Greg Cosell

  • Greg Cosell's Look Ahead: Aaron Rodgers' off day

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 day ago

    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a bit of an outlier.

    Nobody throws the ball like him, with that compact delivery and velocity and great ball placement. He also has a random element to his game, although he isn’t really a runner. He plays on the edge of the offense’s structure, often making plays late in the down.

    Once in a while, he’ll play on the wrong side of that edge. That’s what happened last week against the Buffalo Bills. He just didn’t have it.

    I’m not taking anything away from Buffalo, because they have a good defense, but tactically they didn’t do anything where you said, "This is amazing, I’ve never seen that before." And while they have a good front four that gets bodies around the quarterback, they weren’t drilling Rodgers to the turf. They did a good job recognizing routes based on formation, but mostly it was a game in which Rodgers’ late-in-the-down tendencies just didn’t work.

    It was immediately evident that Rodgers was having a bad day throwing the ball; he was glaringly inaccurate beginning in the first quarter. The plays where Rodgers moves and navigates n the pocket and makes a big throw late in the down didn’t happen in this game.

  • Greg Cosell's Film Review: Why Jay Cutler hasn't worked out

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 day ago

    Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman’s offense is grounded in Bill Walsh’s West Coast philosophy.

    I know the “West Coast Offense” term is vague by now because of how many changes have been made to it by different coaches, but the offense’s foundation is grounded in rhythm passing and its precision. If it’s a three-step drop, the ball goes here. If it’s a five-step drop, the ball goes there.

    And my sense from afar, watching the film, is that Jay Cutler is not that kind of precision quarterback for that offense.

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    Except that Cutler didn’t throw the ball to Bennett, and for whatever reason he looked to the other side of the field, and that’s not in play on a three-step drop. He threw the ball away. Instead of it being third and short, it was third and 8. On the next play, Cutler threw an interception.

    Here's the end-zone angle of that play, right after the snap, and you can see Bennett breaking open on the right:


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  • Greg Cosell analysis: Johnny Manziel's first start revealed a lot

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 5 days ago

    We learned a lot about Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel in his first NFL start. And we saw how much he has to work on.

    Manziel showed some physical limitations and fundamental flaws against the Cincinnati Bengals. Immediately evident (and could be seen on detailed film study) is that Manziel has an average arm by NFL standards. Manziel needs functional space and a clean pocket to step up into throws and drive the ball. He works hard to put velocity on his throws.

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    The problem is Manziel didn’t want to stay in the pocket. He lacks any feel for it, has almost no pocket patience and discipline and is quick to move and play “random football” outside of the structure of the offense.

    The Bengals used a “mush rush” concept a number of times with an inside rusher staying at the line of scrimmage to prevent Manziel from escaping vertically and making plays running the ball. And Manziel produced little in the passing game.

    Both of his interceptions were prime examples of his issues at this point.

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  • Greg Cosell's Look Ahead: How will Johnny Manziel do?

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 8 days ago

    Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is getting his first NFL start this week, and a lot has been said about him and how he’ll do this week. I want to frame the question a different way.

    Manziel fits into the new wave category of movement, dual-threat quarterbacks. In the NFL now, there are four of those quarterbacks other than Manziel: Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Carolina’s Cam Newton and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick. How are those four doing?

    Wilson is doing great; he’s a very, very good player. But the others aren't doing so well. Griffin isn’t starting anymore. Newton, when healthy, is a game-to-game proposition with little consistency. Kaepernick is, at the moment, seemingly regressing. And all of them are more physically gifted than Manziel.

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    I think the Browns’ game against Cincinnati will be a close one, so can you manage and control Manziel’s game and put him in position to succeed? That’s a question the Browns will need to answer.

    Romo’s arm strength

    The microcosm of Kaepernick's issues

  • Greg Cosell's Film Review: The best back in the NFL

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 8 days ago

    Many backs can get a lot of yards if they get the ball enough, but when you start looking deeper into traits and attributes, one stands out in my opinion as the NFL’s best.

    Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    There are a lot of good backs in the NFL, but I don’t think any back has the diverse and multiple skill set that Bell has. What does Bell do well? How about patience, vision, short-area burst, lateral agility, natural power, savvy understanding of how to set up blocks … plus he’s an outstanding receiver who can detach from the formation and split wide.

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    He has all the skills you want and did a little bit of everything last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, when he became the first back since 1977 to have 200 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games.

    One of Bell’s best traits is he can set up blocks. Bell has a feel for that. He has great patience, understanding and vision, and those traits you can’t necessarily teach. His two fourth-quarter touchdown runs were well blocked, and he used the blocking well.

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  • Greg Cosell's Look Ahead: The Denver Broncos' changing offense

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 14 days ago

    There was a telltale sign on Sunday night that the Denver Broncos’ offense is changing. Two, actually.

    First, the Broncos lined up with six offensive linemen in a heavy set on the first four plays of the game. Also, Virgil Green was at tight end, and his strength is run blocking. The Broncos ran it with C.J. Anderson on each of the first four plays out of that set. That's not what we've come to expect from the Broncos, with their wide array of weapons in the passing game.

    The other shift is that quarterback Peyton Manning was under center a lot, and I don’t recall him being under center that much in a game with the Broncos. On the Broncos’ second possession of the third quarter, they ran the ball six straight times, all with Manning under center.

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    Nobody knows what the Broncos’ plan is this week against the Buffalo Bills or the rest of the season, but over the last two weeks this offense looks a lot different.

    Dalton struggles

    Eagles vs. Seahawks

    "Triple A Gap" blitz

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  • Greg Cosell's Film Review: The brilliance of Philip Rivers

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 15 days ago

    Philip Rivers made many great plays in the San Diego Chargers’ comeback win last week, but a sequence of back-to-back plays showed just how smart of a quarterback he is.

    In the second quarter, on second and 7 he hit running back Ryan Mathews for a six-yard catch out of “11” personnel (one running back, one tight end) against the Baltimore Ravens’ nickel defense. Mathews blocked, then released quickly out of the backfield and was open for an easy catch. For third and 1, the Chargers stayed in “11” personnel and the Ravens changed to a base defense with four defensive backs to play the down and distance.

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    The Chargers run a no-huddle offense but not to hurry a defense up, like the Eagles do. Rivers wants to research the defense at the line. And he did here. He got to the line, saw the new defensive look and the matchup of tight end Antonio Gates on linebacker Courtney Upshaw, knew that it was a positive matchup for the Chargers, and hit Gates on a 23-yard crossing route.

    That’s great quarterbacking.

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  • Greg Cosell's Week 13 Analysis: The Packers' counter to the Pats' D

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 19 days ago

    The Green Bay Packers knew, based on what the New England Patriots have shown for most of this season, that their offense would see a lot of man coverage.

    And their answer for the Patriots was simple and effective: four-receiver sets, with Randall Cobb as the moveable chess piece aligning all over the formation to counter that man coverage. It was a great plan, to isolate advantageous matchups.

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    Then, Cobb’s wheel route against Ninkovich is a big mismatch. He gained 33 yards.

    There was another great call, based on down, distance and the Patriots’ man coverage tendency late in the first quarter.

    On third and 2, Davante Adams lined up from a minus split. He was against cornerback Logan Ryan. Adams ran an out-and-up route against Ryan, who jumped the out part of the route because it was third and short. Adams beat him for a 45-yard gain. It’s a well-designed play.

    The plan was good, and Aaron Rodgers did what he normally does as well, which is make plays late in the down and outside of the structure of the offense.

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  • Greg Cosell's Look Ahead: The overlooked part of the Patriots

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 22 days ago

    The most overlooked element of the New England Patriots – because everyone talks about Tom Brady and the great offense – is how good their pass defense has been.

    They have defended the pass so well this season is because all three levels are contributing. That’s huge going into Sunday’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

    The front has been really good. The Patriots traded this season for Akeem Ayers, a former second-round pick from Tennessee, and he has stepped right into the pass-rushing spot vacated when Chandler Jones got hurt. Ayers has been a key piece to the defense. 

    At linebacker Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower are playing really well. Both of them stay on the field in all situations and cover a lot of ground, which helps the Patriots mix and match elsewhere on the defense. Collins in particular is big and can run really well. Those two are so versatile, Bill Belichick can use them however he needs and figure out the best matchups for his other players.

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    Gordon returns

    Beckham's skills

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  • Greg Cosell's Film Review: Colin Kaepernick vs. Russell Wilson

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 22 days ago

    A very concerning issue for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after 41 starts is his lack of clarity in the pocket.

    He still struggles to relate route concepts to coverage and quickly isolate where to go with the ball. And there are far too many snaps in which Kaeperick hits his back foot and immediately breaks down with no pressure. There were two examples of that in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.

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    With 8:20 left, Kaepernick hit the last step of his drop and immediately took off to his right, even though he wasn’t under immediate pressure.

    He rolled right and threw an incompletion. A few plays later he did the same thing, with even worse results.

    Kaepernick took off to his right again, and threw an interception to Richard Sherman. On neither of these plays did he have much pressure, especially by NFL standards.


    On both plays, Wilson moved out of the pocket when he was forced out, kept looking downfield and made big plays in the pass game.

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