Cosell’s Coaching Tape: Week Fifteen 12/21/09 Notes

COLTS OFFENSE V. JAGUARS DEFENSE

  • Mathis back at LCB for the Jaguars, Middleton was the nickel corner over the slot
  • Allen started at LB for the injured and inactive Ingram
  • LB Smith at times aligned at DE in the nickel package; Jaguars clearly groping for any kind of pass rush – Smith often dropped out into coverage as part of zone exchange and zone blitz concepts
  • Jaguars blitzed consistently on the Colts first possession, mostly out if their 3-3-5 package with Smith at DE – Zone blitz and zone exchange concepts
  • Jaguars very multiple with pressures and coverages on the Colts first possession, Tried to show Manning different looks
  • Collie 23 yd TD was an unbelievable throw by Manning: It was “cover 2” with nickel corner Middleton locked man-to-man on slot receiver Collie; Manning threw the ball to the back shoulder of Collie, which was the only place the ball could be thrown
  • Colts only had 2 possessions in the first half, and they scored a TD on both
  • Manning very sharp in the first half both mentally and physically
  • Jaguars same problem they have every week: No consistent pass rush with predominant zone coverage concepts behind it – A bad combination
  • Harvey at times at DT in the nickel package, They’re trying to find a way to make him a pass rusher, He lacks the necessary quickness and explosion to be an edge pass rusher
  • Jaguars predominantly matched up to Colts “12” personnel with their base personnel, That left a LB walked out over Clark in the slot – That’s because the Jaguars are predominantly a zone  coverage based defense
  • Garcon got hurt in the third quarter, Baskett played when the Colts went with 3 WR personnel
  • Collie played on the outside in the Colts 2 WR personnel sets with Garcon out
  • Manning makes both his OL and his receivers better: Timing, anticipation, willingness to make stick throws in tight windows
  • Jaguars went with dime personnel versus Colts 3 WR in the fourth quarter after playing nickel through the first 3 quarters; Brackenridge was the 3rd corner in place of Middleton, and Smith was the 3rd safety
  • Wayne 65 yd TD on 3rd + 5 came against “cover 2” with the slots locked man-to-man; Manning manipulated S Nelson and caused him to sit in reaction to Collie’s seam route – All it took was just a momentary pause, and Nelson was not in position to get over the top of Wayne’s go route

JAGUARS OFFENSE V. COLTS DEFENSE

  • More 3 man DL fronts form the Colts out of their nickel personnel, wit Brock standing up and moving around as a “Joker”
  • Also see the Colts consistently challenge the “A” gaps out of their nickel, both before the snap and after the snap
  • Colts played “cover zero” on 3rd + 5 on the first series: Sims-Walker 7 yds – Overall, an aggressive Colts defense with a lot of fronts, pressures and coverages to prepare for
  • Hayden and Lacey started at CB for the Colts, Jennings was the nickel aligned on the inside
  • Bolen was the FB for the Jaguars in 2 back sets
  • Jaguars utilized 6 OL on a number of snaps, Black was the 6th OL
  • Freeney and Mathis did not play many snaps in this game, only in long yardage situations – Dawson and Brock played the majority of snaps at DE
  • Foster rotated at DE, and Moala rotated at DT for the Colts
  • Jones-Drew outstanding cutback ability, and great lateral acceleration
  • Jaguars a methodical and efficient offensive approach: Run the ball, and shorten the game
  • DT Moala must get stronger to battle the double-teams on the inside, More lower body and core strength – Colts utilized him as the “3 technique”
  • Saw a lot of “quarters” coverage from the Colts in normal down and distance situations, Solid approach versus Jaguars since it gets the safeties involved in the run game
  • Jaguars offense very basic and limited in terms of personnel and formations
  • There were times the Jaguars aligned with 6 OL and 2 backs on 2nd + 10: Overall, a basic offensive approach by NFL standards of 2009
  • Jennings has some burst, but he’s an upright runner; Tacklers get to his legs too easily
  • What always amazes me is how much power Mathis generates as a bull rusher, Great leverage and lower body strength
  • Garrard is a “system” downfield passer: If the play’s design creates the anticipated intermediate to downfield opportunity, he pulls the trigger with confidence and accuracy; He’s not a “stick throw into tight window” QB
  • LB Session very active and disruptive, He plays fast and aggressive; Wheeler also showed up, He played more snaps the usual because of the Jaguars predominant base offensive personnel
  • As the game progressed, Jennings played on the outside in the nickel package, with Hayden inside over the slot
  • Both third quarter TD passes by Garrard came on 3rd + long, the second came against against “cover zero” with Hayden matched on Thomas in the slot; Great throw by Garrard under duress
  • Garrard sack on 3rd + 13 in the fourth quarter came off a 4 man DL rush versus a 6 man protection; L Manuwai was beaten by DT Foster
  • Garrard interception was the result of pressure by Mathis: Colts 5 man rush with Brock as the “Joker” in a standup position, Mathis beat RG Nwaneri, Garrard could not follow through on the throw and it sailed on him
  • Colts pass rush in the fourth quarter was a key component of the win

SAINTS OFFENSE V. COWBOYS DEFENSE

  • Butler started at OLB in place of Ware, who only played in the nickel and dime packages as a pass rusher
  • Cowboys front seven looked quicker, faster and more decisive than the Saints OL
  • Scandrick and Ball were the extra DBs in the Cowboys dime package
  • Cowboys did an excellent job with zone blitz pressures out of their base 3-4 personnel; Saints struggled with their assignments, They had enough bodies to block the blitz but rushers still got in clean
  • Jenkins interception came against “man free lurk”: Jenkins matched man-to-man on Henderson, and he ran with him stride-for-stride; Henderson may have had a step at the very end, but there was not a lot of room for Brees to get the ball over the top of Jenkins – Ball was underthrown but it was not an easy throw
  • Cowboys played predominantly man coverage in long yardage situations against spread sets
  • Saints problems at OT continued to show up; LT Bushrod cannot consistently block quality edge pass rushers one-on-one – Brees has compensated for this weakness most of the season but it’s definitely a flaw that can be exposed
  • Cowboys did an excellent job with their zone coverage concepts, They clearly had a great feel for the Saints route combinations based on receiver location and distribution – Ware sack at the end of the first half was a great example of that, Brees had time to deliver the ball but the coverage took away his designed throw
  • Saints a precise timing and rhythm pass game, and the Cowboys, with their combination of pressure and coverage, disrupted the Saints timing – The coverage took care of the 3 and 5 step drop pass game, and the pressure negated the 7 step drop pass game
  • Saints clearly has problems identifying pressures from the Cowboys base 3-4, Too many unaccounted for rushers
  • As the game progressed, Ware also played in the base 3-4; He was back to his usual starting role
  • Brooking played a lot in the Cowboys nickel LBs with Carpenter; Carpenter clearly a better zone defender than man defender, Not great change of direction and lateral quickness required in man coverage
  • Saints OL was overmatched in this game, Cowboys pass rush was so much quicker – LG Nicks struggled in pass protection, He was driven back a number of times
  • By defensive alignment, the Cowboys forced the Saints OL to have to move to pass protect; That limited their ability to play physically and work together
  • Cowboys rushed 4 on every play on the final drive
  • Brees was clearly impacted by the pass rush, He started to anticipate pressure – The other critical point was that the Cowboys took away the early in the down timing throws that fuel the Saints pass game
  • Ware just dominated LT Bushrod, He beat him outside and inside; It was a total mismatch
  • Bushrod and Stinchcome particularly have problems with wide “9 technique” alignments, It essentially dictates on-on-one matchups
  • HC Payton will have to think through his pass protection concepts as he goes forward; He likes to get all 5 eligible receivers out into routes, but that may place too much of a burden on tackles Bushrod and Stinchcomb

COWBOYS OFFENSE V. SAINTS DEFENSE

  • Saints continued at times to utilize 3-3-5 personnel as a significant part of their nickel package
  • Austin 49 yd TD came out of “12” personnel versus single high safety: Coverage did it all it could to help Jenkins, giving him an underneath defender, but Jenkins still reacted to the stutter in the stutter-go; His lack of change of direction and recovery speed was evident – Cowboys clearly targeted Jenkins, the weak link in the Saints secondary
  • Saints 3-4 at times against Cowboys base personnel; Mitchell was the fourth LB
  • Cowboys predominant 2 TE personnel in normal down and distance situations, whether it was “12” or “22”; It’s a good way to stabilize the defensive front
  • First 2 series, which both produced TDs, saw the Cowboys dominate the line of scrimmage
  • In the Saints nickel package, Jenkins moved inside over the slot and McKenzie was the third CB; Porter was also back for this game, and he played on the outside in the nickel
  • Cowboys offense very basic and straightforward in its use of personnel and formations, Not a difficult offense to defend conceptually
  • Saints did a lot of slanting with their DL, and scraping with their LB; Excellent tactic against a big and ponderous Cowboys OL, Make them move before they hit
  • Romo a scrambler and a passer more than a pocket movement QB, When he moves his strong tendency is to leave the pocket as opposed to subtly move and then reset and throw – Romo more of an instinct player than a cerebral player, An energy QB more than a system QB
  • Vilma outstanding speed, Great sideline-to-sideline range, Moves at times like a RB
  • Smith sack in the second quarter came out of “cover zero”, Smith easily beat LT Adams around the edge
  • Cowboys very little shifting, very little motion; They lined up and ran their plays
  • S Harper much more effective the closer he is to the line of scrimmage
  • Barber and Jones both ran hard, Jones was surprisingly tough on inside runs
  • Saints do not have exceptional personnel on defense, A triumph for the most part of coaching and consistent effort
  • Austin 32 yds on 3rd + 7 in the fourth quarter: Saints showed “cover zero” blitz before the snap and then dropped out to 5 man rush with a “man free” concept behind it; Corners played soft, with 7-10 yd cushions – Saints gave Romo a pressure look that the coverage did not accommodate, It was pitch and catch for Romo, It was more a case of bad defense than anything
  • At the end of the day, DC Williams is trying to compensate for average defensive talent
  • Romo a solid game, He made a number of outstanding throws but also left some plays out there with poor reads

STEELERS OFFENSE V. PACKERS DEFENSE

  • First 2 plays of the game the Steelers compromised the coverage with run action: Wallace 60 yd TD and Miller 23 yds
  • Woodson was predominantly matched on Ward when the Steelers were in both 2 and 3 WR personnel
  • Steelers very diverse both in terms of personnel and formations, That made excellent sense since the Packers defense is complex structurally with a lot of detail to their pressures and coverages
  • Steelers game plan was clearly to throw the ball out of different personnel and formation looks
  • Matthews great ability to get low and skim the corner as a pass rusher, Really hard to teach that – Great balance, body control and explosion
  • Raji predominantly played NT in the Packers base 3-4 in this game, Most of the season he had played DE in the 3-4
  • Packers used a lot of unconventional tactics in terms of fronts and pressures, They put a tremendous burden on an OL and a QB
  • LB Jones showed good quickness and speed, A better fit in the Packers scheme than Kampman
  • Steelers clearly spread out the Packers defense, They were not going to align in tight formations and allow the Packers to clutter up the inside and confuse the blocking schemes
  • Roethlisberger threw the ball extremely well, He made some big time throws
  • Packers decreased their zone blitz frequency in the second half, More conventional 4 man rushes with more coverage based schemes
  • Holmes 32 yds on GW TD drive was clearly a coverage mistake by the Packers, They rushed 3 and dropped 8 and they allowed Holmes to run across the field against LB Barnett – No way that was the correct assignment in the coverage
  • On the Steelers GW TD drive, the Packers never rushed more than 4 on any play; All 11 plays were either 3 or 4 man rushes – Packers did not utilize their staple, the zone blitz, on any snap, instead using static 3 and 4 man rushes with no stunts or exchanges
  • On Wallace 19 yd GW TD, the Packers rushed 3 and dropped 8, and there was still a one-on-one matchup on the outside with Wallace versus their fourth corner Bell – Packers played 5 under / 3 deep, but all 3 deep defenders squeezed inside
  • I thought the Steelers game plan approach was outstanding; A ton of formations, a lot of spread concepts that forced the Packers defense to digest and work through multiple adjustments – As the game progressed, they clearly blitzed with less frequency; They were reactive to the Steelers offense, not proactive

PACKERS OFFENSE V. STEELERS DEFENSE

  • Steelers “fire x” inside blitz on the first play of the game: Aggressive start to get a struggling defense going
  • Steelers same blitz on the second play of the game, and on that one, they put Rodgers on the ground
  • Rodgers just overthrew Driver on a stutter-go out of “22” personnel and designed movement off play action; Driver ran right by CB Burnett, The ball went off Driver’s fingertips – It could have been an 80 yd TD
  • Rodgers has a big arm, Throws with velocity and distance – Among the better arms in the NFL
  • Focus of Steelers pressure was clearly up the middle, 3 “fire x” blitzes on the first 4 plays and on the third one Timmons drilled Rodgers into the ground
  • Rodgers tough in the pocket, Willing to take a hit to deliver the ball – Plus he has a very compact and quick delivery that allows the ball to come out fast in the face of pressure
  • Townsend was the Steelers nickel corner aligned over the slot
  • Burnett, Taylor and Gay rotated at CB for the Steelers
  • Jennings 83 yd TD was a great throw by Rodgers down the middle seam but S Carter has to make that tackle for a 25 yd gain; Great design by the Packers: 3×1 set with Jennings the inside slot on the 3 receiver side, He ran down the seam against LB Timmons
  • Timmons has excellent downhill speed, He’s an outstanding blitzer; He‘s much better moving forward than he is playing pass coverage
  • Finley may be the most purely athletic TE in the NFL: He’s a “Joker” in the Packers offense, aligning all over the formation; He beats corners on slant routes when split wide
  • Rodgers took some big hits in the first half, Steelers pass rush was effective but Rodgers made some big time throws with bodies around him – A very impressive first half performance
  • Packers a lot of shotgun spread and a lot of empty sets; An excellent approach against a Steelers defense that has had communication issues in the secondary, Make the Steelers have to defend more area and thus communicate more
  • Steelers still had problems with coverage, Players again not playing their assignments correctly; Mental mistakes that produced physical breakdowns – A great example was Driver 19 yds on 3rd + 16 that led to a 4th quarter TD
  • Finley 11 yd TD came with him split wide outside the numbers running a fade route against S Clark; He just out-athleted Clark – Finley a significant weapon in the red zone: A combination of athleticism and size
  • Jones 24 yd TD came on 3rd + 14 out of 3 WR versus Steelers “fire x” blitz, Packers 7 man protection picked up the blitz – Great route by Jones to beat Burnett
  • Rodgers was outstanding in this game, It got lost in the last play defeat but this was as good a performance against a pressure defense as I have seen this season; Steelers had a lot of bodies around him throughout the game and Rodgers was poised and sharp

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