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Film Room: Jay Ajayi and the Wham Concept

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On their second drive of a no score game, the Philadelphia Eagles faced 1st & 17 on the Oakland Raiders 26 yard-line. The play would only go for 9 yards, but it caught color commentator (and future two-time Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach?) Jon Gruden’s attention.

“That’s the Philadelphia Wham… it’s an uncommon play in the NFL and it’s driving defenses crazy.” – Jon Gruden

So what is a Wham play? Well, it’s not always called a Wham, it can also be called a Crunch. So what’s a Crunch play? Simply speaking, a Wham/Crunch is a Trap, only the key block comes from the outside.

It’s not a new concept, Jim Harbaugh uses it at Michigan and he used it in the first year of his tenure as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Take a trip back in time to 2011, back when the 49ers didn’t need a backup New England Patriots quarterback and a former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinators to get people to talk about them.

The idea of this “isolation” play is to cut a swathe in the defense by sealing the 3-tech and putting the MIKE linebacker in a pickle. The key block here comes from the wing in TE Delanie Walker (#46). The 3-tech is DL Ndamukong Suh (#90).

The 49ers and Harbaugh recognized that it’s more fruitful and efficient to allow Suh up-field and block him at an angle with a significant leverage advantage. Additionally, you’re blocking him with one TE, as opposed to doubling him with two offensive linemen. The 49ers “Wham” with Walker on Suh resulted in a 47 yard gain by RB Frank Gore (#21).

The Eagles executed the same concept against the Raiders on Monday Night Football. Here’s the end-zone angle:

Here are the basic rules of a “Wham” as applied by the Eagles:

  • The 3-tech lined up across from LG Chance Warmack (#67) is allowed a free run up-field, to be picked up by TE Brent Celek (#87).
  • The 1-tech lined up to C Jason Kelce (#62) is allowed up-field, to be picked up by LG Chance Warmack (#67), which frees up Kelce to pick up the MIKE linebacker.
  • RG Brandon Brooks (#79) seals the EMLOS, allowing RT Lane Johnson (#65) to climb to the backside linebacker.
  • The RB Jay Ajayi (#36) starts with an “open cross-over” (watch his initial steps) and runs the “B-Gap rail” with his initial point being the outside leg of the play-side guard.

Along with the block by Celek, it’s important to have a center like Kelce that has the quickness to get to the MIKE linebacker Navarro Bowman (#53) and seal him off, assuming he isn’t already in the blender. The play went for 9 yards, which is a win for the offense and set up a touchdown on a screen to Ajayi on the next play to go ahead 7-0.

The Eagles will face several challenges and will have to mask newly developing weaknesses in the playoffs, but they can always rely on the Wham.

If you enjoyed this piece, check out our other pieces in the Film Room!

 

Michael is an NFL Draft enthusiast, aspiring scout, and grandson of longtime East Stroudsburg (Pa.) HS football coach John P. Kist. He hosts Locked On Eagles and writes for Inside the Pylon & Breaking Football.

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