Tag:Kyle Kosier
Posted on: September 28, 2011 2:52 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 2:30 pm
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Film Room: Cowboys vs. Lions preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

For the first time seemingly since their Portsmouth days, the Detroit Lions will enter a nationally-followed non-Thanksgiving game with high expectations to live up to. They’re taking their 3-0 record to Dallas to face Tony Romo’s Ribs and a Cowboy defense that is getting more potent by the week in Rob Ryan’s scheme.

You’ll hear plenty this week about how the Lions can bring some much needed joy to the struggling Motor City, and about how they have crawled out of a miserable past decade, and about the wonders of NFL parity and turnaround stories.

These human interest stories are nice, but they’re only relevant because of what the Lions do on the field. Here’s a look at that.



1. Open formations
The Lions have lined up in shotgun 67 percent of the time this season, mostly in a 2 x 1 single-back set (two receivers to one side, one to the other). Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has taken this approach because it plays to the strength of his two young backfield stars: Matthew Stafford and Jahvid Best.

The semi-spread formations clarify the reads for Stafford and propagate a lot of quick-strike throws (which he has the arm strength and compact release to execute). Because defenses are compelled to roll coverage to Calvin Johnson (by far the most athletically gifted wideout in the NFL), Stafford has opportunities to exploit the seams.

This is a big reason why Detroit drafted Titus Young in the second round. Young is an unrefined route runner at this point, but route running precision is not the end-all, be-all when you’re attacking zone coverages from the slot.

Also helping spread the field is the way Detroit crafts sideline routes for Johnson. When a receiver runs a downfield pattern outside the numbers, safety help over the top often becomes irrelevant due to the nature of the limited spacing. Thus, you get a one-on-one matchup by default. Johnson has never been great at beating double teams.

That’s partly why the Lions specifically send him on isolation patterns outside. They’ll do this at least five or six times Sunday because the Cowboys, like most teams, don’t have a corner who can handle Megatron alone.

Detroit’s running game also benefits from the three-receiver shotgun sets. The very nature of the formation creates extra spacing, which is what a finesse runner like Jahvid Best needs. It also aids Detroit’s blocking. Receiving tight end Tony Scheffler often aligns in the slot as the third receiver. Scheffler has never been a great run-blocker, but as a slot receiver he doesn’t have to rely on strength and technique as much.

When it’s a wideout in the slot, it means the Lions get to run against a nickel defense, something they’ve done with alacrity thus far. Best’s rushing numbers aren’t great, but the Lions’ run game overall is not the weakness it was a season ago.

2. Receiving X factors
Detroit’s second and third best receiving weapons are not wideouts. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew caught 11 balls for 116 yards against Minnesota. He’s a plodding runner with softer hands and more effective agility than you’d guess. Stafford loves when Pettigrew is matched up on a linebacker. It will be interesting if that’s still the case after he watches outstanding Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee on film this week.

Pettigrew ranks third on the team in receiving. Ranking second is Best, who has 15 catches for 182 yards. Best, who has great elusiveness and acceleration, hurts opponents as a true receiver out of the slot, and he kills them as a screen receiver out of the backfield. One of the unheralded reasons Best thrives on screens is Calvin Johnson is a superb downfield blocker.

3. The much-ballyhooed defensive line
The Lions front four is as good as advertised. And it may only get better this week if Nick Fairley debuts as a pass-rushing defensive tackle (the first-round rookie has been out since undergoing foot surgery in August). Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch plays with great leverage and tenacity. Opposite him, Cliff Avril is a vastly underrated athlete who has recently gotten faster and stronger. Inside, underrated Corey Williams can play both a one-and two-gap style.
 
Of course, Ndamukong Suh is the driving force of Detroit’s front four. Suh’s greatest asset is his ability to quickly exert power off of movement. Elite defensive tackles like Vince Wilfork, B.J. Raji or Haloti Ngata often overpower opponents with their sheer size and force.

But those guys all weigh 330-plus and are wide enough to play the nose. Suh, at 307 pounds, is a beast, but he doesn’t quite have that exceptional raw power to dominate every down in a phone booth. However, he compensates by having the initial quickness and agility of a Pro Bowl caliber defensive end (that’s end, not tackle).

Suh is off to an incredible start this season because he’s now learned to consistently use that quickness to create favorable positioning immediately off the snap. Moves that take most players two seconds to execute, he executes in less than one. Thus, he’s always facing blockers who are caught just a little bit off-guard. That’s all Suh needs to take their manhood.

For the most part this season, the Lions have relied on straight four-man pass-rushes. But last season, against upper-tier offensive lines, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham would have a few of his linemen roam around before the snap in order to create confusion. Given Dallas’ inexperience, it would not be surprising to see Cunningham move Suh around on Sunday.

But Cunningham won’t dig too far into that bag of tricks if he doesn’t think it’s absolutely necessary. He knows there are also plenty of ways to create matchup problems with his traditional fronts. For one example, see the illustration below:


From this alignment, Suh creates a mismatch either for himself or the defensive end next to him – it depends on how the Cowboys choose to block it.

In this formation, the Cowboys have three players to block two. But personnel is still a problem. By splitting the defensive end out wide (in what’s called a nine-technique) and putting Suh in the B-gap (between the offensive guard and tackle) the Cowboys have three options here, all of which put them in an unfavorable position.

Option A: They double-team Suh with guard Kyle Kosier and tackle Tyron Smith, which leaves their tight end (either Jason Witten or Martellus Bennett) overmatched one-on-one against Cliff Avril.

Option B: They let OT Smith block Avril, which leaves a terrifying one-on-one matchup for G Kosier against Suh.

Option C: They send the tight end on a passing route, but it will have to be a short one because they’re still dealing with a one-on-one matchup between G Kosier and Suh.

Option D: The Cowboys slide protection to the right side, which is unlikely because it makes life too easy for Detroit’s other two defensive linemen and could also compromise the left side of the field for passing route options.

4. Lions pass defense
The secondary has been the Lions’ Achilles heel the past two years. But this season, the Lions are allowing only 188 yards per game through the air, fourth best in the NFL. That could just be a function of weak opponents, though. In Week 1, the Lions faced a Bucs receiving group that lacks speed. In Week 2, the Lions faced a Chiefs offense that was without dynamic tight end Tony Moeaki and thin behind the seemingly detached Dwayne Bowe.

In Week 3, the Lions faced a Vikings team that humorously believes Michael Jenkins and Bernard Berrian form an adequate one-two punch outside. A true test for the Lions secondary may have to wait another week, as the Cowboys without Miles Austin have a fairly feeble receiving corps.

Quality of opponent aside, give this secondary credit for its improvements. The Lions play a lot of Cover 2, but their corners have performed well in man coverage on third downs. Plus safety Louis Delmas has sharpened his ball-man prowess against tight ends.

5. What to expect
The Lions have not seen a defense as conceptually difficult as Dallas’. Against the Bucs and Vikings, Stafford had to only read zone coverages behind basic four-man pass-rushes. This Sunday, he and his offensive line will have to decipher more blitzes and sub-package personnel.

They have an ultimate resource in Calvin Johnson, though. The Cowboys simply can’t cover him.

If the Lions can exploit that mismatch early and play from ahead, they’ll make the Cowboys offense one-dimensional and vulnerable in long-yardage situations. That should be enough to get to 4-0.

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: October 30, 2010 1:21 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2010 1:25 pm
 

Week 8 injury report analysis Part I

Posted by Andy Benoit

Broncos @ 49ers

The Broncos kept LB Wesley Woodyard, LB Robert Ayers, CB Perrish Cox, S Darcel McBath and DE Kevin Vickerson back home in The States for this one. The absence of these five players is a serious blow to Denver’s defensive depth. At least S Brian Dawkins (knee) and CB Andre Goodman (quad) are probable. Both sat out last week’s debacle against Oakland.

Considering both of these teams have a bye next week, is it even worth it for the Broncos to play Dawkins and Goodman this week against a 49ers passing attack that is without starting QB Alex Smith (shoulder) and relying on a somewhat hobbled Vernon Davis (questionable; ankle)?

Because the Broncos love to sling the ball, it’s worth noting that Niners CB Tarell Brown (back) is doubtful and CB Nate Clements (ankle) is probable.

Jaguars @ Cowboys

The Cowboys are likely without Tony Romo for the season, given that the team will almost certainly be eliminated from playoff contention once his shoulder heals. The Jags are getting THEIR quarterback, David Garrard, back after a 1 ½-game absence (concussion). How’s this for freaky: every quarterback that has replaced Garrard at some point this season has goL. Hall (US Presswire)tten injured. Luke McCown blew out his knee working relief duty in Week 1. Trent Edwards dinged his right thumb after Garrard suffered his concussion against the Titans. And now, last week’s starter, Todd Bouman, is questionable with a right finger injury.

Also questionable is Jaguars DE Jeremy Mincey (hand), who was just given the starting job ahead of disappointing former first-round pick Derrick Harvey (who should be listed as questionable each week with an iffy skill set).

Jacksonville’s interior defensive line should step up in this game. The Cowboys are still without left guard Kyle Kosier (ankle) and his backup Montrae Holland (groin). Phil Costa will start for them. Cornerback Terence Newman is expected to play despite sore ribs. Knowing Newman, though, he’ll come out of the game with a false injury scare at least twice.

Dolphins @ Bengals

Not a single player of consequence is listed on Miami’s injury report. For the Bengals, it’s the other way around. Essentially Cincy’s entire secondary is listed as questionable, with the exception of S Roy Williams, who is doubtful (knee), and CB Leon Hall, who is probable (hamstring). Hall missed Wednesday and Thursday’s workout. His counterpart, Johnathan Joseph (ankle), missed Wednesday and most of Thursday. Backup CB Morgan Trent also sat both days. And, oh yeah, nickelback Adam Jones was just placed on IR (neck). Considering the Bengals have next to no pass rush, the injuries in the defensive backfield are an extra major concern.

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Posted on: September 27, 2010 2:15 pm
 

Knee injuries ding Cowboys offense

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Cowboys will once again have to do battle without left guard Kyle Kosier. Jan Hubbard of the Star Telegram reports that the veteran lineman is out roughly a month after spraining his right knee again. Kosier missed the season opener and final two preseason games with problems in the same knee. He is scheduled to have an MRI Monday.

In the meantime, journeyman backup Montrae Holland will fill the void. Holland is not a liability, but he certainly does not offer Kosier’s level of run-blocking mobility.

In other “sore knee news” with the Cowboys, tight end Jason Witten has a sprained MCL. He told Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas that everything is fine, though Witten’s status for practice this week is up in the air.

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

Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:20 am
 

Hot Routes 09.10.10: Still too much cursing

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

- Good news for the Rams: QB A.J. Feeley is feeling healthy. Oh wait, that doesn’t matter. He’s not going to start any way. Not with Sam Bradford feeling good. "I've said all along, it was going to be his job — it was just a matter of when." Feeley told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "It was kind of predicated on when he was ready. And he's ready.”

- Cowboys LG Kyle Kosier and RT Marc Colombo continue not to practice in Dallas. It’s becoming less and less likely that they’ll play the team’s season opener against Washington.

- Another offensive line story, this one out of Jets headquarters. Matt Slauson has beat out second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse for the starting left guard spot heading into Monday night’s game vs. the Ravens. I’m sure Slauson will be welcomed warmly by Baltimore’s defensive linemen, namely Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata.

- Roger Goodell recently said he wants a new labor deal to be done in March. NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith countered that by saying he wants a new agreement signed by November. NFL.com has the full story.

- Good lord, Tony Dungy just won’t let go of this Rex-Ryan-curses-too-much storyline. Enough already, man.

- When Keith Bulluck signed with the Giants in the offseason, it was thought he would replace Jonathan Goff at the middle linebacker spot. But Goff had a good training camp, and now, New York is rewarding him by making him the starter (and moving Bulluck to the outside). Goff seems honored.

- Speaking of the Giants, things are not going well between RB Brandon Jacobs, who just lost his starting spot to Ahmad Bradshaw, and the front office. In effect, Bradshaw says, Jacobs is feuding with team management. Jacobs, though, says everything is cool between him and Bradshaw – who, it should be noted, has started just one time in his four-year career.

- Ask around the Bengals locker room, and in some players’ eyes, there’s no question. They’d rather have Carson Palmer at quarterback than anybody else in the league. Of course, what would you expect them to say? That they’d rather have Tom Brady leading their team? Of course not.

-Panthers linebacker Thomas Jones hasn’t given up on playing this season, despite suffering his second ACL tear within a seven-month period. Jones said he’s on course to be back by mid-season.

-Even when Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti called on his quarterback to be even better this year, that hardly fazed Joe Flacco. Why is that? Maybe, the nickname the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston has bestowed upon him can give you an idea: Joe Cool.

- Champ Bailey and the Broncos are talking about a four-year contract extension.

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Posted on: September 8, 2010 11:54 pm
 

O-line health a huge factor in NFC East in Week 1

Posted by Andy Benoit

The NFC East may be decided in the trenches early on. Several NFC East offensive linemen are dealing with injury issues heading into Week 1.

For the Cowboys, right tackle Marc Colombo and left guard Kyle Kosier will both likely miss Week 1. Colombo is still recovering from August 16 knee surgery. Kosier is still dealing with a sprained right knee. The Dallas Morning News notes that neither player has practiced this week.

Former Ram Alex Barron will start in place of Colombo. Barron is a liability at times (his technique is perpetually raw and he’s prone to penalties) but he’s a good athlete who has started his entire NFL career. Montrae Holland, who was once upon a time a starter in New Orleans before going to Denver and losing control of his weight, will start at left guard. Holland cannot offer the Cowboys’ front five the kind of run-blocking mobility that Kosier could.

In Philadelphia, it was expected that Nick Cole would be filling in at center while Jamaal Jackson continues to rebound from the ACL injury he suffered late last December. But Jackson’s rebound has already concluded, and he’s expected to take the field against Green Bay this Sunday.

The Giants are also getting their center back. Shaun O’Hara had been out with Achilles tendinosis. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post notes that the two-time Pro Bowler is practicing this week but must be leery of overworking the injury.

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Posted on: August 26, 2010 4:10 pm
 

Jerry Jones' mouth not helping the Cowboys

Posted by Andy Benoit

Wade Phillips would never in a million years say this, so we’ll say it for him: he hates it when Jerry Jones talks about players’ injuries. How do we know? Because every coach hates talking about injuries. Imagine how a coach must feel when someone else is talking about injuries for him.
J. Jones (US Presswire)
Plus, it’s the way Jones talks about injuries. He has a tendency to put undue pressure on guys. (Remember when Jones questioned Marion Barber’s toe injury two years ago?)

Jones was running his mouth again Wednesday, touching on the health of four starters. The first victim was right tackle Marc Colombo, who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. "He's very pleased that they cleaned out and found what they found," Jones said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "It makes him very optimistic, and me too, about his future — not just this year, but years to come. Really, really I think (having had the surgery) is a good thing."

Next, veteran linebacker Keith Brooking. "I like the idea of Brooking getting a little time off and a break away from what he will be asked to do during the season," Jones said.

Okay, so far so good. Nothing too bad here. After all, it’s been expected that Colombo and Brooking will both be ready for the opener.
But then there was what Jones said regarding Kyle Kosier. The left guard was expected to miss up to three regular season games with a sprained knee. But the owner thinks the recovery time can be quicker – much quicker, in fact.

"We'll get him back — hopefully, hopefully — for the first game," Jones said. "I'm planning on it. ... We'll see how he progresses."
Perhaps Kosier is ahead of schedule and will be ready for Week 1. It still does him – and the rest of the team – a disservice to make that information public. What if Kosier ends up missing the first three games, as expected? Now he looks bad, and the Cowboys training staff thinks they look bad.

Jones also touched on the health of wide receiver Dez Bryant, though he put noticeably less pressure on the prized first-round rookie: "Certainly Dez is improving, just (chomping) at the bit, can't understand why he can't get out here and participate," Jones said. "But he's got to have blind faith in his coaches and trainers that we're doing what's best."

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Posted on: August 20, 2010 9:35 am
 

Hot Routes 8.20.10: Positivity everywhere

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Got links for the Hot Routes? Follow us on Twitter or send an email to josh [dot] katzowitz [at] cbsinteractive [dot] com.

-Bills QB Brian Brohm, vying for that backup spot behind Trent Edwards, thinks his performance against the Colts on Thursday night went “pretty well.” Coach Chan Gailey counters that by saying Brohm was just OK.

-Despite the 13-point loss toe Bills, Indy Star columnist Bob Kravitz finds some reasons to be positive . Their names are QB Curtis Painter and KR Devin Moore.

-I didn’t watch much of the Patriots-Falcons game beyond looking for how Patriots WR Wes Welker would perform – he did quite well – but I did notice Falcons DE Kroy Biermann. So did coach Mike Smith .

-Something seems a little off about this picture . I actually have some friends who are field turf management guys (albeit for baseball). This would never happen under their watch.

-The Eagles say it’s a different training camp feel with Kevin Kolb as the starting QB instead of Donovan McNabb.

-Dolphins QB Pat White is quickly becoming an afterthought . And man, he was so good at West Virginia.

-Cowboys C Kyle Kosier, who suffered a sprained MCL, is hoping to get back by season opener.

-Joe Haden is pushing Eric Wright for a starting spot in the Cleveland secondary . Wright says he’s fine with the competition. It probably helps that he’s coming off the best season of his career.

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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