Tag:Levi Brown
Posted on: October 27, 2011 11:39 am

Keep an Eye On: Week 8's finer points of analysis

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Giants vs. Dolphins
One of the more confounding issues with the Dolphins this season has been the decline of their pass-rush. After recording 39 sacks in 2010 (tied for 10th best in the NFL) Miami entered last week’s game against Denver with just eight. They wound up recording seven sacks in the game, but that was in part because of Tim Tebow’s inability to make quick reads or get the ball out.

The Giants’ reshuffled offensive line has been hit or miss in pass protection thus far (more “hit” than “miss”). At Arizona in Week 4, their brilliant protection practically won the game. But the next week it waffled against Seattle’s underrated D-line (Chris Clemons rather enjoyed facing left tackle Will Beatty).

The Dolphins have one of the game’s best all-around edge-rushers in Cameron Wake, the reigning AFC sack leader. His leverage and tenacity give him strength that’s much better than his size indicates. Wake has been oddly quiet in non-two minute situations this season, though he abused Denver’s somewhat lumbering right tackle, Orlando Franklin, last week.

Giants right tackle Kareem McKenzie is more polished than Franklin but has slower feet. He’ll need help. On the other side, Miami may have an under-the-radar pass-rushing talent in Jared Odrick, who somewhat resembles a thicker Jason Taylor.

Ravens vs. Cardinals
The Ravens offense owes everyone a good performance after ruining one of our 17 precious Monday night games. They should be able to get on track against a Cardinals defense that has struggled to generate a consistent pass-rush despite aggressive blitzes from new coordinator Ray Horton.

The intrigue is on the other side of the ball. Roughly two months after the trade and $20-million-plus investment in Kevin Kolb, some Cardinal fans are actually wondering if the 27-year-old quarterback should be benched. That’s the kind of ridiculous thinking that those who don’t actually contribute any skin in the game can get away with. Ken Whisenhunt knows that he’d never get another coaching job if he were to bench Kolb for John Skelton.

Kolb hasn’t been great, but he’s hardly the problem. Arizona’s “non-Fitzgerald” receivers have not been able to get open. General manager Rod Graves may deserve some heat for letting Steve Breaston get away this past offseason, though Graves’ logic was understandable at the time. Third-round rookie Andre Roberts showed intriguing potential as a speedy slasher last season.

Roberts looked like a future starter, and he cost a fraction of what Breaston would have cost. So Graves banked on him. Roberts has responded by failing to reach 40 yards receiving in every game this season. The good-looking prospect prior to Roberts, Early Doucet, has been equally ineffective.

Teams can sometimes get away with having only one quality wide receiver, but not if their offensive tackles stink. And there’s no denying that Levi Brown and Brandon Keith – two heavy-footed lumberers with inconsistent technique – stink.

So far Kolb has been awful when throwing off-balance. It’s doubtful he’ll get to be on balance much against a staunch Ravens D.

Bills vs. Redskins
Don’t pick the Redskins this week. It’s a matter of principle, if nothing else. No team should have expectations placed on it after making a change at quarterback and losing its top wide receiver, running back, tight end, left tackle and left guard in a two-week span. This will look like a preseason version of the Redskins. How will they cope?

It helps that Mike Shanahan’s system runs more fluidly with John Beck than it does with Rex Grossman. Beck is smoother reading the field and much better at play-action rollouts and bootlegs than Grossman. Accuracy is a bit of a concern, however. As for the other injuries and replacement ...

RB Tim Hightower (knee – out for season) had found his niche in this zone-run scheme, but he’ll be missed most in the passing game. Ryan Torain is a decent upright power-runner with a spring in his step, but he can’t stick pass-rushers the way Hightower could.

WR Santana Moss (hand – out 5-7 weeks) was Washington’s only creator on offense. He could generate his own space and turn an underneath catch into a 60-yard scamper. Either Niles Paul or Anthony Armstrong will replace him. Both have flashed at times, but neither is completely trustworthy. And, unlike with Moss, defenses won’t have to even ponder the possibility of double coverage.

TE Chris Cooley (finger, knee – out for season) was trending down and losing his role to Fred Davis prior to get hurting. Davis can fill Cooley’s receiving shoes. But the Redskins are now down a good in-line blocker in the run game. With Cooley and Davis, Washington had the benefit of balancing its formation with a viable pass-catching tight end on each side. This often compelled defenses to stay in basic front seven looks. New backup tight end Logan Paulsen won’t command that kind of respect.

LT Trent Williams (high ankle sprain – out 0-4 weeks) has missed most of the last two games. Pretty easy to identify the impact of his absence: backup Sean Locklear is experienced but much slower than Williams all-around.

LG Kory Lichtensteiger (knee – out for season) was one of the unheralded heroes for this team down the stretch last year and prior to going down in Week 6. Center Will Montgomery moved one spot to the left to fill Lichtensteiger’s void. Montgomery is interchangeable that way, but his replacement in the middle, Erik Cook, a seventh-round pick in ’10, was a noticeable downgrade coming off the bench. He had issues snapping the ball and was overwhelmed by defensive tackle Mike Peterson on a few plays. The Redskins can only hope those were Cook’s jitters working themselves out.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:25 am

Coach Killers, Week 5: Eagles D is in name only

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Eagles defense. This is becoming a weekly occurrence for Philly, a team with high hopes in August, now sitting at 1-4, which could now be ecstatic to go 8-8 and forget 2011 ever happened. All the big-name free-agent acquisitions are well documented, and they're arrival had everything to do with the preseason Dream Team hype (thanks, Vince!).

The problem: despite the league's best efforts, tackling is still a big part of the game … except in Philly, it seems. In fact, based on the way the Eagles' defense has performed through five weeks, tackling is frowned upon.

Sunday's effort against the Bills is the latest indictment. And this aversion to tackling isn't isolated; it's an epidemic. The diagnosis via ProFootballFocus.com:

"We always knew that Asante Samuel can’t tackle his way out of a wet paper bag, but that problem seems to be catching on amongst the Eagles’ defense. Samuel, along with three other Philadelphia defenders, missed a pair of tackles that would have gone a long way in crushing Buffalo’s momentum. While this isn’t an unusual mark for Samuel, it was Jarrad Page that took the top billing. … In addition to that, Page also took some pretty awful angles on running plays, especially on Fred Jackson’s touchdown run in the first quarter. A week of some basic and fundamental tackling instruction would go a long way to help improve this underperforming defense."

Week 5 Recap

It gets worse: the Eagles missed 14 (!) tackles Sunday in Buffalo.

The inability to bring down Bills ball-carriers wasn't the low point, however. It was the Eagles' defense, facing fourth and 1 during a critical series late in the fourth quarter with the game still in the balance, jumping offsides on a hard count. That one play encapsulated the season to date.

So where does Philly go from here? Well, if you're head coach Andy Reid, the man responsible for hiring his assistants -- including defensive coordinator Juan Castillo (who, it's worth mentioning, previously had been an Eagles' offensive assistant since the mid-'90s) -- it means throwing around the idea of bringing in a "defensive consultant" during the team's bye week.

Translation: Please look away while we bang on this panic button.

Look, we agree that it was a little peculiar to hire a lifetime offensive coach as the defensive coordinator. But for Reid to admit halfway through the season that it was a huge mistake makes him look even more out of touch, which isn't easy to do given how the season has unfolded so far.

Also: the last time we heard mention of "consultants" was two seasons ago when then-Redskins general manager Vinny Cerrato brought in Sherman Lewis to "offer a fresh set of eyes" for head coach Jim Zorn. who had never called plays in an NFL game before Washington hired him. Oh, yeah, prior to coming out of retirement, Lewis was calling bingo games. So, yes, this could end badly.

Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos. Denver fans finally got what they wanted: Tebow under center in a meaningful game. Never mind that he managed to complete just 4 of 10 throws for 79 yards. Or that the same issues that have plagued him since coming into the league in 2010 remain: the long stride, the Byron Leftwich windup with half the arm strength, the inability to consistently read defenses.

There's no question that he's good for the city, at least in the sense that he gives fans something they haven't had in awhile: hope. But after the Tebow Euphoria wears off, the reality is that he's a below average quarterback. (We know, we know: there isn't a stat that measures Tebow's heart … although we suspect ESPN is working on that. In related news: Merril Hoge disapproves of ESPN's efforts to lionize Tebow.) Orton is, in general, a better player, though his performance in recent weeks has earned him the right to get benched. Not only that, but he'll be a free agent in January.

Then again, it's not like the Broncos' playoff hopes rest on this decision. Whoever ends up under center will be leading a team destined for another losing season. The only question is who would benefit most from the experience. Common sense says Tebow because he's younger, and the team's former top pick. The problem with that: Fox has previously stated, on more than one occasion, that Orton was his guy and Tebow wasn't ready for the gig. He now looks like he a) is going back on his word or b) isn't much of a talent evaluator. Either way, he looks bad.

We're guessing Broncos fans will be willing to overlook all that as long as Tebow plays. They just want change and Tebow is certainly that.

(click images to enlarge)

Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets. Like the Eagles' D, this isn't Cromartie's first Coach Killer rodeo. His special teams gaffe against the Raiders helped propel the Jets to a Week 3 loss, and now, two weeks later, he did his part to get New York to 2-3. It's also well documented that he's not much of a Tom Brady fan, telling the media last week that “I hope I’m a target this game. I want to be a target every game.” As CBS' Shannon Sharpe pointed out on NFL Today before kickoff, "You're going to be a target every game because nobody's throwing at Darrelle Revis."

The Jets defense did limit Brady to just 321 passing yards, with a touchdown and an interception. But the one time Brady found Deion Branch in the end zone, it was with Cromartie in coverage, although we mean that in the loosest sense. Cromartie got caught looking in the backfield as Branch broke off his route and ran to the back pylon. It was a throw so easy Tim Tebow could've made it.

Jaguars special teams. Five weeks into the 2011 season and the biggest surprise isn't that the Lions are undefeated or that the Dream Team needs some Inception-style intervention to fix things. It's that Jack Del Rio still has a job. The latest nail in a coffin that probably doesn't have much room for more nails came against the Bengals Sunday, in a game the Jags should've won but didn't … because they're the Jags.

This week, it was the special teams that did their part to guarantee the loss.

First, rookie returner Cecil Shorts didn't field a punt late in the game and the Bengals downed the ball at the Jags' two-yard line. Four plays later, Matt Turk got off a 22-yard punt which, when coupled with a five-yard penalty, meant that Cincy would be starting at the Jags' 23. The Bengals scored a touchdown on the drive and that was that.

Turk's day was a microcosm of Jacksonville's season; he launched a 32-yard punt in the third quarter and was booed by the fans as he made his way off the field.

"Not even close to good enough in either phase," Del Rio, not doubt shocked to still be employed, said of his special teams. …

"It was windy and tough conditions, but I'm not going to sit here and make an excuse. It's nowhere near acceptable to allow a ball to be uncaught and roll to the 2-yard line when we could have caught it at the 30 or 25."

Another fun fact, courtesy of Jacksonville.com: have been outscored 68-13 in the second half this season.

Levi Brown, OL, Cardinals/Cardinals defense (The Curse of McNabb Edition). We talked about it on Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, but is Ken Whisenhunt on the ol' hot seat? He did lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008. Of course, Arizona managed just five wins last season, and in July gave up cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to get quarterback Kevin Kolb (and then gave him a $63 million extension). Now the Cards are 1-4, fresh off a loss to the previously winless Vikings.

Kolbs has looked … well, like a guy who came into the season with seven career NFL starts. Which is to say that, despite all the offseason media hype, he has a long way to go. The problem: the Cards gave up a lot to get him and don't have time to wait around. Not helping: Levi Brown -- the guy Arizona drafted while Adrian Peterson was still on the board -- has been a pass protector in name only.

ProFootballFocus notes thats "These struggles at tackle are nothing new for the Cardinals but continuing to turn a blind eye to these issues won’t do them any good. With Kurt Warner under center they had a QB with an innate feeling for pressure similar to that of Peyton Manning. Someone who could cope with pressure and still make plays. But they no longer have that and for the past two seasons this has crippled the Cardinals’ offense. This season Arizona offensive tackles have now conceded nine sacks, three hits and 36 pressures. Kevin Kolb has been a disappointment but behind these tackles is he getting a fair chance?"

Perhaps more embarrassing: this pregame note from the s/playerpage/133361">Donovan McNabb gathered teammates outside the locker room before the game against the Cardinals and told them, ">Arizona Republic's Kent Somers: "It seemed laughable on Sunday when Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb gathered teammates outside the locker room before the game against the Cardinals and told them, 'Ain't no reason we shouldn't blow these guys out.'"

Given the way the Vikings -- and McNabb in particular -- had played in recent weeks, laughing was the right response. Except that Minnesota led 28-0 after the first quarter.

The solution? Get better. No, seriously.

"That's the problem. It's not one person making a lot of mistakes; it's all of us making one or two mistakes," Kolb said after the loss. "That's where details come in. The head coach hit the nail on the head: We've got to get back to detail-oriented football. It starts with meetings. It starts with showing up to work on time, getting in early, getting your work done. All of the stuff that a professional is supposed to do."

Shouldn't you guys have been doing that from the start?

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Posted on: August 2, 2010 11:10 pm
Edited on: August 2, 2010 11:56 pm

Cardinals' training camp fights are melee du jour

Apparently, some monster brawl(s) broke out at the Arizona Cardinals' training camp in Flagstaff on Monday night, although you'd think from hearing the quotes about the fracas that it wasn't that big a deal.

Here's the setup (via Ken Somers of the Arizona Republic ): Darnell Dockett and Alan Faneca were doing the whole "football thing," and Dockett knocked Faneca over. As they were lying on the ground, Dockett apparently "took a swipe" at Matt Leinart's feet. Leinart got cheesed and spiked the ball down on the field (note: this might have secretly been the most humorous part of the story).

So, naturally, Levi Brown decided he needed to punch Dockett.

Of course, Darnell Dockett isn't the type of person who takes that in stride, so he threw a punch back. And, just like that, the entire team was "dancing across the field" (read: fighting like crazy).

I haven't come across any video just quite yet ... and somehow , the picture above is actually a DIFFERENT fight -- one that involved Rashard Johnson and Stephen Spach and was a result of a facemask (and, probably, heightened tension on the field).

Additionally, Somers reports that lineman Tom Pestock "threw a couple of uppercuts" at Mark Washington.

So, yeah, if you happened to be hanging out in Flagstaff, it was probably a pretty fun day. Although apparently, it was all for funsies (or something) and no one's "actually" angry.

"There's a lot of intensity out here," Dockett said. "That's what teams do. You don't take nothing from nobody. I love that at the end we came together as one, as a family."

Mmmhmm. Bet Steve Smith wishes he'd thought of that line two years ago.

Update (11:52): Looks like we WILL have video soon, as the Cardinals' own site has promised as much , in addition to offering up a still of one of the actual blows being exchanged between Brown and Dockett.

-- Will Brinson

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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