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Inside the Play: Going Deep

Another edition of Inside the Play: Slow-Mo. Thanks again to Niko for putting this together. Instead of talking a lot about the play today, we will look as Josh Johnson's mechanics and some fundamentals at other positions.

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The Bucs are in Shotgun 3 WR Set with Kellen Winslow lined up to the left. Derrick Ward is lined up in the backfield in pass protection. The Patriots are in a 3-3-5 (presumably since we never see the 11th guy). All 3 LB's show blitz or man coverage and back off. Before we get into JJ's mechanics, lets look first at the pass-blocking.

Donald Penn is a pro-bowl caliber LT. He has gone up against the best DE's in the league and has shut them down. Watch how fast he reacts to the snap. He wisely doesn't wait for other OL to react or even for the ball to be snapped but trusts JJ and Faine and listens for the snap-count. Now watch his footwork. It is the most integral part of being a good offensive lineman. He has no wasted steps. His left foot goes back first with no hesitation. It's also a very long stride to make sure he doesn't allow any outside moves initially. While he gets his pad level very high, he is able to move quickly and the drop his shoulder right before contact. He does not cross his feet and he has perfect balance. You will also see he initiates the contact and stays square to Banta-Cain. This is a must. He is able to get his hands inside without having to fight for position. He stands Tully Banta-Cain (hows that for a name?) up with the help of Jeremy Zuttah. Zuttah has come over after waiting for any type of delayed blitz. Penn doesn't need any help, but to avoid a verbal beating from the coaches he gets his body on someone. On the other side of the ball Davin Joesph does a nice job of not allowing any penetration while Trueblood seals the End. It looks like JT may be beat, but he does excellent work of riding the outside shoulder of Ty Warren (?). Jeff Faine (who makes a good snap) isn't sure if the LB's are blitzing so he stays at home. Both are playing tight to the LOS and it looks like 1 may be a spy on JJ and the other is Manned-up against Ward.

Johnsons mechanics have improved from when he was in college. First, his footwork looks fine. He seems to take a lot of comfort steps (almost like baby steps just so he can keep moving). When he wants to throw he steps up into the pocket. It is hard to see his eyes, but you will be able to notice slight movements of the helmet. First he looks left, then checks his eyes down to Winslow and then looks at his intended target the whole time, Antonio Bryant. Now, he has a very long windup, which on man-coverage and a deep ball isn't going to hurt him. He doesn't leave the ball down for long-enough to make a difference. However, look at this picture from when he was at SDSU.

What do you notice? The ball is so far away from his body. Not only does this kill leverage and strength, but it also kills your shoulder. Whether it was Gruden's staff or this Olsen who fixed this, it is clearly change. The ball in the video is perfect. It is over his pads and is parallel to his head. He steps into the throw very non-chalantly and has a beautiful follow-through, doing what coaches call "Pronating" the hand (rotating it so the palm faces outwards). This gives it more velocity and a better spiral.

Because there is no S cheated towards Bryant it allows JJ more freedom in his throw. He leads Bryant slightly inside. You will notice Bryant cuts more inside than is necessary. That is a veteran WR move. He does that because A) The CB is not looking for the ball, he is watching Bryant. B) So he can get seperation when the ball gets there. He looks in the pass and 6 points is the result.

And then the crazy "Pirate Guys" greet him at the back of the end-zone, again. Who are those dudes?