San Francisco's coaches had Colin Kaepernick primed for success from the start. (Getty Images)
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 three Thanksgiving games.
From there, we went into Sunday and Monday games, though with some teams completely out of the picture at this point, we spent more time on teams and concepts than specific matchups.
A few words of wisdom from Mr. Cosell:
On what Washington's offense does to defenses: "A great example was the 68-yard touchdown pass against the Cowboys. Because that was Pistol run-action, it was a two-wide receiver route combination, and the Cowboys played quarters coverage. And in quarters coverage, both safeties have run and pass responsibilities. Danny McCray, with all the backfield run-action, took a couple of steps up and was frozen.
"[Receiver Aldrick] Robinson took an inside release, so what happened was that he essentially ran right at McCray. At the same time he's screaming at McCray, McCray is taking two steps up. So, he ran right by McCray, and I think it was Brandon Carr who was the cornerback on that play. Carr is a little uncertain as to who plays Robinson because of the inside stem on Robinson's vertical route -- he sort of distorts the quarters responsibilities of Carr and McCray. It's just really well-designed offense."
On why Colin Kaepernick fits San Francisco's offense so well: "I watched that [49ers-Bears] tape very carefully, and I thought it was an unbelievable marriage of offensive orchestration and design, and the quarterback making outstanding throws. They dictated matchups by their use of personnel and formation. And when teams do that, it's not done on a whim. It's not a fluke -- 'Hey, we got Vernon Davis matched up on Major Wright,' or you get Davis matched on Lance Briggs. Based on shifts and motions and formations, the 49ers did a phenomenal job og dictating matchups -- knowing they'd get man-to-man, and feeling very good about those. Kaepernick didn't do a lot of reading in this game, and that's not a knock on him -- that's good coaching.
They set him up, and Davis became the focus of this offense for the first time in a number of weeks. Now, you've got to make the throws, and I'm not taking anything away from Kaepernick, because he clearly made a couple of throws I'm not sure Alex Smith could make. He had five throws of 20-plus yards in that game, and they all came against man coverage."
On the expansive properties of Indianapolis' passing offense: "This is not a dink-and-dunk pass offense -- they push the ball down the field now. They've got full-field route combinations, they ask Andrew Luck to read defenses, and there are deeper drops. Luck moves exceptionally well in the pocket for a young quarterback -- you could argue that he does so just as well as any quarterback in the league. He helps and compensates for his offensive line. He's got the highest target depth beyond the line of scrimmage -- Luck is #1 in the league with an average depth of target of 11 yards."
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.
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