First 2 Hopkins TDs (screenshots and coverage breakdown) (1 Viewer)

TCUDan

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If anyone wants to upload video clips you're more than welcome to.

FIRST TD

This is at the Goal line. You can see Presnap here that the Saints are in Cover 7, which is a low red zone coverage where you are (essentially) dividing the field
into 7 horizontal zones. You can see the CBs playing outside leverage catch technique (soft press) meaning they are fade responsible. The overhangs (PJ Williams at the bottom of the screen) are catch technique on #2 (slot) and slant responsible on #1 if #2 releases inside or outside.
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 9.10.57 AM.png

This is right after the snap, and the both of the WR's at the bottom are running slants. They stem vertical first to establish timing and to drive the defender over them back on his heels. One thing I did not see in real time is that the slot DOES do a good job of running up PJ Williams toes before breaking in on his slant.
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 9.11.14 AM.png

The #2 WR at the bottom breaks in on his slant. PJ can pass him off as he has a high/low bracket by the LB and the S. Seeing slant by #2, his job now should be to sink and locate #1. The most dangerous route he needs to defend is the slant by #1. Remember, Cover 7 is an effective coverage in the low red zone because WRs can only run so many routes (condensed space).
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 9.11.27 AM.png

Three things happen here: 2 good by the Texans and 1 bad by PJ Williams. 1) Hopkins sets his slant 'high' or 'skinny'... he runs his route to space rather than to coverage (skinny angle rather than a flat angle out of his break). 2) Watson is patient and doesn't force the throw to the slant out of the break... he hits it in the 2nd window. 3) PJ Williams floats shallow. I will dial back some of my earlier criticism because this was really a bang-bang play, so easier said than done, but he has to get depth and use his eyes to locate #1 rather than staring down the QB. He stays stationary, and needs to know that if the QB is a) looking in his direction (right at him in this case) and b) not throwing the ball, he is waiting for the route to clear. Lattimore almost certainly communicated the slant, so he needs to either locate 1 with his eyes or be savvy enough to continue gaining depth and maintaining position in that slant window.
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 9.11.44 AM.png

The next frame would be Hopkins catching the TD about 8 yards deep in the end zone. Williams stays shallow despite having no underneath threat. He also knows that the #1 WR to his side is Hopkins, so again, while there are some fundamental breakdowns that happen because the NFL is a VERY FAST game... He needs to exhibit a little more situational awareness here.
 
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TCUDan

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2nd TD

You can see here that the Saints are in a Cover 2 shell (playing more of a cover 4 match) in the high RZ. Hopkins is the slot to the boundary. Marcus Williams is the high safety to that side and his job is to match #2 if he pushes vertical. Davis is the WILL/Boundary LB. His job is to reroute (wall) 2 and carry him to the safety. Davis is to the boundary so he is not apexed (aligned outside of the tackle box). But he knows that if he reads "high hat" (pass set by the OL), he has to open his hips and run to 2 (angle depends on the QB's dropped. BASICALLY, 3-step drop/quick game by the QB = 90 degree drop by Davis. 5 step drop/dropback by the QB = 45 degree drop.)
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 3.08.31 AM.png

Right here you can see clear high hat by the OL. Hopkins has already released 5 yards vertical, but Davis is still at his presnap depth. He is square to the QB (he should have opened to #2) and his eyes are on the QB (eyes should be on #2). Right now he should sprinting at Hopkins near shoulder, collisioning him to knock him off his route/slow the timing, and carrying him to the safety to take away that 'bender' seam window (you can see Hopkins beginning to adjust his seam route vs. cover 2 by bending it back in toward the hash, in front of the safety and behind the backer).
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 3.08.51 AM.png

It is impossible for a cover 2 safety to play up on a 12-15 yard bender without the backer forcing a high ball from the QB. As you can see here, due to Davis's shallow depth and poor eye discipline (eyes on the QB from snap to throw), he is not in position to carry the seam or disrupt that throwing window. Hopkins can throw a 1 ball (low, direct pass to the WR) through nothing but clear space. This TD is 100% on the LB.
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 3.09.13 AM.png

I actually find Davis's blown assignment here worse than PJ's. He is completely uninvolved in the passing game, again, KNOWING that the primary threat to his side (#2 WR) is the best WR on the team. He never gets his eyes to him, and he never moves off of his presnap spot. The result is another easy TD.
 
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TCUDan

TCUDan

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Now would be a good time to point out that I'm not doing this because I think the Saints' defense is bad or because I am discouraged, etc. I am doing it to show that at least last night, they gave a lot of easy plays and made the Texans--a very good team--look a little bit better than they were.

Fun fact, Demario Davis definitely got his a$$ chewed after that play because this was him the next time he had a chance to get hands on Hopkins.

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 3.40.32 AM.png

Obviously this was a penalty...
 
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TCUDan

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AJ Klein on this same play is a perfect example of how Davis should be walling the #2 WR. Exact same play, other side (to the field).

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 10.04.21 AM.png
 
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TCUDan

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I can get inside Davis head here, he was playing #3 low on the RB release to his side. So this could be a miscommunication between him and Anzalone and really depends on the Saints coverage rules here.

At the snap Anzalone does not match his drop with the release of the RB. He pushes to the field, which is a field/hash key (more space to the field so he needs to take that away).

So that would not match up with the way Davis plays the concept. Him sitting low to match the back is a numbers push (Will pushes to #3 aka the RB out of the backfield. Mike pushes to #2 and to the side of the RB releases). Essentially if Davis is going to match the RB here (#3), then Anzalone should be overtaking the seam, pushing to the boundary rather than the field so he can carry Hopkins on the seam.
 

Will Survive

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My question Dan, are we seeing miscommunication on the concept because DA has over complicated the scheme at the beginning of the season again, as he has been known to in seasons past? Or is this a common concept that the players are failing to execute in individual instances because of rust or until they "gel" as a unit in the early stages of the season?

Thanks, and really is good to have your insight and postings more frequent for as long as your able this season.
 
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TCUDan

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My question Dan, are we seeing miscommunication on the concept because DA has over complicated the scheme at the beginning of the season again, as he has been known to in seasons past? Or is this a common concept that the players are failing to execute in individual instances because of rust or until they "gel" as a unit in the early stages of the season?

Thanks, and really is good to have your insight and postings more frequent for as long as your able this season.
Neither of these 2 plays. You're talking about Cover 7 (the most basic goal line zone coverage) and quarters (every defense plays some version of it). Honestly, none of what the Saint did on defense tonight--even the exotic pressure looks--looked very complicated to me.

The base coverages are a well known by players and coaches. The only things we cannot tell just from watching (and not being in meetings, practice, or actually on the field with the defense) are:

1) What are their rules when it comes to adjustments, specifically from the quarters look (2nd TD) with the back releasing. Are the backers pushing to the field or pushing to the side the back releases? Either Davis was extremely undisciplined on that play OR he was pushing to the back. But Anzalone pushed to the field (away from the back). One of those two guys was supposed to wall Hopkins and didn't. So that falls on communication and understanding a pretty basic rule.

For example, when I run quarters we ALWAYS push to the back, so in my defense Anzalone would have been at fault. But did they gameplan differently for Hopkins? I don't know... giving the best WR on the team a free vertical release is a pretty big f-up.

2) So then it comes back to communication. For example, on Hopkins first TD, Cover 7 rules for the corner is to communicate (scream) a slant by #1. Lattimore is a smart player, I have no doubt that he did exactly that. Now what's the one variable? The timing of the routes.

If you watch the play, #2 breaks into his slant pretty quickly while Hopkins (#1WR) delays it to sell the fade. Did he also do this to delay the communication? Maybe Williams expected to hear the slant call as soon as the #2 WR broke, and when he didn't he zoned out and thought he could play "free" and kind of spy Watson. He is in the first window of the slant but just stays there and doesn't continue to sink with as Watson holds onto the ball (an obvious indicator he's looking to make a 2nd window throw).

Either way, you need to have better play in those situations. I am a big proponent of telling my players to use their eyes. In both of those situations, the defenders in questions were eye-locked to the QB and not locating the WR. That's why they weren't moving and getting depth like they should have been.
 

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AJ Klein on this same play is a perfect example of how Davis should be walling the #2 WR. Exact same play, other side (to the field).

Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 10.04.21 AM.png
Bit of an uncalled hold there on Jordan too...

Edit: And yeah, I like it when you're not busy coaching Dan. The Board's avg football IQ goes up several points when you're around. :)
 
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TCUDan

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I wasn't even going to share these shots from this gem of a play by PJ Williams (TD play on the 2 play drive by the Texans to take the lead).

He should be staying in his backpedal longer (as long as he can) using a weave technique, not flipping his hips open when he still has 5 yards of cushion. The WR stems him outside, gets him to flip his hips early, then rocker steps back in on the seam route.
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 4.19.09 AM.png

Quality isn't great, but you can see PJ coming out of a speed turn to try and recover on the seam. The problem is when you get stemmed out of position like that, all the WR has to do is flatten out his route and you don't have the angle. I will also say that I don't know why the hell Marcus Williams is jumping on the underneath route rather than staying deep middle... but this is an example of the little technical bad habits PJ Williams have that seem to flare up like herpes in critical situations.
Screen Shot 2019-09-10 at 4.20.12 AM.png
 
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TCUDan

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Dan, you knowledge is much appreciated! I think it also shows some of us lesser knowledge fans just how difficult this game can be on a mental level. Imagine having to make these decisions on the fly in seconds?

Thanks Dan!
Exactly! That's why I try to reiterate that I'm not trying to dump on these guys. I have a tremendous respect for what it takes to play and coach at that level. These guys are elite athletes and even PJ Williams--for as much as I criticize him--has made a place for himself at the NFL table. It's very easy to criticize from afar.

That being said, I have been coaching for a while and I get pissed off when I see bad fundamentals or us making the oppositions job easier than it should be. Like I said in another thread, that spectacular 50/50 ball that Hopkins caught over Eli Apple did not bother me. Him beating Lattimore deep on a key reception, just beating him 1-on-1... that stuff happens.

But when I see just bad football in critical situations, the coach in me gets irked. But it also provides material to share and discuss on here. I will definitely post some more positive X&O's stuff later :)
 

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