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Some X and O's thoughts on the upcoming Ravens game

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Patspsycho, Jan 18, 2012.

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  1. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Some thoughts on the X's and O's of what we can expect on Sunday vs. the Ravens.

    I went back to look at the '10 game that we won in OT, because at this point, going back to look at the '09 game is pointless because of how much the roster and the attitude has changed, so I think the '10 game is better in terms of scouting.

    A few things:

    Reed did not play in the '10 game, also this was the first game after Moss was cut, and also the first game that Branch played in. This was also the Raven's first experience with Woodhead and they had a real hard time with his shirking, elusive style of play.

    Now this is the part where a lot of you will get excited- this was only AH's and Gronk's 5th professional game. AH had the jitters, especially in OT where he had two drops. We know how much those two have blossomed since, especially Gronk, who has exploded. His output across the board has literally doubled this year from last year. He is much more sophisticated now, and hopefully has learned to stop blocking players who take themselves out of the play, and this is all the more important because we will see plenty of this from the aggressive, sometimes overpursuing Ravens D, and Gronk has to stop wasting time with that because not only does it also take him out of the play, but it takes him away from picking up further blocks.

    In this game, we started off with a lot of single high safety looks out of the 3-4 (Meriweather) and in the 2nd half went to a cover 2, because we couldn't trust Meriweather who was making boneheaded play after play- he helped to give the Ravens four first downs on penalties, including that personal foul on Heap which was absolutely unnecessary and idiotic.

    I think that based on the success we had with Rice in '10 (holding him to 3.1 YPC) we will go back to the 3-4 again and roll Chung up to the line or possibly invert Ihedigbo, but I think we'll just focus on sound gap discipline over putting too much spy on Rice (although Spikes was outstanding on that) especially on the backside where Rice likes to cut if the run-blocking collapses. Not only do the players have to maintain excellent gap discipline, they must be extremely disciplined fundamentally-speaking, defeating blocks and otherwise because the Ravens protect their point of attacks very well- their run-blocking and blocking in general is exceptional and well above-average. If the point of attack is not contained and defeated, the blocking will quickly turn overwhelming because the Ravens are very physical. I don't rule out spying on Rice, however, especially late in the game, when they put Fletcher in spy on Rice on their last drive in regulation which effectively killed the drive.

    A big area of concern for us are the corners who must have an outstanding game, not just because Flacco loves those sideline throws, but in the '10 game, the Ravens picked on McCourty and Arrington often, testing their ability in single coverage (because of our high safety look). And it is plausible that this is where the cracks in McCourty's armors started to show. Expect this to happen again even if we are in a cover 2 look.

    On offense, in '10 we ran a lot of empty formations, and I think we will see the same here, except this time the empty will be in the spread with flood options, and we'll be in no-huddle because the Ravens pretty much have not seen it this year. Expect to see a lot of hurry-up with little run plays because the run plays require compressed formations and that is what the Ravens D love- they want BOB (big on big), they don't like running sideline to sideline or defending the open field. Closed or compressed formations play to their strengths, and I think we'll stay away from that. Expect to see a few of Woodhead/AH in the hybrid HB/RB offset I (same as last week).

    I guarantee that there will be at least one double-reverse handoff play. We ran two of that in the '10 game, one with AH and one with Tate and they went for big gains- this is another way of exploiting Ravens tendency to overpursue.

    If the OL wins, Brady wins, and we win the game, pure plain and simple. But there are two big areas of concern on the line- in the '10 game, Koppen got taken to the woodshed by Ngata, resulting in that forced fumble on the opening drive and a crucial sack late in the game off a loop, IIRC. We have Connolly in his place now, and while Connolly is bigger, heavier, and more athletic, he will still have problems with Ngata, because there just is nobody like Ngata who is a monster at nose. Also the Ravens like to attack Light and go at him laterally- you will see Suggs speed rush him from 8 or 9 tech, never on the inside, because Light has a hard time riding speed rushers past Brady. They love to go at him and pick on him.

    In this game, we have Welker at 100%, two great TE's in AH and Gronk, and the dependable Branch, and a X-factor receiver (doubt it will be Ocho). I expect our run game to be token (we will see little of BJGE who didn't fare well in '10 anyway, and no idea if we will see Ridley). Like Jay says, I won't be surprised to see us test Reed right off the bat, to go right at him with a mismatch to see where he is physically, and see how much he can cover open space and adjust accordingly.

    The one thing that kept this game close in '10 was Flacco started off very hot- he was 14/17 by the half, but cooled off. He must bring his A+ game to keep his team in this game.

    This game should probably be a close one, hard fought, and the victory will probably not be more than a TD or a TD + FG, barring any big surprise or injury.

    I invite commentary, criticism, and your X's and O's. Some excellent threads here and I don't mean to start yet another one.. but thought this would be more of a strategic approach, in terms of how you would draw up the game plan.
     
  2. Double TE

    Double TE The Best in the World PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Good post.

    I just want to see one reverse or WR toss from Edelman. Would be cool.
     
  3. cstjohn17

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    You covered a lot in your breakdown, there are a couple of points I really agree with.

    #1) Cornerbacks - Flacco is inconsistent but he has a gun and the deep sideline passes are one his best throws. The Patriots must contain the big plays, let Flacco make 5-7 throws for a score. No quick strikes.

    #2) Ngata is a beast of all beasts, I am curious how Connolly and a 70% Mankins hold up against him. The Patriots quick pace should wear him down. In 2009 each mistake turned into a turnover. The Ravens will make some plays, a key for the Patriots will be to hold onto the ball. Better to have a 3rd and 18 then a fumble or interception. A punt is not a bad thing, turnovers will be lethal.
     
  4. Double TE

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    Plus Brady can just punt on 3rd and 18...
     
  5. everlong

    everlong Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I believe they've been using Cody and McKinney on the nose and using Ngata like we do Vince in the 3-4 as an end so he can use his athletic ability vs just holding the point of attack.
     
  6. NEP4Life

    NEP4Life Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Reviewing the last Ravens game, Mount Cody played plenty of 0-tech against the Texans. Ngata played 2-tech, on the defensive right.

    Added: They appear to have a passing sub with Ngata at RDE, #90 McPhee and #99 Kruger on the line.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  7. Brady_to_Moss

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    spread out that D..that's how you beat them
     
  8. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    (After Ian's graciousness, I'm back. And this thread is as good a place to re-start as any.)

    When it comes to the idea of a gap-discipline game plan, I concur, for a perhaps unusual reason -- this is a case where it is a GOOD idea to do what worked last week. The team finally "got it"; a very strong teaching strategy would be to tell them to keep doing it.

    As for DBs, even before Boyer more or less confirmed it, I thought the Pats had evolved to a philosophy in which there on many downs is much more of a split between strong safeties/rest of the DBs than there is a traditional safety/CB distinction. What exactly that means for coverage schemes I couldn't say.

    On offense, I expect to see a lot of shotgun, to keep as much distance between Brady and Ngata as possible. Besides, as noted above, a power running game isn't that likely to work anyway. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see BOTH Woodhead and Faulk having high-usage games, Faulk as much for his blocking as anything else.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  9. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    One other thought is that I think there will be a lot of motion, pre-snap to check against man coverage, and if the scheme is man, then Brady can split the RB (Woodhead) out wide to take Ray Lewis out of the play because Ray covers the RB straight up out of the play (he did that in the '10 game).

    In retrospect, looking at the cover 7 scheme that Matt Bowen drew up over at NFP, I think I'd want to see a lot of that YZ alignment in stacks because then you can rub, and the underneath (say Welker) takes the horizontal stretch play that again takes Lewis out of the play in addition to forcing him to run laterally, and the corner on the top has no help in having to contain AH.

    On the other side, if the isolated WR is in solo coverage, it had better be Underwood or Ocho doing a go route, or comeback. That would be a huge gain.
     
  10. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Interesting alignment; that would allow Ngata to loop around Cody- dangerous.
     
  11. Mountain_Commando

    Mountain_Commando Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    Great post. In another thread, I made a mention of the strategy of stretching out Ravens D horizontally. One way to do this could be to use AH on run plays like we saw in the last game. Could you please explain how we might achieve this in the passing game? Do you expect Welker and both tight ends to run more routes towards the outside, and how successful do you think that can be?
     
  12. cstjohn17

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    Ngata typically moves around, if he does play on the right that is directly over Mankins. Wherever he lines up he is a mismatch and must be accounted for. I don't think Cody will play much, he was in to stop the run against the Texans but will tire against the Patriots up tempo approach.

    The Ravens will likely play a lot of nickel basically tempting the Patriots to run the ball.
     
  13. robertweathers

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    That is exactly what they want to do. Why not? Worked for the Jets last year and the DNA of these defenses is pretty much the same. The Ravens want this game to be a dink-n-dunk affair to the hilt.

    Despite Reed's age and the quality of opposing offenses and QBs they have faced this season, I happen to think their secondary is quite good- particularly in man-to-man coverage. Webb, Williams and Smith are good cover guys that get their hands on the football. Might make sense to put Webb on Welker and with their size and speed, let Williams or Smith shadow AH.

    Pollard and Reed do a decent job of getting to balls and Pollard might be the one who lays the first few hits on Gronk at the LoS- but that is still a mismatch so maybe McClain gets to handle Gronk 10yds in.

    Thats why if the coaching staff can have confidence in his ability to hang onto the football, this could be a good game for Ridley who can one-cut and rip past the Ravens' d-line and make plays in the secondary- assuming they are only bringing 4 or maybe 5 at Brady.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  14. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    It would simply be implementing the flood concept option in a spread formation, so receivers would start outside in the 2 x 2 or 2 x 3 formation and just run horizontal stretch routes, but one or two would run vertical to keep the field stretched.

    In the underneath, I would think the routes would turn inside, but if you are going for the mid to long gain (e.g., seam) you definitely want outside routes to stay away from Reed if he is on his game, throw outside the sticks.
     
  15. Patspsycho

    Patspsycho Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    It will be interesting to see what happens if the Ravens do choose to do that. If that does happen I hope we use an one back formation with plenty of play-action.

    I agree that if we go to hurry up, they will yank Cody and that will give Ngata less opportunities to freelance.
     
  16. SVN

    SVN Hall of Fame Poster

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    Ravens wont mind giving the outside..If the pats want to hit the outside WRs and ocho and underwood are to beat them ..so be it... they will definitely try to take away the middle . Depends if we can hit the outside WRs if given time.
     
  17. SVN

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    hopefully pats dont forget to run the ball like they did last yr vs the jets.
     
  18. IllegalContact

    IllegalContact Pro Bowl Player

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    Beat the crap outta Rice.....every down he is out there......if he gets the ball, pile on every time........if he goes on a route pop him......make every play count as a touch whether he sees e ball or not...if he goes out to flat someone should nail him before he is outside the tackles......then when he retires, he can ***** about the pats the way Marshall Faulk does
     
  19. mgcolby

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    That is what I have seen. They will move him to nose in sub-packages and bring Suggs down as the DE.
     
  20. kennyb

    kennyb Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    I wonder if Mankins will be back. Hopefully Ngata will be blockable by the center guard combo.
     
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