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Film Review: Eagles should look to pick on Lions SS, C.C. Brown

For those of you who may be unaware, the starting SS for the Detroit Lions is a man by the name of C.C. Brown (aliases "Bad Bad C.C. Brown" and "Can't Cover" Brown), who was signed by the Lions this offseason.  Last season, he played for the Giants (look for #41 in the videos), and was perhaps the worst performer among the Giants' much-maligned safeties.  Here's a good example of the disdain Giants fans hold toward him.

In the Week 8 matchup between the Eagles and Giants last year, the Giants often sent Brown on blitzes to keep him from being exposed on the back end by the Eagles' speedy receivers.  On the occasions when Brown was back in coverage, the Eagles targeted him, and Donovan McNabb picked him apart.  In this first video, you'll see DeSean Jackson run a very simple, no-frills deep corner route.  Brown has deep half responsibility, and simply doesn't have the ability to cover half the field in Cover 2.  This is just ugly...

After the ensuing kickoff, the Giants promptly turned the ball back over to Philly, and McNabb went right back to work on Brown the next 2 plays... (more film after the jump)

In this video, note the following:

-  On the first play from the 43, Brent Celek is lined up slot left and runs a simple seam route.  Celek has to go to the ground at about the 24 to bring in the low pass from McNabb, and you can see that Brown has to take 4 strides just to touch Celek down.  We don't have the benefit of the endzone view on this one, but how far back was Brown playing?  At around the 10?  Celek was the deepest receiver down the field.  Brown must have still been thinking about being beaten deep by Jackson on the previous possession.  A perfect pass from McNabb would have afforded the opportunity for Celek to run after the catch.  In this example, Brown is useless playing 35 yards from the line of scrimmage.

- On the next play, the Eagles then quickly hurry up to the line and McNabb hits Maclin in the endzone for a TD, again, right in Brown's neighborhood.  Note how late Brown is getting over to try to make a play...

On those 3 consecutive plays, McNabb went 3/3 for 97 yards with 2 TD's by picking on the overmatched C.C. Brown.  Expect the Eagles to devise ways to isolate Brown in coverage on Sunday, which is something they had a lot of success with last year.  In this next video, note how the Eagles are able to put pressure on the safety.  In this example, this time against the Giants Week 14 last year (Brown had since been benched), the Eagles targeted Michael Johnson...

That was a play the Eagles ran with incredible success last season, hitting on it for big plays consistently throughout the season.  The Eagles typically line up in Shotgun formation with a 2-TE set to the left, with Jackson and Maclin lined up right, Jackson in the slot, and it works like this, shown in my drawing shown below (and yes, I realize it looks like it was drawn by a kindergartner):



A)        At the snap, the inside TE (Celek, 87) chips the RDE, and heads upfield.  The outside TE (Alex Smith, 82) runs directly at the safety to his side.

B)        The slot receiver (Jackson, 10), from the slot on the opposite side, sprints upfield, initially toward the safety on his side.

C)        The QB (McNabb, 5) stares down Smith running up the seam, where Smith turns for a 15-20 yard button hook.  McNabb pumps, drawing the safety (Johnson, 20) to bite up on Smith.

D)       Meanwhile, as the safety bites up, Jackson turns and heads in full sprint to an area behind the safety on the 2-TE side.  He's wide open, easy TD.

It requires excellent protection to allow DeSean Jackson to not only get about 30-40 yards up the field, but to also cross over from one side of the field to the other.  Jackson is only one of a small handful of players in the entire league that can make this play work, and it's an absolute killer against Cover 2 schemes in which each safety has deep-half responsibility.  Here's the exact same play, same result, this time against the Saints in Week 2 last season...

The Lions coaching staff will have undoubtedly recognized it on film.  I suspect the Eagles will try to run some sort of variation of it this weekend - The simple way to defense it is to get pressure on the QB and not allow Jackson to time needed to run his route, but it's nearly impossible to stop if the defense is caught in a Cover 2 without getting enough pressure.

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