Johnson has routinely shown guts and imagination as a play-caller, from a fourth down pass to offensive tackle Penei Sewell to a hook-and-lateral on a critical play in Week 18 last season. Obviously, it’s easy to praise him when the imaginative play-calls work.
Later in last Sunday’s game, running back David Montgomery took a direct snap 10 yards on a 3rd-and-6 to put the Lions in the red zone and set up a touchdown. But it was not your ordinary direct snap to a running back.
Usually, the quarterback moves out from under center/out of the way on a direct snap to another player before the snap, and it’s something of a give-away to the defense that something tricky is happening.
So how do you take away that tell? Have the quarterback stay in place, of course.
Jared Goff reveals where Lions got direct snap from
During his appearance on 97.1 The Ticket on Tuesday, via Pride of Detroit, Lions quarterback Jared Goff revealed where the direct snap play came from.
“We stole it from a college team. I believe it was William and Mary. I think that was the school. It was wherever Colby Sorsdal went to school, which I believe was William and Mary,” Goff said. “We saw it from them. We call those our specials is what we call them, our trick plays, our ‘specials.’ Our specials ideas guys found that one and thought it fit our game plan this week and we put it in.”
Lions' rookie offensive tackle Colby Sorsdal indeed went to William & Mary, and the play presumably showed up when Sorsdal was being studied during the pre-draft process. Here’s what William & Mary’s version of the play looked like, with a wrinkle the Lions didn’t use (yet).
It doesn’t take much evaluation to see how the direct snap play could go awry for Goff. After the game he addressed that, from of course having practiced it to what he did to mitigate any risk of the snap hitting him anywhere.
“It never hit me anywhere, which was good, but I had to get really close to Frank,” Goff said. “There was no room for error. I was very intimate with him on that play.”
Johnson gives the players some say in the Lions’ offensive game plan each week. The conversation about the direct snap has surely been something like, “Frank, can you do this in a game?” Ragnow confirmed he could, Johnson found an appropriate moment to go with it against Carolina, and it worked.