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NFLN replay: Pats vs. NO constructive analysis

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Patspsycho, Dec 3, 2009.

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  1. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    Watched the replay tonight- found it helpful that they spliced in some bird's eye footage so you could see how the coverages were deployed and how they motioned up to the snap.

    I have narrowed the critical aspects to three factors and will present my arguments below. First I would like to point out a few things.

    First, BB is going about this game with the right attitude.

    In the big picture, I realized that he was right in yanking Brady and conceding early so as to shift some of the burden onto himself, rather than let the team get more battered and kicked in the balls while it was already down. It was a good psychological move, one that gave the team, and especially the defense, a psychological back door to "exit" the game.

    Two, I realize now that if I were BB, I would not tear into the team or chew them out. This was a big "playoff atmosphere" game, and there is just no way to learn how to play in a big game other than to experience it first-hand, and Monday night was a big learning experience. I have also changed my mind on Wilhite. I would not bench him. The errors that he made were not physical, but mental, and those are, as BB said: "correctable." Again, there is just no way to learn how to play in a big game than to play in a big game. It's just a trial by fire.

    Factors:

    1. Our defense had big-game jitters/Brees performance:

    As you can see, that is a fatal combination. First off, Brees was flat out lights out. He was on top of his game and easily had one of the best games of his career. Only 5 incompletes and a perfect passer rating. His throws were just right on the dime, backshoulder, lead, short. His mechanics were flawless: closed hips, shoulders closed to target, step-through. No wasted motion. I don't think that we expected such a sharp game from an elite QB. we did not play true cover.

    Frankly, our defense simply had the jitters. There is no other heading under which I can think of to group all the miscues, breakdowns, communication problems, especially with our secondaries, that occured.. However it is obvious this was set up by the utter lack of pass-rushing we exhibited the whole game. It was just non-existent. It shifted too much pressure on the secondaries and overworked them. Based on this diagnosis, I do not want to see any more 4 men fronts for the rest of this season. It just doesn't work. I would rather see blitzing out of the 3-4 than rushing out of the 4-3.

    With the help of the bird's eye, I figured out the mystery of why Meriweather broke right and dropped coverage on the Wilhite fake man press to blitz Brees. As it turns out, Brees sold a fake left slant pretty hard (credit to him) and Meriweather felt justfied to gamble on the play. So it is not fair to say that Meriweather blew it- he gambled on it, but in retrospect, I wonder if there was not a miscommunication where he may have not realized Wilhite was in blitz option and therefore was responsible for the handoff in coverage.

    On the TD Wilhite gave up to Meacham- it is not entirely on him. Bodden's man went idle (bad sell) and he should have known to instantly cut back as fast as he could on the deep read because the safeties sink to contain Shockey, leaving Wilhite on an island. You can see Bodden start to cut back too late.

    Those are just two examples of the many mental errors- and as you can see those are training camp mistakes, basic mistakes; high school mistakes. You don't see breakdowns like this on the NFL level and the only logical explanation is that they simply must have had big-game jitters to forget so many, to have so many miscues and breakdowns.

    2. Our playcalling is not "bad" it is a work in progress:

    This is the reason BB will not fire O'Brien (outside of a big meltdown or IQ collapse). Playcalling is a trial by fire process where you learn by a thousand mistakes There are just too many small factors and and influence on the game and how it evolves. There is a distinct lack of in-game adjustments. They kept going trips wide, 2x, on MacKenzie's side of the field, and when you line X, Y, you know there is a hitch option and Mackenzie reads it like the 10 year vet he is and kills it time and again (e.g. the 4th and 4 quick slant to Moss).

    Also the playcalling should have been more balanced. I would have liked to see more play actions, more draws with Faulk (see where he ripped off a big gain). It is just a matter of reading the rhythm of the game and getting a sense of what NO is trying to disguise by motioning so much.

    There is just nothing to do here except have patience. It is just a growing experience, it's watching a tree grow. You're going to have to eventually let it grow because if you want to cut it down, then you'll just have to repeat the process with a new seed, a new sapling.

    3. Saints D/D planning:

    In retrospect, I should have known that Williams was probably salivating over the chance to really stick it to BB. I do not think for a moment that it escaped him that BB has been eating him for lunch for quite a while.

    And so to his credit, he came up with something that has not been done this thus far and something that worries me a bit- but also something that is dependent on a first rate DL. What he did was to focus on taking away our two weapons, Moss and Welker by double-teaming them in the general sense of the word in an over-under type of bracket coverage where the LBs play deep to anticipate the cross and only dropped after the cross to stop the underneath. In this way they cancelled the hi-low drag by hedging their bets on the underneath routes, and zoning the outsides. This is why they did mostly rush 3 drop 8, or 4/7 and the occasional blitz. It also didn't help that our OL was nowhere near 100%.

    I would not be so fast to award Brees the game ball. I think part of it has to go to Mike MacKenzie, who remarkably was on the streets only last week. That man alone killed three drives. He is uncanny in the quick game and absolutely kills the quick slant. They motioned him sometimes as a hybrid LB, when Welker was in the slot. To me he was the big X factor. It was impossible to anticipate for him because he was on the streets last week. He was a big factor in killing Welker's ability to YAC.

    Other minor notes:

    Clear PI on Welker costed us a TD, and although the refs tried to make up for it by calling illegal contact on the next play, it was just a huge break for the Saints.

    Also PI on Watson that would have got us into the RZ.

    Stanback blew it in the EZ, he slowed up too soon, focusing too much on the catch.

    Illegal formation was a stupid call. Technically you must not motion before a full count if someone else motions first (e.g. Watson moves to LOS to make Moss eligible). But to me, Moss didn't really motion right away. Dumb call to me.

    For some reason, Mayo is just not himself. He is nowhere near 100%.

    Despite all that, it was STILL a game until 10:23 of the 3rd quarter until Wilhite whiffed on that backshoulder throw to Colston that led to the monster YAC that just killed the momentum. The game just spiraled out of control after that point.

    Game balls

    Wilfork: The man busted his balls against a great OL, in double coverage quite a bit but kept making plays after plays.

    Welker: This is one tough SOB who took a beating and just kept going, going, and going. I am afraid for his future and how long he can last playing like this.

    Nerf balls

    Brady: put in a stinker, just not clicking at all. More of the same 1-2 option and not enough exploitation of the soft outside zone coverage NO gambled on. Missed on long throws to Aiken, Moss, Watson, etc.

    OL: I think this has been covered very extensively.

    Passrushers: same here.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  2. vuudu

    vuudu Rookie

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    What the hell took you so long? I have been waiting the whole day.

    Joking, but I do look forward to your breakdowns
  3. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    As I've said before, he looks like he takes a lot of hits, but if you watch closely, you'll see that he's actually quite good at figuring out when to keep fighting, and when to just stop and "give up."
  4. SVN

    SVN Rookie

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    i think our shoddy tackling and so many times huge YAC with defenders just escorting their WR's was a huge part of their quick strike.conversely the saints D was very fast and good in stopping YAC and sure tackling
  5. eagle eye

    eagle eye Rookie

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    #85 Jersey

    Fantastic post Patspsycho, an absolute pleasure to read and insightful too. Thank you very, very much for all the time and effort you put into that.

    And while there were other problems, it has to be said the if our defensive and offensive leaders are both having an off night its always going to mean major trouble and thats without Brees in top gear like he was last night. I thought McKenzie played well but not as well as you say, I'm sure you are right too after all the study you put in.

    Again that you very much for all the time and effort you put into that great post.
  6. Pats726

    Pats726 Rookie

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    Thank you for that....I really want to thank you for the time, effort and all that was done..that was outstanding!!!!
    BTW...is that being shown again on NFLN?? Or was that the last time?
    One has to also understand that this was a real rarity for a Patriot team...when was the last time in a big, hyped non-playoff game did they come out as flat as that? I think one has to go back a LONG time to see when that happened....even IF that happened since BB was here. (I did see that as more the signature of past Patriot eras..the big game and the big letdown. Even with the score being 3 TDs..I totally agree that it was in the third quarter that things were lost. Sure. a lot went from the balloon with teh Brady pick, but if they had gotten the 4th done play and went in for a score, it would have been only a 1 TD lead. ) I also think poor tackling played a big role in how bad the D was. Colston made catches and there were slips and such and he ran past defenders. The Thomas screen was pathetic with all types of players missing and such.
  7. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    Patspsycho, fabulous job buddy.


    1. Welker is definitely over-used. Not only is he going to be goo by January, but this team can't manufacture a win if the opponent stops Welker. It needs to stop forcing the ball to certain guys, Mike Martz style.

    2. Shotgun is ridiculously overused. We went into the game leading the league with 75% of all our passes from shotgun, and over 5 out of 6 shotgun plays are passes. Look at the play by play of the last game. Sean Payton intentionally keeps Drew Brees under center as much as he can. Why? Because he knows the inherent benefit that the threat of run does to the opposing D-line, the corners, LB's and safeties. Even a 4-man D-line can wreak havoc against a 5-man O-line if they essentially blitz all day against our shotgun-happy offense. When you don't have to mind any running gaps it's MUCH easier to sprint, juke, and pull moves against offensive linemen.

    3. The defense has predictability issues too, not just the offense. It is VERY easy for opposing QB's to figure out if we are in man, zone, what the safeties are doing, and who is blitzing. This is why even mediocre QB's have torn apart Dean Pees' defenses. You rarely ever see the linebackers, a safety, the corners at the line of scrimmage. The O-line and QB have zero confusion about how to protect, because there is no deception or even fake blitzing from the D.
  8. brady et al fan

    brady et al fan Rookie

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    Great analysis. Much easier to be level-headed a few days after isn't it?

    I still think the success of the NO defense had as much to do with our OL inability to give Brady time against a 3-4 man rush as anything else.

    I also think we abandoned the run a bit too early.

    Our score to start the second half should have given us some momentum but our D just came up lame as I feared it would. Hears hoping you are right that Meriweather is over his big game jitters. What did you see with Mayo? If he's not the same guy as last year we are in deep do-do. Wilhite, though, has been getting beat all year so I am not with you so much on him.

    btw, we have had the snot kicked out of us before in a regular season game in the past, only to return the favor in the post-season. I can remember a Halloween game where Pittsburgh pummelled us but then we beat them in the playoffs, I think in one of our super bowl years so all is not lost. This guy BB has not all of a sudden lost his football IQ.
  9. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    1. It's not a talent issue at O-line, it's scheme and play-calling. Look at the play by play of the last game. Sean Payton intentionally keeps Drew Brees under center as much as he can. Why? Because he knows the inherent benefit that the threat of run does to the opposing D-line, the corners, LB's and safeties. Even a 4-man D-line can wreak havoc against a 5-man O-line if they essentially blitz all day against our shotgun-happy offense. When you don't have to mind any running gaps it's MUCH easier to sprint, juke, and pull moves against offensive linemen. The Saints mediocre D-line did what the 07 Giants did. The 03 mediocre Pats O-line completely stuffed the Panthers' best D-line in football.

    2. Of course Belichick hasn't lost his IQ. It's clear his hands are tied from hiring coordinators past a certain salary, so has to coach up his own coaches. Pees is calling plays like a college coach, which he is. O'Brien is completely green. Both are extremely predictable and transparent with no deception in their looks.
  10. hyperpat

    hyperpat Rookie

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    Excellent post, great analysis thanks.

    I gather from your post that McGowan and Merriweather were focused on stopping Shockey and thus were not available to help Wilhite over the top? Some safety help in the deep middle of the field would have been key in breaking up at least one of those TDs.
  11. State

    State Rookie

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    Simple. Pass the ball to the TEs and run a few more screens.

    That'll teach those double-teaming roosters that they'll pay. If Welker and Moss are BOTH double teamed, that has to leave areas open. Why not exploit them?
  12. brady et al fan

    brady et al fan Rookie

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    I haven't gone back and re-watched like psycho but Meriweather was definately lost on more than one long completion, including the infamous broken coverage bomb. I thought he had a terrible game and have already blamed him for not helping Wilhite downfield. I think psycho is right about that blown coverage play though. Its hard to know who screwed up but if I recall correctly, Wilhite's blitz was delayed and completely ineffective and I tend to blame him for a lot but there is no way you blitz a corner without having a safety covering your side deep. Meriweather was just drifting around in the short zone covering noone with noone covering deep. Maybe McGowan was supposed to rotate over. Its hard to know who really to blame on that one but it does speak to inexperience which would explain BB's saying things can be fixed.
  13. hyperpat

    hyperpat Rookie

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    It's an interesting question. Would love to get the real answer from Meriweather, but that won't happen. :rolleyes:

    The only answer for the blown coverage to Henderson that makes sense to me is that Meriweather either forgot (seems highly unlikely) or never knew Wilhite was blitzing. Was the corner blitz called by a freelancing Mayo or did it come in from Pees? If Mayo called it after the defensive huddle, then it was a simple communications problem that is readily fixable as BB suggested after the game. As I remember from the broadcast, after the Henderson TD, Meriweather walked back and talked with Mayo. Perhaps Mayo was saying, "Hey, didn't you hear me call for a corner blitz?" Just spitballing here. Thoughts?
  14. Patriot_in_NY

    Patriot_in_NY Rookie

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    Thank you. Great stuff.
  15. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    My pleasure in doing the analysis. My hope is that it inspires intelligent football discussion, which is what is happening so far.
  16. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    This is a great point- I did see that but didn't think of it at that moment, so you are probably correct. There are three levels of communications on the D, from DC to LB, the LB to the secondaries, and from the LB to the DL.
  17. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    On that particular play, we were not in the dime which I think would have helped, with the extra safety on top. However Meriweather was in rover; just made a bad decision.

    The NO offense is so complete that it's more or less a case of pick your poison.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  18. brady et al fan

    brady et al fan Rookie

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    not to mention Brees was impeccable in finding to open receiver and even hitting the not so open receiver with laser-like accuracy (Manning take a seat). He really did seem to be operating on a different plane than everyone else that night. I need to see more of him now since I don't remember him being this good before.
  19. JSn

    JSn Rookie

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    Out of frustration, I deleted the game from my PVR. I wish I hadn't.

    Did our corners play the WR's tough at the line or did they play scared?
  20. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Rookie

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    Our secondaries played them with the assumption that Brees was some Joe Schmoe QB.
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