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One More Part Of The Trick Play

Posted by Matt Terl on December 23, 2009 – 3:55 pm

Okay, one more dip into the well on this failed trick play thing.

In the yellow circle and over the yellow arrow above is Fred Davis, the second option — and eventual target, sort of — on the play. Davis is not, as some people have suggested to me, just standing around wondering what the heck is going on. What he’s actually doing is acting; because of the shifted offensive line, the defense is meant to believe that the ball is coming quickly to Davis with an entire offensive line of blockers in front of him. (This is, in fact, one of the most common ways that the swinging gate formation is used.)

Meanwhile, Hunter Smith is dropping back while being rushed by three Giants, Malcolm Kelly is running across the formation away from us, theoretically taking a couple of the defenders with him, and Todd Yoder is about to — again, theoretically — come open and unnoticed into empty space from the long snapper position. But we’ve heard from Yoder at length on this already, so let’s leave him frozen in time, with the play not yet a complete disaster, and get Davis’s point of view.

“Man,” Davis said, “I think if it would’ve went through without the timeout, I think it would’ve worked better. I did what I was supposed to do, but they kinda overcrowded; they kinda looked at me before the snap as, oh, he’s probably gonna get it.” Which was the point, of course, because the ball should’ve gone the other way while half the defense was focused on Davis.

But that didn’t happen, and suddenly the second option became the first; Smith got crushed as he threw; the ball got intercepted well short; and hundreds of words of cranky football criticism were generated (and expertly skewered by Dan Steinberg a bit later).

But, despite Hogs Havens’ assertions yesterday, Davis is convinced he was open, albeit with one giant if. “If Hunter was able to throw it, yeah, I was open,” Davis said. “‘Cause they were looking at him still, because I faked like I was just going for the screen; they looked at me, then straight at him to see what he was gonna do. And then when I started running, I was just about past the secondary, but he’d already thrown it way before.”

Davis shook his head, frustrated by the whole thing. “Maybe, possibly, maybe if he threw a little before, I might’ve still gotten to it. I would’ve had to speed up really fast, but, I mean, there was a possibility.”

Oh, and Davis — like all the other players I’ve talked to (and, apparently, no one else on the planet) — had no problem going for the trick play, even after the New York timeout. “That wasn’t gonna hurt us,” he said bluntly. “By the way that the whole game was going, we needed something. They called it ’cause we needed some points on the board and they wanted to try anything, so why not?”

Which is not to say that he disagrees with the people who say that trick plays refers poorly on the offense. Davis agrees with that to a certain point — but he says it’s the offense’s job to make sure no trickery is required. “We didn’t do what we needed to do; if we did that, we wouldn’t have to go to trick plays.”

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