Marshon Lattimore vs Mike Evans; the rookie has made his mark

Game Film, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

Marshon Lattimore has quietly been one of the most impactful players in the NFL this season. The rookie has been a leader of the New Orleans Saints defense that finally looks competent, if not good, half way through the season. The eleventh overall pick in last spring’s draft has quickly developed into a shut down corner, and seems to be overflowing with confidence only months into his NFL career.

The Ohio State product was matched up against Mike Evans during the Saints game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. Evans is one of the most talented receivers in the league. His 6’5, 225 lb frame make him a match up nightmare, but it was more of a pleasant dream for Lattimore.

Evans was held to 13 yards on only one reception on six targets. It was one of the worst games of his career and he spent much of it across from the rookie. Lattimore dominated his opponent and had the better of him on nearly every snap they were across from each other. The defensive back got into Evans head and the tension between them even reached a boiling point in the third quarter.

Evans was somehow not ejected for that hit after the play. It did reveal that he had allowed Lattimore into his head, though, and for good reason.

The two were involved in a physical battle all night. These advantages usually heavily favor Evans and his gigantic frame, but Lattimore managed to fight back to keep him check. On this second quarter play, Evans tried to use his arms and long wingspan to push his man off, but failed.

Lattimore is lined up in press coverage across from Evans like he did for much of the game. Evans comes off of the line and instantly jabs at the corner. Lattimore jabs back and stays in position as the two run downfield. They continue to jab back at each other as the play goes on, even after the ball is thrown.

Physicality isn’t all that Evans brings to the table, though. He is a pretty good route runner, and surprisingly agile for a man of his size. Lattimore almost always had enough to keep up with him, though, including this play later in the quarter.

On this play Evans is quarterback Jameis Winston’s first read. Lattimore lines up in press coverage and give Evans outside leverage presnap. Evans initially deke’s inside off of the snap, the breaks outside. Lattimore quickly jumps outside and path’s behind Evans well. Even though Evans has a step on his man nearly the entire route, there is never a moment when Lattimore is not standing in the throwing lane. The pass rush reaches the quarterback and Winston uses his feet to extend the play. Lattimore stays in front of his man the entire way and absolutely blankets Evans and Winston rolls in their direction. Unfortunately, the rush never reaches Winston, and he is able to get back to the other side of the field and complete an outlet pass for a decent gain.

Lattimore shows excellent discipline for a rookie. He does not bite on double moves, and he plays to the whistle. He understands how to block off a quarterback’s opportunity to throw even when his man is ahead of him. It is hard to beat him off the snap, and even when you do he has the speed and football IQ to blanket you anyways.

Evans tried to beat Lattimore’s press coverage with a double move again on this third quarter play, and it went even worse for him.

The receiver tries to use a hesitation before a double move to throw off Lattimore here. The defensive back plants his feet and just watches him, though. He reads Evans as he breaks outside, and they push off on each other as they run down field. Evans takes one last ditch effort to fling Lattimore away, but he holds on as the ball is thrown the other direction.

Lattimore did a great job making sure that the ball did not go Evans way, but even when he was targeted he managed to keep the ball out of Evans hand.

Evans runs a vertical route on this play. Off the snap he uses a double move to capitalize on the inside leverage Lattimore was already giving him, then broke towards the inside before turning upfield. The safety on that side of the field was drawn upfield by the running back on a shallower route, leaving them one on one heading towards the end zone. Lattimore does a good job holding on to Evans to keep up with him without doing enough to draw a penalty. The corner never has a chance to get his head around and Ryan Fitzpatrick lets it fly towards his receiver. The ball is slightly underthrown and a little off target, but it is still one that Evans had a really good chance at. Lattimore does a good job reading the eyes of his man, though, and gets a hand up to break it up at the last second.

Evans did get the better of Lattimore once, though. His only reception of the day came on a play where the rookie was absolutely beaten.

Evans slowly treads upfield and hesitates on his double move. Lattimore gets his feet lost for a second and has his hips turned the wrong way. Evans breaks back towards the inside wide open for a 13 yard catch.

This was literally the only bad play I could find from Lattimore while watching film from this game, which is extremely impressive for a rookie against one of the NFL’s best.

The Saints have raced out to surprise 6-2 record halfway through the season and are in pole position to win a tough NFC South. Their offense has always been great, and the defense that has held them back for years has finally gotten its act together. Lattimore may be the most important piece to this new formed New Orleans defense, and he could be a huge part of a Saints playoff run this winter.

 

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Blake Bortles was so bad Thursday he might lose his job

Game Film, Gif Breakdowns

Mansur Shaheen

Blake Bortles is not having the best summer.

Between terrible days at camp, apparent frustration from teammates regarding his play and lackluster showings during the Jacksonville Jaguars two preseason game the former 3rd overall pick may lose his starting job soon.

Head coach Doug Marrone hinted at a potential quarterback controversy brewing in North Florida after his team’s week 2 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This opens the possibility that Bortles may be replaced with Chad Henne, a quarterback who has only thrown 58 career touchdowns compared to his 63 career interceptions.

Many see this season as Bortles last chance to prove himself as a valuable NFL quarterback after another abysmal 2016 campaign. He is a very athletic player with a strong arm, but he makes mental errors and his accuracy is downright awful.

He displayed these issues Thursday night.

The Jaguars first offensive possession ended on a terrible overthrow from Bortles.

Allen Robinson had outside leverage downfield. After scanning the left side of the field and not finding anyone, Bortles turns left and immediately hurls it towards Robinson. The ball sails on him, though, and falls harmlessly for an incompletion.

The pass was placed terribly. Robinson did not have much separation from his man, but was in position to make a play on a pass towards the sideline. A back-shoulder throw, or anything just behind him and towards the sideline would allow Robinson a chance at the ball. Instead he sails it to high over the top for a pass that could have led to an interception if the safety was quicker reaching the spot.

Bortles would later overthrow Robinson of third down again, and this time put his receiver in danger.

Robinson runs an in route that ends up just short of the first down. He is clearly the primary target on the play, and Bortles stares him down the entirety of his route. This allows the Bucs deep corner and middle linebacker, who were both in zone coverage, to quickly converge on Robinson. If Bortles does not stare down his man, they would be a bit slower getting to him and Robinson would have a chance to make a catch and run for a first down. Instead, they both quickly collapse on Robinson as the ball reaches him. The pass is a little high and Robinson exposes himself going up to grab it. He comes down with it and fortunately did not get sandwiched between to oncoming defenders and take a hard hit. The pass was completed, yes, but Bortles terrible decision making and pocket presence ruined what could have been a great play.

The previous play, which put the Jags in third and long in the first place was another example of Bortles staring down his receiver, tipping the opposing linebackers to what he plans on doing.

This play could have been a quick four yard pick up to Mercedes Lewis to open the playbook a little more for third down. Bortles again zeroed in on his man, and despite a well timed pass had the play broken up by the Bucs middle linebacker.

Bortles watches Lewis on the entire curl route, while the linebacker watched Bortles. Right as the tight end begins to turn the defender realized what is happening, and quickly positions himself to get his around his man and break up the pass.

Bortles only seemed to get worse as the game went on.

The Jaguars quarterback seems to over correct on his issues overthrowing receivers in the first quarter by under throwing them in the second. The play above was arguably his worst pass of the game.

He has a clean pocket, and Robinson has a few steps on his man. Bortles stares down Robinson the entire way, but he even gets away with it as the safety was not anywhere near being in place to break up the pass. The ball is criminally under thrown, though, and an already torched DB almost gets a hand on the pass before it hits the receiver in the knee.

Bortles seemed entirely lost before throwing another awful pass later in the second quarter.

He drops back to pass, then seems to fake a hand off behind him as is he is going for a quarterback draw. There is absolutely no one standing behind him that he is faking to, as running back T.J. Yeldon has already headed out on his route. He then stares down Robinson once again and under throws a pass so badly that a linebacker 10 yards up field from the receiver nearly breaks it up. The ball lands a yard in front of Robinson and the play is wasted.

Robinson’s knees had more targets than anyone Thursday night and managed to draw a pass interference penalty on third down earlier that drive.

Bortles drops back to pass and stares down Robinson yet again. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is playing extremely close coverage on the receiver but Bortles decides to throw it that direction anyways despite having time in the pocket to go through his progressions. Robinson is forced to dive on the ground the grab it and gets tangled up with Hargreaves.

The pass falls innocently to the ground but Hargreaves is called for a questionable DPI to extend the drive.

There are fundamental issues in the way Blake Bortles plays quarterback that need to be addressed for him to ever be successful in the NFL. He rarely goes through his progressions and just stares down, and eventually throws too, his first option. Even when he does have an open man, he is terrible at placing the ball correctly.

He may have more time to correct these issues then many Jaguars fans would like to admit. Chad Henne is really bad, and Colin Kaepernick is the only free agent quarterback available worth looking at. As much as it pains me to say it, Kaepernick will most likely not see the field in 2017 due to non-football reasons. So Bortles is most likely safe for at least the first few weeks of the season, but don’t be surprised if he does not finish the season under center in Jacksonville.

 

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