Time to go back and review what we saw on Sunday in the NFL. A complete rundown of the Week 1 action…
The Monday Morning Buzz…
Calvin Johnson and the “process” of the catch: There will be plenty of discussion on the end of the game situation in Chicago where Johnson went up over the top of Bears’ CB Zack Bowman, came down and lost the ball. According to the rules, the WR has to go through the entire process of catching the football, and no matter how we view that replay (which looked like a catch) the rule still fits in this case. Chicago survives a unique situation. The emotions in the post game locker room–on both sides of the field–had to be unreal.
Green Bay's Clay Matthews.
Clay Matthews: Fun to watch the Packers OLB rush off of the edge because he plays with solid technique to go along with relentless effort. I saw a pass rusher that had improved from his rookie season when we discuss attacking offensive tackles with power and his hands. Great first step and uses his atheltic ability to get to the QB. Some of those plays he made need to show up in the off-season coaching tape.
Vick moves the ball: Impressed with Michael Vick yesterday after he replaced Kevin Kolb (concussion). He still has issues with throwing inside breaking routes in the underneath game due to the velocity he puts on the ball, but we can’t deny the electricity he can bring to an offense. Made some nice throws outside of the numbers and hit TE Brent Celek on a solid ball down the seam. And, when he does get out of the pocket, he becomes the best athlete on the entire field. Andy Reid says Kolb is still the starter, but when the backup can come in and produce, it makes it much easier for a head coach to make a switch at some point in the season.
The Houston running game: We will get to the Colts defense, but this morning, we have to talk about RB Arian Foster and the Texans. Ball control and a solid downhill running game is the ideal game plan to beat Indy—and that is exactly what we saw. Foster tops over 200-plus yards.
Pete Carroll’s first win: The Seahawks 31-6 win over the Niners' was the upset of the day for me. Carroll’s defense was active, QB Matt Hasselbeck has control of the offense and WRs made plays down the field. That was an impressive game plan on both sides of the ball for the first-year head coach in Seattle.
ICONBrady threw for 3 TDs in the Pats' win.
New England’s offense: Multiple personnel groupings. Something we always see with New England. They have the unique ability to change from “Heavy” personnel (1 WR, 3 TE, 1 RB) to “Posse” personnel (3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB) on consecutive plays and produce. That makes them tough to prepare for from a defensive standpoint—and requires extra tape study throughout the week. Add in Tom Brady (25-35-258-3TD), and you are looking at a very polished unit.
The ‘Skins defense: Great game plan from Jim Haslett in D.C. Used a good balance of coverage and pressure. This unit is very active at the LB position and all young players in the league should watch tape of SS LaRon Landry and MLB London Fletcher—both players run through tackles and finish plays. QB Tony Romo looked confused all night.
Pittsburgh’s win: That is a big win for the Steelers, and they did it in a style that we should get accustomed to until Ben Roethlisbeger returns from suspension. Dick LeBeau’s defense shut down a very good Atlanta offense by using multiple looks and schemes—and QB Dennis Dixon didn’t make mistakes to lose them the game. The play to win it: a simple Lead Strong with RB Rashard Mendenhall hitting the hole and getting up field for a 50-yard score in OT.
Henne struggles: Miami QB Chad Henne didn’t turn the ball over in a tough road environment at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but he has to play at higher level for this team to play with the Patriots and the Jets. RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are always going to make Miami competitive, but Henne is going to have to win some games for the Dolphins this year. I see more talent there than was on display Sunday.
ICONCutler threw for 372-yards in Mike Martz's offense on Sunday.
Mike Martz’s offense: The Bears are going to sling the football around on offense. QB Jay Cutler threw for 372-yards and 2 TDs, and outside of a poor decision trying to hit the “8” (or post) route against a soft Cover 2 look, he made some plays—including the eventually game winner to RB Matt Forte on the wheel route (out and up). Martz wants to push the ball down the field, and third and short situations reflect this. He will put Cutler in the gun and bring three WRs on the field. Forget about the run right now.
Tennessee play action: These are the type of numbers you want to see from Vince Young: 13-17 for 154-yards and 2 TDs. When the Titans can use RB Chris Johnson and produce in the play action route tree—they can control the game. V.Y. hit WR Nate Washington for a 56-yard TD using the boot action in the backfield. This is going to be there for the Titans’ offense all season long because of the run game. Plenty of opportunities for Young to make a big play going forward.
The Packers’ run game: When Ryan Grant went out with an injury, Brandon Jackson came in and moved the sticks. Doesn’t have the speed of Grant to the edge, but when the offensive front is moving bodies, he isn’t a bad option. His play was big in the Packers’ win, because it allowed them to continue to run and execute their game plan without their No. 1 back in the game.
X's and O's…
Seahawks’ double move: Seattle WR Deion Butler caught a 13-yard TD from Hasselbeck running the hitch-and-go vs. Niners’ CB Nate Clements. We will see more double moves in the red zone throughout the season because CBs have a tendency to jump routes when the field shrinks. Ideal situation against a corner who will play too aggressive at times.
Welker’s TDs: Two route schemes that are perfect for his game. The first: the WR bubble screen out of the bunch look. The second: the china/ 7 (or flag) out of a 3×1 set. Both combinations require a WR who is quick, can work away from a defenders leverage and find the end zone.
ICONPittsburgh's Troy Polamalu.
Polamalu’s INT: The Steelers’ safety showed a Cover 2 look in his pre-snap disguise and then dropped to the flat at the snap of the ball to pick the out route. The QB sees the CB drop into deep third coverage and doesn’t account for Polamalu playing the flat. All because of the look he gave the offense before the snap of the ball.
The Bears’ “wheel” route: Talked about it above, but the Bears were creative in how they got to the play. Forte was aligned as an offset back to the TE with short WR motion to the core of the formation—creating a bunch look. With the Lions in man coverage, Forte now has a free release with the LB trying to fight through traffic to pick him up. Great call in a man-to-man situation that goes for a TD.
The Dallas “smoke” route: Early in the Sunday night game, the Cowboys’ threw the “smoke” route (or one-step hitch) to WR Dez Bryant. We usually see this vs. CBs playing off-man coverage, but when you have a rookie who has missed all of training camp, you have to find a way to get him involved early.
Film rooms you don't want to be in today…
Philly special teams meeting: Bobby April is one of the best special teams coaches in the entire league, but the Eagles kickoff coverage was poor. They couldn’t get off blocks, didn’t stay in their lanes and didn’t tackle.
The Colts’ defensive team meeting: The Texans gashed Indy’s front seven. The Colts will see opposing offensive schemes moving forward that are heavy in the run game until they make corrections—because that effort yesterday in now on tape for the whole league to see.
ICONAlex Smith had a rough day in Seattle.
The Niners’ QB meeting: Not good enough from Alex Smith. This is something we have discussed all season, and the Niners have to get better play out of Smith to compete for the NFC West. 26-45 with 2 INTs will get you beat.
The Raiders’ team meeting: Bad football—again. New QB, but the same results.
The Cowboys’ RB meeting: Going to be hard for RB Tasahrd Choice to see that fumble at the end of the half. Can’t get stripped in that situation and give up points.
Leonard Weaver, Eagles: I think this is a big loss for Andy Reid’s team. Torn ACL to a key member of the backfield in Week 1 is tough to swallow.
Matthew Stafford, Lions: Took a big hit from Bears’ DE Julius Peppers that knocked him out with a shoulder injury. The Lions’ offensive game plan evaporated (until that final drive) without their No.1 QB—who could be out for a while.
Bob Sanders, Colts: Sanders has an injury history, and that run defense needs him back soon. Left with an elbow injury.
Kevin Kolb/ Stewart Bradley, Eagles: Two players who left with concussions. My only question, whose call was it to put them back on the field before ultimately taking them out? Expect some talk on this during the week.
Game balls to hand out…
ICONFoster ran for 231-yards and 3 TDs.
Arian Foster, Texans: 33 carries 231 yards, 3 TDs. The Texans’ RB looked like an All-Pro against a fast defense.
Matt Forte, Bears: 201 total yards (151-yards receiving) and 2 TDs. Forte was used in the same style that we saw with Marshal Faulk back in St. Louis in Martz’s offense.
Clay Matthews, Packers: 7 tackles, 2 sacks. He was all over the field.
DeAngelo Hall, Redskins: 8 tackles (one for loss) , 2 PBUs(passes broken up), one forced fumble, one TD. The play at the end of the half won this game for the ‘Skins.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants: 4 receptions for 75-yards and 3 TDs in the Giants win.
– How about the Cards' Steve Breaston? 132-yards on 7 receptions against St. Louis–plus the big forced fumble.
– Some credit for Jags’ QB David Garrard. Throws 3 TDs with no turnovers in the win over Denver.
– Cleveland can’t go on the road, turn the ball over, get bad QB play from Delhomme and expect to win..
-Bengals' WR Chad Ochocinco had a big day against the young Pats' secondary. 12 catches for 159-yards and a TD.
– For all of the talk on Bills’ rookie RB C.J. Spiller in the preseason (which was well deserved), it is a different brand of football when the games count in the NFL. 7 carries—for 6 yards.
-Thought we would see more of QB Tim Tebow in Josh McDaniel’s offense. Finished with 2 carries for 2 yards.
– Lions’ DE Kyle Vanden Bosch is a player rookies should model their game after. Uses power moves off of the edge–and the guy never stops playing.
Check back to the NFP tomorrow for my Jets-Ravens post game notes.
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