Technique and X’s and O’s


Matt Forte. Photo by Tyle_r.

Jene Bramel: What TV Angles Don’t Show YouUsing the All-22 coaches tape angle of the football field, Jene Bramel dissects a touchdown pass from the Texans-Ravens contest in Week Six to demonstrate how the conventional TV angles don’t always provide an accurate depiction of what you think you see.

Behind the Blue Curtain Part III: Making the Cut the Hard Way With RB Chad Spann- Imagine 15-years of work riding on a 60-minute performance that is only partially choreographed and half of the individuals sharing the stage with you are trying to undermine everything you do. Now imagine suffering an injury three minutes into that performance. Welcome to rookie free agent Chad Spann’s world the night he faced the Cincinnati Bengals in the final preseason game of the summer.

Behind the Blue Curtain Part II: A Glimpse Into Colts Training Camp With RB Chad SpannFormer Northern Illinois RB Chad Spann led college football with 22 touchdowns in 2010, but it didn’t get him drafted. No matter, Spann was a local star in Indianapolis and no team offered him a scholarship at his position and that didn’t deter him from finding a team that would give him a chance to prove his ability. This is exactly what the rookie free agent did this summer with his home town Colts, earning a spot with his play despite suffering a grade three hamstring tear that led to an injury settlement. To those uninitiated with the nuances of roster management, Spann simplifies the situation and states he’s been placed on Injured Reserve until he’s available. However, most football fans familiar with IR know that this designation wipes out a player’s entire season.

Behind the Blue Curtain: A Glimpse Into Colts Training Camp With RB Chad Spann - If I didn’t know better, I would have thought Chad Spann was messing with me. Every few minutes during our hour-long conversation the running back would grunt, yell, or laugh without any discernible rhyme or reason. At one point as he talked his voice quavered as if someone was jumping up and down on him. That’s exactly what was happening. Spann made time for our phone conversation while he was on the receiving end of a deep tissue massage. The unexpected outbursts at various points during our conversation were a back-handed acknowledgement to his trainer/physical therapist doing things to his legs that Albert Haynesworth once tried to do to Andre Gurode’s head. The rookie free agent running back for the Indianapolis Colts has been steadfastly rehabbing a grade three hamstring tear that he suffered in the final preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals – an injury that occurred three minutes into the most important game of his young pro career. Spann managed to play the entire game with an injury that leaves most people unable to walk: returning kicks, special teams coverage, and even as the running back on the game-winning, 85-yard drive . An injury that my colleague Dr. Jene Bramel…

YouTube Chalkboard: Six WRs Who Will School You - Wide receiver can be a difficult position to evaluate because there are three general factors that contribute to a player’s success in the NFL: Athleticism, technique, and the mesh of his skills within the team’s offensive system. Here are six NFL WRs with lessons to share through the lens of YouTube highlights.

YouTube Chalkboard: Three `90s RBs to Learn From – Here are three I would recommend watching because I believe in their prime they all had complete games in terms of interior/outside running, big play burst, good feet, excellent after contact skills, and strong third down techniques as pass protectors and receivers.

Execution While researching YouTube highlights for my last blog post, I came across a series of short videos on fundamentals for wide receiver and tight end. One set of these videos features former Packers, Chiefs, and Vikings tight end Paul Coffman, who does a fantastic job of demonstrating fundamental techniques for blocking, releases, routes, and pass catching. The other set has current NFL pros demonstrating the same fundamentals.

Discerning Errors From Deficiencies: A WR’s HandsFailures often reveal more about a prospect’s upside than his successes. Fans and evaluators alike (present company included) often fail to discern the difference between a correctable error and a deficiency that requires more serious work and may never improve.

Unearthing Potential Surprises: Clue No.1 (Decisiveness of Execution) - A split second of timing is what young veterans gain as they progress from their rookie seasons. As a result, players execute with greater economy and it’s that economy that spells the difference between an incomplete pass and a completion; a sack and a touchdown; and a deflection and a first down.

The Pats’ Two-TE Sets: A Long Time Coming? - The Patriots use of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez has been a novel application of the tight end position in the pro game. However, if you consider the drafting habits of the Patriots this new trend of player hybridization has been a long time coming.

Jene Bramel: Play Defense, Not Defenses- After the Patriots began aligning in a four-man front early in the preseason, Belichick was asked about the switch. Was his team becoming a 4-3 defense?  In true Belichick form, he bristled at the question.

“Honestly, I think that’s something that is a media fabrication. There are a lot of different alignments out there. You see 4-3 teams use odd spacing. You see 3-4 teams use even spacing. You have 11 players, you can put them in various positions. Whether you want to put it on the pre-game depth chart as one thing or another, I think is a little bit overrated.

Jokers – When I asked my colleagues about a significant trend in the sport, hybridization was the first thing on their mental checklist. Although hybridization might be a trend, history shows it’s not new.

Chad Spann began his career as a walk-on and ended it the MAC MVP. As Spann likes to say, “Falling Forward…”

Interviews

Grinding Tape With Chad Spann: Stiff Arms and Green Dogs – Recently, I had the chance to watch tape with the 2010 MAC MVP. This week we discuss two plays where there are problems with the execution, but the end results are positive due to quick -thinking from Spann and the offense. As Spann breaks down these plays we learn about the art of a good stiff arm, why balance has as much to do with a runner’s head as his feet, and the meaning behind the term, “green-dogging.”

Grinding Tape Part III With Chad Spann -Spann discusses the difference in a runner’s pre-snap location in very similar-looking shotgun sets with very different blocking schemes, and what a back is looking at to determine the path of his run.

Grinding Tape Part II With Chad Spann – Spann reveals how quickly a runner needs to be able to process information to choose a hole, ball security protocol, and the importance of minimizing surface area to become a strong, after-contact runner.

Grinding Tape Part I With Chad Spann – Mid American Conference MVP Chad Spann explained the concepts behind plays that require a running back to understand blocking schemes, defensive tendencies, and reading keys.

Conversation with Jene Bramel Part IV:In the final part of our conversation, Footballguys IDP guru Jene Bramel discusses the possibilities for Mathias Kiwanuka’s role in New York, the roles of tiers in fantasy drafting, and what I believe is the absolute best scoring system to reflect the value of very position in an IDP/Offensive Player combo league. You have to see it.

Conversation with Jene Bramel Part III: The Footballguys.com staff writer is one of the best fantasy writers you don’t know about because he is recognized as one of the go-to guys for leagues featuring individual defensive players (IDP). Even if your leagues are strictly offensive players, his knowledge of defenses will make you a better decision maker with offensive talent.

Conversation with Jene Bramel Part II: Jene and I discussed 2011 free agency on the defenses that fared well or poorly in the open market for players. We also continue the conversation about the difficulty of evaluating safety talent, which NFL Draft Scout’s Chad Reuter broached in an earlier interview. And to wrap up this portion of our conversation, Jene and I discuss the roles of head coaches and coordintors and why he favors the zone blitz.

Conversation with Jene Bramel Part I:  In the first part of this conversation, Bramel and I discuss how the new Patriots 4-3 alignment might be more vulnerable than people think despite the current excitement in training camp over the defensive tackle tandem of Albert Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork.

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