The year of 2020 was sure to bring many memorable moments for everyone in all walks of life and that rings true for the plays implemented on the football field throughout the NFL season. Let's feast upon what the world's best football coaches drew up to move the ball and score touchdowns in this unique year.
In no particular order, here are the top 10 Play Designs of the 2020 NFL season.
One of the most powerful aspects of the Raven’s offense with Lamar Jackson at quarterback is the constant threat of a run play. Teams like the Ravens, with a great running quarterback and a great running offense can use this against the defense by executing play action fakes that suck the defense in towards the line of scrimmage.
This is exactly what the Raven’s did with this play design out of the Pistol formation.
Lamar Jackson fakes a hand off to the running back which lures the linebackers forward, giving him just enough room to put the pass in over the linebackers heads, towards the back of the end zone into the hands of the wing tight end to secure the touchdown pass.
DK Metcalf proved himself to be the best receiver in the league throughout the 2020 season. The Seahawks know how great of a receiver they have and this play design allowed them to focus on and play to their strength.
By putting three receivers in a bunched trips formation on the right, they were able to isolate Metcalf on the left.
With this pre-play alignment, they were able to provide Metcalf with multiple route options to take the open space. Metcalf broke inside on the 10 yard In route and not only did he catch the pass but he took the ball all the way to the house for a 46 yard receiving Touchdown.
Isolating your best player and giving him space to work with in the open field is almost always a recipe for success as it was for the Seahawks with this play design.
Watching the Chiefs' offense is one of the most beneficial things a coach can do to hone their offensive strategy. Replicating any of their play designs can provide marked improvements to almost any playbook.
This play action design will provide your quarterback with options at all three depths of the field. (Namely, long, medium, and short.) After making the fake handoff to the running back, the first read should be identifying the viability of the Fly route. Then the QB can bring his eyes down to the middle crossing routes, or to the TE delayed Out as an emergency exit.
Granted, it does always help to have someone as fast as Tyreek Hill to run the fly route, but every team has their version of a speedster who can dash down the sideline to give his team the best chance of replicating the Chief's success.
What kind of play is more fun to watch than an NFL quarterback catching a pass thrown to him by one of his own receivers?
This trick play from the Bills gave us that very concept in the form of a jet sweep to the slot receiver.
Josh Allen begins the play by motioning to his slot receiver to motion in towards him. Allen, the quarterback, receives the snap just in time to hand it off to the receiver running in full sprint to the right. After the handoff, Allen sneaks off to the left where three of his lineman are setting up screen blocks in front of him.
After attracting the entirety of the defense to the right, the receiver then stops, turns around, and throws the ball back to the quarterback who is all alone on the left.
After catching the pass and receiving a few critical blocks from his lineman, Allen was able to secure a receiving touchdown and get the ball into the end zone for a Bills touchdown on what was one of the most fun trick plays of the 2020 season.
The Tom Brady to Antonio Brown connection was a sight to behold throughout the 2020 season. Combine that with the vertical passing attack of Coach Bruce Arians' offense and you are set for some explosive offensive football.
This formation lined up Brown in the slot in order to get a favorable man-to-man match up for him. The play call was for brown to simply run a fade from the slot and use his speed to get on top of the defenders.
In the Week 14 match up against the Falcons, this play call worked like a charm for the Buccaneers to take the lead over the Falcons in the fourth quarter.
Not only is this a great play design, but the the game time situation was absolutely epic when this play was called. Down by six points with one second left on the clock and the ball on the one yard line, the Broncos pulled out this play as their one final hope for victory against the chargers in Week 7.
When the quarterback rolled out to the right, it lured in a cornerback to come up and make a run for the sprinting QB. This created just enough space for Drew Lock to pass it to his receiver who fell down just inside of the sideline to secure the catch. It was so close that the referees needed time to talk the call over before officially signing for a touchdown.
Every coach must be prepared with their go-to play call when the game is on the line and this is the play that the Broncos pulled out in order to finalize the incredible come back and take the lead with no time remaining.
On a 3rd & 9 play, the Viking called a play to get into in the hands of Dalvin Cook by way of a screen pass.
In a long passing play scenario, the Green Bay defense backed off which created enough space for Cook to receiver the ball and get three of his linemen out in front of him as blockers.
Not only did the Viking achieve the first down, but Cook avoided all would be tacklers and ran it all the way into the end zone for a 50 yard touchdown reception.
This play demonstrates that sometimes the best recipe for a long touchdown pass is to simply dump it off down low to one of our best play makers and see what they can do with the ball in space.
Big Ben had a great return to the field this season and put up some big plays throughout the year. With this play he was able to showcase his arm strength, once again, by hitting JuJu Smith-Schuster on a deep crossing route from the slot in order to gain a much needed touchdown in their Week 16 match up against the Colts.
Not many things went right for the Cowboys this year, but this is one play that stood out as a major success.
This pass play between Andy Dalton and CeeDee Lamb simply required the quarterback to throw up the ball high into the corner of the end zone and land it somewhere within the field of play where Lamb could get under it and secure the catch.
Sure enough, Dalton did what was required of him to put the ball nice and high into the corner where Lamb made an incredibly athletic play to find the ball in the air and come down with it for the touchdown.
By placing Lamb in the slot position of the formation, the Cowboys were able to take advantage of the man to man defense and provide Dalton and Lamb with tons of space in the end zone to make this play happen.
If you have an athletic receiver like CeeDee Lamb on your team, this play could be a great option on the goal line after you teach your quarterback how to put the ball up high and into the corner of the end zone.
In what might be the most memorable play of the year, Kyler Murray threw up a sky ball of a Hail Mary pass to DeAndre Hopkins as the time expired to win the game for the Cardinals over the Bills.
Although the pass and catch were both absolutely phenomenal, there were some impressive elements of strategy on display here as well.
First of all, formation placed three receivers in a trips formation on the right side of the field while leaving Hopkins alone on the left in order to draw at least some of the defenders away from Hopkins.
Secondly, the legendary receiver, Larry Fitzgerald ran a 15 yard crossing route from the right side of the field, underneath the deep defenders to the left sideline. Although Murray did not throw the ball to Fitzgerald, this was a potentially crucial aspect of this play design. Here is why. There Cardinals had no timeouts remaining, but had just enough time to throw the ball to Fitzgerald and allow him to get out of bounds in case Murray needed to use this option as a quick escape in order to avoid catastrophe while still moving the ball a chunk of yards downfield.
Needless to say, the underneath option was not needed, and Murray instead threw the ball into the end zone where Hopkins out jumped a myriad of Bills defenders to secure the best catch of the season and cap off the most successful Hail Mary play design of the year.