Five Instructive Plays on Bashaud Breeland

Five Instructive Plays on Bashaud Breeland

The Vikings recently signed former Kansas City Chief Bashaud Breeland to a one year deal worth up to $4 million. The 2019 Super Bowl Champion will join Patrick Peterson and the returning Mackensie Alexander as much-needed additions to the Vikings’ CB room.

Breeland, a former 4th round pick out of Clemson, started 11 games for the Chiefs last year after missing the first four with suspension. He performed as one of the better CBs in the league, allowing just 33 completions on 66 targets and an opposing passer rating of 67.2 per Sports Info Solutions.

Breeland is a physical, man-style corner with good ball skills. He has shown this throughout his career, with an impressive 81 passes defensed in 7 seasons, as well as 14 interceptions in that time frame. Unfortunately, his aggression towards the ball can sometimes get the better of him, and he was one of the most penalized players in the NFL last year, with 10 total penalties. This has been a consistent theme, as he has been called for 10 or more penalties in each of his last three full seasons (2017, 2019, and 2020).

When I turned on Breeland’s first game of 2020, he jumped off the tape. In the week 5 game against the Raiders, the Chiefs actually lost and ended up allowing 40 points. But none of it was on Breeland, who allowed a couple of catches at most and ended up intercepting a Derek Carr pass (Carr finished the day 22/31 for 347 yards with 3 TDs to the single Breeland INT). I have five plays below that hopefully show what he can bring.

(Note: Breeland is the left CB (top of the screen) in the plays below unless otherwise specified)

The Touchdown Wire noted a very interesting statistical split for Breeland: he allowed only 2 completions on 14 over 20 yards in the air, but an opponent passer rating of 100.8 beyond that distance. Breeland has the technique to win with press and stop downfield completions. Take the play below against Henry Ruggs, who we all know is very fast:

On the above play, Ruggs releases inside. Breeland follows divider rules and sticks to the outside of Ruggs, getting a hand on him as he goes vertical. Breeland is able to maintain stride enough that his outside leverage would prevent any out breaking route by Ruggs. He has safety help inside, and passes Ruggs off to the safety when he breaks inside.

Breeland shows the ability to stick with players deep, but he also has the movement skills to mirror in man coverage. Look at the rep below against Nelson Agholor, who had a resurgent 2020 that earned him a nice payday.

Breeland is not only able to turn and run with the vertical stem, but when Agholor breaks hard to the comeback, Breeland is able to quickly stop and turn with him. He mirrors the steps so well, the turns almost look identical, and Agholor had the advantage of knowing what he was going to do. The ball is not thrown that direction, but Breeland is in position such that it would take an absolutely perfect throw to avoid a PBU if it were.

In addition to man coverage skills, Breeland is able to cleanly process what is going on in front of him. He does this on the below interception.

The Raiders are running a Y-Cross concept, trying to create confusion by forcing the Chiefs’ secondary to pass off routes. Breeland is initially covering Agholor on the post route, but he does a good job of spotting Darren Waller crossing the formation and leaves the post for the safety, peeling off and getting in position to make a play on the ball. He would be able to drive on Waller and contest a well thrown ball, but he doesn’t even need to do that as Carr sails the pass. Breeland shows nice hands to go up and make the catch for the interception, and even shows some run after catch ability, weaving his way for a nice return.

One of the concerns I raised above was his performance against shorter routes. I’m not sure exactly what gets charted as in whose coverage, but a play like the below is an example of an area where Breeland may struggle: tackling.

The play is a quick throw to Waller in the flat, and Breeland needs to make this tackle. I do like his attitude and aggression in approaching the tackle, but he does not finish, going high and getting tosses aside. Now, Waller is one of the biggest mismatch players in the NFL today, and it is possible to excuse one missed tackle from a player, but there was another play later in the game where Breeland tackled a player on a similar route, but failed to stop him short of the first down. The lack of stopping power and missed tackles may contribute to Breeland’s lack of success against the quick passing game. The good news is he’s clearly a willing tackler. He will be able to be counted on to fit up against the run, and won’t be making business decisions.

Penalties are another concern with his game, and they often appear as he tries to cope from getting beat. On the play below, he is lined up across from Nelson Agholor (the #2 receiver at the bottom of the screen).

On this play, Agholor is running a post route, and Breeland takes outside leverage. This is a cover 0 blitz, and Breeland cannot expect help inside (#22, Juan Thornhill, is in man coverage on Darren Waller, who stays in to pass block). With good leverage, Agholor beats Breeland and Carr puts the ball in a good location. Breeland, behind on the play, tries to reach out and disrupt the catch, but does so too early. He impedes Agholor’s ability to catch the ball, and this rightfully gets called pass interference. It appears that Breeland’s reaction when he gets beaten is to use his hands, which helps when timing is good because it creates pass breakups, but obviously hurts in situations where he attacks too early. It is a part of his game you will have to live with.

The Vikings struggled mightily with cornerback health last year, and made a number of moves this offseason to help strengthen the position to prevent a repeat of players like Chris Jones, Cordrea Tankersley, and Mark Fields from seeing the field. While they already had Patrick Peterson, Mackensie Alexander, and the promising Cameron Dantzler slated to be starters, the addition of Bashaud Breeland adds another starting-caliber CB to the room. If Peterson cannot turn back time and improve on his 2020 performance, or Dantzler struggles with injuries again or fails to progress, Breeland can be a solid, even good outside starter at the position. The added depth makes Kris Boyd, who took the third most snaps on the team at the position last year, the 5th corner at best (depending on the emergence of Harrison Hand, who has had a promising offseason so far). With Breeland’s addition, the team is much better prepared to face the 2021 season.

Plus, how can you not love Breeland’s energy?

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