An offensive case study: 2003 AFC Championship

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by pats1, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. pats1

    pats1 Moderator Supporter

    With all the offensive talk going on right now, I thought I'd take a look back at the 2003 Patriots, specifically their performance in the AFC Championship against the Colts, to see what their balanced, controlled, and varied offensive attack looked like then. I charted out the game Reiss-style, and added some notes on creative/well-designed/executed plays, as well as poorly executed plays that could have made the game a lot less close than it actually was (the Pats won 24-14, scoring only one touchdown - the rest were field goals and a safety).


    Note: When I tallied up my snaps, I ended up with only 65, not counting two QB sneaks. In reality, the Pats ran 69 plays, including those two sneaks, so somewhere I missed two plays.

    Tom Brady – 65 / 65 = 100%
    David Givens – 63 / 65 = 97%
    Christian Fauria – 58 / 65 = 89%
    Deion Branch – 49 / 65 = 75%
    Antowain Smith – 37 / 65 = 57%
    Daniel Graham – 29 / 65 = 45%
    Troy Brown – 27 /65 = 42%
    Larry Centers – 22 / 65 = 34%
    Kevin Faulk – 21 / 65 = 33%
    Bethel Johnson – 8 / 65 = 12%
    Dedric Ward – 8 /65 = 12%
    Richard Seymour – 2 / 65 = 3%
    Mike Vrabel – 2 / 65 = 3%

    Passes: 37, Runs: 32
    --69 total plays

    2 WR / 2 TE / 0 FB / 1 RB - 18 / 65 = 28%
    3 WR / 1 TE / 0 FB / 1 RB - 16 / 65 = 25%
    2 WR / 1 TE / 1 FB / 1 RB - 14 / 65 = 22%
    1 WR / 2 TE / 1 FB / 1 RB - 8 / 65 = 13%
    5 WR / 0 TE / 0 FB / 0 RB - 7 / 65 = 11%
    0 WR / 3 TE / 1 FB / 1 RB - 2 / 65 = 3%

    Shotgun # - 11 / 65 = 17%
    Play Action # - 11 / 37 = 30%
    Draws # - 6 / 30 = 20%
    Screens # - none

    1st drive: 3rd and 1, Fauria RTE, Smith/Centers split backfield, Graham LTE, Givens three-point left wing – Centers no first down, Pats keep same personnel for 4th and 1; initially line up with Givens split wide left, Graham RTE, Fauria right wing, Centers right wing, Smith single back, then shift to shotgun 5 WR, then Brady comes up to Koppen, quick snaps it and sneaks for first down….later, Brady fake screen to Givens, draws CB, then hits open Givens in end zone

    2nd drive: 3rd and 5, Faulk lone back offset left, Fauria RTE, Colts show blitz left; Troy motions left slot to right, SLB takes Fauria, LCB takes Givens – zone blitz, Freeney takes Troy, no match, first down

    3rd drive: 1st and 10, Faulk lone back, 3 WR; Colts blitz left, Pats play action left, rollout right – blitz comes left, Faulk can’t pick up, but Brady rolls away, hits Givens on sideline comeback for first down…same idea tried a few plays later, except with Smith and WR strength to rollout side – CB Walt Harris made a great play to break up a TD to Givens in the end zone….later, 4th and 8 from the IND 29: Brady hits Troy – nothing fancy, just clutch

    6th drive: 1st and 10, I-form, play action, FB Centers clears out right and goes for 28 yards

    7th drive: 1st and 10, Fauria LTE, Graham left wing, Graham trap block vs. 8 in box – 4 LBs/S split, Antowain goes right up the middle for 35 yards…Next play, SAME play – 14 yards!...same play again, no gain – probably would have set something up if next play wasn’t a defensive offsides

    8th drive: 2nd and 3 from IND 3, 2 TE right, play action left, rollout right, Fauria drops TD – next play INT

    9th drive: 2nd and 4, I-form, 2 WR left, TE right, play action left, Bethel end around – 3 yard gain

    10th drive: 3rd and 10, 5 WR shotgun, Troy drops pass that would have sealed win
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  2. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    Great thread.

    The 03 Pats used multiple formations and looks on offense, not having an obvious tendency to give the defense. They also spread the ball around, nobody knew who the star on offense would be.

    3 different formations of over 20% chance called, in contrast to the past 4 years of 50%+ shot gun.
    As much play action was called as total shot gun formations called in that game.

    Contrast that with the Colts...what were Manning's stats that game?

    I remember when we used to analyze why the 03-04 Colts always lost to the Pats. Now we have become those Colts.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  3. BradysBunch12

    BradysBunch12 On the Game Day Roster

    Zolak and Tanguay were talking about Brady's QB rating and stats in the first half compared to the second half of 2007.

    In the first half, he threw at least 3 TD a game and had a QB rating of over 100 every time. The second half, he had 4 games where he threw 3 or more TD and 3 games with a 100 percent rating.

    In the playoffs, Jacksonville played to shut down the big play and Brady took advantage of it with the short passing game. The Chargers and Giants were pedestrian games for the offense.

    In other words, teams eventually figure out how to shut down an offense, no matter how great it appears to be. The Patriots almost pulled it off because Brady even when he isn't great in the playoffs limits the turnovers, something Manning has been unable to do and a big reason for their playoff losses.

    But a pass happy offense, other than maybe the 1999 Rams, has never won a Super Bowl. The Colts won in 2006 because their defense improved.

    We need to go back to the 2004 days when we mixed in the run with the pass. I don't want to see Brady throw 4,800 yards again this year. I'd rather see him in the 4,100 range and balance in the running game and worry about getting an identity on defense.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  4. pats1

    pats1 Moderator Supporter

    Yes, I heard him today. I said the same thing the day before:
  5. miDeuce

    miDeuce Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    #50 Jersey

    That offense scored one touchdown in the game. I understand the value of a balanced attack, multiple looks/threats, but an offense's job is to score points. Say what you will about the Pats current tendencies but over the past two seasons they have scored a ton of points (last two weeks not included), and came within a half of a probable fourth Super Bowl and 2 minutes of a fifth. Those were lost because of defense.

    I'd like to see a Reiss-ian breakdown of the defense in this 03 AFCCG... and compare that to the last couple years. I think that would be far more telling of what the Pats have been missing in recent years that they had in the Super Bowl winning years.
  6. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    Interesting you diminish the Pats 03 offense. The Jets only had 1 TD, yet they beat the vaunted Patriots last week. There are always excuses to go around.

    Would you rather have a physical talented D and a wily offense, or an explosive offense and serviceable D?
  7. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    And despite having Dillon and facing Indy's terrible run defense in bad weather in the 2004 Div game, NE passed 19 times in the first half to only 10 runs.

    You read that right. The game so many point to as NE displaying their dominance running, they actually passed at a 2:1 ratio in the first half. And one of those runs was a give up draw on 3rd and 20, otherwise it likely would have been 20-9.

    And NE is famous for going pass heavy to counter Pitt's blitzing scheme.

    Why are people acting like going pass heavy is a new thing for this team. Even the superbowl winners did it if they felt it gave them the best chance.
  8. Patjew

    Patjew Supporter Supporter

    No Jersey Selected

    I remember that game well. It felt like and should have been a blow out, but it wasn't because the team repeatedly couldn't get in the end zone and settled for FGs. Sounds familiar.
  9. pats1

    pats1 Moderator Supporter

    I can do that; do you want personnel, formations, blitzes, or coverages? Or all of it?
  10. pats1

    pats1 Moderator Supporter

    The difference is they could actually run the ball when they wanted to. This team can't. Those teams could run the ball effectively and open up the pass; these teams just pass because they have trouble running outside of the draw and try to win that way. It worked very well early in 2007, but outside of that, not so much, 2005 to 2009. If you take a detailed look of those 10 first half runs: Dillon 3, Dillon 2, Dillon -2, Dillon 5, Dillon 8, Dillon 7, Faulk 13, Faulk 6, Dillon 4, Dillon 2, Dillon 42, Faulk 11. None of those were out of the shotgun. And even when the Colts knew they were going to run (the second half), here are the results: Dillon 0, Dillon -1, Dillon 4, Dillon 9, Faulk 9, Dillon 4, Dillon 5, Faulk 2, Dillon 5, Faulk 9, Faulk 4, Faulk 1, Dillon 0, Dillon 2, (Branch 4), Dillon 6, Faulk 2, Faulk 0, Dillon 27, Dillon 4, Dillon 3, Dillon 4, Dillon 4, Faulk -1.

    Do you really think Taylor/Maroney/Morris/Faulk could post those numbers out of this offense?

    I don't think anyone is saying go run heavy, but I think people are looking for both a general improvement and the running game and more balance; those seem to go together. Which brings me back to my previous point: the Pats don't have a reliable back like they had with Smith or Dillon. Which brings me back to my point before that, which is the Pats haven't drafted up to a championship level.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  11. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    Didn't they run well last year? :confused:

    By season's end this will prove to be a complete offense. The RBs are fine.
  12. pats1

    pats1 Moderator Supporter

    As I stated in another thread, more than 700 yards of that was from Faulk and Cassel, i.e. shotgun draws and scrambles that aren't as effective in setting up the pass.

    Besides, I think many would say last year's offense quietly put up a pretty solid year, partly because it was more balanced - Morris and Jordan both had one the best seasons of their careers. With a defense, it might had done smoething. But we're looking at the overall trend here, which spans from Week 1 of 2005 to Week 2 of 2009.

    They're "fine," yes, but by that I mean serviceable. They're not the type of runners you want to use by choice.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  13. miDeuce

    miDeuce Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    #50 Jersey

    All, including the video of the defensive signals calling them. ;)

    Didn't mean to make light of the work that went into the above, your point is well taken, but personally I'm not worried about offense. I think they can and will run the ball effectively when they need to like when they have the lead in the 4th quarter.

    I just found the veteran defenses of 03/04 far more diverse, with playmakers at every position, which is probably stating the obvious I know. The current defense is being rebuilt towards that diversity, but they are clearly limited in what they can do at the second based on personnel, depth and injuries.
  14. David Deas

    David Deas Rookie

    The Patriots lost in 2007 for *one* reason and it happens to be the same reason they continue to struggle - the inability to protect the QB.

    Passing on every down can work, and it is something that Belichick wanted to do based on his garnered respect for how difficult it is to stop the spread attack. Unfortunately, I do not think he fully anticipated how difficult it is to actually run the spread attack on any sort of consistent week to week basis.

    The spread attack is great because it allows you to dictate so well to the defense. Unfortunately, it is vunerable to the blitz, particularly the fire zone blitzes which reverse the roles and allow the defense to dictate to the offense. And once the offense stops dictating to the defense and instead starts reacting to the defense, it's all over for the spread attack. Your Pre-snap reads are no longer useful and your hot reads are no longer there.

    Belichick has the top QB. Belichick has the top recievers. Belichick has all of the genius. What Belichick does *not* have are the greatest blockers, which is exactly what you need to make this sort of high flying offense work.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  15. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    Faulk's draws should not be excluded, he is always a big part of the gameplan. It doesn't "set up" the pass, but it makes the D have to account for it, and thus affects their ability to apply pressure.

    And the RBs are more than servicable. Taylor and Maroney are good - Maroney will prove to be very good by season's end - and Faulk might be the best passing down back in the league.

    The RBs are better than they had in 2001 and 2003 by a wide margin. And I am one of Antowain Smith's biggest fans.
  16. pats1

    pats1 Moderator Supporter

    Jets game:

    SG Maroney 12, SG Maroney 4, SG Maroney -1, Maroney 4, SG Taylor 6, Taylor 3, SG Taylor 6, (Brady 2), Maroney 2, Maroney 2, Faulk 2, SG Morris 3, Faulk 3, Faulk 3, Maroney 4, SG Taylor 3, Taylor 4, SG Taylor 13, Taylor 12, SG Morris 1, Taylor -1, SG Faulk 8.

    Bills game:

    Taylor 3, SG Faulk 6, SG Maroney 11, Maroney 8, Maroney 10, Taylor 5, SG Faulk 2, SG Taylor 4, Taylor 9, Taylor 0, Taylor 1, Taylor 1, Taylor 6, Faulk 4, (Taylor 1 - TD), Maroney 7, SG Faulk 1, Maroney -1, Maroney -4, Maroney 3, (Brady 9), Maroney 1, Maroney -3.
  17. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    And your point is?

    Oh, wait a minute, does this mean I can show all Brady's misfires from those two games as proof that he will suck all year?

    You're right, this team needs a QB upgrade in a big way.
  18. Patjew

    Patjew Supporter Supporter

    No Jersey Selected

    I think Antowain vintage 2001 was better than any RB we have now. Certainly not the 2003 version. Maybe I'm nuts.
  19. Oswlek

    Oswlek Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

    If you want to point the blame for the running issues, look no further than the OL. It always amuses me why it is so clear to everyone how much they impact Brady's abilities, but somehow RBs are supposed to do well no matter their performance.
  20. pats1

    pats1 Moderator Supporter

    As am I. The thing is, I could depend on the Pats lining up, 2 TEs, maybe FB, and Antowain against a D, and having Antowain consistently gain yardage, maybe even break a few big runs, as we saw in the Colts game.

    Do you have confidence in the Pats being able to do the same thing? Do you believe they can line up Maroney, Taylor, Morris, or Faulk with 2 TE, maybe a FB, in the first quarter and consistently pick up yards? Do you think they can do it in the fourth quarter with the lead?

    If you can't do this, defenses will find a way to stop you.

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