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  1. #1
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    How we should attack the Patriots



    I've re-watched the Houston/Patriots game a couple of times and taken some notes on what I saw.

    - The Patriots have a very very good offensive line, and can give Brady all day to throw, they aren't bad as a run blocking unit either. They are all tall athletic players who can get to the second level and do their jobs very well.

    - The Patriots really don't have a deep threat element at all, but this is nothing new, they haven't had that since Randy Moss left. They are going to be pretty much the same offense we seen from Denver, just not as physical at WR, their receivers are much smaller. They will likely run the ball a ton like Denver did too, but unlike at wide out, their running game is much more physical than Denvers running scheme. The Patriots seem to run a variant of the power run scheme and the ZBS. The Patriots will likely be quicker to the snap than Denver were against us, so we must be prepared to deal with that.

    - On defense the Patriots are big and physical up front, they have a large front 7, their LB's actually look more like D linemen with their size. Their secondary can tackle well, they come up and attack, similar to how Pittsburgh play, just not as good. They are still a liability in coverage, and we will need to throw a lot of deep ones like against Denver.

    -The Patriots pass rush doesn't really scare me at all, they don't have any scary edge rushers, and certainly no where near the level of what Denver offered. If Oher and McKinnie play as well as they did in Denver, the Patriots wont have much of an impact off the edges. The rookie Chandler Jones has a lot of talent and can make plays, but he still appears to be fairly raw as an every down player.

    - It is more the interior line of that defense that worries me, lead by Wilfolk, who as we all know is their best player on D and gave us fits last year. Birk is going to have to do a better job this time around, but I'm sure KO and Yanda will give him plenty of help, our Oline is much more physical and larger with KO playing guard and McKinnie at LT now. I'm not sure if there's a bigger Oline pound for pound when we have our current line up there.

    What my gameplan would be:

    - Their Oline is very effective, so Kruger and Suggs are going to have to be on top of their game, and Ngata has to push the pile up the middle. I would go to mostly a 4-3 base defense like we did last year. Have Kruger play LDE rotating with Upshaw, and Suggs play RDE, with Ngata and McPhee/A Jones on the inside. Have Ray and Ellerbe as the LB's, and Pollard should come in as the weakside LB dropping back into coverage covering Hernandez, and play Chykie Brown as the nikel corner and Ihedigbo at SS. There is no Grontkowski to worry about in this one. We are going to get nikel and dimed all up and down the park, so it's vital that our front 4 can create some pressure. We did a good job against a similar front @Denver, we were creating pressure with only 3 men at times, so hopefully it will be the same here.

    - Stop the run, and you will stop Brady and the offense. We stepped up against the run against the Broncos, and we must do the same here. You would scratch your head at this one, but this years Patriots team has a very effective running game that is quick to the snap and is really hard to defend, we must make sure that Ridley has no room to run. If Brady is forced to throw the ball around, and we get after him, he doesn't like it. History shows that if you pressure Brady, he starts to crumble.

    - On offense, use zone stretch plays. Arian Foster had somenice runs around the edges against the Patriots, but not many up the middle. Again this defense is built up the middle, and Wilfolk makes it very hard for the interior of the Oline. Hopefully Pierce can go for this one, as he's a very effective zone runner, and the Patriots are poor at setting the edge from what I seen.

    - Throw over the middle, and take a significant amount of deep shots. The Patriots weakness on defense lies mostly through the middle in the passing game. Their big LB's can't cover that well, and their safeties are average. Shaubb at some success throwing down the middle last night. I think we could do a job with Pitta and Boldin excelling around that area. Then take the deep shots with Torrey and Jacoby. The Patriots are still not very good at defending the deep shots.

    - No stupid penalties, fuck ups, silly drops in clutch moments, or ST fuck ups. I'm confident we can win this game if everyone does their job and avoid making boneheaded plays. We lost last year because of a stupid lack of concentration by Lee Evans, and a gigantic fuck up by Billy Cundiff. I don't expect Tucker to make the same mistake, but lets try and avoid the kicking to tie or win the game for once. Lets try and make this an outright win that isn't forced to OT, so I don't gain increased blood pressure.

    I'm fully confident we can win this, but its going to be a very hard game, and I expect this game to be just as hard as the Denver game- maybe not as physically demanding due to the altitude and having to play 6 quarters of football.




  2. #2
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    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    Good points Leach.

    I think the over-the-top stuff could work. Steven Gregory is a good run defender, but he's so-so in coverage and Patrick Chung is very aggressive and bites on fakes from time to time, so if they can find a way to get Torrey deep over the top (play action) then they should be able to expose that. I'd imagine that they will probably line up Talib on Boldin and McCourty on Torrey. Could be the other way around though because Talib is the better of the two.

    Pitta and Dickson need to come up big, IMO. I don't think any of their linebackers can run with either of them. I'd also like to see Boldin really work the middle of the field. Talib doesn't drop down to nickel a whole lot, so there could be some mismatches there.

    I'm not really confident that the ground game will really get going. The Pats are pretty stout against the run.

    Defensively, the Ravens can put themselves in a good position by just not letting them get the big play. Houston's D, for how good it is, let the Pats convert multiple big plays down the field and it cost them.
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  3. #3
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    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by wickedsolo View Post
    Good points Leach.

    I think the over-the-top stuff could work. Steven Gregory is a good run defender, but he's so-so in coverage and Patrick Chung is very aggressive and bites on fakes from time to time, so if they can find a way to get Torrey deep over the top (play action) then they should be able to expose that. I'd imagine that they will probably line up Talib on Boldin and McCourty on Torrey. Could be the other way around though because Talib is the better of the two.

    Pitta and Dickson need to come up big, IMO. I don't think any of their linebackers can run with either of them. I'd also like to see Boldin really work the middle of the field. Talib doesn't drop down to nickel a whole lot, so there could be some mismatches there.

    I'm not really confident that the ground game will really get going. The Pats are pretty stout against the run.

    Defensively, the Ravens can put themselves in a good position by just not letting them get the big play. Houston's D, for how good it is, let the Pats convert multiple big plays down the field and it cost them.
    The good thing is, it can be argued that we are and have been for the last few weeks, been playing at a higher level than the Texans on defense, I don't think we give those plays up. If anything we'll just be nikel and dimed up and down the field all day, which is ok as long as our offense is scoring on their drives.

    I agree with you about the run game, but if we use more zone stretch plays, I think we could do better than you'd think. Th ePats are weak at setting the edge from what I've seen.




  4. #4
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    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by leachisabeast View Post
    The good thing is, it can be argued that we are and have been for the last few weeks, been playing at a higher level than the Texans on defense, I don't think we give those plays up. If anything we'll just be nikel and dimed up and down the field all day, which is ok as long as our offense is scoring on their drives.

    I agree with you about the run game, but if we use more zone stretch plays, I think we could do better than you'd think. The Pats are weak at setting the edge from what I've seen.
    I dont know. Ninkovic is a damn good DE/OLB. He does everything really well.

    I wonder if he's a free agent, haha. I don't think he is.
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  5. #5
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    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by wickedsolo View Post
    I dont know. Ninkovic is a damn good DE/OLB. He does everything really well.

    I wonder if he's a free agent, haha. I don't think he is.
    He's decent, but from my perspective watching the Texans game, there were times he totally missed out on Foster. Foster had some big runs around the edges, which is normal for him, but I'd say Rice and Pierce are capable of exploiting that. I do think we'll need some success in the running game to win this one anyway. It wont be easy.




  6. #6

    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    Really good posts. The Patriots are really a simple team on both sides of the ball. On offense, they have become a team that works primarily off of the run. Almost their entire passing game is to the middle of the field, but they'll take shots on play action now and again. They are MASTERS of combination and clear-out routes and their receivers are phenomenal at finding soft spots, getting the ball, and turning upfield.

    The Texans had the most success when they were able to stop the run with their front 4 and not crash their linebackers into the gaps on every run play. They followed that up by making sure tackles and not allowing YAC on the short stuff, which put the Patriots into 3rd downs. Brady is good on 3rd down but he prefers not to get there at all. The Ravens will need to force 3rd and medium and 3rd and long, disguise their pressures, and make tackles short of the sticks.

    Gronkowski is out so that's huge. Hernandez becomes their biggest offensive threat, and the way to stop him is to press him hard at the line and cover him over the top. I like the idea of a 3 safety nickel with Pollard basically shadowing Hernandez all over the field. Ihedigbo and Reed would split deep responsibilities in that scenario.

    In this game I wouldn't take Kruger off the field. I would go 4-3, on the DL Suggs-Ngata-Jones/McPhee-Upshaw, at LB WILL-Ellerbe MIKE-Lewis SAM-Kruger. I love the idea of putting Kruger on the field in a 2 point stance and letting him blitz or drop, you have to confuse Brady and send pressure from where he doesn't expect it.

    The key to beating New England has been and always will be getting pressure on Brady. Just like we've always said, quarterbacks don't play well when they aren't comfortable. Brady is even more Jekyll and Hyde "pressure vs. no pressure" than Flacco--he absolutely crumbles when his OL doesn't give him all the time he needs.




  7. #7
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    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    Quote Originally Posted by leachisabeast View Post
    He's decent, but from my perspective watching the Texans game, there were times he totally missed out on Foster. Foster had some big runs around the edges, which is normal for him, but I'd say Rice and Pierce are capable of exploiting that. I do think we'll need some success in the running game to win this one anyway. It wont be easy.
    I didn't see many big runs at all, his longest was 21 and he only had 90 total. I agree the stretch play would probably be more succesful than inside but they're going to have to go inside anyway just to open up the pass. Long ball plays will be the way to score again
    World Domination 3 Points at a Time!




  8. #8
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    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    This game was over at 2am our time, how the hell have you rematched it a couple times before 8am?

    Do you not sleep?




  9. #9

    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    The Ravens present a lot more problems for the Patriots than the Texans did, on both sides of the ball. Remember, this Texans team has been playing poorly for around two months. They simply aren't that good due to injury, and the fact that they don't have a lot of weapons on offense, and the weapons they do have are not as dynamic as the Ravens set.

    Bellichick is the master of taking away a team's strength, but the Ravens have a very balanced offense that can hurt you a number of ways. They can go deep as well as any team in the NFL, they can hit you underneath with their TE's, and they can run the ball with two great rb's.

    The way to beat the Pats will be to take what they give us, which will be *something*. If they take away the deep game, hit them underneath with crossing routes and slants to our TE's and slot receivers. If they take away the short and intermediate passes, start hitting them over the top to Smith and Jones and see how long they keep *that* up, and run the rock.

    Defensively, it's simple. Do what you did at Denver. Press the LOS, and pressure Brady up the middle. Do that, and they will struggle mightily.




  10. #10
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    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    Keep in mind that McCourty is now a starting safety for the Pats, putting Chung on the bench. He is better at S than CB. He's got good speed, but his instincts are still a bit raw and his ball skills aren't great. Gregory is the other safety and he's OK but nothing to fear, a better tackler than cover guy.

    The starting cornerbacks (Talib, Dennard) are OK, not great.

    The nickel back is Kyle Arrington. We need to target that guy. He is not very good. Jacoby as WR3 gets matched up with him perhaps?

    So I like the deep ball in this game except Belichick is no fool and he'll try something to counter it scheme-wise. Of course that means something else will open up (shorter passes or the run game) so I think we have to take what the defense gives us.

    Now that Gronkowski is out, who are the five starting skill position players for the Pats offense? I count the following, in order of how much of a threat they are:

    TE Hernandez
    WR Welker
    RB Ridley/Woodhead
    WR Lloyd

    All of the above are good to very good. Definitely a concern.

    However... who is the 5th guy going to be? I foolishly deleted my DVR of the Pats/Texans game so now I can't go check who they had in there.

    I wonder if this is possibly a significant advantage for us, not just because Gronk is out but because their next man up is (maybe) a big step down. Here are some possibilities:

    RB Shane Vereen was lined up at WR and scored from there, but was that a semi-permanent thing? If we know about it in advance, then a RB playing WR does not scare me.

    WR Deion Branch could get in there as WR3 but he doesn't scare me either.

    TE/FB Hoomanawanui gets some snaps but he's mainly a blocker. Very average.

    TE Fells is a pure blocker.

    So who's the 5th man?

    Losing Gronk shrinks the number of effective looks they can give us by a lot, and that helps. They can still execute a narrowed offense very effectively though, so it's still dangerous, but to me they look thin at offensive personnel now. Rotation won't happen much, and they better pray none of their main 4 skill guys gets hurt.




  11. #11

    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    On defense, the Ravens defense now is better than Houstons. Houston past 6 games has been pretty bad to average, outside of Watt they have not much. Losing Cushing killed them. Ravens secondary is alot better. Ravens know NE like they know Pittsburgh. NE will still get at least 23 points. Hernandez is the matchup issue, I'd use an extra CB on the Feild more and dare them to run the ball more. It will be a close game, as all Raven/Pats games are. I like the way our safeties and DB's are playing. Mixed up blitzes and 4 man rush. Houston was way to predictable, A's Wade Phillips defenses are, good for a year then figured out.




  12. #12

    Re: How we should attack the Patriots

    They really don't have a fifth option. Their No.2 TE is a blocking TE that presents virtually no threat whatsoever. They were able to flex out Vereen and that was really the big matchup nightmare for Houston. I can see that coming up in a big way on Sunday.

    Jimmy Smith might get some more action just so the Ravens can protect against their LBs being exposed by someone like Vereen or Woodhead. Really, it looked like the Pats designed their scheme to feature Woodhead, and once he was out, they switched to Vereen and didn't miss a beat.

    I'm not as worried about Lloyd, even though he got the best of Cary Williams in the last matchup. I think Williams is playing a lot better and Pees has been using more combination coverages between press and off. That should make it more difficult for Brady to pick on Cary with the timing patterns.

    The Texans got burned because they played more of their base defense and couldn't switch out because of NE's hurry-up. When the Texans switched to dime, the Patriots ran the ball up the gut.




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