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About bigbrod81

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    Cheer Dad
  • Birthday 01/28/1981

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  1. Examining Sean Payton's creative use of Taysom Hill In the vast history of professional football, those who ventured too far from the status quo were often written off as unsustainable. At the same time, being on the bleeding edge of innovation has been the key to sustained success in the NFL. The main difference between the gimmicks and the sound schematic breakthroughs has always been numbers. Can I get more blockers than the defense has defenders? Can I get more receivers in an area than defenders in coverage? If the numbers are even, can my players beat their players? Sound schematic football is any scheme that helps you answer ‘yes’ to the questions above. If a scheme solely relies on the element of surprise to succeed, it’s not going to last. The ‘wildcat’ is one of the most famous examples of a gimmick. It was based on the idea that the quarterback’s role on running plays was a waste, so removing him gave the offense an extra blocker. However, defenses quickly realized that there was no threat of the downfield pass, so they brought all the safeties in the box, which took back the numbers advantage, and the wildcat went the way of the Dodo. It was a gimmick because it relied on the element of surprise to be successful. However, the wildcat’s demise gave way to the rise of option football, a schematically sound brand of football that utilizes the quarterback to manipulate and potentially remove a defender from either a run or pass play (you can read more about why run options and run-pass options are successful here). The caveat is that it takes an athletic quarterback to make defenses respect all the options. If you have a limited pocket passer, an entire section of the playbook is off-limits. That is unless you have someone like Taysom Hill. The former BYU quarterback, who was an undrafted free agent in 2017, couldn’t quite hack it under center in Green Bay and was cut before last season. The New Orleans Saints then picked him up and utilized his incredible athleticism (he ran a 4.44 weighing 230 pounds and had a 38.5” vertical at his pro day) on special teams. With Hill on the roster for a whole offseason, Head Coach Sean Payton had the vision to see Hill’s skill set as more than a failed dropback passer. The New Orleans Saints team is mostly unchanged from a season ago, yet they are on pace to have the third-highest scoring offense in NFL history. Hill isn’t the only driving force behind this, but it’s incredible how much value a player who’s seen all of 113 snaps can bring. The key has been when he’s utilized. Payton often brings Hill in at quarterback in the most high-leverage situations that occur throughout a football game. Of his 35 snaps at quarterback, 24 have either come on third or fourth down or in the red zone. Options are tremendous in short yardage situations because it forces unblocked defenders to freeze for a split second to figure out who has the ball instead of attacking into the backfield. That’s glaringly obvious on the play below. On a 3rd and 2, the unblocked defender tasked with bringing the quarterback down is standing still at the line of scrimmage as Hill pulls the ball down. All Hill needs to do is barrel straight ahead, and he’s undoubtedly going to fall forward for the first down. Plays like that are the most volatile situations for Expected Points Added (EPA is a way of measuring play success based on down/distance/field position) and having someone to execute them successfully is enormous. With Hill lined up at quarterback, the Saints have averaged 0.237 EPA per run (32 runs) and 0.517 EPA per pass (three passes). The league-wide EPA per run play is -0.09 EPA for runs and 0.05 for passes. Even an offense as explosive as the Saints has only averaged -0.01 EPA per run and 0.36 on pass plays. Put simply; Hill has been a cheat code for the Saints when they’ve needed it most. The whole reason the wildcat fell out of favor – no respectable threat of the pass – is the same reason Hill isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Even with an incredibly high imbalance of runs versus passes with Hill in the game, teams can’t completely ignore the threat of the pass. He may not be able to run any of the same passing plays as Drew Brees, but if you pull your safeties up to account for his running ability, Hill can still easily hit open receivers down the field. On Hill’s 44-yard pass below on a 2nd and 9 against the Vikings, you can see all 11 defenders line up within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage at the snap. Through nothing other than the threat of the run, Sean Payton has managed to get Michael Thomas single covered by safety George Iloka with no safety help. The result is a window the likes of which you rarely see in the NFL without a busted coverage, and Hill hits it with ease. It’s not simply Hill’s play at quarterback that has garnered attention from opposing defenses, either, because the majority of his snaps so far this season haven’t even come under center. While his hands have proven fairly unimpressive so far (two of his four catchable targets have clanged off his mitts), his size/speed/throwing ability is still something that needs accounted for any time he’s on the field. And with his ability to line up elsewhere, the Saints can quickly and seamlessly break the huddle with him at quarterback, adding the element of surprise.
  2. Saints film room: Sean Payton’s next undrafted gem While still a work in progress, converted tight end Dan Arnold is seeing his role in the offense increase weekly. Throughout his time with the Saints, Sean Payton has displayed a knack for finding undrafted free agents and turning them into steady contributors for the offense. Travaris Cadet, Lance Moore (cut from Cleveland), and most notably Pierre Thomas are all examples, and now the next undrafted gem could be converted tight end Dan Arnold. At 6’6” and displaying above average athletic skills, Dan Arnold could be the mismatch tight end that Payton likes to use in his offense. Playing wide receiver at division-III Wisconsin–Platteville, Arnold put up 1176 yards and 16 touchdowns on only 65 receptions in his senior season. He would then go undrafted in the 2017 NFL draft, but earned a contract after a rookie tryout during Saints minicamp. His rookie season would be cut short by injury and he would spend all of last season on injured reserve. It was at this time when the Saints staff decided to convert him to tight end. This year he would make the final 53 man roster, beating out other veteran tight ends, but wouldn’t be activated until week 5 against the Washington Redskins. Since then, Arnold has continued to see his role in the offense increase in each game. In his second game against the Ravens he pulled in two catches on 3 targets for 35 yards. And while he was only targeted once for no receptions in the next two games, Drew Breeswent to him on a critical third down play late in the game against the Los Angeles Rams, showing a trust from Brees and Payton in his abilities. Against Cincinnati, he played 27 snaps (Watson had 28 for comparison) and was targeted 3 times, coming down with two receptions and falling a yard short of his first touchdown. On this play right outside of the red-zone, the Saints will run a smash concept with Arnold and Alvin Kamara to the boundary side of the field (offense’s right). The smash concept consists of two routes, intended to place a zone defender in the flat in conflict by forcing him to choose to defend either the deep route (typically a corner route) or an underneath route, such as a hitch or flat route. Arnold will run the 15 yard corner route and Kamara will run a hitch underneath. The cornerback KeiVarae Russel (#20) is the flat defender being targeted by the smash. The underneath route by Kamara causes him to pause just long enough for Arnold to get into the soft spot, or “honey hole” between the deep and underneath zone. Once Arnold makes the catch, he stretches out for the endzone but is forced out of bounds at the 1-yard line. Another positive of Arnold developing is it gives Payton the opportunity to draw up pass plays from three tight end sets. While this formation is typically used in the run game, having three reliable tight ends who are capable receivers can create mismatches for the offense against a defense’s base personnel. The Saints come out with their 13 personnel (one running back, three tight ends) on a 3rd and 2. As mentioned above, the down and distance added to the formation indicates a run. The defense will play it accordingly by putting 8 defenders in the box. The Saints will run a version of a “mesh concept” that aims to create a rub in the middle of the field by the two crossing routes. Arnold and Watson are the crossers here, while Josh Hill will run a curl over the middle. Brees will feel some pressure from the interior of the line, but is able to get the pass off to Arnold who gets just enough for the first down. While Arnold was able to make the catch and pick up the first down, this is a good example of the need to improve his route running. Being the under crosser—meaning his route will go under Watson’s—he should have broke his stem inside sooner and not as vertically. This threw off the timing of the play and took away any opportunity for yards after the catch. While he still needs to learn the nuances of the tight end position, his receiving ability can still be seen on this catch against the Baltimore Ravens. Arnold does a good job at fending off the safety’s hand-check and maintaining his balance, then adjusts to the back shoulder throw from Brees. And while the ball was placed in a great spot, not many young tight ends would be able to make that adjustment while fighting off a safety of Tony Jefferson’s caliber. Although the recent signing of Brandon Marshall could possibly take away some targets from Arnold’s direction, if he can continue to work and progress in all the traits needed to be an NFL tight end, he has the chance to add his name to the list of Payton’s undrafted gems.
  3. Hmm.......... Maybe Armstead is only out 2-3 weeks & the 3-4 timeline is just precautionary?
  4. At the beginning of the season when Payton first began unleashing the Taysom Hill packages, there were discussions concerning taking the ball out of Drew's hands & some felt the packages weren't necessary. Not only has the continued usage of the Taysom Hill packages been a no brainer because of high percentage of the plays being successful but the highlighted sentence is why the packages are so important. With opposing teams now having to dedicate time with their defensive game planning to scheme & prep for Taysom Hill, it takes away crucial preparation time to breakdown an offense that already is a handful to prepare for due to the unlimited plays, formations & personnel groupings Payton throws at defenses. Opposing defensive coordinators have to be losing their minds preparing for the Saints offense right now. It sounds crazy but the objective right now has to be to try to keep the offense to around 30 points & hope your offense can put up more. Honestly, I think we have just seen the tip of the iceberg from the offense. If our play makers remain healthy, the already gaudy first half numbers of the season will pale in comparison to those this team will put up in the second half. I feel that way because Payton tends to take awhile to figure out just how to use all of the offensive skill players each season. Payton has hit the point where it's all come together. The last two games on the offensive side could possibly be more of the norm than the exception over the last 7 regular season games because defenses just have too much to prepare for. There is no way possible to game plan for everything Payton has shown/will show so we will witness more & more plays where the opposing defenses will just appear lost. The results will continue to be big plays & TDs for the Saints offense.
  5. Saints’ red zone concepts present huge test for Eagles’ defense Schwartz faces his biggest challenge yet... How do you stop the league’s top scoring offense? Better yet, how do you do it on the road? And lastly, how do you do it with a decimated secondary? Those are the challenges facing the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles as they limp in to a crucial Week 11 matchup. While the Eagles’ offense has struggled to get off the ground, the New Orleans Saints’ offense has been a lightning bolt. They own the highest points per game total (36.7) and have averaged 42 points in the last three games. They’re even more dangerous at home (37.2) and they storm out of the gates with a league leading 19.4 points in the first half. That last number is only rising. In the last three games the Saints have averaged a gargantuan 29 first half points. The first step in stopping them is understanding what they do well, which is a tall task in itself because there’s a ton to digest. One area that boosts their scoring is their 5th ranked red zone offense. They’ve found pay-dirt on 73% of their trips inside the 20-yard line. That number reaches 86% in the last three weeks. For the Saints, their success obviously starts with future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. Keeping the focus on the red zone, no quarterback with over 30 attempts has a better QB Rating (117.4). He’s 46/66 (69.7%) with 16 touchdowns and 0 interceptions when the field condenses. His main weapons are the supremely talented Michael Thomas and the swiss army knife Alvin Kamara. Those two lead the league in red zone targets with 18 and 21 respectively. Thomas has hauled in 15 of those targets with 6 touchdowns while Kamara has caught 16 passes, adding 3 touchdowns of his own. Kamara’s contributions on the ground have also been a boon. He’s toted the rock 38 times with 9 of those finding the end zone. Those numbers are second only to MVP candidate Todd Gurley. So the Saints have three elite red zone players operating at a high level, but wait, there’s more. Perhaps the biggest pain in the caboose for defensive coordinators this year has been game-planning for what the Saints do with their backup dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill. Digging into what the Saints do well inside the 20, you have to start with Hill because he requires an entirely separate game-plan on his own. DUAL-THREAT TAYSOM The variety in which the Saints deploy Taysom Hill makes him more than just a one-dimensional gimmick. He does just enough with his arm to be a threat and is a weapon with his legs out of read and sprint options. They won’t just line him up at quarterback, they’ll put him out wide as a receiver and in tight doubles as a blocker. It’s a nightmare for defensive coordinators. Not only do they have to prepare for an explosive, dynamic offense, but they must also spend a considerable amount of time game-planning for a back-up quarterback. It’s not like preparing for something like wildcat; as noted above there is a bevy of concepts to be aware of when Hill is on the field. Along with the typical option concepts, they’ll also run outside zone, power, etc etc. Each week they sprinkle in a new wrinkle and it’s been a productive component of the offense. Adding to their toolbox, last week against the Cincinnati Bengals the Saints threw in a jump pass at the goal line that should’ve been a score. The Saints have even thrown him a screen pass against the New York Giants. It didn’t work out and went for a loss of 4 yards, but you still have to be cognizant of it as a possibility. SKINNING THE BANJO If you stifle the back-up quarterback (such an odd sentence), you still have to deal with the aforementioned Michael Thomas. The Saints will target him on isolation concepts with fades, slants, and comebacks and that in itself is tough enough to defend. Thomas is a top tier receiver and an exceptional route runner and expecting any corner to stick with him on an island is a lot to ask. The Saints don’t just relay on those isolation routes though as they do a wonderful job of scheming him open with route combinations. In Week 1, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were caught completely off-guard by a switch release concept that wreaked havoc on their coverage assignments. What makes this concept work is the intersecting releases. I’m making the educated guess that the Buccaneers defense is in “banjo coverage” based on their alignment. Typically it’s a man switch if the two highlighted defenders are staggered so as to avoid picking each other. Instead, they’re parallel. Regardless, they’re confounded by the action that unfolds before them. In banjo the outside corner Ryan Smith would have the receiver who ends up outside (the “1”). The inside defender, safety Justin Evans, would have the receiver who ends up inside (the “2). Watch how the Saints switch who is the “1” and who is the “2” twice in the same release. Toast. The widening and vertical action of Thomas mixed with the inside and shallow action of Ted Ginn make both Smith and Evans wrong. Smith ends up in no man’s land and Evans ends up chasing the flats. After the play you can see Smith communicating that he was expecting Evans to stick inside or something to that effect. I highlight this rep way back from Week 1 not because I expect to see this exact concept, although we may. I highlight this rep because the Buccaneers were dealing with a secondary that was (and still is) dealing with pre-snap communication errors and busts. With what’s happening in the Eagles secondary right now banking on pristine communication and sound execution on difficult switch releases is a bad bet. HE WASN’T READY With everything the Eagles defense will have to process against the extensive Saints red zone offense, they’ll still have to be ready for the quick strike. I’ve charted 3 touchdowns for the Saints that have been the result of Brees receiving the snap as soon as he gets under center. They’ll also lull you to sleep with motion. In the play below, Kamara moves from left-to-right and takes an angle that would make you believe he’s going to settle into a running back alignment. The Minnesota Vikings are standing straight up, processing this action, and are caught flat-footed. The Eagles will have to be on their toes pre-snap. If Brees senses they’re taking too long to get aligned, he’ll rush to the line and fire off a quick hand-off. It’s worked for them all season. SAME STORY, DIFFERENT DAY One concept that the Saints will dial up is something the Dallas Cowboys ran against the Eagles successfully last week. This hi-lo read will give Brees the option to throw the deep out/flag route that Allen Hurns runs below and they’ll use Kamara as a more integral part of the combination than Ezekiel Elliot is utilized. Still, it stresses the defense similarly. This is an ideal play-call against this type of defense. Here’s how Matt Bowen of NFL Matchup describes the Cover 3 “Cloud”: None of this happens. I’m hesitant to place blame on Ronald Darby for not getting a jam or protecting against the corner route with a flat route in front of him. Cloud doesn’t always require a re-route and Hurns’ “nasty split” alignment may relieve him of this duty. Either way, Hurns gets a clean release and Corey Graham is late to get to the sideline. So how will the Saints use this and also add more danger the above concept? Easy. They have one of the most dangerous receiving backs in the game. Instead of using Kamara as a decoy to hold a flat defender, they’ll unless him in the open field with option routes. So you’ve seen this work against zone and above you see it create a rub against man coverage. This gives Kamara an advantage at the break-point and sets him up to dart outside for an easy pitch and catch touchdown. IN SUMMARY The variety in which the Saints have approached their red zone snaps is truly something to behold. They can beat you in so many ways and have a bevy of different concepts, alignments, and personnel groupings on tape. All of that will have to be broken down, digested, and planned against.
  6. Sounds like Azteca officials just dropped the ball then or simply didn't care & just assumed the check was already in the bank.
  7. If I'm the Giants, I set my sights on taking WVU's Will Grier. From a leadership standpoint, I feel he will be the best QB in the upcoming draft. I also think he is the most ready to start day one QB of the upcoming class.
  8. You would really think that Azteca Stadium officials would have had a plan in place prior to the soccer game from this past Saturday but the field conditions were already poor prior to that matchup. It appears that those officials didn't care & were only looking to collect a check from the NFL. NFL officials also deserve criticism as well for not making sure in advance that the Mexico City officials would have the field game ready. Waiting a week prior to the game to check in on the field conditions is unacceptable.
  9. Due to field conditions, the Rams/Chiefs matchup has been moved from Mexico City to L.A. This was supposed to be a Rams home game anyway but it would have been nice to have them go up against the Chiefs on a neutral field for selfish reasons obviously. 😉 Liga MX players warm up on the field at Estado Azteca on Nov. 10, 2018. Photo: Manuel Velasquez (Getty Images)
  10. It is clear that the motivation in the lockeroom has to be dominate the opposition. My goodness!
  11. It could be more than just a depth signing. I see this as a signing of a veteran in Marshall who can mentor two young receivers in Smith & Kirkwood who have a similar body type as Marshall. Marshall can provide advice from a technique & reading coverages perspective.
  12. Odell's antics are well documented but every Giant game I watch, he simply abuses the corners with his route running. You can also see that he puts the work in the film room with his ability to find the soft spots in zone coverage. If Beckham played with a competent & capable QB, his numbers would be ridiculous. Eli either didn't see Beckham or flat out missed him several times last night. It happens several times each game.
  13. Those are just some unbelievable numbers. The offense is beginning to resemble the 2011 offense that was completely unstoppable the second half of that season. What is exciting about making that comparison is the 2018 defense is beginning look much better than our defense in 2011. This team has the mentality & build to win in any environment but if they end up with HFA throughtout the playoffs, look out.
  14. Saints’ Sheldon Rankins is quietly having a career year in 2018 BY AUSTIN GAYLE • NEW ORLEANS SAINTS • SHELDON RANKINS • NOV 12, 2018 Former Louisville standout Sheldon Rankins earned a 92.6 run-defense grade across his final two years (2014-15) with the Cardinals, ranking third among all defensive interiors with 300-plus run-defense snaps in the two-year span. And while his high-end play against the run propped up his second-ranked 90.8 overall grade, Rankins was far from polished as a pass-rusher at the collegiate level. Now 1,500-plus defensive snaps into his NFL career with the New Orleans Saints, Rankins is blossoming into one of the league’s top pass-rushing defensive interiors. Rankins’ career-high 72.9 pass-rush grade ranks eighth among the 32 at his position with 225-plus pass-rush snaps through Week 10. Against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Rankins notched four total pressures, including his sack of Andy Dalton that was a product of walking guard Clint Boling deep into the backfield with relative ease. Rankins now has three or more pressures in five of nine games this season. Rankins’ ability to bull-rush his opposition into submission is becoming an ongoing theme for the 6-foot-2, 305-pounder, as he turned Minnesota Vikings center Pat Elflein into a Boling clone just a few short weeks ago to bring down quarterback Kirk Cousins for a sack. Now, Rankins ranks just tied for 14th in total pressures (28) among defensive interiors this season, but his 11.6 pressure percentage ranks tied for ninth among qualifiers. He’s also made a knack for creating pressure early in the down, as 37.0% of his pressures have been recorded within 2.5 seconds of the snap, which ranks seventh among the 26 defensive interiors with at least 20 pressures in 2018. While his run defense has fallen off a bit this season compared to his college days, Rankins’ improvement as a pass-rusher is paramount if he’s going to make a name for himself in this league. A horse we at PFF have beat to death as of late, stopping the run isn’t nearly as valuable as rushing the passer, and Rankins is going from trivial to formidable in the more valuable area of the two in a hurry.
  15. It was actually a good play call too. The QB just made a poor throw.