There has been some pretty good chatter lately that the San Diego Chargers rookie linebacker, Manti Te'o, is progressing as a player. Against the Giants, the Chargers were finally healthy, so Te'o's snaps were down to where they should be, where he's playing 66% of the time (compared to 90% a week ago versus the Bengals). So I wanted to take the opportunity to see if Te'o really is improving. I'm not going to go over every play, but I do want to try to illustrate as best as I can to how well he is playing the position.
- 1st play of the game, NYG runs outside zone left. Te'o hesitates, tries to avoid the contact of the oncoming OL, and there's a gain of 4.
After a punt is forced. 1st down on the ensuing drive.
- Giants are in Shotgun, and run a power play at Te'o. He does a nice job of reading the pulling guard, and coming downhill. However, when he meets the guard in the hole, he tries to juke him instead of initiating contact and forcing the run back inside. RB runs around him outside for gain of 6.
- The following plays are pass plays, Te'o blitzes, but is picked up by the OL and then dropped into coverage but the ball was thrown deep.
- 1st play on the next series is a run, Te'o reads run and comes downhill aggressive, but gets walled off by the RG.
- A pass play, and Te'o instantly covers the RB out of the backfield. Ball isn't thrown his way, but good coverage
- Giants run off tackle for a gain of 11, Te'o takes on the FB, doesn't force the run back inside again.
- Quick pass to RB for gain of 4. Te'o has the TE on a stick route, he is all over him. More good coverage & good route recognition skills.
- Giants run outside zone to the weak side, Te'o again sees an oncoming blocker and dances with him instead of trying to take him on. Had he gone intially he would've been able to make the play at the line of scrimmage.
- This next play was the best play of Manti's career. The Chargers are in a Tampa 2 defense, and the Giants run what would be a very good coverage beater for this.
- 1st play after Rivers' fumble, same issues. Still hesitating. The split second hesitation is the difference between him getting blocked by the guard(who buys Te'o time while he chips the NT) and him meeting the RB at the line.
- Isolated on RB Andre Brown in coverage, Te'o is step for step with Brown. The only way he can make a play is if he over played the route, or the ball is thrown behind him. I don't have any issues with him giving up this 4 yard reception.
- The next 3 goal line snaps weren't very good. Too much east and west, not enough north and south. On the 1 yard TD by Peyton Hillis, Te'o never took a step forward.
- 1st play on the next series the Gaints run the TE off and Hakeem Nicks on an underneath route, Te'o does a terrific job of reacting to the underneath route to break up the pass.
- After over running a run play, and allowing 6 yards, Te'o again gets the appropriate depth on his pass drops and takes away a deep dig route.
- Te'o & Butler both over run the play again and allow the gain of 19 after Weddle takes poor angle. The following play is a gain of 18 on the exact same play and identical outcome.
- Chargers are in another Tampa 2, and Manning dumps it off underneath
- Te'o does a great job of turning and running to get to his curl/flat zone. It's a little deeper than usual but he clearly understands his passing assignments.