Archive | September, 2013

Allow me to defend Dalton, then critique him

30 Sep

Defending Dalton
One thing that I’ve noticed when reading complaints about Dalton’s game is when people say — “He doesn’t go through his reads or gets locked onto one receiver.”
But I’m not sure how accurate that is, and I think it’s because of the design of this offense.
* The old ways in the NFL asked Quarterbacks to drop back, go through a progression system until the QB found an open receiver.
* Now, you see much more quick passing and taking what the defense gives you.
That’s the type of offense I believe we have in Cincinnati and I’ll explain.

After three years of studying this offense, players, and reading different offensive philosophies, I believe Andy Dalton is in a very simplistic offense designed to move the ball quickly IF he makes the correct reads in this order…

1) Pre-Snap Reads
Dalton comes to the line, looks at the defensive personnel, looks at their alignment/angles and depth and then decides weather to check to a run play or change the passing play.
* He’s looking at the safeties pre-snap to see what coverage they’re in.
* He’s looking for potential blitzing defenders.
* He looks to see if DBs are in off or press coverage.

2) Post-Snap Reads
Dalton takes the snap and then relocates the safeties. This will tell him if his pre-snap read was correct or if the defense rotated some players to confuse him.
* He (and his receivers) read the safeties again and determine what coverage he’s seeing.
* Based on the coverage he reads, Dalton now knows where he’s supposed to go with the football.
* He’ll set his feet and step up towards his targeted receiver.

3) Throw, Check Down or Run
As Dalton steps towards his targeted receiver and looks at him, he’s looking to see if his teammate is open or will be open.
* If the receiver will be open, Dalton will throw to a certain spot.
* If the receiver is covered or the coverage is different than expected, Dalton will either check down to a TE/RB in the flats…
* Or Dalton will try to run/scramble.

Now, I don’t think this applies to every passing play, but I think it applies to most of the Bengals offense.
So, when you see Andy Dalton drop back, look to his right and throw into coverage, it’s probably because he was fooled or didn’t read the coverage correctly.
If you see Dalton drop back and then freak out and get sacked, it’s probably because he didn’t get what he originally read in the defense and now doesn’t know where to go with the ball.

I believe he normally reads defenses very quickly and accurately. Yesterday wasn’t one of those days.

Now, allow me to criticize Dalton for not operating within the offense…

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Pre-snap read
* Cleveland has one Safety more than 15-yards deep (blue) and press coverage on both outside WRs.
* Browns are showing blitz with 7-defenders in the box
* So Dalton keeps his TE and RB in to block. 7 blocking 7.

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Post-Snap Read
* Dropping back, you see the deep safety align over Marvin Jones in man coverage and the other safety sprint in Green’s direction.
* The Browns bring all 7-defenders on a blitz. This ball needs to be thrown fairly quickly.

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Throw, Check down or Run
* Dalton sets and throws Green’s way without ever looking towards Sanu/Jones. Both targets are more open than Green, but whatever Dalton read told him to go Green’s way.

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* The ball falls incomplete after having little chance to Green to catch it.

I’m not here to say whatever he read in the defense wasn’t correct, but I did diagram this play last week and the Bengals ran it twice this past week. Three out of Four times, they threw it to Marvin Jones on the corner-route. Was he forcing it to Green here?

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* Pre-snap read suggests a Cover-1 with off-coverage on Eifert and Press on Green.

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* Cleveland brings the blitz again Post-snap.
* Eifert curls underneath the coverage and expects the ball.

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* Dalton throws the back shoulder to Green again with a Safety over top.
Incomplete pass.

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* Pre-snap read suggests Cover-2 and Man-Coverage underneath.

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*Post-snap read confirms the coverage.

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* Green runs a very crisp Out-route at the sticks (on third down) and gets good separation.
* The Ball needs to be thrown NOW.

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* Dalton sees man coverage and the middle of the field free and takes off.

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* He gains zero on third down. Do good QBs run or do they trust their arms on a sideline throw? You tell me, because I’m tired of being the bad guy.

Bengals at Browns – Plays Of Interest: Dalton Sack and Fumble

30 Sep

The title may sound like I’m going to pinpoint a bad play by the Bengals quarterback, and we know that would be easy after Sunday’s game, but this particular play shows how the Browns out-coached the Bengals.

First, let me show you a quick snapshot from the Packers game.

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On this play, Green Bay blitzed their slot CB and forced Dalton into a sack/fumble and didn’t get the chance to hit Sanu deep down the middle.

Now back to yesterday’s game.

Gio Bernard has, at times, been used as a decoy receiver rather than a blocker. What i mean is, the Bengals will flare him out or loop him into the middle instead of blocking. This is to force the defense NOT to bring that extra rusher as they must now account for another receiver. But, as I showed in the picture above, teams have found a way to exploit that and the Browns followed.

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* 3rd & 7 close to midfield.
* This is the drive where the Bengals shuffled their Offensive Line.
* You can see a Single-High (blue) look by the Browns presnap, but the safety is rotating towards the boundary.
* Bengals have 3-WRs with Eifert split to Dalton’s right.
* Eifert is running an Out & Up with the hopes of getting behind the LB and having the middle free to run.
* Sanu runs an Out & In as the safety valve underneath.

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* At the snap, Cleveland brings 5 rushers with the MLB and CB blitzing (yellow).
* The snap is low and Dalton has to drop his eyes from looking at the defense.

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* Again, the Bengals bring Bernard out of the backfield with no intention of picking up the blitz. The Browns blitzing CB doesn’t slow down — He’s not covering Gio.
* Dalton is just hitting his back foot as both main options are about to sell their fakes.

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Allow me to flip to end zone angle for a second.
* As Gio comes out of the backfield, the DT (#92) picks him up and not the blitzing CB. Now the Browns are only rushing 4 with 7 in coverage. Advantage – Browns

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* We don’t have a down field shot as of Monday morning, but with the Safety rotating away from Eifert and the way he sold his route, I’m betting he was open deep and Dalton tried getting it to him before he was sacked and stripped. image

(Will update on Wednesday with picture).

Marvin Jones: Same Play. Different Coverage. Similar Result.

23 Sep

When the Bengals were trying to mount a comeback, both of their starting cornerbacks made big interceptions and gave Andy Dalton and the offense a chance to get this game closer. After Newman’s INT, Dalton hit Green easily for a TD. After Leon Hall’s INT, the Bengals QB looked towards their third WR on third and 8 and when inside the red zone.

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* 3rd and 8. Cincinnati has 3 WRs, 1 TE and 1 RB (11-Personnel)
* Sanu and Marvin Jones are stacked to Dalton’s left. This is a typical man-coverage-beating-alignment.
* Green Bay drops both Corners because of the stacked look.

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* Jones is running a Post-Corner route.
* He first runs his route DIRECTLY at the Safety/CB Tramon Williams. This forces the Packers’ DB to make a decision.

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* Once Williams opens his hips, Jones breaks towards the sideline/corner. He’s got him.
* Sanu hooks up underneath between the CB and LB.

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* Both of the Packers underneath defenders jump on Sanu as Dalton starts to throw.

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* The open area between the DBs allows for an easy throw. Big play for Dalton and Jones.

————————————-

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* Here we go again just outside the 10-yard line. Same formation and alignment.
* This time, Green Bay walks Tramon Williams up to the LOS to jam Marvin Jones.

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* Jones gets a clean inside release and Williams grabs Jones’ left arm to try and slow him down.

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* Jones extends his arm into Williams’ chest then releases it as the Packers DB leans in.

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* That move forces Williams’ momentum to carry him further inside than he’d like and by that time, Jones is running for the corner and the ball is thrown.

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* Again, we have a wide open Jones, who makes a nice catch.
* The same play by the Bengals offense, but Marvin Jones had to know how to beat two different types of coverages. He passed the test.

The Bengals Are Cool, Run Read-Option on MNF

18 Sep

The coolest new toy on the NFL block is the read-option. I mean, try it. Everyone is totally doing it. All the good teams run the read-option. You can’t get addicted to it on the first read. Trust me.

On Monday night, Cincinnati actually ran a couple read-option plays. I’m not sure if Dalton planned on running if the situation presented itself, but the threat evens the playing field from a numbers standpoint. Here’s the first play:

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* First & 10 early in the first quarter.
* Green-Ellis is a yard behind and to Dalton’s left.

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* Dalton puts the ball into BJGE’s belly and reads the edge rusher (yellow); the blitzing Nickel CB.
* If the CB looks to crash down (blue) and attack the RB, Dalton will pull it back and keep it himself.
* If the CB looks like he’s going after the ball, Dalton will allow BJGE to keep the ball and run.

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* Dalton gives the ball to BJGE and he takes it up field and cuts between the LT & LG.
* Dalton runs left as if he still has the ball to keep the CB’s attention a little longer.

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* Green-Ellis cuts it up field and gains yardage without needing to make a defender miss. That’s the numbers advantage of the read-option. Instead of the RB having (in theory) 9 blockers against 11 defenders, the read-option forces the defense to account for the QB and makes it now 9 blockers vs 10 defenders (The 11th defender is chasing the QB).

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* BJGE finishes the run with authority.

And that’s how you can be cool in the NFL.

Gio Bernard Is Who We Thought He Was!

17 Sep

I can’t say that I wasn’t a little proud watching Bengals rookie runner Giovani Bernard on Monday night. Those that follow me know that I’ve been thirsty for a real running back for the past few seasons and Bernard was who I pegged after the Bengals’ last playoff loss to the Texans.

Gio Bernard captured my scouting heart the first time I watched him and filled out his grading scale and scouting report. Here’s what I wrote:

“Gio Bernard is blessed with good speed, agility and acceleration to go with an ideal power/balance ratio. His best attribute is everything that makes up the Pre-LOS (line of scrimmage) ability. Think of Arian Foster and his ability to see the hole being created on the backside, yet he strings along the linebacker, presses the hole then violently cuts back into the open field. He’s the best running of this class when it comes to that. He will not be dependent on a good offensive line.”

On Monday night, we got to see what makes Bernard special.

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* First down and Cincinnati comes out in their 12-Personnel (1-RB, 2-TE).
* Eifert is at H-Back to Bernard’s left.
* This is an inside Zone run.

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* As Gio gets the ball, he looks for his running lanes.
* YELLOW – Lawrence Timmons is sliding into that hole and is ready to fill it.
* BLUE – If Gio can string Timmons far enough and keep him in the Yellow, Bernard should be able to cut it up into this lane.
* PURPLE – With the Steelers’ OLB coming from the outside, Gio must maintain his inside run to get the LB to come inside and get picked up by Eifert.

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* Gio presses the Yellow hole and forces Timmons to commit to it; Bernard cuts hard to his left.
* He must now choose between Blue or Purple.

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* The Pittsburgh DE and OLB crash inside and Bernard turns on the jets towards the outside.
* This is all before he even passes the Line of scrimmage.

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* And Bernard finishes by lowering his head and shoulder into the gap between the FS and CB.

But some still had questions about Giovani Bernard’s pass protection and toughness.

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* Ryan Clark (Yellow) vs Gio Bernard (Orange)

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* Gio takes the handoff and makes his way to our left.
* Clark crashes the LOS and looks like he expects Bernard to take the outside (purple) lane.

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* Gio dips behind Andre Smith for a split second and Clark has to slow down.
* Bernard cuts hard back inside behind the blocks of Zeitler and Cook.

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* Again Bernard is eclipsed by an offensive lineman. He has Clark in Oh Crap mode as he now much track around Kyle Cook and catch Gio from behind.

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* Giovani Bernard gets low and pushes the pile into the end zone.
* Ryan Clark (yellow) is left on his butt looking for Bernard.

PASS PROTECTION

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* Pittsburgh will blitz both ILBs in an effort to confuse the rookie RB.

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* The first blitzing ILB is picked up by the big guys up front and that leaves Bernard in a one on one situation with a LB that has 50 lbs. on him.

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* In that scenario, you cut that LB and send him flipping. Gio does just that.

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* Cincinnati is going to block left and allow Lamar Woodley to rush free from the outside.

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* As Woodley shortens his arc to the QB, Bernard must come IN FRONT of Dalton, and then get back outside in time to slow down the Steelers best rusher.

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* Bernard aims for Woodley’s hip/thigh area and clears him for just long enough for Dalton to unload a deep ball.

DECOY

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* Gio flares out into the right flats and Gresham hooks up in a soft spot against zone coverage.

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* Bernard is a receiving weapon for Dalton and has the attention of both Pittsburgh defenders in the area.

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* That’s good for Cincy as Gresham hauls in the pass and rumbles down field for a big gain.

Split Screen: Green-Ellis and Gio Bernard

9 Sep

With veteran back BenJarvus Green-Ellis getting 64% of the snaps and rookie Giovani Bernard seeing the other 36% in Chicago, many fans were left asking “WHY?!”.

Cincinnati is a heavy Zone running team. They’re not at the level of Washington or Houston in execution, but the Bengals need to find their identity in the backfield before they can flourish close to the levels of those teams.

Here, we’re going to look at two very similar running plays from Sundays game. One featuring “The Law Firm” and the other showing the potential of a rookie.

Green-Ellis

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* We have a 1st and 10 from Chicago’s 32-yard line.
* Cincinnati lines up in their (now usual) 12-personnel with a WR on each side and both TE on the right.

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* The run is designed to go left with Boling and Zeitler taking on LBs on the second level.
* Kyle Cook gets walked into the backfield by Stephen Paea and Anthony Collins tries pushing Peppers aside with one arm (why?).
* As BJGE gets the ball, he’ll either need to cut it back or bounce it outside because the pressure is in his face already.

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* Green-Ellis takes a few stutter-steps and then plows into Paea and Peppers.

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* Sure, it takes four Bears to stop him and the Green-Ellis never actually got tackled, but this play shows his inability to create yardage when things go wrong. He’s completely dependant on the offensive line’s success on every run.

Gio Bernard

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* Second down and two to go from Cincinnati’s 28-yard line.
* Bengals substitute Tyler Eifert at TE with Orson Charles at H-back.

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* Similar play to the one above. Run is designed to go left.
* Kyle Cook is again getting walked backwards.
* Gio Bernard is now faced with the same snap-decision as BJGE.

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* Gio plants his left foot and cuts hard back towards the inside and Cook rides his block towards the outside.

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* Gio now has the choice between following Orson Charles up the middle or bouncing it outside where there’s more room to run.
* As Charles starts losing his block (and eventually flagged), Gio again plants his foot and bounces it outside.

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* Bernard finds help in the form of Andre Smith and A.J. Green protecting the ally. He goes full speed and tries to split the safeties.

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* Gio doesn’t accomplish the final feat in a great run, but he finishes by lowering his shoulder in bowling over both defenders for an extra yard or two.

* The vision and agility are evident in Bernard’s game. I felt like he was the best running back prospect I’ve seen BEFORE the line of scrimmage and this is another example. He doesn’t need all five lineman to win on every play because he can create yardage on his own.

Bengals at Bears – Plays of Interest: The First Interception

9 Sep

This was Cincinnati’s second snap of the game. The first play was a play-action rollout and 3-yard completion to Tyler Eifert.
The next play started similarly, but had a much harsher result.

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* Bengals come out in 12-personnel (1-RB, 2-TE) with a WR on each side.
* AJ Green is going to run a quick slant after 3-steps.

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* Charles is only about 5-yards off in coverage, but his eyes are firmly locked on Andy Dalton.

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* The Bengals start the play looking like a stretch run to the left.
* Important to note that Dalton’s eyes are not looking at the defense. He’s trusting that Green will get inside and beat Tillman for a quick catch.

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* Dalton plants the right foot and snaps his head around. He isn’t wasting time and once he’s set, he’s throwing to AJ Green in the open area (light blue).

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* With Tillman looking into the backfield, he sees Dalton planting and setting to throw before Green even starts to cut inside. He’s got the jump on the inside.

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* Obviously Tillman gets inside position and hauls in the interception.
* A.J. Green CANNOT, under ANY circumstances, let the defender inside.

Andy Dalton is trusting his WR to be at a spot and able to catch the ball. This is a bang-bang play and unfortunately the needed intensity wasn’t there from A.J. Green. On a tremendous receiving day for Green, he was at fault for both of his Quarterback’s interceptions.