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Cynthia Frelund | NFL Network Analyst

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence
The Truth Network Radio
October 18, 2023 6:07 am

Cynthia Frelund | NFL Network Analyst

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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October 18, 2023 6:07 am

NFL Network Analyst Cynthia Frelund joins the show to talk all-things NFL Week 7 and more!

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For important information, visit principle.com slash disclosures. We're pleased to welcome Cynthia Freeland. She's the queen of data science for NFL network. You can catch her with the cast and crew of thousands on game day morning on Sundays. They have a lot of fun and she always gets these really cool assignments where she interprets the trends and interprets what's happening on the field in these amazing analytical formulas.

Just awesome how her brain works. And so it's always good to have Cynthia, but it feels like forever since we've had you on the air. So it's good that we're rectifying that situation. Well, let's start there with your trends and your ideas, your observations. Now we're through six weeks. We've seen enough, at least a third of the season.

So what are a few of the trends that stand out to you in that brain of yours, girl? We have, I mean, I think it's funny because we've kind of seen like the first, like that usually it's like four weeks until sort of the data starts to become reliable and you kind of know what teams look like. It's really taken up like six weeks to kind of, to kind of get there.

So it's a little later. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that, you know, we're not seeing as many people play in pre-season as we have in the past. But I also think it's because we're kind of in this like defenses are now sort of catch up to the way offenses we're trying to play for the past two years. And we're, we're, we're seeing the defenses catch up.

Yeah. That's really interesting that you say that because I generally talk about how the first month is about teams settling into some type of consistent rhythm. And yet here we are six weeks through and still have very few teams that are consistent week in and week out.

It still feels like it's kind of spotty at times. Sometimes I feel like I'm watching different teams, right? Like, I mean, obviously the bills had to deal with a bunch of injuries, but I feel like I've seen several different bills teams, even when they were fully like fully staffed.

Right. And I've seen several different like the Eagles teams and I've seen several different versions of the you know, I will say that, you know, the, the Seahawks, they were missing both of their tackles. So that's maybe a thing, but, you know, you've just seen lots of different versions of the same teams in the Bengals.

I mean, who has been more bipolar than them, right? Like they started so slow. And then now last game against the Seahawks, their red zone defense was really on point.

So, you know, you're like, well, you know, you're like, well, what, what, what am I even looking at here? So now the data is starting to sort of regulate. That's interesting. Well, then who are the most consistent teams, according to what you've seen with the numbers? The sad part is that like sometimes consistent means not great.

So in for fantasy, you always want to play running backs against the Broncos, because four out of five weeks, it's just been an absolute nightmare for the Broncos run defense. So, but the, but the reason is in a lot of ways, the way that they're playing and they haven't adjusted yet. So that's the type of thing that has been consistent. Let's be, we'll be on the positive side.

And I can't believe I'm saying this because I'm from Michigan. So like we're, we're born and bred to like think that the lions are always going to lose, but the lions have actually found ways to, you know, really get a run game going despite lots of injuries, including to David Montgomery. Like I'm pretty sure Greg Reynolds will have a, a pretty significant use case in this next matchup. So against the Ravens even. So it's really O-lines have been consistent and again, teams with consistent O-lines have consistently played better, right? Like we didn't see the Eagles falter until they lost both their right guard who's on IR and then obviously their right tackle, Wayne Johnson, who's like one of, if not the best in the business, he went out in that Jets game and you saw what happened. So that's the type of thing that, you know, I would say O-lines are the thing I feel most comfortable with. Yeah. Well, that makes sense.

And considering that running the ball and stopping the run are still two very important factors in being a winning football team, no matter how much the game gets reinvented, you still hear people say, if you can run the ball and stop the run, that's the key to being a success. All right. Well, let's talk about the lions cause I'm pretty sure I saw you dress up your dog as a lion and I'm sure that was fun for him. At what point would you begin to believe that the team is legitimate and they're not going to let you down Cynthia? I don't know. I mean, they haven't won a playoff game, like in my life, at least not that I was like, you know, able to like have like a thought that wasn't like whatever babies think, you know, I will say like, look, when I look at the data, I do all my data blind. So when it, like, for example, when my model spits out that the lions are going to beat the Ravens this week, I'm like, as a fan, I'm like, Oh God, please don't like, don't jinx it or whatever. But you know, I think that their ability for their, you know, defense to really pick up the slack, we will see what the defense, if the defense is legit this week, as opposed to weeks password, we it's clearly improved. They're, they're able to rush the passer a bit more. They're able to stop the run pretty well, way different from last year, but is that enough?

I don't know. Or is that a function of who they played a little bit? Like, we'll get a chance to really see this week. I know that they are missing David Montgomery and last week didn't have Jameer Gibbs, but Jared Goff and his group of receivers have been really consistent. And you're gonna laugh at me and maybe yell too. But I started throwing Goff out there as an early, very early MVP candidate. Sorry, I like it.

No, I like it. Listen, I really first of all, I want him to succeed for a lot of reasons. One, like, I don't like he's such a nice person that it just felt like he was done dirty.

You know, like, it felt like they're like, Hey, you're just like, not good enough. And as far as like, you know, people we've interviewed, or people we've met at the combines, and people we've studied, and for me, people that I've tracked since college, etc. Like, Derek Goff is a really like, he's like a kind person. So I always like to see someone succeed.

So I'm with you on that. If nothing else, you're definitely going to want to keep playing good fantasy because he's really put out some good fantasy, especially, you know, there's six teams on a buy this week, and there's a lot of injuries going on like Jared Goff, you are totally playing in fantasy. Cynthia Freeland is with us from NFL Network crunching numbers now six weeks in it's after hours with Amy Lawrence here on CBS Sports Radio. So the Lions have one of the best records in the NFL. So do the Dolphins at five and one, please, Cynthia, how do the numbers explain the Dolphins? Well, first of all, speed is real.

Like a lot of people talk about like, you know, like, you hear things that people are like, yeah, like, what's the difference? You know, you know what, we always see it, I keep they keep coming back to the combine. But, you know, you always see that the combine these guys are in these blazing fast 40s. And then they're not always like, they don't always work out in the league, right? Like these guys, whoa, you're not first on draft pick because you ran four to eight or whatever. But the actual fact is that the guys who can translate that to the field, they have a massive advantage. Seven of the eight fastest next gen death ball carriers this season so far are all performances by the Dolphin office.

So that's the first thing. And then the second thing is they've done a masterful job creating enough run game so that the, that, that the quick passes still work and the defenses aren't are tricked enough because what they're really doing is they're having to us row. It's like 2.37 seconds is the second fastest in the NFL. And they're having this like deal and get rid of the ball and then asking for YAC and it's working. And then they're having Raheem Mostar or whoever they're running back is because obviously Devin, a Chan who changed his name, a Chan, he was averaging like double digits. You don't average that for a whole season, but what they were doing was working and it's also working for Raheem Mostar. So the truth is, is they're really staggering the looks and they're, they're kind of like, they're just out ahead.

You actually noticing now that some of the teams, some of the plays that they threw out there and put on tape, like in that 70 burger that they put up against the Broncos, other teams are copying those plays now. And Mike McDaniel clearly has some kind of creative, innovative mind in that. I mean, his mind is crazy.

He's like in the best way possible. I say that as like, if I could like just have a daily monologue of what he's doing, I would, I would be all in like, I'm like, please just tell me what you're driving, like what he eats, taking care of his daughter. Like, I think that there is like, I think there's like a running monologue of just like amazing stuff in there the entire time.

Well, you know, he got distracted by a pair of white crisp shoes that a reporter was wearing at a press conference recently and just stopped to comment on them. So yes, it's like stream of consciousness. Correct. Correct.

I do actually think we hear a lot of it, but can you imagine if that's what he's willing to tell reporters, like what's going on in his actual head, if that's what he's saying. Oh, I see a purple line. Okay. So in that division, the Buffalo Bills have been the reigning champions for a few seasons, but they're facing a major challenge. They did get that victory over Miami, but we've seen the Bills offense also at times, well, three quarters this past weekend, go scoreless. What stands out about a team that you are very familiar with having spent time with them the last few pre-seasons?

A couple of things. First, they, you know, it's never easy to lose, even if it's not on the same side of the ball, you lose two, three actually of your best players. They lose Tredavious White, and then the very next week they lose like two guys in the middle. So obviously they need their safety. They need, you know, they need Matt Milano, my BC friend. And then of course they have this defensive tackle, Dequan Jones, who's also awesome. So you lose like a lot.

You have to, it just changes things. It just does. And those are like, like Matt Milano, off-ball linebackers don't get enough love just in general, because we don't really know, like they don't have, I think it's because they're, they need a rebrand. Like they don't have a lot of good like staff, right? Like that you don't really see it. It's often, it's not often that you see, like maybe they get a couple sacks a year, but not like, you know, double digit sacks, something like that. Right. Like they need like a better, they need a better branding.

Like, Oh, like this is a linebacker tackle or whatever, but Matt Milano is that guy and Dequan Jones against the run specifically like that guy is like super underrated. So when I'm looking at like how they change their thought process, and then I think they went over to, you know, to England a little bit late, which is, it doesn't seem to work out if you don't travel with more than 48 hours ahead of time. And it didn't work out, but then they came back and obviously, you know, it's a familiar opponent with Brian Dabel. They, they know a lot about each other. They, you know, that's just, that always looks a little different. People are like, they should have blown them out, but like, I'm going to say asterix there, like Dabel knows how to get in. Dabel made Josh Allen, who he is. So clearly when you make the mission, like Dr. Frankenstein knows what to do with the monster, like more than anyone else. So that's how that works.

The monster. I love that. Cynthia Freeland from NFL network. You can see her on NFL game day morning on Sundays. It's a cast and crew of thousands, but she's unique with the data science. It's after hours here on CBS sports radio, just out of curiosity, what would you think about flag football in the Olympics?

I'm all in. I think like we sometimes forget because we see like regular football, like how hard that is for just to get it kind of going places. Like my sister lives abroad, so they stay up late to watch it, but like swag can be, you can play that in recess. And not to say that, you know, I'm not diminishing how great of athletes they are, but like sometimes things are a bit more tangible when you can do them. So it's just a lot easier and a lot less, you know, the level of effort in order to get people interested in like really loving flag is just so much lower than the bar for regular tackle football. So I think that like, number one, it's great. And two, like, I hope it really opens like a huge doorway to women being able to have collegiate level flag football, more scholarship, give them some NIL money. Like I like to meet some athletes and I think that it is incredibly athletic.

And it is a hard, it's still a hard sport despite the tackling. Maybe it takes off the way pickleball has for people who don't necessarily or can't necessarily play tennis, but this is a good option. Here's my problem with pickleball. I love pickleball. But I don't want to watch someone else play pickleball. I do not.

Nope. No, I like upplay. I want to watch people play flag football, though. We have to remember people across the world, like they don't get to watch it as much as we do.

And I think it's like, I'm like, you're gonna like this one, I promise. Okay, so let's talk about we mentioned a couple of the other five and one teams, you talked about the Eagles not being as consistent. They don't seem to be the same team that they were when they went to the Super Bowl last year.

Yes and no. Because remember, like until they went to the Super Bowl, it didn't look the way that it looks now. I think part of it is we've seen a number of injuries. For example, last week, Galen Carter, their rookie defensive tackle, who's, you know, really darn good.

He wasn't playing. And that makes a big difference because this is a team that's really good at stopping the run. But it's gonna be different without him there. They're used to him playing. They, obviously, Javon Hargrave is now a Niner, went to it, went to the enemy, you know, like they're missing the pieces have to like figure figure out some like new ways to get the old push that they had. They're getting there. They also have two new coordinators on offense and on defense.

So it's not it's not going to look the same right away. But I, you know, you look at some of the things going on and you see like, okay, one, obviously, Devante Smith, like a really good player. He's only been targeted like on 20% of plays, which is not a lot, you know, like, usually a guy like him, you'd see at least like 2728.

Like, that's not a that number doesn't feel right. And sure, AJ Brown's like lighting things up absolutely four games of 125 or more like, that's great. But it's starting to become something where, you know, offenses or defenses rather know what that offense is, is made out of.

But they have such a multiple attack. This is a really interesting game this weekend between the Eagles and the dolphins, because I would kind of say something the same about both. I trust both of their offenses way more than I trust either of their defenses, especially with how banged up the defense has been on the in the in the back end for the Eagles. So you know, slaves banged up, etc.

So that's where I'm like, Hmm, interesting. That's what I'm who has the best who has the best plan to get out of trouble from the other one's offense. I wouldn't have thought that the Eagles and they obviously can put up points. But the way they played to this juncture in the season that they if it's a track meet that they would be keeping up with the dolphins.

You know, it's funny you say that we all saw that 70 point game and you see the averages. And then you see what they do, like last week. But remember, they got down to touchdowns in order to have to come back from that. So I don't think they'd like to be in that situation. And I mean, I would imagine, you know, it's a much no, there's no shade here for, you know, the Panthers, but you can't let that happen when you play the Eagles, you get down to touchdowns to the Eagles, it's, that's going to be a really hard deficit to overcome. So you're right. But part of the reason why they've had to have other than that 70 point game, so much offense is their defense has been a bit suspect in certain areas.

Alright, so one more thing that I think is really fascinating. I know Anthony Richardson may not play the rest of the season. So his rookie campaign truncated a little bit. Frank Reich talks about how Bryce Young is really close. There are a lot of people who rave about what he's done so far. We know what CJ Stroud has done. How do you evaluate rookie quarterbacks when a lot of times they're on really bad teams?

Well, that's the problem, right? I mean, I think it's more interesting to like, I don't think there's anything wrong with Bryce Young. I think he has kind of what I would say is a pretty normal trajectory. Like they haven't really asked him to do a lot. He's got, you know, not the fastest receivers. I mean, Adam Thielen has been a really great addition to the team, but they do not have a lot of speed and dynamic talent in terms of their wide receivers or tight ends. A lot of teams make that with a tight end. And I think that just what it really says to me is that CJ Stroud, the fact that he's like top five in the NFL and completing downfield passes, which are 10 plus air yard passes. And he's had for many games, like four of his five old linemen haven't even been playing like the regular starters haven't been played and they've been done it, you know, largely without a reliable run game. Like I think it just says more about CJ Stroud than it does about like, like again, Bryce Young will be fine.

Just give the guys a chance. But I think maybe we underestimated how fast CJ Stroud could pick up this level of the game, obviously to Rod Johnson, who's his quarterback down there was a was also a quarterback himself in the league and came from, you know, that type of, you know, they don't have similar bodies at all, like you're much larger. But but the point is, you know, sometimes you get a good teacher and things really do actually come together quite, quite well for you. Like the impact of Doug Peterson on Trevor Lawrence, not that he wasn't already a great quarterback, and we know what he could do.

But the fact that he had someone who spoke his language, it meant such a difference from year one to year two. 100%. I like that. Good stuff. I always learned something from you Cynthia Freeland, always.

All right, you can find Cynthia on Twitter and pictures of Gordy at C Freeland and she does the data science for NFL Network on game day morning on Sundays, which is a lot of fun. Just good stuff in that brain that we like to pull out. Thank you so much for a couple of minutes, girl. Yeah, thanks so much for having me. It's great talking to you. I'm so happy for you. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-18 08:44:04 / 2023-10-18 08:53:19 / 9

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