In Week 6 against New Orleans Julian Edelman caught the first pass on the final drive on seam route. The Saints stayed in Nickel but the Patriots went with a 4 WR set as opposed to the previous drive, when they were in 3 WR. Edelman got matched up with a LB in the slot and ran a seam route – the Saints played Cover-2 and the LB tried to reroute Edelman on his zone drop into his hook zone responsibility, but Edelman got around him for a 23 yard gain (Edelman dropped a pass on same route later in drive).
Jets’ Rookie QB, Geno Smith took a step back this past week with having an erratic and inconsistent game in New York’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers – with missing some throws down the field (missed potential long TD pass to Stephen Hill due to over thrown pass early in the game).
- Smith has thrown only 2 TD passes compared to 4 INTs on passes over 20-yards down the field through 6 games, but has shown better accuracy on throws down the field where he drives the ball with more velocity – needs to improve his touch and trajectory.
Jets’ LT, D’Brickashaw Ferguson struggled last week vs. the Steelers attacking and multiple Defensive schemes who were able to beat the Jets’ Tackle on several plays to pressure Geno Smith (Geno Smith was Sacked 3 times and threw 2 INTs in New York’s loss to Steelers last week) – Jets’ RBs/TEs didn’t give their O-Line much help in Week 6 vs. Pittsburgh with struggling to execute in pass protection schemes, resulting in QB pressure (limited success with chips/nudges last week).
Pittsburgh’s slow start can be mostly put on the inconsistency of their Offense, which Ranks 18th in the NFL with averaging 338.6 total Offensive Yards per game, but mostly due to their inability to run the football – the Steelers Rank 31st in the NFL in Rushing with averaging a lowly 61 Rushing Yards per game, which has caused them to become more one dimensional with passing the football on 68.2% of their Offensive Snaps (4th most in the NFL).
- The Steelers inability to protect Ben Roethlisberger has been a big reason for the Offensive woes (O-Line has also struggled to block in the running game) Pittsburgh has had thus far, allowing 19 Sacks of their QB (tied for 25th in the NFL).
- Pittsburgh’s Offensive Line and pass protection struggles have resulted in them allowing 3.8 Sacks per game, which is 4thworst in the NFL:
- Miami: 4.8 Sacks per game
- Oakland: 4.67 Sacks per game
- Cleveland: 4.0 Sacks per game
- Pittsburgh: 3.8 Sacks per game
- Jacksonville: 3.67 Sacks per game
The Eagles have won 3 games this year and the combined record of those teams they beat is 1-15 – they have won their last 2 games and QB, Nick Foles has been very solid with throwing 5 TDs in his 5 Quarters of work over the last couple of weeks.
- Foles leads the NFL in pass attempts per Touchdown Pass with only 10.17 attempts per TD Pass over the last 2 Weeks (2nd in the NFL is Peyton Manning at 10.91 attempets per TD Pass).
Foles has shown excellent touch, pace and trajectory on deep passes down the field in each of the last 2 weeks with completing 3 of his 5 pass attempts over 20 yards, with all 3 going for TDs for the Eagles – very good down field passer who does good job of dropping the ball over the top of the Defense and allowing his WRs to run under the football.
The Cowboys have done an excellent job this season of exploiting favorable matchups from their empty formation and will be an intriguing matchup in how the Eagles Defense will matchup against the Cowboys multiple empty personnel groupings/formations.
- Through 6 Weeks, the Cowboys have played 40 snaps from empty personnel, which is the most in the NFL (11.3% of their Offensive Snaps have been out of the empty formations; 2nd most in the NFL are the Houston Texans at 7.4%).
- Romo has completed 76.3% of his pass attempts out the empty personnel groupings and TE, Jason Witten has been focal point for Cowboys in empty because of getting him in favorable matchups vs. LBs and his ability to find voids in zone coverages.
- 21 snaps in 4 WR, 1 TE empty sets with Romo going 16-20, 279 yds
- 19 snaps in 3 WR, 2 TE empty sets with Romo going 13-18, 182 yds, 1 TD
The Monte Kiffin lead Cowboys Defense surprisingly play minimal snaps of Cover-2 based Defenses last week vs. the Redskins, which Kiffin is mostly known for – on Washington’s 42 drop-backs last week, the Cowboys only played 3 snaps of Cover 2 (unexpectedly the Cowboys have only run Cover 2 on 23% of their opponents pass plays this season).
Cowboys’ Defensive Coordinator, Monte Kiffin seemed confident that his Secondary and CBs could physically win at line of scrimmage with playing a good amount of press coverage last week vs. the Redskins – both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne did a great job on the outside being physical with the Washington’s WRs to disrupt the timing of the Redskins passing game.
Dallas’ Front-7 was very active, playing with high energy, and impressive against the Redskins in Week 6, especially Jason Hatcher who consistently was able to get good penetration vs. pass and strong vs. run.
Cowboys’ WR, Cole Beasley has contributed more since injury to Miles Austin and gives Tony Romo another receiving threat, especially out of the slot because of his lateral explosiveness an ability to generate separation out of his breaks – Beasley could create matchup problems for the Eagles struggling secondary this week.
Cowboys’ Rookie RB, Joseph Randle came in for the injured DeMarco Murray last week and did solid job for Dallas, showing a good skill set to be a consistent NFL RB – decisive runner with solid downhill burst and quickness through the hole and did a good job of protecting the football in the 4th Quarter, as well as showing good feel/understanding for pass protection schemes and aggressively attack defenders.
Last Week, Dallas WR, Miles Austin did not look like himself – clearly not 100% coming back from his hamstring injury and was unable to display the same burst and acceleration out of his breaks to generate separation from defenders (targeted 4 times with no receptions in Week 6 vs. Redskins).
Dallas’s Defense operates out of their Nickel Personnel more than any other team in the NFL with playing from Nickel in over 74% of their Defensive snaps this season (Minnesota is 2nd most in the NFL with 64.8% of their snaps coming from Nickel) – Dallas’ Nickel CB, is Orlando Scandrick and starting Safety, Barry Church is used a lot down in the box in the Cowboys Nickel Personnel to help defend the run (Church is physical defender who is good tackler).
Pittsburgh’s Defense looked more explosive and dominate last week vs. the Jets’ Offense, which was key factor for them earning their first win of the season – the Steelers were able to Sack Geno Smith 3 times and their ability to generate turnovers played a huge factor in the outcome of the game with getting their first 2 INTs of the season.
Steelers’ Safety, Troy Polamalu was flying around the field last week vs. New York and has seemed to be back to himself with his speed/range on full display in getting to the football this season (recorded 5 tackles last week) – Polamalu’s ability to be active in the Steelers Defense, allows Pittsburgh to be more multiple and exotic in their Defensive schemes.
Steelers’ LB, Jason Worilds played a solid game last week vs. the Jets with tallying 5 tackles, 1 Sack, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble – Pittsburgh needs consistent production from their LBs opposite of LaMarr Woodley to help create pressure on opposing QBs from base pass rush schemes.
Pittsburgh Rookie OLB, Jarvis Jones has been a good fit for the Steelers Defense in his ability to win off the edge as pass rusher, using good mix of strength and speed to beat blocks – the emergence of another LB opposite of Woodley is critical in the production of the Steelers Defense.
Although the Steelers are only 1-4 through their first 5 games, their Defense currently Ranks 6th in the NFL with allowing only 310.8 total yards to opposing Offenses a game, and have been particularly good at defending the pass with allowing only 196 Pass yards per game.
In Week 6 vs. the Cowboys, Washington Rookie TE, Jordan Reed had a very solid game with totaling 4 catches for 58 yards – the Redskins used Reed in multiple different ways and looks, showing his potential to be a matchup problem for opposing Defenses, especially LBs (good lateral agility and athleticism to make plays in the passing game).
Last Week vs. the Cowboys, Washington’s Offense lacked an identity and the power-approach they had last year, as well as lacking the same success in the play-action passing game – very scattershot Offensive approach in randomly changing between spread and pro-style formations (lack a pro-style passing game without an effective drop-back passing game).
The Redskins were very predictable and uncreative with their offensive attack last week vs. the Cowboys with running a lot of simple schemes in both the running and passing game, which allowed the Cowboys Defense to make adjustments and limit the Redskins ability to convert drives into points (Washington Ranks 25th in the NFL in points scored per game; 21.4 points per game).
Washington’s Offense was able to accumulate over 450 total Offensive Yards in Week 6 vs. the Cowboys Defense with over 200 yards rushing and Robert Griffin, III threw for 246 yards – the Redskins need to improve their ability to convert their drives into points more consistently.
RGIII appeared to be a lot healthier and more dynamic in his general movements as both a passer and runner last week vs. the Cowboys – his mechanics have improved as a passer, but he continues to be inaccurate and inconsistent on a down to down basis (deep ball accuracy is not what it was last year).
- RGIII has completed only 3 of his 17 pass attempts over 20-yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs, which is the worst in the NFL.
The Redskins consistently blitzed the Cowboys and had success off the slot last week to pressure Tony Romo and hurry his play – Washington blitzed Romo on 15 of his 31 dropbacks last week (48% blitz from Washington in Week 6).
Against Jacksonville in Week 6, the Broncos ran a bubble screen to trips side of formation (3 by 1 formation) with 2 vertical routes by outside 2 WRs (same play they used in Week 1 vs. Baltimore on Julius Thomas’ 24-yard TD) and Wes Welker was able to get open down the seam for the 20-yard TD – Denver does a good job of implementing scheme and executing to exploit their opponents (good job of self-scouting); look for Denver to attack the backside on this same play with the fake bubble holding the backside Safety, allowing for X-Receiver to potentially win down the field.
The Buccaneers seemed to give CB, Darrelle Revis a lot more help than he should get last week vs. the Eagles and WR, DeSean Jackson – expected to see Revis singled up on Philadelphia WRs to allow for Safeties to help out with other defenders in their coverage schemes.
Last week vs. the Eagles, Revis was given help on 20 of the Eagles 32 pass plays (62.5%), with only being singled up in man coverage on 12 snaps in the game (only 2 of those plays was he on “Revis Island” by himself) – this style of Defense is not a good fit for the best cover CB in the NFL with the high majority of zone coverage schemes they play with.
Revis exclusively aligned on the left side of the field (on outside) for the entire game and didn’t move around the formation at all (so he did not match up to the Eagles best WR for the whole game) – it is surprising that the Buccaneers do not ask Revis to matchup with their opponents best WR (alone on his island) and rotate coverage to help other defenders.
Best example of Tampa Bay’s coverage scheme was on DeSean Jackson’s 2nd TD of the game last week with leaving Revis on outside over top of WR, Riley Cooper and Jackson was in the slot and given a free release up the field (LB aligned over him – Eagles were in base 12 personnel to dictate base Defense personnel) and Jackson basically was singled up on Safety, Dashon Goldson on his post route for the game clinching TD.
- Eagles have extremely high tendency to run vertical route with DeSean Jackson when he is aligned in the slot in twins personnel, but Buccaneers did not adjust Defense accordingly, which Philadelphia took advantage of on the 36-yard TD pass/catch.
Tampa Bay’s Defense has not maximized their potential with improperly using their personnel with the schemes they run, starting with the use of lockdown CB, Darrelle Revis who is unable to use his excellent coverage skills to take away an opposing Offenses best receiving option.
Tampa Bay, Darelle Revis still displayed excellent coverage ability when in man coverage and running down the field with Eagles’ WRs – very good lateral quickness and fluidity out of his breaks to stick with WRs (intelligent player who plays with good leverage and position, which helps him jump routes and take away throws).
The Vikings Offense used a pass happy approach last week vs. Carolina with running the ball on only 11 times (10 times with Adrian Peterson for only 62 yards from the 2012 MVP) and Matt Cassell dropped back on 49 plays (82% pass by Vikings in Week 6).
- Cassell completed 32 of 44 passes for 241 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs – the Vikings pass Offense was a quick, short passing game last week with their longest play from scrimmage being one of Peterson’s runs (31-yards) and longest pass reception being on the 23-yard TD catch by TE, Kyle Rudolph.
Carolina clearly game planned to take away Adrian Peterson last week with loading the box with 7-8 defenders (especially when the Vikings went with 2-Back sets), inviting the Vikings to throw the football, but the Vikings are one of the only teams who still need to remain patience and commit to running the football with the NFL’s most dominate runner.
Matt Cassell played a very solid game last week against the Panthers and made correct reads and accurate throws to his WRs on the Vikings first drive of the game, until he threw his 1st INT of the game on deep dig route by WR, Greg Jennings off play-action from 22 Personnel (only 1 WR on the field) – Cassell was pressure up the middle and hit as he threw it forcing an over throw which was picked off by Panthers Safety, Mike Mitchell (LG, Charlie Johnson was unable to maintain his block and allowed Rookie DT, Kawann Short to force erratic throw).
Panthers’ LB, Chase Blackburn is solid complimentary player besides Carolina’s dominate duo of Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis – Blackburn is intelligent player who does good job of reading and reacting in the run game (good run defender who is best playing downhill; made good tackle for loss on Vikings first play of their 2nd possession of the game last week).
Minnesota’s has had reduced success running the football from 2-Back sets because it allows Defenses to be more committed to stopping the run with adding more defenders into the box – the Vikings have had more success playing from Single-Back sets and putting another WR/TE on the field to help spread the field and soften the box for their Pro-Bowl Running Back.
- The first play the Vikings went to traditional Single-Back set/formation (11 Personnel with 3 WRs on the field) and ran the ball, Adrian Peterson was able to have more room to run the ball and gained 11-yards.
- Last week vs. Carolina, the Vikings went more exclusively to Single-Back sets after their first 2 possessions of the game, which caused the Panthers to play with more spacing on Defense – Carolina still committed to stopping the run with playing primarily from Single-High alignment with their Safeties to get another defender down in the box to help vs. the run (normally had 6 or 7-man box vs. 3 WR sets).
In Week 6 vs. Carolina, Adrian Peterson had much more success running the football from Single-Back (3 WR sets) than running from 2-Back sets (1 or 2 WRs with FB on the field):
- 2-Back sets in Week 6 – 6 rushes for only 4 yards (0.67 yards per rush)
- 1-Back sets in Week 6 – 4 rushes for 58 yards (14.5 yards per rush);
Through 6 weeks, Adrian Peterson has been much more effective running the football from Single-Back formations/sets:
- 2-Back sets through 5 games – 61 rushes for 233 yards (3.82 yards per rush)
- 1-Back sets through 5 games – 41 rushes for 250 yards (6.10 yards per rush); 2nd best yards per carry from Single-Back formation of NFL RBs (1st is Houston back-up RB, Ben Tate).
Carolina LB, Luke Kuechly is one of the best all-around athletes in the NFL with his excellent speed and athleticism seen in his tremendous range from sideline to sideline, his aggressive and attacking downhill playing style at the point of attack, and instinctive and intelligent playing personality which allows him to read and react to make plays in both the run and pass game.
Last week Minnesota slid their protection away from Carolina’s overload blitz/pressure (both LBs, Kuechly and Davis blitzed off same edge) and Adrian Peterson was slow to scan and redirect to get to outside to pick-up one of LBs, resulting in Sack of Cassell – blitz scheme broke down pass protection scheme and Peterson is inconsistent pass blocker at times.
- The Vikings have some questionable pass protection schemes, especially in their slide protection schemes where they slide the Offensive Line away from pressure to cause the RB to have to step up and seal the edge – Minnesota even slid in one direction and allowed for Panthers DE, Greg Hardy to be unblocked and 1 on 1 vs. RB, Peterson (poor design and scheme at times).
Vikings TE, Kyle Rudolph is a solid all-around player who is decent blocker in the running game and natural mismatch in the passing game because of his good size and ability to make contested catches (good ball skills and hands) – Rudolph showed questionable awareness around the sideline in getting his feet down (needs to improve his ability to drag his feet and know where he is on the field).
Minnesota’s Offensive protection schemes were very questionable in Week 6 vs. the Panthers, which was seen in both of the first 2 Sacks of the game on Cassell with the O-Line sliding away from the overload blitz pressure of Carolina allowing immediate pressure on their QB.
- Poor job of adjusting protection schemes based on Defensive alignment by Center, John Sullivan and/or QB, Matt Cassell, resulting in free rushers at the Vikings QB.
- Poor awareness shown by the Vikings OTs, Phil Loadholt (RT) and Matt Kalil (LT) to see pressure schemes and redirect to help their teammates pick up pressure schemes.
Last week vs. Carolina, Minnesota abandoned the run with 5 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter because of the score (trailing 28-3), which made them more predictable and took their best Offensive player out of the flow of the game (Adrian Peterson).
Panthers’ Rookie DT, Kawann Short flashed several times in Carolina’s win last week in Minnesota with generating consistent pressure on Cassell up the middle – Short plays with good leverage and is able to get under the pads of blocks to push the pocket and uses his hands well to get off blocks and get to the ball (showed good burst and acceleration out of his stance).
Overall, the Vikings Offensive Line is an inconsistent unit to struggles to see the field to react to stunts and communicate to work together to pick up stunts/pressure schemes – questionable design/scheme and inconsistent play, resulted in a lot pressure on Matt Cassell in Minnesota’s Week 6 loss at home to the Panthers (6 QB hits and 3 Sacks).
Newly acquired QB, Josh Freeman is a very good signing for the Minnesota Vikings because of his excellent skill set, which will be an immediate upgrade at their Quarterback position – Freeman has shown the ability to make all the throws in the NFL due to his very good arm strength, anticipation and willingness to pull the trigger (sometimes too much of gunslinger in throwing the ball into coverage).
Josh Freeman’s WRs/TEs did not give him much help in Tampa Bay with a lot of inconsistent play and questionable effort at times when running their routes and attacking the football once it’s in the air – Tampa Bay’s Offensive Line was highly inconsistent in protecting Freeman this season and he was consistently under pressure through 3 games with the Buccaneers this season, Freeman’s skill set is one of the better ones in the NFL and he has potential to become a very good starting NFL QB in the right system and if used properly.
Freeman’s aggressive mindset is seen in his willingness to pull the trigger on tight throws, but at times he forces the ball into tight coverage resulting in negative plays and INTs for his Offense at times – over his career (2009-2013), Freeman’s Interception Rate is 3.4% which is tied for 30th among qualifying QBs (needs to do a better job of taking care of the football).
Minnesota’s Defense has struggled this season to get off the field with having the 31st Ranked 3rd Down Defense allowing their opponents to covert 3rd Downs into 1st Downs 49.3% of the time – the Vikings Defense also ranks 31st in Total Yards Allowed with giving up 418 yards per game to opposing Offenses (allowing over 100 rushing yards and over 300 passing yards per game). Minnesota has allowed an average of 31.6 points per game, which is 30th in the NFL.
Minnesota’s usually disruptive D-Line and pass rush pressure has been marginal at best this season with accumulating only 10 Sacks through 6 weeks, which is tied for 28th in the NFL – the Vikings are unable to generate consistent pressure from their base pass rush, which fits the mold of their coverage based Defense (Cover-2); 4 of their 10 Sacks have come off the blitz.