Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Football 101

With respect to the Dolphins, the NFL, and CBS, I'd like to point out three plays in the game, and also to relive the moment Lance Shulters had in the game.

First, the Shulters moment:

Tom Brady threw a pass down the sideline. Shulters came over and had perfect coverage. He stuck his arms out, and appeared to cradle the ball. I remember Jimmy Cefalo saying 'and Shulters comes up with the interception...' while Rose and Mandich cheered. And a moment later Cefalo said '...but wait, he didn't (?!) and its going to go for a TD.'

This is what happens when luck turns against you. Plays don't go your way that seem so easy...

And now a couple of plays.

The key play in the game - though the game was already pretty much over - came when Maroney ran for his 51 yard run. Shulters - who was playing a deep zone to the bottom of the screen (but is out of the picture) was motioning, gesticulating, and otherwise yelling at Jason Allen that he was out of position. Allen is circled at the top of the screen. He is playing zone and covering the receiver at the top of the screen.

Except that he's out of position. I believe this was a "cover 1" where Shulters was the deep safety, and Allen was supposed to play more toward the line of scrimmage. This is supported by Shulters comments after the game. Basically, Allen was in the wrong scheme. His being out of position meant that there was no help once Maroney got through the line.

Next, lets look at the 59 yard TD run Maroney had.

From the endzone, you can see that Miami was in a good defense for a run, so they knew what was coming. All 11 players were up at the line and waiting. Except that they didn't execute. I've approximated what happened on the left side of the offensive line; apparently Miami thought this would be a run to the right, which it was not. And everyone on the left was blocked, and the guys on the right were too far away or ran into the fray and took themselves out of the play.

Probably, in this case, inexperience played a role, as 8 of the 11 players were not the starters two weeks ago.

Finally, lets take a look at the 4th down play just before the half, where Miami coulda/shoulda/woulda scored.

The playcall was decent, with a crossing route to the tight end, who was covered by a linebacker. One problem with the play: it was predictable because Miami has run it in this situation before. Another problem: Peele couldn't outmuscle or outrun the linebacker to get open. A third problem: Lemon looks for Peele the whole way. Look at his head. In the first shot, he's looking for Peele to make his break, and then he follows him the whole way until he makes the throw. Its no wonder the ball was batted away - even I could see where he was going to throw it!

He 'telegraphed' what he was going to do, and never 'looked off' (ie, looked away from) the intended receiver. Had he simply changed his focus for a moment to the receiver in the corner of the endzone, maybe he could have completed it. At least he would have had a better chance...
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