- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. offers his AFC previews today. Here are snippets and links to the files, which require an Insider membership.
They are heavy on philosophy, and quite good.
Offensive nugget: “This may be the best play action package in the NFL when the run game is going. In 2009, it was not. They bootleg off the play action very effectively and QB Matt Schaub is an excellent ball handler. He has decent mobility in the pocket. He is very precise in his throws and he is at his best when he has a clean pocket, but his best attribute may be his ability to check down to his other targets if his first read is not there; Schaub is not afraid to throw it away, which was a problem earlier in his career.”
Defensive nugget: “As the players improve, so will the diversity of the schemes. Their lack of ability to play those tight man coverages really shows up in the red zone when the field shrinks and they can't play off techniques. They were 30th in the league a year ago in red zone defense.”
Offensive nugget: “[Peyton] Manning uses motion, bunch formations, multi-receiver sets, multi-TE sets -- and despite the appearance of a really complex offense, this attack has fewer plays than you think. Basically, the Colts just run the plays they do have really well.”
Defensive nugget: “The Colts are actually getting a little better at stopping the run. The difference between this team going a few games deep into the playoffs and winning it all likely will be its run defense.”
Offensive nugget: “The only suggestion that head coach Jack Del Rio has given [Dirk Koetter] is fewer runs between the tackles -- which makes the offense too predictable -- and more outside plays, especially bootleg plays by QB David Garrard, which is something he does well. The Jaguars are working with him to get the ball out quickly and keep the pocket moving.”
Defensive nugget: “If there is good news for this defense, it is the fact that it is pretty good at corner with decent depth and cover skills -- which is imperative because of all the other deficiencies on this side of the ball. We have already noted the problems with the pass rush, but the Jags are also unstable at linebacker and safety and their tackles are new guys. That is a lot of uncertainly up the middle of the defense and it puts extra pressure on the corners.”
Offensive nugget: “Their [offensive] linemen are not a bunch of glamorous names, but they are smart, they play with pride and discipline, and they are excellent run-blockers, as evidenced by the production of [Chris] Johnson. However, they are also excellent in pass protection, giving up only 15 sacks in 2009 (second to Indianapolis). When you break this unit down on film, it really seems to understand blocking schemes and angles and it does an excellent job of getting position and reaching the second level. Johnson is a good fit with this line. He's very patient and waits for the right blocks to develop.”
Defensive nugget: “This is a very assignment-oriented defensive unit with the desired qualities of aggressiveness and constant movement -- but also intelligence and discipline. If the front four doesn't apply better pressure in 2010, we may see more blitzes and exotic schemes to compensate for its weaknesses.”