So, I was thinking today about the emergence of Mayo. I thought about how he progressed as the season developed. I thought about how the leash was taken off a bit later in the season. Logically, my mind went forward to his contributions this season. The concept of inside pressure has been a key point in my mind as of late, and the train of thought got rolling. During the championship seasons, a hallmark of the pass rush was direct penetration through the a gap. It would typically come in the form of Bruschi. With the defense becoming exceptionally slow leading into the 2008 season, this pressure was progressively scaled back. The Pats didn't have a guy who could reach the quarterback effectively through the interior, so it didn't make sense to execute this type of scheme. With speed coming back to the linebackers this season, I think it is going to play a prominent role. When you bring pressure directly, it is very difficult for the offense to counter this. Fringe pressure can be effective, but it is far easier to gameplan for and execute against. A gap pressure closes passing lanes, is a much more direct route to the QB, far more difficult to block, and even harder to evade. Further, the Pats have a very explosive nose who is adept at crashing, slanting, and quite a nasty bullrusher. Keying off of the nose, the linebackers can penetrate the slow developing a gap blocking. For example: with Mayo lined up at mike, Wilfork can slant to the weakside a gap. This will draw the center to the weakside opening a large rushing lane through the strongside a gap. Being three yards back enables a rusher to gain significant momentum on their rush. A well timed jump will leave the player unblocked with a direct route to the quarterback, enabling the mike to finish the play in three steps. There is also the option of stunting with the backers and the nose. Again, the if the center follows the nose, the a gap will open. Conversely, if the center attempts to chip the nose into the guard and pickup the linebacker, a dominant player like Wilfork will have no problem finishing the play. In addition, the guard defending the linebacker's gap is reading primarily the head up linebacker and the 5 tech. A fast linebacker coming through his A gap would be nothing more than a streak of jersey whizzing past his peripheral. It is a highly effective method of creating pressure, and one that was integral to the championship teams. The Patriots now have the personnel to execute this play, and should be able to do so at a high level. Regardless, it is fun to talk about this in the middle of the most boring part of the offseason.