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Sunday, September 16, 2007
Updated: September 18, 12:39 AM ET
Scouts Buzz: Week 2

By Scouts Inc.

Scouts Inc. is watching every NFL game and will let you know what had us buzzing after each game. It might be an individual player or a particular play, a theme that played out over the course of the game, or an important sequence that affected the outcome of the game.

Check in with the Scouts Buzz every week to get the inside info on why each game was won or lost and who or what impressed the scouts.

Redskins 20, Eagles 12
Tight end Chris Cooley was a thorn in the side of the Eagles defense in Monday night's game. He lines up in multiple positions to force the defense to cover him with a linebacker, which is often a mismatch as Cooley runs routes like most third wide receivers. It was just such an occasion when he caught a touchdown pass of 16 yards to put the Redskins in front 10-6. They like to move Cooley around a lot during the course of the game. He may line up as a TE and then motion to the other side to play in the slot. Then he may line up off the line, just outside of and behind the traditional TE. From these positions he can either run a route or he can stay in to block for the run. They used him to force the Eagles defense to show their coverage, which allowed QB Jason Campbell to recognize the strength of the secondary.
-- Doug Kretz

Patriots 38, Chargers 14
New England came out in a high-tempo, single-back set that spread out Tom Brady's receiving options. This put pressure on the Chargers' secondary, their defense's weak spot, and pulled their pass-rushing outside linebackers farther away from the ball, making it easier for the Pats to recognize blitzes. Brady sat back and chose the matchup he liked best without a great deal of opposition from San Diego, and timed his shots downfield extremely well. After keeping the tempo up and affecting the stamina of the Chargers' defense, New England finally mixed in some running plays and play action. Brady was a maestro who orchestrated an outstanding offensive game plan with precision and poise. His ability to look off and manipulate coverage is remarkable. New England's weapons also are quite frightening.
-- Matt Williamson

Cowboys 37, Dolphins 20
The game within the game is always fun to watch. Case in point: the Miami offense against the Dallas defense. For most of the game, the Cowboys had shut down the Dolphins. But midway through the third quarter, Miami finally figured out something. Dallas had been playing man-off with the corners lined up six or seven yards off the receivers during the drive, and QB Trent Green was able to move the team with quick slants and hitches well in front of the corners. Then, on second-and-13 on the Dallas 18 yard line, the Cowboys lined up in press coverage with the corners close up on the wide receivers. Green did a great job of recognizing the coverage and lobbed a TD pass to WR Marty Booker over the top of the corner to give Miami a 13-10 lead. While Miami turnovers helped Dallas later notch the victory, watching the Dolphins outsmart the Cowboys on one series was a snapshot of the battle of wits seen every week.
-- Doug Kretz

Lions 20, Vikings 17
Last week, everyone was talking about the dominating performance put on by the Minnesota defense, but in this game, it was the Detroit defense that won the game for the Lions. Detroit used penetration by the defensive line to force the Vikings to move laterally in the running game and to harass Minnesota's quarterbacks into making throws under duress. The defensive linemen maintained lane responsibility in the running game and did not allow Adrian Peterson to find open lanes and turn his pads upfield. Lions defensive coordinator Joe Barry also used his blitz package more than he did in Week 1, in order to rattle second-year QB Tarvaris Jackson, forcing four interceptions and knocking him out of the game in the overtime period.
-- Doug Kretz

Bears 20, Chiefs 10
The Bears special teams, led by Devin Hester, were simply awesome and basically decided this game. Every week, we talk about how important the kicking game is as far as hidden yardage when creating field position. Chiefs special teams coach Mike Priefer's game plan was to directional punt to Hester, using the boundary as an extra defender to try to restrict Hester's space in the open field. But it didn't work. Hester's ability to make the first defender miss, combined with his tremendous speed, led to a 73-yard punt return for a TD. He nearly had a second, but his 95-yard return was called back due to a penalty. Hester's play might have been the biggest key to the Bears winning.
-- Keith Kidd

Broncos 23, Raiders 20
It's not often you see an onside kick in the third quarter, but the Raiders executed it to perfection against Denver. Oakland special teams coach Brian Schneider saw that the Denver front line, specifically the right tackle, was bailing too soon on the kickoffs and wasn't clearing the kick. So Schneider instructed kicker Sabastian Janikowski to surprise the Broncos with an onside to Oakland's left, where Denver showed vulnerability. The call came at the perfect time, when Oakland was just coming off a Jerry Porter TD. It kept momentum on the Raiders' side and took the crowd out of the game. While the Broncos came back to win, the Raiders' bold special teams play will help them at some point down the road.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Ravens 20, Jets 13
Baltimore's Kyle Boller beat New York's Kellen Clemens in the battle of the backup quarterbacks by avoiding turnovers. Clemens threw for more yards, but his two interceptions were the deciding factor. Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan has been around long enough to know that one of the best ways to rattle a young QB is to bring blitz pressure off the edge, and Baltimore was able to get three sacks from its secondary. There were many occasions when Clemens did not have enought time to adjust where he wanted to go with the ball, and that indecision was a huge factor in the outcome of the game.
-- Jeremy Green

Cardinals 23, Seahawks 20
Arizona's offensive line was a big part of the Cardinals' win, helping establish the running game when it was needed with gap and zone schemes. In both schemes, Arizona double-teamed the Seattle linemen at the point of attack to create running lanes for Edgerrin James. The line also used solid fundamental technique in pass protection to allow Matt Leinart enough time to find his talented receivers. Left tackle Mike Gandy and right guard Deuce Lutui did well with their pass sets and punches to slow down Seahawks defensive linemen Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Colts 22, Titans 20
The Indianapolis defense came up big in the end versus Tennessee. With starting LBs Freddie Keiaho and Rob Morris out, S Bob Sanders stole the show for the Colts defense. Sanders is going to show up every week, but defensive coordinator Ron Meeks put Sanders in position to make plays all day. In addition to their usual Cover 2, the Colts also played some Cover 3 when bringing Sanders on the blitz. Sanders finished the game with 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Sanders played close to the line of scrimmage, and as a "spy" at times, he limited Titans QB Vince Young's ability to make a lot of big plays with his feet. The Colts still are primarily a Cover 2 team, but it was their ability to be creative on the defensive side of the ball that was the difference in this game.
-- Jeremy Green

Packers 35, Giants 13
The Packers got an impressive road win over the injury-riddled Giants. Surprisingly, QB Eli Manning not only played with a second-degree shoulder separation, but he delivered the ball well, for the most part. However, it wasn't necessarily the offense that led to the Giants' second loss. Instead, it was a marginal effort by the Giants defense that was costly. Coach Tom Coughlin was willing to take some chances to try to pressure Brett Favre and slow down the Packers. The Giants used a variety of blitz packages, but Favre was excellent at quickly getting the ball out versus man coverage. He avoided the pressure, was patient in the pocket and got the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Wide receiver Donald Driver and tight ends Bubba Franks and Donald Lee each scored against underneath linebacker coverage that appeared to be outmanned.
-- Ken Moll

Jaguars 13, Falcons 7
Atlanta's Joey Harrington effectively moved the chains by standing in the pocket and delivering accurate passes against Jacksonville's zone coverage, but when the Jaguars changed up their base 4-3 philosophy, they were able to get to Harrington. Six of their seven sacks on the day came outside the base scheme, when coach Jack Del Rio ordered seven-man blitzes and mixed in several zone dogs to stymie Atlanta in the second half. On the other side of the ball, Jacksonville QB David Garrard was effective in spreading the ball to nine different targets in the play-action passing game. A balanced offensive attack enabled Garrard to keep the Falcons defense off balance, and to keep Harrington and the Atlanta offense on the sideline for much of the second half.
-- Ken Moll

Browns 51, Bengals 45
In a game that was dominated by explosive offensive performances, the Browns found a way to win a tough game at home. Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski did a great job of maximizing the Browns' offensive playmakers -- RB Jamal Lewis, WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow -- in his game plan. This took the pressure off QB Derek Anderson, who was very impressive in his first start of the season. Equally impressive was the Browns offensive line. It dominated the Bengals' front seven by creating space and running lanes in their power zone schemes, which allowed Lewis to be very effective between the tackles. This, in turn, opened up big plays on the backend in the Bengals' secondary, and the Browns exploited the individual matchups that favored their playmakers.
-- Keith Kidd

49ers 17, Rams 16
The loss of OT Orlando Pace was felt in the Rams' loss to San Francisco, especially by QB Marc Bulger. Bulger was sacked six times, but he also was hit 11 times after he passed and hurried eight other times. The Rams suffered when they tried to form the pocket off the five-step drop, which is needed for the longer developing routes by their WRs. They had relative success when going off the three- or one-step drops for the short outs, crossing patterns or quick hitches. The 49ers did a good job of jamming the receivers at the line of scrimmage, forcing them to take too long to finish their routes, and, ultimately, allowing the San Francisco rush to get after Bulger.
-- Doug Kretz

Buccaneers 31, Saints 14
With an extra long week to prepare, the Saints, well, they didn't look like they wisely used the extra time. Much like Indianapolis did in Week 1, Tampa Bay threw all over the Saints. With just 15 first-half rushing yards, including eight yards on nine carries by Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay still led 21-0 at halftime. The Saints had no answer for Joey Galloway, who was the true difference-maker in this football game. New Orleans has been exposed in these first two weeks as a team that simply cannot defend against the deep ball. Case in point was Galloway. There are few players in this league who can get vertical or create yards after the catch like Galloway. He still has a rare blend of speed and explosiveness, and continues to defy time.
-- Matt Williamson

Steelers 26, Bills 3
The Bills played very conservatively on offense because of their lack of quality players in the secondary. They allowed a large underneath cushion, eliminating the big play and forcing Ben Roethlisberger to dink and dunk with check-down throws. With the exception of a first-quarter interception that was forced downfield, Roethlisberger did a fantastic job of taking what Buffalo gave him, and he spread the ball around very well in Pittsburgh's wide-open attack. The Bills' entire philosophy was to pound it out, keep it close and stay in the game, an ultra-conservative approach -- on both sides of the ball -- that focused on not losing, rather than winning. They lost the battle at the line of scrimmage, though, and that doomed them.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Texans 34, Panthers 21
Houston offensive coordinator Mike Sherman did an excellent job of mixing up his play calling and getting WR Andre Johnson involved at the right time on play-action. Johnson was split wide in single-receiver looks last week, but this week, Sherman hid him on the inside with another receiver split wide and got a touchdown as a result. Johnson stutter-stepped Carolina ILB Dan Morgan on a crossing route and accelerated past him in the middle of the field for the score. This was a perfect example of finding different looks to get the ball to the best receiver.
-- Marwan Maalouf

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for