Game Notes: Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Saints

This off-season, we spent some time watching each and every NFL team again, trying to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses with players we might have missed in the rush of the regular season. The intention was to feel more confident in our analysis for what turned out to be our biggest player profiles ever.We spent more time on some teams than on others, and even the teams we spent the most time on we were only able to watch a handful of games. But we thought it might be cool to publish a series of blogs detailing what we saw from the teams we watched with our raw notes.

These notes were never intended for publication, so forgive grammatical errors or the occasional poor language. Nor were they intended to be comprehensive, or definitive takes on fringe players (especially WRs, who are difficult to watch on TV angles). We simply thought it’d be a neat way to show a little extra insight into some of the players that we might not have felt like we had a great grip on this season.

Miami Dolphins

Week 2 – Hou

Chad Henne
- Sack on first series no receivers open… Henne had no chance.
- Henne stood in there and delivered strike to open Bess for 41 yards 2nd quarter… Houston was called for roughing the passer.
- Henne 2nd-quarter INT arm hit as he threw, ball HAD to be out sooner.
- The word I would use to describe Henne is inconsistent. That’s not exactly eye-opening but he misses on short throws that should be easily completed.
- By the same token, on more than one occasion he stepped into a collapsing pocket and threw a beautiful deep ball. Perfect example 2nd-quarter deep ball to WR Gates, CB Kareem Jackson called for PI, could have been a TD.
- He struggles with timing plays I feel.
- Got a lot of balls batted down… waiting a split second too long to deliver the ball?
- 25-yard 4th quarter to Hartline a fantastic throw. Put it to outside shoulder and only where Hartline could get it.
- You watch Henne and you understand why a team would love him as a backup… the tools are evident.

Reggie Bush
- Effort from Dolphins early to get Bush going between the tackles, which is the #1 thing we noticed about him all season.
- In this game Bush still would dance before getting to the line… he was destroying his speed before he even got going.
- Non-factor in this game, Thomas was MUCH better… what happened later in the year?

Daniel Thomas
- This was his first NFL game.
- Looked more effective than Reggie… HIT IT UP IN THERE with more velocity. Broke tackles.
- Gets “skinny”… can fight his way through small holes.
- If you watched this game alone and you were told BUSH would be the 1,000 yard back you’d be shocked.
- He looks kind of herky jerky, but effective. I like watching him.
- Ball security could be an issue… fumbled 3rd quarter really shook up the momentum in this game.

Brandon Marshall
- 29 yards 2nd quarter perfect example of the advantage Marshall gives you.. perfect coverage from CB Joseph, Henne just floated it in the air and Marshall went over the top
- Got behind CB Allen in 2nd quarter, dropped great throw from Henne, would have been a TD.
- Really effective at creating space on hitch/comeback routes… one of the major reasons he’s such a PPR beast. In the red zone, defenses have to respect his ability to get vertical, and it opens up the underneath area.

Brian Hartline
- Was targeted like four or five times in this game but I barely noticed him.
- Don’t think he’s particularly fast, his best asset is his size.
- 25 yard 4th quarter catch a fantastic throw by Henne… great catch too but only where Hartline could get it.

Davone Bess
- Lined up frequently in the slot… 41 yards second series found huge void in zone.
- When he lined up out wide, it was usually on a motion play. He’s a guy who creates in the short area. Big plays aren’t something he’s going to make often.
- Didn’t notice him much in this game.

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Minnesota Vikings

Week 2 – TB

Donovan McNabb
- Can still move a little bit… he’s not toast as a runner.
- Still effective off the play action. This is where Vikings created plays in the passing game because they don’t have a good receiver outside of Harvin.
- Missed open Shiancoe for TD in 2nd quarter… threw low.
- Deep balls were really inaccurate all game.

Adrian Peterson
- Can’t say much about this guy we don’t know. He’s an amalgamation of everything we love about RBs – he glides into running lanes like Foster, makes defenders miss in the open field like McCoy, and will run players over like McFadden. He is unbelievable.

Toby Gerhart
- Obviously, he’s not Peterson. He might not even be Peyton Hillis. He’s slow. But he does go forward… it’s why he’ll always be a viable handcuff behind Peterson. He gets positive yardage, and occasionally he’ll break one.
- Might be a better receiver than Peterson, clearly comfortable coming out of the backfield.

Percy Harvin
- Can create separation for himself with quick moves, especially in the slot. He’s not a gimmick player, unbelievable that he wasn’t used more early in the season. He can play anywhere.
- Really good at stopping his route and coming back to the ball. Defenders can’t change gears that quickly.
- He took a couple carries out of the backfield… like watching him as a runner. He understands cutbacks better than some actual RBs.

Visanthe Shiancoe
- He can go up and get the ball still… long arms and huge frame. Not fast anymore but strides well. He can contribute to a contender.

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New England Patriots

Week 2 – SD

Tom Brady
- He’s good… throw to Welker 17 yards first series absurd. No space on out route, put right on the money.
- Patriots came out with play action early.
- “Precision” is the word I’d use to describe Brady’s performance in this game.
- He’s mobile in the pocket. He avoids sacks, just doesn’t run a lot.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis
- Actually was impressed with his ability to fight through congestion.
- Doesn’t turn upfield naturally after catching a pass.
- When he dances in the backfield, he has no chance. Not explosive enough for it.
- Patient and will use blockers…16-yard 4th quarter TD an example.

Danny Woodhead
- Patriots tried to get him to the perimeter on almost all of his runs.

Wes Welker
- You watch him and you find you can’t say anything unique. He’s just really good.

Deion Branch
- Brady seems to look for him against zone… good at finding voids.
- Most of his production after the catch in this game.

Chad Ochocinco
- Actually caught 2 passes in this game, nice route 2nd quarter to get open and find void.

Rob Gronkowski
- One look I noticed the Patriots gave a lot… five-wide with Gronkowski and Hernandez on the trips side…Hernandez aligned in the innermost position (dictating matchup with LB) with Gronk on a S.
- First catch 10-yard TD in 2nd quarter, this time he was innermost on trips side, easy TD in zone.
- I don’t think he LOOKS fast but he is. Man can he pick up a head of steam after a screen.
- A lot of his damage in this game was play design and Brady recognizing advantages. It’s one thing to stop him when he’s well covered, it’s another to try to stop him when he’s not covered at all.
- Pats will bunch the TEs to create confusion.

Aaron Hernandez
- Beat S Bob Sanders for 14-yard TD in 1st quarter… Brady an excellent throw to the much bigger Hernandez, who was able to leap and come down with the ball over Sanders. Really a throw that Sanders couldn’t defend.
- He’s an impossible matchup for a LB. Very sudden and elusive in his movement.

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New Orleans Saints

Week 2 – Chi

Drew Brees
- Colston injured, did not play, Saints played a lot of 2 TEs. Possibility if Colston leaves in FA?
- Saints a lot of short passes to get the offense going. Chunks of yardage, Brees hit Sproles, Graham, Meachem, Henderson, Thomas all for gains.
- Obviously, nasty off play action.

Darren Sproles
- This guy is invaluable to the Saints’ offense. Really call him a RB only because of the occasional carry. Same way that Graham is really a TE because he occasionally lines up there.
- He will line up out wide as a flanker. There is nothing they don’t do with him.
- Often on the field with another back.

Pierre Thomas
- Dropped pass… very rare for him.
- Don’t know how to make this sound “scouty” but in this game he was a far more effective runner than Ingram. Always gained positive yardage, ran through contact better.

Mark Ingram
- He felt like less than an afterthought in this game. He had a couple nice runs but he also had a couple negative runs.
- Good vision, seems to know when to bounce and move it forward.
- Wasn’t impressed with his moves in the open field.
- They went to him in the red zone.
- Can the Saints trust him as “closer” when his ball security is an issue?

Lance Moore
- Doesn’t always line up in the slot – he’ll play on the perimeter as well. People forget that Colston is primarily a slot guy because he can exploit mismatches.

Devery Henderson
- Did some of the “Colston work.” 79-yard TD vs. Cover 2 came out of the slot, straight down the seam. Henderson made perfect move at the right time to get behind S Major Wright, and Brees made a perfect throw.

Robert Meachem
- All his catches in this game were “short,” not what you expect from him. Saints compensated for absence of Colston with Meachem and Henderson running some “Colston routes”
- Problem in this game was that he didn’t create after the catch on those routes.
- On TD, came out of the slot.

Jimmy Graham
- They scheme to get him the ball. Clearly the guy they focused on in the passing game with Colston injured. Screens, stacks, slot play.
- They LOVE him outside the numbers in the red zone against man. Fade routes against safeties… Brees inaccurate throw 1st quarter with Graham singled up on S Wright.
- Impressed with his ability to find voids in zones for such a raw player… he knows when to sit and wait for Brees. Good chemistry.

Category: Joe Dolan

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