This is the first play of the game. The Bengals show a 4-3 defensive against the Patriots 21(2rb, 1te, 2,wr) personnel with tight doubles left and tight end to the right.
The Bengals show a zone coverage look with the corners having an angle – and their eyes – towards the QB instead of to the receiver and lining up at a depth of 4-5 yards from line of scrimmage.
Before the play the outside WR is motioned across the formation. He is not followed by a defender, with also hints towards zone coverage.
When the play starts the offensive line all attack forward, showing a run play. The tight end (Hoomanawanui) stays in to block the end. The FB(Develin) and RB(Ridley) shows a run in the middle with Develin going directly to the left B gap and Brady faking to Ridley who is going middle right and cutting towards the left B gap.
The run blocks by the OL and play action makes the linebackers read run, and they attack the line of scrimmage.
Here we can see how the Bengals play a 3 deep zone coverage with the RCB and the safeties covering the deep zones. The middle and left outside linebacker are responsible for the hook zones. The right outside linebacker and the LCB are responsible for curl to flat.
Brandon LaFell, the WR to the left, runs a deep curl route which opens up because of the deep responsibility of his defender, and the underneath linebackers getting drawn to the line because of the play action.
Edelman, the right WR, runs a seam route with an inside release on the corner. He splits the two deep zones to the right. Forcing the safety having the middle deep zone to respect Edelmans side of the field.
James Develin, the fullback, runs out in the flat after faking a block.
This play was good design and good execution. The offensive line and running backs did a solid job at selling the run which opened up the deep pass. Because of the play action Brady gets a wide open passing lane to LaFell.
Here we also see the clean pocket that Brady have. He has the time to let LaFell get 20 yards deep without having to move around in the pocket. Something that has been a problem during the season. But the new line up of Solder – Connolly – Stork – Wendell – Vollmer seemed to handle to the Bengals line fairly well. Giving Brady more time than in he has had in previous games.
Picture credits: NFL Gamepass