Defending Freeney and Mathis

It has come to my attention that Eagles fan Kyle Dwyer, also known as d-jackfan10 on BleedingGreenNation.com, has become frustrated with Colts’ fans’ comments regarding the regular uncalled holds on defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.  It is Kyle’s contention that the Colts are crying over spilled milk, that Colts’ fans’ interpretations are jaded by homeristic glasses coated by the blind opinion that Freeney and Mathis are better players than they actually are.

Kyle took it so far as to create two YouTube videos with every offensive and defensive play for each team to display the differences and to support the conclusion that Trent Cole is actually a better defensive end than Dwight Freeney.  I examine both videos after the jump and break down the holds, chips, and double teams in each.

I will start with the Eagles defense tape.  Below you will see where Kyle, who compiled the video, claims holds and my responses are noted.  Below that will discuss chips and double teams.

There are two holds at :07 one is Ryan Diem on Juqua Parker, the other is TE Gijon Robinson one-on-one with Trent Cole.
The claimed hold at :48 is BOGUS. Nice try but no dice.
The claimed hold at 1:14 is BOGUS. Collie has his hands on Cole but they are inside of his own shoulders and pushing Cole into the backfield. Not a hold.
The claimed hold at 2:15 is BOGUS. Pushing a defender away and holding, again, are not the same.
The claimed hold at 3:09 is BOGUS. Cole runs THROUGH Saturday. Saturday never gets his arms outside of his shoulders as he is going down to HOLD Cole’s forward progress. To be clear, an offensive lineman can GRAB the jersey or pads of a defender IN FRONT OF HIM and INSIDE THE SHOULDERS, but not outside of his shoulders in an effort to keep him from going by when he is beat.
The claimed hold at 3:31 is BOGUS. Hands on Cole PUSHING him away from the pocket is NOT a hold. Offensive linemen are allowed to extend their arms out in front of them, inside of their shoulders, and push defenders in a desired direction.

That leaves four holding calls that are legitimate and all but one is late in the game. The other, holding at the :07 mark is one-on-one with TE Gijon Robinson. 4:36, 4:49, and 5:43 are all holding by Johnson on Cole. That’s it, those four. The rest are garbage and homer claims or a demonstration of a lack of understanding the rule.

Cole was chipped three times and never double-teamed. Chips occur at :03 Donald Brown, :52 arguably Jacques McClendon but that is a designed run with the line pushing defenders left (not sure McClendon focused on Cole by design or more because he just happened to be there but I still list it), 6:35 Kyle DeVan chips for a moment and then moves to another defender.

The only way I understand any other chip or double team claim is when Cole stunts into the middle of the offensive line. Claiming double teams or chips there is absurd. The offensive linemen in that situation are not double teaming a stunting defensive end or chipping them, they are simply responding to the defender that shows up in front of them.  Double teams and chips are designed plays, schematic decisions, claiming the others is ridiculous.

It is noteworthy that on somewhere between three and five plays Cole is matched up one-on-one by design with a TE or WR.  TE Gijon Robinson, TE Jacob Tamme, and WR Austin Collie all blocked Cole one-on-one at times throughout the game.  On one occasion Robinson held Cole, otherwise the TE/WR one-on-one blocks were effective.  I am not saying that makes Trent Cole bad, but no double-teams and three-to-five one-on-one matchups with crappy blocking TEs or a WR isn’t some kind of homerun statement for Kyle’s insistence that Cole is of Freeney quality.

As for Cole’s prowess in stopping the run.  The tape doesn’t show much to sing about in the run defending department.  This Eagles fan may be unaware but Freeney is actually a decent run defender.

What makes Kyle incapable of understanding, and foolish to judge Freeney, is that he does what he does in the Colts system consistent with and based upon John Teerlinck’s defensive line philosophy. When he blows up runs, and it’s not uncommon for him to do so, it is following the same direction he is always required to follow — play the run on the way to the quarterback.  Freeney has dropped into pass coverage effectively from time to time in the past as well, including during this season.

Kyle’s judgment and understanding of what Freeney does is shallow, which is not surprising. The difference between Kyle and me is that I do not question that Cole is an outstanding player and I do not presume to know the reasons he does what he does, because unlike Kyle, I am not foolish enough to believe I know what I’m talking about regarding the intricate details of another team’s defender’s play style and performance.

I will bet Kyle on this though, just for the sake of fans of opposing teams arguing about something.  If you asked the 31 other teams in the league which defensive end they feared playing most — to list them from one to five in order — you would far more often than not have Freeney listed higher than Cole in the game-planning nightmare department.  I could be wrong, but I’m pretty confident I’m not.  Now, on to the Freeney tape.

Holds on Freeney

:39 – Peters is fine at first but once Freeney’s back is to him & he tries to spin back out, he holds around Freeney’s arms/shoulders to keep him from moving. This is not allowed.
1:36 – Peters left arm extends past his left shoulder to keep Freeney from turning the corner, Vick scrambles so Freeney turns back around making it not as obvious but it’s there.
2:10 – Celek one-on-one holds Freeney very clearly.
2:40 – LG holds Freeney with both hands and arms extended outside of his right shoulders. Vick is scrambling deep in the back field and an unimpeded Freeney would have caused major trouble. The hold makes him a non-factor.
4:00 WR Jason Avant holds Freeney, it is really clear with his back to the camera and Freeney between him and Vick. As a result, Vick gets off a pass.

Freeney is double-teamed
1:03 Celek/Peters
1:26 Triple team with LG, Peters, Celek
4:14 Peters/LG

Freeney is chipped
:39 LG
:58 FB
1:43 LG
1:58 HB
2:28 TE
2:58 TE/WR
3:20 TE/G
3:33 TE
3:45 FB
4:17 TE

Holds on Mathis
:32 Arms outside right shoulders corralling him. Clearly beat with the speed move.
2:23 Blatant hold, without it, Vick was screwed.
3:10 Blatant hold, without it, sure sack. Not even a question.

There were four or five other occasions when holds occurred but they had such a little impact on the play I ignored them, as officials currently do.

Holds on Keyunta Dawson
3:26 Blatant hold.

I did not take the time or exert the energy to list all of the chips or double teams of Mathis/Hughes/Dawson.   If I did, this would be a much longer post.

Suffice to say, Peters got an awful lot of help throughout the game.  He also did a solid job against Freeney for parts of the game one-on-one. Mathis gave the right side of the offensive line fits as well. I count five holds on Freeney, three meaningful holds on Mathis, one meaningful hold on Dawson — that’s nine altogether. There were 10 chips on Freeney, 3 instances of double or triple teams. Mathis was also chipped and doubled A LOT.

From my viewing I see two or three sure sacks that were negated due to holds. I see another two or three plays that would have either failed or been negative plays if not for holds.

Kyle can continue the rhetoric calling me or Colts fans blind homers if he wants. I watched the tapes he put together, stayed objective, even gave him and his boys the benefit of free holds when they would not have been called for not having an impact during the game. I did not unfairly judge any of the plays on Cole and the Eagles right defensive end. I give Kyle five total uncalled holds, four on Cole, and a number of chips. There were no legitimate double teams of Cole in the video, running into a crowded offensive line on a stunt does not gift this Eagles fan a “double team” claim.

I thought the Eagles did a good job of limiting Freeney and schemed well to do so. I thought Mathis was actually the guy the Eagles struggled with more but many of his meaningful big defensive plays were negated by blatant holds.

The Eagles won the game, congratulations to them. But really, the defensive end comparisons between the two teams are not close. Yes, the Eagles did do a lot of extra chipping and blocking to handle the Colts defensive end tandem. Yes, the Colts tandem is as good as Colts fans think they are, and no, the video does not make Cole as good as Kyle likes to claim. Maybe other tapes in other games would, but claiming eight holds, only having four, and claiming four chips when there was only three — and claiming a double team that never happened — makes it seem like Kyle is reaching. Four uncalled holds is enough to make Cole a very dominant defensive end, the rest makes it clear Kyle has some very green glasses on.

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