.....right now I'm real happy with my choice NOT to play Greg Olsen as my FF TE this week and substitute Ben Watson, who was a mid season FA pick up. I think Ben is going to have a big day.
1. Did any of you see the BB breakdown on the Pats site. In it BB breaks down the Moss TD, and shows how the Pats blocked it. You can't help notice that on that play Chris Baker has Jason Taylor one on one. He not only stoned him, he knocked him BOWN, with a punch to the chest. Its worth watching.
2. This play got me thinking about how the Pats are going to attack the Colts defense this week. And let us not forget that while all the talk seems to revolve around Brady and Manning, the FACT is that the 2 best scoring D's in the league are the COLTS at #1 and the Pats at #2.
Traditionally the Colts have been a strictly zone team. A team that relied on not givning up the big play to the offense, while attacking with with a fast front 4 and making big plays on D. This year with a new DC, the Colts are playing more man to man/hybrid coverages, an blitzing slightly more.
The Pats are presented with somewhat of a quandary offensively. Do they attack the undersized D and run the ball right at them at them with 2 TEs, or do they attack the rookie CBs and depleted secondary by running spread formations and to isolate those CBs and the DBs sent in on the dime packages.
4. The case for a run first plan:
a.The strategy of running right at a smaller faster team is a sound one.
b. Running the ball eliminates the potential for a big negative play by the D (sacks/picks).
c. Pounding on a smaller D early would wear down the D and slow its rush late in the game
d. In matching up Volmer against Freeney, in the passing game, the advantage goes to the Colts, but in the running game, that's a match up that favors the Pats
e. Recently Brady has looked more comfortable in play action than he has in the past. Starting the game looking to pound the Colts D, makes those PAPs more effective
f. To this end, I'd use a lot more 2 TE 2WR single back formation. When you want to pass, you can motion Watson and wind up with 3 WRs, and use Watson much like the Colts use Clark.
g. Screens/Draws, would also figure heavily in this scenerio
h. In this I would NOT use the shot gun on 3rd and 4 or shorter. Once I commit to this strategy, I DO NOT want to give the D a free pass by lining up in a shot gun and take way the obvious run option. If the run is successful at all, I want the D to be worried about it, even on 3rd and 4 or less.
i. I DO NOT use many misdirection, or slow developing running plays. Setting the smashmouth tone is essential. There should be very little finesse involved in play selection. They idea is that our big people are just going to overpower, your bigs, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Put 8 in the box, and we'll still get 3-4 yds. Put 9 in the box, and you'll find out why Moss and Welker is the best 1-2 combo in the league.
j. I would also consider either using a no huddle or a fast pace in running this offense. I know part of this stragety has to do with keeping Manning off the field, but I think a fast pace favors the strategy more by further wearing down of the D, especially the front 7.
Bottom line if you see the Pats the ball 30+ times this game, then THIS is the strategy they chose.
5. The case for the Pass first strategy.
a. Passing is what the Pats do best, and would be a misuse of resources to try and be something that your not. Brady has always thrown the ball well against the Colts, especially in the Dome. Why change that now.
b. Your best mismatches come against 2 rookie CBs, but also against the JAGs that the Colts have had to add to fill the gaps in their nickel and dime packages. Supposedly the rookies are doing a decent job, BUT, like what the Pats experienced the last few years, what really kills a secondary isn't what the top 4 DBs are doing, but what happens when the #5 and #6 have to come in. A lack of depth in the secondary means a D often has to become more vanilla, and a lot less flexible. It also becomes easier to read and to establish mismatches.
c. Putting Brady back in the shot gun, extends the amount of time he has to pass, even if the rush is effective. It gives Brady a better look at the defense both pre and post snap (he has to turn his back on the play in play action)
d. Spreading the field in 3 and 4 wide sets causes a D to declare themselves presnap, and by motioning players you can further identify what the D is doing, or rather DICTATE to the D.
e. Brady is your best player and the thing he does best is to pass the ball. He has been especially effective in a dome. They same can be said about your 2nd and 3rd best offensive players (except that they "catch" the ball
f. To max your protection in the spread/shot gun, you can keep 2 guys in te backfield, ie Baker and Moroney/Faulk That way you are usually keeping 6 guys in pass protection, and have the option to motion Moroney/Faulk and get your 4 wide at the snap. Also having Moroney slip out of the backfield after the smap gets him chances to get the ball in an open field.
g. In this strategy, screens/draws are also a big factor to combat against the big rush.
6. Well I have now thoroughly confused MYSELF. Both plans seem eminently sound, but I do know one thing, you have to chose one or the other if you are ultimately going to be successful. I know in an ideal world, having the Pats break out into a big half time lead, then kill the clock with a strong run game. But that is really not likely. I think you can't hedge your bets in this kind of game. You pick your plan of attack, commit to it, then EXECUTE it. The coaching staff might have contingencies, but the players have to believe that whatever strategy the coaching staff decided on...is the right one.
Maybe later on tonight I'll speculate on different ways to attack the Colts offense. In the meantime, I'll look forward to your thoughts as always.