Cosell’s Coaching Tape: Week Twelve 12/1/09 Notes

CARDS OFFENSE V. TITANS DEFENSE

  • Titans defense more independent movement at the line of scrimmage with more players in stand up positions and fewer in 3 point stances, An attempt to create problems of identification in pass protection
  • Titans matched up to the Cards 4 WR personnel with their dime package: Fuller and Kaesviharn were the extra DBs; Fuller is the nickel corner aligned inside over the slot
  • It was clearly a part of the Cards game plan to chip Vanden Bosch, either with a back or a TE
  • Titans a quick DL, and they were effective with stunts and movement against the Cards OL
  • One thing that stood out about the Titans defense is that both corners Finnegan and Harper are willing to hit and play with physicality in the run game
  • Titans align their DEs very wide in passing down and distances (the wide 9 technique); That can be difficult for offensive tackles, and it will be for Colts OT Johnson and Diem
  • Titans doing more with their coverage schemes; More hybrid and combination looks, although the foundation was predominantly zone concepts – I’m sure it’s a function of everyone back and healthy
  • Titans very reliant on their front four for pressure on the QB in long yardage situations, They do not blitz much and they do not play a high percentage of man coverage concepts
  • Cards only 52 offensive snaps in this game, so they were not able to get to the volume in their run game; That’s why Wells only got 8 carries
  • Bridges replaced an injury Gandy at LT in the fourth quarter
  • Overall, Leinart was poised and composed; He was smart and aware in the pocket, He knew where to go with the football – His limitations are the result of arm strength, He has an average at best NFL arm and therefore cannot make certain throws; That places restrictions on a play caller and an offense

STEELERS OFFENSE V. RAVENS DEFENSE

  • Ravens defense very multiple with their fronts and alignments, Both 3-4 and 4-3 looks
  • Mendenhall runs with a physical presence, There’s a natural strength and power to him
  • Mendenhall much more of a one cut downhill power runner than a laterally explosive back
  • Steelers clearly a greater focus on the running game with Dixon at QB
  • The early throws the Steelers gave Dixon were all screens, both backfield screens and bubble screens – No reads, simple throws to develop some confidence
  • The first 2 downfield throws by Dixon were first down play action passes; First down is the best down to throw because you’re facing, based on probability and tendency, predictable fronts and coverages: Ward 19 yds and Holmes 33 yd TD
  • Steelers much fewer 3 WR and spread formations with Dixon, Greater emphasis on “21” and “12” personnel packages – Wallace did not get as many snaps in this game
  • Lewis struggled when OL got to him cleanly, He had to be kept clean in order to make plays in the run game
  • Dixon showed good poise in the pocket, For an athletic QB with good running skills he showed the willingness to trust his protection and stay in the pocket versus blitz
  • Dixon a quick compact delivery, but his stroke is very short with little arm extension; He pushes the ball a little bit but the ball came out well in the intermediate area
  • Steelers clearly tried to minimize Dixon’s impact on the game, especially in the first half – That was not surprising, and it was the right thing to do
  • Ngata is a man-child, His pure physical strength is impressive, There were times he just tossed OL like they were rag dolls
  • Wallace dropped a TD in the third quarter, A great deep throw by Dixon
  • In long yardage situations, Steelers flanked Dixon with both a back and a TE to maximize protection against blitz and secure his comfort level in the pocket
  • Nickel corner Webb always stands out, He’s tough and physical for his size; Very good in the slot
  • Dixon 24 yd TD on 3rd + 5 came against “cover zero” blitz, It was the first time the Ravens went “cover zero” in the game – The play call featured designed movement and Dixon got on the edge with no one in front of him
  • Steelers took a deep shot on their first possession of OT with Wallace stutter-go versus Carr, Wallace ran right by Carr but Dixon threw the ball out of bounds
  • As the game progressed and Dixon threw the ball down the field more, he became more scattershot and erratic with his accuracy
  • Kruger interception in OT was a great example of the zone exchange principle: It was a 4 man rush with Lewis from the inside and Foxworth from the boundary corner blitzing, and DEs Johnson and Kruger dropping out into coverage – Dixon had no idea Kruger was in the passing lane as he threw the quick slant to Holmes, Ravens baited Dixon

SAINTS OFFENSE V. PATRIOTS DEFENSE

  • Saints attacked on the game’s first play: Henderson 33 yds on a fade route versus Bodden, Henderson “x” iso to the boundary
  • Bell a tough inside runner, He’s a collision runner who initiates contact but also shows some lateral elusiveness in the hole
  • Saints first FG drive featured 7 offensive plays, They showed 7 different formations
  • Saints a very physical running offense, both from an OL standpoint and the way backs Bell and Thomas run; They are both tough, strong inside runners with natural power and strength
  • Patriots played both 3-4 and 4-3 fronts, Wilfork aligned at almost every DL position
  • Saints incredibly multi-dimensional with personnel, formations and play calling – They are a matchup nightmare for defenses, and this is even before you talk about their talent
  • Saints generate a lot of big plays with seam routes from the slot, either from 2×2 sets, 3×1 sets, or 3×2 empty sets
  • Patriots have no consistent pass rush, When they rush 4 they generate no pressure; Burgess just a guy and Thomas has no juice – It hurt them against Manning and the Colts, and it killed them against Brees
  • Saints offense a perfect mix of physicality, deception and synchronized execution
  • Meachem now a bigger factor in the Saints pass game, No longer just a situational sub-package receiver, More of a multi-dimensional receiver than can align anywhere in the formation
  • I was surprised at Colston’s speed on his 68 yd catch and run in the third quarter – The route was a slant-and-go that adjusted on the fly to a back shoulder fade based on the positioning of CB Wilhite on the inside with his back turned
  • No QB throws off the back of defenders better than Brees, He sees the back of a defender he pulls the trigger – The last QB I remember who did this with consistency and effectiveness was Marino
  • Overall, I though Colston looked quicker and more explosive than he has at any point this season
  • Brees defines the necessary attributes of high level QB play in the NFL: Speed of decision making, Timing and anticipation, Pocket movement, Accuracy
  • Patriots defense big problem is a glaring lack of a pass rusher who can win one-on-one, They have to scheme pressure and that always puts a burden on coverage

BEARS OFFENSE V. VIKINGS DEFENSE

  • Sapp started at CB for the Vikings with Winfield still inactive
  • Allen was the nickel corner, playing inside over the slot
  • LT Pace is a painful watch, He should not be on the field
  • Bears entire game planned pass game focus was 3 and 5 step drops: Protect the worst OL in the NFL, and help Cutler with quickly defined reads and short throws
  • Cutler great throw to Knox on 24 yd TD, He dropped it right into the bucket; Knox beat Sapp on a fade, A perfect throw was required to beat Sapp’s good coverage
  • Allen just killed Pace on almost every pass rush, but with the predominant quick drop pass game, he wasn’t necessarily hitting Cutler, although there were some plays in which he hit Cutler just after he delivered the ball
  • Griffin end zone interception was underthrown by Cutler; Knox ran by Griffin, but Cutler did not lay it out far enough – Right receiver, just an inaccurate throw
  • Forte continues to look slow and plodding, Absolutely no juice to him at all; He’s a back that needs space to be created by his OL, and the Bears OL is terrible – Forte is not a creator on his own
  • Henderson again stood out, Week to week he’s the best MLB in the NFL
  • RT Williams also struggled in pass protection, as he also has all season – The Bears arguably have worst tackle duo in the NFL
  • I don’t know if Pace got hurt, but he was replaced by Shaffer in the fourth quarter
  • Cutler now showing a tendency to perceive pressure, The cumulative effect of playing behind a porous OL and taking too many hits
  • Bears a bad offensive team right now; Because the overall quality of their WRs, and the style of WR (small with no physicality) is lacking, Cutler can’t play his game, so the negative elements of his gunslinger approach come to the forefront

BUCS OFFENSE V. FALCONS DEFENSE

  • Owens started at LCB for the Falcons, and both Hill and Grimes were active
  • Jackson is the Falcons nickel corner, He plays over the slot – At times he’s used as a blitzer in the Falcons predominant zone blitz schemes
  • Falcons defensive tendency is to match up to personnel, not down and distance – A great example of this was 3rd + 14 on the Bucs first series: The Bucs stayed with base offensive personnel, Falcons matched up with their base 4-3 personnel
  • My sense watching the Falcons defense is that they are predictable in terms of their use of “Tampa 2”; You can dictate “Tampa 2” with personnel and formation
  • Freeman looked more comfortable throwing the ball than he did in earlier starts, It came out cleaner with more velocity – But he still has big problems with footwork at the top of his drop on plant and throw passes, That leads to scattershot accuracy
  • Freeman still a little overreactive in the pocket, Tendency to perceive pressure and break down when he doesn’t need to
  • Falcons played “Tampa 2” against the Bucs in long yardage situations
  • Freeman a much more comfortable thrower off movement, either designed or improvised; His footwork is cleaner and his balance is much better – Bryant 38 yds in the second quarter
  • Falcons played all 4 corners – Houston, Owens, Hill and Grimes – throughout the game; They are obviously still looking for consistency at the position
  • Falcons played predominant zone coverage schemes, Very little man-to-man
  • Falcons at times matched up to Bucs “22” personnel ( 2 backs and 2 TE) with 4-4 personnel – Bucs threw out of that personnel on 3rd + 2 in the third quarter: Winslow 15 yds on a crossing route
  • Falcons at times utilized 3-3-5 personnel as their nickel package
  • Freeman at this point is a plant and hitch passer much more than a plant and throw passer – Really struggles with his accuracy when he has to plant, transfer his weight immediately and throw; That’s when his balance issues show up
  • Bucs OL struggled with pass protection, It’s a slower unit that had problems with movement and speed
  • Falcons defense not a very challenging group, They rely predominantly on their front four to generate pass rush pressure – If they can do that, the Falcons defense can be disruptive; If not, the Falcons can be broken down with the pass

BENGALS OFFENSE V. BROWNS DEFENSE

  • Bucs continued to liberally utilize 6 OL as a significant part of their offense; They also used the unbalanced OL with LT Whitworth aligned at TE on the right and a TE at LT
  • Rookie Smith played for the first time, He aligned at RT when the Bengals utilized 6 OL
  • Johnson showed lateral quickness and short area burst; He was decisive getting to the point of attack – He’s clearly not vertically explosive, but he showed sustaining ability
  • Bengals OL not very consistent with pass protection, It’s not a very athletic unit and they can be beaten individually
  • Bengals played this game very conservatively: They felt they could control the pace and tempo running the ball, and they did not want to expose their OL to the myriad pressure schemes that 3-4 defenses present more than 4-3 defenses
  • Palmer was clearly not comfortable in the pocket in this game, He was under pressure right from the beginning of the game, If he saw running opportunities he took them – Overall, the passing game, because of the poor play of the OL, never developed any rhythm
  • Scott has some juice, He has burst and acceleration, He has the ability to stop and start and change direction – He’s naturally more explosive than Johnson
  • Bengals used the unbalanced OL on a significant numbers of snaps, It was a major component of their run game
  • Browns were able to generate consistent pass rush pressure on Palmer the times the Bengals threw the ball off deeper drops, although those plays were minimal
  • Bengals OL a much better run blocking unit than pass blocking group; In fact, they are a below average pass blocking OL, and that could be a big problem as they progress, especially in the playoffs

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