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Tag:Brian Orakpo
Posted on: October 12, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 9:43 am
 

Film Room: Redskins vs. Eagles preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



What is wrong with the Philadelphia Eagles? Theories about chemistry, the pressure of high expectations, focus, character and, everybody’s favorite, the “It Factor” make for great talk show palaver. But they lack substance. Fortunately, there are cameras in the sky that can answer Football America’s current favorite question. Heading into a matchup against their division rival Washington Redskins, here’s what the film says is wrong with this nightmare of a Dream Team.


1. Offensive Line
You already know that Philly’s offensive line is young, incongruent and, as of late, banged up. That’s all true. And, perhaps a little bit surprising. Youth is youth, nothing you can do about that. But with new offensive line coach Howard Mudd installing his straightforward and famously teachable blocking techniques, you’d figure things would click up front a little quicker than they have (or have not).

Under previous O-line coach Juan Castillo, there were five to six different blocking techniques that Eagles linemen had to correctly choose from on any given play. It’s not easy to be fundamentally sound when you first have to think about which fundamentals to use. Mudd changed that. He teaches only one technique that has built-in variations depending on the situation.

So far, many situations have been difficult for the Eagles line to handle. That’s in part due to youth (rookie center Jason Kelce had a costly blitz-pickup gaffe against the Bills, and right guard Danny Watkins initially failed to hold onto his starting job) and in part due to injuries (with Winston Justice on the shelf, Todd Herremans has played at the unfamiliar right tackle position, which has left a void at Herremans’ left guard spot; at left tackle, big but awkward King Dunlap has been filling in for injured Pro Bowler Jason Peters).
 
Though it hasn’t been smooth sailing off the dock, this Eagles’ line is not as atrocious as people think. It’s an athletic group that fits the system well and should improve. Of course, people may not notice the improvements given that the man this unit blocks for always has, and always will, make his linemen look bad.

2. Vick and his line
As Mudd explains so eloquently, offensive linemen are the only athletes in all of sports that play with their backs constantly to the ball. Linemen protect the man holding the ball, but they can’t see the man holding the ball. Because of that, their positioning and execution are built on trust and timing.
Michael Vick’s sandlot nature obliterates that timing.

This isn’t just about Eagles blockers not knowing where Vick is when he’s scrambling around (though that’s part of it); it’s about Vick not having a feel for timing his drop-backs. Quarterbacks take three-step drops when receivers run short routes, five step drops on intermediate routes and seven-or nine-step drops on long routes. Simply taking the steps isn’t enough – you have to synchronize them with the timing of the routes and with the timing of the pass protection concepts.

Vick has a poor sense of this timing. It’s part of his collection of flawed fundamentals. Often, he makes up for his flaws with insanely athletic plays. But in the process, life is always difficult for his blockers.

3. Defensive Wide-9 Technique
People are starting to grumble about new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo’s scheme – and rightfully so. It’s a Wide-9, which is a system built around generating a pass-rush with your front four. The defensive ends align in 9-technique positions, which means they’re outside the tight ends. This puts the defensive ends in space and allows them to be sprinters out of the box. It’s ideal for guys like Trent Cole and Jason Babin, both of whom are having productive years rushing the passer.

The problem is this system puts a considerable strain on a linebacking unit. As Ron Jaworski pointed out in the Lions-Bears Monday Night game, with the ends aligning so far wide, offenses run to the gaping holes inside. This is what the defense is designed to do. The Wide-9 aims to shrink the field by steering all the action inside. But this demands physical, stout linebackers who can take on blocks and play downhill.

The Eagles simply don’t have any. Exacerbating matters is the fact that their miscast linebackers are also inexperienced. Jamar Chaney is a sophomore seventh-round pick who has shuffled from one position to another. Brian Rolle is a sixth-round rookie playing only because he makes fewer mental errors than fourth-round rookie Casey Matthews.

Understandably, Juan Castillo is taking a lot of heat for the defense’s struggles. Only those within the Eagles organization truly know what kind of defensive coach he is. But you don’t have to be inside the organization to see that the system Castillo signed up to coordinate is not right for this team.

4. The Vaunted Secondary
Imagine buying a 65-inch plasma TV, but instead of watching Blue Rays or DVDs on it, you watch video cassettes. That’s sort of what the Eagles are doing with Nnamdi Asomugha. The ex-Raider was worth $25 million guaranteed because he’s the best outside press-man cover artist not named Darrelle Revis. But Asomugha has not been a press-corner in Philadelphia.

Greg Cosell, the executive producer of the NFL Matchup Show and one of the most respected analysts in the country, points out that Asomugha played outside press-man only 40 percent of the snaps through the first four weeks. The rest of the time he was in off-coverage, traditional zone or lined up over the slot (where he’s never regularly operated before). Consequently, Asomugha has been uncomfortable.
 
There are problems on the other side, as well. Asante Samuel is a classic off-coverage corner who needs to be able to see both the receiver and quarterback in order to be effective. Cosell adds that Samuel is also suited for a blitz-oriented scheme, where the quarterback is compelled to throw quickly, thus making routes easier to jump. In this Wide-9 scheme, Samuel has often had to play bump-and-run coverage, which he doesn’t have the physicality to do.

The Eagles may be sorting this snafu out. A few times against the Bills, they used Asomugha in man-to-man while everyone else played zone. But even if the corners are all utilized to their natural talents, there remains concern about the safeties.

Cosell, who can speak at length about the intricacies of Wide-9 run defense concepts, says a major issue has been Jarrad Page’s failures in run defense. Page was benched in the middle of the fourth quarter last week after several missed tackles.

5. The Redskins Matchup
With their bye, Washington has had an extra week to rest up and study Philadelphia’s myriad problems. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett should be licking his chops. The Redskins run one of the most aggressive (and effective) blitz schemes in the league. Outside ‘backers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan can feast on the Eagles offensive tackles, plus they have the athleticism to plausibly keep Vick in the pocket.

If Orakpo and Kerrigan are told to cut loose, don’t be surprised if strong safety LaRon Landry serves as a spy on Vick. Of course, let’s not get carried away with thinking these matchups spell doom for the Eagles. After all, Philly’s offense hung 52 points on Washington’s defense in Week 10 last year. (Philly’s D added seven more.)

On the other side of the ball, the Redskins’ zone-blocking scheme does not create the type of pounding downhill run game that’s ideal for attacking this Eagles defense.

But it does create passing lanes for tight ends. With the Eagles corners stifling the mediocre Redskins wideouts, don’t be surprised if Rex Grossman throws 15-20 balls to Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. It’s a good place to attack given that the Eagles linebackers have also struggled in coverage.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 6 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 11:35 am
 

Orakpo thinks Romo injury blown out of proportion

Orakpo: Romo injury overblown. (US PRESSWIRE)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

A week ago, a punctured lung and broken ribs couldn't keep Tony Romo from leading the Cowboys to an overtime win over the 49ers. On Monday night, Romo's legend grew with another gutsy performance against NFC East rival Washington.

But not everybody is impressed with Romo's threshold for pain. Take, for example, Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo, who addressed the matter Tuesday during an appearance on John Thompson's radio show (quotes via the Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg).

“To me they blown it way out of proportion,” Orakpo said. “I mean, they tried to make it seem like the guy was hospitalized the night before the game, just so we could build it up if they was to win the game — oh he’s a courageous player to go out there and play. The guy was playing just like Tony Romo, running around, making throws. He got hit throughout the whole game and still getting up. I mean, it was blown way out of proportion, but it is what it is.”

Orakpo sounded even more perplexed at how Romo avoided a single turnover despite center Phil Costa's predilection for horribly mistimed snaps.

“I mean, Romo got some type of lucky charm in his back pocket,” Orakpo said. “Because it seemed like every time the ball was on the floor, he was able to scoop it up, not fumbling one time, scoop it up and pick it up and try to at least make a play. Very unfortunate for us. I mean, I’m so disappointed in the outcome. We left a lot on the table. We could have easily won that game.”

To be fair, the reason for the four botched snaps was because the Redskins were, you know, cheating. Surprised Orakpo didn't mention that during his diatribe.

Then again, Orakpo doesn't take issue with DeAngelo Hall's f-bomb-tastic post-game tirade, noting that Hall wishes "he could take it back, but I don’t blame him. He’s already a hothead, so why would you put a camera in his face?"

That's a fair point.

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 3:31 pm
 

Film Room: Cowboys vs. Redskins preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



One of the most storied rivalries in pro football is renewed Monday night when the Cowboys welcome the Redskins to Big D for their home opener. Mike Shanahan’s team is a surprising 2-0. The Cowboys, after two close games, are 1-1, ensuring their performance on Monday’s national stage will spark an overreaction from Football America (at 2-1, people will ask if the Cowboys are legit Super Bowl contenders; at 1-2 they’ll ask if Jason Garrett is right for the job).

1. Perpetually Maligned Quarterbacks
Are any other two quarterbacks, fair or unfair, viewed as blunder-prone as Tony Romo and Rex Grossman? If Grossman were a star, he’d be Romo. If Romo were a bum, he’d be Grossman. Their performances this season have been overanalyzed in contrasting extremes.

Everyone took part in National Dump on Romo Week (Sept. 12-18) and pilloried the sixth-year starter for being a “choke artist”. While Romo has made his share of mistakes in crunch time, in reality, prior to the interception he gifted Darrelle Revis in Week 1, the only late-game mistake that 90 percent of fans could instantly identify with Romo was his botched field goal hold in the January ’07 playoff loss at Seattle (a play that had nothing to do with his quarterbacking ability).

Reputations rarely form by accident, though. The truth is, Romo is mistake prone.

He’s mistake prone because he has trouble deciphering defenses before the snap, and he tends to take aggressive action on faulty hunches. This is problematic, especially if Dallas has Super Bowl aspirations. That said, at the end of the day, Romo still has respectable playmaking talent. Hence his 345-yard performance with a fractured rib and punctured lung at San Francisco.

Grossman is on the other end of the spectrum. He’s not a naturally talented playmaker. But he can be functional when properly used. His two performances this season have received mostly positive reviews. He threw for 305 yards against the Giants and 291 against the Cardinals. But he was somewhat inaccurate in Week 1 and benefited from several terrific catches by Redskins receivers.

He also struggled in the face of pocket pressure (fortunately he had just one turnover from it, which didn’t prove to be costly). Grossman came back to earth a bit against Arizona and, given his track record and limited role in Washington’s offense (his reads are defined, his audible powers are minimal), he’ll likely level off over the coming months.


2. Washington’s ground game
The Redskins have shown a commitment to running the ball these first two weeks. After posting lackluster numbers against New York, Tim Hightower was sharp versus Arizona, registering 96 yards on 20 attempts. Hightower is a much better fit for Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme than he was in Ken Whisenhunt’s pounding approach.

Reason being, Hightower does not have great burst when coming from a standstill, but he has proven to be an effective momentum runner.

A zone-blocking scheme allows for a one-cut downhill run, but as the illustration below shows, the nature of the sliding blocks allows a runner to take a few extra steps in the backfield, which a runner like Hightower needs in order to build momentum before breaking through the line of scrimmage.



Hightower – as well as his backup, fourth-round rookie Roy Helu, who runs with good tempo and changes direction fairly well – benefitted from stellar offensive line play last week. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams were particularly impressive landing blocks on the move and taking angles that created natural running lanes.

3. Tight ends significant
Washington’s offense makes great use of the tight end, in large part because a tight end crossing pattern is a natural outlet off the rollouts and bootlegs that Shanahan’s scheme uses frequently.

While Chris Cooley has had a modicum impact coming off a knee injury, fourth-year pro Fred Davis has emerged as a fluid target in an elevated role. Davis makes good adjustments to the ball and has the athleticism to be effective in space.
 
For the Cowboys, Jason Witten becomes all the more significant with Miles Austin (hamstring) out and Dez Bryant’s (quad) status in question. Witten is the ultimate safety valve. Generally the beneficiary of mismatches created by others outside, he should be able to create a few of his own mismatches inside, as Redskins linebacker London Fletcher tends to struggle covering elite tight ends.
Week 3 NFL Preview

4. The outside ‘backers
DeMarcus Ware has registered more sacks than anyone in pro football over the past five years, and he appears to be even more potent in Rob Ryan’s scheme (Ryan, like Wade Phillips, has aligned Ware primarily on the weak side of the formation, where one-on-one matchups are easier to come by). Opposite Ware, Anthony Spencer (in a contract year) is a stout playside run defender.

But the Cowboys may soon have the second best outside linebacking corps in the NFC East. Brian Orakpo has made two Pro Bowls his first two seasons and has superb strength to compliment his edge speed.

Opposite him, first-round rookie Ryan Kerrigan has flashed monstrous potential through two games. Kerrigan, a high-motored Big Ten player who drew predictable comparisons to Aaron Kampman coming out, has the swiftness to chase plays as a backside run defender and the body control to outmaneuver blockers in the phone booth. He’s a much, much better athlete than many had guessed.

5. Something to keep an eye on ...
The Redskins are a fairly blitz-heavy team, but those blitzes have usually involved safeties. They caught the Cardinals off-guard last week by blitzing their inside linebackers aggressively. Fletcher in particular blitzed with great timing and downhill speed.

His blitzes were done not necessarily in an effort to get sacks, but to make Kevin Kolb move before throwing. Romo is better throwing off movement than Kolb, so perhaps Jim Haslett won’t use this tactic as much in Week 3.

But with the Cowboys having a young offensive line and depleted receiving corps, the reward could be greater than the risk.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games


Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: January 24, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 1:20 pm
 

Pro Bowl replacements for SB players announced

Posted by Andy Benoit

Last season the NFL decided to move the Pro Bowl from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl. The idea was to take the utterly irrelevant All-Star event and make it just regularly irrelevant. It’s been an alright ploy, though a consequence is players from the competing Super Bowl teams cannot compete.

Thus, the league had to replace all of the Steeler and Packer players on the roster. So who did they tap?
 
For the Packers:

CB Tramon Williams replaced by Antoine Winfield

CB Charles Woodson replaced by Brent Grimes

FS Nick Collins replaced by Roman Harper

OLB Clay Matthews replaced by Brian Orakpo

WR Greg Jennings replaced by Larry Fitzgerald

LT Chad Clifton replaced by Donald Penn


For the Steelers:

OLB James Harrison replaced by Tamba Hali

S Troy Polamalu replaced by Eric Berry

C Maurkice Pouncey replaced by Jeff Saturday

DE Brett Keisel replaced by Randy Starks

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: January 24, 2011 10:53 am
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Posted on: November 13, 2010 10:33 pm
 

Week 10 injury news and analysis, part IV

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Panthers at Buccaneers

Tampa Bay center Jeff Faine, who’s missed the past four games, badly wants to get back into action after dealing with a quadriceps injury, while T Jeremy Trueblood (out the past two contests with a knee) looks to return as well. Both are questionable and game-time decisions.

Faine had full participation in all three practices this week, while Trueblood was full-go for two of them, but Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris wants to see how they look in pregame warmups before giving them the go-ahead.

For Carolina, RBs Jonathan Stewart (concussion) and DeAngelo Williams (foot) are out and won’t play. So that’s, you know, not a great sign for the Panthers. LB Nic Harris, meanwhile, is probable.

Lions at Bills

It looks like QB Shaun Hill will get the chance to replace the injured Matthew Stafford for the second time this season. Hill, who broke his forearm the first time he took over the Detroit offense this year, is probable to make his return to the game. Among the questionables for the Lions: DE Cliff Avril, S C.C. Brown, CB Chris Houston and CB Alphonso Smith.

Also, K Jason Hanson is out, and in response this week, Detroit signed Dave Rayner. Which is unfortunate, because I think all of us would have liked to see Ndamukong Suh take another crack at kicking point after attempts and field goals.

Three players Buffalo really could use this week are out, including LB Andra Davis, LB Shawne Merriman, and WR Roscoe Parrish.

Eagles at Redskins

There are seven Washington players on the injury report. All of them are questionable. They include OT Stephon Heyer, S LaRon Landry  QB Donovan McNabb, LB Brian Orakpo, WR Brandon Banks, RB Clinton Portis, and RB Ryan Torain.

Of those seven, Portis won’t play but Torain will, along with McNabb. A decision about Banks will be made gametime. The Redskins would like to have him back, because he’s been so good as a return specialist.

Eagles G Max Jean-Gilles, who’s been feeling the effects of a concussion, was cleared to play today. He remains questionable, though, on the injury report. Meanwhile, G Nick Cole is probable, and coach Andy Reid hasn’t determined who will start between the two of them.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: October 31, 2010 11:47 am
Edited on: October 31, 2010 11:58 am
 

NFC Inactives, Week 8

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Here’s who IS active in the NFC: Packers DL Cullen Jenkins, Bears TE Chris Cooley, LB Brian Orakpo, 49ers TE Vernon Davis, Rams RB Steven Jackson

And here’s who is out:

Alex Smith, QB, 49ers: We, of course, knew this already since Smith suffered a separated shoulder last week. It’s officially official. Troy Smith will start for San Francisco.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers:
Jonathan Stewart will get a chance to improve upon what has been a surprisingly weak season for him.

Mark Tauscher, OT, Packers: Once again, rookie Bryan Bulaga will get the start in Tauscher's place.

Danario Alexander, WR, Cardinals: We know this already - Alexander will miss two to four weeks with a knee injury, but his loss further underscores how thin St. Louis' WR corps is.

Jason Smith, RT, Cardinals:
He suffered a concussion this week during practice when he banged heads with Chris Long. Renardo Fisher will start in place of him, and that's not a good thing for QB Sam Bradford.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: September 21, 2010 4:21 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 8:34 pm
 

Week 3 Top Ten with a Twist: second-year players

Green Bay LB C. Matthews already has six sacks through two games this year (AP).
Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In my experiences, it’s never too early to hype somebody, no matter how early it is in the season or in a career. Sure, you run the risk of overhype, but then again, who cares? That’s partially what makes following and covering NFL football so much fun. Let the compliments and hyperbole fly and see where everything falls (either in the sky with the stars or on the floor with the garbage).

This week, we’re examining the second-year players who have impressed us the most this season. Some were not stars last season, but in their second years have shown they are, in fact, pretty good – if not great – players. Some were Pro Bowlers last year who have continued their strong play. Some have finally emerged this year. And some who were really special last year but have done next to nothing this season weren’t included.

This is the list in which we celebrate those who haven’t fallen into the so-called sophomore slump. Of course, it’s only two games into the season. Still plenty of time for those compliments to fall from the heavens and thud to the turf.

Sanchez 10. Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets: Listen, I know he’s not the greatest QB out there. He’s got a career 54.7 completion percentage, and he’s got 15 career TDs against 20 INTs. But I saw him in last year’s playoffs manage his team to the AFC championship game as a rookie, and he has the backing of New York’s management. He’s not going to be the next Peyton Manning, but he’s showing improvement. And Sanchez (21 of 30 for 220 yards and three TDs) outplayed Tom Brady last Sunday to beat the Patriots. Maybe an AFC East title isn’t out of the question.

9. Johnny Knox, WR, Bears:
Knox is a member of the powerful triumvirate of players from Abilene Christian who are making an impact in the NFL today (Bengals RB Bernard Scott and Bears S Danieal Manning are the others). He had a solid rookie season on offense, but he really shined on special teams, making the Pro Bowl as a KO returner. He’s made seven catches this year so far, and you saw his ability on the 59-yard pass from Jay Cutler last week when Knox used his pure speed to burn Dallas CB Mike Jenkins and make the catch.

8. Pat McAfee/Kevin Huber, P, Colts/Bengals:
Finally, some love for the punters (though we don’t give enough love to give these two an entry of their own). These two were the best punters in the Big East in their final collegiate seasons – McAfee at West Virginia and Huber at Cincinnati – and they’ve translated those skills into the NFL. McAfee averaged 44.3 yards last year, and though his yards per punt numbers have fallen a bit, he’s dropped five punts inside the 20-yard line. Huber, meanwhile, has upped his average yardage to 44.7.

McCoy 7. LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles:
Last season, McCoy scored four rushing touchdowns and he caught 40 passes. Already this season, he’s scored four rushing touchdowns and caught nine passes. Plus, he’s averaging a ridiculous 6.7 yards per rush. He scored three touchdowns in the Eagles win against the Lions on Sunday, and it was the first time a Philadelphia RB has accomplished that since 1995.

6. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos:
Remember how big a loss it could have been when Moreno went down with an injury in the preseason – we asked if Correll Buckhalter or (yikes) LenDale White could take over those No. 1 reps – but since he’s returned, Moreno has reminded Broncos fans why they were so worried about his injury prognosis in the first place. After all, he leads the team with 182 total yards of offense.

5. Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers: Behind Byron Leftwich and Josh Johnson last year, Freeman didn’t get any playing time until midway through the season, where he took over the starting role. He kept his starting position throughout the offseason, but he promptly fractured the thumb on his throwing hand in the preseason and missed some time. But since he’s returned, he’s been quite good, and Tampa Bay surprisingly is 2-0. This, even though Freeman is just 22 years old.

4. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants:
With a solid rookie season, Nicks was a guy who could be expected to make contributions behind Steve Smith and Mario Manningham. Don’t think anybody expected this. Of Nicks’ six catches on the year, four of them have gone for touchdowns. After catching three of them in Week 1, he rolled his ankle and was questionable for last Sunday. But he returned for the Colts game and secured another one late in that contest. He’s becoming a dangerous receiving threat.

3. Brian Orakpo, LB, Redskins:
After Washington drafted him with the No. 13 pick overall in the 2009 Draft, Orakpo had a huge rookie season, recording 11 sacks and earning a Pro Bowl berth. Orakpo’s stats aren’t quite as big so far this year, but he’s still causing plenty of fear among opposing offensive lineman. He’s blitzing more often than last year, and against Dallas in Week 1, he forced Alex Barron into three holding penalties, including the game-winner.

Foster 2. Arian Foster, RB, Texans:
Did anybody see this coming? Especially after last season when he was just a practice squad player in Houston? Well, who would have thought Foster had the 33-carry, 231-yard, three-touchdown career day he had in Week 1 vs. the Colts? Yeah, he came down to earth a little bit Sunday (19 carries for 69 yards and three catches for 69 yards), but still, is there a more exciting RB in the game right now?

1. Clay Matthews, LB, Packers:
He’s been the most dominant defensive player in the NFL this year. He’s got six sacks already this season, and already, there’s talk about him breaking the sack record (um, chances are, this won’t happen). But considering he had 10 sacks last year and is already more than halfway to matching that mark, that’s an awfully impressive figure. And he’s got an impressive head of blonde hair.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com