Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Anatomy of a Bomb

By John Turney

Sam Bradford injured his knee Sunday versus the Carolina Panthers and is likely out of the season. The injury seems typical for the kind of luck Bradford has had in St. Louis since being the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

When he has protection and receivers who can bring the ball in he's had success. Unfortunately, his pass protection and skills sets for his receivers have been lacking.

However, in the following nine stills (All credits go to NFL Replay) we can see what Bradford is capable of. 

One a first down (a likely running down) in the third quarter the Rams line up with two tight ends right and the Z-receiver (off the line) outside the X-receiver who is in a tight split (inside the numbers). The Z-receiver motions to the two tight end side and the cornerback who was covering him stays with the X-and the corner who was lined up over the X-receiver follows the motion of the Z- receiver across the formation, giving the impression of man-to-man coverage underneath.
However, the Panthers play or audible to Cover-3 with two of the underneath zone players blitzing and one defensive lineman dropping back and replacing one of the blitzers in the short zones.The right defensive end takes the weak flat the right linebacker takes the short middle and the strong safety takes the strong flat.
The Rams run a hard play-action and send the X-receiver (Brian Quick on a deep skinny post) and the Y (tight end) Lance Kendricks runs an 'under' route and the Z-receiver (Chris Givens) runs an 'over' route at a depth of 12-15 yards.
The Rams pass protection slid left, leaving the second TE to blocking the blitzing Thomas Davis and the running back, Zac Stacy, to pick up Luke Kuechly.
The 'under' route by Kendricks is no threat, he runs below the short defenders and Givens's 'over' route is picked up by the free safety after he's passed off by the near cornerback. With no other threats, the corner goes deep to help the far corner who, though in zone coverage, has Brian Quick man-to-man with no over-the-top help since the Givens route drew the free safety.

In zone coverage, your "man" is the guy who crosses your zone in a classic case of how zone coverage becomes man.
Bradford steps up and lets the ball fly, right down the hash marks with the far corner in trail position to Quick:
 Ball arrives and hits Quick in stride:
And Quick is able to stay ahead of the far corner who trailed him but also the near corner who passed off Givens and then tried to give deep help to the far corner. However, when a pass travels 55 yards in the air, that makes for a tough assignment. Sometimes it's referred to as taking the top off of a zone defense:
In all the play gained 73-yards. 

For the season, Bradford upped his passer rating to over 90 and in 6½ games he completed 159 of 262 passes for a completion percentage of 60.7 and totaled 1687 yards, 14 touchdown passes and for interceptions. 

Those numbers put Bradford on pace for numbers like 363/599 on completions and attempt, 3856 yards for 32 TDs and 9 INTs. But in 2013 those will not happen. "The kn-ee, the kn-ee, always the kn-ee"—Howard Cosell

Monday, October 21, 2013

1984 Football News Players of the Week

By John Turney
Starting in 1984 the weekly publication Football News began selection their own players of the week, as Pro Football Weekly began doing in 1978 and as the NFL and Sports Illustrated began doing, also in 1984.

However, there were times they didn't make selections, such as early in the season and over the Thanksgiving break and over the Christmas and New Years holidays.

Here are the first year's selections:
Week Offense Defense
1 No selection No selection
2 No selection No selection
3 Steve DeBerg, Buccaneers Mark Gastineau, Jets
4 John Riggins, Redskins Lawrence Taylor, Giants
5 Dan Marino, Dolphins Kansas City Chiefs Defense
6 Dan Fouts, Chargers Bob Baumhower, Dolphins
7 John Riggins, Redskins Gill Byrd, Chargers
8 Mark Wilson, Raiders Mark Gastineau, Jets
9 Larry Kinnebrew, Bengals Tom Flynn, Packers
10 Eric Dickerson, Rams Jack Youngblood, Rams &
Dave Brown, Seahawks
11 No selection No selection
12 Otis Wonsley, Redskins James Wilkes, Saints
13 Eric Dickerson, Rams Todd Shell, 49ers
14 No selection No selection
15 Eric Dickerson, Rams Scott Radecic, Chiefs
16 No selection No selection
Lots of names most fans will know, but also a nice set of players like Kennebrew, Wonsley, Shell, and Radecic. John Riggins garnered two selections and Eric Dickerson, three. Mark Gastineau was the only defensive player to get named twice in 1984.