JAWS BITES 9/5/12 (Week 1)
Denver QB, Peyton Manning’s arm seemed a little weak when throwing the ball to the outside and needing to drive the ball on routes outside the numbers early in the pre-season (comebacks/deep outs).
Manning seemed to be exerting an awful lot of effort on his throws (a lot of arm speed and follow through) down the field, but the ball did not come out crisp and with great velocity (fluttered at times).
Denver’s Offense has clearly morphed into Peyton Manning’s mold with a lot of the same formations and route combinations that he had when in Indianapolis – Manning looked best attacking down the seams/alleys in the pre-season (displaying his excellent touch and ball location).
As the pre-season progressed Manning showed improvement with ball velocity and drive from week to week, but still was not back to form prior to his injury – only time will tell if his arm strength will continue to improve or begin to weaken over time.
Manning’s pinpoint accuracy and ball location was sharp in his final pre-season action vs. one of the NFL’s best Defenses in the 49ers – Manning still is one of the best at throwing his WRs open.
Denver’s Offensive Line is one of the best in the NFL who do a great job of creating a comfortable pocket for Manning to stand in and throw the ball from and do a good job of working together to pick up stunts and pressures from the Front-7 (Manning clearly has more time to throw then he ever did with Colts).
How does Tennessee put on the field when the Patriots play from “12 Personnel” with both TEs, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on the field with 1 RB and Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd aligned at WR?
In Tennessee’s 3rd pre-season game vs. Arizona they kept LB, Mike McCarthy on the field in their Dime Package with bringing in CB, Tommie Campbell as the Nickel DB (aligned outside and bumped starting CB, Alterraun Verner into the slot) and CB, Ryan Mouton was also used inside in the slot as the Dime DB.
Tennessee’s Nickel LBs are Mike McCarthy (plays on all downs) and Akeem Ayers – will the Titans’ go Nickel or Dime to match up to the plethora of Patriots’ Offensive weapons and how will they match-up to Gronkowski (LB or Safety) and Hernandez (Safety or DB) is a key factor in the outcome of this game.
Patriots’ TE, Rob Gronkowski (the most complete TE in the NFL) creates weekly size mismatch with whomever the Defense can put on him and does move fairly well for a man his size.
Patriots’ TE, Aaron Hernandez (the most laterally explosive and dynamic TE in the NFL) creates constant athleticism mismatch for opposing Defenses with Safeties struggling to stick with him and him even beating some CBs (beat Antonio Cromartie several times last season in man coverage situations).
If opposing Defenses go to Dime Personnel and load the field with better athletes to match up with the Patriots’ receiving options (TEs and WRs) in their 12 Personnel they have shown the willingness to run the ball like they did vs. the Jets last season with success, especially when they already have the lead.
49ers do a great job of attacking Defenses vertically down the field with their 2 speedy, explosive TEs in Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker – last season vs. Cowboys they beat OLB, Spencer Davis (could attack Nick Perry from Green Bay this week) with running Davis down seam from closed, wing formation and CB had to account for him and Walker beat Spencer on quick wheel route and for 29-yard TD.
Colts’ Rookie QB, Andrew Luck showed great poise in the pocket (great pocket movement) and coverage recognition on his 31-yard TD pass to TY Hilton in their last pre-season game vs. Washington – poise in the pocket and good job of seeing deep Safety jumping his primary option (Wayne on dig route on strong side) and comes back to his secondary option on out-n-up route.
Luck’s TD pass in his 1st pre-season game to Austin Collie on corner route showed the maturity of this Rookie QB beyond his years – Luck did good job keeping eyes down middle of the field to hold the Safety and allow for him to drop the ball over the outside CB to his WR for TD.
Indianapolis’ Rookie WR, TY Hilton flashed good speed and movement skills in the pre-season when running his routes – good addition to the Colts’ WR Corps and gives them explosive element to their Offense.
Colts’ Offensive Line struggled this preseason to protect for their Rookie QB, which forces him to need to move within and outside the pocket to extend plays and stay clean (RT, Winston Justice struggled in pre-season – not very stout and struggles to hold his ground).
Luck had a good number of quick drops (3-step and 5-step drops) and got the ball out of his hands in good rhythm and timing, showing very good accuracy and ball location in the pre-season (tremendous ball location and accuracy on 32-yard completion to Quan Cosby on seam route vs. Cover-2 in 1st pre-season game).
Luck showed very good arm strength on throws to the outside when needing to drive the ball into tight windows (possesses the needed velocity and zip on his passes to make all the throws in the NFL).
Luck is a very aware and intelligent QB, especially for a Rookie, with fronts and the Defense and where to go with the football – good job of manipulating the coverage (sees the field very well and seems to know where both his teammates and opponents are), and also recognizing blitz and throwing hot (DECISIVE QB) – (comfortable QB with reading the Defense; hit Rookie TE, Coby Fleener on inside post down middle of field after manipulating the Coverage on excellent throw during pre-season).
Steelers baited Luck on Ike Taylor’s INT that he returned for a TD with 2-Deep, Man-Under with trail technique coverage from CBs – Luck forced the throw and Taylor undercut the pass on deep out for the INT he returned for TD.
Indianapolis did a lot of tight and/or stacked WR alignments to give more space and cleaner releases down the field to help the rhythm and timing of their pass Offense (much more multiple Offense with Luck than in years past with Peyton Manning).
The Redskins used a lot of designed movement in the pre-season with their Rookie QB, Robert Griffin, III to take advantage of his superb athleticism and movement skills (a lot of play-action and bootlegs).
Griffin did a good job of going through his progression reads and made accurate pass on backside dig route for 20+ yard gain, showing his willingness to look down the gun barrel when pressured (oblivious to the rush and pressure around him in the pocket); good job of reading the coverage.
Griffin is a very composed and poised QB who is extremely comfortable in the pocket and sits on his back foot when surveying the field – good job of being patient on play-action pass from under center where he stands in the pocket and waits for WR, Pierre Garcon to get open for the big play.
Griffin aligned in the Shotgun a good amount throughout the pre-season for Washington, which he is more comfortable and familiar with from primarily doing it in college (did not have many straight drop backs from under center in the pre-season; play-action and bootlegs).
Griffin needs work with his footwork and is too slow getting away from center because of a lateral step with his left foot, preventing him from gaining depth quickly – poor footwork and lower body mechanics when taking snaps under center, especially when dropping straight back and throwing the ball.
Griffin does good job of sitting on his back foot and driving through his throws with good velocity and accuracy – compact, quick throwing motion allows him to quickly get rid of the ball (calm, comfortable).
Griffin has questionable ball security when in the pocket or moving in the pocket with bodies around him – needs to improve his second hand ball security to limit his fumbles.
Griffin is accurate passer on the run who does a good job of changing his launch point and trajectory point to get the ball over or around the defender to his open WR.
Washington ran the “Pistol” Formation several times vs. Indianapolis in their pre-season game with the RB behind Griffin who is in a short Shotgun alignment (another way to allow Griffin to align from more comfortable position away from Center).
Griffin is very athletic QB who has strong arm and is calm in the pocket, but throughout this pre-season his play was erratic and has room to develop his lower and upper body mechanics (unsure if he is ready to play right now and will need a strong running game to compliment him in the passing game).
Cleveland’s Rookie QB, Brandon Weeden is not as much a rhythm and timing passer as Luck in how he tends to hold onto the ball at times and throws late (has a lot of either/or reads).
Weeden is a very deliberate QB who is stiff and robotic in the pocket and when throwing the ball (slow twitch QB with no sense of urgency).
Weeden displayed good touch and pace on his deep balls down the field in dropping the ball into the bucket over the top of the Defense.
Weeden has raw, inconsistent footwork and mechanics from under center (rarely ever played under center in college), which affected his timing and throwing ability at the top of his drops at times – poor screen mechanics and footwork – actually plants off his front foot at times (much better from Shotgun).
The Browns have several good skill players for Weeden to make plays on the outside in the pass game with Greg Little, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Gordon, Travis Benjamin (vertically explosive and dynamic WR) and Joshua Cribbs.
Weeden did not seem to go through his progressions and read the Defense much when in the pocket like Luck, but instead predetermined his reads at times forcing the ball into tight coverage.
Weeden displayed poor recognition and vision of fronts, pressure schemes and coverage schemes, which hurt his ability to get the ball out of his hands to the correct WR (didn’t locate or identify blitz vs. Packers and didn’t throw hot to his WR).
Weeden displayed a limited sense and feel for how to play the Quarterback position in the NFL at this time – does not snap his head around off play-action and locate the Defense to make his proper read, but instead predetermines where to go with the ball at times (not ready to play in NFL game yet).
Weeden didn’t pull the trigger on the deep post route to Benjamin who beat the coverage and the single high Safety who stayed flat due to underneath hook route (easy defined read and left big play on field).
Seahawks’ Rookie QB, Russell Wilson has deceptive quickness and movement skills to elude pass rushers and extend plays when his pass protection breaks down – does a good job of throwing the football on the run when he gets outside the pocket (keeps down field focus).
Wilson is undersized QB who has slight wind-up delivery in his throwing motion, but does quickly get the ball out of his hands on quick, short throws.
Wilson is very accurate passer who does a good job of putting the ball on his WRs to all areas of the field, especially when he needed to drive the ball on firmer passes (short or intermediate throws); his accuracy dropped more when throwing deep down the field.
Wilson’s deep ball had poor trajectory and was too flat, which affected his accuracy because he did not allow more time for his receiver to track the ball longer (needs to put more air under the ball).
The ball comes out of Wilson’s hand pretty good, with good zip and velocity when driving the ball down the field – strong, arm and effortless passer (flicks the ball).
Russell Wilson is not a comfortable QB within the pocket and constantly moves within or from the pocket when it’s not needed and he has space to step up and make a throw (uneven QB play in preseason) – perceives pressure and loses his down field focus at times.
Dolphins’ Rookie QB, Ryan Tannehill struggled with his progression reading early in the pre-season and showed the tendency to lock on to one half of the field and stare down WRs at times – rushed decision making at times prevented him from letting the design of the play to develop (improved throughout pre-season).
Tannehill has very good arm strength and good zip on his firm passes, which allow him to fit the ball in between defenders on his intermediate passes – good, high ball carriage and quick, powerful throwing motion (little Dan Marino like at the top of his drop).
Tannehill possesses ample movement skills when needing to move because of pressure, as well as displaying good accuracy and throwing ability when on the run (former WR with good athleticism).
Tannehill showed understanding of reading the Defense and throwing hot off of blitz pressure in his 1st pre-season game vs. Tampa Bay – showed good feel for the game (good clock in his head, knowing when to get ball out of his hand).
Tannehill did a good job in the pre-snap phase of the play in getting his Offense into a premium play vs. what the Defense alignment shows (good awareness and sees the field well).
Tannehill does good job of staying on balance at the top of his drop and maintains good ball security and carriage, allowing him to quickly get rid of the ball (quick, powerful throwing motion).
Tannehill is decisive and confident passer who is willing to make tight throws into small windows – trusts his arm and ability to make contested throws, which is key in the NFL (even in red-zone).