<
>

Scouts Inc: Go-to play for every NFC team

There are some certainties in the NFC. Brett Favre will throw a pass that will make you shake your head. Brian Urlacher will make a play that will make you shake your head. Reggie Bush will make a run that will make you shake your head.

Oh, and you will see the following plays this season.

While these aren't the signature plays of each team in the NFC, Scouts Inc. looks at one play each team will run -- and run well -- this season.

Also check out go-to play for every AFC team.

Bears: Urlacher Delayed Blitz

Lovie Smith never liked the man-to-man scheme run by his ex-coordinator, Ron Rivera. This season, he's switched to the Cover 2. Brian Urlacher (54) should thank him. Unburdened with coverage responsibilities, Urlacher has the green light to blitz. The key is DTs Tommie Harris (91) and Darwin Walker (99), who must occupy an extra blocker on passing downs to open up the the seam between the center and guard. If Urlacher reads pass, he can count on Lance Briggs (55) to track RBs while he jacks up the QB.

Buccaneers: Galloway Go Route

Speed kills, the saying goes. It also makes things so much simpler. Which is why Joey Galloway (84) is the one Buc who makes Jon Gruden comfortable letting Jeff Garcia (7) throw downfield. At the snap, Galloway runs a go route and Garcia takes a seven-step drop. Garcia would like to just loft the ball up and let Galloway run under it. But if Galloway is doubled, Michael Clayton (80) will find a generous crease behind the linebacker as he comes across the middle. The best part? It keeps eight defenders out of the box.

Cardinals: End-Around WR Pass

A Pro Bowl receiver who played QB in college. A new coach who loves trick plays. Anquan Boldin, meet Ken Whisenhunt. At the snap, Boldin (81) makes his first move toward the backfield. Matt Leinart (7) fakes the dive to Edgerrin James (32) and, almost in the same motion as the fake, pitches to Boldin. Sucked in by play-action, the D-linemen and outside linebacker are out of position to pressure Boldin, while the safety and cornerback hesitate. If Larry Fitzgerald (11) gets a step -- which he should -- Boldin has an easy target. And Fitzgerald an easy catch.

Cowboys: Romo bootleg

It doesn't take a scout's eye to see the difference between Tony Romo (9) and Drew Bledsoe: Romo can run, which helps the Boys' porous O-line. After the snap, Romo play-action fakes to the left before running a bootleg right. Terry Glenn (83) runs a post corner towards the right sideline, bringing the deep safety and his corner with him. Jason Witten (82) runs an out route on the same side. If the corner comes up to cover Witten, Glenn has a mismatch against a safety. If the corner runs with Glenn, a linebacker is stuck dancing between Romo and Witten.

Eagles: Bunch Pass

Andy Reid likes to exploit matchups. Here he uses TE L.J. Smith (82) wide right, flanked by receivers Reggie Brown (86) and Kevin Curtis (83) in a bunch formation. Hank Baskett (84) is split out left. The goal: create confusion on defense just before the snap. After he has the ball, Donovan McNabb (5) rolls right. Smith runs a fade with Brown and Curtis crossing behind him, trailed by corners. As Brown runs directly at the safety, forcing him to hesitate, Smith pops open for McNabb.

Falcons: Crumpler Seam Pass

For all the changes in the Falcons offense, at least Alge Crumpler is still around. In this play, designed to free up Crumpler against two-deep zones, WRs Roddy White (84) and Michael Jenkins (12) streak downfield, pressuring the safeties deep. Matched up on a linebacker, Crumpler (83) takes an outside release and angles for the deep middleJoey Harrington (13) takes a seven-step drop, allowing the play to develop. Advantage Crumpler: If all goes to plan, this is a pass even Harrington can't miss.

Giants: Burress Deep Out

Plaxico Burress is Eli Manning's favorite target for a reason: At 6-foot-5, 232 pounds, he's a mismatch waiting to exploit cornerbacks in downfield, single-coverage situations. On this play, Manning (10) uses a play-action fake to Brandon Jacobs (27), drawing the entire D to the left. Sinorice Moss (83) -- in the slot next to Burress -- runs a skinny post, freezing the safety. Burress (17) runs 15 yards then breaks outside, where Manning's pass should be waiting for him. If Burress is doubled by the safety, Jeremy Shockey (80) has only a LB to beat and room to run.

Lions: Deep In Route

A year of tutelage under Mike Martz has taught Roy Williams (11) that precise route- running is as important as top-flight speed. From a three-receiver set, Mike Furrey (87) runs a short out route, drawing the CB toward the sideline. Williams runs 15 yards upfield, then breaks across the formation. This forces the outside corner to hesitate, unsure if the safety is going to help him or double the short out. As Williams makes his break, Jon Kitna (8) lets the pigskin fly. The ball arrives before help can.

49ers: Double Fake Bootleg Pass

Combine a fleet-footed quarterback with multiple misdirections and what do you get? An easy completion to Vernon Davis (85). From a three-wide set, Alex Smith uses a (11) play-action fake to Frank Gore (21). Darrell Jackson (82) runs from the right slot behind the offensive formation, causing the D to think end-around and bite hard in pursuit. Smith keeps the ball and rolls to his right. With the defense leaning in Jacksonıs direction, Smith hits Davis in the flat.

Packers: Driver Slant Route

The Packers did one thing consistently well in coach Mike McCarthy's first year: Brett Favre (4) throwing the slant to Donald Driver (80). The play takes advantage of the chemistry between the Pack's best skill players while mitigating its shaky protection and Favre's gambling. To clear out the middle and play-side LBs, Favre fakes to RB Vernand Morency (34). Then TE Donald Lee (86) runs a seam route, pulling the third LB. This guts the middle of the D. All that's left is Driver with a corner on his hip, and the ball in his hands.

Panthers: Tackle End Stunts

To spice up the Cover 2, the Panthers stunt Kris Jenkins (77) and Damione Lewis (92) outside to generate pressure. Meanwhile, Julius Peppers (90) and Mike Rucker (93) engage the tackles, forcing penetration. The pressure falls on the guards. In a man blocking scheme, they must recognize the stunt, slide outside, avoid tripping over the tackles and get into blocking position in less than two seconds. But, uh-oh, here comes MLB Dan Morgan (55), who has a path to the QB with only the center to beat. The FB provides an extra blocker, but Peppers and his career 53.5 sacks are probably on his mind.

Rams: Deep Crossing Routes

The answer to the trendy Cover 2? Precision routes. Here Isaac Bruce (80) runs a post corner to clear out one safety. TE Randy McMichael's (84) seam route occupies the MLB while drawing the safety on Torry Holt's (81) side. Holt runs a 15-yard in route, between the corner and safety, who is a step behind because he has to respect McMichael's deep speed. If by chance the safety steps up, Marc Bulger (10) can hit McMichael over the top. If the corner or OLB squeeze Holt, Bulger can dump off to Steven Jackson (39), who has one man to beat.

Redskins: Bubble Screen

Low risk, high reward. Perfect for a young QB like Jason Campbell. Expect this play a lot. From a three-receiver set, Campbell (17) play-actions to Clinton Portis (26) to the strong side. It's a quick-hitting play, so Campbell's linemen head for second-level blocks, further selling the run. Santana Moss (89) takes a jab step forward, sending the corner into his backpedal. Brandon Lloyd (85) blocks down on Moss' corner, then draws the weakside linebacker if he hasn't bitten on play-action. Campbell fires a pass to Moss, who promptly jets upfield, moving the chains and lifting Campbell's confidence.

Saints: Reverse Option

Sean Payton knows he's got some scary weapons. Here he lines up Reggie Bush (25) and Deuce McAllister (26) in a power formation, before Bush moves into the slot. At the snap, Drew Brees (9) fakes a dive to McAllister, freezing the LBs. The key block comes from LG Jamar Nesbit (67), who pulls to seal the OLB. If Marques Colston (12) runs off the CB, Bush only has to beat the safety. Here's why this is brutal for defenses: The same formation also sets up the McAllister dive, a play-action pass or even a double reverse. It's almost unfair.

Seahawks: Alexander Lead Dive

The Seahawks passing offense is all about finesse and timing. But when it's time to run, Mike Holmgren likes to pound it in. His favorite play -- a lead dive to Shaun Alexander (37) -- is high school football 101. LT Walter Jones (71) bulldozes the DE at the snap, and LG Rob Sims (67) seals the DT. Matt Hasselbeck (8) pivots right to make the middle and weak-side linebackers take a step in the wrong direction, then turns left and hands the ball to Alexander. FB Mack Strong (38) takes on the strong-side LB and Alexander does the rest. Itıs that simple.

Vikings: Dime Offense Taylor Seam Route

When the Vikings face third-and-long, they'll go for broke. From a four-wide set, with Chester Taylor (29) offset to the right, Tarvaris Jackson (7) takes a seven-step drop. The outside WRs run post corners, drawing the cornerbacks to the sideline. The inside receivers run similar routes, then drag across the middle, forcing the safeties to commit. Taylor runs a deep seam route, isolating the LB in coverage. If Jackson can deliver, it should be an easy over-the-shoulder catch.