Having dissected the AFC last week on our podcast with Greg Cosell of NFL Films and ESPN's "NFL Matchup," we now turn our attention to the NFC. Are the Redskins a potential playoff team? Have the Philadelphia Eagles figured what kind of defense they want to run? Will the Green Bay Packers have a defense at all? Are the New Orleans Saints really working from a severe personnel deficit after a tumultuous offseason, or are people overreacting to a few noisy suspensions? Will the no-huddle pay dividends for the Falcons? And is Alex Smith capable of thinking outside the box?
These questions and more are answered in our latest podcast. A few highlights from Mr. Cosell:
On Robert Griffin III: "A couple of things stood out about Griffin. There's a quickness to his movement. There's a quickness to his drops, and his overall play, even in the shotgun. He's a quick-twitch athlete. His footwork is pretty good, and I thought that his delivery was very compact, and the ball came out with RPMs -- without him really having to step into throws. You could see that immediately, and that's where arm strength is a factor. I'm a big believer in arm strength, and the ball came out with velocity and with juice.
"Arm strength has value for a number of reasons. First, you don't necessarily have to have functional space in the pocket to step into throws. You're able to drive the ball by just torquing your body -- you don't need legroom, as it were. Secondly, and I've written about this before, there's no way to measure throws that aren't made by quarterbacks who don't have great arm strength. Because those quarterbacks realize they can't make certain throws. That doesn't mean you can't be a great quarterback ... but when I'm watching quarterbacks like that, there's always time where I'm running the play back, over and over again, saying, 'Throw it ... throw it!' And they don't throw it, because they know they can't make the throw."
On how offenses, like the Atlanta Falcons' offense, are using no-huddle to break up more exotic blitz packages: "Well, that's the next phase of the chess match. What defenses have done over these last number of years is that they've been very hybrid in their front looks and in their coverage looks. Teams will line up with four down linemen, or one down lineman, or sometimes, nobody with their hand on the ground. It's usually done in sub-packages, because it impacts pass protection schemes -- which five [defenders] are the five offensive linemen responsible for, when there's no clear five in front of you to block? And they move around a lot, so if the offensive line or quarterback declares protection, and there's still 10-12 seconds left on the game clock, the defense moves, and it makes it very difficult.
"The next phase of the chess match, and the offensive response, is no-huddle. Because theoretically, you get a veteran quarterback -- a smart quarterback -- and he can snap the ball anytime. So, Tom Brady is standing there, and he sees the defense starts to more around ... I'm sure they have a signal, whatever it is, he calls it, and the ball is snapped. And you know how it is -- one defensive player is out of position, and you've got a problem. That's why I think the no-huddle will become increasingly prevalent."
As with everything involving Greg Cosell, this podcast is a must-listen for those fans of advanced tape analysis. Subscribe to the Shutdown Corner iTunes link (in iTunes, go to "Advanced/Subscribe to Podcast," and paste this link in: http://ysportspods.podbean.com/category/shutdown/feed/). You can also use the link below to either left-click and listen, or right-click to save to your computer.
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