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." 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. Since the podcast was recorded on Friday morning, we started by reviewing the Tennessee Titans' Thursday night win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The remaining Week 6 games, in order of discussion:
Oakland Raiders at Atlanta Falcons
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
St. Louis Rams at Miami Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals
New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins
Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans
Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
On the Pittsburgh Steelers' relative inability to restock their defense: "How is it constructed, and who are the critical players? You have to start with the nose tackle -- Casey Hampton was a great nose tackle, but he's up in years and he's not the player he was. The importance of Aaron Smith cannot be over-exaggerated. [Steelers defensive coordinator] Dick LeBeau has often publicly stated that Smith was the most critical piece of their base 3-4 puzzle. They don't have that player right now. Then, you move to the outside linebackers. The key attribute for an outside linebacker in a 3-4 is the ability to rush the quarterback, and beat running backs and tight ends to get there. When you get a guy clean, that's wonderful, but it doesn't happen that often in the NFL. James Harrison is closer to the end than the beginning, and they don't use him to rush the quarterback with the frequently they used to."
On Andrew Luck's ability to deal with pressure in a professional sense: "The Colts know that their offensive line is not very good individually. Many things have stood out to me about Luck, but what has stood out most of all is just what Sam Bradford is struggling with. Luck makes excellent throws from muddied pockets, plus, he has shown great pocket movement. Think about the area the size of a boxing ring, or even smaller. That's what pocket movement is -- the ability to move in an area that size while you're doing other things.
"1. You're containing your downfield focus -- you can never look to rush. 2. Keeping the position of the ball proper. 3. Keeping your feet under you, so you're on balance and ready to deliver the football. He has done those three things pretty much from Week 1. That has been incredibly impressive about Luck through his first four games."
On the New York Jets' circus of an offense, and Mark Sanchez's surprisingly good play against Houston: "If you didn't know who the quarterback was -- let's say you just dropped out of the sky and you just watched a football game on Monday night? You would have said that the New York Jets' quarterback threw the ball pretty well. I don't want people to think that I'm saying Mark Sanchez is a Top 5 quarterback -- that's not the point of this conversation. The point is, Sanchez happened to throw the ball very well against a very good defense.
"Look at what's happened with Alex Smith. He's on a team -- last year, they get a new coach. They're a ground-and-pound team with a dominant running game. They have arguably the best defense in the NFL. They have as good a special teams unit as there is in the league. They had a +28 turnover ratio last year. Alex Smith threw the fewest passes of any 16-game starter. Okay? I don't know what's going to happen in Mark Sanchez's career, and I'm not telling you that he's a great quarterback, but I'd be curious to see just how Sanchez would perform under those conditions. He had those conditions in his first and second years, and he played in two AFC championships. He's not that gifted a quarterback, but we need to relax a little bit here. He is ultimately a puzzle piece where all the other puzzle pieces are hidden, and nobody knows where they are."
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.