Against the Colts, the Rams figured out ways to create opportunities for rookie receiver Tavon Austin.
Austin scored on a punt return, and his first touchdown catch came when the Colts weren't set and had bad communication on a quick snap by the Rams. But it was Austin's third touchdown that was so interesting. That play came on a great concept, the kind of thing the Rams should be doing all the time with Austin, the eighth pick of the draft.
The Rams had seen the Colts run "man free lurk" coverage on third down in the first half (the Colts used it on a 19-yard catch by Chris Givens), so St. Louis expected the same coverage on a third and 9 early in the third quarter.
Plays are always called with the anticipation of a certain coverage, and if you don’t get that coverage you have built-in options for the quarterback. And the Rams got the "man free lurk" they were expecting.
Austin motioned to a tight bunch formation with two other Rams receivers. The key is that the Rams snapped it as soon as Austin got to the bunch. The other two receivers ran routes to screen Austin's defender. The Colts didn't have time to adjust.
Cornerback Vontae Davis was in man coverage against Austin, and he got screened off of Austin by the other two receivers. Linebacker Pat Angerer was the "lurk" defender in the middle, and was probably supposed to hit Austin on the crossing route. But because of the late motion, it looked like Angerer never saw Austin.
With this concept, the Rams got Austin the ball the way you need to get the ball to a receiver with Austin's speed and skill set: on the move and in space. He went 81 yards for the score.
This was a great call. The coaches anticipated the coverage perfectly. The concepts that win against man coverage like bunch formations, crossing patterns and a rub element were on display.
It’s the way I think Austin needs to be used. When you get him the ball like this in space, he basically becomes a punt returner. Against man coverage, a bunch formation is a really good way to do it.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.