Tag:Winston Justice
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:28 pm
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Keep an Eye on: Week 14's finer points

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Broncos vs. Bears
Perhaps after this Sunday’s game, Tim Tebow can help Bears right tackle Lance Louis pray for quicker feet. After seemingly stabilizing Chicago’s nightmarish right tackle situation over the past month, Louis, a converted guard, completely fell apart in the loss to Kansas City. He was culpable for most of Kansas City’s seven sacks and also had a holding penalty just outside his own goal-line. It was a performance that would have made even Winston Justice circa 2007 cringe.


It’s not like the Chiefs did anything complex against Louis, either. They didn’t stunt defenders near him or feign blitzes in his gaps. They simply lined players up mano-a-mano and won (Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and even lowly Tyson Jackson all got through; by the fourth quarter, Romeo Crennel was putting players on waiting list for reps at left defensive end/outside linebacker).

Things won’t get much easier for Louis this week. His Bears travel to Mile High, where they’ll meet rookie Von Miller, the AFC’s answer to Clay Matthews (assuming Miller returns from the thumb injury that sidelined him against Minnesota). Miller, in fact, has an even better burst than Matthews.

If Miller is unavailable, the matchup in the trenches will be more even but still tilted in Denver’s favor. The Broncos have gotten great play out of their defensive line in recent weeks, particularly inside with active tackles Broderick Bunkley, Marcus Thomas and, on passing downs, Ryan McBean. These three cause congestion that allows the speed of Miller, D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers to flourish.

Even with adequate pass-rushing resources, the Broncos are willing to manufacture pressure through design. They blitz Brian Dawkins a few times each game and, on some occasions, have surprised offenses by bringing Miller from the inside. At times, execution and assignment identification have been problematic for the Bears O-line. The Broncos will be eager to exploit that.

Packers vs. Raiders
The Raiders traded a bounty for Carson Palmer so that they could get away from the elementary, run-only offensive gameplans they used early in the year with Jason Campbell. Aside from a putrid outing at Miami last week, where Palmer played jittery in the pocket because of a justified lack of trust in his protection, the ex-Bengal has been much better than his numbers suggest.

That said, the Raiders need to return to a ground-only approach when they travel to Green Bay this Sunday. Their only chance to win the game is to shorten it. For the last two weeks, we’ve focused on how a quality four-man pass-rush in front of good, aggressive coverage could give a defense a chance to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Well, the last two weeks, Rodgers & Co. have had no trouble against the Lions and Giants, owners of arguably the two best four-man pass-rushes in football. It’s wishful to think that the Raiders’ front line, which is remarkably powerful but deprived of genuine edge speed, can dictate the action this Sunday.

It might be wishful to think the same thing about Oakland’s offensive line. That unit, even with frequently used sixth blocker Stephon Heyer, was unable to move Miami’s three-man front last Sunday. But ground-in-pound is Oakland’s best bet against the Pack. And last week was likely an aberration. The Raiders are athletic on the left side up front with tackle Jared Veldheer capable of exploding at the second level and guard Stefan Wisniewski possessing intriguing short-area mobility.

And they have a workhorse in Michael Bush. He was methodical and effective three weeks ago against the stingy Vikings, rushing for 109 yards on 30 carries. The week before, he toted the rock 30 times for 157 yards at San Diego.

The Packers front line is hard to move; B.J. Raji is a beast, and Ryan Pickett and backup Howard Green have nose tackle size at the end positions. But if you CAN move them, you’ll also move the clock. That, along with great special teams (which the Raiders have) might – MIGHT – be enough to sorta maybe kinda have some form of an outside shot at possibly coming close to beating the seemingly unbeatable Packers offense.

Ravens vs. Colts
For many fans, filling out the offensive line section of the Pro Bowl ballot can be challenging. Often it involves just clicking on whatever linemen hail from the best teams. If the running back is good, his offensive linemen must be good as well (so the thinking goes).

This is the kind of misguided logic that sends underachievers like Bryant McKinnie to Hawaii. (McKinnie made the Pro Bowl in 2009, even though he was benched at times down the stretch.)

McKinnie’s first season as a Raven has actually been much better than his last several seasons as a Viking. At 6’7”, 350-something pounds (give or take), the 10th-year veteran would not seem to be a great fit for Baltimore’s movement-oriented zone-blocking scheme. However, as it turns out, the zone-blocking scheme capitalizes on McKinnie’s natural size and also masks his timidity.

McKinnie’s built like a monster but plays like a milquetoast. He’s never exerted the explosive power or vicious hand-punch of an elite lineman. That’s been detrimental to his run-blocking. But in a system that has him move before making contact in the run game, McKinnie can get away with playing soft because his momentum, working with his sheer size, generates natural power. It’s physics.

Don’t vote McKinnie to this season’s Pro Bowl, though. DO, however, vote his teammate, Marshal Yanda. The 27-year-old right guard has drastically elevated his already-impressive game since signing a five-year, $32 million contract in July. In fact, lately, Yanda has been the best guard in all of football. He has great footwork and the rare ability to land multiple well-angled blocks on a single play.

As this week goes, he’s perfectly suited to dominate against a fast but undersized defense like Indy’s.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
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: April 14, 2011 8:48 am
 

Winston Justice eager to compete for starting job

Posted by Andy Benoit

Eagles head coach Andy Reid recently said that there will be a cW. Justice (US Presswire)ompetition between Winston Justice and King Dunlap for the starting right tackle position. Justice, a former high second-round pick, has been solid but unspectacular in this spot the last two years. Dunlap, a seventh-round pick in ’08, struggled mightily as a fill-in starter on the left side last season. However, new offensive line coach Howard Mudd is fond of the 6-9, 330-pounder’s natural athleticism.

Considering that Justice underwent surgery to have a large bone chip removed from his knee (an injury that bothered him down the stretch last season), a job competition at right tackle comes as no surprise. After all, it was initially reported that Justice’s knee problems could be career-threatening.

Still, the ex-USC Trojan was caught a bit off-guard by Reid’s assertion. "They knew my knee was hurting and I wasn't full speed," Justice told Geoff Mosher of Delaware Online. "Hey, he's the coach, and he has to create competition to bring out the best in his players."

Justice has fought for his job several times before. He is working overtime this offseason to get his knee ready for training camp. (If there is a training camp, of course.)

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Posted on: February 21, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 2:41 pm
 

Report: Justice's career could be in danger

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED (2:38 p.m.): A high-ranking team official has told CSN Philly that the previous report was inaccurate and that Justice would need only arthroscopic surgery.

From the story:

The source said that although it is conceivable that Justice’s injury will turn out to be more serious than the team believes, the team’s medical staff does not anticipate that being the case. He said he expects Justice to recover quickly and be 100 percent healthy for offseason workouts – if there is a CBA agreement that allows such practice sessions.


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Eagles RT Winston Justice’s career might be in jeopardy.

Justice According to the Wilmington News Journal, Justice might need to undergo micro-fracture surgery on his left knee – which would probably keep him out the entire 2011 season and possibly could end his football career.

Justice missed three games late in the season, and he’s scheduled for surgery with the renowned Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham to treat a bone chip in his left knee. Hopefully for Justice, he’ll only need arthroscopic surgery to fix the problem. But there’s the chance he'll need the more-intrusive surgery which would keep him out much longer.

The other problem for Justice: if there is a lockout, he couldn’t have contact with the Eagles medical or training staff.

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Posted on: December 13, 2010 12:48 am
Edited on: December 13, 2010 1:19 am
 

Young guns have Eagles wheeling for NFC run

Posted by Will Brinson



The exuberance DeSean Jackson flashed after Philly's 30-27 victory in Dallas could only be matched by his enthusiasm after a 91-yard afterburner-filled touchdown catch and run that put the Eagles up for good. (Or the enthusiasm with which Tashard Choice approached Michael Vick for an autograph.)

"We gonna keep doin this till the wheels fall off, baby!" Jackson shouted to the camera during his on-field interview.

It was a stark contrast to the humility Vick displayed, giving credit to Jackson and blossoming running back LeSean McCoy who, once again, helped salt away a victory with a flurry of impressive fourth-quarter runs.



McCoy piled up big play after big play on the Eagles' final drive, finishing the fourth quarter with 66 yards on six carries, for a ridiculous 11.0 yards per carry. Not to mention, you know, a career-high, 149-yard rushing performance.

Jackson's day wasn't too shabby either -- 210 yards on just four catches and a touchdown -- and he showed again why he's one of the most dangerous receivers in the league.

"When he gets the ball in his hands, you better make sure you tackle him and tackle him with more than one guy," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "They threw to him eight times; he caught four and was awfully productive when he did."

Indeed he was. But that's nothing new for Philly, who's seen an awful lot of success this year on big plays. Their opening play, a 60-yard laser from Vick to Jackson set a similar tone to the Eagles' blowout win against the Redskins four weeks ago, even if the results weren't as definitively unproportional.

And that's what makes this Eagles' team so special (and possibly en route for a cannot-come-close-to-justifying-the
-hype potential matchup in Atlanta for the NFC Championship game), because they're impossible to matchup against, and they specialize in dropping big play bombs onto opponents that crush morale.

The Eagles followed Jackson's 91-yard teeter with an interception that absolutely sucked the life out of Cowboys Stadium and those sort of plays are why they're on track for a matchup in the ATL, even with a tough slate of games (@NYG, MIN, DAL) on the schedule to close out. 

There are still some issues with the defense, and the news that Stewart Bradley's likely to miss the rest of the regular season is devastating. The Eagles are also substantially better against the pass when Asante Samuel is healthy (Winston Justice's presence will help the run game too).

And anyone with an elite pass rush (hello, Cowboys, Bears, Giants) offers up the terrifying possibility that Vick could take a game- or season-ending shot. 

But with the explosiveness of the offense, the way the youngsters are gelling (despite some occasional bouts of, ahem, immaturity), the Eagles have firmly established themselves as not just a contender, but a team with the big-play power to knock just about anyone back on their heels at any moment.

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Posted on: December 11, 2010 12:13 pm
 

Eagles announce Justice, Samuel out for Sunday

Posted by Will Brinson

The Eagles announced that Asante Samuel and Winston Justice wouldn't travel with the team to Dallas for their game Sunday.

Both had been "questionable" and/or "day-to-day," so this news just confirms that they're not playing.

Samuel's absence is pretty critical -- the Eagles have struggled mightily in pass defense when he's been out. Although they're 2-1 without Samuel, they allowed Jay Cutler to toss four touchdowns and 247 yards, Matt Schaub to lob up 337 yards and two teeters and even Alex Smith got the better of them, posting 309 yards and three touchdowns back in Week 6.

Losing Justice hurts too, as the Eagles, as even though they're a top five team in rushing yards per game, need as much protection for Michael Vick from would-be tacklers and rib-breakers as they can possibly get.

This wouldn't be a big problem against Wade Phillips' roll-over-and-play-dead Cowboys, but given the way the team Dallas has played since Jason Garrett took over and these personnel absences, the Eagles have a legitimate concern that Dallas could wreck their season two years in a row.

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Posted on: November 5, 2010 10:44 am
Edited on: November 5, 2010 10:56 am
 

Key Matchup Week 9: Colts-Eagles QBs vs pass rush

Posted by Andy Benoit


The Colts-Eagles game this Sunday (CBS 4:15 ET) gives us a chance to pull the mask off oneP. Manning (US Presswire) M. Vick (US Presswire)of the greatest farces in the NFL. Thanks to Michael Lewis’ The Blindside, many fans believe you need a dominant left tackle in order to win in today’s NFL. Not true.

The reality is, a great quarterback can overcome just about any pass protection issues. We often think of mobile quarterbacks in this instance. And, obviously, Philadelphia’s Michael Vick is the poster child here. Indeed, early in the season, we heard again and again about how Andy Reid would choose Vick over Kevin Kolb because Vick had the athletic ability to evade pass-rushers who would shoot through Philly’s porous offensive line. This thinking is certainly logical (we’ve all seen Vick make spectacular plays when having to flea the pocket), but it’s also a tad under-baked.

Will Vick’s mobility be important this week against speedy Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? At times, yes. But the Eagles aren’t going to rely on it. Eagles coaches know that left tackle Jason Peters is coming off a knee injury and struggles with pass protection technique. They also know that right tackle Winston Justice does not have the lateral agility to handle Robert Mathis’ dip-move around the edge. Thus, look for the Eagles to employ frequent double-tight end formations, and to align receivers and running backs close to the edge of the front five in order to help chip.

Why would the Eagles help their tackles in protection if they have a quarterback who can simply scramble away from the Colts ends? Because as valuable as scrambling can be, the best way to elude a pass rush is to play with poise in the pocket.

Enter Peyton Manning. The future Hall of Famer runs like he’s wearing ski boots. And his left tackle was a sixth-round pick in 2006 who would be a utility backup on just about any other team. Yet Manning almost never gets sacked. Thank his poise in the pocket.

Poise in the pocket can mean different things. Sometimes it means getting rid of the ball in a hurry. Other times it means holding the ball a split second longer even when your protection is breaking down and you know you’re going to get drilled the second you finish your throw. Often times it means taking a six-inch step forward or a two-foot step to the side in order to subtly elude a pass-rush and give yourself room to operate.

This skill takes outstanding footwork and throwing mechanics. It’s a skill Manning has mastered and one that so many coaches have tried so very hard to instill in Vick. While improved, Vick is still far from masterful in this department. And he does not have the command of Philly’s playbook the way Manning does of Indy’s. It’s this command that allows for Manning’s quick decisions, which allows for the Colts to live with a Trent Cole-on-Charlie Johnson mismatch.

The Eagles don’t have the luxury of simply living with this type of mismatch. Vick takes longer to process information and has rougher mechanics. Thus, he needs a cleaner pocket than Manning. The Eagles can give it to him, but they’ll have to compromise some of his receiving targets. This means fewer weapons for Colts defenders to worry about, which means Colts defenders can now be more deceitful before the snap and more aggressive after it.

As you can see, it’s a domino effect. But the first domino is not actually the left tackle – it’s the quarterback.

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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