The Good, The Bad, And The Matt Ryan
Week 2 Film Study Views In this Week 2 edition of Film Studies, QBs take the show as most of the NFL’s headlines are all about them whether its big-time injuries, great play, or more frustratingly for me, as a film junkie, some bad play. So, let’s get started.
There was chatter in Tennessee from Titans camp that half the organization was ready to bench QB Marcus Mariota in favor of the newly acquired Ryan Tannehill, and rightfully so. Mariota has just not improved much as a passer throughout his 5-year career. Just like many other QBs who struggle at the NFL level, Mariota specifically struggles on throws outside the numbers while inside the pocket. He’s slightly better when he rolls out the pocket. In Week 2 against the Colts, there were 2 examples of this with Mariota passing to 3rd-year Wideout Corey Davis. In a play-action rollout to Mariota’s right WR Corey Davis and TE Jonnu Smith were running a “Smash-Wolf Switch Route Combination.” Davis is in the slot and runs a switch to the outside. He goes up the field hard-selling the “fly” and breaks-out 2 yards pass the sticks, giving enough depth for Mariota to get a 1st down. Mariota, however, releases the ball well after the break forcing Davis to come back about 4 yards for the catch instead resulting in a 2nd and 7. In the 2nd play, Davis is again lined up in the spot of the slot but this time as the outside WR and he runs a simple out route pass the sticks. Davis's alignment in this play provides Mariota with enough space to get a completion but this time Mariota is passing from the pocket and he misses Davis wide. It was as if Mariota, who was in the shotgun on a 3-step drop, just flings the ball to a spot in hopes of a completion instead of hitching and hitting the target in stride. It's frustrating to see a talent like 84 go to waste.
Speaking of frustrating QB play, there is a list of several QBs that I’m just over their existence in the NFL. Falcons QB Matt Ryan is one of them. With all due respect to all Falcon fans, Ryan fans, and his MVP season from 2016, its frustrating to see the lack of growth in certain important aspects to his game. Ryan is an excellent passer in all phases between the 20s but he seems to struggle in the RedZone. The lack of execution in the red area ranges from getting the ultra-talented WR Julio Jones more TD opportunities to making some poor decisions with poor accuracy. In the Falcons Week 2 matchup against the Eagles, ending of the 3rd quarter, 2nd and 6 at the 8-yard line and a chance to tack on to a 17-12 lead, Ryan throws a pick in the endzone with what turned out to be triple coverage at the time of interception. The Falcons come out in a 12-personal package, with the WRs on the left side, the 2 TEs are in line to the right of the RT. Ryan is in the shotgun with the RB to his right. Eagles come out in their base 4-3 package showing a single-high safety who is lined up to the right side of the defense closer to the WRs. Ryan snaps the ball and is looking to the right side with the 2 TEs. The inside TE #80 Luke Stocker runs towards the middle of the formation and sits in front of Ryan on an arrow route with enough depth to catch and get a first at the 2-yard line. TE #81 Austin Hooper has a DE lined up in front of him in a Wide 9 alignment, with an LB and DB in the same line in front of Hooper pre-snap. Hooper runs a skinny post. LB #47 Nathan Gerry who is lined up in the OPPOSITE SIDE as the Weak-Side Linebacker decides to pass on Stocker who sits in the middle of the formation, and ends up being the player who picks of Ryan’s pass to Hooper, who has the DB tight on him and an LB underneath his route. It was an abysmal decision by Ryan in a crucial part of the game in which luckily the Eagles could not take advantage and the Falcons go on to win the game.
Not all QB news and play has been all that bad in the NFL. QBs Dak Prescott and Lamar Jackson in just 2 weeks have shown significant improvement to their game which is a very good sign for the NFL and their respective teams. Beginning with Lamar he has shown significant improvement in his base, which was erratic last season, and it has helped improve his accuracy despite him still not driving the ball with force with his hips and upper body rotation, which still causes him to use all arm. He has been able to hit the pass catchers in stride at all levels of the field with accuracy and good ball placement for a catch and run. Now the defenses have been weak so far but it’s definitely a good sign for him and Raven nation and it will be interesting to see if he can remain consistent and continue to grow.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has shown significant improvement in all facets of his game. This comes at a bit of a surprise for me as at one point I thought he had reached his ceiling during his rookie year and has hindered the Cowboys progress. But in the first 2 games in 2019 Dak has improved in his accuracy and ball placement outside the numbers, something that he struggled with before like I mentioned earlier many QBs do. He is also driving the ball with more force with a good base, a good hitch, and impressive hip and upper body rotation on his throws. Furthermore, he seems to see the defenses well and make better decisions. In a play in Week 2 against the Redskins, the Cowboys were able to score on a 51-yard TD on beautifully designed and executed play. The Cowboys come out in their 11 personnel with 2 WRs to the right, #18 Randall Cobb in the slot in a tight split, and #19 Amari Cooper in the outside and comes in motion towards Cobb pre-snap. On the left side, lined up on the numbers, is WR #15 Devin Smith with #24 CB Josh Norman lined-up on him. The Redskins, who come out in their nickel package, show a Cover 2 Man coverage pre-snap. Dak who is under center snaps the ball and turns to fake the handoff to the RB. Meanwhile, Cobb and Cooper cross the field in almost perfect unison, both running Deep Over routes, with Cooper running underneath Cobb about 7 yards apart. This is key because the DBs covering them stay on the right side, with Cobbs cover man staying in the flat, and Cooper cover man dropping into a deep zone coverage, changing the coverage from a Cover 2 Man pre-snap to a Cover 3 Zone post-snap, with the strong safety playing a robber technique covering Cooper as he crosses over. This leaves the free safety to also come down and cover over Cobb who is also crossing over to the left side of the field. This results into Josh Norman being one on one with the speedster Devin Smith who runs a Deep Skinny Post from the left side to the middle of the field, Dak reads both safeties coming down and releases a perfectly accurate and well-placed ball to Smith as he runs past Norman for the 51 -yard TD to tie the game. Well designed play that Dak reads perfectly and executes showing no fear to make the play. Again, consistency from him and the Cowboys offensive staff will be important to the Cowboys' success.
Thanks for reading, please tune in to our Views from the 22 Youtube page as I will visually demonstrate these 3 plays for a better understanding of them. Down the line, I’m pretty sure I’ll get into the other QBs that I’m ready to move on from seeing play in the NFL and make room for the young blood in the league as well as the 2020 and 2021 Draft classes who are expected to have some good talent coming in at the position. Onto Week 3 everybody.