Just about every NFL team has started to adapt to modern offensive playcalling. Look at that thrilling Super Bowl LII in which the combined 1,151 yards by the Eagles and Patriots were the most in any modern NFL game. The game is changing -- for the better.
And it's about time for some teams. We could really see some fun stuff in Chicago and Tennessee in 2018 with the hiring of creative offensive playcallers, and athletic young quarterbacks already in place.
I searched through 2017 tape for the best schemes that mesh with how today's game has changed, determining how teams could tweak those plays to their personnel. I found 15 plays -- including a handful from college film -- that every offensive coordinator should put in his playbook right now, and I identified the NFL team with the best personnel fit to successfully execute the call in 2018.
Screens, boots, play-action, red zone concepts. It's all here. And it's all super fun. So, NFL coaches, steal away.
Key for each play diagram:
Q = Quarterback
H = Running back
R = Second running back
F = Fullback/H-back
Z = Flanker
X = Split end
W = Slot receiver
Y = No. 1 tight end
U = No. 2 tight end
Los Angeles Rams' running back seam/jet
How it works: This play-action concept started to catch fire in the league in 2017 after the Chiefs used it to dial up an explosive score on Alex Smith's touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt back in Week 1 versus the Patriots. But I like the Rams' look, which includes a pulling guard, even more. It's another piece of window dressing for those linebackers to read run and take the bait.
In this concept, the Rams used wide receiver Tavon Austin (W) as a decoy on the jet sweep with that pulling guard. Get those linebackers to take a step downhill, and release running back Todd Gurley (H) up the seam. With the tight end (Y) crossing the face of the free safety and holding him in the middle of the field, there is now an open window for quarterback Jared Goff (Q) to deliver the ball to Gurley. That's a big play with a lot of open space -- check it out here.
Team with best personnel fit for 2018: Carolina Panthers. During his rookie season, Christian McCaffrey caught a whopping 80 passes in the Panthers' offense. But his air yards per target sat at 1.92 yards. So let's use this scheme to create an explosive play opportunity with Curtis Samuel running the jet sweep action, tight end Greg Olsen crossing the face of the safety and McCaffrey releasing up the seam. Plus, quarterback Cam Newton throws the inside vertical seam as well as anyone in the league. He can put some heat on this ball and give McCaffrey an opportunity to create after the catch.
Philadelphia Eagles' wing counter
How it works: This play has a high school feel to it. In fact, I saw this scheme multiple times during the state playoffs this past November as a coach at IC Catholic Prep in the Chicago area. That's what you get from wing-T and double-wing offenses. But I also love the call from Eagles coach Doug Pederson in the playoffs against Atlanta because it meshes with Philadelphia's misdirection schemes.
With a bunch set to the strong side of the formation and wide receiver Nelson Agholor (W) aligned at No. 3, the Eagles show the toss play to running back Jay Ajayi (H). Off that toss look, however, the Eagles pull right tackle Lane Johnson and bring Agholor underneath on the inside handoff for Nick Foles (Q). Now, with the linebackers flowing to the edge to play the toss, Agholor can follow Johnson on the pull for an explosive gain. Just watch here.
Team with the best personnel fit for 2018: Pittsburgh Steelers. In Pittsburgh, think about the Steelers running this concept with Le'Veon Bell simulating the toss play to draw the eyes of the defense, and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster taking the inside handoff from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Get those linebackers moving with Smith-Schuster using his sudden burst and open-field ability to push the ball through the second level.