It’s clear by the outcome that the Tampa Bay Vipers played their best game of the season last Sunday when they shut out the DC Defenders 25-0 at home in Raymond James Stadium.
Truthfully, in weeks past, Film Room has taken video from bad judgment plays, or unforced errors and analyzed them to shine a light on how a broken play happens.
Last week in Film Room, we highlighted some of the momentum swinging plays in the Vipers hard-fought 34-27 loss to the Houston Roughnecks. We said that the Vipers showed a lot of potential during the game where they gave the best team in the league a run for it’s money.
Call it the perfect storm of a team that’s slowly putting it together playing against a team that has it slowly falling apart, but the Vipers came out and looked like a completely different squad than the first two weeks of the season. And they were rewarded for it with their first victory.
Here are some the standout plays from the Vipers first victory of the season and how they breakdown on film:
Win in the Trenches, Run For Days
Off to a running start 🏃@jacques_patrick | #DCvsTB pic.twitter.com/QpL3ve0xiu— Tampa Bay Vipers (@XFLVipers) March 2, 2020
The credit on this play goes to the offensive line. They received a big boost with Andrew Tiller being activated off of IR, and it shows on this play. Despite QB Taylor Cornelius running up the field after the handoff, this was a designed inside zone run all along. Every lineman finds a man at the line of scrimmage, and they begin to push left. That opens a hole for Jacques Patrick, and when you have a back with the skill set of Patrick, a hole is more than enough to make something happen.
The power back hits the hole with speed and breaks through for a four/five yard gain. Then the offensive line factors back into the play. Patrick is met by a trio of Defenders players at the three yard line. His ability to stay up is an achievement in itself, then two linemen get behind Patrick and push the pile into the end zone.
That perfectly encapsulates the Vipers game plan. Run with power, rely on your two massive running backs and your skilled offensive line to do their jobs. On Sunday, the Vipers gained 29 first downs and that’s exactly the way they did most of it.
Staying Calm Against the Blitz
The @XFLVipers are looking gooooood early— XFL (@xfl2020) March 2, 2020
🖥 https://t.co/Y524SAtGEI pic.twitter.com/nA2SaJB4Yw
This is a much shorter play on film, with a little less talk of X’s and O’s and more of a pat on the back to a single player. Cornelius has most likely emerged as the team’s full time starting quarterback. On this play in the red zone the Defenders were looking to put a stop to this drive. DC called for an all out blitz. Three defensive lineman, two linebackers and two safeties crashing the pocket. Seven players coming in on the rush, and six offensive players to stop them. That leaves a true blue man-to-man coverage downfield. Cornelius realized the blitz quickly, and went to his first read. He threw the ball towards DeAndre Goolsby before the tight end even makes his cut towards the end zone. The QB decides to put some air under the ball to allow Goolsby to separate himself from the linebacker who is covering him. In most situations, that throw would be intercepted, but with it being four receivers and four defenders down field, the spacing is what allowed that throw to be spot on for a walk-in touchdown. Lots of credit to Cornelius on this play for staying calm in the pocket on third down and making a throw rather than opting to take the field goal.
Gwacham’s Back, And Making Noise
A play so good, had to show it again.#DCvsTB | 🔗 https://t.co/r2STPkBGHJ pic.twitter.com/GGhUHBdN6O— Tampa Bay Vipers (@XFLVipers) March 2, 2020
Last week the Vipers activated defensive end Obum Gwacham from the injured reserve. Early in the first half it seemed as if he was on a snap count and not always out on the field. In the second half, something must’ve changed and Gwacham must’ve said he was good to go, because he let loose in the second half. Starting with this field goal block. The defensive end is lined up on the interior of the line. In most cases, a field goal block team is just there to make a push on the line and see if they can break through. Here Gwacham gets a good first burst which allows him to get a finger in the ball’s path towards the uprights. Any sort of disruption to a field goal kick can completely ruin the play, and while this wasn’t a close game at the time, the ability to command attention as a player who can disrupt a field goal is a victory in itself. Not to mention, the 28-year-old added a sack in the game.
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