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 San Francisco 49ers' Thursday night win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Here are the Sunday and Monday games, in order of discussion:
Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills
Washington at New York Giants
New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers
Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans
Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
Some words of wisdom from Mr. Cosell:
On the Washington offense, and how it works: "Here's the key when you play them -- they do so much in the backfield., RG3 is either under center or in the shotgun. There's a lot of backfield action, and movement, and run-action looks. What they try to do is to force the second-level defenders -- linebackers, but a safety can be there, as well -- to see and digest a lot of things in a very short amount of time. And that slows down reaction time. And then, they work the passing game off all of that. It's a passing game that works between the numbers, in the middle of the field, because they get those second-level players to freeze. That's borne out by the fact that 67 percent of Griffin's throws this year have been between the numbers. So, one of the key things you have to do in defense is to not get caught up in being reactive to what happens in the backfield, but proactive by disguising and showing different looks. You just let the backfield action play out. Whatever's going to happen, just let it play out, and you do your thing proactively."
On Carolina's offense, and why it's not working: "I always preface these things by saying, 'What do I know?' and that I'm not there every day, but I'm tired of watching their tape and seeing their option/deception offense. They have two backs [DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart] who most reasonable NFL people would say could be feature backs in this league, and I know people feel that way about Stewart. And they have 73 combined rushes. And only 20 of them have come when Newton's under center in what you would call a base-type NFL run. At some point, when you have backs like that -- and by the way, this would help Cam Newton, too -- you've got to line up and play NFL football. You're not in the SEC. You've got to line up and run an offense, and that's something the Redskins have done very well."
On the Saints' defense, and how it's starting to improve: "They've started to do a lot more stuff. Disguising their players, and it's not surprising. As we've discussed, in our business, it seems that everyone has to make a bold, definite comment every week. Sometimes, people lose sight of the fact that when you get a new coaching staff, and you're dealing with talents that are good but not great, it's a work in progress. And it takes time to keep building on concepts. I think that [Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] is starting to build on concepts. He's recognizing that he's not going to get consistent pressure from his down four. So now, you have to build in pressure concepts. That takes time, because there's a lot of coordination in that. One guy screws up, and the other team can hit a 60-yard touchdown. That's starting to come to fruition. Will they be a great defense? Probably not. But they're not going to be as bad as they were."
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.