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  1. So, I'm supposed to be acting like an adult right now, but I couldn't help myself. I had to take a look at the All-22 to see the real story of the game. It wasn't as good as I thought in some places and it wasn't as in others. But I really wanted to zero in on the final two Saint possessions because I was at a loss as to why we went too soft, and as is usually the case, there was more to the story: I'm more than a little rusty, so forgive me if some of these come out of order. And shoutout to @NWFALCON on the ALL-22. Drive starter, we're up two possessions, we play straight Tampa. I thought initially we were in some sort of split field coverage, but nope. Straight Tampa. Saints get an excellent chip at the bottom of the screen and run a Smash concept to the top. Jameis reads the corner to that side. Corner sinks to the 7 route, Jameis throws the little out. Corner stays on that little out route, Jameis throws the 7. Great read, good throw, tip your hat. They get paid, too. Next play, looks like we go Cover-1 with a Rat in the hole (Nick Saban's favorite coverage), but I was a little confused because it looks like not everyone is going their job. First of all, we're playing way off, which I don't like, but that's DP's scheme and I get it. Nothing cheap. Nothing deep, but still. At any rate, everyone is doing their job except for the slot corner to the bottom of the screen. Looks like he thought it was cover-3 or something because he leaves his man to take away the dig, and his man just sits it down in the middle of the field. I initially thought it was on Walker for not feeling that man (he's the RAT, btw), but he was drifting, following Jameis's eyes, as he's supposed to do. Now if this is some funky check we got with a kind of Push-Alert that we used to run when DQ was here where he pass off under routes, and switch he RAT, then okay, maybe. But it's ****y execution all around. At any rate, it didn't hurt us, but it allowed them to keep some rhythm, and not a result of us going prevent. This one to me is the call of the game. We could effectively ended things right here. The old dog saw enough of that **** and decided to bring a 5 man pressure. We do something a little unique in that we show single high before the snap and effectively turn it into 2-high post snap. It looks like we're running a kind of PALMS concept to the top of the screen where the corner will read the release of the #2 receiver and look to jump his route if he goes out under 5 yards, and turn the #1 receiver over to the safety. He could be out here freelancing, but by my eye, he was looking inside at #2 the whole way. At any rate, Palms, any kind of trap coverage where the outside corner doesn't turn and run and muddies up the QB's read, those are the nastiest coverages in the book. Jameis tried to throw us one and we didn't want the gift. Next play, I'm not sure why we're running a three man contain in this spot out of what looks like Cover-1, but there it is. Great design by the Saints out of trips. Any kind of slot fade is difficult to defend, it's doubly difficult if they run a switch release, which effectively picks the corner. Great ball placement to the outside shoulder, better catch. Jameis gets all these jokes (rightfully so), but he is not without talent. Here is where the chess game comes into play. Pete Carmichael anticipates a pressure, and he's got the right call on against it -- a screen. This could have been a problem, but players still matter. Walker bails us out. Great read. He read it quick and triggered downhill... and got through that traffic. Not an easy thing to do. It's one thing to read it, it's another to be able to read it and make the play. I could go on and on about this one. This is a just a good old fashion meat and potatoes right here. This is how you play some linebacker. Stays square to the line, shuffles to mirror the back, then trusts his eyes and gets it. Wooo!! Don't ask me what's going on here, because I don't really know, and I don't think the players do, either. We got a pressure and everyone on the back end looks lost. This is another one where I'm not quite sure what I'm looking at. But it looks like Cover-6 (quarter-quarter-half), because of the way the safety comes down and aggressively takes #3 vertical. That had to be a situational adjustment. This is another solid defensive call that is just plain beaten by a better offensive call. Saints run a flood concept. Flood will kill most types of quarters. All Jameis has to do is wait for the receiver to break. I bet he knew where he was going the whole way.... really funky route combo by the #1, and #2 receivers to the trips side, though. Next play is the touchdown to Thomas. I think that play's been poured over enough. But AS is correct when he says we mixed up the calls... we mixed up the calls and got some of 'em mixed up. But I see some fixable stuff in all this mess.
  2. What made me want to make this post and even what prompted me to think about this topic as a whole was one player: Richie Grant. I know Richie has gotten a lot of heat around the fanbase for him not really playing much as a rookie and the whole "grasping the playbook" stuff. But the more I've thought about it and thought about these eight man coverages the Bengals shifted to vs KC, the more I see why Pees plans to lean on Richie heavily and why Oliver was so vital early on. Remember, Pees compared Oliver to Logan Ryan, who was one of the better DBs in the league in 2019. Not CB or S, but true defensive back. I've always believed coverage is more important than pass rush, but that's the DB in me (I know some will disagree but that's not the point right now. Please don't derail the convo.). The reason I believe this is because QBs can get sacked on first or second down and still convert a third and long if coverage is average to below average. I value third down sacks as turnovers. You can create pressure. You can't create coverage. QBs hold the ball if the coverage is something they didn't expect or if they have to digest the coverage post snap. Look at the Chiefs game. I actually told my brother at halftime I'd drop eight into coverage and dare the Chiefs to run the ball and he thought I was crazy. I don't believe you can run the ball to victory (the Chiefs built their lead through the air, not the ground. Bengals came back through the air, not the ground). It takes too long and teams are highly impatient. Especially teams with elite QBs. The name of the game is put the ball in the best players' hands as much as possible. For the Chiefs, that's Mahomes. We saw it happen in SB LI and I'll never forget it. Pass to build the lead, run the ball to put the game away. Think about it. The average pass travels over twice as far as the average run. More plays creates more margin for error. Teams don't really want to repeatedly churn out 10-12 play drives on the ground. But what really got my juices flowing more on this was watching the Bills documentary on their four SB losses a while ago. The first SB loss was vs Belichick in '91. The Bills had one of the best passing attacks in history. No huddle was killing the league. What did Belichick do in the SB? Dropped 8 and only played 2 DL and dared the Bills to throw with so many bodies and tight windows and the Bills had one of their lowest scoring games and lost. It's hard, no matter how good your QB is. QBs have clocks and they don't want to hold the ball beyond their 3-4 second clock because they aren't built to run off script. Plus, eight man coverages allow you to double two players vs just one. With today's passing attacks and the talent at QB for a lot of teams, if you can't run eight man coverages with high effectiveness, you will struggle to slow down the elite passing attacks. This has held true since the 90s. Belichick has paced the league since 2015 with three man rushes. In 2019, he was 5th in the league while the Titans (Dean Pees last year in TEN) were third. Pees, Flores, and Patricia actually were the top DCs in three man rushes that year. Remember Pees' press conference that had the fanbase ablaze about pressure vs coverage? Yea... To run effective three man rushes, it's not just about lining up and dropping back. Those of us who were excited about the Pees hire was because of his proven defensive prowess. He's had top ten defenses at every single stop. He runs disguised coverages and pressure looks. But again, part of that is to **** with the QB. It's not about sacks. Three man rushes work when you mix it up and confuse QBs. It's not just "send three and drop eight". That's when it gets picked about. Think about how many times Pees showed pressure looks and then the defense only sent 3-4 guys. Both plays, the QB doesn't have a clear read on what the defense will do until post snap. Also, the OL doesn't have a clear read, which leads to rushed clocks for the QB and/or missed assignments by the OL, which leads to mistakes and turnovers. The Falcons had a turnover in how many straight games last year? 8? 12 INTs on the season. You saw late in the year some flashes of them grasping what Pees is trying to build on: Three man rush with a heavy pressure look and Cover 1 behind it. Pick six. Three man rush with a spy underneath. Impatient QB leads to a rushed throw that's tipped and picked. Walker even had a free rush lane to go get Allen if he showed any sign of pulling the ball down and running. This looks almost exactly like this play: This brings me back to Richie Grant and the defense as a whole. Richie was one of the better safety prospects in this class. He was dominant at the Senior Bowl. He was one of the most versatile safeties in the class, with the ability to play in the box, deep, man to man and zone, and was the best run support safety. When you have a guy like that, it makes being able to execute and disguise coverages a lot easier. That's an INT off Kadarius Toney from off coverage. This is VERY hard to do and he made it look easy. But even with him being able to cover, it means nothing without stuff like this: That's Richie Grant taking on a pulling Isaiah Wynn (310lbs) and stonewalls him and sets a firm edge. The Falcons are in a big nickel set here and give up nothing and it's thanks to Richie. Or even this: Richie reads run instantly, triggers, avoids the FB block and makes the tackle for minimal gain. Again, this is your box safety doing this with the ability to also play man and deep. The amount of things that were on Richie's plate, I could only imagine. His first year in the league and he was playing multiple positions because that's what the scheme asks of his position. He's not a safety. He's a DB. It makes sense why Pees said he was still grasping the mental aspects of the playbook. How many guys had that many responsibilities on the defense? Oliver, Harmon, and Harris. That's it. Richie was behind two vet safeties and a vet nickel. I think this offseason is going to be crucial, we all agree, but I don't think we're in as dire of straits as some believe. The defense has an identity. They lacked a lot of key developed pieces to run it, but I don't think that means they won't be able to get them. Go back to the top with the quoted section about Belichick's edge rusher personnel. He's not often had a lot of edge rusher talent. He even traded Chandler Jones away, something the Falcons would never even be able to consider. But Belichick's DL are run stoppers and OL controllers that help create pressure lanes for his LBs. I think we'll see more of an investment in those types like Deatrich Wise and Lawrence Guy before you see them itching at adding lighter speed rushers. Guys like Phidarian Mathis or Devonte Wyatt will be high on the board. But where Belichick has always made bigger investments has been his secondary. I could see them adding Stingley Jr at #8 to get them two shutdown corners that further restricts QBs reads when trying to figure out pressure looks and eight man coverages. If you've got two corners who can erase WRs, when you run eight man coverages, you've now got six guys covering 2-3 weapons. The odds tip so far in the defenses favor it gets frustrating. And I think Richie Grant is going to be a massive key to a lot of this similar to how Devin McCourty has been for Belichick his entire career. Coverage is king and Pees scheme depends on tight, effective coverage before it depends on pressure. That's all. #RiseUP
  3. Greetings all. I hope this day finds everyone in good spirits and good health. I've been meaning to do another one of these for a while, but I've been swamped and to be totally honest, this team has bored me to death this season. Now it hasn't been the losing so much or the inconsistency -- I expected that. Rather, this team on both sides of the ball schematically has been as plain as a stripper without makeup. Ya'll know what I'm talking about, right? She was the baddest thing you'd ever seen in that dark club, then you get her home and the next morning you see her without that wig and lord have mercy... 🤭 I think I've said to much... at any rate, uh, yeah Falcons. One of the things that has gotten on my nerves watching us offensively is the utter lack of imagination. Now I'm not looking for Tchaikovsky levels of genius from Arthur Smith. But give me some competence, some Supko. Let me know that we know what we're doing. That we can make adjustments. As you know, for the past few weeks teams have thrown man coverage at us because they know we don't have the horses to beat it, and I've been taken aback at our inability to throw a little more variety at them. But Sunday, I saw a little something. I want to take a look a three plays. Shoutout to @NWFALCON . Play 1: First quarter. First drive. We got 3rd and 9. AS calls up a Gun Bunch which I've been screaming for. The back is set to the open side. Now this doesn't unfold exactly pretty. Jacksonsville in 2 Man Under -- one of the more popular calls in the league -- that's two safety's each playing deep half, everyone else playing man underneath. Also known as Cover-5 in some circles because you are essentially covering the 5 eligible receivers. The routes are as follows. To the open side -- bottom of the screen, Sharpe will run the drag, the back will run the Texas route, also known as a HB choice in some schemes. To the bunch, Pitts will run a sort of Bang-8 (the route that got Michael Irvin to the HOF). Oz, I honestly can't tell what he was running because he couldn't get off the jam, lol, so I didn't bother, but I imagine he was set on some kind of hook, and then we've got Hardy to the flat. Personally, I'm not in love with this design on 3rd and long because only one route is really attacking the 1st down, but whatever. The reads on this look like Matt went from Pitts, to Oz, to Hardy. At that snap, you see a mess. Pitts beats his man inside, but the look isn't exactly clean. Matt goes to #2, Oz looks like he's blocking for a running play, poor guy. But good fortune finds us. This is what happens when you play press man against bunch formations. There are different way to defend this from man, but that's another thread, but the Jags did it all wrong. You can see #5 gets lost in traffic and Hardy has all kinds of room to work. And Hardy just makes a play.
  4. What up, fam? It's been too long. I've actually been itching to do one of these for a few weeks now to get into some of the new coverages I expect to see this season, but Dean Pees didn't show nothing during the preseason. He finally gave me a little taste Sunday. Now there was some good defensively and a fair amount of bad. Fundamentals were lacking. We lost leverage, a few times we had trouble getting lined up, tackling wasn't as crisp as I like, but schematically, it was solid. Dean Pees's scheme is evolved from Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. It's some of the nastiest stuff you'll see anywhere. It's simple on the surface with a ton of complexity under the hood. This call from Sunday personifies that, a little beauty right out of Saban's playbook called Bobby 1 Rat (and no I'm sure if this is what Pees calls it in his playbook, but this is how I know it)... for all you UGA fans, Kirby has this in his package, too. He calls it Buddha. Basically, it is a straight up Cover-1 with a Rat underneath. In any other set, the middle linebacker will be the Rat. Here, we're still bringing 4, but we're changing who the rat is. We're changing up the pre-snap look with a sim pressure where the linebackers mug the LOS in a sugar look to mess with the MIKE declaration. Now the way Saban does it, he'll bring both inside linebackers if there is no motion by the running back, and the weak side linebacker will drop to become the Rat, while the Mike comes. And there's all kinds of checks and adjustments based on offensive formation, pre-snap motion, etc. Confused yet? Good. So was Jalen Hurts. Here, Dean Pees put a little twist on it, putting Means and Fowler on the same side. Foye is mugged up over the guard. Secondary is showing single high across the board. This look screams cover-1 with Deion as the Rat. But not so fast. Means drops and Foye is the 4th rusher. Because of the Mike declaration, the back has Deion, who doesn't come, so he releases into the pattern... basically this is a blitz, but not treated as a blitz by the protection. I'm not a fan of dropping pass rushers into coverage, and there were a few too many times where our guys looked awkward doing it -- we don't really have the true 3-4 backers to do it IMO, but this one wasn't too bad. A little ugly, but I think Means did a good job her bracketing the #2 receiver. Little bit better view of Means's drop, taking away anything quick. Foye and Grady are working a game on the guard and center, and JTM's rush is really good here. You'll see in the video how he works half a man, and immediately gets leverage to the outside of the LT, who winds up leaning (which is a big no-no). You can see right here the entire defense working as one, front and back. Everything is locked up, although one little question I have is Terrell doing what looks like a zone turn then getting into a trail tech like he's handing off to the safety, but the safety isn't really in position for that. I don't know if he missed the call, or he's playing 5 trap where he's reading #2 to jump anything out, but it looked odd. A couple of Terrell's plays looked odd Sunday. But back to the gif. We're locked up in man. Means's drop takes away the quick game. The LT actually somewhat recovered and rode JTM around the arc, but the interior rush did it's job. Really athletic play for Jalen to escape through there, and hold onto the ball off that hit. All in all, this is what we need to see more of.
  5. Good afternoon beautiful people. It's been too long. I've been meaning to do one of these for the longest buuttt... you know, 2020 and all. But the Falcons left me in a good mood Sunday so here we go. Let me just start off by saying, the first five games or so -- and I don't want to be too hyperbolic about this, but this was some of the sh**iest defense I have ever seen in my life. I don't wanna say they were the worst defense I had ever seen, but I can't think of too many worse off-hand. And the defensive play calling (whoever was doing it) was atrocious. It was a total repeat of last season's first quarter where everyone was in the wrong position. We were blitzing when we should have been playing coverage. We were playing coverage when we should have been blitzing. There was no anticipation as to what the offense was doing. For all the mess Dirk takes around here for his play calling, the defensive play calling was worse. I'm not totally sure if Jeff has been completely handed the keys or if it's another one of those combinations like last year where Jeff calls early downs and Raheem calls the 3rd down stuff, but it's been working. It's been working like a mother******. The thing I think that has really stood out lately has been the 3rd down package. We've really mixed it up nicely with this fire zone stuff that we'll roll out from time to time to keep offenses off balance. There are a couple of calls I want to look at -- this might be the only one I get to, so bear with me -- but this first one from the opening quarter was a beauty. 3rd and 3 - Raiders are close to mid-field. Now usually, and predictably, we usually just go man right here, which is what it looks exactly what the Raiders were expecting. Hence the bunch formation. To the bottom of the screen we got a vertical that's not really part of the read. He's just there to clear out the underneath coverage to hopefully find some space for the drag route coming from the top. To the top is another vertical from the #1 receiver designed to do the same thing; clear out the underneath coverage for Renfro on that speed out. It's a very well designed play, actually. Should be money on 3rd and 3. This is what we answer with -- Buck Zone 3 out of Nickel. Usually we show a double-A Gap pressure look with both linebacker's mugging the line of scrimmage, but here, and because of the formation, plus down and distance, Deion has to play off the LOS. We got a five-man pressure. Foye is coming on the blitz where he's going to fake up the middle then run a twist all the way around to the C-Gap. Coverage-wise we're in our customary 3-deep shell. Because of the loss of Foye, we only have one hook defender, Deion. Two curl-flat players in Neal and the Nickel corner, two corners playing deep 1/3's and of course the deep safety. Now this play should work for a first down, but it's the lights out execution that gets us off the field. This right here is what I LOVE about defense. It is the essence of football -- communication and execution. Simple stuff. Look at Deion and Neal's eyes. Right on their assignments. They're not trying to do the next man's job. Neal ain't jumping up to take #15, even though his initial steps take him right to the marker, because that's Deion's man. Instead, he plays his assignment. We're not spot-dropping here, we're reading patterns, so Neal is playing that curl area first and letting the throw take him to the flat. He's fading with #11 on the vertical route, while keeping eyes on Renfro. Now in a spot-drop concept, the hook defender (Deion) has a 10-12 yard drop with 1-2 yards wide of the hashmark, but again, here's we're reading patterns. That's the only way this type of zone blitz works. We're letting our guys be athletes. Deion has the first receiver that comes inside. Renfro throws an obligatory chip and stumbles, while #15 runs the drag right to Deion's zone. To the bottom of the screen, you got the Nickel, who is the other curl/flat defender, getting a jam on the receiver. This is key when you're curl flat... you never let a receiver run up the seam untouched. You get hands on him and physically displace him on his route to help out the safety. Meanwhile, Foye is looping while the end to his side takes an inside move, clearing the way. Now this is the part I'm really in love with. These two made the play -- Deion jumps the drag. Most linebackers just don't have the mobility to run with a receiver there, but Deion actually cuts in front of that route. And Neal plays this perfect. He knows the situation, he knows what the offense needs, and he knows exactly where Carr wants to go... The ball isn't even out and Neal has already gotten his foot into the ground and is driving downhill. Thing-of-beauty... Neal knows he's got help behind him. Passes #1 to the corner, takes the second man through the zone. Exactly the way it's drawn up and a beautiful hit. And step over him like a piece of garbage for good measure... punk. This is football right here. This is what we've been missing. Details. Fundamentals. You don't have to have some exotic scheme or all-pro's at every position if you can get your guys playing clean and on the same page.
  6. Been looking back through some All-22 just trying to glean a little more info on our recent uptick, and this jumped out offensively: Matt is really starting to look comfortable again. First two quarters of the season he was really pressing, making uncharacteristic errors, forcing passes. He hasn't completely cleaned up the forced passes, but he's starting to look really comfortable back there again. I can tell by how smoothly he's working through his progressions. Here's a play from the second drive of the game. We're coming off a negative 1st down run, so Dirk dials up something to get a little yardage back. We motion to a 3x1 set to the field. Julio to the top of the screen runs a drag with a sight adjust. If it's man coverage he's gonna keep running, if it's zone, he's gonna find a hole to sit down in. To the three receiver side, we've got a 9 route, a flat, and a middle hook by the tight end. The Panthers are in what looks like a Cover-2 with both corners sinking. Which is what you might call if you think an offense is trying to go over the top instead of getting a little yardage back. The safety is over the top on the 9 route. Their flat player can play the flat route if it's thrown and the middle linebacker is in perfect position to take away the hook by the tight end. He's almost playing it like 3-Read in quarters he's so tight on that route. But look how fast Matt works from 1, to 2, to 3, all the way back to 5. This is not a huge play, but this is playing professional quarterback at the highest level. Quarterbacks do not routinely work from 1-5 in a progression. Most guys get stuck on 1 or 2, and hold the ball forever. Here the ball is out in 2.8 seconds. That's incredible. And that is an 8 yard gain that sets up a an easy 3rd and 3 conversion. Just look at Matt's helmet. Look how quickly he works from right to left. At the snap, glances at the 9 route. Safety over the top, it's not there. Presnap motion told him it was zone. The alignment of the corners tipped that it was probably some type of quarters or cover-2. Movement of the safetys confirm. Read #1 - 9 route. Not there with the safety over the top. Read #2 - Flat route is not really part of the progression vs. this coverage. He wasn't really going there with that flat corner out there. He probably eliminated that right at the snap with the safety's movement. Read #3 - middle hook by the tight end. Kuechly is all over it. Read #4 - He doesn't quite like Julio on that little sit route between the two defenders who're waiting to break on it, so all the way back to... Read #5 - the back out of the backfield. The weak backer looking to squeeze Julio on that drag/sit told him the back would have space to that side. Beautiful stuff. This last one I just had to throw in, focusing on the feet. This is where quarterback is played physically. The feet are the literal foundation of everything. You gotta have good feet. You gotta have some nimbleness, even if you’re a pocket QB. Bill Walsh used to say that he could tell how well a quarterback played a game by only looking at his feet. He could tell if a throw was accurate, if he was in rhythm, etc. Everything in his offense was synched up with the quarterback's steps. Bill Walsh would be salivating. Balls of the feet. Short, quick steps through the progression. Step and throw... REX RYAN stay outta my thread. Weirdo.
  7. Two weeks in a row... we actually played great defense two weeks in a row. I have no idea if we can keep it going, but who cares, let's enjoy the moment. There was a lot to unpack from Sunday's win. Falcons put some good stuff on tape, but my time is short, so I wanted to take a quick look at a couple of things that jumped out at me. First, and this is a huge one -- a lot of us have been asking what exactly changed with Ulbrich and Raheem Moore taking over the defense, well the biggest one, imo, is the subtle adjustments made to the back end. Let me say this clearly, this is still Dan Quinn's defense -- just in case there was any question about that. We aren't out there running a new scheme. What has happened is that we're starting to muddy things up for the QB pre-snap a bit more. This is from the 1st quarter. We're looking at 3rd and long. Now a little refresher on pre-snap reads (PSR). Quarterback's are schooled to look for every indicator pre-snap to tip the coverage. In most route concepts, that read is going to tell them what side of the field they are going to read first. If it's zone, I need to look at this side of the field. If it's man, this route over here is gonna break open. Is it blitz? I gotta look to my hot first. That sorta thing. Qb's look at safeties. Are there two high or one? Is one corner pressed and the other off? That indicates split field coverage. Are the corners peeking into he backfield = zone, or looking at their receivers = man? Here we have giving every indicator that we are in man. Every defender is pressed, even Campbell at LB is in the tight end's face. Everyone is looking at their man. We got one safety deep and another a little more shallow, showing a robber look. For all the world, this looks like Cover-1 Robber, right? ht They even motion in the #1 receiver to a tight alignment. Still looks like man. But it's not. At the snap, we rotate into Cover-2... not our customary Cover-3, but 2. Both safeties split the field. Oliver at the bottom re-routes his receiver to give his safety time to get over the top. Deion at MIKE, opens up to the passing strength of the formation, which is the side McCaffery lined up on in the backfield, and looks to pick up the #2 receiver going vertical up the seam. This beautiful. Looks nothing like what Allen thought he was getting at before the snap. Next frame: Oliver at the bottom has released his man to the safety. He's got no threat underneath from McCaffery so he's free to continue to sink to break on that route if the QB throws to the receiver he just re-routed. Deion has his man up the pipe in the middle of the field with the hook player underneath. No throw there. Every defender has their eye on the QB and ready to break on anything and as you can see, Takk has already whipped the tackle. And here it is in motion. Not the best re-route I've ever seen at the bottom by Oliver, and I'd like to see him get a little more depth, but it's not bad. Everything else looks good. Look at the way the safeties held the disguise right until the snap. It's a subtle thing, but it really makes a difference. Good stuff. Good call wrinkle by Raheem. Good 3rd down call. His addition to that defensive back's room has made a tangible difference. EDIT: Yes, I know I called him Raheem Moore. I'm channelling the great D*ck Stockton, who didn't know what was going on out there Sunday. He called one of our INT's a catch by the Panthers.
  8. Greetings, beautiful people, it's been way too long, but finally, the Falcons have given me something interesting to dig into. I've made no secret over the years of my love for defensive football, so you can imagine how rough these past few seasons have been. Every football sensibility I have has been assaulted by these sumbitches in every way, but on Sunday... oh, boy, Sunday was a welcome respite. For ONE AFTERNOON, our defense was everything I ever wanted it to be, and against the Saints, no less. Now there was a whole lot of good football to break down Sunday, but for my own selfish reasons, I'm gonna dig into one of my favorite parts of the game: Stunts. I love me some defensive line stunts. Not as much as I love run fits, but it's a close second -- kinda like that middle child you love to death, but maybe not quite as much as that first born. You know what I'm talking about? Yes? No? Ok, you don't have to admit it. Just in case there are any questions as to what a defensive line stunt is, it's basically where your pass rushers will exchange rush lanes to confuse the protections. Almost like when the offense aligns their receivers tight to create a natural pick. Here, we're doing the same thing. We're trying to create a free runner, to the QB. It can wreak havoc on a offensive line if it's well timed and executed. People talk about being creative on defense, being aggressive, bringing pressure... this is a way to accomplish all of that, while rushing four and not compromising your coverage. There are literally endless combinations of them you can bring: E/T, T/E, Double Tex. You can E/T on one side and T/E on the other, you can run Pirate, Charlie, then you can bring a backer into it add even more combinations. The only limit is your imagination. But for the sake of brevity, I'm gonna focus on this one from the 2nd quarter. 3rd and 4 - 2nd quarter: Now we want to look at the alignment first and the personnel. Vic's in a wide-9, Takk is next to him inside in a 4 technique on the offensive tackle, Grady is in a 1 tech, and Clay is aaalllll the way to the other side in no-man's land in a 9. This is a really creative use of personnel. Your two most athletic pass rushers to one side, next to your best interior rusher, and your best overall pass rusher all by himself. What do you do as an offensive line with this -- three to one side, one to the other? Naturally you're gonna want to slide your protection, which way? And if you do, it's gonna leave you thin somewhere else. It's almost like when the offense puts three receivers to one side, and Julio all by himself wide to the other. It forces the coverage to adjust in ways that stresses them. You dictate terms when you do stuff like that. But here, we are dictating to the offense and forcing them to adjust. This is the game that we have on. We've got a TEX stunt to the left side of the screen where the Tackle will go first, hard to the outside, while the End will fake a rush upfield, then loop around inside where the defensive tackle used to be and find the hole. On the other side we have an Exit stunt where the End will go first. Here, Clay will take a hard inside move and it's Grady who is supposed to be the looper. Here is how it actually plays out. New Orleans slides their line to Takk and Vic's side, which makes sense. Clay on the end, makes a hard inside move at the snap. No wasted motion. He's going right now to pull that offensive tackle inside. The back, Murray, is in a check release on the Campbell. Campbell didn't blitz, so he's gonna release into the pattern. Kamara to the other side in the wing, gets out immediately, so it's a straight 5 man protection. It's all on their linemen to beat ours. This is the key part of this play. Grady starts from a 1tech and slants all the way over to the left guard (pictured right) and engages him. Because he engages him, that guard now cannot pick up Clay coming on the loop. The tackle on Clay correctly looks to pass him off to the guard and pick up Grady, but Grady ain't coming quite yet. The game to this side ain't exactly playing out as designed, but that's part of it. Defensive line coaches tell their guys all the time, "I can't tell you were the hole is going to open up", you just gotta keep rushing and find it. Be a football player. This right here is just pure beauty. Poor #75 at guard is just all in pieces. Ain't in position to block nobody. His man Grady done looped around, and Clay done came out of nowhere and knocked the s*** out of him. Another thing to look at is because of the alignment and the slide to Takk and Vic, the Center has to block to that side. So he can't help to the side where our most dangerous rushers are --Clay, and Grady. He's gotta help out to the other side. No commentary needed. #75 is dog food... ... And Drew is dead. Now to be fair, #75 is in a bad spot. Usually, and especially when you're a guard, you've got a man over you, so you naturally can pick up those games better. But this is just an awesome design to screw with the protection of the Saints, knowing they would slide the line to Takk and Vic and that would create one-on-ones for Grady and Clay. More of this, please. Credit @SPITFIRE for looking out on that All-22.
  9. To everyone who wants to just blitz and stop playing so soft... quiet as kept, you've been getting your wish. 5 man pressure... 5 man pressure... 5 man pressure with a Beasley special... 5 man pressure with a muddy pre-snap look... All it's doing is making it easier on the QB.
  10. Falcons done had me in a little bit of sour mood lately, but it's Thursday. The haze is starting to clear and I'm ready to talk about something positive. The final touchdown from Sunday's game was a thing of beauty from a design perspective. As a lot of you know, the Colts run a ton of Cover-2, and just about every variety there is from the cover-2 with the hard flats, the cover-2 soft squat, cover-2 sink where it plays almost like quarters, etc. They really are about that life. One of my favorite ways to attack Cover-2 is with the smash concept. SMASH - now what is the smash concept? It's basically some variation of this right here. The outside receiver will run a hitch, or a quick out, the inside #2 receiver will run a 7 route. He'll stress the deep half safety with a vertical route, then flag it to the pylon away from him, right into the void between the safety and corner. The great thing about this is there are alway positive yards to be had, even if you don't get to the 7 route, and if it's read properly, the defense is always wrong. Doesn't matter if they know it's coming or not. 2nd and Goal - I thought we would see this Sunday, and boom, right when we needed it in the 4th quarter, here it came. The Colts are in their Red 2, which is a redzone variation of their standard Cover-2. Instead of getting a jam on the receivers and then letting them have all that space to the safety, the corners are in a soft squat which means they're gonna fade a bit at the snap, get some depth and try to constrict that window between them and the safety. Another difference here between this and standard Cover-2 is the middle linebacker isn't going to look to drop to his landmark at the snap. Instead he's going to read #3, and the inside #2 to not let them get anything too easy underneath at the goalline, like a little hook. In normal cover-2 or Tampa, he's going to open his hips and match the vertical route by the #2 receiver. If there is no vertical route, he'll drop to a depth or about 15 yards or so, turning it into essentially a 3 deep coverage. Here, in this variation, the Red 2, actually plays a lot like quarters. This is what Dirk answers with. We're gonna run hooks to the bottom of the screen into the holes of the Red 2 at different depths with Hooper and Ridley. To the top of the screen we've got Julio inside playing #2, and Sanu outside playing #1. The tight formation is the brilliance of it because as the routes deploy they're going to create extra space for the 7 route. Also, it makes a jam by the corners (if there is one coming) almost impossible. Julio is on the 7 to the end zone, and Sanu is running a little 3 route. QB READS - the read here is as simple as it gets. You can teach this to a middle-schooler. Matt is going to read the outside cornerback on the smash side. If the corner sits and takes Sanu on the 3 route, Matt will throw the 7 to Julio in the end zone. If the corner sinks to try to take away the 7, Matt will throw the 3 to Sanu. Not much more complicated than that. At that snap, this is what we get. Matt's eyes don't even go to the hook side. Against any type of Cover-2, that smash is where you wanna go. Here, he's locked in on the corner. Julio does a brilliant job of selling the vertical route into the seam to stress the safety. The corner has his eyes on Matt, but he's in a bind. He has to make a choice to take Julio or Sanu. Looking at the play in real time, the corner never does commit to one route or the other. He tries to split the difference. I think he just got caught in an "oh s***" no man's land and couldn't make a decision. Don't blame him there. Either way, his feet stopped and that's all Matt needs. Julio is already breaking to the void -- or the honey hole as that space is called (I have no idea why), but Julio is breaking to all that blue turf and you see the safety on his horse doesn't have a chance. And here, you can see, it's just wide open. Now the corner showed great hustle to get back into the play to contest, I mean if you're teaching it, it's pretty impressive he makes any kind of play on that ball. Against a lesser receiver that's a pass breakup. Alas, we don't have a lesser receiver. We got Julio. Great read my Matt, but if I'm nitpicking, it's not the best throw. He put it up nice and high so Julio could go get it, but I'd like to see it a bit deeper into the back of the end zone if you're gonna put that much touch on it. But great play call. Great execution.
  11. I'm normally the eternal optimist, but these 2019 Falcons are trying me. It's one thing to be a bad football team. I've seen plenty of that. I have no problem just disconnecting and taking it for what it is, but it's another thing to see a talented team get beat because they are their own worst enemy. And that's the long and short of what I saw Sunday. The Colts didn't come out and throw a whole bunch of unscouted looks at us; they were doing basic stuff that we should have been able to neutralize if we had just executed our fundamentals the way we did the week before vs. Philly. I don't think there was another play all day long that made me want to vomit more than this one right here. 3rd and 12 - midfield, early in the second quarter. Colts don't really push the ball down the field so this should be easy, right? DQ actually calls up a nice play. We only have two down lineman with Takk and Vic both mugging the line along with Deion. All three are going to drop and Campbell and Kazee are coming off the slots -- like a double nickel blitz. Up top we are playing in a rare two deep shell. It's actually a nicely designed play. At the snap we bail. As you can see, Brissett's first look is to get it out quick to #15, but 3rd and 12, he knows he's protected, he passes him up to look downfield. The running back is in a check release. He's going to check to see if his man is coming. Usually he's scanning inside out. If he's picked up, he releases into his route. Now here is where it gets interesting. We got everything covered up, so Brissett dumps it off underneath, which is exactly what you want when you play Cover-2. You want the QB to check the ball down underneath. You'll give up these little 5 yard dump offs all game. Let the back catch it underneath then smack the s*** out him. You wanna hit him so many times he's going back to the huddle cursing out his QB, telling him he better not throw him another one. You aren't going to get beat by check downs... UNLESS you decide to tackle like a bunch of keystone cops. Ball is caught, and right here, we are actually in pretty good position. You see how well we're spaced to constrict ground to the ball carrier. This right here is where it starts to go bad. The spacing still isn't terrible, but Vic... VICTOR RAMON BEASLEY JR! Bro! He needs to be coming to balance right here. Stop chasing and come to balance, and get ready to make that tackle, or let the back run himself into the pursuit. And this is where it turns into a clown show. Vic completely over-ran the play and opened the back door. He should have a foot at the 45 yard line. When Quinn talks about trusting the man next to you and playing just your leverage -- well this is the opposite of all that. Details. Fundamentals. It's not a big thing I'm talking about, but it absolutely adds up to being the difference between a win or a loss. This is how you wind up forcing 1 punt in an entire game. It's not scheme. It's not talent. It's a total lack of discipline. And DQ... can we please stop getting cute and playing Vic in space? It don't work. ... and that dude didn't make that 1st down.
  12. Greetings all. It's been too long my friends. I was meaning to do one of these last week, but after the opening weekend dumpster fire, I couldn't bring myself to look at that game against the Vikings again without feeling to need to vomit. Mercifully, this week was different. Don't you just love a victory Monday? You don't feel like kicking the dog, annoying kids seem cute, food taste better. Life is just a little better coming off a W. With all that out the way, I wasn't in love with everything I saw last night from Dirk and offense, and I'm still angling to try to see what we hang our hat on on that side of the ball. No worries though -- it's just week 2 and we opened up against two teams that are built to give us problems no matter how together we are, so I have confidence that the offensive cohesion will come (fingers crossed). But I did see some interesting wrinkles last night and I thought they were worth discussing. RPO - or Run Pass Option where a run play is called in the huddle and the quarterback has a built in pass play to get to based on the read of a key defender. You remember a couple years ago when the Eagles tore through the playoffs and the RPO was all the rage and some around here got to asking why we didn't run them? Well we did... and we do. We've always run RPO's going back to the days of Mularkey. We just ran them from under center and they often looked like quick slants. There's one wrinkle that separates these from play-action passes, which commentators often confuse them for. The run and pass are completely independent of one another. On a play action pass, the offensive line, even though they are firing out to show run, are still blocking for pass. In and RPO, they are strictly run blocking. They have no idea if the QB is picking it up and throwing or handing off. They are just doing their job. Even the running back doesn't know if it's run or pass. The pass option is strictly between the QB and the receiver. Everyone else is executing a run play. PLAY #1 - from the opening drive. We are in a a strong-I formation. STRONG denoting that the fullback in the "I" is set to the the tight end side instead of a dotted "I" directly behind the QB, for anyone who is wondering. Julio is in a reduced, or "Nasty" split in West Coast Offensive lingo. Now there are all sorts of cool strategic reasons you put Julio in a nasty split that's worthy of it's own topic. We can get to that another time. Sanu is out wide at the top of the screen. The run call is an inside zone weak to the boundary, with Sanu running a smoke route to the back side of the play. The read Matt is making is the linebackers. This is where the QB earns his money, in the pre-snap reads. He sees them packed in and just creeping for an all out blitz. I can't see the coverage to see if it's a Cover-0, but it is not a favorable run look, even with the Wide-9 alignment the Eagles are in. Also, Matt sees the corner playing off, past the sticks, so it's an easy decision. If that guy was pressed, Matt doesn't throw it out there. Matt picks the ball up and gives it to Sanu right now... And Sanu is just out there being a football player on 2nd and 4. This is more of what I want to see. You don't have to be clever to get the most out of this offense. We don't have to try to drop bombs on people all game. Defense wants to blitz you and leave OUR WEAPONS one on one, let 'em. Get the ball out quick and we'll take our guys one-on-one every time.
  13. Rico Allen has been something of polarizing topic around these parts for quite some time. I'll admit there were even times when I felt we could take him or leave him, but when you are running a single high defense, you NEED to have a free safety out there who can cover up the defense's shortcomings and the problem with evaluating a free safety is most of the time, what they do doesn't show up on the stat sheet, and there can be entire games where he'll do his job perfectly, but it'll look to the casual view like he didn't do anything because no action came his way. That has long been the quandary of Rico Allen. He's never been the ballhawk of say Earl Thomas, who is the gold standard, but he's a cerebral player. @TheFatboi was one of the early ones I can remember who harped on the importance of Rico. Well we got a chance to see what it looked like last year when he went down. The secondary was a mess -- even with Kazee back there ballhawking, and it was the little things that were missing. Last night he was a warrior god. Play#1 - second quarter. Philly has us backed up, and decides to attack our Cover-3 with an old staple, Seams. Philly has two underneath routes, and a flat route just in case, but it's the dual seams they are trying to get to. They're creating a 2 on 1 and the safety can't get to both of them. Cover-3 - Trufant and Oliver playing deep thirds, Rico back single high closing the middle of the field. Hook drops for our two linebacker Campbell and Jones. And the two curl-flat defenders to either side underneath. Key thing here on 1st and 10 is we aren't just spot-dropping to landmarks, we're pattern reading the release of the receivers. At the snap, and this is beautiful quarterback play by Wentz. He's staring to his left trying to move Rico. Underneath our coverage is doing its thing. Campbell is reading #2 to #1. The curl/flat defender to the bottom of the screen is matching that route. We don't worry about the back leaking to the flat until the ball is thrown. Carson snaps his head around, just as his receiver clears into the seam as Devondre passes his off to Tru and looks to pic up that hook route. Not a great pic, but Tru pics the route up beautifully and Rico comes screaming over. Carson can't lead him up the field because Rico is coming to close that window, so he has to put it on the receiver's back shoulder. Beautiful football. Another half a step, and Rico has a pick, but it's a huge play nonetheless. He's processing information and playing so fast there is no window there.
  14. There are some misconceptions that are continuing to permeate around the board on just now much zone vs. man that we play; also how much we do and don't blitz. I went back and looked at every passing play of the last game and counted them up for everyone just so we can see it all laid out. For some reason people get to thinking that every time an offense begins to move the ball on us, we somehow went prevent or soft zone. Not true, so I've done a drive-by-drive description of what coverage we were in. Note, I only did this for passing plays and I didn't go too deep on how much nickel vs. base we played. I'll do my best not to make this a wall of text. Drive 1 Pass 1: Man - we played man cover-1 on the first snap of the game with a bracket by both linebackers on Kamara as we leaked out of the backfield. Pass 2: Cover-3 zone Pass 3: Cloud-3 zone Pass 4: Man Cover-1 result of the play was a touchdown Drive 2 Pass 5: BLITZ Campbell off the edge with man behind. Brees got it off quick to the RB in the flat. Duke is there to make a great stop. Pass 6: Man Cover-1. We had an alignment issue. No one was on Kamara who split out wide but Kamara didn't look for the throw, We got away with one. Pass 7: BLITZ Poole from the slot. Brees gets it off quick but we make the stop 4th down. Drive 3: Pass 8: Cover-1 Man Pass 9: Zone had the play diagnosed but poor tackling lead to a big gain. Pass 10: Cover-3 Mable Zone. Campbell carried Ginn of the seam on the deep over route. Bree threw it long, but safety was over the top in pretty good position to help. Pass 11: Cover-3 Drop. Tackle drops out into coverage turning it into a 3 man rush. Brees wasn't expecting it. Incomplete pass 4th down. Drive 4: Pass 12: Cover-3 Pass 13: Man coverage. Quick screen to Ginn who had a big gain but it was called back for holding. Pass 14: Cover-3 pass incomplete. Pass 15: Cover-3. Saints had a screen to Kamara, but being in zone had us in good position to stop it. Pass 16: BLITZ out of a 3 shell on 3rd and long. Campbell up the middle. Brees gets it out but we make the stop short. FG Drive 5: Pass 17: BLITZ Campbell up the middle. Ball out quick. Missed tackle leads to a big gain. Pass 18: BLITZ off the slot by Poole. Saints had a screen on. Roughing the passer gives them a 1st down. Pass 19: Cover-1 deep pass to Watson up the seam on Foye puts the Saints deep into the red zone. Interesting play because we were in nickel even though they were in 12. They cleverly spread the formation out to create a mismatch. Pass 20: Cover-3 around the goal line. They get called for holding, pushing them back. Pass 21: Cover-3 Drop (3man rush) short completion. Pass 22: Cover-3 drop again. Quick tunnel screen we get the stop. 4th down FG Drive 6: Pass 23: Zone, bust in the coverage. Alf slipped, got pushed, Kamara wide open underneath. Pass 24: Cover-1 incomplete pass. Pass 25: BLITZ off the slot, this time it's Oliver. Saints had it diagnosed perfectly. Screen set up right behind it but Kamara got caught up in traffic. We escaped again. Pass 26: Cover-3 Drop on 3rd and 15. Brees steps up and has Ginn on the deep out but he bobbles the pass going out of bounds. 4th down. Drive 7: This is the one that ended the half... Pass 27: BLITZ Campbell up the middle. Saints were getting a little tired of that one. Kamara leaked out immediately and got a good gain. Pass 28: Cover-1. Watson catches a crossing route over Oliver to set up the FG. END OF HALF 28 total passing plays: 13 Zone 8 Man 7 Blitzes
  15. I'm just gonna post the visual evidence. Not a whole lot of elaboration needed. This one's for the ones who contend that no one was schemed open last night. 3rd and Goal, 1st quarter. Sark dials up a spacing concept, good in short yardage. Instead of a flat route by the #3 receiver, he has #1 Julio running an out which draws double coverage, stretching the defense horizontally in the end zone, theoretically creating space underneath. Eagles played a lot of man down near the goal line. This is an ideal call out of bunch, which is designed to create space against one on one coverage. Eagles play the bunch side well but Matt never looks that way. Seems like his psr (pre-snap read) had him favoring the single receiver side to Hooper. But this here is the issue. He's locked in on Hooper the whole way. Hooper has a man draped all over him, even before he got bumped... but take a look at who doesn't have anyone near him at the bottom of the screen there. I remember a lot of critiques about running backs not used in the passing game or no one getting schemed wide open... well here you go. Walk-in touchdown and Matt never even looks his way. Looks like Bennett was in a peel technique-- or it's possible he just sensed something was up, but the linebacker who did have Free in man got lost in the wash. Can't ask for a better look than this.
  16. Greetings all! Hope all of my Falcon bretheren, and sisters are having a safe and happy summer. I know I am, but it's that time of year and I'm starting to get that itch -- no, not the kind I need to go to a clinic for -- but the kind that can only be satiated by watching full grown men knock the ever-lovin' sh** out of one another, so here I am. Now it's not very often I find something in a preseason game worth getting excited over, but I caught a nice little wrinkle Saturday and I wanted to discuss it a bit. It's called PUSH. As all of you know, DQ and MM looooove their man coverage, namely Cover-1 with a Rat in the hole. For anyone who needs a refresher, here it is. Very simple. You have press man coverage across the board. Free Safety playing deep middle and (usually) the Mike playing the Rat in the short underneath zone. Nick Saban calls this the best coverage in football. If you've been paying attention since DQ got here, Cover-1 is our bread and butter when we go man. Our defensive philosophy is to close the middle of the field. But even with as steady a coverage as this is, you simply can't run this on a regular basis without changing things up. Coordinators are just too good, and there are too many ways to beat tight man coverage: bunch sets, stacks, pick routes (I refuse to call them rubs)... it's just too easy to get receivers open if a team is going to sit in this all day. So, we answer this my making small changes to the responsibilities of our defenders. This is where the PUSH ALERT comes in. PUSH ALERT: what is the a Push Alert you're probably wondering at this point? We'll I'm glad you asked. It's basically a call built into the coverage that says we're going to trade off who we're covering in the middle of the play so that no matter how the receivers are stacked and try to pick us off, we'll answer by switching who is covering who... kind of like Banjo coverage (which hopefully I can get to later in the season) or a switch in basketball. Stay with me here if you're confused. We're about to get to the pictures. Here's the play in question. The Jags are running double curls at the top of the screen. Now at the bottom of the screen the routes were drawn up wrong. In the picture it's drawn up with Alf's man running the curl and Poole's man running the drag, but it's actually the opposite. It's Poole's man that is running the little curl and Alford's the cross. Note the stacked alignment of the receivers to that side. This is usually how you can get a receiver open because the off man has a free release and the defender covering him has to navigate through traffic. And here's what the Falcons are in, straight Cover-1 with the RAT in the hole. This time the RAT is Campbell. At the snap Poole gets an incredible jam on his man so much so that he can't even get into his route. I never could tell what that receiver was running, a hook or a dig? But you see (and you'll see it clearer in the gif) Alf has to run over the top to track that crosser, and Duke is struggling to get underneath to get to his man, the running back leaking out. But this is excellent coverage across the board. You can see Campbell has his eyes in the correct place, picking up the 1st crosser to help out Alf. Now this is where our alert comes in. Right in the middle of the play, the PUSH call is made. Campbell now picks up the crosser in man to man, and Alf is the new RAT. Now this is the part that screws with quarterbacks. Look at what Blake is looking at. To him, this is man to man across the board right. That crossing route has taken the Rat, Campbell and cleared him out of the middle of the field and Alf was in man to man so he isn't even supposed to be a factor. He's supposed to be running with #10 too. So, Blake is supposed to have an easy throw to his tight end who is matched on Keanu. But not so much. You see Keanu has fallen down (or pushed). Tight end is wide open in the middle of the field for an easy completion. But you can see Alf already sinking... And right here, he's just being an athlete. Just an incredible play. You know how it ended. Great play by Keanu to get up off the deck and finish the play. If anyone remembers the pick 6 on Brady from the Super Bowl, this is almost the same exact concept. This is a very simple defense. We show the same stuff over and over again, but there are a ton of adjustments and communication that allows the defense to stay dynamic and constantly have answers for what offenses throw at them. That's how the playbook stays so thick. I love this scheme. It's so simple on the surface, which allows your athletes to play fast, yet so complex when you start digging underneath which allows your playcaller to play chess.
  17. Let's talk about perception vs. reality. Thread title explains it all. I'm just going to post gifs and keep the talking to a minimum. Ya'll can see what's going on for yourselfs. vs. Detroit ...saw the Lions were tilting coverage to Julio. Called a switch concept that left Gabriel one on on while the free safety jumped on Julio to help the corner. "Sark just calls plays. He doesn't set anything up." -- this play comes right after an outside zone. Falcons were starting to run the ball. Shows another stretch play and... ...knew the Lions would be in man coverage. Takes advantage of the mismatch: Free on a linebacker.
  18. Good Friday all, I hope your day is going as well as mine. It's cold and overcast where I'm at but feels like a fresh spring day to me. Funny how a win'll do that for you, albeit not the most aesthetically pleasing. Saw a fair amount of bad football last night, coaching too, but man was there a lot of good out there. And I do mean good. It's been a while since I've felt ampted enough to do one of these, but as someone who reveres defensive football, last night's game warmed my cockles, because I despite the numbers, I have had some real issues with this unit for most of the season. And it has been a lot of small detail type stuff off here and there; guys not communicating, guys not being able to line up, not fitting the run properly, etc. Bad news: I still saw some of that last night. Good news: I saw a lot more of the detail stuff looking nice and fluid and I want to take a look a few plays. Here are a couple from the opening drive of the 1st quarter where they once again started out rocky then tightened up when they got backed up. RUN FITS: anyone who has read some of my threads you'll know that run fits... ... run fits just make me smile. This is just the essence of football to me. No particular talent or skill needed, they're all about discipline and effort. Last night the run fits were really on point in a way that they had not been in a while. I have seen way too much the past month or so, despite the raw numbers, of guys not fitting their gaps properly, guys getting push out of gaps, poorly leveraging angles, the whole deal. Last night, they were beautiful. This play right here in a pump-draw. The offense shows pass -- QB takes a quick drop like it's going to be a quick throw, pump fakes, then turns and hands the ball to the back. This can be **** on your second level defenders because the pass action usually gets them to take a step back into their pass drops. By the time they read pass and try to recover, it's too late. The offensive line has eaten them up. The Falcons weren't having any of that last night. You mitigate a play like this with eye discipline. As a linebacker, you are taught to be patient, read your keys, then react. Young guys can take a while to master this type of thing. They'll get anxious and react to the first thing they see and take themselves right out of the play... sound like anyone on our current roster who was starting in the first part of the season? At any rate this was Deion's play. Falcons are actually in an over front on this play, and linebackers are in a stacked alignment. Deion is actually playing the WILL here with Ish as the Mike. Now take a look Deion's eyes. The same way quarterbacks take a pre-snap read and look over a defense to key what they're in, linebackers do the same thing. The same way a quarterback will key the rotation of the safetys just after the snap to confirm the coverage and where to go with the ball, linebackers do the same thing. Deion is reading the near guard through the backfield. Remember, fullbacks can lie to you, tackles can lie to you, guards will give the play away every time. Whatever the guards do triggers the movement of the linebackers. At the snap, look at the guard. He's not dropping into a pass set, he's firing out. This signals a run... but it could also be a play-action, so this is where the aspect of patience comes in as a linebacker. There's no need to rush here, you've got 4 big bodies in front of you. You got all the time in the world. You'd almost rather your linebacker be a beat late than a beat early and take himself out of the play. But this is a pretty good signal that it's a run. This is a beat right after Brees's pump fake. He's turning to hand the ball. Now this is what I really love about this play. Look at Ish. No hesitation. He's coming downhill right now to bang that fullback. Both he and Deion know exactly what the play is and where it's designed to go. The key is each man doing his job. Ish's job is to stone that fullback, closing down that hole and leaving Deion clean to the ball. If he hesitates, they're screwed. If Deion gets too anxious he could take himself right out of the play -- which he has done a few times the past few weeks. Here, they're perfect. Fullback decides he's too scared to take on a 205 lb. safety so he goes at his legs. That's fine. It happens. Job done, though. Gap is closed. The run only has one place to go... right to Deion. He steps into the hole with his shoulders square. And take a look at the red jerseys in the picture. That's wall right there. That's exactly how you want your defense against a run to look. There's no space, no creases anywhere. Big, strong back, can't hit him up high. Deion attacks that near hip and gets that nice drive to the ground. Great play, young man. And here we go in motion. Just beautiful. This is one of those plays I could talk about all day. Look how quick and violent Grady's hands are -- look how he just comes off that block. Look at how Poe takes on that double or how Reed is in there battling that tackle to squeeze down. These are the details in the run D that I've been waiting to see.
  19. Offensive linemen generally don't get a lot of love when they're doing right, but they sure do catch it when they're messing up. So, I wanted to take a look a play stood out to me. Now I have not been in love with the way this offensive line has played this year, and it's been a little bit of everyone who has taken turns being the problem. But they were Gods in pass protection Monday night... (not so much the run game), but everything in pass pro was on point. They were picking up pressures, passing off stunts, the whole deal. I want to take a look at this play from the 1st quarter, namely Ryan Schraeder. He drew a monster of an assignment with the great Michael Bennett. It's 3rd and I believe 7. We're in the redzone trying to keep it alive. Seattle is in man coverage. They bring 5, which ultimately winds up being 6 as Wright green dogs. But we'll get to that later. Let's look at my man, Schraeder. They know pressure is coming. So Ryan has to be aware of Clarke in front of him, while not losing Bennett. This is a tough align when an end is kicked out this far that's your guy and you've got someone right in front of you. This is where d-line coaches get all kinds of creative running all manner of twists and stunts. At the snap you see Ryan instantly kick back into his kick-step, get his eyes on Bennett, while simultaneously extending that left arm to feel for Clarke just in case there is a game being run right there. This is beautiful stuff. Wes has Clarke. No game being run, so Bennett is all Ryan's Now this is the key moment in pass protection and it is a battle that goes on a hundred times a game... this moment right here before contact. As an offensive tackle, you spend the entire week in the film room and on the practice field studying the guy(s) that are going to be rushing. You try to clean everything from what move he does when his stance looks like this. If his back leg is a little tighter, does he have a tendency to use a spin? If he scratches his nuts before the play, does he have a tendency to use another move... anything. You're looking for anything, because until you get hands on him, any part of a pass rushers repetoire from speed rush, to bull rush, to club, swim, rip, etc. is on the table. Usually the battle comes down to who gets their hands on who first. If a defensive lineman can engage you and close distance, or get a punch to the chest and so the tackle can't get hands on him, or slap the tackles hands away, then he can control the play. This right here is a pretty sight. I happens quick in the gif I'm about to post, but Schrader shot his hands into Bennett's chest. For a pass rusher, this last place you want a tackle to get you at because he can just sit down, keep those long arms extended and move you. And here it is in motion. Mighta got a little handsy to the face, but ehh, so what. No flag, no foul, but just a really good looking play. He kicked out wide to get him at the snap, but stayed balanced and got that good punch right to the chest. Good football here.
  20. Count me in the group that thinks that the defense has played well this season. Now I have high expectations for this unit, but also realistic ones. I think they have clearly taken a step. I think they have kept this team in some games while the offense was figuring some things out, but Monday... ... it felt like one step forward, two steps back. Hopefully we're all still flushed with the joy of victory, a great victory in a tough place to play, but there was a lot wrong with that defensive performance Monday night from communication, to missed reads, to just poor fundamentals. I wanna take a look at a few plays that me gritting my teeth. PLAY #1 - Anyone remember from the Miami game down near the goal line were Miami ran an orbit motion with Jarvis Landry? Remember how he showed reverse then stopped in his tracks, turned and ran the other way and walked into the end zone? Well, guess what Seattle decided to try on Atlanta Monday night? You guessed it. Now let me say this... I got no idea wtf happened, as in it broke down so bad, and by so many of our guys, I barely have an idea who was supposed to do what. What I can tell is that it looked like a Cover-1 call. Seattle motioned into a bunch. That's where everything went FUBAR. You can see Neal gesturing. Now this is just my guess, but it looks like he might have been switching something off as in Deion was the RAT and now maybe Keanu is telling him he's now the RAT... IDK At the snap, Russell play-actions. Poole and Alf take their men. That looks like the only thing that went right. For a moment is looks like Deion had the back in man, but then he backed off like he was in zone. Neal just stands there after it's clear it's pass and it looks like he's playing the RAT too. Desmond... I got no idea what Desmond is going, he turns and sprints all the way across the field like he had the tight end in coverage, but that doesn't make a God's bit of sense. You can see Tyler Lockett faking the orbit motion and turning around. Meanwhile, Desmond, the guy who would have been in best position to stop him is going in the other direction. You know what happened from there. Ugly football. Terrible communication. And I would just chalk it up to the game if this wasn't a play-type they had seen before.
  21. Ok, every now and again run across a play allows me to clearly illustrate what the quarterback is seeing and reading on any given play. I hit on a few route concepts earlier in the year -- in fact I think I hit on this one -- but we love football, right, so let's go over it again. Both teams Monday night ran a lot of what's known as the sticks concept. It's perfect against Cover-3 and it can give any type of man problems, also. But it really wreaks havoc on Cover-3. Basically, what it is, is this: you're going to have two receivers to one side. The outside most receiver is going to run a flat. The inside receiver is going to release and he has the option to run a hook if it's zone, or and out route if it's man. The quarterback is going to read the man over the receiver running the flat. IF THAT MAN runs with the flat receiver, he is going to throw the hook. Of course, if he sits inside and disregards the flat, then he'll throw the flat. Now here's the actual play. Julio is in a tight wing formation next to Toilolo. We've got 12 personnel on the field. You can see clearly the routes drawn up and the key defender Matt is looking at. Now note, this happens fast. Matt is only looking to this side of the field. And he's looking at the movement of that defender to tell him where to go with the ball. Here it is at the snap. Two steps into Matt's drop and he already knows where he's going with the ball. #52, Garvin's eyes are all on Toilolo, pretty much disregarding Julio. Matt gets to his last step. Before that back foot hit, #52 is screaming where to go with the ball. He's turning and running right at Toilolo.. and Julio sees it too. Don't ever let anyone tell you playing receiver is just about athleticism. There's a lot of nuance, a lot thinking that goes into this position. Receivers at the NFL level are oftentimes put in positions where they have to be able to read coverages as well as quarterbacks. Easy money. Nothing that groundbreaking. This is in every offense in the NFL. Something nice and simple to get your QB some rhythm and some easy yards. This is almost that long handoff you often see associated with the WCO. And you can run it from any formation, with any personnel grouping.
  22. Good evening to all. Hope everyone's had a productive week. Been busy, it's been a while since I had the time to post one of these, but I felt a little inspired by last Sunday's game vs. the Cowboys. I wanted to take a look at a few plays from that game that highlighted the continued evolution of the offense. The Cowboys run a relatively simple defens (so does our next opponent, too, btw). You kind of know exactly where they are going to be down in and down out, even though Marineli runs a slightly more aggressive and multiple version of the Tampa 2. Now the advantage to running a simple defense is this -- yeah, the opposing offense is going to generally know where you're going to be down in and down out, but guess, what... we know too. We know where we're weak at. We know what route combinations beat us, so we're know where you're going to be, too. As long as we are communicating, and on the same page, we can keep you in front of us. That brings us to the theme of this thread: motion. There are a lot of reason offenses motion -- yes, it can key the coverage, but it can also shift the strength of your offense, and a defense can't operate unless they designate the strength of the offese. It's kind of their version when the offensive line sets the blocking scheme by designating the Mike. Motions can screw all that up with the simple movement of one player. Suddenly, you see a corner and linebacker and a safety looking at each other and pointing and boom the ball is snapped before they can get eveything checked. This was one of the hallmarks of Kyle Shanahan's offense and part of the reason why you saw so many red jerseys running free through secondary's last year. PLAY #1 - is from the second quarter right before the 2 minute warning. Down by 4 2e are in a key 3rd down that we gotta have. Just not interested in kicking another field goal. First, Dallas's defense. They are in a zone pressure from a 3 man line with two linebackers mugging the A-gap. I can't see the other safety, but they're bringing 5, with Jaylon Smith running a game, and the secondary in a 3-deep match zone. As you can see the Falcons are in a sort of doubles formation with two receivers to either side. Hooper is flexed out wide. Both Sanu and Julio are in the slot positions. With Coleman in the backfield to Matt's left, and the tight end on that side, that is where the strength is designated by the defense. And then this happens. Sanu motions. #31 doesn't follow which signals to Matt that it's a zone. Matt can play it cool because he knows he's got 6 blockers for 5 rushers and it's not going to be a kamakazee type cover-0 blitz so he doesn't have to throw hot. Sanu settles and now the Falcons are in a bunch formation with the strength now to the defense's left. They are in trouble and they know it. They should check out of this blitz and have one of the backers drop, but they don't. The route design here is very well done. You've got Hooper getting vertical. To the bunch side you've got Julio attacking the middle of the field with drag route. If a defender drops to the low hole, he keeps running. If no one shows up, he's going to sit it down right there in the middle at the sticks. Gabriel runs a corner route. His and Hooper's route aren't really active here. Gabriel's job is to occupy the corner to his side so that he can't break on Sanu running that dig route. He's got to run that corner at a 100 mph even though he isn't getting the ball. That's part of the careful choreopgrapy here. Everyone has a job. Sanu's is to show vertical then break on that dig. And this is what happens at the snap, the defensive back playing the low hole pops out and picks up Julio on the drag. Gabriel runs right at Scandrick. Because if this, Scandrick has to wait for Gabriel to clear to pick up Sanu. He's doing his job; exactly what he's supposed to do, but... Scandrick doesn't have a chance. As soon as Gabriel clears, Sanu has Scandrick in perfect position on his outside hip. All he has to do is make that inside move. Matt gets good protection here. 6 on 5 there's no pressure. Matt double clutches for some reason, but it's a clean play. 1st down. The design beat the defense. Drive ends in the touchdown.
  23. For those who are interested, I decided to round up a few articles that go over in-depth on the Carolina Panthers that some of you may enjoy. I'll post samples from said articles here as well. For those who aren't, feel free to ignore. It's rather lengthy anyways. Defense: https://www.catscratchreader.com/2017/11/2/16593506/carolina-panthers-atlanta-falcons-defense-preview-not-marty-hurney-or-kelvin-benjamin The Panthers defense has now held their opponent without a touchdown in four out of eight games this season. That’s almost half! They have won almost all of those games en route to their current 5-3 record. The most recent victim, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, were riding high after averaging 30 points a game in their previous two weeks’ losses. The Panthers ... held the Buccaneers to their season lows in points, total yards, and first downs. ... https://www.catscratchreader.com/2017/10/26/16554418/carolina-panthers-film-analysis-blitzing-with-cornerbacks Carolina Panthers Film Analysis: Blitzing with cornerbacks Under new Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks, the Carolina Panthers currently have one of the most aggressive defenses in the entire NFL. Their blitz percentage of 41.1% ranks second in the league overall: A big part of the Panthers’ defense is blitzing off the edge with slot cornerback Captain Munnerlyn from their 4-2-5 nickel sub-package. Munnerlyn is one of the more talented blitzing cornerbacks in the NFL. Although he’s a bit undersized, he has good short-area explosion and bend in his hips, which helps him turn the corner quickly and collapse pockets from the edge. On this play against the Lions, Munnerlyn and Shaq Thompson both come blitzing off the edge, and Julius Peppers backs off into coverage. Notice how Luke Kuechly’s alignment over the center holds the running back, who is working inside-out in pass protection. Munnerlyn almost comes in unblocked, but the back is able to pick him up at the last second. Stafford slips through a potential sack from Star Lotulelei, but Munnerlyn frees himself from the block and pursues Stafford from behind to bring him down for the sack. ... https://theriotreport.com/third-and-scary-how-the-panthers-defense-can-dominate-the-league/ .... The Panthers 2013 defense was rightly seen as one of the best in the NFL, but what has often been overlooked was how this defense was able to be so effective without particularly competent play from their corner. Melvin White, Drayton Florence and Josh Thomas were all out of the league within two years of contributing to the 2013 unit with Thomas and Florence never starting a game again after that season. What made this possible was the Panthers defensive scheme at the time minimalized the responsibility placed on the corners and the front seven were able to generate enough consistent pressure that they were never asked to cover for that long. Where this version of the Panthers defense looks to be different is in the ability of the corners to cover down the field and so allow for greater scheme versatility. While Daryl Worley has had somewhat of a mixed second season so far, on Sunday he had one of his better performances, and on the one third down where he was challenged he made a nice break on the ball to force the incompletion. On the other side of the field, James Bradberry has been stellar, shutting down Mike Evans for much of Sunday’s game. While the Panthers haven’t historically run a huge amount of man-to-man, they clearly feel comfortable letting Bradberry travel with the offense’s best receiver, and when he plays like he did on the following play it isn’t hard to see why: As good as Josh Norman was and is, the Panthers rarely if ever showed the level of confidence in him that they currently are in Bradberry. It cannot be overstated how impressive he is for a player just halfway through his second season. With that said, the Panthers’ coverage prowess goes well beyond one player, and this ability to utilize drop-back coverages give Wilks immense flexibility with his play-calling, which in turn makes things even harder for opposing quarterbacks. It is often said how pass rush can help a secondary and how good coverage can help a pass rush; the performance by the Panthers’ defense on Sunday was a living example of this. By being able to mix blitzes and coverages, Steve Wilks has been able to create one of the most potent defenses in the NFL, and although the offense has been slow to get going this season, defensive play like this will keep the Panthers in the playoff hunt while the offense finds it’s footing. ... Under Pressure One part of the Panthers defense that was hugely apparent on Sunday was their propensity to blitz as the Panthers brought blitzes on over forty percent on passing downs. However, a major cornerstone of the Panthers’ defense has been the ability to generate pressure without having to blitz; on both of the following two plays, the Panthers defense was able to be disruptive without having to bring a called blitz. While on the second play Luke Kuechly does rush once it is clear the running back is staying in to pass protect, in both cases, the pressure comes from the four man front. In the first instance, this is due to a frankly delightful spin move by Kyle Love: Whereas on the second play, the pressure coming from Peppers and Love forces Winston up in the pocket to where Charles Johnson is able to get pressure as he swings around from the edge. This ability to get pressure without blitzing makes it very hard for the quarterback who is forced to hold onto the ball against the drop-back coverage. On the whole, though, the Panthers used blitzes to generate pressure on third downs. The downside of blitzing is that if a team is able to recognize the blitz before the snap, they are potentially going to be able to find easy completions as receivers are left uncovered. What makes the Panthers so special is the ability to counter this by taking advantage of one of the highest IQ defenders in NFL history. On the following play, Winston recognizes the nickel blitz and checks to a receiver screen to counter it. However, the Panthers and more specifically Luke Kuechly, appear to counter-check, with Kurt Coleman dropping back to the high position and Mike Adams dropping down to stop the screen before the yard marker. What should also be noted about how the Panthers bring pressure is that they look to overload one side of the line while dropping players off of the other. The advantage to this tactic is it allows a team to generate pressure without having to bring that many blitzers, as much of the pressure comes from miscommunication and spatial limitations on the offensive line. The Panthers only bring five rushers against the six blockers, but Munnerlyn is left unblocked in the play above. The same is true on the following incompletion: While the Buccaneers certainly made significant errors on this play, by forcing the left side of the line to block four rushers the Panthers are able to generate these mistakes on a relatively consistent basis. It should also come as no surprise that when quarterbacks are put under consistent pressure they often make more mistakes, and on Sunday that led to two big interceptions for the Panthers. ....
  24. Okay, it has been quite a week around here with our second straight loss. We're not quite in full meltdown mode, but there is a palpable sense of dread, especially with regards to the offense and one Stephen Ambrose Sarkisian. Well I am not here to allay anyone's fears or talk anyone into anything, but I'm just going to post up a few plays that jumped out to me that I really liked and I think demonstrated a high level of offensive acumen with regards to playcalling. And I thought it might be kind of fun for us to take a look at some base route concepts so you can kind of get into the mind of what the quarterback is looking at play-to-play. This first play here is from the Buffalo game. First offensive drive. Bear with me I might get a little chatty on some of these. There's a lot that goes into even the most simple play. Okay, here we go. Sark puts 12 personnel on the field: 1 back, 2 tight ends. But he does something clever with the formation. It's essentially a 3 receiver set with Hooper out wide to the bottom of the screen and Julio in the slot as the Y-receiver. You do something like this pre-snap to expose the coverage. If a linebacker or safety walks out on Hooper, you know it's man. If a corner goes out there with him, you know it's zone. Here, the corner is walked out on Hooper. It's zone. That's all the info Matt needs, so he motions Hooper back in-line to the wing. Now this is the actual route conept. Actually it's concept(s) beacause this play has two different route concepts. Sark has packaged this play with two different route combinations -- to beat man or zone. To the bottom of the screen with Julio and Hooper, you have what's called a Sticks concept. STICKS: Julio runs a stick route, a little hook, that can convert to an out route vs. man coverage. Hooper runs the flat right behind him. To the top you have a Slant/Flat combo between Sanu and Toilolo. SLANT/FLAT just like it sounds. WR runs a slant, TE runs the flat. Matt decides pre-snap that he is going to the Slant/Flat side. I can't see the safety, but It was Cover-3 by the Bills. He might have seen the safety leaning Julio's way, idk. But Matt decides he's going to the slant/flat. Now this is the cool part and you can play along with this on Sundays. In order to decide where to go with the ball, the quarterback is going to key the movement of a defensive player and that is going to tell him where to throw. Here it's the linebacker circled in red. If that defender goes with Toilolo to the flat, Matt will throw the slant. If that linebacker sits in that window, then Matt will throw the flat to Toilolo. Simple, right? Here we go. Matt has already made his decision by his last step. This is the beauty of the WCO. When the timing is working, the ball comes out so fast. The key defender sits. Matt is going to Toilolo. Easy completion. This is what you do early in the game to get your quarterback and offense some rhythm. Nice easy read. 9 yards.
  25. I had more or less calmed down after yesterday's debacle, then I went to take a second look at some of the breakdowns that lead to the collapse and I got heated all over again. Since yesterday afternoon I have seen thread after thread pop up trying to peg just what has been going wrong with 2017's Falcons -- everything from leadership, to coordinators, to disinterest. That's normal. Folks get angry, frustrated, they want that anger and frustration to go somewhere. They need something to hang it on. Well the answer is at once simple and complex. There are a myriad of things going wrong right now, and it's right there in plain sight. The Falcons have not been overmatched in any game this season. The losses have come from errors. The errors have poor fundamentals, communication issues, lack of execution and plain ole stupidty. Let's take a look at the first play that really p!ssed me off yesterday. Falcons 1st Drive of the 3rd Quarter. Falcons first play of the 3rd quarter. Atlanta comes out with 2 tight ends, 1 back. They've got a play-action on. Now right here everything looks normal. Miami is in a single-high look. Safety walked down showing 8 in the box, which isn't unusual on an early run down vs. that personnel. Then this happens. The Safety rocks down and shows pressure off the edge. Ok, cool. We still got this. Matt changes the protection. You can hear him on the in-game audio re-ID the Safety as the Mike, sliding the protection his way. The original blocking assignments are in yellow. The re-Mike'd assignements are in red. The Falcons go to a half-line slide to pick up the safety. Schraeder was originally to block the defensive end. Schweitzer had the tackle. Now Schraeder is going to kick out and take the Safety and Schweitzer is going to take the end. Mack is going to take the tackle to that side. Everything is now good to go. This is NFL pass protection101. At the snap, we're good to go. The edge pressure is picked up perfectly. But now we got a problem developing in the middle. I don't know if Miami had a called stunt on or if they did this on their own -- in Detroit, Suh was known to call his own d-line stunts on the fly -- but they've got issues with the two defensive tackles. As you can see right here, Jake is getting beaten badly. Matt actually does a good job of stepping up and avoiding it, but there's nowhere to go. He steps right into the second tackle. Here's the play in full and I wanted to post the long clip. You see Matt go to the dummy snap count to get Miami to show the pressure. Then you see him point out the new Mike. This is everything you want your quarterback to do, set your protections so you can get the ball off and the line still gets beat.
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