Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 day ago
In watching film of the Denver Broncos win over the Chicago Bears, I felt like I was watching coach Gary Kubiak’s offense the way he wants to run it.
Denver had a new quarterback last week, and the offense looked different. Brock Osweiler replaced Peyton Manning, and I noticed two things right away: Osweiler was under center and there was a preponderance of two-tight end sets. The Broncos had shifted from Kubiak's offense to feature more shotgun and pistol formations to suit Manning. That changed last Sunday. It was just one game, and Osweiler has some things he needs to improve on, but it was an intriguing glimpse at how the Broncos will play as long as Osweiler is quarterback.
Here's a play that is vintage Kubiak, which we haven't seen much this season. On a touchdown drive in the second half, the Broncos ran a play action boot off the outside run action. Tight end Owen Daniels crossed the formation. it was pitch and catch. It's also a staple play in Kubiak's offense.
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Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 2 days ago
When you break down the Seattle Seahawks at their best, they have a dominant run game, a historically dominant defense and quarterback Russell Wilson fits in very well with that.
The Seahawks ran the ball very well last week against the San Francisco 49ers and the defense played well, and not surprisingly, Wilson played very well too. Wilson didn’t try to do too much, because he didn’t have to do too much. Seattle’s run/pass ratio was pretty close to 50/50. Thomas Rawls, filling in for injured Marshawn Lynch, ran the ball really well. There have been times this season when Wilson was asked to do more, and the results haven’t been the same as in years past. Last Sunday was how the Seahawks want to play, and Seattle did a great job putting Wilson in positions to be his best.
On an 11-yard touchdown, Lockett again got open as the 49ers ran a man free blitz. Lockett ran a quick slant, and Wilson again delivered the ball in rhythm. Lockett broke a tackle and scored.
Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 4 days ago
Tony Romo had an uneven performance on Sunday, his first game back after missing seven with a broken collarbone.
That’s to be expected after so much time off. What was also unsurprising is that the Cowboys looked a lot better on offense. You could see the difference a professional quarterback makes for the Cowboys passing game. The Cowboys were 7-of-14 on third down, and had the ball for more than 38 minutes. A big reason is that Romo could make throws to sustain drives. He also made some great throws to put points on the board, which we’ll get to in a bit.
First let’s look at two interceptions that, you’d have to think, happened in part because because Romo was rusty. In the first quarter, the Dolphins ran a “zero blitz” with no deep safety, and linebacker Neville Hewitt came free. So with no definition on the throw and Hewitt in his face, Romo threw the ball falling away with no vision. Even though Dez Bryant beat cornerback Brent Grimes to the inside, Grimes got an easy interception.
You’d figure Romo will feel a little more comfortable in his second game back, which makes the Thanksgiving showdown against the Carolina Panthers a lot more interesting.
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Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 8 days ago
Adrian Peterson, at 30 years old and coming off a season in which he played just one game, looks as strong as ever for the Minnesota Vikings.
In last week’s win against the Oakland Raiders, we were reminded that there is no better back in the NFL at creating yards in confined space than Peterson. His combination of lateral explosion and downhill velocity is unmatched. Peterson had more than 200 yards against the Raiders, and leads the NFL with 961 yards.
In this game, based on personnel and play calling, it was evident Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner did not feel the Vikings could effectively break down the Raiders’ pass defense. It was mostly base personnel packages, predominantly “12” packages with one back and two tight ends. The Vikings had just two passes of more than 20 yards, and they were both short passes with a long run after the catch.
The Vikings needed Peterson to have a big game, and he did.
Newton's strong performance
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Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 9 days ago
The New York Giants did a lot, schematically, to slow down the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. Brady had to make some key plays to win the game, and he did.
But it wasn’t easy.
The Giants had a multiple, diverse defensive game plan, and safety Craig Dahl was a big part of it. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo used Dahl in different positions in different personnel groupings, which was part of showing Brady a lot of different cover looks, especially on third down.
Here’s one example of Spagnuolo and the Giants getting creative with coverages. In the tight red zone in the third quarter, they double-teamed Rob Gronkowski with a down lineman, Robert Ayers (91), and Dahl (43).
Against “Cover 3” zone, Casillas at linebacker was staring at Brady without any awareness of Amendola on an in-breaking route. Brady took advantage and hit Amendola for 12 yards.
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Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 11 days ago
Carson Palmer played an outstanding game on Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback wasn’t given great protection from his offensive line, he was consistently under pressure, but he made big-time throws form the pocket and showed excellent functional mobility. The Cardinals also had a great plan to beat the Seahawks’ defensive schemes, including their foundation “Cover 3” zone defense.
In the first quarter, Larry Fitzgerald had a 22-yard catch in one of the Cardinals’ staple high-low concept plays that is nested within a three-level stretch concept. John Brown lifted the “Cover 3” corner Cary Williams with a vertical route, tight end Jermaine Gresham ran a flat route and Fitzgerald’s sail route put the flat defender DeShawn Shead in an impossible spot. He got high-lowed. As you can see, it's a great call against this defense.
In the fourth quarter, after the Seahawks made some big plays exploiting the Cardinals’ lack of protection for Palmer, Palmer drove the Cardinals right back downfield for the lead.
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Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 15 days ago
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is doing a lot of things we’re not used to seeing him do.
He’s dropping his eyes to look at the rush, which quarterbacks can't do. He’s not turning it loose on throws he was never afraid to make before. He’s quicker to break down in the pocket than he ever has been. Last week against the Carolina Panthers, he wasn’t even precise with his ball placement.
Simply, Rodgers is not a comfortable player right now.
It’s worth taking another look at the fourth-down throw Rodgers didn’t make to a wide-open Randall Cobb late in last week's game, but for context, here's a touchdown from earlier in the game. It was the same play as the Packers would run when it needed a score in the final minutes.
Maybe the Packers get well against the Detroit Lions this week. But we’re seeing things from them that are a bit troubling, including some things from their MVP quarterback that we have not seen him do before.
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Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 16 days ago
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made a throw last week that was absolutely incredible.
Newton had defenders around him in the pocket, and threw completely flat-footed 55 yards in the air to Devin Funchess running a deep post. He put the pass right where it needed to be. It was a phenomenal throw. Not many quarterbacks could have done it.
But here’s another play from Newton in that game. The Panthers ran a route with a natural rub element to get Jerricho Cotchery open at the goal line, and he was wide open with no pressure on Newton. It came open exactly how the Panthers hoped when they drew up. Due in part to some poor lower body mechanics, Newton threw it well over Cotchery and missed an easy touchdown.
But Newton is also inconsistent as a thrower. He remains sloppy and undisciplined with his lower body mechanics, which forces him to still be scattershot at times. Over the last three weeks in particular, he hasn’t been as consistent as you’d like throwing the ball.
Newton was just 3 of 10 on third down against the Packers. But he had a 59-yard completion, a 39-yard touchdown to Brown and a 14-yard touchdown on those three completions.
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Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 19 days ago
The Philadelphia Eagles are much more of an execution offense than a highly schemed offense. Against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday night, they executed more consistently than they had in any game this season.
The game-winning play, however, was a wrinkle off a staple play they had not shown all season.
They did it in the third quarter for the first time. Take a look at the play, because it'll look familiar once we get to the winning play — Jordan Matthews ran what looked like an in-breaking route from the slot, which is a staple of the Eagles’ offense. But he broke back outside. The Cowboys were in “man free” and Matthews easily beat Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones for a 28-yard gain.
It worked so well, the Eagles figured they’d do it again in overtime
Here’s the game winner. It’s the same outside zone run action to the slot, and the same route by Matthews. This one resulted in the winning touchdown, thanks in part to excellent timing and an accurate throw by quarterback Sam Bradford.
That wasn’t the first time the Eagles repeated a play that worked.
This was the best the Eagles looked for a sustained period all year. We’ll see if they can keep that going.
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Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 22 days ago
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s profile is becoming more fully realized with each game: He can efficiently run offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense, but he’s limited as a passer .
Bridgewater has limited arm strength for an NFL quarterback. To be effective, Bridgewater needs to be a consistently great decision maker, he needs to be precisely accurate, and he needs to be exceptionally bright and aware. And often, he is all of those things.
This is a great example of the type of play Bridgewater can (and needs to) make. Against the Denver Broncos in Week 4, he made a big-time anticipation throw to Mike Wallace for 18 yards. It was a far hash deep comeback throw to Wallace, who was split wide to Bridgewater's left side against Denver Broncos Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris, that he made with great timing and anticipation. He can compensate for his arm strength with these types of plays.
Bridgewater also understands advanced concepts like protections, pressures and where to go with the ball quickly. He always knows where his check downs are, which is an understated quality. He’s usually very poised in the pocket too.
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