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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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