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Tag:Eric Winston
Posted on: January 4, 2012 11:21 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 11:46 am
 

Film Room: Texans vs. Bengals wild-card preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


The Bengals managed to back-in to the playoffs despite going 1-6 against teams with a winning record. They may not seem like a dangerous playoff opponent, but if you’re the Texans – a team that’s 0-0 all-time in postseason play – every playoff opponent is dangerous. Here’s a breakdown of the Saturday afternoon wild card matchup.


1. Bengals run game vs. Texans front seven
Cincinnati’s methodical, power-based rushing attack (ranked 19th) struggles against fast defensive front sevens. Cedric Benson has more lateral agility than you’d guess, but he lacks the elite initial quickness to make dramatic cutbacks early in the run.

This lends a certain predictability to Cincinnati’s ground game. Less concerned about getting burned in their own over-pursuit, front seven defenders take a faster, more attack-oriented approach.

The Bengals counter this by overloading with six-man offensive lines and multiple lead-and motion-blockers. A speedy defense might trip them up early in the game, but the belief is Benson and his blockers can wear it down late.

That wasn’t the case when these teams met in Week 14. The Bengals tried to go to the ground to protect a late lead, but Benson totaled minus-five yards on five carries in the fourth quarter. Not only are the Texans’ linebackers collectively faster than any in the NFL, but defensive ends – J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith and Tim Jamison are elite penetrating run-stoppers.

If the Bengals want to sustain offense against Wade Phillips’ crew, they’ll have to go to the air.

2. Dalton and the passing attack
The second-rounder from TCU has been one of the steadiest, most cerebral game-managers in all of football this season. What Dalton lacks in arm strength he makes up for in timing, poise and confidence.

First-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has built a system ideally suited for Dalton, featuring play-action and rollouts, moving pockets and quick-strike reads to the slot and flats (hence the expanded joker role for tight end Jermaine Gresham). Dalton has the pocket toughness and moxie to make it work.

But that speedy front seven from Houston can jeopardize all this. It’s not just that the Texans sack quarterbacks (they ranked sixth in that department this season), it’s that they make them play fast. Connor Barwin’s and Brooks Reed’s relentless off the edge rattles pockets; J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith are two of the few 3-4 ends who can beat a pass-blocker with a quick first step; and perhaps most significant, inside linebacker

Brian Cushing blitzes with impeccable speed and timing. Cushing’s effectiveness in this sense is a big reason why Houston has frequently had success blitzing with just five rushers. Able to keep defenders back, the Texans have racked up gobs of coverage sacks.

Dalton is willing to hang in there against the blitz (worth noting is that last time these teams met, Phillips was more aggressive than usual, occasionally playing Cover 0 and bringing the entire gauntlet of defenders). He’s been just a tad inconsistent in his precision accuracy the last few games, and he quietly struggled throughout the year on deep balls. These issues, however, have not derived from hasty or flawed mechanics and aren’t prominent enough for a defense to intentionally exploit.

Green and Joseph will square off again in the playoffs. (Getty Images)

3. Johnathan Joseph on A.J. Green
The Bengals passing attack centers around the downfield acrobatics of A.J. Green. They take several deep shots a game with the rookie Pro Bowler – often off play-action from run formations – and have him clear out coverage for the underneath receivers in the flats.

Interestingly, Green will be guarded by Johnathan Joseph, the sensational ex-Bengals corner who’s now the fulcrum of Houston’s coverage schemes. Joseph is arguably the premier deep ball defender in the NFL. That’s a big reason why he’s in the select group of corners who truly shadow the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver week in and week out.

Joseph’s unique talent lends multiplicity and versatility to the rest of Houston’s secondary. That’s something Dalton and his ancillary targets must adjust to (one-on-one coverage for Jerome Simpson is not guaranteed this Saturday). The Joseph-Green matchup could very well decide the outcome. The last bout was a draw; Green finished with just 59 yards receiving but did have a tremendous 36-yard touchdown.

4. Bengals D vs. T.J. Yates
Even though it was Yates’ first start on the road, Gary Kubiak did not keep tight reigns on his fifth-round rookie quarterback at Cincinnati. He ran Houston’s regular passing attack, which is built around play-action off the stretch handoff (see: below), screens and downfield crossing patterns that attack man-to-man or Cover 3 (a zone the Bengals commonly play against base offensive personnel).

If you could characterize Gary Kubiak’s offense in one snapshot, this would be it. This is the stretch handoff, the most potent play in Houston’s zone run game. We froze the shot here because it’s indeterminable whether it’s a run or a play-action pass. Look at the Bengals back level defenders. The linebackers (53 Thomas Howard and 58 Rey Maualuga) have no choice but to flow right; the defensive backs are playing back and not attacking the run or their receiver.

The stretch handoff forces an entire defense to pause before committing to an attack. It presents a more dynamic play-action element because when it’s finally revealed whether the quarterback handed the ball off or kept it himself, the play has been unfolding for nearly two seconds (much longer than a traditional play-action). By this point, if it’s a handoff, the offensive linemen are further down their run-blocking paths; if it’s a pass, the receivers are further into their routes. Thus, any defenders who misdiagnoses the play is caught even further out of position than usual.

This is the case if the stretch play is executed well. As an offense, the risk is that when your stretch play is executed poorly, the drawn-out time elements work just as potently against you, as defenders that easily sniff out what you’re doing now have more time to react.

Kubiak trusted Yates to make plays; aside from a few short-armed throws, Yates responded extremely well. He exhibited his quick release, poise in the pocket and patience in progressions, completing 26 of 44 for 300 yards and engineering a brilliant 13-play, 80-yard game-winning touchdown drive.

Since then, Yates’ confidence has led to a few bad decisions. He had two atrocious interceptions in the loss to Carolina and did not push the ball downfield the next week when Indianapolis’ defense took away the crossing routes and rollout passes. There’s no telling how Yates might respond to unfamiliar looks in a playoff game.

A deep, lively defensive line has allowed Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to drift away from some of the high-risk pressure concepts that have long defined his system, but don’t be surprised if Zimmer throws a few safety/corner blitzes at the rookie on Saturday.

5. Texans zone run game
Even if they’re confident in Yates and finally have Andre Johnson at full force, the Texans will center their offensive attack around the ground game. Their front five is by far the best zone-blocking unit in the league – LT Duane Brown, C Chris Myers and RT Eric Winston have all had Pro Bowl caliber seasons – and they have the AFC’s best all-around runner in Arian Foster.

Compact 220-pound backup Ben Tate can also move the chains. The Bengals have a staunch run defense, thanks to meaty nose tackle Domata Peko and the great one-on-one play of his sidekick Geno Atkins. They also benefit from the athleticism at linebackers and the superb outside tackling of cornerback Nate Clements.

However, this defense did give up a big run to Ben Tate in Week 14 and got burned on huge runs by Ray Rice (who plays in a zone scheme similar to Houston’s) in both losses to Baltimore.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Wild Card games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 7:49 pm
 

Knighton's opinon doesn't bother Kubiak

KnightonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

We’ve chronicled how much Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton absolutely HATES the Texans. He told us that in the lead-up to Houston’s win last Sunday, and he said it again after the Jaguars loss was complete. It’s because, he said, the Texans are dirty.

"It was just the dirty stuff they were doing,” Knighton said. “I don't want to get into specifics; I just don't like them. … I'm not going to get into names or anything like that, but we play them again.”

Jacksonville defensive end Jeremy Mincey also accused the Texans of stepping on his head when he lay on the ground.

All of which led Houston coach Gary Kubiak to say: Yeah? And so what?

“It doesn't bother me," Kubiak said Monday, via the Houston Chronicle. "We're going to put 46 guys out there and play as hard as we can play. Other than that, I've got no comment on it."

This is the second-straight week, a Texans opponent has accused them of dirty play, but when Tennessee defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks complained about Houston offensive linemen Eric Winston and Wade Smith, Marks also said their cut-blocks were legal.

PFT
has a good explanation of what constitutes a legal cut block from an illegal cut blog: “Cut blocks are legal. It’s even legal for an offensive lineman on a running play to engage a defensive lineman and then have a second offensive lineman come in and hit the defensive lineman low. It only becomes illegal if the two offensive players engaged in the high-low blocks weren’t lined up next to each other on the offensive line. So it’s legal with a center and a guard, but illegal with a center and a tackle.”

Future Texans opponents should expect the same kind of stunts from the Texans. Namely, plenty of (legal) cut blocking.

“It's just part of what we do," Kubiak said. "We think to be good at running the football, you've got to do the little things in the run game, especially on the back side that create space for your players.

"It's just something that we think is important to being successful.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 11:19 am
 

White understands why college athletes take money

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The University of Miami football program was on the receiving end of a swift kick to the groin Tuesday when Yahoo! Sports reported that a former booster admitted to providing "thousands of impermissible benefits" to at least 72 Hurricanes athletes over an eight-year period.

Some of those named in the story currently play in the NFL. Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (who attended the "U" but wasn't cited for wrongdoing in Yahoo! Sports' investigation) on Wednesday spoke publicly about the allegations, as did his Texans teammate and "U" alum, Eric Winston.

Commentary wasn't reserved to just former Hurricanes, though. Whether universities making handsome profits off its athletic programs should pay its athletes has long been debated. And Wednesday night, Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, who attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham, took to Twitter to go on record on the matter:

"How can u expect a kid to turn down a 30,000 dollar check when they momma starving u can't be serious I'm taking it every time cause family comes first."

And that's the crux of the argument from those who feel college athletes deserve more than a scholarship for their contributions to a university. But White was just getting warmed up. Here are his other tweets on the subject (all sic'd):
  • "They got to change the 3 year rule the nfl has cause its killing the kids." 
     
  • "Found out today ohio state made 2 million for selling terrell pryor jersey last year amazing and he gets kicked out of the university so he doesn't even get to finish his education for free thanks NCAA." 
     
  • "So the biggest crocks in football thinking about giving miami the death penalty ridiculous how about the NCAA fix the rules." 
We consulted the Google Tubes and couldn't find any mention of Ohio State making $2 million on Pryor jerseys, but we did come across this Forbes.com slideshow that said the Buckeyes football program made $36 million in profits in 2009. Certainly some of that came from jersey sales.

Exact dollar amounts aside, White makes a fair point. CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel, who wrote that the NCAA shouldn't give Miami the death penalty, later tweeted his own proposal for paying college athletes: "How about this: Pay athletes ... but make them pay their own way. They can't have it both ways. Not to me."

Works for us, and we're guessing players would be in favor of it, too (assuming the cost of paying their own way isn't greater than or equal to the payments they would get from the school).

While this makes for a swell debating topic, the real issue is if the NCAA will ever change the rules. As it stands, we wouldn't bet Nevin Shapiro's $930 million Ponzi scheme winnings on it.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 17, 2011 9:00 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 10:38 pm
 

VIDEO: Winston, Johnson talk about Miami scandal

Posted by Will Brinson

You may have heard of this little scandal currently rocking the University of Miami. Something or another about prostitutes, cash-for-play and various other terrible things that have become par for the course in college athletics these days.

Our own Gregg Doyel believes that Miami should get the old death penalty from the NCAA, but that's unlikely to happen. Also unlikely to happen? The NFL punishing players for crimes they committed in college.

While you ponder that, take a peek at some video of former Hurricanes and current Texans Andre Johnson and Eric Winston discussing the latest South Beach disaster. For what it's worth, Winston wasn't mentioned in the report, and Johnson was only mentioned once, in relation to Nevin Shapiro's discussions of drinks being purchased at a club.

"I wasn't in clubs too much when I was in college," Johnson responded. "He knows and I know what really happened. It's over and done with."



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 16, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 2:59 pm
 

NFL Podcast: Eric Winston

E. Winston talks with Will Brinson on our latest NFL Podcast (Getty). Posted by Will Brinson

Eric Winston might be one of the best interviews in the NFL -- the guy is all over the media scene and he's the type of dude who is a hulking offensive lineman but yet smart enough to pen a Monday Morning Quarterback column.

So we were pretty stoked to talk to the Texan about his team's big start, what about Arian Foster makes him so dangerous, what it was like to help block in that big first game, whether the team can win the division this year, who the zaniest Texan is and how he thinks the state of social media and athlete interaction works with fanhood these days.

Well, that and much, much more, obviously. Click the play button and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes .



If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .




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

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