Mitch Trubisky shows his potential in first NFL victory

Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

The Chicago Bears made an interesting choice last spring when they traded multiple draft picks to move up one spot in the NFL draft and select quarterback Mitch Trubisky out of North Carolina second overall. The rookie sat behind Mike Glennon to open the season in Chicago, but was finally given the nod to start in week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings. Chicago lost in what was a sloppy game on Monday Night Football, but Trubisky actually looked in control of the offense. In his second game in week six against the Baltimore Ravens, he won his first career NFL game as the Bears pulled off an upset in overtime.

John Fox and the Bears coaching staff have put a leash on Trubisky. They are limiting his pass attempts for the most part and putting the load on the stellar, young, running back duo of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. He threw the ball 16 times on Sunday, completing 8 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Bears fans would obviously love to see their rookie unleashed more often in the Bears offense, but he is being limited for a reason.

Only two games into his career he still makes many of the errors that you would expect from a rookie quarterback. His decision making is questionable sometimes and he sometimes shows a lack of confidence in himself to make throws. His accuracy also fails him at times.

His lack of awareness led to a costly strip sack on this play in the fourth quarter against the Ravens.

Trubisky takes the snap and drops back to pass. He should see the blitz coming as a free Ravens rusher comes in from the secondary. He does not seem to react though. The Bears guard could have done a much better job picking up the blitz but Trubisky cannot be rooted in place if he see’s someone coming towards him. He had a receiver in space on each side of the field, and he was staring at his running back who ran an out route on the play as the hit came in.

The rookie should have maneuvered in the pocket to avoid the rush. If he did not feel like he had space then he should have thrown the ball to his man, open in space, who is breaking off on his route. At worst, he should at least have thrown the ball at his receivers feet to live to fight another down. He held onto the ball for too long and it almost let the Ravens take the lead on the other end.

On this play in overtime, he did throw away the pass, but he made the play more dangerous then he should have.

He rolled out of the pocket to set up a dump off pass to his tight end but it did not develop fast enough and the rushers began to chase him down. Trubisky throws the pass over his receivers head just to get rid of it. When throwing away a pass you want it to either get out of bounds or hit the ground as fast as possible. He lobs it over the top where a Ravens defender can potentially get to it, and return it for a game ending score. It is a minor error, but one that could have cost the Bears everything.

Trubisky had the tendency to hit the panic button under pressure on Sunday. He would usually just run to an open spot and then toss the ball out of bounds even if he had an open receiver. The rookie showed a lack of confidence in his arm to make throws to open receivers throughout the game and preferred to either dump it off short or just throw it away.

He did manage to make some impressive plays in his limited opportunities, though. Including a few ridiculous off balance throws downfield.

This third quarter play was his lone touchdown of the game and it was one to remember. Trubisky rolls out of the pocket immediately after the snap and his offensive line breaks down in front of him. As the pass rush reaches him he lobs a pass off of on foot towards an open receiver in the end zone. He gets smacked after throwing the ball but still gets it away.

Another impressive pass in overtime ended up winning the game for the Bears.

Trubisky grabs the snap and drops into the pocket. Baltimore’s edge rushers come flying around the pocket and close in on the quarterback. He does a good job stepping into the pocket to dodge them, but the interior rush is on its way as well. He quickly cuts outside but he is out of time as the rush has reached him. Instead of just taking the sack, he delivers a beautiful off balance pass over the middle. It was a risky pass the sailed near two receivers. The ball was overthrown but still in range of his man.

His feet can use some work but these are the highlight plays that get Bears fans excited for their new man under center. They will make his quarterback coach cringe for a moment and it will definitely be something the Bears will work on in film study this week but these are the types of ridiculous passes franchise quarterbacks have to make at times.

Eli Manning won a few Super Bowls throwing these ridiculous passes.

While a majority of his struggles come while under pressure, Trubisky looks great when he has a clean pocket.

The Bears run a vertical/deep cross combo to help break the Ravens zone coverage. This is a play that is known to work extremely well against cover 3. Receiver Kendall Wright slips between zones and through the Ravens defense and is wide open. Trubisky turns around, points him out and delivers an absolute strike to his man. The pass is a little low and if he had led him forward with it Wright would have earned a decent amount of yards after the catch as well.

While Trubisky’s arm talent is what earned him that high draft slot, his ability to make plays with his feet is always an appreciated skill.

On this third down play the Ravens rush is yet again coming around the pocket towards Trubisky. Baltimore has overloaded the right side of the line, and Trubisky darts towards his left into open space. The Ravens man coverage has left the quarterback unaccounted for and free to run on third down. He takes off downfield and gains 19 yards to get the first down and a little more to move the chains for Chicago.

Trubisky has only played two games so many of his issues are expected. His confidence is still lacking a bit but he should only gain more as he gets more comfortable in an NFL offense. As he gets more familiar reading NFL defenses, his decision making will only get better as well. His accuracy struggles a bit while under pressure, but the great passes he manages to throw while clean in the pocket show that he has the ability needed to grow as a passer.

Chicago won’t win many games this year and they have holes all over their roster which will take a few years to fill. Quarterback is the biggest role on every NFL team, though, and the Bears may have found their franchise guy with Mitch Trubisky.

 

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The Baltimore Ravens and their turnover happy defense

Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

The Baltimore Ravens defense has been incredible to start out the 2017 season.

The Ravens defense already has forced 10 turnovers in two games this season. They shut out the Cincinnati Bengals and they held a young Cleveland Browns offense in check all day. Baltimore has only allowed one touchdown this season and their defense is reminding many of the team they had put together in the early 2000’s.

Their secondary has looked like the best in the NFL so far this season and they were responsible for every single turnover on Sunday. Even the strip sack of Deshone Kizer in the first quarter.

Despite the Ravens blitz the Browns offensive line did a great job giving Kizer time in the pocket. The Ravens edge rushers forced the quarterback to step up in the pocket. He steps up and pulls back to throw, but can’t find anyone open. Kizer starts a scramble drill and Terrell Suggs chases him down for a strip sack and forces the turnover.

The pass rush only had that much time to get to Kizer because how great the Ravens were in coverage. All four of the Browns receivers who ran routes on the play were blanketed in one on one man coverage. The deep safety was lurking behind the play but did not have much to do. Every single Raven that dropped into pass coverage came up huge today and created a takeaway for their front seven.

Free safety Eric Weddle was heavily involved in the second takeaway of the day for Baltimore, incepting an overthrown pass by Kizer.

The quarterback attempted to quickly get rid of the ball to his running back Duke Johnson who was open on an out route out of the backfield. He throws to far in front of him, though. Johnson reaches out a hand for it and tips it in the air. Weddle dives in from behind him and picks off the pass.

The play Weddle made was not as simple as it looked, though.

Weddle initially backpedals out of his deep spot, then spots Johnson running free into the flat. He fly’s up the field and puts himself in the right place at the right time to make an athletic play on the ball.

Kizer did not read the play correctly and threw a bad pass. Even if Johnson had managed to make a play on the ball he would have been blown up from behind by Weddle. His throw was dangerous by nature and ended up turning over the ball.

This play also shows Kizer’s inaccuracy, which was one of the biggest knocks against him when he was coming out of the draft.

Kizer would leave the game with a head injury and was replaced by Kevin Hogan. The Ravens did not seem to mind the change though.

On this play the Ravens showed a blitz pre-snap, then had a few of their rushers drop back into coverage. Hogan seemed entirely thrown off by this. He instantly bails out of the pocket just throws to the first receiver he sees. The Ravens were in zone coverage, and their pass coverage read the young quarterback like a children’s book. He stares down his receiver and they converge on his target. Hogan throws a pass that three different defenders could have potentially intercepted.

From this angle, you can see how badly Hogan panicked. He clearly read a blitz pre-snap and already had it decided in his mind that he was going to scramble. Hogan still had time in the pocket and there was no Ravens rusher anywhere near him. There was no reason for him to try to extend this play with his feet, and he had no reason to throw that awful pass. Baltimore was all over it and intercepted their second pass of the day.

Kizer would later return to the game and made sure his interception total would not be matched by his back up.

The Ravens line up in the nickel with all three of their corners playing man coverage. They run a cover one robber scheme in the red zone, with two safeties playing in zone over the middle. Off the snap the Ravens linebackers clear the middle of the field and take zones on the peripheral. Kizer saw the two defenders clear the middle of the field, but he did not account for either safety. He saw his man over the middle in man coverage and tried to hit him in the back of the end zone. Both safeties, and the corner, were in great position to make a play on the ball. It was a clear inexperienced rookie mistake by Kizer that gave up a scoring opportunity that could have gotten the Browns back into the game.

Kizer finished the hat trick in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens only rushed four on the play but they came off of the left edge fast to pressure Kizer. Instead of stepping up into the pocket, the rookie loses his cool and darts to the right. Baltimore was in man coverage on every receiver with the linebackers and the strong safety on the opposite side of the field with the free safety hovering over the middle. Kizer sees a receiver with a step on cornerback Brandon Carr and tries to get him the ball when on the run. He underthrows the pass and does not hit him in stride, though, and Carr undercuts the pass to earn the Ravens their fifth takeaway and seal the victory for Baltimore.

Baltimore’s defense has definitely been fearsome the past few weeks, but they got a lot of help from some boneheaded quarterback play.  Andy Dalton played one of the worst games of his career against the Ravens week one and Kizer and Hogan made many of the mistakes you would expect from young quarterbacks. Their offense has had trouble moving the ball themselves, and have not done a great job capitalizing on the combined 10 turnovers their defense has forced in two games.

They will not play these two awful offenses every week, but the Ravens should have another turnover happy game against the Jaguars and Blake Bortles in week 4. If their offense does not hold them back this year their defense could take them far this season.

 

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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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Jay Cutler was at his best and worst in Dolphins debut

Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

Jay Cutler made a return to the NFL on Thursday night, but this time in the aqua green of the Miami Dolphins instead of his usual Chicago Bears blue. Many feared he would have a lot of rust on him after Cutler retired earlier this offseason to join Fox Sports NFL coverage. Even before his retirement he was coming off shoulder surgery after playing only five games last year.

He has familiarity in the system of his former offensive coordinator, and now Miami Dolphins head coach, Adam Gase’s system. There were still many wondering why the Dolphins would pull him out of retirement after quarterback Ryan Tannehill saw his season end with a knee injury in training camp. The former Bears quarterback was never much more than an average quarterback anyways and after a few abysmal years before his retirement, many criticized the Dolphins for betting on him to lead them to playoffs for the second straight year.

Cutler managed to hit the ground running, though, and seemed in control of the offense on the first few offensive possessions of Miami’s game against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday. Miami ran a no huddle offense under Cutler for the most part and he was effective.

The quarterback showed his veteran pocket presence on his first pass of the game.

His first check is on Julius Thomas (#89), who is covered on the right side of the field. He then turns towards the middle of the field where both Jarvis Landry (#14) and Jay Ajayi (#23) ran. His eyes instantly turn towards Landry, looking off the middle and weakside linebacker. Ajayi is open for a decent pick up, and is able to turn up field for the first down as the weakside linebacker was late reacting because he was looking at Landry.

It is a small move, but it earned his team an easy completion and a first down.

He also showed a bit of fancy feet in the pocket later on the drive.

Cutler takes the snap out of shot gun and drops to pass. He looks to his left, but his first option in covered. Baltimore’s edge rushers wrap around the pocket, forcing Cutler to scamper forward. The interior of Baltimore’s pass rush gets pushed around the edge as well, though, giving the quarterback room to step up in the pocket. He runs forward and then launches a pass towards the sideline to Devante Parker.

He stays composed and his pass to Parker was near perfect. It was in a spot where only his receiver can make a play on it. It also allows him to quickly turn up field for a few extra yards after the catch.

This play was called back for holding, so it did not show up in the box score. It still is an early sign of the potential Cutler-Parker partnership we will see this season.

He was very calm and collected in the pocket all day.

On this play later on the same drive, Cutler calmly completes a pass while standing strong in the pocket as the pressure reaches him. After a fake to Damien Williams (#26) in the backfield Cutler turns around to almost instant pressure. He does not panic, or even try to leave the pocket. Cutler quickly scans the field and sees an open Parker streaking over the middle for a huge gain.

Cutler has always been a tough player who never was scared to take hits. He does not panic in the pocket and knows when to rid of the ball. He rarely extends a play when he doesn’t have to, but also is not scared to leave the pocket.

There were always a few issues with Cutler, though, and they did rear their head in his Miami debut.

He always has had the gunslinger label attached to him, and his poor decision making has haunted him for years. Cutler’s reputation may have outgrown him a bit over the years, but he does have plays, or entire games, where his entire brain seems to shut off and he makes awful decisions.

Cutler seemed to have a lapse in judgement and almost threw an interception into double coverage.

This first quarter pass was his worst of the game. Parker was the intended receiver on the play and was being smothered by the defensive back. The deep safety read Cutler, and quickly got over to the sideline to break up the play and almost come down with an interception. Cutler failed to read the safety coming over the middle, a mistake a veteran quarterback of his caliber should not be making.

Later he threw a pass away dangerously on a broken screen play.

The Dolphins allow the pass rushers to quickly speed by them towards Cutler to set up a screen for Williams. The running back is slow getting off of his route, though and Cutler is forced to throw it away as the play breaks down. While usually a quarterback in this scenario would throw the ball towards the feet of his running back, instead Cutler threw it away over his head into the flat.

It’s a very simple error that can easily lead to trouble. If the Ravens were playing zone coverage and had a linebacker drop into that area it may have led to a Ravens pick 6.

Cutler is a good quarterback who was never truly as bad as his reputation suggests. He does mentally switch off sometimes, and make the same mistakes you would expect from a college quarterback. The Dolphins will be willing to take the good with the bad this season as they desperately hope to reach Ryan Tannehill and reach the playoffs again.

As Cutler gets more and more familiar with the offense and his new teammates he should only get better. He obviously comes with baggage, but the Dolphins only need him to be just above average to repeat their success from last season.

 

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How Odell Beckham tore the Ravens apart in week 6

Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

No matter what you think about his antics both on and off the field, everyone must admit that Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the most exciting players to watch in the past decade. He is a skilled receiver who truly loves the game. Beckham is an excellent route runner, and his speed and agility make him a match up nightmare for nearly every team in the league.

Beckham played his first 16 game season in 2016, and set a career high with 101 receptions. He broke the 1,300 yards yet again, something he has done every season in the league, and added ten touchdowns.

He had yet another amazing season leading to his first ever playoff appearance, and had the best game of his career so far in week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens.

Beckham was targeted by Eli Manning ten times for eight receptions and a career high 222 yards. He became the first Giants receiver to break 200 yards since Plaxico Burress in 2005, and became the youngest player to reach the mark in Giants history. The 222 yards were also the second most by a Giants receiver ever.

He put up these numbers despite missing much of the second quarter with a rib injury, and being largely held in check for majority of the first half.

The Giants top receiver only had one reception in the first quarter, and it was his lowest moment of the game.

Beckham ran a quick curl route and embedded himself into a hole in the Ravens zone. He quickly whips around and catches an instantly thrown ball from Eli Manning. Beckham secures the catch, but loses possession of it as he s tackled by Eric Weddle from behind.

Beckham was a little loose with the ball, and he seemed absolutely blindsided by the tackle.

He was entirely unaware a tackle was coming from that side, and shifted the ball into that arm allowing Weddle to swipe in and knock it out. The Ravens recovered the fumble and the Giants offense got off to a horrible start.

New York could not get anything going in the early stages of the game. It took them until the second quarter to even get a first down and they dug themselves an early 10-0 hole on the scoreboard.

The offense finally got going in the second quarter, and Beckham got his second first half reception.

Ravens corner Jimmy Smith gives Beckham a huge cushion split out wide. A quick curl route earns him an easy six yard catch to get the Giants drive rolling. The Ravens can be criticized for making it so easy Beckham to make a catch underneath, but it’s a price you have to pay when facing a receiver as fast and as great of a route runner as Beckham.

Beckham was finally given a chance to shine late in the first half.

Beckham manages to slip behind the Ravens zone coverage and find a bit of space in the gap. He has a split second of time embedded between the Ravens corner and safety, and Eli throws him the ball. It is a little high, but Beckham manages to come down with it despite being hit from two sides by the oncoming defenders. He comes down out of bounds though, and ends the first half with a measly eleven yards.

Beckham exploded in the second half, and a Ravens defense that seemingly had removed the Giants biggest threat from the game fell apart. Jimmy Smith did not play in the second half due to a concussion. Smith did not entirely lock down Beckham at the early stages of the game, but the Ravens best corner back leaving the game left the receiver a lot more room to operate on the field.

The Giants got Beckham going early with a quick pass out to the flat, and he embarrassed a few defenders for an easy eleven yard gain.

Manning almost instantly sends it over to Beckham after the snap. A quick hesitation gets the first would-be tackler off balance and Beckham throws him into the ground. He uses a stiff arm to deal with another defender before being run out of bounds.

The Giants would eventually lead this drive into the red zone, where Beckham would have a few opportunities to score.

Lined up split wide only a few yards away from the end zone, Beckham ran a quick dig route. As Manning roll towards his right Beckham quickly plants his foot and turns back towards the sideline. His agility makes him near impossible to keep up with in such close quarters and he easily shakes the defensive back.

Will Davis, the corner unfortunately tasked with covering Beckham, makes a business decision and yanks on Beckham holding him back instead of letting him run free. He gets called for pass interference and the Giants get a first down.

On the very next play Beckham beat his man again and found himself open in the end zone.

Beckham runs a simple out route towards the left sideline. He has a step on his man the whole way, and is open towards the sideline. The corner does a good job sticking with him and cutting off Manning’s passing angle. Manning could have done a little better with the pass to allow his freak of an athlete receiver, but throws it high out of bounds.

Yet again though, Beckhams route running gave a defensive back a lot of trouble. Weddle was lined up across Beckham, and even left a bit of a cushion while also lining up to the outside to cover himself on an out route. Beckham half turns towards the inside after jogging a few yards into the end zone, and instantly breaks to the side line. Weddle is thrown off by the double move, and loses his man. As a safety, man coverage is not the best part of Weddles skill set. He was completely beaten though, and Manning bailed him out.

Manning bailed the Ravens out again in the ultimate fashion on the next drive. Davis was lined up across Beckham and found himself lost on a double move.

Davis did not leave much of a cushion for Beckham. The receiver runs a few yards upfield then makes a hard cut back towards the quarterback. Davis is thrown off and stumbles back for a few yards leaving his man wide open.

Manning goes to the other side of the field, though, and throws an interception. The Ravens got away with it, but plays like this force Baltimore to give Beckham even a bigger cushion in the future.

Later in the quarter Beckham was given a bigger cushion by Davis, and absolutely torched him anyways for his longest touchdown of the year.

Davis is playing seven yards off of the line of scrimmage, in perfect position to defend any curl or dig routes from Beckham. The receiver runs right up to Davis and makes a quick turn, faking a dig route. Davis bites on the shorter route.

Beckham breaks towards the sideline and the defensive back is beaten. Weddle, the deepest safety for the Giants, is distracted by the other side of the field not expecting anything to come deep on his left. Beckham has a step on Davis and without any support deep it’s just a matter of Manning placing the ball correctly.

A near perfect pass from Manning, and a cocky finger wave towards Weddle are all that are needed as Beckham jogs into the end zone to break open the game for the Giants.

Beckham finishes off with an amazing double jump celebration…

Followed by some weird stuff with a kicking net.

He forced the Ravens to give him even more space in the future. Allowing Beckham a large cushion lets him put his route running skills to full use.

This time opposite of Shareece Wright, Beckham is given a cushion of nearly ten yards. He runs a corner route, and a nice move towards the inside before breaking off on his route sends Wright towards the inside.

Beckham runs free down the sideline, and if the safety does not show to force him out of bounds he is off for another touchdown.

Just like the previous play, Eli Manning also delivered a perfect pass to Beckham. He drops it right into his hands.

His final catch of the game, and the one that led us off, was his most important. Beckham beat the entire Ravens defense and sprinted to a 75 yard game winning touchdown.

Baltimore led by three with under two minutes to play. The Giants were lining up for a fourth and one play from their own 34. A stop for the Ravens here would most likely win them the game.

They stacked the box playing man coverage on each receiver, with one safety lined up deep. The Giants run a simple slant-flat combo with Larry Donnel and Beckham. The two defenders get their legs tied together and go down, springing Beckham free.

Lardarius Webb is the only man still in front of Beckham, but still has a lot of room to close. As Beckham reaches midfield he changes direction, forcing Webb to come to a complete stop to turn and chase. Beckham beats everyone down field for a touchdown (despite an incredible effort from the Ravens #41 Anthony Levine).

He then proceeds to do more weird stuff with the net.

The Giants defense would hold on for the win, and the Giants would slip away with an important victory. Beckham proved once again how dangerous he can be as a wideout once he gets going, and how hard it is to shut him out of a game.

 

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