"The receiver beats the corner, the quarterback beats the safety."

Kevin Casey

Thomas and I both listen to the two main Greg Cosell podcasts each week during the season, rather religiously -- the FantasyGuru matchup podcast with Adam Caplan, and the Shutdown Corner preview podcast with Doug Farrar -- and at times we'll discuss, over email or twitter, some of Cosell's insights that week. Cosell never seems to run out of little interesting anecdotes, discernments or previously unheard of evaluation tools that can augment your understanding of the game or of how front offices evaluate players, and one such example came up two weeks ago. Greg brought up the idea of the 'calm helmet' when it comes to quarterbacks in their drop-backs.

When asked about Christian Ponder's recent struggles, Cosell responded with what he thought might be going on.

"To me," he noted, "Christian Ponder looks a little lost, and you can always tell, when you watch a quarterback drop back, by watching his head. I learned this term from Mike Martz: you need a 'calm helmet.'"

"And, when you see a quarterback drop back, and sort of move his head from side to side, -- I'm not talking about where a quarterback drops back, looks left to manipulate a defense, then comes back right to make a throw -- I'm talking about where a quarterback drops back, and sort of, his head just keeps looking from side to side."

Cosell went on, "When a quarterback does that and his head is not calm, and you know his eyes are sort of looking from side to side, what that sort of tells you is that your quarterback is not getting a defined, clear picture of what he's looking at. And, he's searching for that picture. And you have about two seconds to search. You know, this is not like reading a novel, where you can read paragraphs over and over again until you get it, he's got about two seconds to figure it out, and right now, [Ponder's] not getting a clear picture."

I went searching for clear examples of a non 'calm-helmet' in Nate's excellent Video Retrospective from the Seahawks' game agains the Vikings, and thought I think it's something that's exceedingly subtle and better viewed on the endzone angle of the All-22 film, you can kind of get an impression of what Cosell means about Ponder 'not getting a clear picture' when you watch the plays HERE, a series of three plays HERE, HERE, and two straight plays HERE.

Subtle, and can easily be mistaken for simply going through reads, but it's an interesting concept that Cosell brings up, and one that I've never really looked for before.

This is certainly one area that Russell Wilson will continually have to work on to improve, and his height disadvantage is an added challenge. As Davis pointed out yesterday, and as we've been really saying all along anyway, there are going to be, inevitably, times where Wilson can't see downfield as the pocket closes in around him. It's something he's been dealing with his whole life playing the position and it's certainly not going to change in The Show. He'll have to mitigate it.

He'll take a few sacks simply because he's not able to see through his linemen or get a clear picture of what the defense is giving him, though if we take out the height problem for a minute, I've heard Ron Jaworski say several times that for some reason, an inability to decipher what's going on in a given play happens to every quarterback from time to time. Jaworski would note that most of the time he'd know exactly what defense an opponent was in and knew exactly where to go with the ball and it was just a matter of execution from there, but then there were the times interspersed where he'd drop back and just not know what the hell he was looking at.

Now, the hope is that these moments are few and far between for Russell, and the good quarterbacks separate themselves from the bad in a large part due to their abilities to decipher defenses coming out of the huddle, and to master the pre-snap phase of the game.

That said, once the ball is snapped, 22 players are moving around at high velocities, and the one to three seconds from the time the ball is snapped to the time the ball is thrown are crucial moments.

The concept of a 'calm-helmet' is a new one to me but it's something interesting to watch.

Cosell goes on to illustrate a little bit what he means with the term.

"I'll give you a perfect example of how this works, and I hope visually people can get this. Let's say you line up and you have two wide receivers, you know, one to each side. Ok, if you're in base personnel - a WR on the right, a WR on the left. The defense is playing with one deep safety - in other words, the other safety is in the box. They're playing with one deep safety, ok?"

"Now, you want to throw a go-route. To let's say, the receiver on the left. Here's the way it works, it's simple stuff: It's the job of the receiver to beat the corner. It's the job of the quarterback to make sure that that single-high safety does not impact the throw, ok? The way that we say it then, is that it's the job of the quarterback to 'beat' the safety."

Which distills down to, as Cosell puts it: "The receiver 'beats' the corner, the quarterback 'beats' the safety."

"The receiver 'beats' the corner, the quarterback 'beats' the safety."

"So," he continues, "what the quarterback does, if he wants to throw to his left, he'll drop back, with his head looking to the right, because the deep safety is reading the quarterback's head, and his eyes. So, if you drop back and look to your right, the safety sort of creeps to the right, because that's where you're looking. Then, when you come back to the left to make your throw, and it's all measured and calm, if your head is moving very calmly, then you throw the ball to the left and the safety's not involved in the play at all."

Well said Greg. Would you readers now enjoy an absolutely perfect example of Cosell's explanation? Well ok then.

This play is just beautiful on so many levels. First, Watch Russell's feet. 1-2-3-4-5, hitch-up, throw. Hey, thanks Bill Walsh! But, more closely, watch Wilson's head for steps one-through-four. Looking right. Step five, and the hitch up, he looks left and delivers.

I'll get back to that. Hold on. I just want to say something about Golden Tate. And, because I like quoting myself lately for some reason (it's the unbridled vanity I think), I want to go back to something I said about Tate's first ever career reception, waaaaay back May 2011, when I was breaking down a few of his early-career plays. "The thing that always strikes me about Tate is that he's got a ridiculous ability to keep his feet under him despite getting hit and spinning and juking. Tate's first NFL reception. You need to watch it, so do so here."

Hopefully you watch that play, because it's strikingly similar to his touchdown above, just in the physical movements and balance necessary to make that catch and somehow still keep both feet in and keep his momentum going up the sideline instead of out of bounds. Russell Wilson said that Sidney Rice looked like a 'ballerina' or something along those lines in an interview yesterday, in reference to Rice's ability to keep his feet inbounds and make tough catches, which I guess is a compliment. So I'm going to say that about Golden Tate too, because he's got a hell of a pirouette in his repertoire.

Anyway, I'm continually impressed with just Tate's innate ability to jump, spin, catch, and continue running without evidently losing one iota of balance.

Back to the 'calm helmet' concept. Greg 'The Maestro" Cosell explains:

"Let's say you line up and you have two wide receivers, you know, one to each side. Ok, if you're in base personnel - a WR on the right, a WR on the left. The defense is playing with one deep safety - in other words, the other safety is in the box. They're playing with one deep safety, ok?"

(Seahawks with a 2WR set, Rice to the right, Golden to the left. The two tight end set dictates another safety in the box for the defense because it's a 'run' look for Seattle, coming out of the huddle. The Jets do the Jets thing and play man on the outside with a single-high safety.)

1

"Now, you want to throw a go-route. To let's say, the receiver on the left. Here's the way it works, it's simple stuff: It's the job of the receiver to beat the corner. It's the job of the quarterback to make sure that that single-high safety does not impact the throw, ok? The way that we say it then, is that it's the job of the quarterback to 'beat' the safety."

"The receiver 'beats' the corner, the quarterback 'beats' the safety."

Ball is snapped. No foot circles, sorry guys. It's not even play action, and the linebackers are inching up toward the line.

2

"So, what the quarterback does, if he wants to throw to his left, he'll drop back, with his head looking to the right, because the deep safety is reading the quarterback's head, and his eyes. So, if you drop back and look to your right, the safety sort of creeps to the right, because that's where you're looking."

Wilson drops back looking right. Yerimiah Bell bites.

34

"Then, when you come back to the left to make your throw, and it's all measured and calm, if your head is moving very calmly, then you throw the ball to the left and the safety's not involved in the play at all."

Note Bell, way out of the action, due to his initial steps toward the offensive right.

Tate does his thang.

556

Thanks again to BigTrain21 for the major giffage!

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