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Division Links: BGN says no Redskins belong in list of top-10 players in NFCE; BtB touts Amari Cooper as better than OBJ

Dallas Cowboys v Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bleeding Green Nation

The top 10 players in the NFC East for 2020

You’ll notice Washington doesn’t have any players in the top-10. That’s one of the reasons they picked No. 2 in the NFL Draft this spring. I wanted to put first round pick Chase Young on the list, because I do think he’ll have an immediate impact as an edge rusher, but it was hard to have him ahead of some of the more experienced players on this list. Ryan Kerrigan has been a beast for nine years now and almost cracked the top-10 as well, but his 5.5 sacks last season indicate his years as an elite edge rusher are behind him.

Terry McLaurin just barely missed out, too.

Blogging the Boys

CBS Sports ranks Amari Cooper as one of the six best receivers in the NFL, ahead of Odell Beckham

CBS Sports has been releasing top-10 lists of each position across the league this week, from quarterback down the list. Prescott was ranked inside the top-5 of quarterbacks across the league. Ezekiel Elliott ranked as the number-two running back, per CBS Sports. With two Cowboys ranked in the top-5, where did Amari Cooper land in the wide receiver rankings?

Amari Cooper was ranked as the sixth best wide receiver in the National Football League by CBS Sports.

Cooper has proven to be one of the better wide receivers around the league since landing in Dallas and catching passes from Dak Prescott. The former Alabama star landed at number six on the CBS Sports wideout rankings per Jared Dubin. Cooper ranked higher than notable names such as Odell Beckham Jr., Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans in these rankings.

6. Amari Cooper, Cowboys

I can hear the complaints already. Cooper ahead of Evans? Really?

Well ... for his career, Evans averages an 82-1,291-9 line per 16 games. Since arriving in Dallas, Cooper has averaged 84-1,225-9 per 16 games, and he’s done it on considerably lower target volume. (He’s played all 25 games.) He’s also got a much higher catch rate (67.2 percent), so even though his yards per catch average (14.6) trails that of Evans, he’s still been a bit more efficient on a per-route basis (2.24 yards per route run). That advantage holds even if you take out Evans’ rookie season, where he was something of a co-No. 1 option alongside Vincent Jackson.

Cooper’s sporadic injury issues have affected him only slightly since being traded to the Cowboys, and his once sky-high drop rate has fallen from 6.4 percent in Oakland to 4.6 percent in Dallas. It also seems far more likely that the strange home-road splits Cooper has exhibited in Dallas are the result of a small sample than something we should expect to continue into the future, considering he did not display the same splits during his time with the Raiders. (Those splits are also affected by the fact that he played only three snaps in one of his 12 Dallas road games. They’re not quite as dramatic if you take that game out of the equation.)

Cooper’s arrival also hastened the breakout of Michael Gallup, who has been able to take advantage of opposing No. 2 corners while working opposite his star teammate. Gallup is more of a pure X receiver than Cooper, who has the flexibility to move around, and he’s benefitted from having someone to draw attention away from the boundary.

Big Blue View

Colt McCoy: Prototype backup QB could be important member of New York Giants

McCoy could be a very important part of the 2020 Giants. Shoot, Cooper Rush, Alex Tanney and even undrafted free agent Case Kookus could end up being important.

It is always important to have a quality backup quarterback. As they say, the backup is always one play away from being the starter. In 2020, that backup is also one COVID-19 outbreak away from being the starter. For several weeks. On top of which, if an outbreak affects an entire group of quarterbacks on the Giants or any other team who plays is simply going to come down to who is not sick.

McCoy’s experience, including having gone through the 2011 lockout season, should help Daniel Jones in a number of ways. If they need McCoy on the field, it should be a comfort to the Giants that they have a player who is the prototype for what many teams want their backup quarterback to be.

Big Blue View

Summer School 2020: The Tite Front - what it is and how to beat it

When Kelly and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti arrived in Oregon, they installed a defense that was similar to the old 46 (or Bear Front) defense. To make their fronts more versatile and account for some of the weaknesses of the Bear Front, the Ducks would play around with their alignments, mixing 3- and 4-technique defensive tackles instead of having each down lineman directly cover an interior blocker. However, the core concept of out-numbering offenses stayed the same and it was effective for the Ducks.

The Ducks made the change from the Bear Front to the Tite Front with the recruitment of a pair of unique defensive tackles in DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.

(Note: I haven’t found a concrete reason why the “Tite” is called the “Tite.” The most likely I’ve come across is that it is short for “Tackle Inside Tight End”).

Armstead and Buckner are virtual clones of each other at 6-foot-7 and (roughly) 295 pounds apiece. They are undeniably good players, but also have uncommon physical traits for defensive tackles. Rather than being squat, powerful players who win with leverage, they are long and athletic and built more like massive EDGE players than defensive tackles.

But sometimes moving away from a positional archetype is a good thing. Oregon transitioned from the classic Bear front to a more balanced front and lined their “defensive ends” up at the 4i technique with a 0-technique nose tackle in the middle. And with that, what became known as the Tite Front was born.

while a Tite Front with three down linemen might look like a slight variation on a 3-4 front, there are two very big differences which make it such a headache for offenses.

The first is the alignment of the defensive ends. In a traditional 2-gap 3-4 front, the defensive ends play the 5-technique, lined up across from the offensive tackles’ outside shoulders. In the Tite Front, they are 4i-techniques, lined up across from the tackles’ inside shoulders. While moving a couple feet might not seem like a big deal, shade techniques (namely 4i and 2i) make for very uncomfortable blocks for offensive linemen. Traditional blocking schemes struggle to account for them cleanly — are they the tackle or guard’s responsibility? What about the linebackers and EDGE players? The blocks themselves are at an awkward distance and angle.

The other difference is that this is a one-gap defense.

Like the Bear Front which forms the foundation for the Tite Front, the Tite is an aggressive defense. It is designed to attack and disrupt offenses. One of the best ways for a defense to do that is to attack gaps.