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Did Peterson get lazy with his technique vs. Nicks?

Using video to breakdown the Giants' game winning TD. Matt Bowen

Print This October 03, 2011, 10:45 AM EST

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Let’s go back to the Giants-Cards matchup once New York received another shot (after the Victor Cruz call) to beat Arizona. Down 27-24 with less than three minutes to play, Eli Manning throws the straight 9 (fade) route to Hakeem Nicks matched up in press-coverage vs. rookie Patrick Peterson.

A quick set up. The Giants are in their Posse (or 311) personnel on the near hash using 7-man protection vs. the Cardinals Cover 1 (man-free) blitz scheme. Check out the replay and then we will focus on Peterson—because he looked like a rookie in this situation.

My notes after seeing the replay…

Route scheme: Outside release. As a CB, this tells you two things from the split: fade or comeback. That’s it. WRs will not run an inside breaking route with a vertical release outside of the numbers. Plus, when the WR doesn’t break between 12-15 yards (depth of every vertical cut), you know he is going down the field.  Always key on the release—because it tells you a story.

Alignment, footwork: Peterson aligns with an inside shade here. That’s surprising given the FS help in the middle of the field, but I do like his initial footwork. This is called a “taxi” technique. Inch off, move your feet and mirror the release of the WR. Looks clean here, but that’s when his technique gets lazy.

Hands, hips: Have to use your hands. Working vs. an outside release, Peterson needs to jam with his inside hand and then open his hips. Here, we see the rookie “open the gate,” and allow a free release vs. Nicks. You need to take control of the situation as a CB and get physical at the line of scrimmage.

Back “in-phase” with Nicks: Even without using his hands and “opening the gate,” Peterson recovers to get back “in-phase” on the inside hip of Nicks. Good position to run and play the fade. However, his eyes are what ultimately gets him beat.

Don’t look for the ball: Go to the 38 second mark on the film. What do we see? Peterson looking back in at Manning. I talk about this often, but you cannot do that at this level. It causes immediate separation and you will lose the WR down the field. Instead, keep your eyes focused on the up field shoulder of the WR and allow him to take you to the ball.

No question this is a big play for the rookie to give up when we talk about a crucial situation in a game: protecting a lead, 4th quarter, playing man coverage. Back at LSU, Peterson could get away with this because he was an elite player. Even with poor technique, he could recover and go get the ball. Not in the NFL where technique means everything vs. pro wide receivers.

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