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Jake Locker Film Study #1 - Oregon State - 1st Half

Considering all the time we've got this offseason, we may have a few of these analysis over the summer.  I've been so hard on Locker ever since the draft, and even before the draft, that I figured it would be a good change of pace to kick off the film study with his best performance of the year.  The post (or series of posts) will be a long one, as we will break down 47 plays.  This way you can see what I'm seeing on each individual play, and tell me whether I'm right, wrong, or incompetent.  Given the length of this, I will separate this into two halves.

Originally, I had planned on posting 47 separate YouTube clips that skipped forward in the video to the relevant play.  After thinking about that a little more, I thought it would likely a) eat up too much bandwidth and b) create too much clutter.  So, I'm going to post the video once at the top of the page, and will begin each individual play analysis by indicating the start point in the video.

Couple of things to note:

1.  I'll describe formations as either Pro, Pistol, or Shotgun.  This is mostly just meant to illustrate Locker's positioning.

2.  Personnel Packages will be described using numbering that identifies RB's and TE's.  For example, 11 personnel means 1 RB and 1 TE.  12 Personnel means 1 RB and 2 TE.  I'll also be identifying these packages based on alignment, more than personnel.  On the first play, they are actually in 20 personnel, but that doesn't effectively illustrate the formation since the second half back is split out wide.  Hope that makes sense.

3.  This is basically just me putting my thoughts on a page while I watch this film.  I won't be quantifying his statistics out of certain formations, or certain pattern depths; nor will I be grading each play.

4.  I'd say that this study is best digested by first reviewing the relevant play, and then reading the summary.  It'll make more sense that way.

(0:00)  Pre-Snap:  "10" Personnel, Pro Style formation with three receivers bunched to the Strongside of the play.  Strongside flanker comes in motion.  

The Play:  It's a playaction, naked bootleg with two levels of crossing patterns on the backside of the play.  First read is to the flat receiver, who's covered.  Locker checks to the second read who's running a ~15 yard crossing route.  The throw he makes is big time, and it's one of the things Locker does best.  There's a better view on the replay, but keep an eye on his shoulders.  QB coaches will tell you to always keep your shoulders pointed to the target.  His shoulders are directed at his first read, and then his second.  Aligning his shoulders this way allows him to make an amazing throw on time and on target.

(0:21)  Pre-Snap:  "10" Personnel, Pistol formation with four receivers spread out.  Strongside flanker comes in motion to bunch with his split end on the strong side of the play.

The Play:  Quick Screen pass to the half back.  Locker gets the ball out quickly and places the ball well.  The Huskies catch OSU blitzing to the playside, and capitalize for a big gain.

(0:45)  Pre-Snap:  "10" Personnel, Shotgun formation with two receivers bunched on both sides of the formation.  Strongside flanker goes in motion to overload the right side with three receivers.  Single high safety.  Defense is showing at least 5 rushers, maybe 6.  Motion indicates man coverage on the motioning receiver.

The Play:  Basic slant combinations.  Isolated receiver runs a slant (actually more of a drag).  Two receivers to the bunch side run slant routes.  The inside flanker to the bunch side runs a flat route.  Generally against a blitz, one receiver should be hot.  Probably the flat receiver, who appeared to be in a position to get the first down if Locker had gotten the ball out quickly.  Moreover, the defense is offsides.  The heady play would have been to throw one of the deeper slant patterns for more yardage.  That said, foot work on this play is excellent.  Solid hitch from the gun, followed by a good mobility in the pocket.  It just probably wasn't the best place to go with the ball.

(1:00)  Pre-Snap:  "12" Personnel, Pro Style formation.  One receiver is position on both sides of the formation.  Two tight ends are bunched on the strong side of the play.

The Play:  It's a traditional play action pass.  Locker does a solid job with footwork and selling the fake.  Neither receiver is open on the play, and Locker correctly throws the ball away.

(1:10)  Pre-Snap:  "Empty" Package, Shotgun formation.  Three receivers are on the right side of the play.  Two to the left.

The Play:  It's a bad one.  Offensive line protection is atrocious.  Locker has no opportunity to get the ball out, and is forced to scramble.  While running, he runs into his own lineman and fumbles the ball.  This is a pretty fluke play, and it's hard to beat up Locker too much blame.  Still, you'd like to see him get down on the play and give his kicker the opportunity to convert a Red Zone attempt into three points.

(1:37)  Pre-Snap:  "20" Personnel, Shotgun.  Two receivers to the right side of the formation.

The Play:  Play action to both backs.  First read is to the running back running a flat pattern to the strongside.  This is where Jake goes with the ball.  Great throw, and really the only place he could have completed a throw.  Protection was poor on this play, but it appears that was by design.

(1:47)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel, Pro Style.  Two receivers spread out to the left.  Tight end is in the down position with a flanker to his right.

The Play:  Three step drop.  The read is to the left side of the field.  The split end and slot receiver are running a slant-flat combo.  The read is the corner, as he can't cover both players.  Locker correctly identifies the open receiver, and delivers an excellent ball that allows his slot receiver to get upfield for the first down.

(1:55)  Pre-Snap:  "Empty" Package, Shotgun.  Three receivers bunched to the left side of the formation.  Two receivers split out to the right.  Based on alignment, it looks like they are in man.

The Play:  Executed perfectly.  It's a catch, hitch, throw.  Locker identifies that his slot receiver's defender is in off man.  His route is a 5 yard out, which makes this an easy pitch and catch.  Jake throws a great ball and it results in a 9 yard gain.

(2:03)  Pre-Snap:  "20" Personnel, Pistol Formation.  Slot receiver motions from the left to the right.

The Play:  Play action.  Slot receiver is running a 10 yard out, and that's Jake's read the entire play, which is fine since he's in single coverage.  The issue on this play is partly on his offensive line, but also with Locker's footwork.  The strongside defensive tackle gets a good push, that leaves Locker little room in the pocket.  You'd like to see him slide to the left, step up, and throw a strike.  Instead, he's left to throw off balance, which results in an inaccurate pass.

(2:14)  Pre-Snap:  "Empty" Package with a TE, Shotgun.  Tight End goes in motion from right to left.

The Play:  Designed quarterback run off the left tackle.  Executed well by Jake as he picks up the first down with ease.

(2:32)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Pistol Formation.  Slot receiver motions to the right.

The Play:  It appears both the 1 and 2 reads are to the right side of the field.  I love his footwork on this one.  Locker hitches, takes small steps in the pocket, and is ready to deliver the ball if his receiver is open.  Clock in his head counts  Eyes are down field the entire time.  Locker turns a negative play into a positive play by scrambling for 6-7 yards.  Fantastic play.  I know it doesn't look like much, but it's little plays like this that make me think this kid could be special.

(2:54)  Pre-Snap:  "10" Personnel.  Shotgun Formation.  Two receivers spread to both sides of the play.  Slot receiver to the right runs a jet sweep.

The Play:  Play action fake to the sweeping receiver, and then to the running back.  Action is to the left side.  Locker rolls out to the right.  Running back runs a flat route, which is covered.  Locker buys time with his legs, and then throws an absolute strike to his receiver running a deep comeback route.  There are only a handful of guys in the NFL right now that can make this kind of a play.  The velocity and placement of this throw is outstanding.  

(3:25)  Pre-Snap:  "21" Personnel.  Pro Style formation.  Slot and split end receivers are split out to the strong side of the play on the right.  

The Play:  Play action.  Locker runs a solid fake, and seems very comfortable turning his back to the defense.  Footwork is solid.  He gets a great hitch after the fake, steps up in the pocket, and throws an accurate ball to his split end running a come back route.  

(3:30)  Pre-Snap:  "21" Personnel.  Pro Style formation.  One receiver split out on both sides of the formation.

The Play:  Play action fake.  Locker checks off his receiver, the primary read, to the running back, who's covered.  He throws anyways.  The throw sails, but it could be a throw away.   You'd like to see Locker check down to his third read.  Had he done this, he also might have seen the possible running lane to the left side.

(3:43)  Pre-Snap:  "Empty" Package.  Shotgun formation.  Two receivers are flanked on either side of the TE to the left side of the play.  SE is split out to the left.  Weakside flanker runs a jet sweep.

The Play:  Play action fake to the sweeping receiver.  All receivers on the strongside of the play appear to be running crossing patterns to the right.  Locker bootlegs to the right as well.  Locker throws an accurate ball on the move to a receiver running along the back of the endzone.  Good play.

(4:05)  Pre Snap:  "21" Personnel.  Shotgun formation.  Two receivers split out left.  Weakside running back runs in motion to the left.

The Play:  Swing pass to the motioning running back.  This one gets away from Locker as he throws off target to the right.  The rushing defender could have influenced the inaccuracy.

(4:12)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Pro Style.  Three receivers are bunched to the left.

The Play:  Fake pitch to the left.  Locker bootlegs to the right.  No one is open, and he easily picks up the first down with his legs.

(4:22)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Pro Style.  Receiver motions from right to left.

The Play:  Play action.  Blocking is terrible on this play.  Almost immediately, Locker is scrambling in the pocket.  He tries to make an off balance throw to his running back, but it winds up incomplete.  It appears that Locker would have been better of scrambling on this one.

(4:31)  Pre-Snap:  "12" Personnel.  Shotgun formation.  Two tight ends are stacked to the right.

The Play:  Play action sweep to the right.  Action's to the right side.  Locker bootlegs to the backside of the play.  The way this kid throws on the move is mesmerizing.  Jake drills this throw to his receiver while on the move to his left side.  This is an extremely difficult intermediate pass that's further compounded by rolling to the weak side.  Big time throw.  

(4:57)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Shotgun formation.  Two receivers to the right.  Weakside receiver runs a jet sweep.

The Play:  Play action to the jet sweeper.  His split end and slot receivers are both running posts.  Locker steps up in the pocket, and is unable to fully step into his throw as there are defenders at his feet.  Still, he throws a beautiful ball to his split end.  Even somewhat off balance, Locker nails a 50 yard throw to his receiver in stride.  Touchdown.

(5:07)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Pro Style formation. Two receivers to the right.  

The Play:  Three step drop.  Slant-flat combination.  Probably should have gone to the flat receiver here.  Throw to the slant receiver sails on him.

(5:17)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Shotgun formation.  Two receivers to the right.

The Play:  This is a bad play.  His weakside receiver is running a deep comeback.  The corner isn't buying the go route, though, and never gets his body turned around.  He's all over this pattern.  Jake should have either thrown this one away, or scrambled to the right.  With it being 3rd and 18, and his team up by 14, there's no excuse.  I'm sure Jake wanted this one back immediately after it left his hand.

(5:38)  Pre-Snap:  "10" Personnel.  Shotgun formation.  Three receivers split out to the left.

The Play:  Swing pass to his running back to the right.  Locker throws an accurate ball and his back does the rest, picking up 10 on the play.

(5:49)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Pro Style formation.  Two receivers split out to the left.  TE and FL to the right.

The Play:  Slant-flat combo to the right between the TE and Flanker.  Slant receiver is open for bigger yardage, but this is still a good throw that allows his tight end to pick up the first down and get out of bounds.

(5:57)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Shotgun formation.  Two receivers split out left.

The Play:  His receiver to the left is running a slant pattern.  This is Locker's read from the get go.  The throw is a little off target, to his receiver's back shoulder, but this should be a catch.

(6:13)  Pre-Snap:  "11" Personnel.  Shotgun formation.  Two receivers bunched right.

The Play:  Protection is horrid on this play.  There's nothing else Jake can do but take the sack.

Not surprisingly, this film study will make one gush over Locker.  It's a solid performance, and when contrasted to his performance against Arizona State, he's much more fundamentally sound.  Really, after breaking down this first half, and picking over each play of Locker's, it's really improved my opinion of him as a player.  Obviously, I still need to break down some more games, but this is certainly encouraging stuff.  There are some lapses in judgement here, but all in all the good outweighs the bad.

Let me know if you have any specific questions.  And, also, tell me if this is something that you, the readers, enjoy.  As you might imagine, this is a somewhat time consuming task.  So, if it's not something you find interesting, I can discontinue this series and focus on some other things.  I think, moving forward, I may not chronicle every single play, but only those which I find noteworthy.

* h/t BythePowerofMunchak for his similar posts this week.