Greg Cosell

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

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 8 days 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 11 days 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 11 days 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 14 days 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 17 days 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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  • Greg Cosell's Playoff Preview: Panthers take the option away from Seattle

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 18 days ago

    Panthers at Seahawks

    The Carolina Panthers have played the Seattle Seahawks close the past few years, including in Week 8 this season.

    One way the Panthers slowed down the Seahawks in that game was to take the “option” out of Seattle’s read option runs.

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    The Panthers would define the Seahawks runs. By having a defender on the edge commit to quarterback Russell Wilson, they’d make Wilson hand it off, and play that handoff. Wilson wasn’t a factor running the ball; there was no option for him. If you take away Wilson’s running ability, you take away a big part of the Seahawks’ offense.

    Watch how Antoine Cason off the edge to Wilson’s right plays him, taking away his option and forcing Wilson to hand off.

    The problem for the Panthers might be on the other side of the ball.

    Ravens at Patriots

    In his last nine playoff games, Joe Flacco has thrown 20 touchdowns to two interceptions. The Ravens have won seven of those nine games.

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  • Greg Cosell's Playoff Analysis: Tony Romo made plays when needed

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 22 days ago

    Overall, Tony Romo did not play his best game in the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff win on Sunday. Romo was indecisive early in the game, and didn’t pull the trigger on many throws that were there.

    But in a few critical situations in the second half, Romo made some throws when the Cowboys needed it.

    Against the Cowboys’ run game, Detroit Lions safety James Ihedigbo was a big factor. He had very good feel as an in-the-box defender. You need an active run support safety against the Cowboys, and Ihedigbo filled that role well. Murray ran as hard as he has in any game this year, determined and powerful, but the Lions did a fairly good job containing him to 75 yards on 19 carries.

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    The Cowboys have centered their offense around Murray rather than Romo this season, but with the Lions doing well against the run, Dallas needed some plays from the passing game.

    Romo moved in the pocket, and made a great throw to Williams to adjusted his route to work off Romo.



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  • Greg Cosell's Playoff Preview: Bengals offense, and Lions' keys to win

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 24 days ago


    A lot has been and will be made of Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for this AFC playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts, and the Bengals have showed us what they think of Dalton heading into the playoffs.

    The Bengals have minimized him. He’s not a comfortable player right now, and the Bengals know that. So they run a very limited pass offense. Dalton is not seeing things clearly right now, he is not a confident thrower at this point, and the throw must be defined or Dalton will not turn it loose.

    Sometimes even when it is defined, Dalton isn’t turning it loose. Against the Steelers last week, Dalton threw a 5-yard touchdown to tight end Jermaine Gresham, and that looks fine, but the play he was supposed to make was wide open and he didn’t throw it. Then Gresham bailed him out by fighting into the end zone.

    Against a three-man rush and eight-man “Tampa 2” zone coverage concept with two deep safeties, the play was designed to hit Mohamed Sanu off play action. The Bengals got just hat they wanted. Safety Mike Mitchell attacked the run action and Sanu was wide open. Dalton didn’t throw to him. He hit Gresham in the flat instead.


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  • Greg Cosell's playoff preview: Ryan Lindley's progress and Ravens-Steelers

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 25 days ago



    People have laughed off Arizona Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley in Saturday's game against the Carolina Panthers, but he showed improvement in the regular-season finale and looked like an NFL quarterback.

    I watched a lot of Lindley coming out of college, and he played in a pro-style offense at San Diego State that pushed the ball downfield. His problem was he was a little scatter-shot on his accuracy; he would miss some routine throws because of ball placement. That’s still the case in the NFL, but he made some strides in that area against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17.

    Two throws stand out. On a third-and-9, the 49ers ran a Cover 3 zone. John Brown ran a deep dig, Lindley did a good job holding linebacker Michael Wilhoite to prevent him from getting underneath the throw, then Lindley made an excellent throw for 19 yards. He showed a lot of poise and composure. This is also worth noting because the Panthers play a lot of zone, and Lindley will need to make plays like this.


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  • Greg Cosell's Look Ahead: The Pittsburgh Steelers' potent offense

    Greg Cosell at Shutdown Corner 1 mth ago

    The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is really potent, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is playing a different way. It’s working for him.

    Roethlisberger has been almost exclusively a pocket passer over the last month or so. And he has been very efficient. You might not see him on the highlights as often because he doesn’t make those “Roethlisberger plays” where he buys time and makes a throw downfield. But I can’t recall a time where he has played this well from the pocket for this long. He’s just a big oak tree in the pocket going through progressions.

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    A 19-yard throw to Antonio Brown last week against the Kansas City Chiefs is a good example of his patience and command in the pocket. Even with a muddied pocket around him, he stood in for a long time, never left the pocket and delivered the ball effectively. It’s not a spectacular play, but it’s a very good one.

    Panthers' diverse running game

    The Panthers need to win to make the playoffs, so expect to see them use a lot of creative options in the running game on Sunday.

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