Apologies to Ian for stealing the theme and thread title, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. One situation that I was looking for in this game was splitting Vereen out as a receiver. Got to see it in 2nd half TD drive and thought it was worth breaking down since it is a dimension that was underutilized last year. Pats go empty on 3rd and 3. By having a RB and TE on the field, the Pats keep the option of striking to a running play (Saints were in the dime). Saints show man with 2 deep safeties (no shown). Vereen is outside the TE and matched up with a DB. At the snap, the DB is sitting at the 1st down marker so Vereen has the potential to break inside or outside. The trailing TE would just do the opposite. Mallett takes a quick 3 step drop and looks right. He has 3 potential targets to keep the defense honest, but the primary read is Vereen. The RT has to chop down the DE to give him a lane and the right-side WR needs to clear out the area. Vereen's quick outside cut and the threat of a crossing route freeing the TE outside (with the LB too far away to cover) forces the DB to stay at home for just long enough to give separation. Mallett gets the ball out on-time and Vereen makes the catch past the 1st down marker. It is at this point where the play transitions from "dink-n-dunk" to a potential big gain. With the WR clearing out that side, Vereen can use his quickness to turn the corner. Unfortunately, at this point you need to start using your imagination. The DB does a good job closing and not allowing Vereen to get around the corner clean...but imagine that same situation against a LB or a slower safety. Also, the CB should have been engaged with the right-side WR since it is doubtful he was ever a serious target. Vereen is able to get an easy 10 yard gain with almost no downside risk. If he was covered by a slower player and the WR decided to block a little, Vereen could have been going full speed with only the safety (15 yards past the LOS) in front of him. This is a variation of the 4th-n-2 play from 2009 (Faulk was on the "weak" side in that case) but it shows the potential in getting Vereen out in space. If this were a base defense or even a nickel, Vereen is likely going against a LB. With Hernandez or Gronk on his side, he is likely to have even more separation to get the corner. This is particularly bad news for teams like the Jets and Ravens. Their LBs just can't cover laterally. If they press up the safeties to compensate, Vereen has shown the ability at Cal to run an effective wheel route to get downfield. I'm not sure how a team defends this without going zone, which Brady would destroy with his other targets. This formation needs to be used at least a couple of times a game this season.