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On Inside Pressure

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by jays52, Jun 17, 2009.

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  1. jays52

    jays52 In the Starting Line-Up

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    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.
     
  2. BradyFTW!

    BradyFTW! PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Definitely a great point, and I seem to remember Mayo suggesting that he'll prepared for use in a wider variety of roles this year, which I assumed meant in the pass rush. What do you think about Thomas situationally moving to ILB for the same effect?
     
  3. PatsBoy12

    PatsBoy12 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I heard him intimate the same thing many times. As far as Thomas is concerned, I don't know if they'll use him in that way. I say so because he played ILB during the 2007 season before Colvin went down, and I never saw them blitz him. Now, I could be wrong, but I don't recall him rushing up the middle.
     
  4. mayoclinic

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    Nicely thought out and articulated, as usual. I think we will see a lot more from Mayo this year, and that BB will increasingly give him freedom as a grasps the nuances of the defense and emerges as the defensive signal-caller and leader. IF we had the horses at OLB to allow us to move AD inside at times then I think we could really mix things up, but we look too thin at OLB to expect a lot of that as things stand right now. AD and Mayo behind Wilfork and Brace would be nasty.
     
  5. BradyFTW!

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    True, but that could always be for the same reason that Mayo didn't last year: first year in the defense, etc.
     
  6. jays52

    jays52 In the Starting Line-Up

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    I think it is certainly a viable option. That said, given the depth at OLB (of course, it could all change if Woods or Crable emerges) I see moving Thomas inside as a detrimental move. I also think that Guyton is going to be a quality starter at Will this season. Relative to what we know about OLB, I think that removing Guyton to place AD inside with Woods/Crable outside will be a greater loss than it will be a gain.
     
  7. BradyFTW!

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    Definitely, on the whole I'd agree. Maybe full-time in a year or two, but for now it would be at most a situational move, especially if we pick up someone like Burgess as a pass-rushing specialist that would really only see time at OLB in obvious passing situations.
     
  8. jays52

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    Totally. An incredibly effective situational move at that. Burgess, AD, Mayo, Woods/Crable = dirty pressure group.
     
  9. AzPatsFan

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    I have always maintained that this was the missing piece of the pass rush, in the past two years.

    But the Patriots have gone from one of the most experiecenced but slowest set of LBs in the League to about the fastest, and biggest set, as Belichick has rebuilt his LB corps.:eek:

    Consider that Thomas, Mayo, Guyton, Crabel and Redd all run under 4.6 in the 40, with Guyton under 4.5; and Woods is a 4.6 ish rusher too. That is Exceptionally Rare speed for one, never mind for an entire LB corps. I expect that Bellichick wil be unleashing the LBs this year, since none is a raw rookie any longer.:D

    It is another reason why I am as sanguine as the Coaches seem to be about our pass rush prospects. Remember that the Patriots only have to improve by 9 sacks per year, to migrate from mediocre to a near league leader in sacks. The Pats simply didn't fall that far, off the pace.:)
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  10. reamer

    reamer Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I absolutely love this thread. Great stuff!

    I remember Mayo specifically mentioning in one of his interviews that he wasn't allowed to blitz because he was a rookie, and that he looked forward to expanding his role in the defense, which I am waiting to see with great anticipation. I've always liked stunting, looping, DB blitzes, ILB blitzes, etc, because pressure up the middle succeeds so often, and because it's so darn difficult to defend. I loved watching Meriweather's strip-sacks at the end of the season, because to me it signaled a new level of trust and responsibility from the coaching staff. The trick is having a veteran--or at least savvy--enough defense so that the aggressiveness doesn't open massive holes that will be exploited for a long gain. Meriweather has hit that point. I can only hope that Mayo, Guyton, et al. will as well. I think we finally have that mix, and I'm excited to see it in action.

    Wish I could get out there and hit someone. :singing:
     
  11. Box_O_Rocks

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    Guyton generated good pressure inside last season, I recall at least two occasions where he "flushed" the QB into an exterior rusher for a sack and he was also Johnny on the spot to recover a strip sack/fumble Wright forced before it even hit the ground. Reiss also credited Guyton Washington v. Guyton with the critical coverage of the NYJ's Kevin Faulk analog.

    Mayo played more backfield spy/underneath zone coverage last season with Guyton playing Nickel Linebacker and providing what interior LB pass rush there was in 08. It will be interesting to see how much Dean Pees does with the two of them after getting a full season and two Training Camps under their belts.

    With Bru pretty limited to run downs and McKenzie's status undetermined (I still think there's an outside chance Mac gets PUPped to see if he can at least practice by week ten and get some experience this season), Mayo and Guyton are carrying the load...that may preclude rushing Mayo very often to "preserve" him for the more critical run defender assignments. If Crable/Redd come on strong this season, I also wouldn't be surprised if Mayo starts sitting on passing downs and Thomas slides inside with Guyton.
     
  12. nashvillepatsfan

    nashvillepatsfan In the Starting Line-Up

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    I remember reading that interview, and thinking wow. He was that productive, and yet didnt really fully understand his assignments? Im really stoked to see him play this year. My only concern is the production from whoever plays next to him :confused: This might be the most exciting camp we've had in a long time. Especially with the secondary. :D
     
  13. Metaphors

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    Good points, with the key points being "gameplan" and "execute". I think Belichick's dream defense is to have a back 8 that can show a pre-snap read and morph into something completely different. I still believe that Belichick would rather bring 4 than blitz, so the difference would be which 4 are coming.

    This is also why Vrabel is in KC now. He was completely predictable. Very solid against the run (which is why he didn't come off the field often) but totally ineffective in coverage and reduced to a straight bull rush for pressure. AD and Mayo are productive and flexible. Whoever shows similar smarts at the other two spots will see a lot of time on the field.
     
  14. PatsBoy12

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    True true. I could definitely see a world where BB uses Ad. Thomas as an inside blitz man only if the young outside guys show they can play. If Crabel, Woods, et al. show they can pick up the slack, I think BB will have the flexibility to do a lot of different things of course.
     
  15. JoeShmoe

    JoeShmoe 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Dont forget the BM safety blitz option too .. we started using that more towards the end of last season and he was great at it
     
  16. Feep50

    Feep50 Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    This is a great thread. It's fascinating reading and definitely highlights for me why I love football so much, the complexity of it! So many moving parts in the few seconds after the ball is snapped.

    It seems to me, in general, the more ways you have to bring pressure on the QB on defense the better. Right? That means you need players that can physically execute their role, but have players that understand it all also. Or in the immortal words of BB, "Do your job!"

    A great defense is as complicated as a prolific offense, and in some ways much more cerebrally satisfying to watch for me personally.

    Again, this is a really good thread to read with well-written, lucid and illuminating posts to read.
     
  17. BionicPatriot

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    Well, one thing is for sure. The Pats have never been about stud pass rushers picking up a lot of sacks. They've been about pass rushers that can get it done, and confusing the **** out of you.

    I remember watching those dominant Colt offense having huge WTF looks on their faces, ecspecially Manning at times. I haven't seen that in years, hopefully with so many pieces we will this year. We don't really NEED a huge pass rusher.

    If a guy like Redd or Crable could step up and create 5-7 sacks 9 (that's still asking for quite a bit when one guy hasn't played a down of real NFL ball and the other guy saw the field for like 2 plays last year) We'd be pretty set on defense. The development of these young OLBs will make or break the season.

    We're definantly a lot younger, a lot faster as well on defense in 2009. I can't wait to see what coaching does to it.
     
  18. PatsBoy12

    PatsBoy12 Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I know exactly what you mean about the Colts WTF moments. They were not the only team by far either. I remember one game against the Jets where Kevin Mawae was mic'd and he was on the sidelines telling his team to stay alert because he just knew the Patriots were going to "throw something at [us]."

    Anyway, I think the reason you haven't seen that in recent memory, I suspect, has a lot to do with personnel. I don't think the Patriots were confident enough in the secondary to try to be too exotic with their coverages. The front 7 has struggled getting to the QB often in the past. Above all, however, is you can't be moving guys around and trying to confuse the opponent when you just can't stop the run, which is something the Patriots have struggled with quite often in recent years. You start moving guys trying to disguise too much and guys just end up out of position. NE was forced to become vanilla on defense.

    It's no coincidence that the last time we can remember seeing such things is when the LB corp. consisted of Vrabel - Phifer - Bruschi - McGinest/Colvin. Once that squad broke up/began to get old, that was somewhat the end of that era of "confuse 'em" defense.

    Disclaimer: I am not an expert. This is just what I've extrapolated over the years and attribute to why the Patriots don't seem to try to disguise things and move around as much pre-snap.
     
  19. RayClay

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    While part of that was experience players executing the scheme, a surprising part was the use of proven pass rushers.

    McGinest was always a primary rusher for us and his 29 sack college total was good, but he was hardly the most outstanding in that category prior to becoming a Patriot.

    Most people know Bruschi, though an NFL tweener, held the NCAA 1-A record for sack total (shared) with 52 at Arizona.

    I hadn't realized that Vrabel held the single season (13) and career (36) sack records for Ohio State.

    Of course Colvin recorded two 10.5 sack seasons with Chicago before we signed him, so we had a lot of proven pass rushing talent to take advantage of the schemes.

    As Terrell Suggs has showed, there's more to rushing the passer than timed speed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  20. mgteich

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    How exactly are we a lot younger? We may be a lot better, but not a lot younger.

    The defensive line is unchanged.
    We've replaced Vrabel and Redd with Banta-Cain and Crable.
    We've replaced O'Neal, Hobbs and Lew Sanders with Bodden, Springs and Wheatley.

    If anything, the kids who played last year are a year older and more experienced.
    Woods, Meriweather, Sanders, Wilhite, Mayo, Guyton

     
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