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Adam Gase Highlights Maxwell’s Issue… Will He Fix It?

Adam Gase Highlights Maxwell’s Issue… Will He Fix It?

Gase briefly spoke about Maxwell's issue

While Gase briefly spoke about Maxwell’s issue… film airs his dirty laundry

Maxwell’s play was exceptional in the second half of 2016

The Cleveland Browns release of former Pro Bowl Cornerback Joe Haden just as Byron Maxwell was reeling from a terrible week seemed a spot of luck sent from heaven…

…But the quick signing of Haden to the Steelers turned the hope into a pipe dream?

On paper it appears Miami missed an opportunity.

But the truth is, the NFL isn’t about looking good on paper–except if you’re talking about contracts and the money attached to them.

NFL success is about flesh and blood.

Reality check:

The Browns won one game last year, and even though they may be better this year, the fact is they’re still a doormat of a team. So why is a team that terrible cutting a former Pro Bowl player? For starters, Haden has already had two groin surgeries and a list of other injuries, which has likely contributed to his drastic drop in play.

Okay, let’s get back to paper, flesh and blood:

Miami is near broke. The Steelers aren’t. The only way they could ever have signed Haden was to cut Maxwell to fit in the 3 yr, 24 million dollar contract.

That’s a long reach when you consider both players most recent production:

Haden in 2016 played in 13 games, with three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, 37 tackles and 11 assists.

Maxwell also played in 13 games, with two interceptions, 15 passes defensed, 43 tackles and 10 assists, and 4 forced fumbles.

On the face of it, the edge goes to Maxwell.

See, the Dolphins won after all.

Maxwell has game when he plays to his strengths

Okay, you don’t feel all warm and cuddly… try this on for size:

No doubt about it, Maxwell had a bad week, but he was also benched last year and came back to have an exceptional second half of the season.

In a recent interview, Adam Gase made a one sentence statement that has largely gone unnoticed… and it was as poignant as it was succinct.

It went something like this, ‘Maxwell has to get his hands on the receivers more’.

You’d figure in a Press Zone scheme that would be basic…

Below, you can see that Maxwell bails and give free release. This has been his MO throughout the Preseason 95% of the time, even when he starts in press technique. The infamous miscommunication T.D. (not included) was also another bail out and free release. The third play presented shows how a simple stab or jam would have nullified a pick play, instead Maxwell is led into picking off his teammate.

The press is meant to challenge a receiver’s route and alter the timing, or force the receiver into an alternate route. In the NFL even half a beat can make the world of difference. Basically screw with the receiver and you screw with the play. So if you line up in press and are rarely, if ever, physical, then it’s wasted window dressing. And what’s worse, you are predictable–and that’s never a good position for a defender… especially when a wideout and QB can adjust a route with a look.

And if I’m seeing Maxwell’s tendency, the Pro’s are seeing it and much more.

Maxwell’s game must contain a physical element to be effective

Like Chess, the objective of the black pieces (defense) is to halt the initiative of the white pieces that go first. If they can do this, then they’ve made great strides in winning. Football is the same. Defense is forced to react to the offense because they don’t know the play. If the defense can dictate to the offense, then the main advantage of the offense is lost.

If the defense can never dictate, then they’ll always be on their heels and end up getting blown out the stadium.

Looking back on Maxwell’s career, this type of passive play wasn’t always his SOP (standard operating procedure).

Let’s keep in mind that Maxwell greatest assets are length and speed.

The video below shows some of his play with Seattle…

Notice in the last play Maxwell bails out of the press, is driven off as the WR presses deep, and then is beat bad on the comeback. Maxwell doesn’t have the foot speed to consistently win with this off technique. But by mixing in physical play in his press, Maxwell puts himself into situations that favor his assets, and in doing so he can be an effective defender.


Here are some examples of his physical play last season during his good stretch.



Yes, on the first two plays there’s positive yardage, and on the second play he’s beat. But on both plays he puts himself in the mix, and in the second play he forces the QB to make the perfect pass. Over time, one or two mistakes can alter the course of a game. You gotta’ be in it to win it. Physical play, mixed in with a mirage over / off technique, out of the press is essential to Maxwell’s game.

Press Zone is at it’s best with physical corners

For those who want to catch a little jolt of faith in Maxwell, go back and watch last season’s first match up against the Jest. It’s one of the most entertaining CB and WR battles that I can ever remember… yeah, he goes over the line a little here and there. But man did Maxwell bring it that game… imagine if he played like this week in and week out!

A slightly more controlled version of this type of play and I’d be all for resigning Maxwell!

It doesn’t take a pay per head service to figure that this was a liberally called game, and that Marshal has slowed down. But it does display what Maxwell’s game can be in a press scheme when he adds in physical play.

I’m not calling for him to use full-press techniques play-in and play-out… even stabs and feints off the line, and jabs and rubs on the move to set the tone and force the WR to adjust would pay big dividends. Offering more than one pitch would also add to the complexity of opposing team film study and preparation during the week and has a way of agitating the psyche of opponents. Bottom line is, without physicality, Maxwell is pedestrian, but with it, he can be at the top of the league.

Gase knows the issue, and so does the tape… question is, when will Maxwell figure it out? Go Fins!!!


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  • phinfreak

    No player has the freedom to play his own technique. There is no way in hell if the D coordinator schemes bump press that any CB would choose on his own not to bump press. Therefore, Im not sure this is all on Maxwell. I mean how many plays would it take for any coach to notice a player not using the technique hes coached?

    I dont buy it. This is coaching failure just as much as a player failure. I see my CB not putting his hands on a WR when I call bump press hes getting me in his ear hole in 2 seconds.

    Im not feelin it with Gases assistant coaches boys, sorry, but the positional play is gawd awful so far.

    • admin

      Actually a second quote from Gase would disprove this “No player has the freedom to play his own technique”… my fault for not putting it in. You can go back and check the interview from like Monday or so. He basically said ‘while we have techniques we teach, you have to adjust to the player’ it was in the same breath as the contact quote. I’ll try and find the interview. I should have put it in the article… I’ll remember that next time.
      Essentially, you have scheme and then plays with techniques of formation and technique post snap. I.E. Press Zone, Press line up 1 yard off scrimmage, inside shade, and man. Then there are the techniques on how to perform your assignment with all the other philosophies and techniques wrapped up in a big bundle. I’m sure this is nothing new to you, but where I disagree, and Gase said so explicitly, you aren’t a robot. Your told to sing Old McDonald in C minor, but how you phrase it is up to you. Now maybe to your point the teaching is off and has him passive and insecure or confused, or isn’t allowing him to use his assets correctly… I don’t know. What I do know it he has played Press Zone, Press technique in both line up and drop and never so much has nudged the receiver… no way is that the technique he’s being taught… no way. Not when you look across the field and see Howard getting physical. Now if this staff is inept and wants to play Press without contact… ever… then I agree, but I think it’s more on Maxwell than anyone… I should hope so or Gase is a liar and the staff are idiots. I do hope you are wrong on this one.

      • Lemmus

        …we know Maxwell runs hot and cold …what we don’t know is Burke and his ability to coach at the DC level …if Burke is what Gase bought into, then we should expect viable improvements across the defense despite the raft of injuries …if not, then I’d expect pretty much what we’ve seen so far …defensive weakness everywhere except maybe the DL …much as it pains me, I have to agree with freak on the basic problem being coaching rather than talent …Gase is an offensive guru, he has to rely on his DC to make the defense work …we saw Joseph last year not get it done in Miami, despite his elevation to Denver HC aftr the season …I still see his time here as a fail …and Burke isn’t looking like any improvement so far …if the preseason play continues into the regular season, we’ll be lucky to improve the defensive results over last year …imnsho

        …that said, I’d love to be eating humble pie come January …with a dollop of ketchup, even

  • Samson

    If Maxwell and Howard for that matter get physical and slow the WR’s down a little could be huge. Maxwell didn’t really hit his stride last year until Jones was hurt. If they both play to their potential with a healthy Jones behind them along with better D-line play it could make our pass defense very good…. The run D is what worries me most.. BUT corners that aren’t afraid to come up and tackle could help with that too

    • admin

      I’m okay so far with the run D Samson… so far. I just don’t get how you play Press, line up 1-2 yards off the receiver and never make contact. My biggest concern in the middle of the field. Last year TE’s killed us and we looked subject to it again against the Eagles. That’s the MLB and S and Nickel. McCain made some big mistakes he was supposed to be in zone but played man and left hole in the middle… then as you said the tackling!! Tonight will be interesting but nothing definitive. We’ll have to wait till Week 1 now for the truth.

  • Lemmus

    …good work mj …that’s about as good as it gets and why I keep coming back here …thumbs up!

    • admin

      Thanks Lemmus, really. I had fun on this one and learned alot. Glad you enjoyed… unfortunately, I didn’t get to Jimmy’s article on Harris… didn’t have time to add the video or even edit it… guess it will have to be post Week 4. But I did see alot as I was studying him that made see some flashes… small ones, but good ones. Enjoy the game tonight, sir.