Greg Cosell

  • Greg Cosell's Film Review: DeMarco Murray and his value to Dallas

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 day ago

    The conventional wisdom is that the NFL is now a passing league.

    Any conversation about the NFL usually comes back to that notion. I don't disagree with that but no matter how much it’s said that it's a passing league, the Dallas Cowboys ran through DeMarco Murray last season.

    The Cowboys were very good, too. They went from a string of .500 seasons to a 12-4 record, an NFC East championship and nearly a playoff win at Green Bay once the team started going through Murray. Murray allowed the Cowboys to control the tempo and to make sure the defense wasn’t on the field too much. He was their most important player, the foundation of their entire team.

    Murray is scheduled to become a free agent on March 10, so do you re-sign him if you're Dallas? That’s a difficult question.

    If you knew the unknowable, namely how Murray would hold up in seasons to come after a huge workload last season, then I think re-signing him is an easy choice. He was Dallas' most important player last season, and I don't buy the notion that running backs don't have value. But it's not that simple.

    Here he impacts linebacker Alec Ogletree, makes a great cut and gains 14 yards.

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  • Greg Cosell's Film Review: Analyzing last year's rookie quarterbacks

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 17 days ago

    The expectations for rookie quarterbacks have increased, and that's not necessarily fair.

    People might expect every rookie quarterback to be an Andrew Luck right away, but that’s hard. It’s a process.

    We saw five rookie quarterbacks become the primary starters for their teams during the season. Each of them showed some good things and some bad things, and that’s all normal in the development of a quarterback in the NFL. Let’s take a look at where they stand and what they still need to work on after their rookie seasons (we’ll break down four of them here, for more on Johnny Manziel you can read my in-depth look at him during last season here and here):

    Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

    This offseason, Bortles has to go back to basics. He lost his technique.

    Bortles will have to work on his fundamentals this offseason, but there were good signs in year one.

    Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings

  • Greg Cosell's Super Bowl Review: Why Seattle's final play didn't work

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 24 days ago

    Most of the discussion surrounding the Seattle Seahawks’ final offensive play is about the call itself, whether it was a mistake to pass on second-and-goal against the New England Patriots.

    I’d like to show you why the play that was called didn’t work.

    Here’s what it looked like before the snap, and what the Seahawks were trying to get. They wanted Ricardo Lockette to run a slant, with Jermaine Kearse’s route providing a natural pick to make sure cornerback Malcolm Butler couldn’t undercut the route.

    It’s easy to know what the Seahawks wanted on the play because they ran basically the same concept for a touchdown in Week 3 against the Denver Broncos. The personnel and formation are different but the concept is the same. Marshawn Lynch ran basically the same route Lockette did in the Super Bowl. Tight end Zach Miller’s route picked off Lynch’s defender and Lynch was wide open.

    Wilson expected to hit Lockette for a walk-in touchdown, just like the Lynch play. I think Lockette felt the same way. I think this play was put in the game plan against a specific defensive look.

    Butler simply made a great play, with a big assist from Brandon Browner.

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  • Greg Cosell's Super Bowl preview: New England's approach to Seattle's D

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 28 days ago

    The New England Patriots generally are prepared for anything, and we can boil down their Super Bowl approach to the Seattle Seahawks in two ways: Their attack if Seattle goes to man-to-man coverage, and their attack for the Seahawks’ “Cover 3” zone.

    When we look at how the Patriots might try to beat Seattle's fantastic “Cover 3," we’ll see ways the Patriots can get tight end Rob Gronkowski open. It’s obvious Gronkowski is a huge part of this game.

    [WATCH Super Bowl XLIX LIVE on NBC Sports - Kickoff 6:30pm ET]

    Seattle’s foundation is the “Cover 3,” in which three defensive backs are responsible for a deep third of the field. But they’ve used a lot of man this season as well. They used man a lot against Green Bay in the NFC championship game, but that might have been because they were behind and needed to get a little more aggressive. Either way, New England will have a plan.

    Against man-to-man coverage

    The Patriots won’t just run isolation routes believing Edelman or any receiver will beat Richard Sherman. The Patriots don’t play offense that way.

    Against “Cover 3” zone

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  • Greg Cosell's Super Bowl preview: How New England will defend Seattle

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 28 days ago

    The No. 1 thing you have to defend against the Seattle Seahawks is the read option. There’s a very strong tendency within that play that we have seen in our film study, and I guarantee you New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows it as well.

    On 42 percent of Seattle's plays they use a 3-by-1 set (three eligible receivers to one side, and one to the other) counting tight ends. If Marshawn Lynch is offset to the side of the tight end, the single-receiver side, he will cut back and not follow the zone blocking 80 percent of the time. He will cut it inside before he crosses the center. That's a strong tendency to do it on four of five carries, and we'll look at how New England will have to defend it – something you can watch for in the Super Bowl.

    [Watch Super Bowl XLIX live here and on NBC Sports - Sunday at 6 p.m. ET]

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    NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league .

  • Greg Cosell's Film Review: How the Seahawks came back

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 mth ago

    We all know that the Seattle Seahawks staged an incredible comeback to win the NFC championship, but let’s take a look at how they did it.

    First of all, the biggest play in the game was by the Green Bay Packers defense. With just over five minutes left, Morgan Burnett got an interception and had four blockers. The only non-offensive lineman in front of him was Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. He could well have scored. Why did Julius Peppers tell him to go down?

    Take a look at how much room Burnett had to run:

    Here's the end-zone angle:

    That was the biggest play in the game. It helped set in motion Seattle’s comeback, and let’s break down the four big plays the Seahawks made.

    Marshawn Lynch gained 26 yards on a touchdown drive on the same wheel route the Seahawks had called in the third quarter, right before their fake field goal touchdown. That ball in the third quarter was broken up by linebacker Sam Barrington. This time Barrington went with underneath split receiver Luke Willson (on the first one he went over the top of the receiver and was in position to defend Lynch) and was immediately in trail position. That’s easy pitch and catch for Wilson and Lynch.

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  • Greg Cosell's AFC championship preview: The changing Patriots

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 mth ago

    When teams come together in training camp, most of them have a belief in a foundation, and a way they want to play.

    New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn’t seem like he’s a believer in, "We have to play this way to be successful."

    I think the way a team plays tells you what the coaches think about the team’s ability and what they’re capable of. Belichick feels the Patriots are capable of doing whatever they have to do to beat a specific opponent.

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    Their approaches against last week’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, and the regular-season game against this week’s opponent, the Indianapolis Colts, shows they can and will adjust – sometimes to extreme measures.

    And the Patriots, who had 27 called passes and seven called runs in the first half (not counting a Tom Brady kneel down), decided in the second half to ditch the run game altogether. There was more quick drops and quick throws into short voids in the Ravens predominant zone coverage. And Brady did a great job executing the offense.

    Colts offense vs. Patriots defense

  • Greg Cosell's NFC championship preview: Aaron Rodgers looked fine

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 mth ago

    Aaron Rodgers’ calf injury has been a huge topic of conversation, but from watching the film of last week’s game I can tell you that there’s nothing wrong with his arm.

    The Green Bay Packers did some things last week to adjust for Rodgers’ injury, most notably that he didn’t take a snap under center. They didn’t want him dropping back and risk injuring himself further. But before the Packers play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game, it’s worth noting that Rodgers was very sharp as usual last week, injury or not.

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    Working mostly out of the shotgun in the pistol formation and calling almost the entire game from the line of scrimmage without huddling, Rodgers was able to move within the pocket – stepping up in the pocket on a touchdown to Andrew Quarless and moving to his left on a touchdown to Richard Rodgers in the fourth quarter – but mostly he played well by seeing the field tremendously, and getting the ball to his receivers with tremendous arm strength.

    Seahawks offense vs. Packers defense

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  • Greg Cosell's Playoff Review: How the Colts upset Denver

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 mth ago

    The Indianapolis Colts were the only team to pull an upset in the divisional round, and it’s worth a closer look to see how they did it.

    The Colts did a great job changing things up on offense against the Denver Broncos, their defense baited Peyton Manning and Denver's offense into doing things they weren't comfortable with. And of course, quarterback Andrew Luck played very well.

    To start, let’s look at what the Colts offense did to beat Denver’s defense. The Colts had a good mix of “11” personnel (one back and one tight end) and multiple-tight end personnel, both “12” and “13.” Tight end Coby Fleener continued to align all over the formation. The Broncos mixed and matched personnel, trying to find the right matchups with Indianapolis. The Colts did a nice job keeping them off balance.

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    Indianapolis also mixed in some up-tempo offense, with Luck snapping the ball right away. And they had a better run/pass ratio balance than they did the week before against Cincinnati.

    And then, Luck made some big plays.

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  • Greg Cosell's Playoff Preview: How the Colts help Andrew Luck

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 mth ago

    Andrew Luck is an important figure in the Indianapolis Colts’ game at the Denver Broncos, of course.

    What I want to look at is how the Colts protected Luck against the Cincinnati Bengals last week – and they did it well – and some of the route concepts that Indianapolis will use against Denver to get receivers like T.Y. Hilton open. Because these things are vital for their chances of success at Denver on Sunday.

    Luck played very well against Cincinnati. It stood out right away how patient Luck was. He wa s the chain mover in the Colts offense and he needs to consistently hit 5-to-7 yard passes. But a big reason Luck was able to make those passes is the Colts did a good job protecting him, even with a line that had some changes due to injury.

    The Colts played a high percentage of two- and three-tight end sets on regular downs and distance situations. No matter the set, the Bengals couldn’t generate any pass rush on Luck with their four-man defensive line, in either their base or nickel defense. Offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo and Joe Reitz (who was starting at right tackle because of injury) held up well.

    Cowboys at Packers

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