You think this Raiders game he'll be experimenting with more OL schemes? Also do we see James White Sunday?
I think it depends entirely on whether or not Wendell is healthy. If he is, I think we’ll see him in there a bit, rotating with Connolly at center, who’d slide over to right guard and send Devey to the sideline.
Of course, personally I’d love to see Stork get in there more. I really like what I saw out of him in limited action last week. I don’t think there’s any question that his ceiling is better than Wendell or Connolly at center.
Who knows, maybe by the end of the season Stork’s starting, Connolly’s at right guard and Wendell might not even be on the team.
As for James White, I think it’s probably pass protection issues that are keeping him off the field. That’s the hardest thing for a rookie running back to pick up, but I’d bet we slowly start to see more and more of him.
I’d much prefer him to be the third running back over Brandon Bolden. It’s probably just a matter of time.
Since the raiders play man coverage, you think this the week pats open up there offense a bit? I know we're not a big play team on offense but it be nice to see Brady target Dobson or thompkoms down the field. The death by 1000 paper cuts offense is boring as hell to watch, even if it's efficient and effective
The Patriots are second to last in the NFL right now in passing plays 10+ yards, so yeah, I’d love to see them open it up a bit. There will always be an element of playing to Brady’s strengths which are reading the defense and getting the ball out quick, but as I’ve always said it’s simple geometry that the best offenses are ones that challenge all areas of the defense.
I think the key is Dobson. He was drafted to be that player on the outside. He has the size and speed, he’s just got to start making the plays. He gets a bit of a pass this month from me after being out pretty much the entire offseason. He deserves some time to get back up to speed.
But if you look at the player he was against Pittsburgh last year, that’s the player this offense needs. As Brady grows more comfortable and gains trust for his offensive line, I’d hope that we’ll see a little more explosion out of the offense.
New England Patriots Gameplan: Week 3 vs. Oakland Raiders
The Patriots finally have their home opener Sunday against the 0-2 Raiders! While on paper this might look to be a Pats’ blowout, we’ve seen far too many ugly early-season losses to write in a “W” just yet. Let’s remember this is a Patriots team that lost to the Cardinals at home in 2012. The Cardinals wouldn’t win another road game all year. Figure that one out.
The Pats have been saying all the right things this week — what a legend Charles Woodson is, how good Oakland’s pass defense is, that Derek Carr can make every throw. You know the drill.
But who the opponent is doesn’t really matter, it’s all about focusing on the Patriots and improving. The team has shown glimpses on both sides of the ball, but the consistency has been lacking especially on offense.
Here’s my strategy and points of emphasis that will hopefully get the Pats to 2-1.
“New England changed it up in Week 2 and Jones was only cast in the 4 or 5-technique roles six times, with 57 of his 69 snaps coming outside the offensive tackle. The results were much different as Jones put in the most impressive defensive performance of the week posting a 9.0 grade that included a 3.6 effort against the run and a 5.2 mark as a pass rusher.”—
A lot of buzz this week about Brady relying too much on Edelman and Gronk, but I think it’s tad bit overblown. Of course they want to make everyone a threat to get the ball, but we’re very early in a process that has left Brady with protection issues. It’s understandable that he’s going to stick with his favorite guys at this point.
The bigger point is that the Patriots are not going to win the Super Bowl if Edelman and Gronk are the only threats in the passing game. And that’s assuming they get through a full season healthy, the chances of which go down when the defense is keying on them.
Unlike past years, there is some talent at the receiver position outside of Edelman and Gronk, but they’re still finding their comfort zone. Tim Wright is still learning the offense, as demonstrated by Brady having to tell him where to lineup one play against Minnesota. Gronk and Dobson have just a couple games under their belt after seeing no action in the preseason.
It’s hard not to be a little disappointed in Amendola, though there’s still plenty of time for him to start showing up. However he’s healthy and had a full year in the system. It’s not too much to expect more than three catches for 16 yards in two games.
As I mentioned it’s a process, you need more than two threats in January. In September it doesn’t matter all that much as long as you’re moving the ball.
After a solid protection game against the Vikings and coming home to Foxboro, Brady should have growing confidence in his offensive line. And with more film review the Pats should be able to start adjusting their offense to their strengths.
BB takes a look at Ryan Allen’s first quarter punt, or as I called it at the time, “the best Patriots play of the last three quarters”. Then the McCourty interception which felt like the moment the season actually started.
He also breaks down the pass coverage on one of Hightower’s sacks — something I was really impressed with after reviewing the All-22 tape.
Last meeting: In 2011, the Patriots gave up 504 yards of offense yet still won 31-19. Wes Welker had 9 catches for 158 yards as the Pats moved to 3-1, en route to a season that would see them lose to the Giants in the Super Bowl. This was prime territory for a pass defense that couldn’t stop a nose bleed. Put it this way — Sergio Brown was the 5th leading tackler on the day.
Early Outlook: The Raiders are 0-2 after losses to the Jets and Texans. It’s the Patriots home opener, and with the Pats offense on the verge of breaking out, the Raiders should have their hands full. It will be hard to not to be overconfident heading into this one.
Notes: Old friend Justin Tuck is back, not that he’s the same player he once was, but it will be interesting seeing how he does against our new-look interior OL.
LB Miles Burris is the lowest ranked defender on the Raiders by PFF, and Andy Benoit of MMQB called him a “liability”. Expect the Pats to attack the weak link.
On paper the Raiders have some big names like Tuck, Carlos Rogers, Antonio Smith and Lamarr Woodley but all are in the red for PFF’s ratings.
PFF has Derek Carr under pressure 33 of 78 dropbacks.
I’d bet BB will be content to rush four. Between Ninkovich, Hightower and Chandler, they should generate pressure. And seven in coverage will likely force Carr into a couple interceptions.
The whole Tony Sparano of it all is slightly concerning because you know, he dropped that whole Wildcat bomb on us in 2008, but really the defense is fine to handle that gimmick now.
Happy it’s the home opener because I think that will help the Pats not look past the Raiders. Every NFL team is dangerous if you don’t take them seriously. Remember losing to the Cardinals in 2012?
Pats are on national TV back-to-back after this one against two pretty good teams. They really need to get the penalties fixed and the offense on track in this one.
If the Pats take more penalties than the Raiders in this one I will be concerned.
Patriots up to 9th overall from 20th last week. Offense at 24, defense at 4th, special teams at 8th. Still won’t put much emphasis on these numbers until the quarter pole.
Perhaps slightly more exciting is the Patriots currently boast the best pass defense DVOA in the NFL. Of course we all know who they’ve faced and how skewed these numbers are at this point, but nice to look at nonetheless.
We’ll see what happens down the road though, after this weekend there are nothing even close to easy games the rest of the way.
Patriots vs. Vikings All 22 Thoughts: Offense Edition
Not much doing on the first possession — a three and out. The commitment to establish the run is clear, but they didn’t have much success off the left side of the line on the first two runs.
As mentioned by Greg Bedard last night, on the first pass attempt of the second possession there was just Dobson running a route. Everyone else was blocking. Yes, they’re trying to establish some confidence but yikes.
Cleaner blocking in the run game on the second possession, with nice lead/edge blocks from Hooman and Develin on Ridley’s five yard run.
Edelman fly sweep! Teams are going to figure out how to defend this play pretty quick as almost every NFL team is running them this year it seems.
The WR slip screens haven’t been working well this year so far, and I’d include the RB screens as well. With the heavier and less experienced line this probably shouldn’t be a surprise. But they just can’t seem to get that one block that springs them for a big gain.
Still scratching my head how we’re in the second quarter and we’ve seen about as much Hooman and Develin as Dobson/Amendola/LaFell. For a team that lacked playmakers last year they’re still seemingly avoiding their playmakers.
Still, what a rocket on third-and-15 to Edelman to pick up a much-needed first down. This was one of my Three GIFs plays.
Brady stood in there tough and took the hit to deliver a perfect touchdown lob to Edelman. Great play that he clearly audibled into.
The Pats were stopped short on 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter. The hole was there for a second, but Connolly couldn’t quite make his reach block and that was enough to delay Ridley from squirting through. Harrison Smith also filled and tackled like a force of nature. He’s a good player.
And now it’s the Brady and Edelman show. I expected to see a little more balance this year on offense, that’s for sure. Most puzzling though is how little Vereen was involved in the game plan. He needs to get the ball in space more often.
Really solid run blocking on the last play of the third quarter where Vereen picked up 12 yards. Sustained blocks, good movement and vision from Vereen. More of that please.
Cannon got stunned by the initial punch by the DT and that’s how Brady was sacked in the fourth quarter. It did seem like there was time for him to unload it, but it appeared he was staring down Edelman who was bracketed. See below:
Lastly, All-22 is a much better way to get a good look at the offensive line and I really liked what I saw from Bryan Stork upon further review. Sustains his blocks, shows good strength. Would not be surprised if he starts to see more time.
Patriots vs. Vikings All 22 Thoughts: Defense Edition
Thank Hoodie the NFL puts All-22 film up now, it’s really so much better to help understand what kind of coverages and route combinations are being run. And the end zone cam is perfect for seeing gap alignment.
Early on the Pats rotated through odd and even fronts, running primarily Cover 1 Robber, with Chung in the box. Essentially the Pats traded Steve Gregory for Chung. Chung might get pulled off the field in coverage packages, but he’s definitely a better presence for the “Robber” spot that the Pats play a lot of. So far his weaknesses have been well-hidden.
One Chandler Jones’ 2nd quarter sack it was a great example of team defense. Jones got an initial hand on Cassel, though he probably had enough time to dump it off had the coverage not been perfect. Siliga came through on a stunt and destroyed the pocket. That’s when Jones finished him off.
On Revis’ interception he did the proverbial “ran the route better than the receiver”. His perfect outside leverage prevented the receiver from breaking out of his cut, from there Revis just sprinted right to where the ball was delivered and there was nothing Jennings could do.
Remarkable that even without Browner and Dennard the defense was still able to play a lot of press man. They slipped in some off-man as well, but Press Cover 1 Robber was the coverage of choice.
On third-and-three in the second quarter we saw some zone coverage with two deep, Mayo in the deep middle, four underneath defenders waiting to pounce on the underneath pass. It worked perfectly.
For all the talk of Hightower’s improved pass rush, dropping him into short zones eliminated the underneath passes that gashed the defense on the first drive. Hightower moves better in space than he’s gotten credit for.
Seemed like Ebner was the dime linebacker while Wilson was just the base strong safety to give Chung a breather. Interesting how they’re rotating a deep group of safeties.
Such a smooth Revis-esque play by Logan Ryan to undercut Patterson’s route on his interception. Cassel shouldn’t have tried that throw but there wasn’t anywhere else to go with it. That’s one thing sticking out with the All-22 — just how good the coverage is across the board.
Pats sent 6 rushers on Dont’a Hightower’s third quarter sack from their dime package. Man-to-man coverage was perfect behind it.
Easley was used entirely inside as a pass rusher, just like he should be. He showed good explosion and violence early on but I think he seemed to run out of gas in the fourth quarter. Understandable considering how he saw no game time in the preseason.
Kyle Arrington’s blitz from the slot was well-timed. I thought the Pats did some experimentation being a little more aggresive. PFF had them blitzing on 10 of 44 snaps which is on the high end for BB.
Sticking with the positive this week with three plays that really stood out to me as game-defining. Could’ve put any number of the penalties in GIF form but that would feel like a waste, even though those really defined the game.
You’ll also notice I didn’t use the Chandler Jones field goal block because that one has already been GIFfed and everyone is well aware of what a huge play that was.
First, we start with Devin McCourty’s interception, a play that might been the unofficial start of the Patriots actually playing football this season. Things didn’t look good on the first drive for either side of the ball. Then, after a nice punt from Ryan Allen, McCourty makes this great play on the ball.
There were a few throws of Brady’s that stood out (and weren’t nullified by penalties), but this one was just a much-needed strike. With the Vikes poised to get good field position of a punt, Brady threaded the needle on third-and-14 to pick up the first down en route to taking a 10 point lead.
No defender has been more impressive for the Pats this season than Dont’a Hightower. Hightower has been used more in a pass rushing role at times and he’s delivered with good pressure. He’s just so strong he can over power running backs trying to block him, but also get underneath a tackle like he does here. This sack effectively sealed any chance of a comeback from happening.
“On Stevan Ridley’s 16-yard run (5:57 remaining), Stork fired off the ball and created some push in the middle as the defender he was blocking winds up on the ground. His two shotgun snaps were solid. Those were valuable reps for Stork, who looks like he’s ready to compete for more playing time.”—New England Patriots fourth-quarter review: Week 2 - ESPN Boston
“Last year, they had 82 penalties all season (69 accepted), the second-lowest total in the league. They had 98 accepted penalties in 2012 (ninth fewest) and 80 in 2011 (fifth fewest). This year, they’re on pace for 224 total penalties (192 accepted).”—
Pats Posits: Notes on the Patriots-Vikings Rewatch
The New England Patriots bounced back on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings to even their record at 1-1. It was still an ugly affair — with the Pats getting called for a whopping 15 penalties for 163 yards.
The general NFL sentiment and betting expectations were not favorable to the Patriots after their opening weekend loss, but with big games just around the corner, including a Monday Night Football matchup in Kansas City on the horizon, the Pats look to be coming into form. You can read more on the best NFL news here.
Perhaps one of the most positive signs to come out of this game defensively is that Wilfork only played 39 of 68 snaps. If they can keep this reduced workload for him it should really extend his effectiveness.
I really like what they’re doing defensively now. It’s straightforward but effective. The “base” package is the double nose with Wilfork and Siliga eating up the whole middle. Chandler and Ninkovich either stand or pass rush depending on the strength of the offense.
Then the subpackage interior is Easley and Jones, both should excel in this role, which I won’t call situational because that lessens it. This is the best pass rush front personnel-wise the Patriots have had in some time. It also gives Wilfork a rest.
Interesting numbers on the lighter/smaller Patriots. Something to analyze this week, but now, I begin pregaming.
a) Players weighing 200 pounds or less: 10. The Patriots were one of nine teams with 10 players who were at 200 or less. Washington had the most with 12, while New Orleans and Carolina had the fewest at four each.
b) Players under six feet: 14. New England was tied for second in the league with San Diego in total players under six feet. Cleveland had the most with 16, while Oakland had the fewest with only two.
c) Players weighing 300 pounds or more: 8. The Patriots were tied with Houston for last place with eight players at 300 pounds or more. Indianapolis had the most with 15.
What. A. Week. I try to keep this just to a Patriots football blog as much as possible, but it was hard to avoid the Ray Rice/Adrian Peterson of it all this week.
The best thing to do is just focus on the game and the team that I love and try to ignore the noise, but the NFL really needs to get it together, from the Commissioner and owners all the way down to all the players.
Moving on, here’s the best stuff of the week, including plenty of analysis from yours truly. And just to throw it out there, if you’re thinking of attending the Pats-Broncos game we’ve got something very special in the works so lock down your plans asap!
Outside of the local beat reporters, who do you think are the best people to follow on Twitter for Pats posts, news, information and insight?
Here is my Patriots Essential twitter list which includes what I think are the best Pats follows for strictly Patriots news. I do think we’re lacking some heavy hitters, especially in the All-22 breakdowns this year. Greg Bedard and Nick Underhill were two of my favorites before they moved on, though we do still get some Pats football stylings from Bedard from time to time.
The Seahawks have shown us that you can play GREAT defenses under the rules, is it really that hard for other teams to do it, is it the scheme that they run, is it the rules, I'm curious from your perspective why do you think the Seahawks can play great defense while under the same rules as everybody else with better results
There’s a lot of things going on with Seattle’s defense. I’ll try to be brief.
I think the key elements are their consistent pass rush up front and Earl Thomas. With those two pieces in place everything else looks even better.
They are a Cover-3 team and Thomas’ range and anticipation allow them to have Chancellor in the box destroying people. There simply aren’t many free safeties as good as Thomas, even McCourty. He makes very good players look great.
The physicality and disciplined tackling are quite impressive considering the rule changes. Credit to Pete Carroll there, it’s certainly not easy.
But it shows that when you have a versatile and athletic front seven that can rotate and cause consistent chaos, it really makes a defense.
What you have to admire about Seattle’s defense is they just do what they do and ask opponents to beat it without disguise or tricks. I think the Patriots emulated that somewhat this offseason with the concerted effort to bring more physicality to their secondary, and a more diverse range of options in their front seven.
The Patriots will never be a straightforward Cover-3 team, but hopefully with McCourty and Revis/Browner, they can replicate some of what Seattle does. The Seahawks had great success against Peyton Manning, so it’s obvious why the Pats would try to take a page from their book.
We have heard all week about how bad the run defense was which is was but how did the pass defense look to you when back to look at the game
Well they only gave up 2 plays of 20+ yards so that’s a good thing, but otherwise they were just okay. Pass rush certainly wasn’t enough of a factor and even when they got pressure they committed a penalty on it.
But when you’re getting gashed by the run game it really just destroys your defensive flexibility because you’re overly concerned with getting the run stopping right. Then you’re open to getting passed on as well, especially in play action.
Plus it was the sub runs that killed the Pats, something that has almost become an early season custom.
Miami was also 7-13 on third down as well which is over 50% and unacceptable.
I think there are a lot of promising pieces and they certainly all showed flashes of what they’re capable of, but they’re clearly not on the same page yet in an aspect of the game.
New England Patriots Gameplan: Week 2 at Minnesota Vikings
We’re finally on to Week 2, putting the ugly season-opening loss to Miami behind us! The Minnesota Vikings provide just the right kind of tough challenges the Patriots need to face to prove they’re not the team that laid a major egg on the road in Miami last week.