It's your friendly neighborhood TSO here and I'll be providing ES press box Gameday coverage for the next two preseason home games. Now, now, let's stop with the applause and all calm down.
So, I've re-watched the first preseason game against the Falcons numerous times and I came away with some performances I thought were more intriguing to follow than others, with an eye on how they respond in the following games. Will those who disappointed improve upon the issues they showed? Will those who impressed continue to do so? Will we see changes in the depth chart and playing time in the upcoming games based on their performances?
Let's start with the disappointments.
Stephen Paea, 90.
Interestingly enough, Gruden today was asked about Paea and some are interpreting his response as a negative towards Paea. I can see why. Frankly, Paea was a disappointment to watch after hearing about his improvements (namely, his health) all offseason. Though he wasn't necessarily a liability when he was in, he seemed to consistently be a non-factor, which is unfortunate considering most of the time he played was against the second and third-stringers of the Falcons.
Let's take a look at some of those snaps...
The following (at LDE) shows what was pretty much his issue this game. His legs. Seems to be very tentative and stuck in molasses:
Here (at LDE), he gets pushed off the ball and is simply a non-factor:
Here, again at LDE, not getting any penetration on his rush:
Here, at RDE, same deal, a non-factor with his rush:
Now, it wasn't all bad. Unfortunately, the good all came in the 2nd half against lesser players. Still, you can see the upper body strength everyone talks about when he gets his hands directly on a guy and is able to use his arms fully. Here (at RDE), he puts his guy on the ground with ease:
Here (at RDE), he shows quick hands and is able to generate a solid rush. Unfortunately, he was a bit late and was actually flagged for hitting the QB (ticky tacky call, though). His speed just isn't where you want it to be, though:
His best play of the game here. He's lined up (at RDE) directly in front of the Tackle (4 tech) and destroys him, causing the RB to lose yards:
Basically, his legs are an issue, his upper body strength isn't. Doesn't bode well for pass rushing, but this was his first game back after his turf toe injury and maybe he was hesitant versus just not having it. Still, it's disappointing because we've been hearing from him that he's "100 percent" for the last few months and the team seemed optimistic regarding his resurgence.
Hopefully we see some improvement versus the Jets on Friday and/or moving forward. But, if we don't, not all is loss because his strength can still be an asset, especially in short yardage/goal line situations lined up at the zero, two, or four technique (directly in front of his guy) where he can just out-muscle them to disrupt gaps.
Arie Kuandjio, 74.
Now, Kuandjio was a guy many fans hoped, all offseason, would compete for a starting job at LG. Had that not been the case, his game against the Falcons wouldn't have been a disappointment, just more of a standard preseason affair where nothing necessarily stood out and there are things to work on for a young prospect. Alas, high expectations often leads to disappointment if they aren't met immediately.
Let's take a look at some of the issues.
Here, we see where that old scouting report (you know, phone booth Guard and all) on him comes in play. He gets out in space and just doesn't have the juice to get to his Linebacker:
This ones a little funny, he lets his guy get under him quickly and gets some bad whiplash in the process, only to end up on the ground:
Most of his tape was just "meh", not necessarily bad but nothing that stood out. This was about the only play where he did something impressive as he rides his guy right off the screen:
It'll certainly be interesting to see how Kuandjio responds the next few games, as he seemed to really have high expectations for himself this year and the first game didn't bear much fruit for him.
Niles Paul, 84
This might be a little unfair considering how fast he's come back from a devastating ankle injury, but we've been hearing how far along he is all offseason so a little bit more was expected. Unfortunately, the plays he was in to start the game were all pretty poor and the one catch he had ended up in a hyper-extended knee.
Let's take a look.
Here he is at FB pretty much failing at his block. He gets his head way too low and thrusts too early, gaining no leverage and making it easy on the defender to avoid him, screwing Matt Jones over in the process:
Here, he's lined up as the outside TE on the right. He does a good job initially getting to his block, but fails at holding it long enough and gets pushed back. His guy makes the tackle:
Here, again lined up at TE to the right side, he runs his route a bit tentatively and is in an awkward position to make the catch. Probably was unsure about sitting in the zone or continuing the route, but then to top it off he fails to make the catch:
Here, he's the FB and, again, does a good job getting to his block but his guy overpowers him with ease and lays a solid enough hit on Marshall to disrupt the play:
So, yeah, not very good from Niles. Hopefully his knee is okay and he can take a step against the Jets.
So now with the disappointments all out of the way, let's have some fun, shall we? We've heard about guys like Ziggy Hood, Su'a Cravens, and Ricky Jean-Francois having good games, but I wanted to focus on some who were a bit more unheralded who did. I'll be keeping an eye on these guys moving forward.
Kendall Reyes, 97
Reyes hasn't had much fanfare nor expectations placed on him. Most assumed he'd be solid depth or just an okay starter at best. Judging by his first preseason game, I think we may be in for a pleasant surprise.
Let's see why.
Here, Reyes (at RDE) gets a good jump on the ball and almost immediately penetrates into the backfield:
Here, he's lined up as the Nose and gets a solid push initially, though he lets up a bit early because he assumes the QB is about to pass and wants to get his hands up. Should've continued, but a solid job nonetheless:
Here, at RDE again, he gets an excellent bull rush and shows his strength:
Here, he does everything right except make the tackle:
Here, again at RDE, he shows good awareness on the draw and still gets a decent angle on the ball carrier though the Center is focused solely on riding him out of the play:
All in all, a very solid performance. All of his other snaps showed a guy who won't get moved off the ball easily, either. I'm looking forward to seeing how he looks against the Jets and if he can continue to build off of his performance.
Anthony Lanier, 72
This guys tape was, by far, the most fun to watch. Though it was against the bottom of the barrel in terms of personnel for the Falcons, the guy was extremely disruptive on pretty much every play he was in. He played like a maniac, to say the least.
Let's take a look.
Here he's lined up as the RDE and is in on the tackle with Terrence Garvin (who actually deserves a spot here himself, Garvin played well), causing a fumble. The next clip after this one will show just how much he laid out for the hit:
Here, at RDE, penetration and tackle:
Here, at RDE, he gets immediate penetration but then savagely rips off the RBs helmet. Ugly play on his part and, though you appreciate the effort, he's got to be better than that moving forward:
Here, again, penetration and the tackle:
Here, just runs down the play and combines for the tackle with Fields:
Suffice to say, just a boatload of fun to watch. Can't wait to see what he does moving forward.
Carlos Fields, 59
He's generated a little bit of buzz, but mostly written off as a likely cut, he showed up and was in on pretty much every play he was a part of. He was extremely physical and didn't hesitate to throw his body around against the Falcons, making some fun plays to watch in the process.
Let's take a look.
Here, you might think there's nothing special about this play, but he takes on a big FB who gained some steam while he was pretty much stationary and handles it extremely well. When you look at it at first glance, the FB should've laid him out but Fields physicality is displayed:
Here, he and Garvin (see what I mean about Garvin?) combine for a nice tackle, but notice how Fields (right ILB) sifts through the traffic nicely (and listen to that pop from Garvin while you're at it):
This was probably his best play, look at him hustle through the traffic to make the play (left ILB):
This play was the same one already posted for Lanier, but pay attention to Fields here instead (middle):
Good stuff from the young man and it'll be interesting to see how he follows it up for sure.
Welp, that does it. Aside from the more commonly known and intriguing players to follow the next few preseason games, I hope this added some onto your radar. Will Paea, Paul and Kuandjio improve? Will Reyes continue to show up? Are guys like Lanier, Fields, and Garvin moving up the depth chart? Stay tuned right here on the ES coverage blog to find out!