The Philadelphia Eagles dominated in the red zone in 2017 and part of continuing that success will rely on incorporating their new offensive weapons into their game-plan. One of those new additions, wide receiver Mike Wallace, isn’t exactly known for dominance in the red zone, but he does have 26 touchdowns from inside the 20-yard line over his 9-year career, which accounts for his 46% of his scoring plays.
I recently came across a commonly used concept in the red zone by the Baltimore Ravens and have broken it down here to show how Wallace could be used in the Philadelphia Eagles trips formation when the field condenses. The concept is called “smash divide”, used to stretch a defense and put stress on safeties. There are other variations of this route that we will dive into later, but here’s how the Ravens used it to score with Wallace.
Wallace is aligned as the #2 as part of a trips formation. The defense shows MOFC post-snap, meaning the middle of the field is closed due to it being occupied by a safety. Against MOFO (middle of the field open), the “divide” portion, also called a “seam read”, is intended to exploit an opening by sending a post into the void, thus dividing the safeties.
In this case, the defense showed MOFC by rotating the field safety to the middle of the field, so the inside route (#3) on the trips side turns into a seam. This version of Cover 4 that the Pittsburgh Steelers are running is a variant of “Gilligan” quarters pattern match vs. 3x2 (I just blew Andy Benoit’s mind), where the field side safety has a cross read to take any vertical route by the #3.
This pairs well with the “smash” concept, which the Ravens also use to the field side, because it puts stress on safety to the trips side of the formation. If he’s influenced by the vertical stem of the #3, he leaves a void for the corner by the #2. If he’s influenced by the vertical stem of the corner, he leaves a void for the post. It’s a lose-lose scenario, one that the Ravens can exploit.
The outside corner is momentarily held, as he must respect the potential for a vertical route by the #1 until he recognizes the hitch for the overhang defender to run under. The safety allows himself to be influenced by the #3 seam despite having the field side safety coming over, giving Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco a window in which to throw. Wallace’s speed to the spot extends this window and it’s an easy throw and catch.
There are plenty of other ways to utilize Wallace from this formation and situation. One of which is having Wallace on the outside for the same concept but giving him an option or whip route. The whip route would send him inside at an angle to create leverage against the defensive back and he would then snap back out to the sideline and into space. The option route would allow him to sit or convert his route into a slant to attack the void left by defenders chasing the post and corner. Considering Wallace’s short area quickness, both would be viable options in which to expand upon the smash divide concept.
The Eagles boasted the most efficient red zone in the league last year, scoring touchdowns on 65.45% of their visits. With their creative play-calling and ability to create mismatches in the red area, Wallace provides a crafty, speedy weapon with which to terrorize opposing defenses.