In other words, receivers coming out of these systems are forced to learn a new way to speak about and learn the game. Instead of simply being told to run a slant or a go route, which makes learning a playbook much easier, they have to understand the concepts of each play and their assignment within in.

Great read here from Matt Bowen at B/R on the impact of Browner and Revis.

McCourty played at a Pro Bowl level last season from my perspective and has the range, plus the transition skills (hips, footwork, speed out of his pedal), to benefit greatly as a middle-of-the-field defender with Revis and Browner on the field.

Wow, I am both relieved and proud to have written a complimentary article to Andy Benoit, a football writer I have long respected, that makes a lot of the same points about the Pats and man coverage that I made in my piece. It’s times like this I almost feel like I know what I’m talking about when it comes to x’s and o’s.

Pats defensive adjustment vs. Browns

Love when Matt Chatham busts out the diagrams.

Instead of adding a fifth defensive back against all three-receiver packages, the Patriots sometimes subbed out a safety (Duron Harmon/Steve Gregory) in favor of a third cornerback (Kyle Arrington). So while they technically remained in a base defense with four players in the secondary, it had a sub-package element to it.

Good stuff from one of the best out there, Doug Farrar. Really the terms “slot corner” and “slot recevier” have changed and are more play-to-play than player-to-player.

Admit it — if I say “slot receiver,” you probably think of Wes Welker, and why wouldn’t you? Welker has redefined the position as it’s grown in importance throughout the NFL with his uncanny command of option routes and short-area concepts. But there’s more to the slot role than a bunch of seven-yard slants these days. Victor Cruz of the New York Giants has become a new kind of speed slot receiver, putting safeties to the test with elite speed up the seam. Other teams have followed that paradigm, but the really interesting thing about the slot position these days is how many teams are taking their star receivers and putting them inside to create matchups that are nearly impossible for defenses to win.

Patriots defensive gameplan vs. Broncos

Good tweet from Matt Chatham showing how the Pats sold out against the pass and let the Broncos take what they could on the ground. Forcing continued execution and not allowing any big plays is “bend, don’t break” at its finest.

Good stuff from Doug Kyed breaking down the Pats 3-4 evolution post-Wilfork. We’ll probably see mostly sub-package this weekend and that will raise some questions.

Likely will be Hightower with Fletcher/Harmon/Collins/Ryan as the Money spot. I’d bet this is where BB gets creative. Maybe something like this:

50-72-94-95

54-91

31-30-25

28-32

Though I think Arrington might be the best bet on Welker since he has a lot of experience against him in practice. The trick-down of that then has Talib on Demaryius and then either Harmon or Ryan on Decker.

What about Julius Thomas? Who’s best on him? Collins? Hightower? Even Harmon or Gregory? Will be interesting to see how BB matches up, and I’m sure he’ll have some kind of twist we’re not expecting.