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ATL vs. MIA film review (Part One)


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Football is back!

Last week's matchup against the Miami Dolphins has already been discussed plenty around here, but I still wanted to add my amateur take on a few important things I saw such as scenarios (down and distance, play call, etc) and player evaluations that will prove essential to our success this season and beyond.

I'll get things started first with Miami's second offensive possession, which featured many of the players on defense we will be relying on to play important snaps this year, and will be highlighted in this review. Among them: LB Deion Jones, LB De' Vondre Campbell, LB Duke Riley, DE/LB Brooks Reed, DE Derrick Shelby, DT Ra'Shede Hageman, DT Joe Vellano and SS Sherrod Neasman.

I was immediately interested in the kickoff following our opening TD drive, highlighted by Devonta Freeman's score. Mike Meyer handled the kickoff and quite a few players of interest this year were on coverage team. Among them: TE Eric Saubert, LB Duke Riley, DB Damontae Kazee, RB Brian Hill, LB Jermaine Grace and DB Jarnor Jones.

This is important to note because I've seen a lot of criticism regarding special teams coverage, but this was not the same veteran group of players that comprised the coverage unit on the opening kick of the game in which Miami's offense began at their own 21. This unit was comprised mostly of players that need special teams to make an impression on the coaching staff, and a push for consistent snaps during the regular season, including Meyer, who may make a case for the 53-man roster if he doesn't beat incumbent Matt Bryant outright.

The return is to the coverage side featuring Kazee, Riley, Jones, LB Josh Keyes, and WR Deandre Burton (he dropped a pass later in this game) in that order with Kazee closest to the kicker. 

Kazee immediately storms down the field to lead the charge and is the first to arrive only to get washed out by a block. Burton is near on the outside but he's washed out by a block. Riley somehow ended up on the wrong side before also being swallowed in the traffic of blockers, then trailing the action. All this leads to Meyer and Hill getting the angle to force MIA return man Storm Johnson out of bounds after a 39-yard return.

So there's your setup for this drive: MIA 1st and 10, own 39. Brandon Doughty is in at QB for MIA and he's staring at a Falcons DL of Shelby, DT Grady Jarrett, DT Dontarie Poe, and Reed. This is Shelby's first game action since his achilles injury last season and I had to keep that in mind before critiquing too harshly. Mostly, I was interested to see if he could regain his explosiveness and strength that we began to see signs of last year. There is clearly more work to be done and rust to knock off before he begins to see heavy snaps in the rotation. 

First play, Dolphins come out in split 12 and Falcons run base 43. Doughty motions TE from left to right and now has a double TE look underneath his wideout. Doughty is under center and makes a three-step drop, looking right as his first read. CB Desmond Trufant is playing off the receiver and has mirrored his route over the top while Campbell who was lined outside retreats to the zone underneath.

Doughty now moves to his second option which was TE Gray motioned right. He runs a five yard dig route into Jones who has accounted for him; however after accounting for the receiver, Jones turns his head to account for the coverage behind him and in that moment, Jones is just a split-second slow to react to the throw and it just misses his outstretched fingers for a completion. Campbell and Riley arrive quickly to prevent further progression after an eight-yard gain.

Second and two, own 46: Same personnel groupings for both squads. Falcons bring FS Ricardo Allen and Campbell to the LOS on opposite sides, Neasman deep safety. At the snap, Poe actually stumbles his way five yards deep in the backfield after he took a false step when MIA's LG didn't immediately engage him. Upon regaining his balance he found himself in pursuit when the LT didn't make much of an attempt to block him. Once Jarrett muscled his way past the center another four yards in the backfield, this play should have been fully blown up.

Poe and Jarrett's quick penetration forced the ball carrier outside four yards back for what should have been a certain loss of yardage.  However, a recurring theme for the defense was a failure to contain the edges on run plays, which will be essential with this consistent impact from Poe and Jarrett. Often times Shelby and Reed were the primary culprits in those failures. Here, Shelby does a nice rip move on the TE to immediately disengage and get around, but Gray is allowed to get away with a blatant block in the back and Shleby's momentum washes out both he and Poe from making the tackle.

Next offender is Campbell he is in position to strike the entire time as sifts through traffic. This is where you hear scouts say he needs to improve his instincts; he's so hesitant here because he doesn't trust what he sees. But he's such a large physical specimen that he just commands his space. When the play finally comes to De'Vondre he makes a move but then is blindsided by a block. Deion Jones is left to finish the play before the RB gains any further yardage and stands him up after a one-yard gain. Jones' improved footwork and speed was on full display filling this hole. Duke Riley also ran around on this play like a crazed dog but found himself overrunning the carrier.

You could see his disappointment at his missed opportunity for a TFL. He covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time to have a chance to meet the ball carrier in the backfield coming around the play from his weakside position.

 Third and one, own 48: Miami comes out in 13 jumbo set, Falcons remain in base 43. Brooks Reed and Shelby have switched sides. Trufant is playing deep third, Neasman has come to LOS with no receiver flanked wide right. At the snap, Reed is unable to disengage his blocker (TE #88) which creates a seal. Neasman, playing at the line also has outside contain but uses poor leverage going inside of Reed and his block to get to the carrier and gets washed out after crashing into Grady Jarrett, who along with Poe have penetrated deep into Miami's backfield to force action outside. Trufant makes the open field tackle after a nine-yard gain and this is where he motions to the sideline and removes himself from the action.

After a three-yard gain on the next play, MIA goes empty backfield and Falcons remain in base with Alford out wide on the RB, Neasman covering the slot, Allen single-high and Goodwin now in for Trufant. On this play, we see the quick strike ability of Duke Riley. He's got the deepest coverage assignment of the linebackers, but is the first to arrive as TE Gray is stopped immediately once securing the catch. Reed comes in to finish him off.

Falcons ran heavy zone this drive and Miami HC Adam Gase involved the TE heavily as a zone beater with digs and hitches for medium gains. Upon converting another third down on a completion over the middle to the TE, we saw wholesale changes on the defense. Only holdovers from the first unit are Campbell and DE Courtney Upshaw, although Reed would later return.

The Dolphins now have first-and-ten from the Atlanta 20, a good red zone opportunity for the defense. Defensive tackles Joe Vellano and Hageman have now entered the game. Hageman explodes off the snap, pushing the center backwards before disengaging to pursue the ball carrier.  Vellano is able to quickly disengage his blocker and is moving down the line in pursuit. Upshaw holds firm against a double team and Campbell is there after a gain of two.

Another person of interest is UDFA J'Terrius Jones. #55 is fitting for this young player. He enters the contest on second down, lining up at left end, pushing Upshaw inside to tackle and next to Hages. Moves like this will give QB's and OL's fits. Upshaw and Jones fire off the ball like they're shot from a cannon and Doughty hurries his throw that sails high out of bounds after a quick two-step drop from a shotgun snap.

Next play is third-and-eight from the Atlanta 18. Falcons have Kazee in single-high look with Olatoye, LB Laroy Reynolds and DB Quincy Mauger all across the first down marker. I love it when the Falcons show this look. It's basic Cover 3 principles that rely on pressure up front and LBs that can play in space. It keeps all the action up front as the players are assured proper depth when they know the offense has to come to them for a first down.

The pass rush doesn't get their initially as Hageman is forced to fight through a double team and the left side Miami's line does a good job picking up the stunt from Jones and Upshaw. But the backend all played their assignments perfectly and Doughty had nowhere to throw the football before just throwing it away for an incompletion to end the drive with a field goal attempt.

So lots of stuff here, just a lot of things I wanted to highlight and more to come. Comments welcome!

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2 hours ago, Flyin' In DC said:

Great read and thanks for taking the time to break this down

The 3 and 1 from the 48 was also broken down in depth by PMF in a separate thread. Describing the lack of contain by either Reed or Neasman or both.

Yep, sure was and he did a great job with it also! It was a critical play in the game when you talk about getting off the field on third downs and how conversions can lead to points. What's also important about that play, and PMF went into much greater detail on play design and assignments, is that even if nine players execute properly, it can all fall apart by one (in this case perhaps two) blown assignment.

Which is why football gets dubbed the ultimate team game; all have to be on one accord.

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On 8/14/2017 at 5:53 PM, Tim Mazetti said:

It's football, but dam, you can make it dramatic.

Well written. Thanks. I was chewing on my cigar reading this and got it wet, dammit, man!


I love my cigar too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while........... :lol:

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Tim, it cracked me up because of an old story about Groucho Marx.........

He had a show back in the day called what's my line and interviewed the contestants before asking questions for the  right or wrong response..... This has been debunked but is still funny as heII........

Woman: “I have 14 children, Groucho”.

Groucho: “You have 14 children? Why do you have so many kids?”

Woman: “Because I love my husband”.

Groucho: “I love my cigar too, but I take it out of my mouth every once in a while.”



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