Attention long-time football fans! Consider this next sentence, which at one point would have sounded like something from Bizarro World. The floundering Green Bay Packers traded cornerback Rasul Douglas to the Super Bowl aspirational Buffalo Bills; and I’m going to highlight Douglas with a game against the Detroit Lions because they’re the best offense the Packers have faced this year.
Play 1 — Tackle For Loss
One thing you look for to have success with a zone player is that they trust the rest of the team. Rasul Douglas had one man traveling through his zone, but trusted the help behind him and let him run by without even a flinch. That allowed Douglas to see the play develop ahead of him and crash down on the receiver for a loss of two.
Play 2 — Press Man
This is a lowlight, but barely. Douglas was in good position here, it’s just an excellent throw. If Douglas got the left hand up this could be a highlight. Douglas couldn’t reach and get the tackle either, and this turned into a big gain. Douglas was lined up against tight end Sam LaPorta and the press/jam at the line didn’t seem to make much difference, which helps explain the rest.
Play 3 — Lucky
Another lowlight because I don’t want to set unrealistic expectations for Douglas. If quarterback Jared Goff placed this ball half as well as the one in Play 2, this would have been an easy touchdown. Douglas was a bit late to react and would not have been able to break this up or box it out.
Play 4 — Trust the Zone
A fun thing when looking at corners is that there are so many plays where they’re not targeted. It doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn, however. Douglas forced the boundary receiver to definitively stay at the boundary, which helped his teammate on the back end. He then smoothly shifted to the underneath route and could have been in place for a pass breakup if it went that way.
Play 5 — Lucky, Part 2
In this case, I think Jared Goff’s lucky this was an errant pass. If it were up higher like needed to catch, I believe Douglas would have been there to break it up or even take it away. Douglas isn’t a burner, but he was coming back to the ball quickly enough here.
Play 6 — Full Circle
This is a lot like Play 1. Douglas let his help behind him take the first player he encountered and kept his eyes forward. The ball was delivered and Douglas was right on it.
The Final Straw
Rasul Douglas seems to lack top-end athletic traits and may struggle to keep up with speedy/shifty receivers in man coverage or disrupt routes with a jam. He seems quite comfortable with zone concepts and trusts his teammates to do their job so he can focus on his own. More often than not, Douglas is quick to react to what he sees and makes good decisions.
There’s very little on paper that suggests this should be an incredibly exciting signing. But on the other hand, Rasul Douglas seems to be an archetype of player — the sort of defender to have repeatedly found success with the Buffalo Bills.