An ill-disciplined bunch of screaming renegades invaded the capital city, stormed the house and almost escaped with the prize. They committed too many illegal moves, though, and were finally undone by the authorities. I thought I would take a deeper look at Thursday night's game and see what I could find from the game footage.
I'll refer to the highlights video for some of this stuff, so you can see the plays I'm talking about. Just click the "Watch on YouTube" link:
I watched our defensive line on every play and noted down the various fronts we lined up in. I won't refer to 3-4, 4-2, etc, but rather just "4-man front" for a 4-3 type look, "5-man front" for a 3-4 type look, etc. By my count, we only had a 5-man front on 9 plays in the whole game and a 3-man front only twice (both in the final drive where we were trying to prevent the field goal). The rest of the time, it was a 4-2 or similar 4-man front. Ojulari dropped into coverage a couple of times. I saw only about five blitzes; interestingly, though, there were three times in the game when we brought six rushers. So Graham rarely blitzed, but three of those times, he upped the pressure package from four men to six and went all-out.
I also noted the times that Jones did not protect himself on his running plays with a feet-first slide, and counted five of those. He never slides, does he? It amazes me that the coaches would allow that; he's going to get injured before too long. One of the runs was the touchdown and on another, he was close to a first down, but I thought he should at least have slid on the other three.
I saw Danny Shelton thrice, and each time he was being pushed backwards.
The rest of this is my notes from the game, chronologically. There's a good example of run action (the 23-second mark in the highlights video) on our first drive. It's not just play action alone; the line also appear to run-block, which serves to keep the linebackers forward and leaves space for Golladay behind them.
I saw a few dodgy plays from Price that justified his low PFF score. Allen got past him for a sack early in the first quarter as well as well as blasting past him in play no. 4 in Nick's article.
The Football Team's first good play (not in the video) was the pass to Dyami Brown. He got the better of Holmes in coverage but my bigger concern is having Adoree' Jackson sitting way back in a deep cover 2 or 3 position not affecting the play. Peppers was in a shallow zone also not doing much, although there could be reasons for that.
I noticed that our safeties don't often get over to help out the cornerbacks. Bradberry had a tough task with McLaurin and despite our emphasis on the deep safeties, they didn't seem to be around when they were really needed. Watch the video at the 3:20 mark - why is Ryan 15 yards away from the play? We have two other guys there to cover Humphries in the middle yet you leave McLaurin one-on-one?
My main concern is with the huge gaps in our secondary. Take a look at the pass to Thomas in the second quarter (the 5:35 mark); he rumbles unopposed for 20 yards downfield before anyone tries to cover him. I understand there can be a "seam" where two zones meet, but this was like the parting of the Red Sea. There was another one to McLaurin just before that, where Bradberry let McLaurin go out of his zone at the 25-yard line and the next defender to pick him up was McKinney at the 45. Surely we can't leave these gaping 20-yard gaps, especially against the opponents' best receivers. I'd want to see us have a guy run with McLaurin until he can be handed over to the next DB.
Lorenzo Carter gave up the edge on one play. Bostic got the better of Andrew Thomas on that failed pitch to Barkley, and that takes us to the second half.
Saw a good block by Rudolph on one of Jones' runs. Also noticed one unusual defensive front in the third quarter: we lined up with Carter - Coughlin - Leonard Williams - Peppers - Ojulari - Martinez, in that order. Coughlin dropped into coverage. I didn't really see much amoeba/disguised formation from Graham in this one. On the vast majority of plays it was clear who were the front 4 and who were the LBs staying back. I'd like to see more disguise and confusion from him.
Sweat beats Solder on a play; after that, there's the near-interception which was Jones' only bad mistake I noticed.
Into the 4th quarter: check out 10:10 in the video. Pepper passes off McLaurin.....to who?? On the TV, the view from behind shows him giving the WR that gentle push they use to denote "I'm leaving that guy and letting him run out of my zone". Yet again there is just a huge gap in the centre of our defensive backfield.
At 10:30 in the video, what is Bradberry doing? He's aligned outside in some cover-2 or something, but there's no-one to cover except McLaurin who is inside and says thankyou very much and takes the 10 yards. Why not take McLaurin?
We didn't make much effort to stop the 4th & inches play on WFT's last drive (14:25). A stop would have won the game for us - do you guys think we should have put more beef up at the line of scrimmage?
I thought the 4-2 type formation didn't suit Ojulari or Ximines. It made me pine for the days of Tuck and JPP who were proper 270lb run-stopping monsters at defensive end. Ojulari and Ximines look a bit small & feeble for that role; what do you lot reckon?
I thought Adoree' Jackson played well generally. Bradberry also had some good work in run support.
Finally, on special teams, I saw a good tackle from Penny and Gillaspia beating a blocker well, plus some good work from Crossan.
That's all folks! If I've missed something or got anything wrong, or you disagree with stuff, just let us know in the comments. I was thinking about writing a separate fanpost about the weaknesses of our zone coverage, but I reckon I've "covered" that here.
Keep on truckin' gang....