Maclin burns the Bengals

Game Film, NFL, Quickhits

Mansur Shaheen

The Baltimore Ravens absolutely destroyed the Cincinnati Bengals during their week one match up. They held their NFC North rival in check as they won their opener 20-0. The game was a slow punt off for a majority of the first half until Jeremy Maclin finally broke the game open late in the first half with a long touchdown on a catch and run.

Cincinnati crowds the line of scrimmage to send the house on a third down blitz. Joe Flacco lines up in shot gun with two receivers spread out to his left, and another in the slot. The Bengals trust their corners immensely, as they leave them all one on one with absolutely no help what so ever in man coverage.

Baltimore runs a simple slant/flat combo, and Maclin breaks free from his man with help from a screen by another receiver. Flacco gets the ball to him quickly before the Bengals mass pass rush can do anything. Maclin makes the catch and is off to the races for a touchdown that changed the rest of the game.

 

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Quickhits: Patrick Mahomes turns head with impressive deep bomb on the run

Game Film, Quickhits

Mansur Shaheen

Patrick Mahomes is the most exciting quarterback prospect in the NFL today. The Chiefs first round pick has a cannon for an arm and the full confidence that he can make every throw. We will not see much of him in 2017, as he will develop underneath long-time starter Alex Smith for his rookie year. Though, after an impressive and dazzling preseason, many around the league are excited to see what the rookie may have to offer down the line.

He had an up and down game against the Titans to close out his rookie preseason. Mahomes made a few mistakes, but he also made a few flashy plays that caught the attention of the entire league. His second quarter completion to Demarcus Robinson was probably the most impressive of the night.

Mahomes took the snap from under center and ran a play action. He had a clean pocket in front of him as he went through his progressions. The rookie managed to look off the safety as he scanned the left side of the field, and then scrambled to his right as the protection broke down. He made his way towards the right sideline and managed to fire off an absolute bomb to his receiver while getting hit on the run. The pass was completed and Mahomes finished off his rookie preseason in epic fashion.

 

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Quickhit: More Costly Interceptions for Ryan Fitzpatrick

NFL, Quickhits

Mansur Shaheen

Down only seven early in the fourth quarter, the New York Jets had a legitimate chance to pull an upset off against the Seattle Seahawks. They had started a decent drive, and had the ball around mid-field, hoping to drive down the field and tie the game. Then Ryan Fitzpatrick did what he does best.

Throw costly interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Just like his interceptions last week, and many of the ones throughout his career, this was another example of Fitzpatrick throwing a ball where he shouldn’t have and it getting intercepted. Bilal Powell (#29) lined up beside Fitzpatrick in the backfield, while Brandon Marshall (#15)  up on top with Richard Sherman (#25) across him. We are going to address the bottom of the formation as much as Fitzpatrick did on this play and just ignore it.

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Upon the snap, Powell ran an out route and was picked up by KJ Wright (#50) in the flat. It looks as though Fitzpatrick looked towards Powell first and saw that he was covered and chose to throw the ball elsewhere. Elsewhere being the next receiver that entered his vision, Marshall. Marshall ran a vertical route and was being locked up by Sherman the whole way. Fitzpatrick attempts a back shoulder throw, a pass that makes it extremely hard for a corner to make a play on the ball. Marshall was turned around and unaware though, and Sherman jumps the route for an easy interception.

Fitzpatrick had good protection on the play as his offensive line managed to handle the four Seahawks who rushed on the play.

He did not allow any of his receivers to let their routes truly develop, and ignored an entire side of the field. There was no reason to force a pass downfield, as it was first down anyways. Fitzpatrick just through it where ever he wanted not caring for the ball, and it costed his team.

The Jets quarterback now has thrown 10 interceptions in the first four games of the season, no one other than him and Jameis Winston (8) have more than 6. He threw three in this game, all in the fourth quarter, and let the game get out of reach for the Jets.

A Jets team that hoped to fight for a playoff spot this season find themselves at 1-3 so far this season, and all though the losses have come against tough teams, it may be time for them to evaluate their personnel at all positions on the field, especially quarterback.

 

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Quickhit: The 49ers Problems in One Play

NFL, Quickhits

Mansur Shaheen

The Blaine Gabbert led San Francisco 49ers are 1-3 so far in 2016, and have lost three straight after hammering the Rams on the opening night of Monday Night Football. Many of the team’s faults rest upon their quarterback, who miraculously will still be starting over Colin Kaepernick in their match up against the Arizona Cardinals.

What’s wrong with Gabbert?

This one play alone from their game against the Cowboys last week displays a lot the issues many have seen that has fans calling for a change under center.

Trailing 7 to the Cowboys with less than two minutes to play, the 49ers faced a 4th and 6 and need to convert to keep their hopes of tying the game alive.

And they do that…

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The 49ers lined up with trips at the top, Torrey Smith (#82), Quinton Patton (#11) and Jeremy Kerley (#17), and Garret Celek (#88) as a lone receiver on the other side. Carlos Hyde (#28) lined up alongside Gabbert in the backfield. The Cowboys had three down linemen, and Linebacker Justin Durant (#56) showed a blitz.

Upon the snap Durant and fellow linebacker Sean Lee (#50) both drop into man coverage, and the Cowboys rush three. Kerley runs a deep crossing route, long enough for the first down. Patton runs a corner route, long enough for the first down. Celek runs a curl, long enough for the first down. Hyde runs a curl out of the backfied, long enough for the first down.

Torrey Smith also ran an out route, which was initially long enough for the first, but when he had to move to get open for the then scrambling Gabbert, he moved 3 yard up field and at that point was way short of the first, with the Cowboys Morris Claiborne (#24) right behind him.

There are three huge issues for the 49ers on this play. First, Gabberts decision making. It’s 4th down and you know you need 6 yards. Smith takes some fault for shortening his route, but Gabbert should be aware enough to not throw to a receiver short of the sticks with a man lurking behind him. He had scrambled to the right side of the field, removing some of his options, but throwing a dangerous pass towards Patton downfield at least would give his team a chance. This has been a problem for Gabbert throughout the season. His lack of situational awareness leads to him throwing to the nearest man with any sort of room around him no matter how many yards the team needs on the play, and this time it costed them the game.

From this angle you get a good view of the pocket and what Gabbert saw, or should have seen, on the play. The Cowboys only rushed three, yet they still managed to put heavy pressure on Gabbert against five 49ers blockers. Joe Stanley (#74) got beat by Anthony Hitchens (#58) initially, but he managed to recover and push Hitchens behind the play. Every other 49ers lineman failed, though.

Both Terell McClain (#97) and Tyrone Crawford (#98) tried to go through Guard Andrew Tiller (#61), and Tiller did not receive much help. Zane Beadles (#68) does not really do anything on the play. He does not shift right to help with Crawford and McClain, and does not turn left to help out Stanley on Hitchens. The 49ers were running a zone blocking scheme, but if the play has developed and there is no one near you while your teammates are getting beaten it is your responsibility to shift into a different spot.

Crawford manages to burst through the double team of Tiller and Trent Brown (#77) and begins to chase after Gabbert. This allows McClain to release and also chase Gabbert.

Which brings the third thing that went wrong for the 49ers on the play. When Crawford breaks through his blocks, which should never have happened anyways, Gabbert chooses to scramble right.

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On his right, Gabbert is facing two Cowboys defensive lineman, free of any blocks, chasing him. On his right, there is, now on his knees, Hitchens being handled by Stanley.

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If Gabbert has chosen to run left at this exact moment, he would have had more room, and more options to throw too. He had Hyde, Celek and Kerleys route would have headed towards him over the middle. On the right there was more danger, and only Patton and Smith near the sideline.

This again shows Gabberts poor decision making, he chooses to run towards the oncoming pressure instead of away from it, and puts himself in a situation where his only legitimate option was a receiver short of the first down anyways.

Failing the fourth down pretty much ended the game. The Cowboys got the ball back and ran the clock out despite the 49ers two remaining time outs. This is just one of the many times already this season where Gabbert has costed the 49ers heavily, and with Kaepernick waiting in the wings, it seems that Chip Kelly made a mistake in choosing a quarterback this season.

 

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Quickhit: AJ Green Does it Again

NFL, Quickhits

Mansur Shaheen

The Bengals A.J. Green went off against the Dolphins on Thursday night, catching 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. His most exciting moment in a game full of highlight plays occurred about half way through the first quarter. Quarterback Andy Dalton evaded the Dolphins ferocious pass rush, scrambled to his left and delivered a beautiful pass to Green while on the run. On the other end of the pass, Green leaped over corner Xavien Howard and came down with an athletic catch for a 51 yard gain.

Cincinnati ran the same play here that they ran week one for a deep touchdown to Green, and yet again executed it near perfectly.

Just like against the Jets, the success of the play depended on Brandon LaFell attracting the safety’s attention. Miami Saftey Reshad Jones was forced to step up into coverage in order to cover LaFell’s crossing route over the middle, and was not available to help over the top. LaFell had so much space, though, because majority of the Dolphins players that backed into coverage were not covering anyone.

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The Dolphins stacked 8 players in the box pre-snap, including safety Isa Abdul-Quddus. Both Neville Hewitt and Kiko Alonso dropped into shallow zone coverage, but the only two receivers that ran routes on the play were way too deep for either to be a factor on the play. Edge rushed Jason Jones also dropped back to contain Dalton on the offenses right side in case he scrambled.

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Miami attempted to overload the right side of the Bengals pass protecting, rushing four, while only sending Ndamukong Suh on the left side. The right side of the Bengals line was excellent on the play, holding back the rush, and running back Gio Bernard managed to deflect Abdul-Quddus.

Bernard’s block turned out to be crucial to the plays success. Suh quickly did away with Cedric Ogbuehi on the other side of the line, and Tight End Tyler Kroft was distracted by Jones. Suh would have had a free run at Dalton, if not for a block by Ryan Hewitt, who lined up as a Fullback on the play. Hewitt quickly turned around after seeing Abdul-Quddus dispatched by Bernard and managed to throw a crucial block on Suh. Dalton stepped up in the pocket,having space in front of him as the entire Dolphins front eight was now behind him and heaved it towards Green.

The biggest error on the play, though, was made by Dolphins corner Tony Lippet. Lippet is lined up about ten yards in front of LaFell when the ball is snapped, and right at the start of the play immediately begins to drop back. This is understandable as the Dolphins were playing zone coverage, but he should have come forward once he realized the LaFell was running a shallow route. He reacts way too late and removes himself from the play, forcing the Dolphins lone deep safety Jones to move further up the field to cover LaFell, allowing Green single coverage down the sideline. The coverage from the front seven, by Alonso, Jones and Hewit also takes some fault here. Jones may have been playing to contain Dalton but the two linebackers dropped back to cover nobody. They were way to shallow to cover any of the Bengals receivers, and were barley even a part of the play.

For the second time in three weeks the Bengals have had a huge play on the same play call. Both times it was due to a member of the teams secondary reacting late, springing Green free deep. Green is one of the more athletic receivers in the NFL, and can beat almost anyone in single coverage downfield. Saftey’s need to be more aware of Green on deep fade routes, but they need to depend on the coverage up the field to cover more shallow routes if they want the ability to freely drop back in coverage. A team as good as the Bengals will take advantage of any mistake an opponent makes, even if it’s just a corner dropping a few too many steps back.

 

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