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 always does, 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 San Diego Chargers' Thursday night win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here are the Sunday and Monday games, in order of discussion:
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans
Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts
Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins
Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Oakland Raiders
Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons
Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints
A few words of wisdom from Mr. Cosell:
On AFC Defensive Player of the Week Wesley Woodyard and the Denver defense: "He's so critical, and it's funny you mentioned him, because when he came out of Kentucky, I was really high on him in a given role, and that's the role he's played in the NFL. His game fits today's NFL, because he's an undersized linebacker who can run and blitz and cover. Twenty years ago, nobody would have looked at that guy -- he wouldn't have played. They would have asked, 'Can you play safety,' because he's 220 pounds. But now, with multiple personnel packages, and tight ends who are really wide receivers, he fits this league perfectly.
"The other player on that defense I really like is Chris Harris. I think he's one of the best slot corners in the league, and nobody talks about him. Those two players, given that you play your sub packages so often in the NFL now -- and certainly when you play teams like the Saints -- those players are so critical to the success of this defense. And I think it's a defense that will continue to get better as their offense gets better. They're playing sub packages more, because Peyton Manning will get you a lead now, those two players are essential to what the Broncos do."
On the offense that former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has designed for Andrew Luck in Indianapolis: "You remember Barrett Brooks, the former Steelers offensive lineman, right? He's been working with me at NFL Films for two years. He walked into my office the other day after watching the Colts' offense, and he said, 'It just hit me -- he's running the same offense we ran in 2004 and 2005, when Ben Roethlisberger was young. I'm watching the plays, and I know all this stuff!' It was really cool, because here was a guy who played for Pittsburgh, and it's conceptually the same offense.
"The thing for people who remember Reggie Wayne with Peyton Manning, when he pretty much lined up on the left side every single snap -- he's all over the formation in terms of where he starts and finishes his routes. This is what coaches look at when they game plan, and this is the concept we've talked about before -- receiver distribution and location. Where do receivers like up? What routes do they run? They know that if Reggie Wayne runs his inside route off the hip of the tight end, he's going to run certain routes. And he's running such a variety of routes right now -- far more than he ran with Peyton Manning."
On how the Texans might be looking to replace the injured Brian Cushing: "Just something for people to take note of -- in the second half of that game [Houston's 43-13 Week 7 win over Baltimore], they played nickel, and here's what they did. They played [OLB] Brooks Reed at inside linebacker, and had a four-man like with J.J. Watt at defensive end, as opposed to defensive tackle. Reed, who is very athletic, was stacked inside at inside linebacker, next to Bradie James. I'll be very curious to see if they continue to do that -- not that 100 percent of their sub packages will be nickel [Note: Houston plays more dime in their sub packages on average], but I wonder if this was an audition for Reed to possibly become Brian Cushing in the dime."
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.