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TE and H-Back sets - the future of the NFL offense?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by drpatriot, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. drpatriot

    drpatriot Rookie

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    http://www.armchairgm.com/mwiki/index.php?title=TE_and_H-Back_sets_-_the_future_of_the_NFL_offense?

    Since it applies to the Patriots towards the end, I thought I'd post a link to an article that I wrote for ArmchairGM. Here's an excerpt:

    A picture is included on the sight , as is a description of the passing game and a segment on how the Patriots would use this formation.

    Any ideas? Comments? Questions?
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  2. drpatriot

    drpatriot Rookie

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    Almost 50 views and no comments? Come on! :D
  3. HEY BRO! WHAT UP?

    HEY BRO! WHAT UP? Banned

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    I loved the Maroney and Jackson picks, however, I thought the David Thomas and Garret Mills pick were a head scratcher. Now I know why the Pats picked them. Thomas replaces Fauria and Mills will play the Chris Cooley roll. I have high hopes for this offense this year and I think it has the chance to be in the top 5 total offense. The Pats have depth at RB and TE and with newcomers such as Jackson and Maroney, is going to put lots of speed into the offense. I predict, after this year, many teams will once again copy the blue print of the Pats. This time it will be on Offense, not Defense.


    QB: Brady
    RB Dillon/Maroney/Faulk
    FB: Pass/ H-Back: Mills
    WR: Branch
    WR: Caldwell
    WR: Jackson
    TE: Watson/Graham/Thomas

    Look at Colts and Seahawks, here come the Pats!
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  4. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Good read, from one armchair guru to another. :D

    When you describe TE skills as varied do you mean one dimensional TEs like Minnesota did last season with one blocker and one receiver, or are you referring to TEs who are each well rounded as blockers, receivers, and runners (YAC) such as NE hopes to have?

    Looking at your run formation using two H-backs & two TEs (I don't like HB since that has always been a half-back to me, but you "done good" by defining it in the article) you are clearly advertising what you will do out of that formation, as an armchair defensive coordinator I'd go with a 4-4 to counter, either bringing a SS up (remember Tebucky and Sanders have both been playing LB is situational drills) or substituting a LB. You don't have the personnel in to create a passing counter-punch since cover-two LBs will easily stay with your H-backs and TEs, two CBs and a FS with the LBs will shut you down.

    There are plenty of LBs who can run side to side to make plays, the "Tampa" defense Dungy employs has the speed to stay with fast TEs. On a team by team basis you would have to account for them in your game planning, unless you used a Steeler approach and just plowed ahead with the same game plan every time and hoped to grind out a win.

    Your three TE set with a WR split to one side or a two WR-two TE sets are your strongest formation using the NE and SF TEs you describe. You force the defense to stay in a base defense. You can create blocking mismatches through movement of the TEs as well as receiving mismatches on Ss and LBs. The defense will try to counter with smaller faster LBs for coverage, but they won't hold up as well at the point of attack on running plays.

    The question to ask is how well this will hold up against the proliferation of 3-4 defenses? Colvin and McGinest* are larger LBs who cover okay in short zones. Vrabel and Bruschi have demonstrated their ability to work deeper and even play some limited man coverage. The Steelers can do something similar with their players, your offense will try to stretch the field with faster TEs like Watson and SF's new kid, but your still working against a base eight man pass defense.
    * Yeh, Willie is in Cleveburg and Beisel isn't a good coverage LB yet, but we don't know how the LBs will shake out yet this season so I'm using last seasons as my base.

    You chose to go away from RBs like Dillon and use RBs like Tomlinson who is a better receiver and shiftier in the open field, but there is no reason you can't use a Dillon in this set, you can take a power approach where you wear down a defense using the big TEs and RBs to pound on the LBs, and you wear out their legs with the fast TEs and H-backs. The beauty of the formation is it will work for Dillon, Maroney, Faulk, Pass, or Evans, despite the differences in their skill sets.

    As far as a name - this is an old football formation from the days of run and rerun, it's just upgraded for the talent level available at TE and H-back. I myself see no need to name it anything special, after all the so-called West Coast offense was based on Paul Brown's old offense. I'm sure an expert could tell us how it was different, but I'd bet the key difference was the talent level allowing greater latitude.

    :rocker:
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  5. drpatriot

    drpatriot Rookie

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    Good post. I have a few responses to your comments. They are in red below.

    Again, thanks for all of the feedback.
  6. RoughingthePasser

    RoughingthePasser Rookie

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    FB's and TE's have "VALUE"

    I love em
  7. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    By varied, I mean varied like Daniel Graham and Ben Watson. I.e. Graham is a better whereas Watson is certaintly a better receiver.

    That was what I thought you meant, but that was one statement that wasn't as clearly defined as the rest of your article.

    I disagree with the point that you are advertising what you were doing with that formation. The QB is equally able to run a play-action pass, regular pass or draw out of this formation against most defenses (i.e. the typical 4-3 or our 3-4, where the LBs aren't fast enough to cover everyone). If most defenses went into a 4-4, I would use a pass play the next play and get a first down. As for the weakness to the cover-2: obviously it's there for this formation. The solution is to mainly stick to the small and wide formations against a cover-2 as to better disguise your intentions.

    Oh baby, go ahead and pass :D. You're putting CBs and a FS on your TEs and H-backs, with some LB help - lets look at the Pats for an example:

    Watson and Graham lined up on the line, Mills offset in the backfield and Thomas at flanker going in motion. Maroney as your RB. Your "small" formation allows you to get one H-back wide (either Thomas or Mills) - that is single coverage with a CB, unless there is a huge height mismatch that receiver is covered. Now you have to get your TEs, H-back, and RB out running routes, you can send both TEs straight up the seam on each side, but a CB and the FS pick them up quickly leaving you with the same problem as the other guy covered by a CB - covered. You now have two 'backs' going out and you have five OL blocking - the defense has eight defenders available, you can blitz one, accounting for all five OL (if they got all the sectors covered) and that still leaves three to cover two backs out of the backfield - I'm not hopeful.
    Using the Pats you have two 4.4 players (Watson/Maroney) and three 4.6 players (Grahambo/Thomas/Mills). Mills and Thomas may be shifty enough to juke a CB a little, but I doubt they have enough juke for this level - that becomes a mismatch for the defense. Graham and Watson rely on mismatches against LBs and Ss, plus WR help to clear out an area. Your small formation allows the defense to set the edge - part of the success of three and four wide is it forces defenses to spread out, and in many cases forces them into nickel packages that are easier to run on if you don't need a lead blocker.
    Lets run this "Pats" formation against a "Pats" defense:
    Sanders moves down from SS and plays up creating an eight man front. Thomas goes in motion outside and is covered by Hobbs. Watson releases on a seam route and is picked up by Geno (at CB). Graham releases on a seam route and is picked up by Hawkins (FS). Mills runs a square out underneath Watson and is covered by the OLB on that side (Colvin for this exercise, but Vrabel would work fine too). Maroney runs a circle route to the same side and is covered by Sanders. Bruschi drops into a middle zone, Beisel drifts outside in a short zone underneath Mills and backstopping Sanders. Vrabel rushes with the DL. Tommy has 3-4 seconds at best, and his receivers are all running short routes since only the one was outside and had no traffic to work through - remember Vrabel decking Clark in the 2004 divisional round, poor Peyton had no open receiver and nearly was picked by Geno, that's traffic. You have possible height mismatches with Watson and Graham, but your still throwing at a short route with a LB sitting in a middle zone. Your receiver most likely to be open is Maroney, but your putting a lot of faith in his juking ability to force the SS to miss and get by that LB in the short zone.
    As an armchair DC I'm begging you to throw from that formation and daring you to run with eight men in the box. Remember, the CBs won't need to be very wide, they can play in tighter because there is no one split wide to force them outside. :)

    I would say that the 3-4 would be better against this type of threat, but not by much. This type of threat would severely limit their ability to blitz and therefore open up the run.

    In the example above I rushed with four men, but I easily could have blitzed a fifth without compromising coverage, and the strength of the 3-4 still allows you to disguise which LB (or the SS) is coming, not to mention CBs in tight because the formation is in tight allows you to blitz a CB off the edge and rotate the SS out to cover there.

    We can disagree, but I'm confident I can use the Pats bigger/slower LBs to cover your receivers from the "small" formation. I can do as well with just about any 4-3 defense out there too. :cool:
  8. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    Tiny details:

    You might want to use h-b instead of the ambiguous hb. It follows very well the h-back nomenclature.

    You might want to clarify
    2 TEs, 1 HB, 2 WR and 1 RB
    since as written it would give you 12 men on the field (presuming you still have a 5 man line)

    I really thought the Patriots would use a lot more of this type of offense last year. If it was the O-Line injuries that prevented it, maybe we'll see more this year. I can't see but what it would give a QB of Brady's caliber a deadly offense to add more options off of sets like you propose.
  9. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The only problem with this theory is that, without Mills here, we wouldn't be talking about this. And I don't think Mills is going to bring any change - nevermind this whole semi-drastic H-back concept - to this offense. Sure, they drafted Mills, but don't think BB will reinvent the wheel just to get him time. With the practice time he's missed and the adjustments he'll have to make, the pick certainly looked long-term, when Graham and others will head to 'greener' pastures.

    The Pats will stick with what they've been doing: Branch, Caldwell/Jackson, and Brown (Caldwell/Jackson) split wide, and Watson on the wing ready for blitz pickup. Graham and Watson at TE for passing downs. Pass/Evans at FB on others. Faulk as a third down back. Maroney spelling Dillon.

    We won't see all the much out of Thomas or Mills this year, methinks. Thomas will be in Fauria's situation from last year - providing depth if Grahambo gets hurt again, but otherwise seeing few reps. Mills will see most of his time on special teams as he develops and waits in the wings. Ditto with Jackson and Maroney. The variables obviously being the health of not only the rookies but Dillon/Faulk/Pass and Branch/Caldwell/Brown and also Watson/Graham.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2006
  10. PatsFanInVa

    PatsFanInVa PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Is this a Canadian thing?

    Seriously, a lot of work's going into this one, and it's pretty creative stuff, but I tend to agree that it's a good last resort if your WRs aren't that talented, or if you are driving downfield and nobody is expecting a big strike. It virtually eliminates the vertical game, and even in the short down-and-distance situation, the main advantage seems to be the run/pass flexibility it gives you (although all your passing is pretty much 5-10 yards and a cloud of dust.) What we're doing here is substituting backs and TEs for WRs, when you get right down to it.

    Other people can do the one-on-one matchups (and have) a lot better... but I will say this: put the package in from time to time, run it with some twists, and it could contribute to more traditional formations (as long as you mix up the run and pass, and innovate enough that it's not predictable.) The best way to do this would be for a WR to go in motion and "become" a TE, but that defeats the whole purpose.

    PFnV

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