Dean Pees and the Falcons Present Ruthless Aggression

NFL Week 14 – In my thoughts, Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees is a big John Cena fan. No, not the Cena we see now who’s in all the films. Not the “By no means Give Up” John Cena whose theme tune has grow to be a meme, and though I may completely see him rapping alongside, I do not suppose Pees was a “Physician of Thuganomics” Cena fan both. The John Cena I feel Pees was a fan of was the Cena who made his Smackdown debut in June 2002, when Cena uttered these two phrases:

“Ruthless Aggression.”

Pees has been one of many higher defensive masterminds at producing strain for the better a part of a decade, and the strain calls he schemed up had been amplified to the max on Sunday within the Falcons’ win over the Carolina Panthers. Panthers quarterbacks Cam Newton and P.J. Walker had been underneath fixed duress all through the sport, and that resulted in not solely a sack, however two interceptions, certainly one of which was returned for a landing. Pees took benefit of a horrible Panthers offensive line with rushers from depth in addition to artistic loopers on designed go rush video games.

On the pick-six Newton threw, Pees flipped a conventional blitz on its head to confuse the Panthers offensive line. Carolina comes out in a bunch set to the appropriate with tight finish Ian Thomas being the lone receiver on the opposite aspect. Atlanta crowds the road of scrimmage with six defenders, seven should you embody the nickel nook who’s head up over the purpose man within the bunch set. Carolina motions the working again from one aspect to the opposite, and a Falcons defensive again switches sides, giving Newton the pre-snap notification that they will be in man protection. Usually out of this formation, groups will blitz everybody that is on the road of scrimmage, and the free security would take the tight finish if he runs a route. To the bunch aspect, the Falcons might be taking part in “LIB” protection, with the press nook locked into man protection on Robby Anderson (11), whereas the opposite two corners “Banjo” the opposite two receivers: first man in goes to the within nook, first man out goes to the skin nook. It could look one thing like this:

Play diagram

Nonetheless, what Pees does is change the image after the ball is snapped. The offensive line slides their safety to the tight finish aspect, and the tight finish stays in to go block. What Newton thinks he’ll have is working again Ameer Abdullah on an angle route with a two-way go in opposition to zero protection, that means no assist for any of the Falcons defensive backs. What the Falcons do is make Deion Jones (45) cowl the tight finish in man and have Mykal Walker (3) rotate into the hook space, that means the free security has deep protection. As for the blitz, Dante Fowler crosses the middle’s face, and the opposite two linemen for the Falcons do the identical. As a result of Carolina is sliding their safety to the left, this leaves a free run for Foyesade Olokun, who loops from the left B-gap all the best way to the appropriate fringe of the play. Newton feels the free rusher and assumes he has Abdullah scorching on an angle route. As a substitute, it is a pick-six on a fantastically designed blitz by Pees.

Cam Pick-Six

On the opposite interception thrown by Walker, the Panthers are in empty with DJ Moore because the No. 3 receiver to Walker’s proper. The Panthers run a “China” idea: two in-breakers by the skin two receivers and a nook route by the No. 3 receiver. Atlanta goes with a hearth zone blitz with Cowl-3 behind it, however there’s extra to that story. Atlanta ran plenty of Inverted Cowl-2 on this sport, particularly early within the day. They’d go from single-high protection, with one of many safeties buzzing into the hook/curl space both pre-snap or post-snap. The lone free security would fly to the deep half and the bottom nook would go from his place to the opposite deep half of the sphere. They ran it right here on this Newton completion to Moore:

Inverted C2

The “China” idea can be good in opposition to this protection as a result of it creates a high-low in opposition to the nook, particularly if the security cannot get excessive of the within nook route. However, like I mentioned, this is not Inverted Cowl 2. Deion Jones rushes from depth into the B-gap and the play-side edge rusher drops into the hook/curl space, chopping off any instant in-breaking routes. The nickel nook goes from No. 2 to No. 1 on his zone protection due to the back-side finish, and Walker will get suckered into a simple interception for A.J. Terrell.

P.J. Walker Pick

Nonetheless, have a look at this play from the tip zone angle, and you will see a typical theme for the Panthers this season: left sort out Cam Erving blocked NOBODY. He tries to account for the Jones blitz by choosing him up late, however does not get sufficient of him. The back-side edge rusher can also be free, and Walker is hurried right into a poor throw.

P.J. Walker Pick-Endzone Angle

Pees put the Panthers offensive line in a blender with artistic blitzes and video games, however a number of the issues that got here up had been on account of self-inflicted wounds. This was early within the sport. The Panthers movement out Abdullah, and the Falcons linebacker follows him. This can be a signifier of man protection—easy. Moore is lined up within the slot and notices that the Falcons nickel nook goes to blitz, and factors him out for Newton and the Panthers offensive line. The nickel nook blitzes, no person picks him up, and Newton is hurried right into a failed go.

Panthers failed blitz pickup

Sticking with the wrestling references, Pees took a metal chair to the Panthers offense for your entire sport, and took benefit of issues which have plagued Carolina for your entire season.

The place the Recreation Swung

Where the Game Swung: ATL-CAR

Quarter Location Down Distance Time Description GWC
2 ATL 36 3 6 8:47 C.Newton go quick center INTERCEPTED at ATL 34. Intercepted by M.Walker at ATL 34. M.Walker for 66 yards, TOUCHDOWN. +24.7%
3 ATL 47 2 3 4:45 C.Newton FUMBLES (aborted). Fumble RECOVERED by ATL-G.Jarrett at CAR 49. Tackled by at ATL 47. +18.8%
2 CAR 29 3 6 2:00 P.Walker go deep proper INTERCEPTED at ATL 46. Intercepted by A.Terrell at ATL 46. Tackled by R.Anderson at ATL 46. +8.8%
3 ATL 17 1 10 11:27 C.Hubbard rushed proper sort out to ATL Finish Zone for 17 yards. C.Hubbard for 17 yards, TOUCHDOWN. -8.5%

This complete chart for The place the Recreation Swung reads like Carolina pulled one of many worst issues to do in Pokemon: they damage themselves in confusion!

It hurt itself in confusion

It is actually arduous to win video games whenever you repeatedly flip the ball over, particularly in opponent territory. Atlanta did not must do a lot offensively, as a result of Carolina dug themselves right into a gap over and over on the offensive aspect of the ball.

By the DVOA

ATL 10.6% 14.8% 12.1% 8.0%
CAR -28.3% 25.7% 0.4% -53.6%
ATL 9.0% -2.2% 12.1% 23.3%
CAR -13.7% 9.6% 0.4% -22.9%

Congrats to Atlanta for placing collectively their greatest DVOA efficiency of the season! That is solely the second time they’ve completed a sport with a optimistic DVOA, the earlier time being Week 7 once they posted a 0.7% whole DVOA in a 30-28 win over Miami. The truth that Atlanta by some means put collectively this efficiency and stays thirty second in DVOA for the season is objectively hilarious, nonetheless. Particularly whenever you mix that stat with the truth that Atlanta is 6-7 and nonetheless within the hunt for a playoff spot!

It could be arduous to imagine, however this is not Carolina’s worst DVOA efficiency this season. That goes to their 33-10 implosion in opposition to the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Nonetheless, this offensive efficiency is extraordinarily troublesome. Since Week 5, Carolina has posted a unfavorable offensive DVOA in seven matchups, the lone two optimistic DVOA performances being in opposition to Arizona and Washington.

What’s Useless Might By no means Die

If I had been evaluating the Atlanta Falcons season to any WWE wrestler, it will most likely be the Undertaker circa 2019-2020. Generally they will pull themselves off the canvas and sit up just like the Deadman used to, however it’s clear that the Undertaker does not have it anymore. The Falcons are by some means taking part in the harmful sport of being 6-7 whereas being lifeless final in DVOA and having a degree differential of -108 and being 1-5 at house. With San Francisco, Buffalo, and New Orleans left on the schedule, I actually do discover it troublesome to think about this Atlanta Falcons group making the playoffs. Something can occur within the NFL, however this group simply is not that good this yr. It is a miracle they seem to be a sport underneath .500 at this level.

Carolina, however, jogs my memory of a signature Kurt Angle second. No, not the Olympic gold medal win or WrestleMania most important occasions. This one:

The Panthers had been trying like one of many surprises of the league after a 3-0 begin, however inconsistency at quarterback has plagued them for your entire season. Nonetheless, I feel many of the blame must go to go coach Matt Rhule and the constructing of this offense. I’m not at all defending Sam Darnold—he was one of many worst quarterbacks within the league final yr and has failed to point out any enchancment—however no person would achieve success behind this Panthers offensive line. In accordance with ESPN’s Subsequent Gen Stats, Carolina is twenty eighth within the league in Move Block Win Charge and twenty fifth in Run Block Win Charge. Matt Rhule mentioned he wished to run the ball extra—that is why the Panthers canned Joe Brady—however it will be futile behind an offensive line that is twenty eighth in stuff price. They’re additionally final in adjusted sack price, so passing the ball will not assist both. At greatest, it is silly satisfaction for Rhule to proceed to throw totally different quarterbacks behind this line and count on one thing totally different; at worst it is sheer negligence.

Rhule has additionally mismanaged the quarterback scenario to an extent that may be past restore. Persevering with to rotate in quarterbacks through the sport like a school scheme is not viable on the NFL stage. Quarterbacks want to have the ability to get right into a rhythm, and Rhule rotating in Newton and Walker inside quarters as in the event that they had been taking part in a preseason sport is poor roster administration. Above all, I feel the most important factor is Rhule has proven a conceit and satisfaction in how he thinks the NFL works with none outcomes to point out for it. If he desires to run the ball properly, go for it, however usher in gamers who will assist you to try this. The poor roster administration of the offense has doomed this season for Carolina, and possibly will value Rhule his job.


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