year against a top defense. I'm hoping this Sunday is that game; it will come down to execution, not game plan.

The past 5 weeks have seen the offense change its tendencies and formations each week making it difficult to defend them. Here's to one more surprise that ends up putting Lombardi number 7 in the Great Hall.

Pappy

winning #7 would go a long way towards a re-evaluation of his abilities. That being said, I have been very quiet towards BA over the last 8 weeks. I think the offense has been very good.

As to the last half of the Jets game - they played not to lose and tried to run the clock. when they needed to turn it back on, the jets never got the ball back. I think that was one time in history when turtle ball worked as advertised.

ikestops85
02-02-2011, 03:22 PM
As to the last half of the Jets game - they played not to lose and tried to run the clock. when they needed to turn it back on, the jets never got the ball back. I think that was one time in history when turtle ball worked as advertised.

I don't even have much of a problem with the second half of the Jets game. He called plays that worked in the 1st half but the Jets adjusted and stopped those running plays in the 2nd half. Kudos to them. We also never had the ball that much in the second half. The Jets pretty much dominated TOP for that half.

The offense has certainly changed it's MO the last 3rd of the season and during the playoffs. I think they have done much better in that timeframe.

Wolfhound45
02-02-2011, 03:28 PM
Great post!

Shawn
02-02-2011, 03:40 PM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.

I've always defended Arians on his formations.

But his problem tends to be predictable play calling out of particular player groupings. He has been adjusting down the stretch. So has Lebeau for that matter. I wonder if Tomlin has been forcing adjustments on both sides of the ball. Someone has been emphasizing it.

In addition to BA's formations, his biggest asset is his relationship with Ben.

But he's still got some work to do.

I think there is a reasonable possibility that Arians is an offensive genius. But, often times with genius comes arrogance. Sometimes it seems like he gets something in his head and when it doesn't play out in a game he has a hard time letting it go.

Maybe some of the criticism has done him some good.

Starlifter
02-02-2011, 03:40 PM
I don't even have much of a problem with the second half of the Jets game. He called plays that worked in the 1st half but the Jets adjusted and stopped those running plays in the 2nd half. Kudos to them. We also never had the ball that much in the second half. The Jets pretty much dominated TOP for that half.

The offense has certainly changed it's MO the last 3rd of the season and during the playoffs. I think they have done much better in that timeframe.

yes, that's true. It was pretty obvious we were going to run to kill the clock. They stacked the box and had some success - but not enough. I do think however the drive that most impacted the outcome was the 9 minute drive the jets mounted that came up with zero points. now THAT'S how the turtle is supposed to work!.... :tt2 :tt2

flippy
02-02-2011, 04:25 PM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.

I've always defended Arians on his formations.

But his problem tends to be predictable play calling out of particular player groupings. He has been adjusting down the stretch. So has Lebeau for that matter. I wonder if Tomlin has been forcing adjustments on both sides of the ball. Someone has been emphasizing it.

In addition to BA's formations, his biggest asset is his relationship with Ben.

But he's still got some work to do.

I think there is a reasonable possibility that Arians is an offensive genius. But, often times with genius comes arrogance. Sometimes it seems like he gets something in his head and when it doesn't play out in a game he has a hard time letting it go.

Maybe some of the criticism has done him some good.

That's almost exactly where my thinking on him lies. He's brilliant in concepts, but sometimes lacks for common sense in execution.

I liked when Whiz was here to balance him out. He needs a supporting position coach to balance him a bit. I'd almost prefer to see someone else call the plays but use BA to hammer out the game plan.

pick6
02-02-2011, 06:19 PM
One of the best football articles I have ever read. I wish there was more like this on the net. It's cool to actually see the "science" behind the plays.

Yeah this is real football talk. Espn and NFL Network try to do this but it is rearly to this depth and all too often use ridiculous generalizations that really don't apply. Like the Steelers are a run heavy team and the key to stopping the Steelers is stopping the run. Too simplistic. I prefer this kind of breakdown. Also to note: if we pass to Mendy on the weak side, especially if they blitz from that side, There is nothing Capers can do. He'll be caught between a rock and a hard place. if you pick up Mendy out of the backfield then ben will have too much time to find the open man out of the bunch. That's the wrinkle that I would add to this for the Superbowl. Don't block the blitz, attack it.

pick6
02-02-2011, 06:33 PM
Maybe it's possible that Arians knows what he is doing.

I've always defended Arians on his formations.

But his problem tends to be predictable play calling out of particular player groupings. He has been adjusting down the stretch. So has Lebeau for that matter. I wonder if Tomlin has been forcing adjustments on both sides of the ball. Someone has been emphasizing it.

In addition to BA's formations, his biggest asset is his relationship with Ben.

But he's still got some work to do.

I think there is a reasonable possibility that Arians is an offensive genius. But, often times with genius comes arrogance. Sometimes it seems like he gets something in his head and when it doesn't play out in a game he has a hard time letting it go.

Maybe some of the criticism has done him some good.

That's almost exactly where my thinking on him lies. He's brilliant in concepts, but sometimes lacks for common sense in execution.

I liked when Whiz was here to balance him out. He needs a supporting position coach to balance him a bit. I'd almost prefer to see someone else call the plays but use BA to hammer out the game plan.

I think your on to something. Remember when BA created the game plan against us in the playoff game years ago when he worked for the Browns. He found a weakness and went after us. We came back and somehow won the game, but it was a good game plan against us. But when we adjusted to it at halftime Im not sure if he had any answers.

Slapstick
02-02-2011, 06:50 PM
Whisenhunt brought the bunch formation to Pittsburgh. You didn't see it in their offensive arsenal until 2001 when he became the TE coach. Also, IIRC, the Cardinals were in a bunch formation when James Harrison produced his 100 yard pick 6 in XLIII.

Oh, and Arians game plan would have worked in the 2nd half of that playoff game had Dennis Northcutt held onto a 3rd down pass...

grotonsteel
02-02-2011, 07:03 PM
Just run the ball at Clay Matthews and away from Woodson. Heavy dose of Mendy+Redman.

Packers are giving 4.6 YPA on ground. I would exploit it. Steelers normally play well against 3-4 defense.

hawaiiansteel
02-02-2011, 07:45 PM
http://media.jsonline.com/images/play20111.jpg

http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/115081504.html

hawaiiansteel
02-02-2011, 10:11 PM
Just run the ball at Clay Matthews and away from Woodson. Heavy dose of Mendy+Redman.

Packers are giving 4.6 YPA on ground. I would exploit it. Steelers normally play well against 3-4 defense.


:Agree


Posted Feb. 02, 2011
By Dan Arkush

Hereís a look at a key matchup heading into the Super Bowl XLV showdown between the Packers and the Steelers Sunday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall vs. Packers LB corps

The Packersí run defense, which has allowed only 3.6 yards per carry in the postseason after allowing almost a full yard more in the regular season (4.7), must do a much better job handling Mendenhall than the Jetsí third-ranked run defense did in the AFC title game. The 5-10, 225-pound former first-round draft pick cranked out 121 yards and a one-yard TD on 27 carries against the Jets, despite the fact that Steelers rookie Pro Bowl C Maurkice Pouncey suffered a game-ending ankle injury on the contestís first drive.

In the regular season, Mendenhall was the AFCís fifth-leading rusher with 1,273 yards on 324 carries (3.9 ypc) and 13 TDs, which tied him for second in the league with New Englandís BenJarvus Green-Ellis in rushing scores behind Houstonís Arian Foster (16). The third-year pro has seven rushing TDs in his last five games (counting the playoffs) and is the favorite to score the first TD in Super Bowl XLV at 5-1 odds, according to Luckyís Race & Sports Book in Las Vegas.

A powerful runner who has become much more patient than he was a year ago, when he tried to bounce outside too much, Mendenhall has a wicked spin move that could cause big problems for Green Bayís LB corps if itís not careful. His 27 carries against the Jets were preceded by six games (counting Pittsburghís postseason opener vs. the Ravens) in which he averaged 17.6 carries per game. Mendenhall had three 100-yard rushing performances during the regular season and one 99-yard effort, but he did not make a major impact as a receiver out of the backfield (23 catches for 167 yards and zero TDs).

The Packers allowed only six rushing TDs during the regular season (third-best in the league) and have given up only 69.7 rushing yards per game in the postseason. Mendenhall must make sure he hangs on to the ball up against the likes of Green Bay LBs Clay Matthews (two forced fumbles during the regular season), Desmond Bishop (two forced fumbles during the regular season; one in the postseason) and Erik Walden (one in the postseason) or Frank Zombo (two in the regular season).

Bishop, who was Green Bayís second-leading tackler during the regular season with 121 behind fellow ILB A.J. Hawk, is the Packersí leading tackler in the postseason with 21. The unselfish Hawk, who had five games with double-digit tackles during the regular season, has done a solid job this season calling signals for the defense. Check the status of Walden, who left the NFC title game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Even if Walden is able to suit up on Super Sunday, itís quite possible he could end up sharing the load at right outside linebacker with Zombo, who figures to be feeling pretty frisky after missing the last six games (counting playoffs) with a knee injury.

http://www.profootballweekly.com/2011/0 ... -wednesday (http://www.profootballweekly.com/2011/02/02/packers-steelers-matchup-of-the-day-wednesday)