Scheme issues underlie O-Line and pass rush criticisms

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by maverick4, Dec 3, 2009.

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  1. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    I think most people can agree that for *some reason*, the Patriots have problems with pass rush, and also with pass protection for Brady. The easy conclusion is that this team simply needs better talent at linebacker, or better talent at O-line. I would disagree and argue that the overall talent of this team is as good as anybody, and that the scheme issues underlie our pass rush and also protection issues.

    The main problem is in scheme predictability, and in how that limits the possibilities an opposing O-line or opposing defender has to process or worry about...which makes the opposing team much better at attacking our QB, or blocking our rushers. Consider the following.

    Pass Rush:
    Pre-snap an opposing O-line and QB have to figure out how many people the defense is bringing, who is blitzing, and from where. Because the Patriots more often than not play their LB's, corners, and safeties off the line, the O-line can easily identify who is coming, make correct assignments, have less uncertainty/confusion. When we do occasionally blitz a non-BantaCain player, the blitzer is usually so far off the line they can't arrive in time, and the D-line also can't flat out pass rush because they must play their run gaps first usually.

    Pass Protection:
    A team's pass protection improves if it knows a defense must respect running gaps -- it limits the moves, space, and locations a defender can juke to for an O-lineman to anticipate. 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. It is also tougher for the O-lineman to block since the defender can now move in any number of places, not having to cover any running gap responsibility that the blocker can anticipate. The problem is that 75% of our passes are from shotgun, and that from shotgun we pass over 86% of the time. When we are in this formation, teams are essentially blitzing.

    This Saints game was too similar to how the 07 Giants stopped us. These issues are not Belichick-related. It's clear from the 1st half stats that the pre-game planning and scouting works, which Belichick no doubt has influence on. The more a game goes on, the influence of our coordinators increases. The problem is that Belichick's hands are tied by not being able to hire coordinators past a certain salary, and has to coach up his own coaches who revert to their predictable tendencies as the game goes on.

    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  2. JoeShmoe

    JoeShmoe 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

    Whats worrying is even armchair fans have seen this complete over-reliance on shotgun and Brady becoming a gunslinger yet the coaches cant see it themselves?

    And whats even more worrying is we always seem to start games nice and balanced with a good running game, defense honest, but give it 2 drives and its back to pass, pass, pass - even when weve been winning
  3. Rob0729

    Rob0729 Supporter Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    Oh good, another "it is the shotgun's fault" thread. When Brady goes 5 straight games for throwing for over 300 yards and amassing 13 TDs vs. 4 INTs while completing over 68% of his passes in each of those games (and even completing 85.1% in one and 71.9% in another), none of these people credit the play calling. The second the offense has one bad game, the usual suspects come out and complain about the shotgun.

    Fact of the matter is the shotgun has been very successful for the Patriots. Brady feels it is essential for him many of the times to be able to survey the defense presnap and see all the coverages.

    I do have a problem with a lack of pass rush. I have yet to see the negative effect of the shotgun. The Pats' offense at least prior to this year is not the problem. If we had the 2007 offense with the 2003 defense, this team would go 19-0 and would be considered hands down the best team in league history.

    The problem with the offense on Monday night had more to do with the injuries to the line. For a decent segment of the night, LeVoir was starting at LT with Light on the sidelines (the Pats said that they rotated LeVoir in for a few series each half because they were concerned how well Light could hold up playing an entire game coming back from injury). Neal was injured during the game. The problem wasn't the shotgun, it was the personnel. The o-line is severely hindered when Light and/or Vollmer are not on the field.
  4. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    This can't be true, when there have been critics (besides myself) of the over-reliance of shotgun and predictable play calls for four years now, even during the sexy offensive production. It's lazy to dismiss it as simply over-reacting after a loss.
  5. Rob0729

    Rob0729 Supporter Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    Well, I will give you credit. You do stick to your irrational and misinformed line of BS no matter what. Part of the reason you get so much crap on this board. You blame the OC for the offense being so good it is bad, the defense being subpar for the last few years, global warming, the Kennedy assasination, 9/11, the recession, Tiger Woods cheating on his wife, etc.

    Except you do ramp up these threads tenfold in a loss. You have started far more threads complaining about the coordinators this week than last week.
  6. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic Supporter Supporter

    Actually, some of us did question the play calling and use of the shotgun, even when successful. I called for more play action and a power running game to complement the passing attack last summer, and was largely chastised by those who believed that we would be a reprise of 2007. Brady to Moss was supposed to cure all. Now people are posting threads on "can we ever win a SB with Brady to Moss". The truth is somewhere in-between.

    The NFL adapts quickly, and they've adapted to the spread offense. It's too predictable. And Brady has gotten more predictable, focusing more and more on Welker and Moss and ignoring other options. It has it's place. But the Saints offense was a nice contrast to ours in terms of what talented players can do with some creativity and ball distribution.

    I agree that OL injuries were a factor Monday night. Vollmer's absence was huge. But the OL hurt us against Indy, and it wasn't injured then. We need major personnel upgrades on our OL (Koppen, Neal and Kaczur - Neal is fine when healthy, but that's becoming less and less, and I don't see him coming back next year) and our DL/pass rush. But we also have a schematic problem on both sides of the ball.

    When a 3 man pass rush can consistently harrass and pressure your franchise QB, you're in trouble. When their franchise QB has time to use head and eye fakes and find his 3rd receiver option or go 60-70 yards downfield because you're not generating any pressure, you're in trouble.

    Personnel is part of the problem, but scheme is as well.
  7. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe Supporter Supporter

    #61 Jersey

    Another example of how a little bit of knowledge can be a very bad thing in the mind of a naive football fan who thinks he has the answers.
  8. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    Believe me I'm acting rational here, am rational in real life, and am not trolling. I am fully aware of what it sounds like when I am so consistently critical of an offense that has done so well statistically from 06-09. It definitely immediately creates hostility among fans for a number of possible reasons, but it doesn't mean they're automatically right. Even right now there have been two posters (at least) on the forum trying to claim that Bill O'Brien is a good coordinator because the Pats average 27 points a game. I'm probably as unpopular criticizing the scheme as a 2001 Rams fan blaming Mike Martz, when all their fans were blaming something else after their Superbowl. Actually, it's probably more like a 2000 Rams fan criticizing Mike Martz's offense after they barely won the 2000 Superbowl against an inferior Titans team. I realize what it sounds like.

    I feel strongly that explosive, unbalanced (this term has a specific meaning, not run/pass ratio), predictable, inflexible offenses do not win rings. It is extremely rare that they finish the job based on all of NFL history. Aside from Peyton, there is a long list of explosive juggernauts nobody cares about because they got stopped by good defensive coordinators.

    The thing we all have in common, is we love the Patriots and want to win championships. I want to win championships very much, more so than I care about any stats or records, and I firmly believe we can't win until the predictable schemes change. Belichick is heavily involved in the pre-game planning, but it's clear the coordinators DO influence the play-calling, and especially this year are deviating by the 2nd half or abandoning what is working for them even earlier on.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  9. aluminum seats

    aluminum seats In the Starting Line-Up

    I'm far more concerned about the pass rush than the offense--agree that health is the key to the O-line, although predictable playcalling is unquestionably an issue right now, in terms of formations, not using the TEs, etc.

    On the pass rush, I'd love to think it's schematic--much nicer to think a couple of hours in the lab could fix things instead of different players. And to a point I think it's true--there can and should be greater movement to create confusion for the opposing offense. (I take issue with the "it's not Belichick's responsibility" by the way. Yes, a coach needs good coordinators, but the team is his. He's the defensive genius when things go well, after all.)

    At the end of the day, though, players have to play. Mayo has to step up, and Thomas too, although good luck with that jerk.
  10. satz

    satz 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

    This is what i did not get when moss ,wes were covered with 4 guys with safety or LB in the midfield why they did not go the screen game by lining both moss and wes on the same side with baker and watson doing downfield blocking .
  11. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    Even in a win I am still on the coordinators. I was criticizing Pees and questioning whether this team could win a ring with him at coordinator, even after the dominating Pats win over the Jets. As it goes with the sexy stats, I'm not basing my criticism on whether the team loses (or win) or puts up sexy stats, I'm looking at how well our opposition is anticipating what we are doing and how likely we can be stopped because of this.
  12. Rob0729

    Rob0729 Supporter Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    People have been complaining about the predictability of this offense since the Weis days. Remember when the dink and dunk was too predictable and all the Pats did was throw screens and quick slants and never threw deep. People are never happy with the offense. The defense unless it totally collapses gets a free pass. It has been going on with this team under Belichick since he got here.

    As for the o-line in the Colts game, Vollmer was anchoring the LT spot. LeVoir was anchoring it for long stretches Monday night. Also, Mathis in the Colts game owned Kazcur. The o-line didn't run smoothly and it affected the offense in the second half of that game where the Pats only scored 10 points in the second half (all in the fourth quarter) after scoring 24 in the first.

    BTW, if a three man rush is pressuring the QB, it isn't the predictability of the offense. It is the o-linemen. How does the predictabilty of the offense allow three defenders to out man five o-linemen (and possibly a TE and/or RB who stay back to block). When a non-blitzing defense constantly has no problems getting to the QB, that is on the players. I could see the predictabilty argument that if Brady is constantly getting harrassed because the opposing team consistenly blitzes at the right time because they know when he is going to throw it and not just a screen. Saying the offense is too predictable because the o-line can't handle a three man rush is not logical.
  13. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    Loved the entirety of your post, but wanted to comment on this one line.

    Here is my argument for why it's NOT a talent issue. If we can agree that Belichick is great at drafting, personnel management, and maximizing talent under the cap, then after 10 years of running this team, we should pretty much be at the top of total talent as much as any other team. Maybe we had talent issues in the first 5 years he took over as he instituted his philosophy and upgraded positions, but I would put the 2007-2009 rosters up with any of the top 5 teams in the league and say we have just as much, if not more talent.

    With the cap there's a limit on talent you can accumulate, so the top 5 talent-accumulator teams are all roughly similar in talent level. In the NFL with so many more players than other sports, and how every play is chosen and then restarts after it ends, it's very influenced by scheme/strategy and like a chess match. Having the best talent matters less in this league than it does in other major pro sports; NFL coaching including quality coordinators is vital.

    The 2007-2009 O-lines are better than any of the 2001-2004 O-lines. The 2003 O-line gave up zero Superbowl sacks to the Panther's NFL-best D-line. It's not a talent issue for pass protection. The 2007-2009 tight ends are better than what we had from 2001-2003, yet they are non-existent in the 2009 passing game. This is a scheme issue, not a talent issue.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  14. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    I absolutely loved the Weiss offense. I distinctly remember while he was coaching, thinking that he was purposely hiding cards in his deck once we had the lead. Meaning, he didn't feel like he had to blow his entire load of pre-game-planning just to show how smart he was, he held them in reserve so that when we needed to score on a key drive, or get that key first down, it was almost always money in the bank. I also loved the fact that you couldn't really define the offense, it was a chameleon that one week was 5-wide no-huddle, another week Brady maybe only threw 20 times, another week Graham/Fauria had two TD's.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  15. Rob0729

    Rob0729 Supporter Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    Yes, we know about your "rational" arguments how McDaniels was responsible for the Pats giving up 32 points in the second half against Indy in the AFCCG in the 2006 season.

    The Pats was a dropped gift interception from either Asante Samuel or Brandon Meriweather from winning a Super Bowl and going 19-0 with a similiar offense to what the Pats are running now.

    I don't care about stats either. I can about winning. Since the Super Bowl, most of the reasons the Pats haven't won fall on the defensive side of the ball. Again, the Pats probably go 19-0 if they had the 2007 offense and either the 2003 or 2004 defense.

    The offense has never been all that unpredictable. Belichick's philosophy on offense even under Weis was find the weaknesses in the defenses and force the other team to figure out how to adjust. Weis likes to call some trick plays, many times to his detriment (like the FB draw that maybe worked 10% of the time eventhough he ran it 2-5 times a game). But his offenses were never all that unpredictable. Other than 2004, he didn't use a lot of playaction and that took an elite RB like Dillon to do that.
  16. ausbacker

    ausbacker Brady > Manning. Supporter

    #87 Jersey

    How many times do you need to read that the base schemes on offense and defense have remained largely the same under Belichick's tenure, with modifications and/or variations here and there?
  17. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    I doubt 95% of the active fans here would agree with your repeated claim that the scheme on offense and scheme on defense has not changed from 2000-2009. If any want to back you up on this, I'm welcome to hear it.
  18. Rob0729

    Rob0729 Supporter Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    And McDaniels didn't do that? Obviously you were out of the country for games like the Vikings game in 2006 where they totally revamped their offense to counteract the Vikings who were considered to have a dominant defense.

    Fact of the matter is that since the first Super Bowl one of our most inefficient offensive seasons was 2003 where the Pats couldn't convert 3rd downs and won a lot of games scoring only field goals and keeping the opponent from scoring at all or in the single digits (beating Cleveland 9-3, Dallas 12-0, Miami 12-0, the Giants 17-6 where the defense scored 1 TD). You give the 2003 offense the 2009 defense and this is a sub 500 team right now.
  19. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

    I think this current season is showing how your previous excuses are hollow.

    Take the 2009 Colts comeback game for instance. You and others would blame this on the defense (and many have), when the offense could have won it multiple different times but failed... as has been the story of this team since 2004. Is that on the offense or defense?

    Just like you aren't seeing the link between predictable shotgun influencing our O-line protection, you aren't seeing how the offense choking repeatedly in key situations, is also linked to defensive issues.
  20. ausbacker

    ausbacker Brady > Manning. Supporter

    #87 Jersey

    That's because you seem unable to comprehend the use of the term "base" or even the term "variation" whilst remaining pigheaded in the denial that your opinion is the right justification for whatever said problem is.
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