Bucky Brooks
Monday October 29th, 2007

• The Colts' overcame the loss of two key offensive starters (Tony Ugoh and Marvin Harrison) and an uncharacteristic slow start by Peyton Manning by leaning on their running game. By using Joseph Addai on a series of outside zone runs, the Colts were able to take advantage of the Panthers' two-deep scheme. And the success of Addai on the ground forced the Panthers to play more eight-man fronts in the second half, which allowed Manning to find Reggie Wayne down the field off play-action.

• New England quarterback Tom Brady took a slightly different approach to attack the Redskins' two-deep coverage out of three-receiver sets. Opting not to force the ball up the field on vertical throws, the Patriots threw more option routes to their slot receiver (Wes Welker) and running back (Kevin Faulk) to take advantage of the deep drops of the linebackers. The reliance on the short passing game allowed New England to move the ball at will against a pretty good defense.

• The Browns took advantage of the Rams' high-pressure, man-to-man scheme by making Braylon Edwards the primary receiver in their passing game. Taking advantage of his superior size and athleticism, the Browns checked to fade routes when Edwards was matched up against Fakhir Brown. After setting Brown up with two fades early in the game, Edwards slipped inside on a quick slant for his second touchdown. By opting to use single coverage against Edwards, St. Louis gave Derek Anderson easy access to his favorite target.

• Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth is making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year honors. Against the Raiders, he displayed a combination of quickness and strength to dominate his match up with Robert Gallery. His initial penetration forced the Raiders to commit double teams to his side which allowed Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom and Kyle Vanden Bosch to feast off the edge. Haynesworth's value is not reflected in the stats, but he is the key to the Titans' defensive dominance.

Kevin Jones' insertion into the line up has allowed Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz to change his offensive style in the middle of games. With Jones averaging over four yards a carry, Martz opted to stick with run and throw off play-action against the Bears. The move to this conventional offensive approach speaks volumes about Martz's confidence in Jones and is a drastic departure from the pass-first mentality the Lions displayed early in the season.

• Detroit's defense used a mixture of blitzes and eight-man fronts to keep the Bears' offense off balance. Eschewing their typical two-deep look, the Lions came after Chicago quarterback Brian Griese from all angles. By using more five and six-man blitzes with a single safety deep, Detroit was able to harass Griese into critical turnovers with constant pressure in the pocket.

• The Eagles exploited Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson's penchant for bluffing blitzes at the line of scrimmage by sending receivers down the seams. With Henderson unable to get to his normal depth after the bluffs, Philly was able to connect on several passes in a 15-18 yard dead area over the middle. The 50-yard completion to Greg Lewis that got the Eagles rolling in the second quarter is a perfect illustration of their strategy.

• The Vikings' passing woes often are attributed to ineffective quarterback play, but the disappointing performance of right tackle Ryan Cook has been a big part of the problem. Three of the Eagles' four sacks came from the right and his inability to handle top pass rushers limits the types of plays Minnesota can run. The Vikings gambled by moving the former collegiate center to tackle. And so far the move has not worked in their favor.

Steven Jackson's return to the lineup solved many of the Rams' offensive woes. His presence in the backfield allowed Marc Bulger to open the game by effectively throwing off play-action. With the offense displaying balance for the first time of the season, the Rams were able to put up 14 quick points. Unfortunately, Jackson was forced out of the game with an injury and St. Louis was unable to maintain that offensive rhythm.

• The acquisition of Chris Chambers is already paying off for the Chargers. Though he had only two receptions, his presence on the outside opened up the middle of the field for Antonio Gates. Chambers' 21-yard reception was quickly followed by Gates' 49-yard touchdown off play-action. As San Diego increases Chambers' role as its vertical playmaker, look for Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson to find more room to operate in the passing game.

Ted Cottrell deserves credit for quietly solving the Chargers' defensive problems. After giving up 30 or more points in three of their first four games, the Chargers have held last three opponents to only 27 points. Against the Texans, Cottrell deftly mixed his blitzes with zone coverage to force Houston quarterback Matt Schaub into uncharacteristic mistakes. Though the pressure didn't get home consistently, the constant change clearly disrupted Schaub's rhythm.

• The Jaguars used the blitz to force Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia into uncharacteristic turnovers. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith called a variety of five-man pressures with a few delayed blitzes to harass Garcia in the pocket. Aaron Glenn's early interception came off a five-man pressure and Reggie Nelson's game-clinching pick was the result of a delayed blitz that forced Garcia to rush his throw.

• Tampa Bay's Joey Galloway continues to be one of the top playmakers in the league at age 36. His 58-yard touchdown reception is his fifth reception over 40 yards and is the shortest of his three touchdown receptions over 50 yards this year. As the only vertical threat in the Bucs' offense, it is simply amazing that Galloway is able to consistently get open down the field.

• The Saints' offense used deception to keep the 49ers' defense on its heels in the first half. The Saints ran a double reverse, flea-flicker and a series of bubble screens to slow San Francisco's aggressiveness. With the pass rush slowed, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was able to riddle the Niners' secondary with an assortment of intermediate throws to the outside.

• The Bills' defense continues to be impressive despite missing several key starters. Buffalo is playing a simple two-deep scheme and getting outstanding play from its secondary. Terrence McGee, George Wilson, Donte Whitner and Jabari Greer are playing well as a unit and the quartet's ability to come up with big plays has keyed the Bills' two-game winning streak.

• Pittsburgh opened up its offensive attack to get off to a good start against the Bengals. Using a mixture of intermediate and vertical throws to their receivers (Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes), the Steelers loosened up the Bengals' defense before establishing their running game. Ben Roethlisberger excels when he throws the ball early in the game.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.