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Chargers Introduce 2 Plays They Haven’t Run Much of Against Buffalo: Trap & Duo

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Probably my favorite posts on this website over the last couple years were Jeff Siniard breaking down 1 play that he liked during the previous weeks game. I’ve been meaning piggyback off of these and do one every week. I’m not great at making decisions so Sunday there were 2 run plays that I really liked. I’m biased and I’m not a fan of fullbacks(sorry, Nick.) I just think it slows whatever action you have down and sometimes alters the vision of the running back. Both the explosive plays that I’ll show come out of single back. 2 plays that are seemingly the same to the naked eye but are much different. Let’s start with the first play.

It’s a trap!

Sunday the Chargers had to have run trap more times than they did all season. They ran it with Melvin Gordon a couple times. They also popped one with Derek Watt. It makes sense for them to run it. A trap play you’re leaving the 3-technique unblocked, letting him think he has a free shot at the running back, only to block him with a pulling guard. That’s the “trap” concept. The running back then cuts it up inside him. Here’s a diagram of a trap play out of single back.

The player the Chargers are “trapping” is the Bills best interior lineman, Kyle Williams. He’s lined up over 66 Dan Feeney. It’s important for Russell Okung to avoid Williams and get up to the linebacker in front of him. As you’ll see in the clip he does a great job of that. Feeney seals the edge defender, Spencer Pulley blocks down on the defensive tackle and Kenny Wiggins really doesn’t even have to do much as Williams runs himself out of the play. This play could’ve been a disaster, though. Right tackle Michael Schofield has to get the linebacker in front of him. Since the right guard pulls naturally the linebacker is going to step that way and try to make a play.

He overruns it just enough so Schofield can shove him out of the way. Gordon does a nice job of keeping it skinny and cutting against where the linebacker was running. When you hit the trap play, it’s a thing of beauty. The Chargers executed this play about as well as you can ask.

Double everyone

Inside zone has been around forever in the NFL. Recently the play “duo” has become more and more popular. Here’s former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz drawing it up. It’s called duo because you’re trying to get as many double teams as you can. Here’s how the blocking scheme is drawn up.

Tyrell just has to seal 21. Tyrell is a high effort blocker so this is never an issue for him. This week we saw Jeff Cumberland, lined up next to Williams, featured as a run blocker. Let me tell you, he can block his butt off. Cumberland needs to secure the double team on the defensive end then work to 56. He and Sean McGrath double the defensive end. Schofield and Wiggins double the DT & Pulley & Feeney do the same to 92.

What’s different about “duo” is you don’t block the middle linebacker. You’re reading him. The running back presses the hole and if the linebacker goes outside then the hole is inside. If he runs inside then the running back bounces it. It’s a nifty play that the Steelers and Cowboys make a living off of. The Chargers are slowly adding this to their playbook more and more. Here’s the play full speed. Watch the linebacker 52 and how Austin Ekeler adjusts his path.

Linebacker goes A-gap, you go B-gap. It’s really that simple. If 52 would’ve gone B-gap, Ekeler could’ve gone either A or bounced it to the outside. These choice runs make it tough on the defense because you have to do everything right or you get burned. Hopefully, we see more “duo” and Ekeler has the kind of burst to gash defenses off of this.

I’m interested to see how the team divides carries moving forward. Going with the hot hand makes sense. If they can play to both running backs skill-set, they have a chance to do some damage. We’ll see. Let’s hope the run game continues to evolve. Some have mentioned to me that they feel the offense struggled earlier in the year because the team made it an effort to feature Gordon. Would you agree?