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Can someone break down McCourty's struggles last year?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Ice_Ice_Brady, Feb 16, 2012.

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  1. Ice_Ice_Brady

    Ice_Ice_Brady Rookie

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    Is there someone out there, preferably who access to game film (like PatsPsycho) who can shed some light on why McCourty was so bad last year?

    I've heard from analysts that McCourty cannot play in man coverage. But that seems pretty simplistic. Are you telling me that his spectacular rookie season involved almost exclusive zone coverage? I've also heard that McCourty has had more responsibility this year, but that also seems to miss the mark. Beginning in around game 10 in 2010, he began to shadow the other team's best receiver and was emerging as a Darelle Revis type of player who teams were afraid to throw on.

    So, what is the deal with McCourty? Again, I find it hard to believe that this is entirely scheme related and that he could be so terrible in man coverage. I am guessing that, if this were the case, BB would be able to utilize his talents with whatever scheme was necessary.

    The explanations provided thus far do not cover the enormous gap between his play last year and this year. I expected a sophomore slump, but I didn't expect a guy to go from one of the best corners in the NFL to one of the worst.

    If anyone has had a chance to study McCourty, would you say it is a confidence issue (hesitation)? Potential injury (loss of quickness)? Do you think he is going to flame out in the NFL, or is there still some potential left for this guy as a CB?



    Thanks.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  2. VrabelJr

    VrabelJr Rookie

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    I hate to shift the blame of the lackluster performance of one player to any other but I would say that the poor play at safety changes the way a CB approaches their coverage. You go from feeling safe to turn your head and make plays on the ball to playing more conservatively and focusing on making the tackle and not giving up the big play.
  3. Observer

    Observer Rookie

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    That and the pass-rush never getting to the QB so it being too risky to turn for the ball rather than chase the man instead.
  4. VrabelJr

    VrabelJr Rookie

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    Eh our pass rush was marginally better this year.
  5. WhiZa

    WhiZa Rookie

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    I'm no football analyst, but I would say this is a major issue. We need a safety that can help these guys over the top or else we'll be giving up the most yards in the league again.
  6. Dessalines

    Dessalines Rookie

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    The pass rush was not a problem this year.
  7. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    Aight, I'm finna break this down. A couple disclaimers first. 1) I would need to watch coach's tape to get a truly accurate understanding of what was going on schematically. 2) I'm not working with him daily so I can't speak about confidence, awareness, or any other "soft" evaluation. With that said, LEGGO!

    One could safely call the Patriots a cover-2 team, meaning they are in a 2-deep look more often than they are not. From this they mix in quite a bit of other stuff, but for the sake of conversation let's restrict that to cover-5 which in English is two high safeties with man coverage underneath. Let's look at what would be a typical assignment for McCourty in a cover-5. He will be playing on the outside receiver and will be aligned anywhere from on the line to seven or even ten yards off of the receiver depending on coverage. Let's assume for this coverage McCourty is rolled up. He will align his inside toe with the instep of the inside toe of the receiver, and give a "press" look. He will defend the inside release as his goal is to get into position for the trail technique which is what he is going to play in a cover-5. In the trail technique McCourty will trail the receiver by one stride and play the lower part of inside number. The inside number of the receiver is always going to move when the receiver breaks as this is essentially the fulcrum point of any cut. It will belie either the elevation or sinking of the hips which are used to make a cut. That is when the corner will know he has to play the cut and the ball will be coming quickly. This is where it gets hard. It is critical to continue to play the receiver and remain locked on through the cut, but at some point, know to accelerate when the receiver decelerates and get your head around to look for the ball. This is a catch-22 because it really sets you up for in and ups and post-corners if you look for the ball too early. Too late and they complete an easy one on you. This seemed to be where McCourty was off all year. His technique in the trail was flawless, and athletically he was perfectly able to execute his assignment. Something just looked off with his timing on getting his head around. I think him being burnt on double moves contributed to this. The other thing that is absolutely key is the play of the safety in conjuction with this. The safety has to be positioned well and get a good anticipatory jump on the ball if the corner is locked in on the receiver. A good, heads-up safety will play to this and the corner will look better as a result. Too many people view corner as an island, and from here on out I want everyone reading this to view the relationship between a corner and a safety to be a team of two. If one doesn't execute, the other will be rendered ineffective. In a cover-5, your safeties need to play downhill and play downhill quickly. That means getting good jumps on the ball and taking good angles. They had neither last year.

    Another common coverage the Patriots run is the cover-3 which is a run defense. It places a safety closer to the line and shines in short to intermediate interior passes and run. They played a ton of cover-3 when they had in his prime Harrison. In the cover-3, two corners and a single safety have the upper shell responsibility. The corners will have outer 1/3rd responsibility. For simplicity, we'll talk about streak and post techniques. In the streak technique, and in cover-3 technique the corner will generally play off, providing a good cushion. The corner will usually let the receiver reach him in his backpedal, then aggressively get his hips around and run stride for stride with the receiver, aiming to squeeze him towards the boundry when defending the streak. It makes it a harder throw and takes out the inside break better. If your corner has adequate speed and hips he should only get beat by the steak if he is too slow. McCourty never had issues with this. Again, he is physically fine. The second technique is when settled into his zone he reads post. He must squeeze or close the post. He does this by calling post with the free safety and settling between the receiver and qb. He must accomplish this without overplaying and opening himself to the post-flag. The goal is to squeeze the angle of the post, while relying on the free safety to close the post. Once the post is committed it becomes the responsibility of the safety. The reason is that in a cover-3 attacking play, they will commonly run the post flag, and even more commonly run a post as part of a combination route. The goal is to draw the corner in with the post and exploit that with the other route. If the safety plays his technique well and the play is well communicated the corner should be able to make a play on the outside stuff. Teams completed a lot of posts against the Patriots in cover-3. If the safety is out of position, the corner will be left in no man's land and he will look to the viewer to be beat. In reality it is squarely on the safety. Again, corner-safety interaction is a tandem team in zone and it cannot be stressed enough when evaluating McCourty's struggles.

    So, to summarize things McCourty had stuggles in seeing the ball more than anything this season. His timing of getting his head around was off and this is a function of teams having a season of film to break down on him. I would look to see a marked improvement in this next season as this is a reps issue. The other critical issue is his safety continuity. Athletically he was just fine and 99% of his technique was there all season, he just couldn't quite put it all together. Without good safety play with him, he was frequently stranded in no man's land and looking out of position because his safeties were either out of position or too slow to help him out. For the importance of safety-corner interaction look at how much better the secondary as a whole played when McCourty was moved to safety where he played quite well. Both corners improved when he moved there.
  8. olschool

    olschool Rookie

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    Looked to me like he put on some weight re-habbing his injury and lost a step.

    Plus, having a shortened training camp didn't help.
  9. vuudu

    vuudu Rookie

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    His problem to me is the same problem any of our corners have. They are being told something that makes them so scared to turn and look for the ball. They will rather give up a completion than the chance of making a play on the ball.
    It is about coaching to me. The scary thing is that this has been going on for a while so might not be an easy fix.
  10. VrabelJr

    VrabelJr Rookie

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    Completion + Tackle > Play on ball + Miss + Touchdown
  11. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Disable Jersey

  12. robbomango

    robbomango Rookie

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    Great breakdown jays tnx, just giving it a well deserved bump.
  13. stcjones

    stcjones Rookie

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    Yes....here it is: Mccourty is a good role player.
    .he is NOT a superstar on his own. IF he has good support around him he can be reasonably successful. He is NOT and will never be a "Revis" (which far too many fans think he is)
  14. patsfan-1982

    patsfan-1982 Rookie

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    he let WR's get inside on him because there realy was not any Safety help, i think with a good vet safety over the top he will be better and we seen some of that late in the season as the safety play got better
  15. Dutchmaster617

    Dutchmaster617 Rookie

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    Eli has killed this conservative defense twice on the biggest stage. Maybe in the regular season it is great but it still breaks and gives up TDs, period. The difference is it takes time off the clock allowing us to cringe at Brady being rushed in the last 40 seconds.

    When we can't score 30 in a half like in a random October game and things slow down we need to either force teams to have quicker drives or lengthen our own, probably both, which this soft D doesn't help.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  16. patsinthesnow

    patsinthesnow PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  17. Fencer

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    McCourty may also benefit from having good WRs to practice against. Even Welker/aged Branch/confused Chad are better than nothing, if he has the offseason time to do it. But in retrospect he should have forced the issue last offseason to spend some one-on-one quality time working with his opposite numbers.

    I've recognized this point ever since Ty Law said that when he wanted to practice against a specific look, he'd grab Troy Brown and ask him to show that to him ...
  18. jays52

    jays52 Rookie

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    That blog post is aesthetically pleasing but misleading. The effort is admirable but he's watching the distraction during the magic trick. I'll type up a response to that article when I get some time in an hour or so.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012
  19. patsfan55

    patsfan55 Rookie

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    So true

    The only way this type of mentality with your dbs works is if you have a dominant front seven. We haven't had one of those since 06
  20. BaltimorePatsFan

    BaltimorePatsFan Rookie

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    We all thought Eugene Wilson was going to be awesome for years to come after his rookie season too.

    McCourty's rookie season = fluke
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