Once again, it's time to gear up for this week's slate of NFL games with analysis from the best in the business -- Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's "NFL Matchup." Greg gives 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. Since the podcast was recorded on Friday morning, we started by reviewing the Indianapolis Colts' Thursday night win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here are the Sunday and Monday games, in order of discussion:
New York Giants at Cincinnati Bengals
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
San Diego Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens
New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers
Some words of wisdom from Mr. Cosell:
On Blaine Gabbert's future: "It's a question that many teams go through with young, highly drafted quarterbacks: At what point, and after how many throws, do you say that this is what this guy is? Or do you start kidding yourself that he will get significantly better? Now, I'm sure that if you spoke to people in the Jaguars organization, they would say, 'Oh, we don't have enough weapons yet, and if we get that, he'll be better. You know how I feel about this -- you have to isolate the play of the quarterback. And when you look at Gabbert, while he's certainly incrementally improved from last year, he's also not improving enough, in my view, on a week-to-week basis. Where you can feel comfortable saying, 'This guy's trending upward.'
"He's now started over 20 games, and there are people who will tell you that you can't make a true evaluation until a quarterback has started 30 games, or 50 games, and that's fair. We're not here to rip Blaine Gabbert, we're trying to have a philosophical discussion on how you evaluate quarterbacks. But even with younger quarterbacks, you'd like to see attributes. Ryan Tannehill has played very well; he's also had some negative moments. But when you look at his body of work, and you look at the pros and cons based on attributes that lead to success, the pros far outweigh the cons. But when you stack up the pros and cons on Blaine Gabbert -- the characteristics, traits, and attributes as an individual player -- you're probably looking at more cons than pros."
On New Orleans' effective blitz concepts versus the Eagles: "Well, let's transition that to Atlanta. When you play the Falcons, you can't stop their pass game with coverage. They can't cover Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez -- they'll have a tough time with that. They can't match up in man, and they're not going to play soft zone and give Matt Ryan time. So, the best way to disrupt that passing game is to try and create selective blitz concepts. It won't be as easy as it was against the Eagles -- we know that. But they have to create -- and [Saints defensive coordinator Steve] Spagnuolo has a very good track record of this -- of being able to create pressure when he rushed just five defenders. And I think that's what you're going to see -- pressure concepts that eat up some blockers and get second-level or slot players free. I think that's the plan. Whether it works or not, who can say. I do not believe that he'll blitz the way he did against the Eagles, because that was specific to the Eagles, nor do I think he'll just let Matt Ryan sit there."
On underrated Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter: "He's been good all year, but because of Sean Lee, he didn't get a lot of publicity prior to Lee's injury. But he's been good all season. Now, with Lee out, they play a lot more dime, because they don't necessarily feel comfortable having a second linebacker on the field. So, Carter stays on the field, and they now move him around. That speaks to two things -- that a player has multiple physical skill sets, and that he gets the game mentally. Because when you start to ask players to play multiple positions, they have to understand the specifics of those positions. The last thing a defensive coordinator wants, no matter how physically gifted a guy might be, is for a guy to make a mistake. It only takes one guy on defense to make a mistake, and all of a sudden, you've given up a 60-yard touchdown. So, I've been on Carter from day one, and he's been terrific."
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.