The 5 Front
We've discussed to death the topic of the Pats' porous pass defense. But, to pinpoint the problem, IMHO the Patriots' pass defense is not so bad when the team is in their base defense. The problem gets exacerbated when teams spread out the Pats as the bills did last Sunday forcing them to play their nickel and dime packages.
One reason I feel this is the case is when the team is in their base defense the risk of a blitz from one of the linebackers or an actual blitz creates more one-on-one blocking against the front four increasing the effectiveness of their rush.
So, I was giving it some thought as to what a good strategy would be to improve the Patriots' pass rush when they are spread out and in their nickel defense.
Now, there are many people on this board who know far more about Xs and Os than I do and will probably pick this idea apart faster than Tom Brady would the Pats' secondary if they ever got the chance, but here goes:
I call it the 5 Front because it involves having 5 defenders lined up on the LOS. The objective of the front is to occupy all 5 OL minimizing double-teams and putting each rusher in an advantageous position against their blocker. Here's how it would look:
X X X X X
The personnel I'd use is from left to right: Ninkovich, Cunningham, Wilfork, Hightower, Jones
Ninkovich - would be lined up outside the right shoulder of the RT. He could be in a 3 point or 2 point stance. He could peel back in coverage or rush. If he rushed he would be outside the tackle accentuating his speed and quickness. If he dropped into coverage, he would be in prime position to interrupt quick slants. Even if he dropped into coverage the RT would be threatened by his quickness and would have to drop step out essentially neutralizing his ability to help the G block Cunningham.
Cunningham - would be lined up on outside shoulder of the RG. With the RT being occupied he would have more space to operate against the G accentuating his athleticism. Being a former 3-4 OLB, he could also drop into coverage replacing the MLB or dime back allowing them to blitz behind Wilfork
Wilfork - would be lined up over the center and his job would be to push the center back to collapse the pocket. Heck you could even peel him back into coverage if you wanted
Hightower - same as Cunningham basically but would be more effective in coverage than Cunningham, you'd think
Jones - same as Ninkovich although he has less experience dropping into coverage but is athletic enough to do so. Giving him more space to set up the LT would make this guy an absolute beast. You'd see more tight ends lined up closer to chip him before heading into their routes and you'd see more backs left in to block.
You could even do games like rushing Jones straight into the LT while Hightower stunts around and rushes from the edge etc.
Oh well, that's all I've got. Have fun picking it apart. Hope it's more fun than discussing whether Bill Belichick would ever hire Rex Ryan to be his DC. On second thought, Belichick MIGHT hate the jets organization just that much.
Re: The 5 Front
You major difference is to have the LB's on the line instead of protecting the middle. BTW, I think it makes little difference if the OLB's are on the line or one step back.
The reality is that our 6 defensive backs are not able to cover the field. In you case, the offense would concentrate on crossing patterns over the middle and likely eat us alive.
just my 2 cents.
Re: The 5 Front
As for lessening the risk of crossing routes, I'd also have the dbs in press coverage line up slightly to the inside of their receiver improving their angle to bump the receiver and slow their release into an inside route. This would allow extra time for the lineman dropping back to get some coverage depth.
You are right the Patriots 6 dbs can't cover the whole field, but they don't have to. They only have to cover 5 eligible receivers long enough for the rush to get to the QB.
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