Saturday, August 31, 2013

NFC East Preview

The start of the 2013 season is right around the corner.  I figured I would write a preview about each team by division.  And I'm going to be writing these previews using nothing other than the knowledge I have kicking around in my brain (mainly because I'm lazy and don't want to look anything up).  Who doesn't want to read a bunch of previews that may or may not be completely accurate?
Teams are ordered by where I think they'll finish in the division.

Dallas Cowboys
The Romo extension got all the press, which kind of makes sense.  It was a lot of money thrown at a QB who is maddeningly inconsistent, and plays for a team with a lot of holes are positions labeled "not-QB".  The extension that has gotten the short end of the media stick is the Sean Lee deal, and that's a shame.  When healthy (which you should never bet on), he's one of the better linebackers in the league.  Solid against the run.  Terrific in coverage.  A great signing for Dallas.
As far as this season goes, I could see them in the same spot they have been for the past few years: going into the last week of the season, needing a win to get into the playoffs.  Unlike the past few seasons, I see them actually winning that game this time around.  They have a talented offense and - with with improve they'll see out of Claiborne this year - a decent defense.  In a division with a lot of questions, I'm picking the team that has the least of them.

Washington Redskins
It sounds like Griffin will be ready for week 1, which is exciting.  Will he be 100%?  He has said things like, "I'm not less than 100%," so I don't know what to believe.  I'm hoping they devise some plays that allow him to stay upright for the entire season.  We talked about him coming out of college a lot.  He's not just a running QB.  He has the arm strength and accuracy to be a pocket passer.  I hope to see a little more of that out of him.  As much as I love the read option, I love watching a healthy Griffin even more.
If he stays healthy, the Redskins will win this division.  But I don't think he'll stay healthy.

Philadelphia Eagles
I'm excited to see what Chip Kelly is going to do, but I'm not optimistic it will work.  You can talk about his offensive schemes all you want, but he won at Oregon because his guys were faster than your guys.  In the NFL, you can't really do that.  You can build an entire team that is simply faster than the rest of the league.  I think Kelly is smart enough to realize that.  He won't run the same exact scheme he ran in college.  He's a smart guy.  At the very least, I think this offense is going to put up some points, and they'll be a lot of fun to watch.
However, they will still turn the ball over a lot, and their defense isn't great.  But they'll be better than they were last year.  Something like 7-9 isn't out of the question.

New York Giants
I know they normally put up their best years in odd years, but I just have a feeling about this year.  Manning will put up some decent numbers, but I see a down year for him.  I think the running game will be terrible, and the defense will be bad.
Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

NFC North coming in the next day or two.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Look at Andy Dalton against the Titans

Back at it with part two of "Slowly trying to talk myself into Andy Dalton" my look at Andy Dalton's preseason snaps. We pick up here with what I saw as I watched Dalton's snaps in our second preseason game against the Titans. For quick glancing: First down plays are in green, third down plays are in red and penalties are italicized.

Play 1: Play action pass from Dalton to Marvin Jones for a gain of 17 yards. Nice break on the comeback route by Jones. Nice zip on the ball as it hit Jones as he was breaking. Good play.

Play 2: 2 yard rush by Gio Bernard off LT.

Play 3: Dalton hit as he throws, incomplete. The defender Bernard was blocking went right through him and into Dalton. Jermaine Gresham didn't fare much better.

Play 3: Everything looked great until the ball was snapped.

Play 3: Gresham and Bernard (25) struggling in pass protection.

Play 4: Dalton sacked, stripped and lost the fumble. On the last two plays, Dalton has been very calm in the pocket, which is good. But he didn't get rid of the ball quicker, which is bad. I don't even think he saw Jurrell Casey on the play below. Or he didn't expect him to be in his face in two seconds flat. Either way, he has to improve there. Last year Dalton was easily flustered on first sign of pass rush and often panicked himself right into trouble. I'm hoping this calmness in the pocket stays around once starting LT Andrew Whitworth comes back. I'd also love to see him run a little more. There were lanes for Dalton to pick up a couple of yards on each of last two plays if he steps up in the pocket.

Play 4: I leave the timestamps on the plays for a reason.

Play 4: How does that happen in two seconds?

Play 5: 9 yard run off RT by Bernard. Great blocking by Gresham sprung this.

Play 6: Back to the right side. Bernard, 7 more yards. Andre Smith lead the way on this one.

Play 7:  Off LT, Bernard 9 more yards. Bernard looks excellent.

Play 8: Quick pass to Bernard. 22 yards. The pass was a little high by Dalton, but Bernard was able to catch and run. We haven't had this in a back since Chris Perry. Eight seasons ago.

Play 9: Another short pass to Bernard, knocked down at the line. Bummer too, as he was wide open in the middle of the field.

Play 10: Dalton throws it wide on a comeback to Marvin Jones. The Titans DB wasn't looking, so if Dalton brings that in a foot or so that's another first down by Jones. Bad throw.

Play 11: Nice throw across middle on slant to Sanu for a 24 yard gain. Solid throw in stride, GREAT run and catch by Sanu. Stiff arms two Titans and takes it 20 yards down to the 1 yd line.

Play 12: Bernard in from a yard out. Touchdown. A very nice drive (8 plays, 72 yards, 2:19 elapsed) following the turnover. Two goal line TDs for Bernard in two weeks. BJGE might be outta here soon if Bernard improves pass blocking.

Play 13: Eifert goes in motion, on a TE screen for 7 yards. Sike. Holding by Kyle Cook, brings it back. Still, I love this playcalling on first down.

Play 14: Quick slant to Marvin Jones. Gain of 5. Dalton seems a lot more active/vocal as far as calling audibles.

Play 15: Dalton hits Jones again on another slant. Hit Jones in both hands, knocked away by defender.

Play 16: Crossing pass to Brandon Tate for 22 yards. Good throw, more great YAC. Dalton is doing a nice job of hitting guys in stride tonight

Play 17: Gio off LT, five yards. This guy hits the hole faster than any back in recent Bengals history...though Cedric Benson, Chris Perry, Rudi Johnson and Corey Dillion weren't exactly known for their acceleration.

Play 18: Dalton laid out as he overthrows Sanu. Dalton seeing a lot of pressure here, mostly up the middle.No good.

Play 19: 10 yard quick out to Sanu. Another converted third down.

Play 20: Pitch to Ced Peerman off LT. 4 yards.

Play 21: Peerman, off RG. 6 yards. First down.

Play 22: Quick throw to Marvin Jones. 6 yards. Breaks first tackle. YAC could be huge with Jones/Sanu/Bernard/Eifert/Gresham/Hawkins.

Play 23: Gio up the middle. 4 yards. Great block by Kyle Cook there.

Play 24: The endzone fade actually works! Outstanding throw by Dalton. Great catch by Sanu. Touchdown. What a throw. Another great drive here (12 plays, 71 yards, 4:30 elapsed).

And scene. Outside of that opening drive turnover, the offense looked excellent.  Great gains on first down (Gained an average of 5.8 yards on each first down, 6.3 if you take out the 1 yard TD run by Bernard on first down) and great conversions on third down (3/4) played a big part in their success. Twice as many snaps, half as many penalties as last week for the first team. Love Gruden adjusting the play calls to short quick passes and letting the guys work in space and rack up yards after the catch. That second touchdown drive is one of the best I've seen from Dalton. Nothing extraordinary, but he seemed extremely in control on every play. This is very encouraging, considering Whitworth, AJ Green and Andrew Hawkins still out. The run blocking looks great. Pass blocking still needs work, especially up the middle. A great outing though. Skelton time.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Look at Andy Dalton against the Falcons

I was going to do a Bengals season preview, but one preseason game in seems a bit early. I will wait until later on before I really take a look at the team as a whole. For the time being, I want to take a look at Andy Dalton. I watched and re-watched every snap he took in our preseason opener against the Falcons and this is what I saw.

Play 1: Play action pass. Dalton rolls left off the PA, and throws across his body to hit a wide open Jermaine Gresham. A bit of an awkward throw by the right handed Dalton, but it gets the job done. First down. 1/1 10 yards

Play 2: Benjarvus Green-Ellis rushes up the middle for no gain, after no hole was created for him. I fear that interior line play will again be a struggle for us.

Play 3: Dalton audibles into a rush for BJGE, that picks up 11 yards. The Falcons safety moved close to the line and Dalton smartly called an audible to the other side. Good play.

Play 4: Misses a wide open Brandon Tate by a foot or so on an out route. On one hand, Tate is hardly known for his route running prowess, so I have little doubt that Green/Gresham/Eifert could have gotten their hands on that one. Still, Dalton has to know and account for his personnel. This one is on him. Very nice zip on the ball, for what it's worth. 1/2, 10 yards.

Play 5: Handoff up the middle to BJGE for 3 yards. No hole for him to run through. Ugh.

Play 6: Falcons stack the right side of the line and force center Kyle Cook into a false start. Can you tell I'm worried about our interior line play yet?

Play 7: Ryan Whalen slips going up to grab a very nicely thrown ball by Dalton. Dropped. 1/3, 10 yards.

Play 8: First down pass to Gresham. Hope to hear quite a bit of this over the next couple of months. 2/4, 21 yards.

Play 9: Dalton escapes instant pressure after some TERRIBLE blocking by left tackle Anthony Collins, and throws the ball away. See below.  2/5, 21 yards.

Play 9 (1/2): I can't stress enough....

Play 9 (2/2)...just how terrible the blocking by Anthony Collins was here.
Play 10: 6 yards pass to Eifert is wiped out after a penalty on....Kyle Cook.

Play 11: Gio Bernard gets caught up at the line and loses the ball in the lights just long enough to watch the screen pass go right over his head. Half of a second could have turned that play from an incomplete pass into a possible first down. Eh, it happens. Would be surprised if that's still happening a couple of weeks from now. 2/6. 21 yards.

Play 12: Short pass to Bernard on third and long, who gets a head of steam going before slipping a couple of yards shy of the first down marker. 3/7, 37 yards.

And scene. That was it for Dalton's night. Some things to tighten up on, as to be expected in the first preseason game, but there was more good than bad for Dalton. Getting starters tackle Andrew Whitworth, FB Chris Pressley and WR AJ Green back will help for sure. About that interior line though...