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Notes: Rams having success with what Stafford does well

Boy, this looks familiar.

NFL: DEC 27 49ers at Lions Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen posted on the bird app today that it seemed like the Los Angeles Rams kept running the same route combination over and over against the Seattle Seahawks with great success. Here is the thread:

What’s going on in that play? Nguyen breaks it down in the first reply of the thread. Basically, there are three receivers to Matthew Stafford’s left, with one running a deep over diagonally through the defense from left to right (where all the linebackers would be) in front of the safeties, and then there’s a two-man combo on the edge. One eligible pass catcher does a short pivot while the outside wide receiver breaks a “skinny” over it.

It’s no surprise to folks who have watched Matthew Stafford carve up defenses with the Lions: it’s an improved version of the sucker-style combination that Stafford and Calvin Johnson worked for tons of yards under Scott Linehan. Instead of simply running a curl with a flattened in-breaking route over it, Rams coach Sean McVay added a deep crosser to really clear out the throwing lane underneath. The pivot keeps the underneath bait moving too, which gets extra spacing while accomplishing the same thing.

Packaging it in bunch with the reverse breaks on other calls in the toolbox, McVay keeps the defense guessing; they can’t jump anything because they don’t know which receiver will run which route or which way the pivot and top of stem break will go. Just look at this:

I have to confess that it’s frustrating to see the Rams hammering away with something we all knew Stafford was really good at when the Lions, for whatever reason, did not. It’s great to see Nine doing well in the NFC West, but it would have been even better if it had been in the NFC North with Detroit. Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • If it’s your thing, BetMGM is doing a sweepstakes for its customers who have accounts to win tickets and Lions-related swag.

  • The team’s official YouTube page also posted a fun interview by Dannie Rogers with linebacker Alex Anzalone talking about his Pennsylvania background, lacrosse, and parenting:

  • ESPN’s Seth Walder used NextGenStats to estimate the difference between the yards pass catchers were expected to gain based on where they caught the ball and yards after catch and their actual yards gained. While most players high on the list are wide receivers, sneaking into the top 30 is a Detroit Lions running back: