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The All Things 2022 OTAs/Training Camp Thread


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5 minutes ago, Skinsinparadise said:

 

Me too I was just about to post it

 

 

I have a hard time believing this gets to September without it being reported if it supposedly happened in June. And I also have a hard time believing a supposed cards beat reporter got the scoop 4 months later that doesn’t make sense 

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39 minutes ago, Skinsinparadise said:

Don't know much of the source I posted aside from he has a lot of followers

 

 

 

Just for good measure...Rehab process for an ACL reconstruction will include swelling and pain.

The body heals by naturally producing scar tissue (internally) and scabs (externally) to patch/protect and repair itself. After long periods of immobilization and weight restriction, scar tissue has to be exercised and released (torn), in a systematic and progressive plan. Normal swelling and irritation results from the normal rehab process. There's a fine line between progress and re-injury. Think of a two steps forward, one step back until pain and swelling is controllable. Then, a final approach includes stacking pain free, no swelling workouts to go with increased strength and mobility.

Edited by TheShredder
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For Commanders’ defense to progress, rush and coverage must work together

 

This summer, the Washington Commanders’ defense looked like a group with something to prove. Many days at practice, the line collapsed the pocket, the defensive backs picked off passes, and everyone exuded confidence — especially one afternoon, when defensive end Montez Sweat finished a dominant showing against the first-team offense by yelling “Get ’em off!” — and pretending to sweep his teammates away as a janitor does dust.

 
 

In interviews throughout training camp, players and coaches were steadfast but measured. Last year, defensive end Chase Young predicted he and Sweat might break the duo sack record, but after those brazen expectations spilled into public view during a season of regression, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio opened this year’s camp by preaching a message of humility.

Unanimously, his players have echoed it. Some acknowledged the team has talent and should play well, but as for expectations, cornerback Benjamin St-Juste summed up his thoughts succinctly: “F all that.”

 

“Let’s approach each game with confidence,” Coach Ron Rivera said. “We don’t need the bravado.”

Now, with Sunday’s opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars fast approaching, the defense finally will get a chance to prove last season was a mirage. Despite the unit’s 2021 struggles, its mostly unchanged personnel and its poor results in the preseason, players and coaches have remained resolute in their optimism.

“We’re at a point now where … a lot of things are coming together,” Del Rio said. “We’re poised to play pretty good defense.”

 

Washington’s defense followed a breakout 2020 with a letdown. In 2021, it ranked 25th in the NFL in points allowed per game (25.5) and 29th in expected points added per play (0.08). Many factors contributed to the underperformance: injuries, selfish play, lack of discipline, wholesale breakdowns on third down, infighting on the line, poor communication in the secondary and new additions who struggled to adapt to the scheme.

 

If the defense is a Jenga tower, then each of those problems was an important piece that had been pulled out, leaving the structure wobbling. When enough pieces disappeared on a given play, the tower tumbled. Washington often couldn’t sync its pass rush and its coverage, the most basic components of any defense.

“You can’t have a rush without coverage, and you can’t cover without a rush,” linebacker Cole Holcomb said during training camp. “We have to learn how to play off each other.”

The short of it: The rush needs the coverage to be tight to buy time so it can get to the quarterback. Should the rush fail to get there, it needs the coverage to seal the back end.

 

“It all works together,” safety Bobby McCain said. “… Putting it all together each game at a time is what we’re going to have to do.”

This summer, defenders and their coaches used common themes to explain the root of their renewed confidence: continuity, communication, commitment and a subtle change to the scheme. But some of the same people said similar things last year. Can this season be different?

One thing is clear: If Washington’s defense is to become greater than the sum of its parts at last, it starts with unifying the rush and the coverage.

The play that disturbed Rivera was a Chiefs touchdown that never should have happened. It was early in the second quarter of the Commanders’ preseason loss at Kansas City, when the Chiefs had driven into the red zone. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, a master of escaping the pocket, was lined up in the shotgun, ready for his next trick. As he took the snap, Washington’s defensive backs stayed in tight coverage, but the line failed to contain.

 

Defensive end Casey Toohill washed up and over Mahomes on his rush, clearing a path for the quarterback to drift left and throw a perfect dart to tight end Jody Fortson in the corner of the end zone.

The coverage was there. But the rush lacked discipline, and the Chiefs had their second touchdown of the afternoon.

 

Washington has the luxury of four first-round draft picks — Young, Sweat, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen — starting on its defensive line, a rare concentration of talent that pushed the team to the top of most defensive rankings in 2020. But last season, the team’s shortcomings were exposed. By the advanced metric DVOA, which combines a defense’s late-down conversion rate with the average distance the opposing offense faced (among other factors), Washington was by far the league’s worst unit on third and fourth downs, according to the website Football Outsiders. This preseason did little to alleviate concerns about the rushing defense: Washington was last in opponent third-down conversion rate (51.2 percent).

 

But there has been improvement in the details. In the first preseason game, against Carolina, the Commanders gave up an average of 2.8 yards on first and second downs, a healthy number in coverage. The line created plenty of pressure up front and should have had more than the three sacks it recorded. But the breakdowns on third down led to chunk plays and scores, making it all for naught.

“It is about production in our business,” Del Rio said. “That is what we are stressing.”

Del Rio added that his response to the poor third-down defense was not to overreact, largely because it was the preseason and the team purposely didn’t show all of its cards. Washington has tweaked its system to fit its personnel, and now most defenders have a year of experience in it.

 

“I think [players] come in with a little more confidence,” Del Rio said. “They were here in the offseason growing together and putting in the work. … Our communication, our knowledge and our understanding of the principles that we play with is much stronger right now.”

 

Washington believes its line has complementary skill sets to give it flexibility, which is a silver lining of injuries that have at times tripped up the unit. Late last year when Young was out with a torn ACL and throughout this preseason, the team relied on James Smith-Williams and Toohill to step up at end. Smith-Williams, a seventh-round pick in 2020, has moved primarily outside on the line this year, but he has the versatility to play inside, too. Toohill, meanwhile, has the flexibility to drop into coverage.

But compensating for Young, Washington’s star end who will miss at least four games while recovering from his knee injury, will be a challenge. Young’s power and presence can prompt the offense to direct more resources to handling him, leaving rush lanes open for others. Without him, will the defensive line still be able to pressure the quarterback? Or will his absence create more pressure on the secondary?

 

Del Rio has a history of turning fledgling defenses into top-tier groups, and he has worked with a number of the game’s top pass rushers, including Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware with Denver and Khalil Mack with Oakland. To jump-start the defense, the Commanders may show concepts from Del Rio’s past and mix in more five-man fronts this season, especially while they’re without Young.

Doing so would create more options. The defense could go with a heavy interior featuring Payne, Allen and second-round pick Phidarian Mathis; it could use three ends and two tackles to add more speed to the mix; or it could pair the five-man front with a nickel package on the back end.

But the true value of Washington’s defense will be measured by how cohesively its rush works with its coverage.....

No matter which coverage Washington plays, one key to being more effective is disguise. Last season, the defense excelled when its three safeties — Kam Curl, McCain and Landon Collins — lined up in one look before the snap and rotated to a different one after it. In Washington’s upset of Tampa Bay, that disguise keyed the first of two interceptions of Tom Brady.

This year, the Commanders figure to continue using safeties in coverage at one of the league’s highest rates. The group is rangier and more athletic following the release of Collins, the emergence of second-year player Darrick Forrest and the addition of Percy Butler in the draft.

There’s now more trust among the unit as well, several safeties said. Jeremy Reaves pointed out that he has learned the nuances of how his teammates like to play over hundreds of reps. Forrest prefers to be aggressive; McCain is a ball-hawking deep safety. Sometimes Reaves can identify an offensive tendency before the snap and tell the cornerback to play more aggressively against a double move by the receiver because he can provide support over the top.

Those are the most tangible benefits of communication. When Curl is on the field with McCain, they can read the opposing offense and adjust play-calls to be more advantageous by what Curl called “cutting each other,” or switching responsibilities.

“We have the freedom to do that in this defense,” Curl said. “Coaches are like, ‘Just get the play done.’ Somebody got to be here; somebody got to be there. Just get it done.”

In the preseason, perhaps the best sign of the progress the coverage has made was when a quarterback started to throw but halted. It was a signal that the coverage he identified before the snap had changed — or that Commanders defenders were stickier to the receivers than the quarterback had hoped.

Either way, those hitches brought heat. They added fractions of a second to plays and gave the line a chance to rack up sacks and quarterback hits.

Sometimes, such as on that third and six against the Chiefs, the line couldn’t convert. But that play highlighted the progress Washington has made and the room it has left to grow. The handful of examples of stickier coverage and menacing pass rush from the preseason add up to a modest pile of evidence that the defenders and their coaches really can turn words into results.

Recently, McCain was asked why fans should believe this change would translate to the field. He paused. He knows, like everyone else, how high the stakes are. What makes him so sure that this is the year the defense — the rush and the coverage — is for real?

“I mean, it has to be,” he said. “If you’re not on the same page, you have no chance.”

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2022/09/07/commanders-defense-progress-rush-coverage-must-work-together/

 

 

 
 
Edited by Skinsinparadise
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this from last season but interesting to reread

 

“I think the first big part is his get-off,” Rivera said of Young. “When he’s playing vertical and getting through to his third step before he decides what he wants to do, I think he’s a very disruptive football player. Sometimes I think he has a stutter in one of his moves, and that, to me, is not what he does best because the stutter, he has to start, stop and go again.”

At 6-foot-5 and 264 pounds, Young is a rarity, with the height, power and athleticism to disrupt the passing game and menace offensive tackles. What he lacks are what many pros are missing early in their careers: refined technique and an understanding of when to use certain moves.

 

“When I watch him and he does go flying by the quarterback, there are a couple things that go through my mind — where’s our inside push, and, young man, you have to counter,” Rivera added while on 106.7 the Fan last week. “… There are a lot of things he has to develop, but the biggest thing he has to do in evaluating is use that ability that he has, that explosiveness off the ball. Just getting him to understand that is hard because he has so much talent.”

Sweat’s tape revealed much of the same, Rivera said, adding that he does work his inside moves a bit more.

In training camp, Rivera described Young’s next step as “situational awareness” and said repeatedly in camp and the preseason that he had concerns about the team’s “maturity.” Would it rest on the laurels of a playoff appearance last season? Would the defense think its success would carry over despite personnel changes and more film for opponents?

Or would it understand that it has to adapt — and find ways to do so?

“Obviously, a guy like Chase who is so talented — all their guys are really talented. They have to continually find ways to improve, and it’s not just necessarily coming up with a new pass-rush move but understanding how I’m going to attack this guy over four quarters,” said former Washington linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who attended the team’s loss to Buffalo last weekend. “… That comes with time and effort and really knowing the game. That came obviously later in my career as I got around other really intelligent players that helped me understand that perspective.”

For Alexander, that veteran help came from players such as Brentson Buckner, a former defensive tackle who is now the defensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals. It came from players such as Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker and Brian Orakpo, who showed Alexander different tools that he could add to his own game. It came from guys such as Kyle Williams, who called the Bills’ rush “games,” or coordinated pass-rushes among multiple linemen, that forced Alexander to adjust on the fly.

And with experience, he gained a better understanding of counters — his favorite was his spin move — and when to use certain techniques.

“I would never want to spin knowing that the center was going to come to me,” he said. “And that takes time to really understand that.”

For Robert Mathis, a five-time Pro Bowl pick and the NFL’s career leader in strip sacks, his film study and work with John Teerlinck, the late Indianapolis Colts defensive line coach, spurred his growth as a pass rusher.

“Most young guys don’t understand the importance of film study,” Mathis said. “It’s easier to beat somebody if you know their tendencies. Things like get-off keys: If it’s an outside knee, which it is a lot of times, or an elbow or any type of subconscious twitch as the ball is about to be snapped so we’re able to get off from the line around the same time as the offensive linemen. Because then it becomes about who’s the better athlete, and more times than not, it is the defensive guys.”

 

Through trial and error, Mathis said he developed new moves and learned which ones worked on which tackles. Through experience, he learned how to set up effective pass rushes and ensure his moves remain unpredictable to the linemen who, like him, studied film, too.

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/10/03/chase-young-montez-sweat-washington-football/?itid=lk_interstitial_manual_11

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12 hours ago, Warhead36 said:

Lawrence was bad last year but he wasn't like awful bad. He was just typical rookie bad. He was hyped as a #1 pick but he's not a freak athlete type like Newton or Murray(or even RG3)which means he'll need to develop some.

 

Meyer was just abysmal though. I'm one of those that feel like coaches often get too much blame but one could argue Meyer didn't get enough. He was THAT bad. He made Jim Zorn look like Billy Bellicheck. 

I agree with that, but the question I'm wondering is what are the weaknesses in his game. Can he make every throw? Is he throwing with anticipation? Is he making too many hero ball throws? Does he favor the pocket or throwing on the run? Stuff like that. I found this article interesting because the hype train on Lawrence is full steam ahead. Everything last year was all anti-Meyer. But this article was one of the few that points out that he has a history of not throwing with anticipation. That doesn't matter if he is throwing to wide open WRs, but if he playing against confusing coverage and misreads a zone or thinks he can make a tight throw, then maybe we can have another 4 INT game. 

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1 hour ago, EmirOfShmo said:

To me, these comments are an indictment of the Colts coaching staff. "This year we're trying to be organized" 🤣 

 

Yep.  Those quotes paint a picture of the coaches being inept. The narrative going into last season (correct me if I'm wrong), was that Wentz tried to do too much hero ball stuff and really needs to follow on coaching from Frank Reich to get back on track as a player.

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8 hours ago, Thinking Skins said:

I agree with that, but the question I'm wondering is what are the weaknesses in his game. Can he make every throw? Is he throwing with anticipation? Is he making too many hero ball throws? Does he favor the pocket or throwing on the run? Stuff like that. I found this article interesting because the hype train on Lawrence is full steam ahead. Everything last year was all anti-Meyer. But this article was one of the few that points out that he has a history of not throwing with anticipation. That doesn't matter if he is throwing to wide open WRs, but if he playing against confusing coverage and misreads a zone or thinks he can make a tight throw, then maybe we can have another 4 INT game. 

 

Lawrence has good all around physical tools.   As a runner, he is a bit like Daniel Jones, fast, but not agile, so if he escapes from the pocket in a straight line he has legit speed in the 4.5's but he doesn't have a lot of make you miss ability.  I don't know where his throw power ranks, but its good, possibly top 10ish among NFL starters.  His pocket presence was decent last year, he was a little slow to get rid of the ball last year (so you could say processing time is his biggest weakness right now).  That said, he should a lot more positive things than say Zach Wilson.  Zach Wilson took a ton of sacks and was somewhere near the top of the list when it came to average time it took to the QB to throw (Ben Roethlisberger was the lowest and Tom Brady the second lowest last year, so its likely processing time improves with experience in the league.)  Lawrence's sack rate and time to throw were not good, but  normal--indications that Lawrence was simply less overwhelmed than Wilson.  I do think Lawrence could take a big step forward this year and while his rookie year was underwhelming, he didn't seem overwhelmed.

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39 minutes ago, NoCalMike said:

Yes I find it *totally believable* that a QB was out there just having his WRs run around on the field and hoping for the best, and the HC's reaction was "sure, why not" for the entire season.  Uh-huh.

 

But see you don't get it, Wentz used his evil magics to mind control the HC into having that as the offensive coaching plan. It's all Wentz's fault...it must be.

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I'll say one common theme that just about every reporter has from watching camp is they don't think Dyami Brown is long for this team and if he were anything lower than a third rounder, he'd have been cut after the "meh" camp.  Michael Phillips piling on to this point this morning on 980.

 

I admit I am bothered by Dyami being the one WR who didn't go to practice with Wentz in California.  Not saying that its the be all and end all but when I hear that Dyami is the one WR who stood out in minicamp of having no chemistry with Wentz -- he'd want to fix that and try to improve it?

 

Good news is though apparently Cam Simms had a good camp so the depth at WR might be OK. Ditto Dax Milne.  Or maybe Dyami proves people wrong during the season?

Edited by Skinsinparadise
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1 hour ago, Skinsinparadise said:

I'll say one common theme that just about every reporter has from watching camp is they don't think Dyami Brown is long for this team and if he were anything lower than a third rounder, he'd have been cut after the "meh" camp.  Michael Phillips piling on to this point this morning on 980.

 

I admit I am bothered by Dyami being the one WR who didn't go to practice with Wentz in California.  Not saying that its the be all and end all but when I hear that Dyami is the one WR who stood out in minicamp of having no chemistry with Wentz -- he'd want to fix that and try to improve it?

 

Good news is though apparently Cam Simms had a good camp so the depth at WR might be OK. Ditto Dax Milne.  Or maybe Dyami proves people wrong during the season?

He's gonna be inactive just about every game and be cut next offseason.

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