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Daily Slop – 28 Mar 24 – A Bullock breakdown, Drake Maye update, and learning more about Clelin Ferrell

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By: Bill-in-Bangkok

Clelin Ferrell talks to the media during Super Bowl LVIII Opening Night at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier | Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

A collection of articles, podcasts & tweets from around the web to keep you in touch with the Commanders, the NFC East and the NFL in general

Commanders links


Bullock’s Film Room (subscription)

What CB Michael Davis brings to the Washington Commanders

Breaking down what the Commanders are getting from free agent CB Michael Davis

An under the radar signing by the Washington Commanders during their busy free agency period was cornerback Michael Davis. Davis went undrafted back in 2017, catching on with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent, where he worked his way up the ladder into a starting cornerback. The 29-year-old Davis played eight seasons with the Chargers where at times he’s looked like one of the top press corners in the league and at other times he really struggles. He has had a tendency to fluctuate his performance levels from season to season, with strong years in 2020 and 2022, but down years in 2021 and 2023.

By playing…physical at the line of scrimmage, Davis makes it tough for receivers he’s working against to win routes quickly underneath.

One of the most common ways NFL teams like to attack quarters coverage teams is to isolate a receiver to one side of the formation, force the defense to check into man coverage on that side and then run a quick slant into all the space on that side of the field. That’s precisely what the Cowboys try to do to Davis here with receiver Michael Gallup. But while this tactic works against a lot of corners that typically play quarters, Davis is far more suited to playing man coverage. He gets up on the line of scrimmage and looks to play physical press coverage as we saw previously. He stays patient at the snap, allowing Gallup to fake his release outside before declaring his actual intentions with a break inside before then getting his hands on the receiver. Once he initiates contact, Davis disrupts Gallup’s route and attaches himself to Gallup’s hip. From that position, he can then look to the backfield and spot the ball being thrown. He undercuts the route and breaks up the pass before Gallup has a chance to catch it.

Where Davis can…struggle is tunneling his focus onto a single receiver. He’s become so specialized in playing man coverage that any time he’s asked to play off coverage in either zone or match coverages, he can lock in too quickly on a single receiver and forget the bigger picture. His instincts for other coverages can be poor as a result.

On this play, the Packers look to run a simple stick concept with the two tight ends aligned to the right. Davis lines up about eight yards off the line of scrimmage with outside leverage. The outside receiver that Davis was anticipating having to cover goes in motion across the formation before the snap, which means Davis then focuses his attention on the tight end. That tight end runs a stick route, releasing inside and getting to about five yards before pivoting out. Davis holds his position at the snap, but locks in on the tight end on the stick route. As soon as the tight end breaks off his route, Davis drives on the route, despite the fact that the quarterback was already throwing the ball to the other tight end out in the flat.

Because Davis got such tunnel vision, he was late to realize where the ball had actually gone. Now, it’s not his fault that the ball was caught in the flat, there was a flat defender responsible for that area. However, by locking in on the wrong receiver and not seeing the throw, Davis was in a poor position to help out his teammate when his teammate missed the tackle.

Commanders Wire

Commanders will meet with Drake Maye ahead of pro day

It’s been another busy week for Washington Commanders general manager Adam Peters and head coach Dan Quinn. The duo spent Monday and Tuesday at the NFL’s Annual League Meeting before hopping on a plane to Baton Rouge to watch LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels’ pro day.

Daniels is one of three quarterbacks under consideration for Washington’s first-round pick—No. 2 overall—after the Chicago Bears likely select USC quarterback Caleb Williams.

Washington attended Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s pro day last week in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and had dinner with him ahead of his workout.

Next up is North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye. The Tar Heels will hold their pro day on Thursday and, of course, Washington will be in attendance. Offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, along with Peters and Quinn, will meet with Maye on Thursday morning before his workout, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.

Washington Post (paywall)

Why the Commanders are likely to ‘stick and pick’ at No. 2 in the NFL draft

Four people with knowledge of the league’s inner workings said they would be very surprised if Peters traded down.

“Why would you when you have a chance to draft a franchise quarterback?” one of those people said.

In 2017, two of those people pointed out, the San Francisco 49ers had the No. 2 pick and needed a quarterback, but they passed on the top of the class, including Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. They started the season 0-9, traded for Jimmy Garoppolo and — even though they still built a talented team in the long run — ended up looking for a franchise quarterback for years. It’s a search that Peters, a former 49ers executive, probably wants to avoid repeating.

Ultimately, pretty much everyone at this week’s owners meetings acknowledged they were making an educated guess about Washington’s plan. Peters has remained tight-lipped and poker-faced, and Monday he said the team is still “far from our answer.” Peters and Coach Dan Quinn will attend pro days for LSU’s Jayden Daniels on Wednesday and North Carolina’s Drake Maye on Thursday, then will probably host all of the top quarterbacks for visits.

“I don’t think anyone in here knows exactly what Washington is going to do,” New England Patriots Coach Jerod Mayo said this week. “I think everyone knows what Chicago is going to do [with the first pick]. But the rest of it honestly is just up in the air.”

Five things to know about Clelin Ferrell

2. He faced adversity before he started his college career.

Ferrell was the fifth-ranked high school prospect in Virginia, receiving offers from more than two dozen schools. He ultimately committed to Clemson, marking one of the most important days in his playing career up to that point.

Three months later, Ferrell tore his ACL, forcing him to miss his entire senior season. **What followed was a grueling recovery process** that led to him standing on the sidelines as his team won a state championship. He still wasn’t to be on the field when he arrived at Clemson, so he had to redshirt his freshman year.

“There were ups, and there were downs, and there were sometimes where I was confused,” Ferrell said. “You have those doubts of ‘Well, what if I get injured again?’ or just when I was in camp last year, just sometimes I didn’t feel like I was able to compete at the highest level with these guys.”

Fortunately, Ferrell was back on the field for his sophomore season, and he didn’t waste any time showing why the team was right to stick with him through his injury.

Sports Illustrated

Commanders’ Brian Johnson Part of ‘Most Unique and Strong’ QB Room

The Washington Commanders brought a lot of quarterback knowledge onto their coaching staff, including former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson.

“Number one, I’ve known Brian for a while. I followed his time through when he was at the [University of Florida] Gators and saw all the work that he did with the offense there,” coach Quinn said about Johnson. “I’ve had a chance to compete against him over the last few years. And so, we were very intentional, in terms of the offensive side regarding [Offensive Coordinator] Kliff [Kingsbury] and Brian and [Quarterbacks Coach] Tavita [Pritchard] and [Assistant Quarterbacks Coach] David [Blough] and making sure from the quarterback standpoint that we just had the most unique and strong setup as we possibly could. So, I’ve been super impressed by him. I had high expectations about what he would be about going into it and now getting to work with him, I’ve really been impressed.”

Johnson’s name was among the hottest this time last offseason as he stepped into the vacant offensive coordinator position for the Eagles after Shane Steichen left to be the Indianapolis Colts’ head coach.

His connection and experience with quarterback Jalen Hurts was supposed to help maintain if not improve that offense, but ultimately fell flat amidst turnovers, frustrated stars, and a general sense of disconnection in Philadelphia.

While the process may have fallen apart for the Eagles in 2023, it doesn’t mean each individual piece is tainted and doomed to fail for the rest of football eternity, and in Johnson the Commanders see someone who knows how to tailor a passing game for the quarterback’s strengths. Something they’ll need in short order if and when a quarterback is drafted early by Washington in the upcoming NFL Draft.

As has been the message this offseason, it won’t be on Johnson alone, or offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, or any one coach to get it right. The pressure will be on everyone, as is the decision on the best course of action.

Podcasts & videos

Locked on Commanders: Washington Commanders Owner Josh Harris on Roster, Stadium Updates, NFL Draft – from Owner’s Meeting

Beltway Football: Owners meeting roundup – Dan Quinn, Josh Harris and all the new NFL rules explained

Frankie Luvu is a Dawg ‘Point. Blank. Period.’


NFC East links

Blogging the Boys

The Cowboys have a coherence problem, and it starts with Jerry and Stephen Jones

This offseason is exhausting.

Having clearly defined objectives and an effective, implementable plan for achieving them are key principles for any organization. They certainly should apply to the Dallas Cowboys. Not only are they a multi-billion dollar sports and entertainment empire, they are a football team. The planning and clear goal of winning should just flow from the games themselves into all aspects of the team.

However, this runs counter to a characteristic of the team that is not as universal: Nothing is easy with the Cowboys.

The latest example of this is how we have had differing takes on the role of Tyler Smith this season expressed by owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy. It is also one of the easiest to grasp. In the wake of the departure of Tyron Smith, Jones hinted that the plan pending the outcome of the draft was to kick the incumbent starting left guard out to tackle. But shortly thereafter, McCarthy basically pooh-poohed that idea in stating that the plan was to leave Tyler at guard until they knew who had been selected in the draft. (There is always the possibility they could still address the tackle position via free agency, but everyone is well aware of just how remote that is.)

Who has the real call here? It should be McCarthy. Utilizing your talent is the purview of the coaching staff. Management, including the general manager, are responsible for providing the talent. In Dallas, EVP Stephen Jones is also deeply involved, perhaps more so than his father Jerry. However, the draft still appears to be one place where the senior Jones reserves final decisions to himself. The point is that management should acquire players based on the requirements identified in consultation with their coaches, and then they should let the coaching staff figure out how best to use them. Most teams seem to function like that.

Dallas clearly is not most teams. Only one other team, the Cincinnati Bengals, have their owner, Mike Brown, serving as the general manager. Unlike Jones, he is not a major media darling. That seems to lead to a more effective way of running things. But there is a good deal of evidence that Jerry Jones lets his ego do a lot of the talking, and decision-making. He and his son are very hands on, and it is almost certainly true they use their influence to sometimes push for who gets playing time. That forces the hand of the coaching staff. The owners seem to fall prey to the fallacy that affects many highly successful businessmen. They conflate their acumen in making money with an overall level of genius about all aspects of their organization, and to some degree most everything else. That is something that some of us, me included, refer to as the Jones family thinking they a the smartest guys in the room. Spoiler alert: They aren’t.

Big Blue View

‘A lot of people think the Giants’ guy is J.J. McCarthy’

ESPN says the league believes that the Giants are interested in the Michigan QB

According to ESPN, many NFL insiders believe the Giants really do have eyes for McCarthy. Here is a summary of the current quarterback situation beyond the first pick, where the Chicago Bears will almost certainly select Caleb Williams:

The Washington Commanders are still going through their process at No. 2 and being tight-lipped about it. Some people think they’ll take Jayden Daniels, others think Drake Maye, but I don’t think Washington even knows for sure yet. The New England Patriots at No. 3 are a mystery but open to trading down if they aren’t in love with whichever quarterback is there at No. 3.

The Minnesota Vikings and the Las Vegas Raiders both seem very eager to trade up, and it sounds like there could be a competition between those two, especially if Daniels is still there at No. 3 and the Patriots decide not to take him. A lot of people think the Giants’ guy is J.J. McCarthy, and if so, the question is whether they can sit at No. 6 and take him or whether they might need to trade up a spot or two.

McCarthy’s stock has skyrocketed to the point where it seems unlikely he will be there if the Giants remain at No. 6.

Oddsmakers are definitely believing the McCarthy hype. DraftKings Sportsbook currently has McCarthy with a legitimate chance of being the No. 2 overall pick by Washington. DraftKings has Jayden Daniels at -125, Drake Maye at +150 and McCarthy at +275. Not long ago, McCarthy’s odds of being the No. 2 pick were +2500.

NFL league links


The Athletic (paywall)

Making sense of NFL’s new kickoff rule and what it means for next season

Understanding the basics

NFL’s hybrid kickoff basic rules

Zone rules:

  • The ball has to be returned if it’s kicked into the landing zone.
  • If the ball is kicked short of the landing zone or out of bounds, it will be placed on the 40-yard line.
  • The ball can still be returned if it rolls to the end zone or kicked to the end zone through the air.
  • If the ball is kicked into the landing zone, rolls into the end zone and gets downed by the kickoff team, it will placed at the 20-yard line.
  • If the ball is kicked through the air to the end zone and gets downed, it will be placed at the 30-yard line.


  • Every member of the coverage team (kicking team) aside from the kicker has to have one foot on the 40-yard line.
  • The coverage team cannot move until the ball is touched by the return team or hits the ground in the landing zone.
  • The return team can have nine to 10 players blocking in the set up zone depending on whether it has one or two returners (maximum two returners).
  • The return team must have at least seven players on the 35-yard line (it can have two or three players off the line but in the set up zone).
  • The return team cannot move until the ball is touched or hits the ground (presumably a referee will signal when they can move since their backs will be turned to the landing zone).

The full set of rules can be found here.

The main differences from the XFL’s kickoff:

  • The XFL only allows one returner because it didn’t want the second returner to become a lead blocker and build up speed, increasing the chance for a high-impact collision.
  • If the ball lands on the ground in the landing zone, XFL players in the set up zone can’t move until it’s picked up or the ball is on the ground for more than three seconds.
  • The XFL kicked off from the 30-yard line rather than the 35-yard line to make it harder for touchbacks.

Schwartzstein and his team used the data from their tests to adjust their rules and format into the final product they unveiled when the XFL debuted. It’ll be interesting to see what results the NFL’s tweaks will garner. For example, on one of Schwartzstein’s first tests, the ball hit the ground in the landing zone and because no one in the set up zone could move until the returner touched the ball, the returner took his time before picking up the ball. This gave the play an awkward pause Schwartzstein didn’t want, hence the three-second timer from when the ball hits the ground.

The NFL will allow players to move as soon as the ball hits the ground. While this will eliminate the pausing problem, it could encourage more ground balls and allow the coverage team to get to the returner too quickly. Without testing, some of the NFL’s tweaks might have unintended results. They’ll likely test in spring practices, training camp and preseason, but it might be too late to tweak the rules by then.

This hybrid kickoff is like unlocking a new mini-game within football. The first teams to figure out how to strategize and get creative with covering and returning will have a massive advantage this season. The proximity of the coverage team and blockers completely changes the kickoff strategy. The schemes will be more reminiscent of offensive line blocking schemes. Double-teams and wedge blocking, which were previously restricted for return units, will be allowed. But the second returner, who would become a lead blocker, cannot be part of double-teams.

One strategy will be resetting the line of scrimmage, which means the blockers will attack the coverage team to make contact sooner rather than wait for them. Some XFL teams used pin-and-pull schemes in which blockers pin defenders inside while other blockers pull around them.


Originally posted on Hogs Haven