• The Zone Blitz: Week #1 Recap




    Date: Mon, 9 Sep 2013 13:20:59 -0700
    From: Amy
    Subject: Zone Blitz, week 2
    To: Brian



    Well, Trumpet, this has been a long season, ending in a Denver Superbowl win.

    What? It's only September? Denver didn't beat Baltimore in the Superbowl?

    Oh, that's right. It's Overreaction Monday. Or Week maybe. This is the week that everyone makes assumptions based on one game. Yay. Hype, at least half of which will be tossed out by next week.

    Let's start with the AFC North. The 0-4 Division. Were they supposed to be the best from top to bottom? The Steelers can at least point to three season ending injuries as an excuse. The Ravens also had some injury excuses, but forgot to play D in the second half. The Browns look like they decided to cover Mike Wallace and no one else. Maybe they hope he'll get so mad that Miami will cut him and they'll claim him. As for the Bengals, I'm mystified. What happened to the defense? I actually feel bad for the Steelers, losing so many players for the year in week one has got to make everyone feel terrible.

    Could the AFC West be the best top to bottom in the AFC? Denver played well, but KC did, too. Oakland almost upset the Colts and if SD plays good against the Texans, a case can be made.

    The South seems meh to me, pending the Texans games. The Jags were road kill, the Titans won, but Pitt got smashed by injuries, and the Colts were Lucky (pun intended) to slip past the Raiders.

    As for the East, Miami looked better than they are, the Bills coaches need to remember they are in the AFC East not the Big East, the Pats showed sparks and will get better, and Tampa had money on the Jets. How else to explain that stupid, stupid, stupid hit out of bounds. Geno will crash back to Earth on Thursday.

    I feel ok about the Pats after one week. Danny and Julian rocked, and Thompkins will get better timing with Tom. I'm not happy with the punter. Already missing Mesko. Ridley won't be drop boy every week - and he has to better now, because Vereen is getting wrist surgery and will miss a few weeks. I wish we'd targeted the other rookies more: 17 targets to the four rookies, and 14 were to Thompkins, one to each of the others.

    Now, to the NFC:

    The East is half done, and maybe we'll get a football game and not a sitcom. Dallas vs Giants was amusing, but it wasn't good football.

    The South had the typical Saints/Falcons game, no shocks the home team tends to win that one, we've mentioned the Bucs, and the Panthers played well in a loss.

    The North looked good. The Packers played well, but I wouldn't be stunned if Clay got a fine, suspension, or both. The Lions needs disclipline and the Vikings need a QB, but we already knew that, and the Bears suprised me. Maybe they are a real team this year. But, don't they always start well and then go in the tank?

    Now, to the west. SF looked solid, the 'hawks struggled in a win. If SF blows Seattle out, in Seattle, next week, does that close the door on the NFC West being the best division? The Rams and Cardinals are the Rams and Cardinals. Jeff Fisher had an amusing press confrence after the game. He was praising the Cards, saying how much of a better team they'd be this year. Of course, for a guy with a career average season of 8-8, I guess it doens't take much to impress.

    Refs: Can anyone explain why the ref who messed up the Pack/49ers call, giving the 49ers 4 more points in a game they won by 8 gets downrated by the NFL, but the Ref who gives the Giants a TD on a play that should have been blown dead for the 2 minute warning doesn't even get mentioned as having messed up? If the GB/SF ref gets the call right, the 49ers win by 4. If the Giants/Dallas ref gets his right, Dallas wins by 13, and doesn't have to score at the last moment to win.

    Finally, Dynasty. The Unicorns were taken behind the barn and shot this week. Hopefully, next week will be better!


    From: Brian
    To: Amy
    Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 3:07 PM
    Subject: RE: Zone Blitz, week 2


    The refs really seemed out of sync this week all the way around. Can't wait until the real refs come back!

    I've intentionally waited to respond until Tuesday, just so I could officially get all of my overreactions out of my system. Not a good start for the AFC Norris (crap, I think I just let a little Chris Berman seep out...). Brandon Weeden looked terrible, the Ravens were overmatched by a team playing with a purpose, and Pittsburgh was just downright awful. The only "respectable" loss was by Cincy, as I think Chicago is legit. I'm looking forward to catching the short cut version of that game a bit later, but I'm a believer in the Bears. Next week will be huge, as Baltimore needs to make a statement against Cleveland, and Cincinnati has the chance to completely demoralize the Steelers. Things are never as bad as they appear (unless they are), and Pittsburgh's defense looked excellent, so I'll give them a fighting shot in Cincy, as long as they open things up and completely neglect the run.

    But seriously, what was David DeCastro doing? The one thing about the Zone Blocking scheme is that it seems to teach linemen to cut the defender. However, DeCastro took it one step further. He was standing alone as Pouncey was eating up his defender. DeCastro then appears to look right at Pouncey, runs over to "help", and dives straight into Pouncey's knee. He wasn't close to a defender. Was he trying to repay Maurkice for his poor choice in Aaron Hernandez-themed head-wear over the summer? If I didn't know any better, I'd almost say that was blatantly intentional. Honestly, that looked worse than the Suh block on Kevin Sullivan.

    Frankly, I was less than impressed with NE. Ridley looked ok for the short time he was in there, but 2 fumbles isn't going to hack it. Shane Vereen looked fantastic, but is now out for a few weeks, and Danny Amendola is hurt again. Health is a skill that Amendola does not possess. Going into Thursday, other than Julian Edelman, who else is consistently getting open? And I don't remember the last time I saw Brady under that much pressure. It's a product of the OL and inexperienced pass catchers, but that's about as inefficient as I can ever remember seeing him. Vereen especially bailed him out on a number of occasions. Did the mighty Zach Sudfeld even play?

    Detroit really stood out to me. Overreaction Monday is all about sifting through the rubble to find out what was legit, and I think this may be one thing that sustains throughout the year. Reggie Bush is an absolute perfect fit for that offense. He's everything they wanted from Jahvid Best. Joique Bell is also the real deal, good enough to not force them into playing Bush too much, and good enough to fill in if Bush were to go down. A healthy Ryan Broyles will only make them more dangerous. Plus, who knows how good the defense actually is against the pass, but other than 1 play by AD, the run defense looked fantastic. Of course, the issue with Detroit is discipline. They've shown a lack of it from the top down over the years, and it's something that doesn't appear like it will be fixed until Jim Schwartz goes away.

    Lastly, I have to touch on the Eagles. First of all, excellent job by our boy Rich, with his take on the Eagles offense. I'll confess that I didn't pay too much attention to the game, since the baseball season is still ongoing in my household (Partying like it's 1992!!!). But my thought all along is that Chip Kelly knows what the heck he's doing. He and Bill O'Brien would talk shop when both were coaching D I-AA. Then, when BOB joined NE, and Kelly went to Oregon, the relationship continued, and Belichick joined the fray. If a guy like Belichick believes in Kelly, than who am I to question? That offense looked ridiculous in the first half last night. They did slow down in the 2nd half. Vick only had 2 completions after halftime, and maybe Kelly backed off a little bit (I'll have to watch a reair to get a better gauge), but color me intrigued by the first efforts of the Kelly regime. I'm not sure the Eagles defense is good enough, but at the very least, they're going to be a very entertaining team week in and week out.

    Why should I not be concerned about NE? For that matter, talk me off the ledge when it comes to the Steelers (unless you can't). Is the Eagles offense sustainable? What else stands out to you as we start to look ahead to week 2?


    Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2013 12:55:18 -0700
    From: Amy
    Subject: Re: Zone Blitz, week 2
    To: Brian

    I didn't see much in the way of poor refs this week. The Bills/Pats game was called well, I'd give them an A there, and the 49ers/Packers game gets a B+, maybe an A-, which is fine. The only reason I downgrade them is that Clay, Staley, or both should have been ejected for tossing punches.

    I think the Steelers can bounce back. The loss of Pouncey is huge, the loss of Foote less so, and the loss of Stevens-Howling doesn't hurt them too badly. They're well coached and they have championship players. I think the writing off of both Pittsburgh and Baltimore (to a lesser extent) is very premature. However, the Ravens should have found a way to keep Q. He was amazing against the Packers.

    To my Pats. I'm not panicked at all. The injury to Vereen sucks, but he'll be back a few weeks and Ridley is mostly reliable. Still, since we went into last week with 52 guys on the 53 man roster, I'd sign McGahee until Vereen is back. Willis can still play, he showed that last season. Danny looked great, and if we weren't on a Thursday game this week, I think he'd be fine. BB does, too, since we didn't practice for the Jets yesterday! Julian was very good, and Thompkins will improve. The talent is there, the timing is off. Timing gets better as the season goes by. Sudfeld had one target, it was high and got picked. But, that was more on Brady, I think. With Amendola out. we'll have to use the rookies more - outside of Thompkins, they get very little playing time vs the Bills.

    The Eagles were fun to watch, especially in the first half. Both Philly and Washington will be in the mix all season. I want to point out how Chip adjusted his speed as the game went on, he slowed the pace down then the game called for it, unlike Marrone in Buffalo. I do think that offense is sustainable. It suits the key players on Philly's O: Vick, Shady, and DeSean. I just think Washington has a solid D, and as the game went on, RG3 got less rusty.

    What about the Chargers? Two years in a row they blow *huge* leads on MNF? Why does Rivers get the blame? He's not out there on defense. The SD defense needs to man up and play well with leads.

    Who is the most overrated team right now? My vote's on Seattle. I'm looking forward to 49ers/Seahawks this weekend to see if the 'hawks can hang.


    From: Brian
    To: Amy
    Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 10:42 PM
    Subject: RE: Zone Blitz, week 2


    Well, Vereen has been added to the IR- Designated to return, so he'll now be missing half the season. I picked him up as my main backup RB in my home league, and was loving that call, until I heard about the injury yesterday. I wonder if Brandon Bolden will suddenly become the replacement to Vereen? I wasn't impressed at all with what I saw from Blount, and Bolden has shown flashes in the past. Add in the predictable Amendola injury, and you're lucky the Pats draw the Jets this week. I'm telling you, as good as Amendola looks when he's on the field, he's continually dealing with soft tissue issues, which always reoccur. While others seem to battle through these injuries, Amendola's history suggests that he doesn't have that gene. Don't underestimate health being a skill. I see it every year with the Steelers' OL.

    Yes, San Diego managed to come from ahead last night and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I think I just chalk that up to Houston being the better team. Especially early in the season, we tend to see some lesser teams rise up for a half, or 3 quarters, but when it counts, they're not quite able to finish the deal. It's really no different than what happened in Buffalo and Indy. Honestly, I feel like Phil Rivers is being discredited a little too much. But I'm not sure Tom Terrific or Mr. CUT THAT MEAT! could succeed with the heaping, steaming pile of manure that Rivers has been saddled with. I'm not sure there's much argument that SD currently has bottom 5-level talent at the OL, RB, and WR positions. And their future HOF TE is 33 going on 90. Really, their talent level is an embarrassment. Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy really have their hands full.

    After one week, I'd have to say the most overrated team is Philly, just because they're receiving all the hype. Although Houston's close. I'm just not sure how effective Arian Foster is going to be this year. Denver is another option, just because there's no way they're as efficient as they looked on Thursday. But we both know they'll go 11-5 or 12-4, then go one and done in the playoffs. I'm one who thinks Seattle will regress, but I was actually impressed by the way they grinded out that victory in Carolina.

    There are some really good games on the docket this week. Everyone will talk enough about Giants-Broncos and Seahawks-49ers throughout the week, but I'll go in a different direction. I actually think the Rams will go into Atlanta and give the Falcons all they can handle. The Falcons OL is not good, and the Rams have a legit pass rush. And in Jared Cook, it appears that Sam Bradford finally has that one weapon he feels like he can trust. Other matchups that intrigue me include Cowboys-Chiefs, Skins-Packers, Panthers-Bills, and Lions-Cardinals.

    We may as well continue this conversation in the comments, and let the others chime in. Feel free to put me on blast as needed!

    Comments 11 Comments
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Wow. You two can cover some ground. Nice work.

      On the Reggie Bush/Joique Bell love the whole football world is doling out: don't underestimate the importance of the improved play we got at RG from rookie Larry Warford. The guys over at Pro Football Focus gave the big man a (+2.9) grade for his performance. I just finished rewatching the game and would have to agree with that assessment (however the hell you give a grade to an OL, I'll never know, but the 340 lb. monster looked beasty as hell in the run game). Of particular note, check out the block he is finishing during Bush's long TD catch. Nice to see a little nasty up the middle from my Leos. Stephen Peterman was a decent player for us and I was a little bitter they let him walk. Now? Not so much. Warford is only 22. He will only get stronger as he matures. Now, if can just Scott Linehan to change his "run it up the center's butt" calls to "run it up the RG's butt", we might get somewhere.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      I think the Bears O can move up from bottom 5 to at least league average. Defense is more worrying. There was one glaring weakness, and that was covering TEs with our mlb. Urlacher allowed us to stay in base d, but Williams was not up to the task. He didnt play the preseason, so hopefully it wont be so bad. I like Bostic, but rookie MLBs in a division with Stafford and Rodgers wont mix well. And the depth at corner is low, so its not like we can play a nickel too many snaps. The Bengals TEs had 100% catch rate on sunday. On the plus side the Run D was awesome . Paea seems to finally be applying that monstrous strngth.

      Maybe Peppers devides to show up for games 2 through 16. That would help as well.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      I think the Bears O can move up from bottom 5 to at least league average. Defense is more worrying. There was one glaring weakness, and that was covering TEs with our mlb. Urlacher allowed us to stay in base d, but Williams was not up to the task. He didnt play the preseason, so hopefully it wont be so bad. I like Bostic, but rookie MLBs in a division with Stafford and Rodgers wont mix well. And the depth at corner is low, so its not like we can play a nickel too many snaps. The Bengals TEs had 100% catch rate on sunday. On the plus side the Run D was awesome . Paea seems to finally be applying that monstrous strngth.

      Maybe Peppers devides to show up for games 2 through 16. That would help as well.
      paea was very good Sunday.

      I wouldn't be too hard on Peppers. The Bengals run 3 deep at OT and the entire Bengals Oline played very well in pass pro. Literally the first (and only) time a Bears player layed a hand on Dalton was halfway through the 4th quarter.

      It's a shame (for Bengals fans) how the game ended up. the Bengals Oline had the best game of pass pro I can remember, and Dalton had maybe the best game of his career. Two turnovers inside the Bears 20 killed them though.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      Wow. You two can cover some ground. Nice work.

      On the Reggie Bush/Joique Bell love the whole football world is doling out: don't underestimate the importance of the improved play we got at RG from rookie Larry Warford. The guys over at Pro Football Focus gave the big man a (+2.9) grade for his performance. I just finished rewatching the game and would have to agree with that assessment (however the hell you give a grade to an OL, I'll never know, but the 340 lb. monster looked beasty as hell in the run game). Of particular note, check out the block he is finishing during Bush's long TD catch. Nice to see a little nasty up the middle from my Leos. Stephen Peterman was a decent player for us and I was a little bitter they let him walk. Now? Not so much. Warford is only 22. He will only get stronger as he matures. Now, if can just Scott Linehan to change his "run it up the center's butt" calls to "run it up the RG's butt", we might get somewhere.
      I'd agree as well. One thing I didn't mention in the piece, but definitely noticed was the work of the Detroit OL, which I thought looked great against a pretty good front 4 in Minnesota. Jared Allen didn't have much impact at all. Just as noticeable was how bad the Detroit DL made the Vikings OL look at times. Matt Kalil in particular seemed to have a terrible game, and as I was finishing that statement, a quick check at PFF confirms that thought, as they rated him a minus 3, including a minus 2.5 in pass protection. Also, Suh ate Sullivan for lunch. Peterson couldn't get anything going at all, due to the penetration the Detroit DL was consistently getting.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      paea was very good Sunday.

      I wouldn't be too hard on Peppers. The Bengals run 3 deep at OT and the entire Bengals Oline played very well in pass pro. Literally the first time (and only) a Bears player layed a hand on Dalton was halfway through the 4th quarter.

      It's a shame (for Bengals fans) how the game ended up. the Bengals Oline had the best game of pass pro I can remember, and Dalton had maybe the best game of his career. Two turnovers inside the Bears 20 killed them though.
      Honestly, I thought both teams looked good. The Cincy offense was on top of its game, which is a good sign. There were a few bad TOs, but if Andy Dalton can continue to feel that comfortable in the pocket, then maybe a bit of a leap is on the horizon. He looked relaxed, and didn't create pressure in his mind that wasn't actually there.

      But Chicago's CBs make big plays, and Sunday was no exception. The OL also played pretty well, which is something we've not been able to say about the Bears in quite some time. And while the offense was not dynamic, they were certainly good enough. It's a team that finally seems to understand how to use its weapons. I think my favorite play in the game was on Forte's TD run, where the Bears actually spread the Bengals out and went shot gun, creating space for Forte to get into the end zone. Much has been made about his struggles at the goal line, but perhaps it was just a bad OL, combined with unimaginative play calling. If Forte continues to get goal line looks, maybe he can challenge 10 TDs, which would make him a bonafide fantasy stud.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      Honestly, I thought both teams looked good. The Cincy offense was on top of its game, which is a good sign. There were a few bad TOs, but if Andy Dalton can continue to feel that comfortable in the pocket, then maybe a bit of a leap is on the horizon. He looked relaxed, and didn't create pressure in his mind that wasn't actually there.

      But Chicago's CBs make big plays, and Sunday was no exception. The OL also played pretty well, which is something we've not been able to say about the Bears in quite some time. And while the offense was not dynamic, they were certainly good enough. It's a team that finally seems to understand how to use its weapons. I think my favorite play in the game was on Forte's TD run, where the Bears actually spread the Bengals out and went shot gun, creating space for Forte to get into the end zone. Much has been made about his struggles at the goal line, but perhaps it was just a bad OL, combined with unimaginative play calling. If Forte continues to get goal line looks, maybe he can challenge 10 TDs, which would make him a bonafide fantasy stud.
      yea there were definitely plenty of positives for the Bengals despite the loss. Most of their issues are correctable. They had two turnovers inside the Bears redzone that just killed them, or the Bengals have a comfortable lead halfway through the 4th. Unfortunately, they lost their composure a few times (though I'm also not happy with the one-sided calls). Pacman let a punt go and gave up 9yds of field position. A minute later Kirkpatrick gets shoved (and I think punched) out of bounds on a punt, he retaliates, and the refs only flag him. Similarly, at the end of the game the Bengals get a third down stop, the RT is still grabbing and pushing Maualuga a full two seconds after the whistle, gets two more shoves in on Maualuga and then Maualuga lost his cool and threw the RT to the ground. Cutler complains to the ref, who finally throws a flag but only on Maualuga.

      As marvin and a few players noted, they let the Bears get to them. Bears players were jawing all game and the Bengals let it get to them.

      As for Dalton, yea definitely encouraging. He was at 78% completion, and that was despite a drop. 2 TD's and neither INT was on him. These first two weeks are a good judge for the offense. It may be the two best defenses they see all (regular) season.

      It was just those two redzone TO's...
    1. GoBigOrGoHome's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Trumpetbdw View Post
      I'd agree as well. One thing I didn't mention in the piece, but definitely noticed was the work of the Detroit OL, which I thought looked great against a pretty good front 4 in Minnesota. Jared Allen didn't have much impact at all. Just as noticeable was how bad the Detroit DL made the Vikings OL look at times. Matt Kalil in particular seemed to have a terrible game, and as I was finishing that statement, a quick check at PFF confirms that thought, as they rated him a minus 3, including a minus 2.5 in pass protection. Also, Suh ate Sullivan for lunch. Peterson couldn't get anything going at all, due to the penetration the Detroit DL was consistently getting.
      Reilly Reiff did a real nice job on Allen all game. Lots of my fellow fans are down on Reiff. I am not. Kid's gonna be fine. And Suh may be an idiot and may cost his team a game with his antics, but you can't deny his impact on the field. And when he and Fairley were out there the Vikings OL had no answer. Willie Young quietly had a good game as did the rest of the DL. We got two INTs out of our LBs (one was called back, of course). Even our secondary, aside from Slay getting schooled, had a nice game.

      The discipline issues really worry me, though. i used to just shrug it off as guys being too aggressive. Lions were better in the second half as it was Minny that imploded. Their defense committed two drive sustaining penalties in the 4th quarter when they were still very much in the game.

      The final score does not tell you the real story of this game. Detroit manhandled the Vikings.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      paea was very good Sunday.

      I wouldn't be too hard on Peppers. The Bengals run 3 deep at OT and the entire Bengals Oline played very well in pass pro. Literally the first (and only) time a Bears player layed a hand on Dalton was halfway through the 4th quarter.

      It's a shame (for Bengals fans) how the game ended up. the Bengals Oline had the best game of pass pro I can remember, and Dalton had maybe the best game of his career. Two turnovers inside the Bears 20 killed them though.
      The Backup LT for you guys was pretty awesome. But Peppers didn't show up in the run game much either, though that might have been a result of how both teams schemed. I am not expert enough to recognize wether the Bengals were running away from him, or if he was more concerned with setting the edge. But we are used to at least a couple of splash plays by Peppers (not sacks, but at least hurries), and his run defnese was average. Hopefully it's a blip, but they might be missing Urlacher's kick in the butt leadership.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      yea Collins would be a starting LT on a number of teams in the league. Unfortunately, in Cincy he sits behind 2 Pro Bowl caliber tackles.

      As FP's own Dave Lapham (who does Big 12 games and saw a lot of Collins at Kansas) says, Collins was a 4th round pick but had he stayed for his junior year he might have been a first rounder.

      Collins first career start was in 2008 as a rookie. He blanked James Harrison in the stat sheet the year Harrison won DPOY.


      He's excellent in pass pro, but his run blocking still needs work. I imagine this will be his last year as a Bengal unless they offer him a starting job somehow.
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      Follow the link below. Watch from the 30-45 second mark to see what the heck I was talking about.

      But seriously, what was David DeCastro doing? The one thing about the Zone Blocking scheme is that it seems to teach linemen to cut the defender. However, DeCastro took it one step further. He was standing alone as Pouncey was eating up his defender. DeCastro then appears to look right at Pouncey, runs over to "help", and dives straight into Pouncey's knee. He wasn't close to a defender. Was he trying to repay Maurkice for his poor choice in Aaron Hernandez-themed head-wear over the summer? If I didn't know any better, I'd almost say that was blatantly intentional. Honestly, that looked worse than the Suh block on Kevin Sullivan.
      http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-h...ers-highlights
    1. Trumpetbdw's Avatar
      And now Amendola looks like he'll be out 2-6 weeks with his groin issue. If Tom Brady can carry this team to another 12 win season, with 4500 and 30+, the GOAT discussion should probably be shut down for good.

      Amendola looks like an updated/improved version of Wes Welker. Problem is, he can't get past that one bug in the system, which are injuries. We shouldn't ignore that injuries are a skill.