WeeK 2 AFCS Injury Reports: Jaguars, Patriots*, Titans, Texans, Colts and Redskins

Week 2 AFCS Injury reports

We will keep you up to date on the injury woes of not only the Jacksonville Jaguars, but who they play and also their AFC South rivals. This is good info to keep up one since the Jags play their rivals twice and they face several of the same teams.

jags thur injury report week 2

Rex Burkhead and rookie Sony Michel being on the Week 2 AFCS Injury reports may even things out a bit with Leonard Fournette being DNP. We can hope the Jags’ receivers can hold on to the ball to give them a leg up.

pats thur injury report week 2

Continuing Week 2 AFCS Injury reports

How does a team rack up 11 injuries in week one? Here’s the thing, players don’t feel better as the season goes on. Whatever issues they are dealing with now, usually hang around all season, either getting worse or staying the same with lots of care. “Healthy” is a relative term.

The Texans and Titans were thought to be two teams to give the Jags a run for their money. If their injury reports stay the same, that becomes doubtful…like the stars no doubt a few of their players will be listed as on Sunday.

As long as the Colts keep Andrew Luck off this list, they have a chance. What’s not good is having two OL already among the wounded.

FYI, sometimes you’ll see players like QB Colt McCoy be on this list but not show them missing practice. The rules say if a player gets injured during a game, he needs to be on the list until a doc clears them.

AFC South Week 1 Review: Read the latest on our enemies.

AFC South Week 1 Review

AFC South Week 1 Review – Each week, I’ll be previewing and reviewing the other teams in our division. The road to the Play-Offs and Atlanta go through them. Starting this week, look for Injury reports for the four teams and the teams they play.

NE* 27 vs Houston 20

As it often happens, some rookie QB and/or first year starter rips off a few wins in a row and the NFL crowns them the next Brady*. Almost without exception, these narratives are false because the “pundits” and fans overlook their newness is why they win.

Last season, Deshaun Watson was given about ten plays, eight of them deep and Bill O’Brian let him rip. Deep balls work because in a 50-50 match-up, the receiver wins far more than he doesn’t against the cornerback (unless he plays for Jacksonville or LA Chargers).

This can work for a time, but soon defenses get enough tape and simple plays and deep balls start getting picked or batted. Add to this, QB’s who come back from injury are notoriously skittish in the pocket and panic. With a weak and injured OL, Watson was in trouble. He looked like a typical rookie.

While it was week one and a lot can change in a few weeks, the Texans D-line wasn’t great and JJ Watt looked rusty. Combined with a leaky door O-line that allowed 12 hits on Watson and it wasn’t pretty.

Points to take away for the Jags in future match-up:

  1. Brady* did better than he should have because Houston’s front 7 was pitiful. Belichick also used some creative ways to create mismatches by motioning running backs and slots changing who covered them. The Texans often found their defense caught off guard.
  2. Watson will be meat to a starving Jax line
  3. NE* pass rush will give the Jags fits

Jags 20 vs Giants 15

This game was one missed tackle by Calais Campbell, 112 yards of penalties given to the Giants in the form of 3 FGs and dropped passes. The drops can’t be overlooked and if you think so, you didn’t see the Chargers vs Chiefs game. Philip Rivers could’ve had a 600 yard day if not for drops. His passes weren’t bad, they were on the money dimes.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs had gorilla glue on their gloves, they caught everything and that was the difference in the game — catches vs drops.

Bortles isn’t Rivers and if you’re not a great QB, you’ve got to have some help. No Leonard Fournette and the dropsy triplets isn’t a good recipe for continued success. The defense being on the field that long, will take its toll. In a game and in the season.

No doubt if you’re reading this, you saw the game, but did you see how well Myles Jack made the switch to middle linebacker? Very impressive, as was rookie Leon Jacobs. Neither guy faced some plebe QB, but a longtime savvy vet. Kuddos.

Jacksonville played a lot of zone which worked, except against OBJ. This is to note as the Pats* don’t have a WR like OBJ, but rather utilize an array of different receivers/catching backs that tend to surprise.

Takeways:

  1. penalties can fixed
  2. Hackett needs to use DJ Chark against the Patriots* and if there’s a drop repeat, bring in a vet and pronto
  3. hoping that barely using FB Tommy Bohanon and the RPO being absent was Jax wanting to keep some surprises for this Sunday

Bengals 34 vs Colts 23

Indy’s defense is bad and the sun is hot. I take that back, their D-Line pass rush is ok, but the secondary and run stopping is bleh. They were no match for the weapons that the Bengals have in Joe Dixon, AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and John Ross.

Andrew Luck showed why fans marked off days on the calendar in anticipation, his accuracy is something special. He’s not the same daredevil he once was as a dual threat, but his arm is just fine in the short game.

Their run game though? Not great. It wasn’t because of Cincy being All-Pro worthy on their line, more that their stable is a little weak. I also believe they went heavy on pass protection personnel over road graters. Against a secondary as good as Jacksonville’s, Luck may not see the same the production.

Neither team has front trenches that’s making people drool.

Takeaways;

  1. Luck is the Colts. If he can’t throw, game over.
  2. he had six completions over 10 yards out of 9 passes. 5 of them within 12 yards. Of the 4 over 12 yards, a comp at 16, incompletes at 20 and 32 and a TD at 25. He threw 9 screens, was 7-9. He was lethal inside the five at 20-22. This should be stowed away for later. 20 of his 53 attempts were completions inside the 5.
  3. the way to beat him is with linebackers and a pass rush

Titans 20 vs Dolphins 27

First off, hand clap to anyone who watched the game live. I’m thankful for the NFL Game pass which boils games down to no commercials or only the plays (plus A-22) because this was an ugly game to watch.

Titans scoring summary: 2 FG’s, a 4 yd run and a kick off return. Those 20 points were ugly scores and as a Jax fan, we know ugly scores. One run points are not sustainable for a successful season.

To note* Derrick Henry is fast, he was clocked at 21.46 MPH. Jax couldn’t run down Shaquon Barkley at 19.82…Lewis averaged 4.7 yards a carry; however, he ripped one off for 26 yards which skews things a bit.

I figured the Titans would lose with a new Head Coach and staff, but didn’t think Mariota would stink so badly they’d bring in Blaine Gabbert, who didn’t do much better. The two combined for 3 interceptions, 0 TDs, 220 yards and a rating of 37.2. What’s worse is neither was sacked.

Their receivers had one catch that resulted in yards over 20. Now, it’s not like the Dolphins were burning the world, their offense was almost as pitiful, but the turnovers are what killed Tennessee. Minus that and the stats between the two teams were very close.

Takeways:

  1. the Titans are in trouble. They only had 220 passing and 116 rushing, 15 was from Marcus. If you can’t pass and you can’t run and your defense doesn’t sack or can stop Ryan Tannehil who was 20-28, you are in trouble.
  2. Mark Vrabel is a defensive coach, one could think that unit will get better.
  3. Mariota is in a bad spot and faces an uphill battle. There’s not much worse than having a parade of coaches, schemes and playbooks to ruin a quarterback. Plus to suffer and injury. I think only Cleveland and Denver has screwed up worse when developing first round quarterbacks. Shameful.

Week 1 NFL Predictions: He Said/She Said

NFL Week 5 Game predictions - He Said/She Said

A fellow writer and I give our week 1 NFL predictions in a head to head match-up of the sexes. He’s a former coach, so he’s got the leg up on me, but I’ll be giving it the college try.

SUNDAY GAMES

1:00

Bills v Ravens CBS

Jay: I’ll take the Ravens.  Look for more offense than you’ve seen from the Ravens in the past few years.  While I think Peterman is going to be a backup qb in this league for a long time because he can understand and teach the game at the next level, I see the Ravens being too good for Nate in his 2nd start.

Jules: Ravens. It seems Flacco is pulling an Alex Smith and awakening from a slumber with the addition of Lamar Jackson behind him. Meanwhile, the Bills are starting Peterman against a Baltimore defense. Yikes.

Steelers v Browns CBS

Jay: Sorry Cleveland, even without Bell, Hue Jackson is going to 1-32 in his career as the head coach of the Browns

Jules: Pitt. no offense to Tyrod Taylor, but I think he’s only had four games in his career with more than 300 yards, against the Steelers, he’s going to need all that.

Bengals v Colts CBS

Jay: I’ll take the Bengals because their roster is just better.  Andrew is the better qb, but I’m not sure where he stands yet.  I’ll take the Bengals here

Jules: Cincy is one of those teams that is always, eh. Andrew Luck is rusty and the Colts are, eh. Only giving Indy the edge because it’s a home game.

Titans v Dolphins Fox

Jay: I see a very low scoring game here.  I’ll take Vrable here to get his first win, but have very little confidence in this pick.

Jules: I love Vrable, but he’s a first time HC and Mariota has been sporadic. Going with Gase and Tannehill finally getting on the same page down in Miami.

49ers v Vikings Fox

Jay: I’ll take Kirk Cousins because I think with his defense leading the way, he will manage the game and not put the 49ers in advantageous positions.

Jules: First game that should be good to watch. Going with MN because I think Jimmy G against that defense won’t hold up.

Texans v Patriots* CBS

Jay: This is going to be a very good game to watch.  I’ll take the Pats, but that Houston defense is legitimately a top 5 defense in this league, and Watson gave the Pats (and every other team he played) hell.  I’m not sure there is a gameplan that Belichick can implement to totally stop Watson, but the book on Watson’s first reads, his drops, his tendencies…the book is out.  Look for the Pats to take away his first security blanket from the jump.

Jules: Not a fan of NE*’s defense, but also think Bilichick knows that Watson had eight plays, six involved throwing deep and he’ll find a way to disrupt him. Pats in a squeaker.

Buccaneers v Saints Fox

Jay: Saints…this pick is extremely self-explanatory

Jules: Saints. Fitzpatrick against their defense and Brees abusing theirs, going to be a long night for the Bucs.

Jaguars v Giants Fox

Jay: I think the Giants have some special players on the offensive side of the ball, but I need to see that O-line compete before I buy in. Jags win on the shoulders of their defense and Leonard Fournette.

Jules: #Duuuval! Eli moves like I do and I’m walking wounded. He has a new coaching staff, too. I’ll take King Ramsey over OBJ and Calaias Campbell over their OL. With that said, I can see smart Mr Manning targeting the linebackers early often for a lot of success between the 30’s. Not nearly as fortunate in the RZ.

4:05

Chiefs v Chargers CBS

Jay: Give me the Chargers at home (although this is the type of game they lose every year).  Too strong on defense and Mahomes is going to throw interceptions.

Jules: The Chiefs defense hasn’t shown much, almost rookie Mahones has been rookiesh. I’m going with Phillip Rivers and the Chargers, they’re the most complete team.

4:25 Games

Redskins v Cardinals Fox

Jay: Alex Smith manages his team into another win.  The playbook will be wide open and Alex is walking into the same type of offense he has been playing in with Andy in KC.

Jules: Choosing the team without a new coach and walking wounded QB, both defenses leave me yawning, so see this as a battle of offenses.

Cowboys v Panthers Fox

Jay: I need to see the Cowboys passing game before I get behind this team.  I think Carolina wins a tight one here.

Jules: I was never on the Dak train, think it was Jason Garrett and a fantastic OL/RB. With 1/2 that equation missing, more is on Prescott’s shoulders and I don’t think he can pull it off. However, Newton isn’t all that great either, but it’s a home game for them.

Seahawks v Broncos Fox

Jay: When in doubt, take the better QB.  Give me Seattle in a hard fought game.

Jules: Denver has a habit of winning its first games on luck, or good QB play or teams not having enough film on the ever-changing QB rosters. I know everyone is down on the Seahawks, but Denver has Vance puking Joseph and Case Keenum in a new offense. Seahawks because of Wilson unless Justin Simmons makes a pick.

8:20

Bears v Packers NBC

Jay: Even with the signing of Mack and the drafting of Smith, I’ll still take AR in Green Bay.

Jules: Bears in a squeaker. Shocking, but I think Chicago has a better overall team and while AR12 was the best QB in the league, I need to see him play a few games to see how healed he is…plus, there’s the Danica factor.

MONDAY

7:10

Jets v Lions ESPN

Jay: Welcome to the league Sam Darnold.  You’re going to see some things in this game that you haven’t even thought about Sam.  Look for Patricia to force Jim Bob Cooter to run the football and keep Stafford’s attempts below 40.  The signing of LeGarrett Blount was the indicator that they aren’t screwing around anymore in MoTown.

Jules: My father was born in Detroit and while he became a rabid Dolphins fan, his heart never left the motor city and he taught me all about Barry Sanders. Can Blount give Stafford the Sanders treatment? I’m betting he does. Normally I don’t pick new coaches, but I’ll take their defense over a barely 21 year old kid.

10:20

Rams v Raiders ESPN

Jay: Bright lights, big city.  Oh that’s right, this game is being played in the hole.  Doesn’t matter…the Rams are clearly better and will win this game.

Jules: Oakland has a new coach, no Khalil Mack, a roster on AARP benefits, so no one should pick them. I’m going to only because we’ve been agreeing too much.

Over/Under defense, learn more – Football 201

This article goes further in depth about over/under defense then a previous  one vs two gap defense. Even though that article is a 101, it covers more about gaps.

Back in the day, over/under defense was the old 4-3 front. If the front was over, the 3 Tech would line up to the Y. If it was an under defense, the 3 Tech was lined up away from the Y.

Some Okie (traditional 3-4) fronts have turned into Okie Over and Okie Under to accommodate the 1 gap pressure schemes. This means the N is now shading to and from the TE.

This defense makes the count in pass protection tricky. When a QB sees a 4-3 front, it’s really easy to count how many guys are on each side of the ball, but also helps the OL with declaring the MLB (MIKE). This helps the OL start to sort out who’s got who.

Same thing in the run game. However, when a defense lines up odd, the QB has to wonder, “are they now in a 1 gap or are they gonna play it straight up and 2 gap us?” The running back is looking at this, too. Experienced QB’s will help teach their backs how to read this.

The goal of over/under defense it to make the accounting process for the QB difficult on 2 levels.

Okie 4 defense formation

1) he can’t accurately count how many guys are on each side of the ball and
2) there can be confusion between the C and QB on who the Mike is, leading to protection miscommunications between the OL and RB.
Okie Under

Okie Under can put new QB’s out of their depth in trying to read what these defenses are doing.

The best team to use the Okie Under to perfection was Denver’s defense in 2015. They rarely blitzed, it was all 3 and 4 man rushes, but it was the speed of DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller that didn’t give QB’s time to breathe, nor did OL’s know who to block.Okie Over defense formation
The same odd man formation works in a 4-3, as well. This is why rookie O-Lines, especially with new tackles and slow processing QB’s can get slammed. To counter this, I think is why we’re seeing more RPO’s.
4-3 defense (under)
Jacksonville will be seeing 4-3 defenses this season who will shade their N away from the TE like above. The issue Blake Bortles and Nate Hackett face this season is the starting TE is new.

They practice against a 4-3, so 43 over/under defense won’t give them fits. Plus, this season the OL are a veteran bunch
4-3 Over defense formation
Where’s the pressure coming from above? Will it be a one or two gap and who is Mike? While the 4-3 Over looks like an easy read, it isn’t because any of the three backs can be Mike. A QB needs experience to know who is Mike, what look the defense is giving and also figuring out what the safeties are actually doing. This is why the longer they play, the better they get at the mental side of the position.

Run-Pass Option-Learn about RPOs: Football 101

I was asked about the emergence of the Run-Pass Option (RPO) with 21st century QB’s. Until very recently, we rarely heard about the RPO in the pros except for when Aaron Rodgers would do it in Green Bay or Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh.

I’d say the #1 reason we haven’t seen them much until recently has a lot to do with coaches. Run-Pass OPTION gives the QB a lot of power because he’s deciding where the ball will go, not always the coach. In read-options the QB hands the ball off or keeps it, either way, it’s a run. In play action, the QB fakes a hand-off for a run, but throws because it’s a pass play. Neither has the choice to run or pass.

Typically, in RPO there will be three options: the QB gives the ball to the RB, or he keeps it himself, or he picks one of two throws to make. This means the coach has no clue what’s going to happen until he sees the play unfold. Same for the team. Power given up.

RPO’s are practiced, they’re not like a QB sneak or he runs because it’s a busted play and he’s running for his life. RPO’s are in a team’s playbook, part of their offense. Which is why when teams use them, it’s not a one time occasion.

To make this simple, they work when a defender has both run and pass responsibilities (usually a MLB or safety). The quarterback reads what that guy decides to do; cover the pass or run, and then the QB does the opposite. This is a cat and mouse: see zone, pass, see man, run.

It’s vital the QB and RB give the same look no matter what. No tells. That’s also crucial. If either give a sign before the snap or right after they’re going to run or pass, then that LB/S cuts off the play. This works best when the receivers are spread out three wide, etc. The QB receives the ball, he sees that defender’s movement and makes a split decision. Until he does, that RB has to act like he’s getting the ball.

Can’t say this enough: While you need a good offense to pull run-pass options off, this is about the defense being fooled.

For a while, GB was really the only team that had a modern twist on the WCO because they had Eddie Lacy and Jordie Nelson. One-two punch. Suck up for the run, Rodgers throws a 40 yard bomb. Stay back because you think he’s going to pass and he runs. They were built for the RPO. Able to play WCO and a spread, plus a QB who could do it all with weapons teams feared.

When Rodgers was first doing these, he often kept the ball himself because that is an option in this. However, as time went on, coaches saw that the same principle that allowed a QB to keep the ball worked for his back, too. So, why sacrifice your QB four, five times a game when you can let your back do it?

If he runs, the QB is going up the gooch. The OL blocks for a run no matter what the QB does. That’s crucial. That helps the QB if he throws because the defense is caught off guard thinking it’s a run play. However, this is the NFL, their off-guard lasts a second, so no matter what, the QB needs to dump the ball quickly.

Why are we seeing more of these? I’m no expert, but it’s young guys coming from college systems where they often ran these. They’re used to doing them and…going to say young, again because what happens after you run the ball? In college, the QB often is the one who runs after reading the defense.

Some coaches are smart and use college plays/schemes to help their new signal callers to make the jump. The thing is, often these plays work. If you’re a QB who came from a spread system where you threw a lot and do the same in the NFL, the defense is going to back up. Run-pass options are based on getting defenses to keep an even number on the line, so you can run the ball. If they don’t believe you will or can throw deep, then it makes it a lot tougher to use RPO’s.

Will we see Bortles do them this season? Yes, he did them this pre-season. Teams have to fear the run (and should fear the QB could run, too), plus that RB needs to get out the way the instant he realizes he’s not getting the ball, sounds simple but it requires him to know where he’s out of the way.

As far as the coaching side, Nate Hackett is a fairly open guy, he seems like he’d have no problem allowing Bortles to do this.

Remember, the run-pass option is about the QB deciding where the ball will go and defenses being tricked into thinking it’s one thing and he does another. If the defense doesn’t think they have to worry about your run game or passing game, RPO’s become useless because the defense will force you into your weakness.

Identifying Mike: Football 101

We’ve all seen quarterbacks gesturing wildly at the line of scrimmage, or directing guys to move around. Many fans believe the quarterback is changing the play; however, more times than not, he’s identifying MIKE. He wants a defense to tip their hand based on what he and his offense does.

What is the Mike?

He’s often an inside linebacker, but also the indicator of the scheme the offensive line should use to block. There are two types of inside (middle) linebackers (ILB). Will (weak side) and Mike (middle). It’s confusing, but it’s about the role one fills during a play. There’s also a Sam (strong side LB) who is typically an outside LB, but can line up anywhere. In a 3-4, there’s also a 4th linebacker, the Edge Rusher.

What’s to remember is just because a LB is labeled W, M, S or ER, doesn’t mean that’s where or how he always plays.

There is a double reason in identifying Mike. First, the QB wants the OL to have an even match-up. Offenses don’t want the defense sending four guys to the right of center and they only have two men to block them. If he sees this, he will call out the LB’s number further to his right. That’s who the center and line should change their gap assignments for, or at least keep their eyes on.

Identifying Mike changes the gap assignments and the protection.

offensive line gaps
Secondly, what’s the #1 rule in offense? Protect the QB. It doesn’t matter if it’s a run play because someone, like a Calais Campbell, could get to the QB in a shotgun position before he can hand it off to the RB. Not just him, the whole line could blitz and the RB is getting slammed, too.

In a typical one back set (see diagram below), the offense will want to give the same look, so defenses don’t know if it’s a run or pass play. The defense is also trying to disguise where they’re sending pressure from. They don’t want to tip their hand who has what assignment. QB’s will often try to assess this by letting the play clock run down hoping the LB or safety will move or give a “tell” so he knows what the protection should be.

Let’s say the SS (Strong Safety) is creeping up. The QB (or OL) determines that it’s actually the S who’s Mike. This lets the OL know what gap to fill, also the TE and RB because that’s where the any blitz/rush may come from. As was covered in two separate pieces on one vs two gaps and over/under, it’s all about disguises.

The Center, RG and RT will aim right and the C may line up across from the DT instead of the NT, or shade him. Of course, he could stay put and the tandem of G/T slides instead. The bottom line is the OL now knows who could be coming through and which guys they need to block.

defensive line techniques
will is mike
In the hypothetical play above, there really isn’t a weak side because the field is balanced. The defense decides to play their Will on the TE side because they think the Y is a dummy, or he’s there to help block the Edge. The QB also decides the W is Mike because pre-snap he sees the SS creeping up, plus the LCB is playing press.

While CBs don’t often sack the QB, they can’t be discounted playing at the line of scrimmage, so he determines between the safety and the CB, he needs more protection from that side. Hence, the Will is Mike.

Once he’s identified, the QB yells out his number (LBs #’s are in the 50’s), so you’ll hear, 56 is Mike, 56 Mike. The OL changes its gap coverage so the C is lined up across from the Mike, not the NT making it 5v5. Or not.

That’s the funny thing about football. The Center could stay put, but keep his eyes on the Mike as needed while the G and T move over. He then moves where he’s needed. He could also call one protection, realize after the snap, he was wrong and swap. What’s key is the OL knowing where to look and who to block.

The story doesn’t end there though because defenses could have a LB act as if he’s Mike, but once the ball is snapped, they change responsibilities.

With rookies or first time starters, teams like to confuse the QB by doing the above. He’s only seen a “look” from this year or the last on film, so they will show him one they haven’t used. If there’s an OL or RB who hasn’t been around for a while, they won’t be able to tell him.

Yes, O-linemen can and do change plays based on protection, provided the coach has given them that responsibility. The Jags have a few veterans and with a former O-linemen as a HC, he no doubt allows it.

Based on his pre-snap read, and the play that’s been called, he or the OL, could yell kill, kill and the play is changed to Plan B. Every snap has a back-up play if this occurs. Most often it goes to a run if there’s a back. However, some QBs will yell kill, but they didn’t really. This can get a defense to relax or prepare for a run and the QB passes.

Football is ALL about disguises, stunts, fake-outs

 In summary, a good QB and his trusty wingmen, will diagnose the protection correctly by identifying Mike and he lives to see another day.