Tag:Charles Clay
Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:17 am

Keep an Eye on: Thanksgiving preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Lions vs. Packers
The nice thing about having a defense built around your four-man front is that when facing a seemingly unstoppable passing attack, you don’t have to concoct a complicated gameplan and hope that your speed-oriented defenders can somehow give the performance of a lifetime. Because an erupting front four, by nature of alignment, can cut off the lifeline of any pass play by flooding a quarterback’s face, you can stick with your traditional zone concepts on the back end.

This is the standard, obvious approach for the Lions. And really, it’s their only prayer for upsetting the undefeated Packers. The Lions selected Nick Fairley in the first round because they knew that with Ndamukong Suh already inside, they would have at least one favorable one-on-one matchup on every passing down. Those visions have started to play out in recent weeks, as Fairley, in limited reps, has shown uncommon quick-twitch burst for a man of his size.

A way teams have lately combated (or tried to combat) Detroit’s interior quickness is with draws and misdirection runs and screens (think receivers running ghost reverses during a handoff or quarterbacks faking the action one way and going to a ballcarrier the other way). The idea is to let the defensive tackles take themselves out of position with their quick penetration and to get Detroit’s incredibly fast-flowing linebackers going in the wrong direction.

This approach, however, is not conducive to Green Bay’s personnel. The Packers are good at screen pass execution, but none of their running backs have the initial quickness or speed to execute delay-type plays. Thus, expect the Packers to combat Detroit’s inside pass-rush by spreading the field and putting Aaron Rodgers in three-step drops.

Normally, offenses spread the field to stretch the defense and make it easier for the quarterback to recognize blitzes and coverage concepts. That’s not necessary against a basic zone scheme like Detroit’s. But what spreading the field still does is create more space for the defensive backs to cover. Detroit’s defensive backs have improved this season, but they’re still not dynamic or deep enough to contain Green Bay’s receiving corps in large open areas.

Final note: much of Aaron Rodgers’ presnap brilliance derives from his use of dummy snap counts. However, those won’t be relevant if the Ford Field crowd is as loud as expected. The Packers may want to consider going hurry-up. They know they won’t be able to communicate vocally anyway, so they likely installed a bunch of hand signals in practice this week. They’re prepared.

What’s more, they know that a hurry-up can swing momentum and take the crowd out of it, plus it would prevent the Lions from rotating their defensive linemen -- a tactic they rely heavily on.

Cowboys vs. Dolphins
Both teams come in riding a three-game win-streak, thanks largely to the play of their quarterbacks. Tony Romo has posted passer ratings of 113, 148 and 112 his last three outings. Matt Moore has posted 133, 75 and 147.

Romo is having, by far, the best season of his career. He’s been accurate, poised in the pocket and sound in his decision making. These are the effects of his improvements. What analysts don’t focus on often enough are the improvements themselves.

Romo is doing a better job at diagnosing defenses in the presnap phase and adjusting his protections in response. Consequently, postsnap, he’s not surprised by blitzes, plus he’s recognizing coverage shifts and how they impact his receivers’ route combinations. These had been Romo’s areas of weakness.

As for Moore, he’s been steady, but the Dolphins would be foolish to think they don’t still need to look for a quarterback after this season. Lately Moore has often thrown out of base personnel, which means he’s been going against base defenses. That’s fine, but it won’t be as easy against the Cowboys, whose base personnel includes a versatile superstar in DeMarcus Ware and superb pass-defending linebacker in Sean Lee.

Dallas has the resources to take away Dolphins underrated receiving fullback Charles Clay, and Rob Ryan is willing to mix things up no matter what personnel he has on the field. Remember, Moore has only had half a week to study Ryan’s multitude of defensive looks.

Ravens vs. 49ers
Because Ray Rice is averaging less than nine carries per game in his team’s three losses this season, there’s the assumption that the Ravens must run the ball in order to win. But last week against Cincinnati, the Ravens won on the strength of their passing attack. They got 104 yards rushing on 20 carries from Rice, but 59 of those yards came on one run.

Overall, the sustaining element that a run game is supposed to provide simply wasn’t there. The Ravens struggled in short-yardage -- though not on the goal-line, where Marshal Yanda stood out and where Rice has been effective all season -- and could not pound on the ground when trying to protect their fourth quarter lead.

There’s still hope for the run game this season. Aside from overrated left tackle Bryant McKinnie, Baltimore’s front five is adequately suited for this zone-blocking scheme -- especially now that left guard Ben Grubbs is back. Rice and Ricky Williams are smart runners, and Vontae Leach is a top-three fullback.

That said, don’t expect a breakout this week. San Francisco has the best run defense in pro football (by a wide margin, in fact). The brilliant play of inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman is the primary reason why.

Willis and Bowman pose additional issues for the Ravens. Against the Bengals, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron compensated for the lackluster run game by calling play-action rollouts for Joe Flacco. That forced the Bengals linebackers to be decision-makers and pass defenders – which they’re capable of, but not simultaneously. Willis and Bowman won’t be manipulated like this. Both hunt up coverage assignments extremely well and both have the athleticism to cover Baltimore’s underneath mismatch creators, Rice and Ed Dickson.

The Ravens’ best chance at offensive success Thanksgiving night is to go max protect and take downfield shots with Torrey Smith and Lee Evans. Their best chance at overall success is to protect field position and wait for their defense to make a big play in a low-scoring game.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: June 17, 2011 10:37 am

Raheem Brock arrested for running out on $27 tab

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Raheem Brock, who played for the Seahawks last season but will be a free agent once the lockout ends, was arrested Thursday night after he ran out on a $27 restaurant tab, Philadelphia Magazine reports.

According to MyFoxPhilly.com, the former Temple player allegedly walked out on a bill at the South Street club, Copacabana, before police questioned him nearby. A source told MyFoxPhilly.com that "there [was] a minor struggle and police put Brock under arrest."

PFT.com says Brock was charged with theft and resisting arrest and was released Friday morning without bail.

We've written previously that the lockout isn't strictly a billionaires-vs.-millionaires battle over money. Like most of us, many players rely on their weekly paychecks. They aren't all wealthy enough to take eight months off work with no financial worries. That was the case with Dolphins rookie fullback Charles Clay. Apparently, Brock could use some walking-around money, too.

Too bad he didn't call Roger Goodell for a loan before allegedly dining and dashing.

Meanwhile, Ray Lewis nods knowingly.

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Posted on: June 11, 2011 8:03 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 8:04 pm

Rookie takes job to make ends meet during lockout

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The stories are few and far between, but not everybody caught up in the lockout enjoys seven- and eight-figure paydays. In fact, for every claim that this is a fight between billionaires and millionaires, scores of team employees -- from the sales department to assistant coaches to even some of the players -- are living from paycheck to paycheck (or in some cases, trying to make their last paycheck last until there is actual football again).

Charles Clay is Exhibit A. The Dolphins selected Clay, a fullback out of Tulsa, in the sixth round of the 2011 draft. In a typical offseason, he would have been apart of rookie minicamp and team OTAs in May, and now he'd be preparing for training camp later next month. Oh, and Clay could have expected a six-figure signing bonus and a rookie contract that would pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million over three years.

Even though there appears to be progress on the CBA front between the owners and players, all Clay can do is wait. And since sitting on the couch doesn't pay the Bills, he's also had to get a job.

Details via the Sun Sentinel's Omar Kelly:

"The fact he’s no longer a student-athlete at Tulsa, and had no source of income has put him in financial turmoil," Kelly writes. "Clay’s in-debt to his agents and trainers, and the bills are piling up. So to stay afloat he’s been receiving day labor type work with a company called LPD, which has him cutting gas at oil wells, doing odd jobs like cleaning the jacks to make ends meet."

During an appearance on WQAM radio Saturday, Clay told Kelly that, “It’s hard times right now. I’m working little small jobs and things to get money. Not getting an income right now is tough, especially when I’m trying to have a facility to workout in, and have to pay for things like [trainers]. …

"It’s tough, but at the same time you’ve got to get by somehow," he continued. "I’m pretty sure there are other guys doing the same thing. Nobody is getting any kind of income. You have to get money some kind of way.”

As we wrote this morning, at this point in the proceedings fans have little sympathy for either side. They just want football. Turns out, so do the players who have had to take on part-time jobs during the lockout.

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Category: NFL
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