Green Bay Packers rookie tight end Luke Musgrave scored the first touchdown of his career on Sunday in a 20-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams, and it came on a familiar play from the depths of the West Coast Offense. The play call was a fake double-screen Y delay and it’s a familiar play in the Shanahan tree, likely where Matt LaFleur took the inspiration from.
A little bit of history though, it’s likely the origins of this play circle all the way back to at least 1987 in a game between the 49ers and Falcons in Week 17. In the play above, Steve Young completed the pass to tight end John Frank over the middle for a 17-yard gain.
The 49ers under Shanahan first ran this play in 2018 to George Kittle. They call this play “Hollywood” for the acting job Kittle does to sell the play. In the play call, you can see Kittle fall down while simulating a block on the defensive end. This gets the defense to flow with the fake swing pass to the right (after the fake swing to the left holds the defense on that side) and as soon as they flow, he gets up and catches the pass.
In Week 15 of 2022, the 49ers ran the play again out of regular shotgun instead of pistol but the motion is still essentially the same. Kittle doesn’t fall on this one, he chips the defender to sell the swing pass action with the pulling lineman to the right. The Seahawks are in a nickel cover-9 defense (cover-3 with safety rotation away from the nickel defender) with Coby Bryant (No. 8) responsible for Kittle in the seam-flat area.
Shanahan knows that moving Christian McCaffrey all over the field messes with the defense post-snap and gets them to clue in on him and this is sold by the fact that Shanahan tagged a puller in the play call with right guard Spencer Burford pulling out to the edge to lead block for McCaffrey. This gets the defense to bite hard, including Bryant. Bryant loses Kittle after the flow toward McCaffrey’s swing.
On the other side, the first fake swing pass pulls the defense down toward that route, including the buzz safety. Kittle gets open over the middle and takes it to the house for the game’s first touchdown. Safety Quandre Diggs (No. 6) was shaded too far over away from the post zone to prevent any touchdown.
The Packers ran this play with the same intent in mind, exposing the Rams coverage rules, and putting stress on the middle hook defender in the Rams 3-under/3-deep fire zone.
The Packers come out in their 21 personnel “pony” package. Usually, 21 personnel is a running back and a fullback, but pony is two running backs. Jordan Love is in shotgun with Aaron Jones lined up in the slot to the right and Dillon in the backfield to the right. Luke Musgrave is on the line to the right.
The Rams are in a 3-under/3-deep fire zone with the cornerback as the fifth rusher off the edge. The play design parts the defense down the middle with the running backs swinging in opposite directions and each offensive guard pulling around to the edge to simulate a lead block for a screen pass. Musgrave chips the end and sells the screen to the right while the defense chases.
In a 3-deep/3-under fire zone, linebacker Troy Reeder (No. 57) would have Musgrave up the middle of the field as the middle hook/final #3 player.
While the defense is pulled apart, Musgrave leaks up the seam and Love hits him wide open. Musgrave dodged a defender before sprinting into the end zone for the first touchdown of his career.