Archive for the ‘The Tape Never Lies’ Category


Only a few can get by without a consistent, bruising and chain-moving running game. In this pass-heavy league, your quarterback must be able to handle all of the responsibilities at the line of scrimmage, including checking into and out of good and bad plays, and then make the necessary throws to keep drives moving. Only a few can reliably do that.

Andy Dalton is not one of the few. That’s why the Bengals’ lack of rushing production over the last few weeks, even the entire year, is a bit troubling going into this weekend’s bout with the Chargers. In combination, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard averaged 3.75 yards per carry during the season, well below the accepted average. They’ve picked up yards in chunks at times, however, especially Bernard, and they’ll have to rely on that once again.

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Michael Oher’s forehead furrowed, and his sharp eyebrows, hanging heavily over his eyes, pointed to the bridge of his nose. His eyelids quickly closed and opened and his eyeballs rolled across the roof of his eyes. He mumbled words of anger under his breath. He’d just committed another false start against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers when the Ravens were trying to move the ball downfield. A former first-round selection, he was supposed to be reliable in big games like these. Not to mention, he knew the snap count.

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chris conte2

An NFL record 763 points were scored in Week 15, topping the previous mark of 759 from January of 2012. Many will attribute this to potent offenses in a so-called “passing league,” but it’s more about defenses, particularly their secondaries.

The defensive back play in the NFL is atrocious. Bad players always play bad, but good players are also playing bad. Both are struggling with the fundamentals of their position, such as angles and backpedals. When players are isolated in man coverage, they seem to lack the concentration or patience to see through their backpedal. When players are in zone coverage, they struggle to get help from their freelancing teammates. Whichever coverage is called, players get beaten like a drum because of their own undoing.

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calais campbell2

Two weeks into the 2012 football year, Giants clashed. It was midway through the first quarter, and the New England Patriots faced a long second down against the Arizona Cardinals after gaining only a yard on a previous run play.

Left tackle Nate Solder, a 6’8″ cornerstone from the previous draft class, lined up in a two-point stance. Inside his right shoulder at the three-technique was Calais Campbell, equally 6’8″ and from the 2008 draft class. Campbell was in a four-point stance with his left foot staggered and butt high in the air. Although he was in the B-gap over the left guard, it wouldn’t be a one-on-one matchup with him.

When the play began, the Patriots faked a handoff and threw a screen to Solder’s side. Reading the run, Campbell immediately attacked the vacated gap next to Solder, where the left guard originally was before pulling to the back-side. He went after the ball standing tall, with his legs straight and pads shooting to the sky, making him an easy target for Solder. Solder stood up from the line of scrimmage and knocked Campbell down, taking advantage of the defensive end’s poor pad level and leverage.

Solder 1: Campbell 0

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With the ball on the 50-yard line, Justin Tuck lined up over right tackle D.J. Fluker in a three-point stance with his left hand down. It was 1st-and-10 early in the first quarter and Tuck was already starving for a sack. He fired off the line at the snap with a slight bounce on his right foot before raising his arms up and engaging with Fluker. He then redirected left, keeping his hands low in the process and sliding underneath the big palms of the blocker in typical Tuck fashion. Moving past the waist-bending Fluker, he lowered his pad level and kept his arms down to his side, giving little surface area to the blocker as he slid around the corner. He had quarterback Philip Rivers in his sight. Rivers was stumbling but managed to find ground at the last second and throw a pass to his outlet receiver off of play action. Tuck was a half-second shy of a sack.

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marc trestman2

Before he was the quarterback whisperer, Marc Trestman was just a quarterback coach who had no idea how to coach quarterbacks. He was fresh out of law school and his only experience with the position was as a two-year intern with the Miami Hurricanes team and a backup to Tony Dungy at the University of Minnesota in the mid-to-late 1970s. But Howard Schnellenberger, then the Hurricanes’ coach, hired the 27-year-old Trestman.

“Coaching never crossed my mind for a minute,” heĀ told The Gazette‘s Herb Zerkowsky in conversation. “I never had a great relationship with my coaches, to my recollection. I always tell coach Schnellenberger he saw something in me I never saw in myself. To hire me as the quarterback coach … as young as I was. And I really coached them. The quarterback’s the center of the game. I was just winging it. I had no experience, no criteria, no mentorship, no training. Nothing. I’m just grateful he saw that in me.”

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johnathan joseph2

It’s tough to be recognized as a good player on a bad team. A year ago, Johnathan Joseph was viewed as one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and now he is rarely mentioned. He’s still playing well, however, attacking the football with his usual prowess and sticking on receivers like glue. The Jaguars’ receivers know this and are going to have their hands full tonight like they did a couple of weeks ago with Joseph. In that game, he showed why he continues to be one of the better cornerbacks in the league.

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