By Matt Bowen, National Football Post
Let’s roll through the Week 3 Sunday schedule in the NFL. My notes on some Xs and Os, game plans, personnel, etc. Ten things that you should be talking about—starting with Flacco’s 2-Minute drill to set up the Ravens’ win.
1. Flacco’s final drive: Let’s look at the Ravens’ QB in the final drive to set up the game winning FG. Flacco starts with the back shoulder fade to Jacoby Jones, hits Dennis Pitta on the quick out and then comes back to the TE again on the 7 (corner) route. There were plenty of flags (and missed calls) in both secondaries tonight, but I like the idea of the Ravens going back to the 9 (fade) route to Jones again in the 2-Minute drill where they picked up the P.I. call. Be aggressive and force the Patriots’ secondary to make a play. Big win for Baltimore.
2. The 3-0 Cardinals: Time to buy the Cardinals and their 3-0 start? Kevin Kolb put up some numbers today in the win over the Eagles, but let’s talk about the defense—again. Last week this Arizona unit limited Tom Brady and they did the same today vs. Philadelphia. Pressure the QB, take away the vertical passing game and force turnovers. Arizona racked up five sacks vs. Vick and also scored on defense. That wins.
3. Ponder in the red zone: You can see the speed of the QB on the 23-yard TD run and I like the call to get him outside of the pocket in the boot game. The second TD throw to TE Kyle Rudolph: “shake” route. TE presses up the field, sticks to the out and then gets vertical. I didn’t see this one coming, but with Ponder’s production inside of the 20-yard line, plus a solid run game and defense that forced Alex Smith into turnovers, the Vikings took down one the league’s top clubs. Impressive win for Leslie Frazier’s team.
4. The 0-3 Saints: There is plenty of blame to go around when you drop three straight to open the season, but I’m looking at the poor defensive play in New Orleans. Is it scheme related or this about personnel? There can be an adjustment period as a player with a new coordinator on defense. No question about that. But giving up 233-yards rushing to Chiefs’ RB Jamal Charles goes beyond anything you can draw on a chalkboard. Get off blocks, take solid angles to the ball, break down and tackle. Something is missing here.
5. Revis’ knee injury: We have to wait for the report on the knee injury to the Jets’ CB, but if Revis is out for an extended period of time this is a major blow to New York. Think of what Revis brings to Rex Ryan’s game plan. When you have a top tier CB it allows you to play a mix of coverage and pressure in the secondary and adjust your base schemes because of what he brings to the field. Can you run the same game plan without Revis? Sure, but don’t expect the same results.
6. Schaub, Texans’ vertical game: Look at the vertical concepts from Houston in their win over Denver. Start with Andre Johnson. Reduced split on the deep inside post. Too easy. Move on to Kevin Walter. Another post with the WR pressing into the CB (with a slight veteran push) to create separation down the field. Think about this: the Texans can run the ball consistently, have the one of the league’s top defense and also can make plays down the field. 290-yards and 4 TDs from Schaub in the win.
7. Locker, Titans special teams: There are plenty of angles to take in the Titans' 44-41 OT win vs. Detroit (starting with the Lions' final play call in FG position), but let’s talk about Locker (378-yards, 2 TDs) and the Titans special teams. Big plays. That’s what stands out. The Titans’ QB tore up the Lions’ secondary and Tennessee scored twice in the kicking game. You are going to win when you stack up explosive plays and the Titans did it without any real production (again) from RB Chris Johnson (24-yards on 14 carries).
8. Bears’ defensive front: No surprise to see Chicago lean on Cover 2 in the 23-6 win over Sam Bradford and the Rams because of the pressure they generated with their D-Line. Outside of the occasional inside seam route (and one 9 route) the Rams were limited to throwing the slant and the inside curl. That’s not going to win many games. Peppers, Paea, Idonije, McClellin, etc. They all contributed and racked up 6 sacks while the Bears intercepted Bradford twice.
9. Falcons’ red zone options: Think about what QB Matt Ryan has to work with in the red zone. Gonzalez on the seam, shake, option, etc. Move over to Julio Jones. Easy to throw the fade or slant. And with Michael Turner, you always have the Power O, Counter OF and Lead in your back pocket. Atlanta should consistently get the ball in the end zone with their personnel. Just like we saw today in the win over San Diego on the road to improve to 3-0.
10. RGIII continues to get hit: I love option football when you use it in specific game situations if you have the talent at QB. Use the Zone Read, align him in the Pistol, get him in the open field and allow him to showcase his skill set. That’s all good and I would do the same as a coach with Griffin in my huddle depending on the game situation. However, he was hit hard today in the loss to Cincy and I don’t know how long he will last if he continues to be put on the ground. The ‘Skins might have to limit the amount of designed runs they have for RGIII.
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