When Tom Brady gets rolling with play action, it's not good for enemy defenses. (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 early Friday morning, we started by reviewing the Cincinnati Bengals' Thursday night win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
From there, we went into the Sunday and Monday games, though with more and more teams completely out of the picture at this point, we spent more time on teams and concepts than specific matchups.
The Shutdown Corner Week 15 NFL Preview Podcast With Greg Cosell
Note: This podcast was taped before the news in Connecticut was made public, so Greg and I are engaging in our usual "witty" and upbeat banter. The tone clearly would have been more subdued had we known at that time (we may not have done the podcast at all), but we wanted to get the game analysis out there for those who enjoy it. We send our thoughts and prayers to those affected by the tragedy, along with everyone else trying to make sense of the impossible.
On the Philadelphia Eagles' mistakes, and how they relate to the coaching situation: "I prefer to look at the bigger picture, and obviously, these are mistakes they're making on a weekly basis. And I don't think they're quite as talented as people believe, because I've watched every game carefully, but you could say that there's certainly more talent than you'd see on a 4-10 team. I guess the bigger picture for me is the way they've chosen to play all the way through the year with their belief in the passing game. They have a back in Bryce Brown, who's playing because LeSean McCoy is hurt. Brown did not come out with the fanfare of a Trent Richardson, but he's a pretty talented downhill runner. He would be best running power and counter, iso leads, downhill runs that play to his strengths. The Eagles rarely utilize those runs. They've put Nick Foles with three wide receivers as their foundation for the last three weeks. Jason Avant, the third receiver, has played 83 percent of the snaps. So, it's been a three-wide offense with a rookie quarterback, and an offensive line that is, at best, average. The bigger picture to me is not using the talent properly."
On where Eli Manning stands at this point in the season: "I think this has been somewhat of an erratic year for Eli, and he's somewhat there right now. He threw two interceptions against the Saints, and he could have easily thrown four. One of his great strengths is that each play is a separate entity, so he can make unbelievable throws -- he had a great two-minute drive at the end of the first half, which got them a touchdown, and that was huge at the time -- but I think he also makes a lot of head-scratching throws. At this point in his career, you're surprised to see some of those throws. Some are a function of accuracy, and some are a function of poor reading of the defense. He's done this in the past, where he's gotten into a good stretch and played well, but I think overall, other than last year when he was very good all season, he's been somewhat erratic in his career."
On Tom Brady's success with play action, and how it might affect the San Francisco 49ers: "[49ers safety Dashon] Goldson is one of the best safeties in the league at filling in the run game, which makes him susceptible to play action. Tom Brady has thrown the third-most play action passes in the NFL this season, which might be strange to some people, because this team lines up with Brady under center far more than people might think. He's completing 66 percent of his play action passes with nine touchdowns and one interception, and he rarely get sacked in play action, So, this will be very intriguing in this game. That touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd last week against the Texans -- everyone thought it was a busted coverage, but it wasn't. It was three tight ends, with hard run action, and the two safeties hit the run action so hard, and Lloyd just ran over the top. That's something you must defend when you play the New England Patriots."
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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