The NFL returns for real Wednesday night, and with that, we celebrate the official return of our preview podcasts with the great Greg Cosell, the longtime NFL Films All-22 maven and executive producer of ESPN's "NFL Matchup." As he did so well last year, Greg will give you a sense of the week's upcoming games you won't get anywhere else, based on his conversations with players and coaches past and present, and his OCD-level evaluation of coach's tape. We went 75 minutes in the Week 1 preview without even getting to the two "Monday Night Football" games, so we'll preview those later this week. Here are the games discussed in this podcast:
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears
Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns
New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs
Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions
Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
A few highlights from Mr. Cosell:
On Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's formational versatility: "It's interesting, and it goes back years. When Eli Manning started in his rookie season of 2004, and he certainly was not ready to play as a rookie, they gave Manning an awful lot on his plate right away. We've seen that grow and grow, and it's obviously reaped a ton of dividends. The Giants have always done a lot more things than people may think. When people talk about multidimensional offenses, I'm not sure the Giants come to mind, but they do a lot in the run game -- which is never talked about when people are discussing run games, because 99 percent of the time, they're talking about the passing game. But they're very intriguing in the run game, and that's Eli Manning. He calls that at the line of scrimmage. I would agree -- they're a lot more multiple than they're given credit for."
On the "little things" that make Andrew Luck great: "Eye discipline and eye manipulation are two terms that I like to use, and Ron Jaworski and I talk about this all the time. The play you're talking about [Luck's 23-yard touchdown pass to Austin Collie against the St. Louis Rams] was in his first preseason game, and what he did is that he immediately recognized the coverage, which was 2-deep, and he knew that in his route combination, because he had Collie running a corner route, he had to beat the safety to that side. Because the cornerback will sit in the flat. He's responsible for that, and they had a receiver going there. So, Luck knew that he had to beat the safety to that side. They also had a slot route attacking that safety. But what Luck did on his drop, in his first preseason game as an NFL quarterback, was to keep his eyes totally focused right down the mid-line. And that kept the safety from reacting to Collie's route. And then, he very comfortably threw the ball to Collie within the timing of the play for what looked like a very simple touchdown pass that you or I could throw. But it was his ability to calmly manipulate the defense with his head and his eyes that made it look as easy as it seemed."
On Brandon Weeden's early struggles: "At Oklahoma State, I thought he was a very good thrower, and when the pocket was clean, I thought he was the best pocket passer coming into the league. But he showed issues with pressure, and in watching his NFL tape, I almost got the impression that he's not ready to be a starter. I always struggle to say that, because you could have said the same thing of Cam Newton last year in the preseason. But I think Weeden has to do a lot of things to be ready to play in this league. He's very methodical and measured in his movement; there's no quick-twitch to him. He has to speed up his drops, his movement, and his delivery. He's got to do everything faster. He's struggling with reading coverage -- in reads that are fairly basic, he's a beat or two behind. He's not seeing things clearly, and he left a lot of plays on the field in the preseason that were there. The other thing he has to work on, which is really evident -- when he drops back from under center, he has real problems with his footwork."
On the Eagles' insistence that Nnamdi Asomugha can be a slot corner: "I'm not a big believer in Asomugha in the slot. That's me. I know the Eagles still believe that he can still be Charles Woodson Lite, but I don't see that. Again, just a difference of opinion. I would rather see Asomugha line up on the outside snap after snap -- to me, that's what he is. Plus, I've got to tell you -- I loved Brandon Boykin in college, especially in the slot. He played a lot there, and while he's not an especially big kid, he showed all the slot skills. He was physical against the run, and he was a good blitzer. I don't rip coaches, because that's not my approach -- I have tremendous respect for people who do this 18 hours a day. I'm just telling you what I see on film -- in my opinion, Asomugha is not very good in the slot, and I think that Boykin has the potential to be one of the best slot corners in the league."
As with everything involving Greg Cosell, this podcast is a must-listen for those fans of advanced tape analysis. Subscribe to the Shutdown Corner iTunes link (in iTunes, go to "Advanced/Subscribe to Podcast," and paste this link in: http://ysportspods.podbean.com/category/shutdown/feed/). You can also use the link below to either left-click and listen, or right-click to save to your computer.