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Plus, film-study notes on all 32 teams in advance of Sunday’s and Monday’s Week 2 games

By Andy Benoit
September 16, 2016

New Orleans at N.Y. Giants

Saints: The book on new left guard Andrus Peat after Week 1 is easy to read. When Peat is a straight downhill run-blocker, he’s very effective. But when he’s going in any other direction, he tends to overextend and lose balance.

Giants: The Saints may want to think twice about running behind Peat this week. The closer your run’s point-of-attack is to Olivier Vernon, the more likely your run is to be stuffed.

* * *

Tennessee at Detroit

Titans: The Titans had five snaps out of an old-school full house formation against the Vikings last week, often with both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry on the field. It’s a smoke and mirrors smashmouth formation for them, though. Four of those five times, they threw the ball.

Lions: Detroit is 1-0 because the Colts could not handle Ameer Abdullah and especially Theo Riddick in the passing game. Matthew Stafford was 10-for-10 for 120 yards throwing to those guys. Riddick is the best “angle” route runner in the NFL.

* * *

Dallas at Washington

Cowboys: In the past the Cowboys have been aggressive with D-line slants against Washington. (That’s a staple of coordinator Rod Marinelli’s approach.) Washington will have a plan for them, especially in the running game.

Washington: Kirk Cousins’ interception to Ryan Shazier was the type of brainfart that called forth Cousins’ doubters in years past. Shazier was in as basic of Cover-3 zone positioning as it gets.

* * *

Kansas City at Houston

Chiefs: Will we see more plays that leave J.J. Watt unblocked by design just like in last year’s Wild-Card game? An offense would rather make Watt beat them mentally than physically.

Texans: Impressive debut for first-rounder Will Fuller (five catches, 107 yards and a touchdown). He’s dangerous vertically and running after the catch.

* * *

Miami at New England

Miami: Ndamukong Suh & Co., after this game, will have faced arguably the two most callow and disjointed O-lines in the NFL.

New England: Against Arizona, Jimmy Garoppolo was 11-for-11 for 143 yards (13.0 YPA) throwing out of 3x1 formations. From 2x2 formations, he was 7-for-13 for just 43 yards (3.3 YPA). Unbalanced formations like 3x1 help a QB because they’re harder for a defense to disguise coverages against.

• ROB GRONKOWSKI, MASTERMIND: He’s thought of as a good-old-bro, but the Pats’ All-Pro tight end is really one of the brainiest players at his position. Just ask the coaches who game-plan for and against him.

* * *

Baltimore at Cleveland

Ravens: Much was made about the Ravens spending most of their game in base personnel, rather than the trendier three-wide receiver personnel package. One reason they may have done that: By playing base, they kept the Bills out of the complex sub-package fronts that Rex Ryan likes. That would be a smart way to simplify the game for the two starting rookies on the left side of the offensive line: tackle Ronnie Stanley and guard Alex Lewis.

Browns: One positive from the loss at Philly: Third-round rookie Carl Nassib clearly got the better of his matchup against (former) Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce.

* * *

San Francisco at Carolina

49ers: Blaine Gabbert is playing like a QB who has had coaches shouting at him after every snap to make quick decisions. That’s how Gabbert needs to be coached.

Panthers: Kelvin Benjamin doesn’t change Carolina’s passing attack, he makes it more of what it already was.

* * *

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

Bengals: When Geno Atkins lines up directly over the center in nickel, offenses must be on high alert for some sort of zone blitz.

Steelers: We think of Pittsburgh as a high-flying offense because, well, it is. But guess what: They also lined up in a three-tight end set and ran it 10 times for 65 yards out of that set on Monday night.

* * *

Tampa Bay at Arizona

Buccaneers: This is just the beginning for Jameis Winston. You could argue that no young quarterback fits his team’s system better than Winston fits Tampa Bay’s.

• THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUNG QBS: Week 1 competency is great for new players, but it’s hardly a predictor of success. Checking in with Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.

Cardinals: Defensive coordinator James Bettcher hardly blitzed at all last Sunday night. Was that because of New England’s quick-strike style? Or is it because Bettcher can’t trust his No. 2 corner right now? (It was third-round rookie Brandon Williams Sunday night, it might soon be Justin Bethel. Either way, the Cards have a problem here.) We’ll find out this week because Jameis Winston is the type of quarterback you do blitz.

* * *

Seattle at Los Angeles

Seahawks: Before you suggest that Russell Wilson should rest his ankle because he’s facing a “pathetic” Rams team, remember that the Rams have beaten the Seahawks each of the last two years (including a sweep in 2015).

Rams: Todd Gurley ran well Monday night. Unfortunately, running back is maybe the game’s most co-dependent position.

* * *

Atlanta at Oakland

Falcons: This game won’t be about whether Julio Jones can beat Oakland’s corners. It will be about whether Jones can beat the zone safeties and linebackers who will be doubling him.

Raiders: Amari Cooper’s 34-yard catch against the Saints was one of the best designed deep-shot plays you’ll see. It was three-tight end personnel. Cooper, the only wideout in the game, ran an “over” route, going diagonally across the field behind all three tight ends, whose routes were flooding the left side. The only coverage with an answer for that tactic is pure man-to-man. (And how many corners can cover Cooper man-to-man across the entire field?)

• KHALIL MACK, JADEVEON CLOWNEY, AND THE JOURNEYS TAKEN: The NFL careers of Mack and Clowney are off to different starts. Did the paths they took shape them into the players they are today?

* * *

Jacksonville at San Diego

Jaguars: Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns need to be a lot better against press coverage than they were last week. That’s the biggest dimension of Jacksonville’s offense.

Chargers: You hate to rule out any team so early, but the Keenan Allen injury—on top of the Stevie Johnson injury—really hurts. They can’t replace Allen’s proficiency on post patterns.

* * *

Indianapolis at Denver

Colts: They lost at home in Week 1 but on the bright side, their O-line looked much better than a year ago. That’s good, because this clearly remains a deeper drop-back style offense.

Broncos: Trevor Siemian did his job but it wasn’t as sterling a performance as the TV copy made it out to be. What TV doesn’t show are the downfield throws a quarterback should attempt but doesn’t.

* * *

Green Bay at Minnesota

Packers: Nick Perry had one of his best NFL games in Week 1. He flashed as a pass rusher and really stood out as an edge-setter against the run. He’ll continue to get more snaps ahead of Julius Peppers, who is now being used as a nickel defensive tackle.

Vikings: Ditto Ron Jaworski: The 2016 Vikings will ultimately be better off with Sam Bradford than they would have been with Teddy Bridgewater. Bradford is a more aggressive intermediate passer.

* * *

Philadelphia at Chicago

Eagles: Doug Pederson believes in first down passing to help his QB. Carson Wentz, in his NFL debut, was 9-for-13 for 140 yards and a touchdown on first-down throws. About half of those involved play-action.

Bears: As my friend Fran Duffy of Philadelphia Eagles TV wisely pointed out, the Eagles must have a plan for when Alshon Jeffery lines up in different spots in the red zone.

* * *

Buffalo at N.Y. Jets

Bills: If Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore struggle, Buffalo's defense, with all of its Quarters coverage concepts, won’t function.

• LESEAN MCCOY’S NEW REALITY: Some people think running backs have become replaceable cogs in today’s pass-happy NFL. But on the field and in the film room, the job has never been more complicated.

Jets: Quincy Enunwa’s ability to make contested catches potentially brings a whole new dimension to this offense. It’s something to watch closely in coming weeks.

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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