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How About Scheming Around the Available Talent?

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  • kmacalp@aol.com
    I know that with the Patriots, Belichick seems to like a rotation going with the linebackers. I know he s also seeing stuff on game film and in practices that
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 5, 2009
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      I know that with the Patriots, Belichick seems to like a rotation going with the linebackers. I know he's also seeing stuff on game film and in practices that I'm totally oblivious too. From what little I'm aware of, it seems that he doesn't realize that certain players need to get into a rhythm. For instance, we've often heard about running backs whom you need to keep feeding the ball to, and who get stronger as the game goes on. These guys don't usually come right out and get nice chunks of yardage right off the bat. Often they grind away at first for modest gains or even no gains, but as they get into the flow and as the defense starts to wear down they start piling up yards. You often hear these guys do the most damage when they get the ball 20-25 times a game. With the exception of a large portion of the 2004 season, the Belichick Patriots don't subscribe to that. Even when a back looks like he's in gear, he's often sat down and cooled off.
       
      Look at Monday Night. The Saints had no answer for Maroney on that opening drive. They go up 7-3. They get a great punt return into Saints territory. Then they TOTALLY abandon the running game by going 5 wide receivers and no running back. End result, the defense which just stopped the Saints is back on the field after only one play and in horrible field position. The Saints steamrolled the rest of the way. While the Saints aren't great against the run, a quick glance makes you think they're also mediocre against the pass because they're 18th in the league in pass yards allowed per game. Not so fast! Even with two starting corners out they're 2nd best (that's right, 2nd!) in the NFL at allowing the fewest yards per pass PLAY. They rank 18th in yards per game because they have the 5th most passes (37.3) attempted against them per game. Plus the Saints are great at getting turnovers, and passing carries a higher turnover risk than running. Meanwhile, New England has decent running backs and no wide receiver who has been able to establish himself as a steadily viable threat as a 3rd wide receiver. Never mind a 4th or 5th wide receiver, New England hasn't even found a 3rd guy yet. On that play, New England abandoned something the Saints are struggling against, and played right into their defensive strength. Now, if we were playing the Vikings with their dominant run defense, it would be a whole different story. I'm not saying New England should have abandoned the pass, just that we should have kept a viable running threat on the field instead of eliminating any real running threat.
       
      The Patriots favorite formation still seems to be three wides, one TE, and one RB with the QB in the shotgun. Hey, that was a great way to utilize the talent when Wes Welker (at his best as a slot receiver) came here along with Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth. When Stallworth wasn't doing great, we still had Gaffney on hand to step up. Now other than occasional flashes from Aiken, that 3rd receiver is usually a waste of space. I'd much rather see Sammy Morris or Benjarvus Green-Ellis out there as a fullback. They seem a lot more useful. 
       
      We certainly shouldn't have abandoned the running game on 1st down in Saints' territory the way we did. Yeah, sure. Tom Brady once pulled the ball down and had a nice run against the Bears in 2006. He had another run like that earlier this season. Still, these days when scrambling like that, he's more likely to float a nice soft lob up for grabs as he did against both the Saints and the Buccaneers. I don't remember the formation used on the play against the Bucs, but this lob came after we telegraphed an almost certain pass thanks to the formation.
       
      The Pats are deeper at running back than at wide receiver. The Saints were struggling against the run. Cumulative stats mask the fact that the Saints actually defend the pass very well. Why did NE abandon any threat of a run and telegraph that they were passing?
       
      I was talking about letting a running back get into a rhythm. What about pass rushers? There have been guys like Fred Dean who can come off the bench in an obvious passing situation and do a good job. A lot of pass rushers need to get into the flow of the game though. It seems like some players with the potential to provide a good pass rush are on the field, off the field, on the field, off the field. I'm talking about Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess. When he came here, he was put at inside linebacker. That's not a primary passing rushing position. You ever hear anyone complain because Jerod Mayo doesn't get a lot of sacks? In his first two seasons, Thomas only played outside linebacker from late in 2007 through the first half of 2008. In that span, Thomas was New England's best pass rusher. Vrabel led the team for the whole 2007 season and Seymour led the team for the entire 2008 season, but Thomas was actually the best during the span when he got an opportunity. I don't know the percentage of snaps he's had, but since his return from injury, Thomas seems to be off the field a lot by decision of the coaches. If I had to chose between having Thomas or Burgess on the field full time, I'd go with Thomas because he seems more versatile and like more of an all round player. But I think one of them needs to be a full time player given a chance to find a rhythm and get something going with the pass rush. And if not them, how about Pierre Woods. I'm no fan of the guy, but during the second Jets game last year, one of the announcers said that Patriots coaches said he was best at rushing the QB. That prompted the other announcer to wonder why they weren't letting him rush the QB during the game.
       
      Again though, there might be something really worrisome that Belichick sees about Thomas which prevents Belichick from playing him full time. I can't see game film, I don't see practices, and I don't have any professional coach's expertise. I can just speculate based on the little I know and see as a fan. That makes me wonder if the Pats are holding Thomas back by the way they use him. 
       
      I'd like to see much fewer empty backfields. If the Pats stick with 3 WRs, I'd like to see Brady under center more, AND I hope Aiken or someone else finally steps up as the 3rd receiver.
       
      It seems like the Patriots have gone from a team that makes the best use of their talent and weaknesses of their opponent to a team that insists on running their established system regardless of the available talent and the opponents strengths and weaknesses.
       
      Scott Sheaffer
       
       
    • kmacalp@aol.com
      Wow! That came out kind of jumbled. Some of my sentences were even out of order. That s strange. Scott
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 6, 2009
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        Wow! That came out kind of jumbled. Some of my sentences were even out of order. That's strange.
         
        Scott
      • Susan Moore
        LOL! Say that isn t so....! It does seem as if we could benefit from the other talent on the team or mixing things up. We do have to be extra careful with the
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 6, 2009
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          LOL! Say that isn't so....!  It does seem as if we could benefit from the other talent on the team or mixing things up. We do have to be extra careful with the Fish today, but I think that we are going to win and take the sting from last week away.
          Last week was last week...it stung but at times I think that any team needs a jolt or wakeup call or something. We hold the Pats and their staff in such high regard that it's hard to see them do anything that isn't perfection. In FOUR Super Bowls in 8 years just isn't done much and when that happens anything less than winning it seems disappointing. My main gripe is that I still don't think either the Nags (especially them) or Aints are what they say they are, so our losses were hard to take.
          Anyway....GO PATS!!!! Let's make it 5 appearances in 9 years!!
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 5:36 AM
          Subject: [patriotzip] Re:How About Scheming Around the Available Talent?

           

          Wow! That came out kind of jumbled. Some of my sentences were even out of order. That's strange.
           
          Scott

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