Last week during Film Room we took a look at the sloppy 23-3 loss to the New York Guardians, fast-forward one and now the Vipers are 0-2 and looking up at the rest of the XFL on the standings page. On Saturday, Tampa Bay dropped their second in a row to the Seattle Dragons by a score of 17-9.
While the final score is closer than the week before, the overall takeaway is that there are still glaring issues on film that need to be addressed.
Of course, the Vipers were without Aaron Murray (foot injury) who started under center in week one and was heavily criticized for his inability to finish drives. The lack of converting long drives into six points remained a dark mark for the Vipers offense in week two.
The team is still looking for their first offensive touchdown of the season. They are 0-7 in red zone efficiency, but have outgained their opponents in both games this season. All of these numbers don’t add up, so it should be a good sign that once Head Coach Marc Trestman and Offensive Coordinator Jaime Elizondo get things rolling, the team’s record should reflect that.
Here are the plays:
Quinton Flowers Getting In A Groove
It’s hard to believe that an eight-second clip of a two yard gain can shine a positive light on an 0-2 start to the season, but it can. In week one we saw Flowers used mostly as a decoy, but when he was called upon to carry the rock, he provided a massive spark.
This play is drawn up to be a triple-option for the quarterback. He makes the initial read of the defense at the line of scrimmage and calls out of a handoff to the tailback. So the play becomes a play action bootleg for the QB. Flowers immediately leaves the pocket, which shows that the play was even more of a designed QB-run and makes his downfield reads. Had there been a passing option open down field, Flowers would have thrown the ball. But with the down and distance at third and two the smart idea was to pull the ball down and head for the sideline.
Once Flowers was on the move it was a safe bet he was doing it on his own. He did have tight end Nick Truesdell (85) wide open beyond the line to gain, which does have a negative impact on tape. It shows that Flowers is a run-first option QB, its also the reason why in week one the call was for Flowers to run the read option and handoff ten times. Trying to get the defense to see the wrong thing on tape.
The Secondary Gets A Break, And Makes It Hurt
This play is a dark mark on Dragons QB Brandon Silvers Saturday. The first thing to notice is that when the ball is thrown, look how many Vipers defenders are turned in the direction where the ball is going. It shows where Silvers eyes were in the pocket. It was a dead give away where the pass was going.
The bad coverage from the Dragons O-Line and a well hidden blitz by the Vipers gave Silvers zero time to go with his focus in one area, it created the perfect storm for the Vipers defense.
To go a step further, Silvers made a bad throw, behind the receiver with too much air under it, making it the perfect ball to end up in a defenders hands. That’s exactly what Tarvarus McFadden did, he made a quick adjustment on the ball as he fell to the ground then got up and made a nice return.
Blown Coverage, Long TD
Dragons WR Keenan Reynolds is lined up at the top of the frame across from Vipers CB Jalen Collins. Collins is giving Reynolds about ten yards of space, which allows Reynolds to pick up speed before he reaches Collins. Now Collins is still facing the WR and will need to turn his body in order to move with him downfield. This is where Reynolds burns him.
The receiver makes a quick cut on a post route, as the camera cuts away from the receiver/corner our last vision on Collins the back of his jersey. The corner is expecting the receiver to run straight downfield. When the receiver cuts, Collins is caught out of position and there are no safeties over the top to help.
The mistake is in Collins’ positioning leaving himself unable to defend the route, but the play seems entirely broken defensively. Silvers had three open options to get the ball too which suggests a soft zone defense, but the way the cornerbacks are shadowing receivers suggests a man defense. Either way, the post route opened up for Reynolds and Silvers through his best ball of the day on that play.
Bad Luck Continues
This is one of those fluky luck plays that happen in football. It just so happens the Vipers were on the bad luck end yet again.
Seattle only rushes three on third and long (24 yards), they were not expecting to get pressure on the QB and were more than happy with defending the line to gain. In this play, the offensive line did a horrible job blocking in a definite passing down. That is until the play develops and we recognize this is a screen pass.
The RB makes his chip to the defensive end and gets into position. The center and both guards leave their post and head towards the RB to set up blocking downfield. This puts a lot of pressure on the tackles to make their blocks and allow the linemen to get in front of the back. Flowers doesn’t get enough time and while under immense pressure just flicks a ball in the direction of the running back.
Marcel Frazier shows strong defense awareness and goes up to swat the pass, but instead gets enough hand on the ball to catch it. It just so happens this play occurred around the goal line and before Frazier even hit the ground he was in the end zone for a touchdown. A bad break for the Vipers offense, but a telling play for the final score.
It seems as if for the second week in a row, two bad mistakes lost the game for the Tampa Bay Vipers. As the season progresses and the defense irons out their mistakes, things look as if they will begin to turn for the better for Tampa Bay.
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