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EVERYTHING is interconnected...

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by patfanken, Mar 10, 2007.

  1. patfanken

    patfanken Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    ... Its late at night and something Rod Woodson said got me thinking. He made the comment that although Brady wasn't sacked much this year, he got hit more than had in recent years, so there may be a need to add OL help in the draft.

    Somehow that didn't compute. While not a probowl LT, Light DID make it to Hawaii as an injury replacement, so he doesn't suck. Mankins should have made the Probowl, and you could make a case for Koppen as well, They just extended Neal, so we know they think highly of them, and we have THREE excellent RTs in waiting.(Britt, OCallahan, & Kaczur) One will win and the other 2 plus Russ Hockstein will back up, with Billy Yates doing post grad work at Scharnecchia U for no name Linemen. I don't think we need help there this year...at all. But still Woodson's words rang true. Brady DID seem to get hit more this year, and it got to making me think WHY, and here is what I came up with.

    I have defended the WRs all season. Remember we had the 7th best scoring offense in the league, and they racked up a lot of yds during the playoffs. Pretty good for no name WRs, BUT they are what they are. As the season wore on, more and more teams came at Brady with complex Blitz packages than ever before. WHY?? It was a combination of things. Because the WRs weren't quick enough to get separation off the line in blitz control. Because of a lack of familiarity that extended all year (it got better, and I believe we still would have seen a big difference THIS year, even if nothing changed in the personel) AND because Troy Brown had lost too many steps and wasn't as effective in the slot.

    Now, again, it wasn't that it was TERRIBLE, just not good enough to make teams pay a big enough price for blitzing, so that they'd stop or slow down. Hence, more blitzing, Brady takes more hits....again not many more sacks, just more hits.

    NOW we can see WHY the Pats put such a premium on Welker. Here is guy who will EXCELL against blitzing teams that have to cover him one one one in the slot. Clearly the Pats feel he has the quickness to get off the LOS, he has the smarts to read the defenses, and the toughness to play in the middle. Evidently, they determined that he was the one guy in FA who could improve this critical part of the game and make teams PAY for blitzing.

    If he does his job well, then teams will have to blitz less in order to get more men in coverage and Brady doesn't get hit as much as he did last season. It wasn't that the OL sucked, it was they were just facing many more blitzes...and when you blitz, you have less time, and when you have less time, your QB WILL get hit.

    Add the RIGHT player, within the RIGHT system, and he not only affects the passing game, but aids in the pass blocking as well. If you think of it this way, getting Welker and paying the price we did to acquire him, makes more sense. We needed a certain kind of WR who could make teams pay for blitzing to much.

    Now Im sure that Welker in the slot isn't the only way the Pats can make defenses not want to blitz. You could see it later in the year, when BOTH Gaffney and Caldwell beat their men deep on 9 routes only to have Brady miss them. With another year of preparation, I believe that they will make that connection more often.

    You can say the same thing about AD on Defense. Its not just that he will bring his obvious physical skills to the game, by having HIM and a lot of our DB depth back, we will be able to show defensive packages that were thrown out the last 2 years because of all the injuries, The Defense finally has a big 3 in the DL, LBs, and Secondary (Seymour, AD, Samuel) that forces an offense to find each of these elite players on each level of the defense. Sort of like the same kind of problems a great offense who has a great QB, RB, & WR Big Three, would present to a defense. EVERYTHING SEEMS TO INTERCONNECT.

    I also think its interesting how the game is evolving so that having a blazing fast safety can impact the game more than the traditional impact positions of CB, OLB, and DE. In other words the great athletes are now playing or being converted to S. Back when I was a SS, that was where you put the guys who were good but not great athletes. The "great" athletes you put a CB. Not any more. More and more you take your CBs and turn them into Safeties. But that's a topic for another thread.

    Jeess its March and I'm already getting excited to see how this team will evolve. Good night
     
  2. RayClay

    RayClay Pro Bowl Player

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    Of course it was the wide outs. We wanted to retain Givens, then Branch flat out screwed us with a year left on his contract.

    We had to cut the guy we traded for and Gaffney didn't put it together until the very end of the season.

    Sometimes circumstances cause problems. We weren't horrible on offense, in fact we were third in the AFC.

    If we picked up Paul Warfield in the middle of the year, we still would have had hesitation and mis-communication problems.

    Sure the Pats like Welker. Just like they'll like the guy that had 21 catches in the playoffs after barely playing in the season. There's no substitute for time.

    Also, it's funny how you come to study guys that just kick your butts.

    Like Vrabel's sack of Bledsoe, Welker's tap dances through our defense were well noted and the brain trust has a well thumbed book on Mr. Welker.

    This should really give him a jump start.
     
  3. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    For all those who think the glass is half empty should read this post, while Light and crew are often criticized they are more than adequate and under contract which insures stability. If an architect were to look at this team from objectively, they would notice that most of our interior guys will be here at least 2 more years. With the exception of Brady, everything is built around them. While many of the other parts are interchangeable based on market and talent, our interior crew remains solid and intact.

    What this team has done so far this year is to continue this tradition, continuing to build in the trenches and add complimentary players. Their draft will continue this system. What happened last year, the Deion Branch fiasco, will never happen again. If Samuels decides to sit out, he will be the ultimate looser as he will be labeled a malcontent and loose value on the open market. Is he a 1 year wonder??

    It is interconnected, and seems quite purposeful, last year was an exception. Someday they will be studying this model, if they are not already, in Harvard Business school. It works and will continue.
     
  4. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Are you Tim Fox?
     
  5. Seneschal2

    Seneschal2 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Ken, three factors for Brady receiving fewer hits:

    Welker -- will excel in the short zone like Troy of old.

    TE -- specifically - Thomas. Folks don't realize YET how valuable he was in the short area for his QB at Texas. I'm expecting him to be one of Brady's security blankets.

    WR -- deep threat missing. DCs won't risk blitzing their Safeties when their CB is getting beat deep. It's a missing ingredient in the offense as a threat.

    Quick strikes to Welker and Thomas, a downfield passing game, and a balanced running attack will take some heat off of Brady. I'm not too concerned about the OL as a unit.
     
  6. PatriotsRiot93

    PatriotsRiot93 Practice Squad Player

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    First off- GREAT article.

    Secondly- if anyone criticizes our OL they should look back at the bunch of misfits we had back when Drew Bledsoe was seeing more grass in his face than TD passes. These guys are such an improvement that it's not even funny.

    Thrid- I think you nailed it with the WR's. I think adding to your post- now that we last Danny Graham and Corey Dillon we lose some more of that protection for Tommy Boy. We lost some of that "chipping" ability the offset TE or RB woud be able to provide. Free agency really sucks sometimes. We really have to salute the guys who want to be here....:rocker:
     
  7. SamBam39

    SamBam39 Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Yeah, I just think the more hits on brady stemmed from the passing game not being as good without branch and givens - they were so familiar with brady and our system that tom could always hit one of them quickly, and also dillon was a better runner in the past and after maroney got hurt, their running game wasn't as much of a threat either. it's no coincidence that corey's gone now, and welker has been brought in and an offer made to stallworth.

    sometimes, even though our system is great, our staff is great, and the roster's been built well, things can go wrong and cause problems. you hope that you can quickly solve them, but sometimes it takes a while and maybe even some re-tooling of the roster. I think that's why brady was discouraged early in the season - it wasn't JUST because branch had left, but he knew it would take a long time before he'd be able to develop that same comfort level with someone else.
     
  8. Mainefan

    Mainefan Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    It's posts like this that bring me to Patsfans, Patfranken. Great analysis. It also shows what a deep threat could do for us, even if he isn't the most consistent guy around (Stallworth, for instance, or CJ).
     
  9. SeanBruschi54

    SeanBruschi54 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Great post Ken as usual.

    The thing that really stood out to me though when watching Woodson on NFL network was when he showed us how badly our safety play was last year in the postseason to be exact. Sanders and Hawkins played so deep at points that teams just ripped through our defensive backfield.
     
  10. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Interconnected or not, there is only one proven way to rattle Tommy, knock him down until he has to squint past the stars to see the receivers.
     
  11. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    An excellent point, unfortunately.

    And a great point by Ken.

    One thing to perhaps add is that in the past MOST of the receivers excelled at punishing blitzes -- not just Troy, but also Branch, Givens, and most emphatically Patten.
     
  12. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I don't think that's a factor at all. Thomas and Brady will provide the same quality of blocking there - Thomas may not provide the same power of some blocks but basic chips won't be a problem.
     
  13. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    This is why I'm locked in on Griffin (for now) at #28 - assuming Nelson is gone at #24. He's got the athletic ability and is a great speciall teams player.
     
  14. AndyJohnson

    AndyJohnson PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Great topic.
    First thing, I am not convinced its a fact that Brady was hit more. Along the lines of the interconnected, Ive always noticed that the general fan impression of anything is greatly dependant on the big picture. What I mean is, if Brady throws for 400 yards and we win 35-0 but gets knocked down 6 times, you'll never hear about it, but if we struggle all day, run for 40 yards, Brady is 20-42 for 185 yards and 2 picks, and was knocked down 6 times, all of a sudden Brady is getting him a lot. (as a side note Ive heard announcers say 'Brady is getting hit a lot back there' when its the 2nd quarter and he gets hit twice on a drive after never being touched all day)
    I don't recall Brady being hit much more if more at all last year than any other year. He probably SHOULD HAVE been hit more last year than ever because our approach to the passing game, more than ever included more slower developing routes.

    I think the WR issue is a very good discussion topic.
    Its inane to not think that every facet of the passing game is affected by it.
    The routes we favor depend on the recievers. (We aren't calling the same plays no matter who is on the roster)
    The propensity of Brady to need to check down to 2nd, 3rd, 4th options depends on the ability of the primary route runners to execute the route, and get open.
    Bradys accuracy will depend on them. Example, if option 1 on a pass play is a 12 yard crossing route, Brady will throw to that reciever whether he has 3 steps on his man or 1/2 step. If its Branch and he has 3 steps, or Gabriel and he has one (or rounds off the route) the throw on the same route to the guy lined up in the same postion is different.
    As Brady checks down, he familiarity with the receiver helps or hurts the quickness of the judgment of whether or not he is open.
    Ints will be effected by lesser WRs, not just on tips, but if the route isn't crisp there is NO WAY the QB can determine that on 90% of the throws. You send receiver x on a 12 yard sideline comeback. If the coverage dictates it, you throw there, (remember Brady is reading the defense, not watching the receivers, he must assume they are where they are expected to be) if the route is run poorly, its an Int that looks like a poor decision or throw, but was actually right to the spot the WR was supposed to be, which may only be a couple of feet off.
    Who your receivers are affects everything in the passing game.
    That said, I am very much against the idea of having 'superstar WRs'. I don't think they are necessary. I think most top level WRs are a product of the system, and the QB.
    Almost every WR in the NFL has the basic physical skills that are in the area of good enough. But, the difference is TECHNIQUE. That includes technique in beating the jam, precise route running, proper catching skills. These are not inborn abilities but abilities that are learned and COACHED.
    This is where system, QB, and coaching 'makes' the WR. (Big point here, is that coachability is a critical inborn factor) Systems differ in the techniques that are most critical. Different players perform differently in different systmes (at all positions). The ability of the player to be coached on technique, and the coaching TO coach it, as well as having a QB who delivers the ball on time accurately and to the right reciever, is what makes a technical sound WR a star.
    I do not believe we need to go get a Randy Moss, who excels at certain techniques and accept all of his warts, to have a great passing game.
    I think we need a stable of WRs who have the basic physical tools (there are tons of them) are coachable, and can DEVELOP proficiency in the techniques that are most important in our system. Welker should thrive here. Caldwell and Gaffeny are a step through the learning curve. Jackson has the 'special' physical tools that if he is capable of developing the techniques he can be a star.

    Our passing offense needs receivers who run proper routes, use correct technique when running them, and are right where Tom Brady expects them to be.
    Somehow, there has developed this thinking that an NFL passing game is like what we did in the backyard when we were kids.....go get open, beat your guy, and I'll throw it when you are open. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
    Todays NFL passing game is based on knowing PRESNAP where the ball is going. On each pass play, the #1, #2 and on down options differ depending on what the coverage is. The QBs job is to read the coverage, and throw the ball where the coverage dictates it is supposed to go, with a last second check that there isnt a problem (i.e. reciever fell down, ran wrong route, DB jumped the route, etc) You need receivers capable of getting to where they belong, not capable of outrunning triple coverage and jumping over 4 guys to get in the end zone.

    I think we will be fine at WR in 2007.
    BB went out and got Caldwell, Gaffney and Jackson last year. In a year he has been able to gauge their technique, and their learning curves. He added Welker, who he certainly knows enough about to understand his learning curve.
    Further moves will depend on what he has learned about these guys. With the assets we have in cap room and picks, he will either stop now, being confindent in what he has, or accpet that upgrades are needed.

    I think the WR position was a weakness on the Pats in 2006, but rather than thinking its a talent issue, I think its more of an issue of new players learning their job and getting better at the techniques needed (probably the reason Gaffney exploded all at once, and Gabriel never got better) as well as that improvement putting them in the spot Brady expected them to be more often.
    The second year on the team for a WR is usually a huge difference. Either they get better at their techniques, and develop more confidence from the QB, or they stagnate. Caldwell and Gaffney seem like guys who are progressing within the system to me, Jackson should take a big step up this year if he has the right head on his shoulders, and Welker seems to be a guy who already has developed proficieincy in the techniques we value.
     
  15. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Wasn't it the year BEFORE last we heard about there being lots of knockdowns but not many sacks?
     
  16. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    AJ,

    A cogent observation. It reinforces my comments that Welker is a "two-fer" He provides the quick open "move the chains" receiver, releasing Gaffney and Caldwell to sometimes run deeper routes. Both of them can catch short, intermediate, and long, if given the chance. Neither has poor speed either. We know that they get open long, and both had several deep catches from Brady; but both had the primary mission of catching the "move the chains" short receptions too and were reliable and sure handed enough at it, to get the Pats within 60 seconds of the Super bowl.

    I question the need for a deep receiver like Stallworth, as I would rather spend on some good Backup LBs. But perhaps they expect to get them in the draft as there are actually a few ILBs that fit the Pats this year, 240+ and sub 4.65, whereas there are usually NONE that are reachable.

    Yes, I think it is all interconnected.
     
  17. hwc

    hwc In the Starting Line-Up

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    Good read, guys. A few comments:

    a) I thought our pass protection was superb last year. My concerns are with the run game, which I thought ended up being pretty disappointing down the stretch. Unfortunately, there is no way for us arm-chair viewers to sort out the reasons. Run blocking? Running backs hitting the wall? Obviously, Belichick decided that it was time to move on from Dillon.

    b) I disagree that we are OK at WR. I think we have gaping holes. First, I don't think Chad Jackson will ever see the field in 2007. Missing all of the off-season program and training camp, he'll start the season on PUP and be behind the 8-ball just like last year. No way to expect production from a kid who's never taken a rep in training camp at the pro level. If Brown retires, that leaves us with exactly three wide receivers: Caldwell, Gaffney, Welker. I don't think that's "OK". All three of those can contribute to a wide receiver corps -- I'm fine with that. But, it's not enough and I'd rather add somebody to the top of that list, not the bottom.

    c) I thought that Woodson's breakdown of our safety play was a little unfair. Sure, you can find gamefilm examples of Peyton Manning burning a secondary. Like that's a newsflash. The Colts have the best passing offense in the league. Woodson shows a safety rolling over to double a Marvin Harrison go route and getting burned by Dallas Clark over the middle. Pick your poison. If you don't roll the coverage to Marvin Harrison on a go route, Manning throws deep down the sideline for 6 points.

    d) I thought the biggest weakness of the Pats team last year was the lack of big plays down the middle of the defense -- not unexpected when you lose both starting safeties and a middle linebacker. The defense held up pretty well, but we weren't seeing the usual Patriots play down the middle. The Pats weren't making receivers pay for catching the ball over the middle.
     
  18. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This is my early nominee for post of the year. Perhaps it is because I agree with each point so strongly.

     
  19. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #50 Jersey

    As always Patsfanken and AJ provide some great insight.

    I think that your evaluation of Jackson is short-sighted and ignorant. You have no idea what the extent of his injury was. Even a Partial ACL tear they do surgery on at times and its NOT that long of a rehab. Like 3-4 months. That puts it in June. In time for Passing camps AND training camp.

    Also, the Pats have Bam Childress and Kelvin Kight on this team as well. But they are the 5th and 6th wide receivers and probably11th and 12th on the receiving depth chart. Now, you are probably sitting there scratching your head asking me what I am talking about. Its simple. If we are having to rely on Bam Childress and Kevlin Kight as receivers, something catastrophic has happened. Besides Welker, Caldwell, and Gaffney, the Pats have Kevin Faulk, Sammie Morris, Ben Watson and David Thomas who are all capable receivers. Not to mention Chad Jackson, whom no one knows where he'll fall into the scheme of things.



    Its semantics, but the Pats don't use a MLB. They use an ILB. Its a totally different position. However, I do agree that the Pats weren't making receivers weary of going over the middle last year. And that does need to change.
     
  20. hwc

    hwc In the Starting Line-Up

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    The guy took six months to recover from a "tweaked" hamstring and you want me to bank on a 3-month recovery from ACL surgery?

    I want Chad Jackson to contribute as much as anyone, but I'm just trying to be realistic. Obviously, missing the off-season last year left him in a position where Belichick would not put him on the field (except for reverses). If he misses off-season again (as I expect he will), I don't see him contributing in 2007.

    Like I was saying, take away Troy and Chad Jackson and we currently have three receivers: Caldwell, Gaffney, and Welker. Bam Childress and Kelvin Kight are JAGs. Camp fodder. About as much chance of being productive NFL players as Michael Bishop. Figments of our fanboy wishful thinking imaginations.

    Schemewise. We lost the run-stopping role of a middle linebacker when Seau went down. This forced Bruschi to move from a roaming playmaker to a stay at home run stopper. Thus, we lost the safeties who would cover the deep middle zones and the ILB who would disrupt the short middle zones. The triple whammy of injuries right up the gut of the defense killed the Pats.

    The team did a remarkable job of not breaking (largely with superb red zone defense), but was unable to stop the "bend" part and get a good offense off the field. Usually against a team like the Colts or the Chargers, it takes a big play to come up with a third down stop. The Pats simply couldn't do it and it cost us a shot at the SuperBowl.

    The question is, what does Belichick realistically expect to get from the injured players: Harrison, Wilson, and Seau? Is he counting on their returns? Does he think they can stay on the field? Or, are we going to see some serious retooling? I don't know the answers to thos questions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2007

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