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Tag:Andre Gurode
Posted on: September 7, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Film Room: Jets vs. Cowboys preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



The Ryan Brothers are about more than oversized mouths and midsections. They’re two of the craftiest defensive scientists in today’s NFL.

Rob, in his first season as Dallas’ defensive coordinator, is hoping to build the same type of confounding defense that his brother has constructed in New York.

That’s a tall order.

The Jets have had two full years of experience in The Ryan System; the Cowboys, thanks to the lockout, have not quite had two months. The Jets also have the luxury of designing coverages around Darrelle Revis, the best shutdown corner since Deion Sanders.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, are just hoping that Terence Newman, who showed signs of decline last season, can recover from a groin injury in time to play. Whether he does or not, the Cowboy corners figure to need safety help Sunday night.

The Cowboys defense will improve under Rob Ryan, but it’s a question of when. The Jets defense, we already know, is ready to go. For this reason, we’ll focus our five key points on Cowboys O vs. Jets D – a matchup that, as you’ll see, drastically favors Gang Green.

1. Selling Out
What Rex Ryan does as well as any coach in football is attack tendencies. In other words, for simplicity sake, say that on second-and-10, data shows that the opposing offense uses play action 75 percent of the time. The Jets, on second-and-10, will employ a defensive tactic that goes all-out towards stopping play action.

This might seem like an obvious move. But a majority of NFL coaches are hindered by fear about that 25 percent chance of getting burned by a non-play action call. Not Ryan. He always looks to feast on an offense’s predictability. That’s one reason his players love him. Worth noting is that last season, the Cowboys often clang to basic personnel formations and had a tendency to be predictable.



2. The Disguise
While it’s true the Jets are one of football’s blitz-happiest teams (especially on third down), it’s a myth that their playbook is thick with myriad blitz designs. In actuality, the Jets use a relatively modest collection of blitz packages. The difference is that they execute these blitzes with a wide variety of personnel. Insiders call this "cross training", when a team has multiple players from multiple positions performing the same techniques. The Jets have nearly mastered it. This versatility is why defenders can roam around before the snap and disguise their looks.

3. The Execution
A lot of Ryan’s pass-rush designs look like blitzes but actually involve only four pass-rushers. Often, the pass-rushers are overloaded to one side. For example, the Jets might place seven defenders on the line of scrimmage (say four to left and three to right).

But when the ball is snapped, three of the four defenders on the left side drop into coverage, while all three defenders on the right side rush. This creates confusion for offenses in pass protection, which results in pass-rushers getting a clear path to the quarterback or being blocked by an overwhelmed running back.

The Jets make great use of a variety of zone exchanges. As our illustration shows, much of the work is done simply with the presnap alignment.

In this alignment, even if three of the four defenders on the left side of the line retreat back into coverage, they still create a pass-rushing advantage for the defense. The very nature of the pre-snap configuration forces the offense to waste blockers on the left side and also creates one-on-one matchups on the right.

Those one-on-one matchups dictate that the running back pick up the outside linebacker, which is a mismatch favoring the defense. On a related note, the running back also has reason to first look left (1. above) immediately after the snap, which makes him a half-beat slower in identifying his actual assignment on the right (2. above).

4. Cowboys Achilles Heal
Pass protection recognition figures to be a bugaboo for the Cowboys – at least early in the season. Two of Dallas’ starting linemen are rookies: first round right tackle Tyron Smith, who, at 20, is the youngest player in the league, and seventh-round left guard Bill Nagy.

What’s more, new center Phil Costa might not be overweight and overpaid like predecessor Andre Gurode, but he’s also not battle-tested. The undrafted second-year pro has played in four games, with just one start that came at left guard. Front line questions are ominous considering Tony Romo has always had some trouble diagnosing blitzes.

The only saving grace in Week 1 is that with Rob Ryan running the Cowboys D, this callow offensive line has had a chance to practice against some of Rex Ryan’s defensive concepts. But we’re still talking about an untested group coming off a shortened offseason and facing one of the most confounding defenses in all of football.

5. A Scintillating Raw Matchup
The ever-fluid Miles Austin figures to be blanketed by Darrelle Revis Sunday night. Thus, the Dez Bryant-Antonio Cromartie matchup takes center stage.

This will be like watching football’s version of a great impromptu dance-off or pickup street ball game. Both players are unrefined but dripping with natural talent and confidence. Bryant’s inexperience figures to limit his route tree; Cromartie’s refusal to use his hands in press coverage drives Jets coaches crazy. But both players have natural game-changing abilities.

So who will win? Check our expert picks for all Week 1 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 7:20 pm
 

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues



Posted by Ryan Wilson

If the Ravens can stay healthy they have as good a chance as any team in the AFC to make a Super Bowl run. But this is football and not ping pong; injuries are as much a part of the game as touchdowns and interceptions. And with the regular season four days away, Baltimore still has plenty of unanswered questions, mostly having to do with the lack of depth at key positions.

On Sunday, the team addressed one of their needs by signing five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode, who lost his job in Dallas when he refused to restructure his $5.5 million 2011 salary. Gurode isn't nearly the player he was during most of his nine-year Cowboys career, but he doesn't have to be in Baltimore.

The 2011 Ravens

The Ravens signed him as insurance in case their other veteran center, Matt Birk, isn't yet fully recovered from August 3 knee surgery. Though general manager Ozzie Newsome sounded absolutely ecstactic when talking about the news publicly. "We just got better as a team.," he said. "To have a successful season, you have to have quality depth across the board. We just added great depth to the interior of our OL with Andre."

It's amazing to think that the Ravens, a team that was committed to building a formidable offensive line through the draft, has been reduced to searching through the free-agent lost-and-found bin for warm bodies to protect Joe Flacco and open up holes for Ray Rice.  Late last month, Baltimore signed Bryant McKinnie to play left tackle. The Vikings had released McKinnie earlier in the offseason because he was out of shape.

Since 2005, the team has taken seven o-linemen in the first three rounds and the results have been mixed. A quick draft recap:

2005: T Adam Terry, 2nd round
2006: C/G Chris Chester, 2nd round
2007: G Ben Grubbs, 1st round; G/T Marshall Yanda, 3rd round
2008: T Oniel Cousins, 3rd round
2009: T Michael Oher, 1st round
2010: T Jah Reid, 3rd round

Reid, Oher, Yanda and Grubbs are still with the team, and the last three are starters. That said, McKinnie was signed after Cousins flopped as the Ravens' right tackle (and was subsequently cut), and Oher remained unimpressive at left tackle. The plan is for Oher to move to right tackle (where he's previously had some success) and install McKinnie at left tackle. The other players listed above either weren't re-signed once their contracts expired, or in the case of Terry, released.



Baltimore also has issues at wide receiver and quarterback. They traded for Lee Evans after rookie Torrey Smith proved he wasn't ready to be the No. 2. (And rightly so -- he's a rookie who didn't have the benefit of OTAs or minicamps; no idea why coach John Harbaugh thought it was even a possibility.) And he'll team with Anquan Boldin and, well, that's it. The Ravens have Ray Rice, who was second on the team in receptions last season behind Boldin, and much will be expected of second-year tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

A much bigger concern is the backup quarterback. As it stands, rookie sixth-rounder Tyrod Taylor won the job by default. We'll have to wait and see if Newsome brings in a just-released veteran (Trent Edwards, Josh McCown and Dan Orlovsky are all looking for work), or risks sticking with Taylor. Flacco hasn't missed a start in his three-year NFL career, but without him the Ravens go from double-digit wins to a staring 6-10 right in the face.

A year ago, Marc Bulger dutifully held down that role but he retired this offseason. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron recently called Bulger to gauge his interest in returning to the Ravens and he was kindly rebuffed, at least for the time being. The Carroll County Times' Aaron Wilson tweeted Saturday that "Bulger has decided to stay retired at this time, but told Ravens he would be interested in case of emergency if Flacco got hurt."

It's a nice sentiment, but it's not exactly an ideal set up. The last thing a team wants to do after losing its franchise quarterback for any amount a time, is bring in a guy off the street to start in less than a week. Even one who is intimately familiar with the offense. There's the matter of being in shape, not to mention developing timing and chemistry with the receivers.

For now, though, Bulger's staying put and the Ravens are headed into the 2011 season with a couple of o-line veterans let go by their previous teams and a backup quarterback who has been in the NFL for a grand total of six weeks.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 11:05 pm
 

NFL teams continue to fill out 53-man rosters



Posted by Ryan Wilson

NFL teams reduced their rosters to 53 players Saturday night, but that's just the beginning of the roster-assembly process. Some newly unemployed big-name free agents weren't out of work long, and teams in need of depth meant that other mid-level players found homes quickly, too. And then there are the practice squads.

Luckily, we got you covered here at the Eye on Football blog where, to quote Banky Edwards, we're like CNN and the Weather Channel: providing constant updates.

So check back often and bookmark CBSSports.com's Rapid Reports while you at it.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 10:31 pm
 

Gurode to visit NE; what would Haynesworth think?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When the Cowboys released center Andre Gurode, we should have known he’d eventually earn a visit with the Patriots. After all, New England has been the epicenter of the NFL’s revitalization clinic. And why not? As Albert Haynesworth says, New England is the greatest place on earth!!!.

Aside from Haynesworth, the Patriots have thrown a lifeline to Chad Ochocinco and tried out Clinton Portis and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (those last two obviously didn’t work out).

Now, it’s Gurode’s turn to visit the New England coaches, as reported by the Boston Herald.

And if you thought that Steve Smith-LeSean McCoy was, um, slightly awkward, what will happen if Gurode and Haynesworth are playing on the same team? Click the video below to refresh your memory. I imagine it wouldn't be a happy reunion.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: April 24, 2011 5:42 pm
 

Teammates reach out to Dez Bryant

D. Bryant met with some teammates, who hope to set him on the right path (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant has been tough to figure out since he came into the NFL for his rookie year at the beginning of last season. He’s obviously quite talented, but he’s proven himself to be immature and, in quite a few cases, awfully irresponsible.

Some of his teammates are trying to change that behavior.

He’s made some unfortunate news this offseason – such as allegedly refusing to pull up his pants at a Dallas-area mall and not paying up for $246,000 worth of jewelry – and the unfortunate reality of the lockout is that nobody from the Cowboys organization can reach out to him during his troubled times.

But his teammates can, and that’s exactly what they did Saturday when, according to the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys QB Tony Romo, C Andre Gurode and LB Keith Brooking met him for lunch.

On his Twitter account, Bryant wrote that he had a good time. But his teammates must hope he got more out of the lunch than just a pleasant afternoon. They must hope he’s beginning to figure out how grown-ups act in the real world.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Posted on: December 29, 2010 10:08 am
 

McGee could get another chance for Dallas

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If Cowboys QB Stephen McGee gets the start this Sunday vs. the Eagles – and it sounds like he has a pretty good chance of doing just that – he could continue convincing the Dallas brass that he can be the primary backup to Tony Romo, meaning the team wouldn’t have to spend a 2011 Draft pick on another signal-caller.

The fact McGee performed impressively in last Thursday’s loss at Arizona – despite the defeat, McGee completed 11 of 17 passes for 111 yards and a TD and put his team in position to make the come-from-behind victory after Jon Kitna left the game because of injury – is quite a feat for the former third-string QB.

McGee As the Dallas Morning News points out, McGee had never thrown to Jason Witten before last week – not even in practice – and after taking snaps from rookie Phil Costa in practice, he received the ball from starting C Andre Gurode in Thursday’s game, a difference in delivery point by about four inches.

What surprised me most about McGee was how poised he played vs. the Cardinals. You don’t often see a third-string guy taking his first-ever snaps in the NFL who plays that … well … un-nervously.

"What we liked about him was his demeanor," coach Jason Garrett said. "He didn't really blink. He was, 'OK coach, I got it. I got the calls. I can handle this stuff.' He showed us that, and as the game wore on, he got more comfortable."

One reason for that is because McGee rents a house only two stop signs away from the Cowboys practice facility. That was a conscious decision so he could spend as much time at work as possible.

"Every chance you do get is a huge opportunity," McGee said. "You send that video out to the whole league. Everybody sees it, everybody takes notice. It's basically a résumé for the NFL.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: July 13, 2010 12:22 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2010 12:18 pm
 

Position rankings: centers

 Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, with today’s focus on centers.

Andy's top five list

5. Matt Birk, Ravens

4. Andre Gurode, Cowboys

3. Alex Mack, Browns
N. Mangold chomping on a burger (Getty)

2. Olin Kreutz, Bears

1. Nick Mangold, Jets


The veteran stability provided by Matt Birk is a big reason the Ravens' young offensive line will be the best in football this season. Birk has always made his teammates better. Gurode can be comically inept in shotgun snaps at times, but opponents never laugh after facing him in the ground game.

Mack amazed me on film as a rookie. He plays with the savoir faire of a 10-year veteran. He sustains well in pass protection despite having questionable strength, which speaks to his well-honed technique. Most importantly, Mack gives the Browns a second source of mobility inside next to left guard Eric Steinbach.

Kreutz is aging, which only makes him meaner. He uses his hands as well as any blocker in the game. I’m part of the rest of the football universe that has decided Mangold is, far and away, the NFL’s best center. The fifth-year pro has no particularly-glaring weakness.

Josh's top five list

5. Jeff Saturday, Colts

4. Olin Kreutz, Bears

3. Andre Gurode, Cowboys

2. Matt Birk, Ravens

1. Nick Mangold, Jets


There’s no reason to argue the pick of Mangold, who only sometimes stuffs his face with a burger (pictured at right). He’s the best center in the NFL, and considering he’s entering only his fifth season, he has plenty of years left. Memo to the New York Jets: you might want to lock up this guy to a long-term deal.

Birk has been around forever, and he, somehow, doesn’t have any weaknesses. His run-blocking – as backs like Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Willis McGahee will attest – is some of the best around. Gurode is tough and a punishing run-blocker. You mentioned his shotgun snaps – a fair criticism – but I’ve got another critique. He takes way too many penalties. He had nine of them last year, which led the league. He had six the year before. You know who that doesn’t impress? Albert Haynesworth.

Kreutz, at 33, isn’t quite as good as he was, and he’s coming off Achilles tendon surgery. But you know what I like about him? He can get out in space on sweeps and screen passes, and he can make a block downfield. I LOVE centers who hustle to do that. Saturday has helped keep Peyton Manning upright for the past 192 starts. He’s a four-time Pro Bowler, and although he just turned 35, he’s still one of the best centers in the league.

I don’t mind the Mack selection, but I’m going to need to see him do it for more than one season before he displaces one of the veterans on my list who have been doing it for years. You see, I like my centers like I like my women: old and gritty and, if possible, missing some teeth.

Andy’s rebuttal

And I like MY centers like I like MY women: young, flexible and willing to do anything. That’s why I anticipate the 24-year-old Mack being at least No. 2 on my list by season’s end. But I understand you wanting to see more evidence at this point.

If you like old and gritty, you could have also gone with Kevin Mawae. He’s an unsigned free agent right now – owners might be blackballing him because he heads the NFLPA – but there isn’t a craftier, steadier leader in the game. The Titans will really miss Mawae in 2010. Another gritty veteran worth mentioning is the Giants’ Shaun O’Hara, an outstanding second-level run-blocker.

Two guys who didn’t make our lists were Tampa Bay’s Jeff Faine and St. Louis’s Jason Brown. I point them out because Faine became the league’s highest-paid center in ’08, and Brown became the highest-paid in ’09. Both have been decent, but only decent.

Josh’s final word

We also didn’t talk about Carolina’s Ryan Kalil, who grades out as one of the better pass-blocking centers in the league. I probably would have made him my No. 6 or No. 7 if we had expanded our lists.

Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter  | Kicker | 4-3 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Inside Linebacker  | Defensive Tackle  | Defensive End | Offensive Tackle )

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com