Sports Friends Gronk Goofs
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.
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.
Sub: 45 of 68 (32 nickel, 13 dime)
Base: 22 of 68
Heavy/short-yardage: 1 of 68
2 WR/2 TE/1 RB – 26 of 67
3 WR/1 TE/1 RB – 21 of 67
1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB – 12 of 67
2 WR/1 TE/1 FB/1 RB – 5 of 67
3 TE/1 FB/1 RB – 2 of 67
3 WR/1 FB/1 RB – 1 of 67
Previous Three GIFs:
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.
The 2014 Patriots have one in the win column and now seem on track to get their season going. Getting Oakland for their home opener is almost as big a gift as the win over the Vikings was.
Don’t get me wrong, defensively the Patriots had as solid a game as we’ve seen around here in a while. Still, it was a formula that the Pats have won a lot of games with — takeaways.
Four interceptions, five punts and one blocked field goal should have this defense feeling good. But how much is a by-product of no Adrian Peterson and Matt Cassel at quarterback?
Thanks to nrgenergy for the tickets and ball, psyched to work with them following the @Patriots all season, with something big in the works for Patriots-Broncos!
I will be having giveaways of swag like this all season long as well!
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!
PatsPropaganda - Vikings Gameplan
Greg Bedard: Patriots Defense Has Problems
PatsPropaganda - Three GIFs that defined the Patriots loss to Dolphins.