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The Pass Rush

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  • George
    ***** I replayed the Pats @ Dolphins game today. My primary purpose was to study the details of the Patriots pass rush; and I did that. But, since I was
    Message 1 of 7 , Nov 26, 2008
      ***** I replayed the Pats @ Dolphins game today. My primary purpose was to study the details of the Patriots pass rush; and I did that. But, since I was watching the whole game, I decided to also monitor and take notes on Matt Cassel's throwing on the run, which was discussed earlier. I'll begin with the Patriots pass rush.
       
      First, a definition or two. I noted "NF", meaning Non-Factor, for any blitz that failed to even move Pennington from his initial pocket set up position.
      I called it a "Rushed Pass" when Pennington clearly threw the ball before he wanted to, due to pressure.
      I stopped counting when, with about 5 minutes left, the Pats went to 2 DL (Green and Seymour), and two rush LBs (Redd and Woods) as their "big lead" set.
       
      By actual count, I saw the Patriots sending at least 1 LB  on no less than 31 of Pennington's 41 pass attempts. I don't know about you, but that really surprised me! It also made the breakdown of those pass rushes all the more disappointing. Here's the count I got.
       
      Mike Vrabel blitzed 14 times from his defensive left side. I scored him with 9 NFs; 1 Sack; 1 "factor" in Seymour's Sack; 2 Rushed Passes (1 hit); 1 Flush.
      ----- I see that as a 36% blitz effectiveness rate for Vrabel. (A new stat - the "BER"?) :-)
       
      Tedy ran a middle blitz 12 times. Sorry, Randy; but Tedy was 0-8, when he came alone. His rush was a Non-Factor in every case. We was simply swallowed up inside, near the LOS, or pushed well wide of Pennington. His rush never even freed up one of the DLs. He got close, and Vrabel got a hit on Pennington as the ball was released, on their 2-LB rush. He gets a "factor" award on the one effective 3 LB rush (Vrabel's sack.) So that's 2 "factors", and 10 NFs.  
      ----- That goes in the books as an 17% BER for Tedy.
       
      Pierre Woods blitzed 13 times from his right defensive side (before the 2 DL sets). He, like Tedy, was a Non-Factor in all 8 of his  1 LB blitzes; never "influencing" Pennington. His only credit was for his "factor" in Vrabel's sack on one of the 3 LB blitzes.
      ----- Woods gets a woeful 8% BER.
       
      Mayo ran one blitz up the middle, and he, too, was ineffective.
       
      As a team, the Patriots sent 5 on the rush only 3 times. Vrabel & Woods twice. NF both times. Vrabel & Bru once, getting a hit on release on Pennington.
      They sent all 3 LBs 3 times. One resulted in a sack, by Vrabel. Two resulted in completed passes; one a quick release by Pennington; the other just because they didn't get to him on a normal drop.
      ----- So they get a 33% even on multiple LB blitzes.
       
      Overall; the team's 31 blitzes netted came up as empty NFs 26 times! Just 2 Sacks; 2 Hurries; and 1 Flush to show for those blitzes.
      ----- The team's BER for this game was 16%.
       
      We have no pass rush, folks! Whether it's a lack of ability by the individual LBs (aging Bru and Vrabel sure look it!); or a lack of effective schemes by the coaches; they really do suck at rushing the passer.
       
      The one thing that was very obvious to me in this review was that nearly all of those 31 blitzes were incredibly vanilla. You could see who was coming well before the snap. There weren't more than 3 or 4 times when there was any deception at all in the pass rush. Then, you add in the fact that we never once sent a CB or a Safety on a blitz; which the Dolphins did many times to us, often with great effectiveness. It was pure vanilla all the way. What happened to our defensive creativity? Does BB lack confidence in all of the new players to the degree that he won't inject a little of that old creativity into the D game planning? Any thoughts from you folks on all of this?
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       
      OK, I'll move on to the good news. I gained even more respect for Matt Cassel during this review. First of all, his accuracy throwing on the run was definitely incredible. He was flushed out of the pocket 10 times. Major credit to the OL on that!
       
      But also credit to Cassel. Since that was my focus during the replay, it was much more obvious to me than it was during the "live" viewing, that he has improved beyond measure in his pocket presence. It's not like there was no pressure. There was lots of it! Especially in the 2nd half, when he left the pocket to pass only ONCE. The guy hung in there, with chaos all around him, and (so contrary to the Matt Cassel of 2-3 months ago), he totally focused downfield, ala that #12 guy. While doing that, he could feel the pressure closing; and, on play after play, he released the ball just before they could get to him. He took a lot of big hits for doing that; again, like Brady. But he kept getting up; and kept showing the same guts and focus that he had from the opening gun.
       
      Oh yeah, on those 10 moves out of the pocket, he completed 7 of those passes! On 1 incomplete pass, there was nobody open, and he threw it into the stands. On another, he made that incredible escape from the CB blitz by Will Allen, and got off a laser that was nearly caught. The third was another decent pass to Gaffney that was well defended.
       
      As I said, he looked even better on replay than I had realized during the game. Really a fantastic performance by the "no longer career backup" QB!

      George

       

       
       
    • Don Diamant
      George, while I appreciate your analysis I am inclined to point out that this is completely subjective in being only one game and only one team defense. I ll
      Message 2 of 7 , Nov 26, 2008

        George, while I appreciate your analysis I am inclined to point out that this is completely subjective in being only one game and only one team defense.  I’ll take it with a grain of salt.

         

        In my opinion we still need our “aging” linebackers for their experience if nothing else.  The young guys are looking really good for the most part but more often than not it is the young player that is giving up the Gostkoswki ( bad pun ).  I’m still in shock that Pierre Woods got rolled over by Chad Pennington on Noodle Arm’s touchdown run, pathetic seems to be the only word that fits. 

         

        Don

         


        From: patriotzip@yahoogroups.com [mailto:patriotzip@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of George
        Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 6:37 AM
        To: patriotzip@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [patriotzip] The Pass Rush

         

        ***** I replayed the Pats @ Dolphins game today. My primary purpose was to study the details of the Patriots pass rush; and I did that. But, since I was watching the whole game, I decided to also monitor and take notes on Matt Cassel's throwing on the run, which was discussed earlier. I'll begin with the Patriots pass rush.

         

        First, a definition or two. I noted "NF", meaning Non-Factor, for any blitz that failed to even move Pennington from his initial pocket set up position.

        I called it a " Rushed Pass " when Pennington clearly threw the ball before he wanted to, due to pressure.

        I stopped counting when, with about 5 minutes left, the Pats went to 2 DL (Green and Seymour), and two rush LBs (Redd and Woods) as their "big lead" set.

         

        By actual count, I saw the Patriots sending at least 1 LB  on no less than 31 of Pennington's 41 pass attempts. I don't know about you, but that really surprised me! It also made the breakdown of those pass rushes all the more disappointing. Here's the count I got.

         

        Mike Vrabel blitzed 14 times from his defensive left side. I scored him with 9 NFs; 1 Sack; 1 "factor" in Seymour 's Sack; 2 Rushed Passes (1 hit); 1 Flush.

        ----- I see that as a 36% blitz effectiveness rate for Vrabel. (A new stat - the "BER"?) :-)

         

        Tedy ran a middle blitz 12 times. Sorry, Randy; but Tedy was 0-8, when he came alone. His rush was a Non-Factor in every case. We was simply swallowed up inside, near the LOS, or pushed well wide of Pennington. His rush never even freed up one of the DLs. He got close, and Vrabel got a hit on Pennington as the ball was released, on their 2-LB rush. He gets a "factor" award on the one effective 3 LB rush (Vrabel's sack.) So that's 2 "factors", and 10 NFs.  

        ----- That goes in the books as an 17% BER for Tedy.

         

        Pierre Woods blitzed 13 times from his right defensive side (before the 2 DL sets). He, like Tedy, was a Non-Factor in all 8 of his  1 LB blitzes; never "influencing" Pennington. His only credit was for his "factor" in Vrabel's sack on one of the 3 LB blitzes.

        ----- Woods gets a woeful 8% BER.

         

        Mayo ran one blitz up the middle, and he, too, was ineffective.

         

        As a team, the Patriots sent 5 on the rush only 3 times. Vrabel & Woods twice. NF both times. Vrabel & Bru once, getting a hit on release on Pennington.

        They sent all 3 LBs 3 times. One resulted in a sack, by Vrabel. Two resulted in completed passes; one a quick release by Pennington; the other just because they didn't get to him on a normal drop.

        ----- So they get a 33% even on multiple LB blitzes.

         

        Overall; the team's 31 blitzes netted came up as empty NFs 26 times! Just 2 Sacks; 2 Hurries; and 1 Flush to show for those blitzes.

        ----- The team's BER for this game was 16%.

         

        We have no pass rush, folks! Whether it's a lack of ability by the individual LBs (aging Bru and Vrabel sure look it!); or a lack of effective schemes by the coaches; they really do suck at rushing the passer.

         

        The one thing that was very obvious to me in this review was that nearly all of those 31 blitzes were incredibly vanilla. You could see who was coming well before the snap. There weren't more than 3 or 4 times when there was any deception at all in the pass rush. Then, you add in the fact that we never once sent a CB or a Safety on a blitz; which the Dolphins did many times to us, often with great effectiveness. It was pure vanilla all the way. What happened to our defensive creativity? Does BB lack confidence in all of the new players to the degree that he won't inject a little of that old creativity into the D game planning? Any thoughts from you folks on all of this?

        ------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ------

         

        OK, I'll move on to the good news. I gained even more respect for Matt Cassel during this review. First of all, his accuracy throwing on the run was definitely incredible. He was flushed out of the pocket 10 times. Major credit to the OL on that!

         

        But also credit to Cassel . Since that was my focus during the replay, it was much more obvious to me than it was during the "live" viewing, that he has improved beyond measure in his pocket presence. It's not like there was no pressure. There was lots of it! Especially in the 2nd half, when he left the pocket to pass only ONCE. The guy hung in there, with chaos all around him, and (so contrary to the Matt Cassel of 2-3 months ago), he totally focused downfield, ala that #12 guy. While doing that, he could feel the pressure closing; and, on play after play, he released the ball just before they could get to him. He took a lot of big hits for doing that; again, like Brady. But he kept getting up; and kept showing the same guts and focus that he had from the opening gun.

         

        Oh yeah, on those 10 moves out of the pocket, he completed 7 of those passes! On 1 incomplete pass, there was nobody open, and he threw it into the stands. On another, he made that incredible escape from the CB blitz by Will Allen, and got off a laser that was nearly caught. The third was another decent pass to Gaffney that was well defended.

         

        As I said, he looked even better on replay than I had realized during the game. Really a fantastic performance by the "no longer career backup" QB!

        George

         

         

         

      • Geoff Talvola
        George, nice analysis of the (lack of) pass rush in the Miami game. I have a quibble with your terminology. My understanding is that in a 3-4 defense, when 3
        Message 3 of 7 , Nov 26, 2008
          George, nice analysis of the (lack of) pass rush in the Miami game. I
          have a quibble with your terminology. My understanding is that in a 3-4
          defense, when 3 DL's rush along with 1 LB it's not a blitz, it's
          considered just a standard 4-man rush. Blitzing is when 5+ men rush the
          passer, and I believe the Pats only did that 6 times according to your
          numbers.

          - Geoff
        • RandyZ. Pierce
          While I agree with Geoff s clarification, I really loved George s analysis. I m particularly curious when they sent the heavier blitzes in regards to down and
          Message 4 of 7 , Nov 26, 2008
            While I agree with Geoff's clarification, I really loved George's analysis.  I'm particularly curious when they sent the heavier blitzes in regards to down and distance.
             
            The flexibility of the 3-4 defense requires outside backers who can become defensive lineman on many plays.  Their benefit is that the real Defensive Ends are taking on the tackle in a two gap responsibility which means they usually stay on their man and drive him back.  This puts a lot of burden on the two inside linebackers to make plays in the running game which is part of Mayo's team leading tackle statistic.  The total lack of any stunting the OLB inside the Defensive End surprises me and the lack of a safety blitz does likewise.
             
            The only caveat I hear is that Seymour was in a lot of pain on the sideline according to our roving list reporters who saw him getting lots of treatment there when not playing.  Not sure what caused this but it was a chippy and physical game.
             
            On a 3-4 the inside blitz will almost never work as a Guard is right there to pick it up unless they've somehow surprised the offensive line with it.  This is why an OLB twist or stunt is a much better approach and usually just frees up the Defensive End.
             
            I heard that Parker is unlikely for the Steelers game with the Pats as his knee is still fairly swollen.  We'll see come Sunday.
             
            Go Pats!
            Zip 
          • George
            ***** You are correct in questioning that terminology, Geoff. I guess it s just a matter of interpretation. I went with the basic theory that DLs are primarily
            Message 5 of 7 , Nov 26, 2008
              ***** You are correct in questioning that terminology, Geoff. I guess it's just a matter of interpretation. I went with the basic theory that DLs are primarily responsible for going after the QB, and playing the LOS; while LBs are primarily responsible for "backing up" the linemen - thus the label "Linebacker". :-)
               
              ***** Seriously though, you're right. The fact is that the Pats nearly always create a "standard" 4-man rush, by sending one LB after the QB on most pass plays. So, the bottom line is that, in this game, you could certainly say that the Pats actually blitzed 6 times, in the "old school" definition of 5 or more players being a real blitz.
               
              ***** In any case, whether by your definition or mine, I continue to believe that our pass rush this year has been MUCH too conservative. I can't pretend to know the reasons for this; though I'm certain that BB has done so based upon his evaluation of this team's capabilities. I would have to add that there's a pretty good possibility that his evaluation of the team's capabilities is somewhat better than mine! :-)
               
              ***** Still, from my woefully inferior armchair view, I feel that we should be more aggressive on defense, particularly in the pass rush, than we have been thus far. I'd have to see a few more major failures (big plays against aggressive defense), before I'd give up on that approach. Just seems to me that we were MUCH more aggressive in the years when our D was near the top of the league. Are our current players that inferior to the guys who played on D for most of the BB era? Why has the Patriots D become a passive, vanilla,
               
              ***** I can't help it. That's just me!
               

              George

               

               
               


              From: patriotzip@yahoogroups.com [mailto:patriotzip@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Geoff Talvola
              Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 9:07 PM
              To: patriotzip@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: Re: [patriotzip] The Pass Rush

              George, nice analysis of the (lack of) pass rush in the Miami game. I
              have a quibble with your terminology. My understanding is that in a 3-4
              defense, when 3 DL's rush along with 1 LB it's not a blitz, it's
              considered just a standard 4-man rush. Blitzing is when 5+ men rush the
              passer, and I believe the Pats only did that 6 times according to your
              numbers.

              - Geoff

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