FFODC Previews The Chiefs

WHAT Skins (2-1) vs Chiefs (3-0)
WHERE Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
WHEN Monday, Oct 2 8:30 PM
THE LINE Skins +7
TV ESPN
WEATHER H: 86, L: 70  Mostly Sunny

 

Head man Andy Reid, OC Matt Nagy, and former OC Brad Childress share seven decades of play calling experience between them and all those offensive neurons come together to form a grab bag of philosophies including but not limited to option, west coast and spread.

On the personnel side, Kansas City outfits a roster with two 6’7 tight ends, each at a lanky 230 pounds.  They also deploy a WR corps with three guys listed at 5’9, 5’9, and 5’10 who play all the skill positions.  They are rolling with a perimeter that values speed and length over power and size.  Plus there is Kelce.

Put that scheme and personnel together and out comes the #1 ranked offense in DVOA through 3 weeks and a rushing attack that leads the NFL with 6.8(!) yards per attempt.

Run Defense vs the Chiefs

Instead of asking those lanky and smurfy perimeter guys to block, KC would rather read the defensive ends on short yardage:

This personnel in a nutshell: instead of wear you down, they force you to make a choice.  Then they out-athlete you with speed and length.  Their success stems from freezing contain and doubling the interior lineman to the inside backers.

Continue reading FFODC Previews The Chiefs

Skins DEFENSE vs the Raiders

Formations

We broke out the 3-4 for just four plays, otherwise it was Nickel the whole way, even when they lined up with no backs and 5 receivers:

That is Zach Brown lined up across from 2 WRs.  Oakland ran a route combination that got Amari Cooper one on one with Brown and open for the first–which he dropped.  Complaints from me in this game were few, but this would be one.  Perhaps a Dime defense would suffice in the future?

Substitution notes:  Mason Foster was replaced by two guys, in the 3-4 it was Compton and in the Nickel it was Spaight.  Defensive line snaps were fluid with Allen, McClain and Ioannidis getting the lion share inside.  Kerrigan and Smith took the most snaps at DE.

On the whole, the defense got off easy for the 2nd straight week with just over 50 snaps for the game.

The first 11 and 1/2 drives are charted (link at the bottom) with the last drive and a half left off because the Raiders had given up at that point.

The Show

Defensive Line
Player + Total
Allen 6 1.5 4.5
Kerrigan 9.5 2.5 7
Smith 10 0 10(!)
Ioannidis 3.5 1 2.5
McGee 0 1 -1
McClain 0 0.5 -0.5
Hood 0 2 -2
Total     20.5

Preston Smith had himself his best game of the season.  On a 3rd and 2 the Raiders dialed up a ‘Duo’ run.  Basically there is a linebacker they leave unblocked, in this case Spaight (circled.)  The running back will run to the hole the linebacker doesn’t.  Spaight chose the inside gap, so Lynch bounced it outside, right into Smith, who shed his blocker like a rag doll:

They didn’t (couldn’t) go back to that play since they realized a TE wouldn’t be enough to contain Smith.

[After the jump:  Grades for Linebackers and DBs, video breakdowns, Predictions]

Continue reading Skins DEFENSE vs the Raiders

It’s Fun Again

All week it looked as if Mason Foster wouldn’t start Sunday, and an unproven bench was tasked with replacing the seven year veteran; I didn’t want to say it, but I was a little scurred.  If Pennywise had a warm body to replace Will Compton, I would’ve crawled into that sewer head first.  I thought maybe we could still get the W with enough turnovers, but the part of me that has hardened over the last 18 years was prepared for the worst.  I mean, this was prime time after all, and you know what we do in prime time…

So, even with a 21-0 lead, after a missed field goal was followed by a muffed punt in the red zone I readied myself to accept what was coming our way.  With 3:52 left in the third quarter their was more than enough time for the universe to correct itself; FedEx Field, once again half-filled with visiting fans in a prime time game, would send our offense into a silent count and I would go to bed before the clock hit triple zeroes.

Continue reading It’s Fun Again

FFODC Previews Oakland

WHAT Skins (1-1) vs Raiders (2-0)
WHERE FedEx Field, Hyattsville, MD
WHEN Sunday, Sep 24th 8:30 PM  ET
THE LINE WASH: +3
TV NBC
WEATHER H: 89, L: 66, Partly Cloudy

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing got his start in the NFL coaching gunslinger Matt Stafford en route to franchise passing records for yards (5,038), touchdowns (41), passer rating (97.2) and completion percentage (63.5).  His next stop was Buffalo where he tried to turn around the careers of EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton with middling results that hit their respective ceilings.  He now finds himself back in a QB room with a gunslinger in David Carr who he helped mold into the Raider’s first Pro Bowl quarterback since Rich Gannon in 2002; no small feat that earned him Pro Football Focus’ Quarterback Coach of the Year.  He’s coupled that with a bruising run game that ranks top 5 in the league.  Good hire?  Good hire.  Good enough to take down our revamped defense?  We’ll see.

Run Defense vs Oakland

Don’t be fooled by the highlight packages that would have you believe this offense’s bread is buttered by an aerial attack; yes they will throw it, but Oakland is a team that currently puts out a top 5 rushing attack averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 144 yards per game.  It’s a rushing attack that statistically mirrors ours but with a more unorthodox approach.  Their goto formation is the Bunch (above) and it  can create advantages in the run game:

  • Tight splits from TE and WR make for a short edge, which lets runs hit outside quickly
  • Defenses will overload to the Bunch side, leaving defenders spread out to the weak side
  • Receivers in the bunch have favorable blocking angles

Our edge guys might see a little frippery as WR Cordelle Patterson has lined up in the backfield on toss plays, but outside of that it’s Marshawn Lynch and inside zone.  Oakland’s inside runs out of Bunch places defenses into well defined zone blocks before the snap.  We could combat that with Zach Brown who thrives at confusing blockers in the open field, but next to him will be either an injured Foster or slow reacting Will Compton, either of which could be catching blocks at the second level.

The Raiders do not have a single Guard or Tackle weighing below 328 pounds.  In between that is an agile 300 pound Center who might not dominate at the line, but can get after it in open space.  His run blocking is the inverse of the guys flanking him on either side.  The 330 pound behemoths can push the line at the first level, but they struggle in the open field against athletic linebackers: Zach Brown could have a day.

Versus our Nickel Front:  We line up over the guards to take away outside runs and Kerrigan and Smith are more than capable at setting the edge against any TE and Tackle group; combine that with the Raiders penchant for pounding Marshawn Lynch up the middle and it looks like Inside Zone will be the scheme of choice.

Versus our 3-4:  Against heavier formations involving multiple tight ends, our 3-4 personnel would place Ryan Anderson and Junior Galette as the edge defenders and could put us on shaky ground.  Anderson has shown he struggles to hold the edge, any signs of that tonight would lead to Preston Smith taking extra snaps.  On the interior, 5 tech Stacy McGee whose main asset seems to be his weight, will be tasked with lining up across from guys just as big (ex: Donald Penn 6-4 340.)  If they run outside zone away from McGee, cutback lanes could open up.  If they try to hit us with runs outside, this is the formation to try it against.

Between Anderson and McGee, Oakland could be looking at 2 potential mismatches with our 3-4 that tips in their favor.  I bet one dollar we see the Raiders come out in multiple TE formations more than they normally do.

Key Match Ups:  Ziggy Hood and Stacy McGee vs STAYING AT THE LINE and INSIDE BACKERS vs C Rodney Hudson.  McGee and Hood getting dominated would cause the dominoes to fall and we could be in for a long night with methodical runs setting up Cooper and Crabtree downfield.  Tomsula has improved technique inside but this will be the (literally) strongest test they face.

As of this writing Mason Foster is ‘questionable’ to start and has been limited in practice all week.  His backup, Will Compton, might be a liability.  Zach Brown has the speed and ability to mess with blocking schemes and that could pave the way to double digit tackles; hopefully close enough to the line of scrimmage so as to not have the chains reset.

Pass Defense vs Oakland

Oakland is currently 5th in Yards Per Attempt (8.2) in no small part thanks to their run game.  Out of that same Bunch formation they will hit play action with one of the 3 receivers running a Y-Cross behind the linebackers.  It’s usually open.

Another reason for that lofty YPA is David Carr not flinching at sideline throws.  He will test outside coverage with hitches against Cover 3 corners (think Cousins to DeSean last year) and back-shoulders against man-to-man, his accuracy is on point, drops from Amari Cooper have been the biggest roadblock.  I’m not sure if Carr’s DGAF meter is set to ‘attack Josh Norman’ but I would expect Breeland to see plenty of action come his way.

They also like to run 3×2 empty formations (above.)  To the 2-man side they run man-beater routes while to the 3-man side they like to run zone beaters (ex: corner routes vs Cover 2.)  The whole field is an option as Carr utilizes the middle of the field if you zone it off, and will hit outside if you play man defense.

Good news is their 330+ pound tackles are susceptible to speed rushes and twists.  Allen has shown to be a handful when twisting inside and Kerrigan still keeps a speed rush rip move in his arsenal.  The front 4 needs to get after it because when we blitz our zone drops leave us vulnerable in coverage.

Key Match Up:  David Carr vs FIND YOUR ZONE.  Goff bailed us out last week, we should not expect Carr to play as nice.  Main culprits in zone busts come from Foster, Brown and safety play.  The less blitzing we do, the less confused they seem to be.

3 Meaningless Predictions

  • An uncovered zone cedes 6 points in the first quarter.
  • Preston Smith gets reinserted into the 3-4.  Galette gets more snaps.
  • Jonathan Allen is the set up man in twists that get to Carr; leads to a turnover.

Skins 24-20.

Skins DEFENSE vs Rams

Play by Play Chart

Formations

Nickel:

Our Nickel line: Kerrigan-Ioannidis-Allen-Smith.  Ioannidis and Allen lined up directly over the guards to take away any Outside Zone and Power runs.

Last week McVay dialed up about a dozen Outside Zone runs, but against this formation he didn’t try it once.  When they did run outside it was away from Jonathan Allen who showed last week against Philly he could run that stuff down.

To the top of the screen you see the WRs in a stack formation, they rolled that out a ton.  We played it with Fuller underneath, since he’s the screen destroyer our DB coach Torrian Gray built.

3-4:

The 3-4 had a starting line of McGee-Hood-McClain flanked by Anderson and Galette.  McGee lines up over Tackles and tight ends, McClain over the guard and Hood is at nose.

We rotated the defensive ends and OLBs somewhat, but for the most part Kerrigan and Smith had their hand in the dirt in our Nickel front, while Anderson and Galette were stand up OLBs in our 3-4.

Positions that seem set:

  • 3-4 Line: Anderson-McGee-Hood-McClain-Galette
  • Nickel Line: Kerrigan-Ioannidis-Allen-Smith
  • Inside Backers: Brown and Foster
  • Corners: Norman and Breeland backed up by Dunbar
  • Slot Corner: Fuller
  • Free Safety: DJ Swearinger

Strong Safety is the lone question mark.  It looks to be a two-way battle between Everett and Nicholson with rookie Fabian Moreau working his way in for a couple of snaps.  In week 1 it was Everett’s job to lose, as it stands now the winner of that battle might be whoever makes the fewest mistakes.

The Show

Defensive Line
Player + Total
Ioanndis 4.5 0.5 4
McGee 1.5 4.5 -3
Hood 0.5 1.5 -1
Allen 2 2 0
Smith 6 1.5 4.5
Kerrigan 6.5 0 6.5
McClain 1 3 -2
Totals     9

If it weren’t for Smith and Kerrigan getting pressure the line would’ve finished on the wrong side of zero.  The interior doesn’t have a QB terror like Jason Hatcher or Chris Baker just yet, the closest guy is Ioannidis who charted a couple of pressures.  He’s been holding up to doubles against zone runs and the QB pressures are a pleasant surprise, the only knock on his game is speed to the outside:

The guard doesn’t even check him on his way to sealing out Foster.  The center had the impossible task of cutting him which tells me the plan was to beat him with speed.  I contrasted that with a clip from last week where Allen was sliding down the line, fighting off blocks and making plays at the sideline.  That right there is why they didn’t poke at the beast.

[After the jump:  Coverages, linebackers, predictions]

Continue reading Skins DEFENSE vs Rams

They Are Who We Thought They Were

Post game press conference:

Video highlights:

Cousins threw for just 156 yards and 5.8 yards per attempt, yet it was enough to overcome a Rams team who seemed to be in the process of slipping from last years 16th ranked rush defense.  Just under 6 YPA turned out to be enough thanks to an offensive line that played like the line we saw last year moreso than the line we saw last week.  When asked in the post game presser about what made the offensive staff feel like they could run it today against the Rams front 7, Gruden replied:

well, you know, we played the Rams before…we felt like we could run the ball

And run they did for 229 yards on 39 attempts for a whopping 5.9 ypc–a full yard per carry better than the 2015 game Jay was referring too, in which they plowed through a similarly undersized front to the tune of 37 carries for 182 yards.

But as with most games that involve men clanging heads for 60 minutes, stats didn’t tell the whole story: toughness helped us in the end as Norman (forced fumble) played through an AC joint sprain, and Foster overcame a separated shoulder to seal the game with an interception.

If a yawn of an off-season and 2 decades of a Danny Snyder led regime have led some fans to become complacent, today’s game may have started to turn the tide, restore the fire, and give a few reasons to root for this blue-collar squad.

 

PFF Top 5:

T Morgan Moses, 85.4 overall grade

DI Matt Ioannidis, 81.5 overall grade

CB Josh Norman, 78.7 overall grade

T Trent Williams, 78.2 overall grade

TE Vernon Davis, 78.2 overall grade

Skins DEFENSE vs Eagles (I)

Click here for the play by play chart

 

Formations

Nothing too fancy except for on a couple passing downs:

that’s a 2-4-5.  We also slid the line around and grouped defensive ends to the same side, in an effort to confuse blocking schemes and generate pressure.  Outside of that we stayed in our base 3-4 and Nickel the whole way.

Foster usually lined up to the wider side of the field, while Brown took to the boundary.  We kept 2 linebackers in the whole game, Dime packages were scrapped for this one.

Eagles kept anywhere from 1 to 3 tight ends.  Before their left tackle (Peters) went out the game they used their 6th offensive lineman as a blocking tight end.  On a few plays we treated Ertz as a WR and kept an extra CB in the game even when they had 2+ tight ends.  That might have had something to do with Everett struggling with Ertz early.

The Show

Defensive Line
Player + Total
McGee 3 1 2: Just A Guy, won’t hurt but isn’t going to disrupt either.
Ionnandis 5 2.5 2.5: Able to hold up to doubles and recognize all blocks.
Allen 5.5 8.5 -3: Discussion below
Hood 3 0 3: Way stronger at the POA, especially at nose.  Thanks Tomsula.
McClain 4 2 2: Just A Guy #2, except not really.  Can get under blocks and disrupt occasionally.
Total     6.5: Just need to fine tune a rookie and we have a unit that can go.  Thanks Tomsula.

Jonathan Allen checks in for his first NFL game and it was up and down as one could expect from a rookie.  Eagles tend to base their runs with outside zone stuff and will occasionally change it up with a wham block.  You would like to see your DL stop the OL from reaching the linebacker behind him: the whole intent of a wham block.  Ionnandis did this, Allen (circled) not so much:

They ran it a few times when Allen was in the game to the tune of 6.0 ypc; this would-be change up became a fastball.

On the good news front, Allen seemed more than able to handle zone blocking, both outside and inside:

He can let his 1st round athleticism take over on the basic stuff, he just needs to get comfortable handling blocks coming at him from his blind spot.

Ionanndis and Hood were the most improved guys on this roster.  Technique and strength at the point of attack were night and day from last year.  Last year, Hood was struggling inside and mutterings out of Redskin park hinted he was miscast as a Nose and would be at defensive end if not for depth issues.  All that seems to be resolved now as he took the majority of his snaps at nose and held up just fine.

McGee is probably slated for 5 technique.  He struggled with doubles inside and let guys get under his pads.  Against tackles and tight ends however, his 341 pound frame was more forgiving of that issue.

Linebackers
Player + Total
P. Smith 6 3 3
Kerrigan 7.5 3.5 4: lined up to the open side more often.  Less TE crushing, but better paths to the QB.
Foster 7 3.5 3.5: Picked up where he left off last year
Z. Brown 14 3.5 10.5: Biggest upgrade of the offseason.  Run defense is A level. Coverage…check back later
Galette 0.5 0.5 0
Anderson 0 1.5 -1.5: Struggled a bit holding the edge on outside runs
Totals     19.5:  Zach Brown baby.

A couple new faces entered into this corps with Zach Brown being the most welcome sight for sore eyes.  This here blog has officially placed Compton along with Pot Roast in the Please Never Again HOF.  Brown occasionally struggled with finding his zones in coverage, hence the minuses, but that is the stuff that can be coached up.  What can’t be coached up is this SPEED:

Also worth noting: both Brown and Foster understand the importance of depth with their zone drops.  I can’t count how many 3rd downs we gave up last year because Compton didn’t realize he had a receiver behind him that needed to be covered.  Zach Brown is the FA pickup off the off-season and is a big reason we could have a competent defense this year.

Galette and Anderson seem to be on a pitch count.  The only thing that popped up was Anderson’s inability to set the edge, something I’m not too worried about.  Manusky’s coaching cloth is cut from his days as an OLB coach and Tomsula is right behind him to teach leverage to any rookie who needs to know.

Kerrigan and Smith were asked to do more zone drops compared to last year.  Getting after the QB is still goal #1 for them, but we are going to mix up who drops into the hook zones a lot more this year, it won’t just be our inside linebackers.

The pick 6:  This one was set up early in the game on the 2nd drive.  Sproles and the WR to his side ran a corner/flat route combo that Hi-Low’d the OLB.  In this case it was Smith who was put in conflict:

Two drives later they brought out the same formation and we spread out our 5 man line to shorten the distance Kerrigan needed to cover in his zone drop.  They ran the same corner/flat route combo and that was all she wrote:

Coaching +1.

Defensive Backs
Player + Total
Norman 3.5 1 2.5
DJ 3 7 -4: Got picked on early
Fuller 7.5 0 7.5: Blew up screens all day.  Thanks Torrian Gray?
Everett 2 8.5 -6.5: Drew the shortest straw.  Manned up Ertz often
Breeland 2 1 1
Total     0.5: exotic blitzes caused a few busted coverages

Kendal Fuller was a terror on outside screens.  Someone somewhere coached this DB corps on how to handle WR blocks and a quick check of the coaching roster shows DB coach Torrian Gray spent the last 10 years in the fertile spread offense land of Blacksburg and Gainesville dealing with outside screens on the regular.  I don’t even know why Philly kept trying to test us outside, I mean fine…go right ahead please and thank you:

When tested deep, Fuller was in the receiver’s hip pocket and got the pass breakup:

What didn’t work as well were the guys behind our corners.  In the last clip you can see Fuller take outside leverage and funnel to the deep safety, in this case Swearinger.  But DJ got baited by an underneath route and was left hoping Fuller could save him from a public Monday scolding.  Everett’s shaky day was easier to tolerate since he got manned up on Ertz whose got route running chops I don’t see any DB not named Josh Norman able to shut down.

What does it mean for the future?

  • Allen will probably be tested with trap and wham blocks until he proves he can handle them.
  • Ionnandis and Hood version 2.0: Thanks Tomsula
  • Underneath crossers and wheel routes are the scariest to watch right now as the back 7 adjust to the new zone drops.
  • We aren’t giving up any easy yards on WR screens
  • We don’t play a Zach Ertz in week 2, that gives Everett a break.
  • Holy crap Zach Brown, where have you been all my life.
  • CHART