How Jason Tarver's defense pressured Alex Smith

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Sack #1 Zone Dog and Sio Bringing the Juice

First play of the game and Tarver goes with a Zone Dog, bringing LB Sio Moore, while dropping Lamar Houston into coverage in a standard Cover-2 zone (5-underneath).

The Chiefs have a pick-play route combination that would have freed a receiver against Man coverage, but against Zone, would lead to only a minimal gain.

It doesn't really matter as Sio Moore makes a fantastic play, by (a) Bull-rushing RT Eric Fisher and moving him backwards, (b) Reading Alex Smith's eyes, (c) Leaping into the passing lane and disrupting the potential throw, and then (d) making the sack.

Still 1 : Blocking

The 3 down-linemen will all rush to the right, isolating Sio on RT Eric Fisher.

Lamar Houston will engage the Chief's LT #76 Brandon Albert, but when Jamaal Charles releasing to the left, Houston will drop into his zone (the flat).

LBs Roach and Burnett also drop into zones.

Still 2 : Engagement

Since Houston fully engages Albert, the coverage does not look like a Zone; he is free to do this because there are no receivers to that side threatening his zone.

Sio attack Fisher and does two very good things (conversely, these are two things that the rookie RT allows Sio to do to him) : Sio gets underneath Fisher to get good leverage and Sio is able to get his hands into the body while Fisher's arms are still outside and have not engaged Moore. Sio Moore : 6'1", 240lbs. Eric Fisher : 6'7", 306 lbs.

Alex Smith is looking to his right. TE McGrath is running an out-cut, but the outside WR (out of the picture) is running an in-breaking route.

Still 3 : Leaping Moore

Since Eric Fisher did not engage Moore with his arms, Sio is able to explode to the inside and leap into the passing lane. Smith has a throw, but Moore disrupts it.

On the opposite side, notice Houston is now dropping into his zone as Charles releases into the pattern.

Still 4 : The Sack

Sio finishes off the play by sacking Smith. Eric Fisher ends up on the ground.

Still 5 : Matchups

Pre-snap, with Sio Moore coming on a blitz, it looks like a 5-man pressure with man-coverage.

Still 6 : Cover-2

But it is really Cover-2 zone and the drops look like this.

Still 7 : Expecting Man

If thinking man coverage, Smith might be expecting coverage like this. Notice the pick play at the top of the screen with clear-out patterns inside. With man coverage, this play would be (potentially) a big gain.

Still 8 : Zone

The receiver does get open. But since it's zone, the defenders are in position to make the tackle for a minmal gain.

Sack #2 Hidden Nick Roach

This play has Nick Roach coming on a blitz but that's not such a big deal. What is interesting and an example of the execution being quite well done is that Roach's blitz, combined with Houston rush and Charles' release, initially looks as if Roach is coming up to cover Charles. Roach's blitz is disguised well and Smith checks away from that side, assuming coverage. So when Roach continues to come on the Blitz, Smith has already turned away from the play and is taken by surprise.

Still 1 : Blocking

The linemen will rush to their left, which will clear out bodies and leave Roach with a clear lane. Houston will take an initial upfield lane and then cut back inside, taking the LT with him; he's acting similar to how a lead blocker opens up a running lane for a RB. Jamaal Charles will release into the flat to that side.

TE #84 McGrath will release, but the LDE Hunter will get a nice chuck to disrupt his route. Hunter then comes on the pass rush.

Still 2 : First Engagement

Hunter gets a chuck on McGrath, giving Kevin Burnett an easier time to cover the TE's route.

Charles is releasing to the outside and Nick Roach looks like he's coming to cover.

Still 3 : Attack Lines

It looks like there will be bracket coverage on Charles with Roach underneath and CWood over-the-top.

Houston will now cut inside and carry his blocker with him to open up the outside. Charles will continue to release, but instead of Roach covering him, CWood is dropping down in man-coverage while Roach continues on his path to the QB. Right now, though, he's hidden by the bodies and Smith likely has checked him off as being in coverage.

Still 4 : Blindside Attack

Smith now progresses to the opposite side, turning his back to Roach.

Still 5 : Sack

Still 6 : Coverage

Initial coverage Looks like 2-man, but with Roach blitzing, it shifts to Man-Free (Man Under, single Free safety).

Still 7 : Engagement

Roach runs up and looks like he's covering while Houston is clearing a lane for him. CWood has a long way to go to cover Charles.

Still 8 : Running Free

Here comes Roach. CWood is still 10 yards away from Charles. Good thing Smith has turned the other way. No one is open on the other side.

Sack #3 7 Man Pressure

Here's a big time blitz, bringing 7.

Usama Young will provide the initial distraction, jumping around in the middle of the field and then dropping back into his safety position and the Raiders will bring 7 rushers, including blitzing Mike Jenkins off the corner. With all these guys coming (2 DBs, 2 LBs, 3 DL), it will be Lamar Houston and Vance Walker that get thru by (primarily) just beating their man.

Still 1 : Blocking

Raiders will bring 7. The 2 downlinemen, Houston, LBs Roach and Burnett, safety Brandian Ross, and the LCB. The Chiefs will keep 2 backs in, giving them 7 blockers. It's one-on-one.

Roach will loop all the way around to the (defensive) left side and come open. Charles is there, but will pick up the blitzing CB.

But Roach doesn't make the play; it is the combination of Houston, Ross, and Vance Walker that does the damage. Houston takes an outside rush and flush Smith up into the pocket. Walker will take an outside rush while Ross attacks inside, causing a little bit of a pick-play among the Chiefs' blockers (LG #71 Allen and FB #42 Sherman). It's not a full-blown pick where someone falls down, but the knock thighs, which is enough to give Walker the outside edge.

Still 2 : Engagement

The Chiefs' blockers have their assignments. With Roach running wide, C #61 Hudson is going to turn to the right and help the RG against Pat Sims. Recall that it's 7-on-7, so a double team means there's an unblocked rusher; that unblocked man is Nick Roach.

On the opposite side, Houston and Walker have engaged their men and are taking outside attacks. Ross is blitzing and Sherman has him lined up.

Alex Smith is looking left for a receiver to come open. McCluster is pictured, but there's an outside receiver as well.

Still 3 : The Traffic Jam

Houston will get the edge on his own, but inside we can see the potential problem for the two Chiefs blockers. The Raiders are going to cross and so the Chiefs must cross.

Usamay Young is dropping back and Roach is still looping to come free.

Still 4 : The Pick

Notice that Sherman and Allen knock legs here. This is enough to open Allen up and surrender his outside shoulder. Walker now has a clear line to Smith.

On the opposite side, Roach has found the outside gap and Charles is vacating it to take on Mike Jenkins' blitz.

Still 5 : Coming Free

McCluster is breaking across the middle and looks like he's open, but Tracy Porter is squatting on the in-route. The throw might be there, but there's a risk. Alex Smith is looking at it and it seems like he decides against taking the risk. Out of the picture, DJ Hayden is giving up a big cushion and leaves his man open on the deep slant. Smith does not see it or does not trust it.

Houston, Walker, and Roach all come free.

Still 6 : Flush

Walker will get credit for the sack, but Houston makes the play by flushing Smith off his mark and up into the pocket, right into Walker. Smith has stepped up 2 yards and has brought his eyes down just as Walker is coming right at him.

McCluster is crossing the middle.

Still 7 : Sack

Still 8 : Routes and Coverage

7 man pressure with a single deep safety (Man-Free) leaves the middle of the field wide open; there's no one underneath to take away slants or other in-breaking routes. If the defender is playing outside leverage, the WRs should be open. That's the danger of blitzing.

Notice that Mike Jenkins (LCB) is blitzing and that CWood then has man coverage on the receiver. That puts CWood about a full 20 yards away from his man! But fortunately, the WR is running a deep out-cut so he is actually running INTO the coverage. Note that even though he is wide open during the route, Smith can't make the throw unless the WR has made his break. At times like this, if the QB and WR are in sync and read the defense together, the WR can break off the route and the QB can make the throw.

Still 9 : Rushers

The pass rush pattern. That's alot of rushers and there are two distinct crossings.

Still 10 : Closing In

As the rush closes in on Smith, McCluster is just getting into his break across the middle. On the outside, the WR is getting into his break on the slant against Hayden.

Sack #4 Tampa-2 Should Have Had Him

Sometimes a pressure happens by scheme. Sometimes you "trust the player" and he just beats the man in front of him. On this play, we see Eric Fisher get beaten by Jason Hunter and Lamar Houston working over Brandon Albert. Vance Walker also powers thru and the Raiders get 3 men converging on Alex Smith, but not getting a good wrapup.

Flushing him should still have been good for a minimal gain but Tracy Porter has sunk deep on the Tampa-2 coverage, taking away the throw to his receiver. This is not a bad play by Porter; in fact, it's very good as he's totally blanketing the WR, but Alex Smith's magic act gets him into that clear space.

If Tarver had schemed for a mobile QB, perhaps Porter hands off his receiver earlier to play containment for a scramble in his zone.

Still 1 : Blocking

Basic 4 man rush with Zone drops by the linebackers. KC's 2 backs will release into the pattern.

Still 2 : Engagements

Jason Hunter gets outside on RT Eric Fisher and uses a Rip Move. Houston on the opposite side is setting up LT Albert for a Swim Move.

Still 3 : Getting Free

Hunter beats Fisher handily and has a line on Smith.

Houston has Albert off-balance to the outside and upfield (notice Albert's body, hips, and legs are turned away from Houston, ie., not square). Houston's left arm pushes Albert while the right arm comes over the top for the Swim to get Houston clear on the inside.

Vance Walker is getting doubled as the Center Hudson comes over. Hudson will chuck Walker and knock him to the (defensive) right, which will unfortunately, put him into Houston's way.

Still 4 : Converge

Hunter gets a clean shot on Smith (but will miss!). Houston comes clean and Brandon Albert is left in the wake, just watching. But Vance Walker gets in Houston's way and causes a bit of a traffic jam. Smith will loop around to escape.

Still 5: How Did They Miss?

Three Raiders and Smith is spinning away from it all. Sio Moore is coming in and takes a shallow line of attack, which Smith will outrun. There are potential blockers if Sio takes a wider angle. The main problem is that there is no containment.

Still 6 : Moore Just Misses

Still 7 : Tampa 2 Drops

Raiders defenders drop into Tampa 2, which is basically like the Cover-2 except with the "Mike down the Pipe."

Still 8 : Carrying High

On the outside, with no other WRs threatening the flat-zone, CB Tracy Porter will be able to carry his WR all the way up into the safety's deep zone, basically getting bracket coverage on him.

Still 9 : Vacated Underneath Zone

While Tracy Porter has great coverage on the WR. He vacates the underneath zone for a potential QB scramble.

Still 10 : Drop

As Porter drops into his zone coverage, he sees that there is no underneath receiver so he can carry his receiver much higher before handing off to the safety. It appears that this is the primary for Alex Smith.

Still 11 : Routes and Coverage

Routes are all covered by the zones. Smith is looking left. And we can see the open area.

Still 12 : Converging

The pass rushers converge on Smith, but he manages the miracle escape into that vacated flat zone.

Still 13 : Scrambling for the First

With all that clear area, once Smith is able to clear the first level, he will run to the first down.

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