Greg Cosell’s Film Study: Geno Smith impresses, as does the Titans defense

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

In Cosell's first post each week, he will feature a few of the games from the previous week and break down the coaching decisions and players who stood out.

Broncos 49, Ravens 27
• What made Peyton Manning's record-setting night even more impressive is that his offensive line didn't have a great night. Even though the Ravens rarely blitzed (the only first-half blitz was a zone blitz out of the nickel), they still got a lot of pressure and hit him often as he released the ball. Left tackle Ryan Clady even struggled in protection in the first half. Where Manning excelled was against the Ravens' two-deep shell: In 33 snaps against that look he went 15-of-23 for 303 yards and four touchdowns, with 13.2 yards per attempt.


• Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno is a mechanical and robotic runner. Rookie Montee Ball will beat him out as soon as he becomes a better pass protector.
• Broncos tight end Julius Thomas had two touchdowns, but he needs work in pass protection and run blocking.
• The Ravens drafted linebacker Arthur Brown in the second round, but he played just six snaps. Josh Bynes and Daryl Smith were the linebackers in Baltimore's nickel defense. Fellow Ravens rookie Matt Elam didn't start at safety but replaced Michael Huff in the fourth quarter.
• The Ravens' safeties limit what they can do in coverage and pressure, and cornerback Jimmy Smith did not have a good game - a real concern for the Ravens.
• Tight end is another concern for the Ravens. Dallas Clark played 60 snaps, showing very little confidence in Ed Dickson.
• Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco missed some reads and did not pull the trigger on some throws. He also missed some throws with poor ball placement.
• Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho is a player to watch. He jumped off the screen. He matched up with the tight end in nickel "man free" defense, and also flashed in the run game.

49ers 34, Packers 28

The read option was clearly not part of the 49ers' game plan. Instead, they used a lot of short drops and quick throws by Colin Kaepernick. I loved Kaepernick's willingness to stick throws into tight windows. If Kaepernick didn’t miss some open throws (either because he was inaccurate or did not pull the trigger) he could have thrown for over 500 yards.
Sticking with their usual approach, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman used some movable chess pieces to gauge how the Packers would adjust. Their chess pieces were receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis, who were targeted on 26 of Kaepernick's 39 attempts.
Left tackle Joe Staley graded out very well in a great matchup against Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews.
The 49ers' vertical attack on offense comes from tight ends Davis and Vance McDonald. McDonald can run vertical seam routes with his good speed.
Packers rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari struggled in pass protection. The Packers' pass offense as a whole lacked rhythm, although Aaron Rodgers made some outstanding individual throws.
• 49ers rookie safety Eric Reid played well. He has more overall talent than Dashon Goldson, who left San Francisco and signed a huge contract with Tampa Bay this offseason.

Titans 16, Steelers 9

• The Titans have a run game foundation. They played significant snaps in three-tight end sets, and used a combination of inside zone run plays and power runs with either guard (left guard Andy Levitre or rookie right guard Chance Warmack) pulling. The big question for the Titans: Does Shonn Greene better fit sustaining run game approach than Chris Johnson?
• Titans quarterback Jake Locker showed the ability to make improvisational plays, but still has accuracy issues (he missed wide-open Kendall Wright on a third and 14 to end Tennessee's first series) and has a tendency to play fast in the pocket. That's why his reads must be simplified.
• Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was a big factor near the line of scrimmage against the run and still looks explosive.
• The Titans' defense was quicker and faster than the Steelers' offense. Tennessee's front seven looked athletic and active. Pittsburgh's offensive line was physically handled. Left tackle Mike Adams was driven back too many times.
• This was a dominant defensive performance by the Titans.

Jets 18, Buccaneers 17

• Overall, Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith played a very professional game. He was very poised in the second half. He was calm in the pocket and did not play fast in response to pressure. He showed some anticipation, plus willingness to make tough throws. He did show some expected rookie tendencies, like locking onto his first read and was a beat late on certain throws.
• Also: offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg didn't try to hide Smith. He had an aggressive approach.
• The Jets' offensive line needs to protect Smith better, or he'll have some bad games. Guard Vladimir Ducasse, a 2010 second-round pick, is not a NFL starter.
• Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, returning from a torn ACL, played about 50 of the Jets' 73 snaps.
• The Buccaneers' defense looked very fast and very active.

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