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The Playoff Problem on Offense: Not Talent

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  1. Ice_Ice_Brady

    Ice_Ice_Brady Rookie

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    The Patriots have now played six playoff games since 2007 against teams they had faced in the regular season, and the results haven't been pretty. We'll start all the way back in 2007, the Welker era, with teams the Pats played in the regular season and then the playoffs. I'll also include Brady's average YPA and YPC, along with sacks allowed.

    2007

    vs. San Diego
    Regular: 38 points; Brady: 9.0 ypa; 11.2 ypc; 2 sacks
    Playoffs: 21 points; Brady: 6.3 ypa; 9.5 ypc; 2 sacks

    vs. NYG (sorry to bring this on here)
    Regular: 38 points; Brady: 8.5 ypa; 11.1 ypc; 1 sack
    Playoffs: 14 points; Brady: 5.5 ypa; 9.2 ypc; 5 sacks

    ***One thing people don't realize is that the Pats downgrade in playing San Diego a second time was similar to their debacle against the Giants. Clearly the passing game was already struggling mightily even before the SB.

    2009

    vs. Baltimore *Welker out, along with some major injuries
    Regular: 27 points; Brady 8.1 ypa; 12.3 ypc; 3 sacks
    Playoffs: 14 points; Brady 3.7 ypa; 6.7 ypc; 3 sacks

    2010
    vs. NYJ (for regular season, average of both games)
    Regular: 34.5 points; Brady 8.7 ypa; 13.8 ypc; 2 sacks
    Playoffs: 21.0 points; Brady 6.6 ypa; 10.3 ypc; 5 sacks

    2011
    vs. Denver
    Regular: 41 points; Brady 9.4 ypa; 13.9 ypc; 2 sacks
    Playoffs: 45 points; Brady 10.7 ypa; 14.0 ypc; 0 sacks

    vs. NYG (this one, too)
    Regular: 20 points; Brady 7.0 ypa; 12.2 ypc, 2 sacks
    Playoffs: 17 points; Brady 6.7 ypa; 10.2 ypc; 2 sacks

    TOTALS (AVERAGE OF ALL SIX GAMES):
    REGULAR: 33.3 POINTS; BRADY 8.6 YPA, 12.4 YPC, 2 SACKS (PER GAME
    PLAYOFFS: 22 POINTS; BRADY 6.6 YPA, 9.9 YPC, 2.9 SACKS (PER GAME)

    Conservative Gameplans

    One thing that I've always lamented about the Patriots is their conservative gameplans when the playoffs begin, and I fear that could be their downfall again this year. The Patriots rarely try to run vertical plays and go underneath more than usual; it is even rare for them to try passes down the seam or sideline outs to WRs. The exception was last year against Denver, and some of it is colder weather. Every playoff game, it seems like the offense goes into its shell, dinking and dunking, underutilizing their superstars while preferring low-risk, low-reward passes.

    Pass:Run Ratio

    I did not include the stats on this, as I didn't have time tonight, but many have noted that the Pats abandon the run too often, or that the running game is ineffective. That was quite apparent in the playoffs against the Jets in 2010 when the Jets activate nearly every defensive back on their roster, daring the Pats to run the ball. Obviously, a one-headed attack in the NFL can be snuffed out, even if it is Tom Brady.

    Pass Protection- Myth?

    It has been said that the offensive line chokes in big games and struggles to protect Brady, and allowing 3 sacks versus 2 sacks is a big difference but not the type of glaring difference you'd expect when analyzing this. Bottom line is, Brady was sacked quite a bit by some of these defenses during the regular season as well and still managed to average over 30 ppg. I find it more difficult to believe the offensive line is to blame more than the gameplans.

    Yards After Catch?

    Another theory that may describe the huge discrepancy is the passing game's reliance on players gaining big yardage after the catch. This could explain why the Patriots' offense tanks in the postseason more than other teams, as opposing defenses play more aggressively and at full speed... of course, it still may be a stretch that these same defenses are not playing to their full ability during the regular season.

    Preparation

    Final theory before posting this: perhaps opponents study the Patriots with the same intensity that the Patriots study them when the postseason begins. This may explain why studious QBs such as Brady and Manning seem to cruise the regular season before hitting some major speed bumps in the playoffs. Perhaps during the regular season, they exploit weaknesses on gamefilm; during the playoffs, they become the exploited ones.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  2. Observer

    Observer Rookie

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    Offensive line performance is the key. Sack totals are misleading because Brady is good at not getting sacked. But while he is not getting sacked, he is throwing the ball away, making errant/difficult throws, or panicking in the pocket. Our short passing game requires a lot of plays to cover the length of the field and the probability of the whole sequence succeeding can drop significantly if the probability of any play succeeding is reduced by even a small amount.
  3. patsfan13

    patsfan13 Hall of Fame Poster PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Well off the top of my head, a few observations.

    In 2007 the O started to slow down, as teams figured out that Moss and Welker were the weapons, no real running game. Remember the Ravens game for example. I would also note that Brady was injured in the SB that year (High Ankle sprain IIRC).

    2009 team just wasn't very good (remember the NFL net show on that club, again Welker injured Moss hurt (with alligator arms) BB was complaining about how the O could be stopped if you took Moss & Welker away, well Welker was out so it was a matter of CB + Ed Reed taking Moss away, along with some jailbreak rushes early in the game.

    2010 Int early + Crumpler drop + Chung miscue. However Rex did come up with the D adjustment playing 7-8 DB and the in game adjustments didn't work well ( hadn't seen that from Rex before). Running game unable to take advantage of the scheme the Jets used.

    2011, shredded Denver twice and was shredding the Giants until shoulder was injured in the 3rd qtr. Even with that if Welker & Brady connect on 1 pass the Sb score would exceed the Reg season game, this without Gronk.

    IMHO due to the running game + the number of weapons (ie Healthier Gronk, Lloyd > Branch and much improved running game) I expect the O to perform well this year.
  4. RayClay

    RayClay On the Roster

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    We have a running game this year.
  5. ALP

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    i think some of these need to be looked at a tad bit closer:

    2007 giants:
    -was it neal that went down in the 1st Q? our OL backups that year didnt have much experience, and really were a huge downgrade
    -also, didnt a 2nd OL starter go down in the 2nd half? those are injuries that impacted Brady's protection (primarily up the middle) and gave him very little time
    -brady was hurt 2nd time around

    2009 ravens:
    -that offense was pretty bad back then, and 2nd time around not having welker cannot be overstated, even if described in terms of catastrophic
    -we were in a deficit very quickly

    2010 jets:
    -a combination of events that seemed to all be destined against the pats that year, when Brady throws a pick on a screen play, you know things are a little whacky

    2011 giants:
    -we had gronk the first game right? well that was def. a big diff, due to his versatility hes prob the 2nd most important person on our offense
  6. ALP

    ALP Rookie

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    also another thing: im pretty sure officiating changes b/w the reg. season and the playoffs

    the way calls are made in the postseason, our offense gets negatively affected, it seems the secondaries of any team (including us) can get away with more contact than is allowed within rules, and is allowed during the reg. season
  7. TheBostonStraggler

    TheBostonStraggler Rookie

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    I think some people lose sight of or are unaware of the Patriots of the last 11 years. This is a team that has been the best or just about the best team entering the playoffs on some occasions......but has also clearly not been the best team entering the playoffs. The mark of the Patriots has been to win despite those times being the seemingly lesser team.

    As another mentioned, OL play is key. The heart of the Patriots method of winning is TFB leading a robust passing game. You'll hear the talking heads speak to this sometimes, referencing how to stop TFB is to pressure him with the pass rush. Never quite understood how that is specific to TFB, nevertheless, it is effective in neutralizing the heart of the Patriots. So I am not going out on a limb to say if the OL struggles (whether Hou or Den or Balt or Cincy or Indy), TFB's numbers will definitely be down and the Patriots ability to win will be in serious jeopardy. Bottom line, give TFB some protection and his performance doesn't worry me. Always up to his high standards? I doubt it. Poor enough to be concerned it will not be enough to win? I doubt it. Does any of it correlate to having played a team during the regular season? I doubt it....

    A note about the Ravens loss a few years back: the better team won, period. I watched a Ravens team beat a Patriot team in every aspect. Running game, the OL, the DL, the secondary......the Ravens won the battles at every stinking point of attack. A mental and physical domination by the Ravens. IMHO WW would not have changed the final outcome. IMHO that game was the most lopsided mentally/physically I have seen the Patriots be part of in the BB playoff era. For this game, TFB's poor performance was just part of a full team poor performance......meaning I see a difference between that versus TFB having an individually bad performance that hurt the Patriots ability to win a game.
  8. Gumby

    Gumby Rookie

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    I think what the KNOWLEDGEABLE anaylsts said that some of the others parrot and miss the point is:

    to stop TFB is to pressure him UP THE MIDDLE with the pass rush.

    TB is exceptional at the small little Marino-like steps/dance around the pocket that gives him a little bit of room or gives his blockers the right angle to take a guy out of the play for a few seconds.

    What he is not good at is throwing on the run or when he cant set that well. He needs to be able to step into the throw. So while the edge rushers get pushed around a circle or he steps up so they miss; the pass rush over the A/B gaps disrupts his ability to set-(puts him running sideways) and takes away his ability to step into the throw.
  9. mayoclinic

    mayoclinic PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Lot of good points, that many have already made.

    I think that it's not a homogeneous group of games, nor a single set of factors. Injuries to key personnel (Brady, OL, Welker, Gronk), lack of offensive balance, game planning, and above all execution played a factor.

    - The 2009 team minus Welker just wasn't that good
    - The 2010 team was good but needed a running game and couldn't adapt to the Jets' putting 8 DBs and daring them to run
    - The 2011 team was very good and was within a hair's breadth of a SB win with a Gronk injury and Brady with a bum shoulder
    - The 2007 team was great and was within a hair's breadth of a SB win with a porous OL and a hobbled Brady

    This team has much more versatility and a greater variety of weapons. It's proven that it can win all season while missing key personnel, and with the OL hobbled, so it's already been fairly battle tested. There are no guarantees, but I think it's a bit better prepared.

    The biggest difference between this team in 2007: the league had all season to adapt to the 2007 offense before playing them again in the playoffs. This year, the league hasn't even seen the 2012 offense at full strength yet. We haven't had the full array of weapons on the field together healthy since the Tennessee opener, and the offense was still figuring out how to use its new toys at that point.
  10. robertweathers

    robertweathers Rookie

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    Bill Walsh always said that to win a Super Bowl, a football team needs to win in every single way possible. Passing, running, defensively, special teams, luck, health, mental toughness, etc. I don't want to get too fanboyish but going back to the playoff losses since 04, this team is in a best position to win the Super Bowl better than any other team (yes- I said that).

    '05 to DEN- Missing Rodney, horrible secondary, no running game, limited options in the passing game, 5 turnovers.

    '06 to Indy- Missing Rodney, worst 2nd 1/2 defense ever.

    '07 to NYG- Injured Brady, Neal, Faulk. Allowed pressure w/ 4-5 man rush and 6-7 DBs. Offense was slowing down and mentally drained. BS Tyree catch, Asante drop. Eli in the grasp...Perfect Storm of hell.

    '09- WW out and outmuscled and mentally beaten down by BAL

    '10- The pass defense and the lack of a threat to run the football and make plays.

    '11- Gronk out. WW drop. Pass D. TB hurt shoulder.

    '12- They have a pass defense. They have a pass rush. They have an explosive running game that can cool the pass rush on TB. They have an o-line with depth. They have a versitile passing game. They are mentally tough.

    Seems to me that they need some luck, health and play to their capabilities to win...which is all attainable. The fanboy cometh...:)
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  11. kurtinelson

    kurtinelson Rookie

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    IIRCC against Denver this year, the Pats torched them with the run/hurry up as they stayed small with extra DBs. Therefore, I don't think the Rex Ryan strategy will work again.

    Having a healthy Gronk and Hernandez allows them to have legitimate run or pass options with the same personnel groupings in hurry up mode.
  12. 1960Pats

    1960Pats Rookie

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    If the Pats want to right the SS Lombardi cruise ship, they need to run the damn ball.

    Every SB and playoff game they've lost was lost because they went pass-happy.

    It's called balance.
  13. Rob0729

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    I totally disagree the Pats always use a conservative gameplan in the playoffs. I think of several games right off the bat that the Pats did anything but a conservative gameplan. I look to the Jaguars' game in the 2007 playoffs (which might be a bit of a preview of what the Pats will do vs. Denver if they meet). The Pats also had a less than conservative gameplan for the Jets in the 2010 playoffs. The problem with that game was Brady threw a gift INT to David Harris and I think Gronk missed an easy TD on the next drive. You already mentioned the Denver game. In fact, the first play of the Super Bowl last year was an agressive play, but Brady threw to a spot where no one was there to cause a safety.

    Also, I don't consider the short passing game conservative. Some of the most agressive gameplans the Pats use utilize the short passing game a lot. If the Pats go to an uptempo offense that they have used at times this year (which is a very aggressive offense), it consists primarily of short passes.

    Also, they are not underutilizing the superstars with the short passing game. Guys like Gronk, Welker, Hernandez (when healthy), and Woodhead are great YAC guys. In fact, that is many of their greatest strengths. Sometimes a quick hit to them would results in a far better play than going vertical.

    As for the vertical passing game, the Pats are not a vertical passing team. Most of their big plays are short to intermediate passes that go for extra yards. In general, the vertical passing game is diminishing in the NFL.

    The fact of the matter is that you usually face the best defenses in the playoffs Agressive gameplans against a very good defense can cause turnovers. The Pats are and will always be a match up based team. They will gear the gameplans based on the teams they faced and you are seeing them doing gameplans based on the opposing team's weaknesses and strengths. Sometimes that means the gameplan will be more conservative (although I don't consider the short passing game as conservative gameplan).
  14. goheels22002

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    RayClay got it right - the difference this year is the running game. My favorite drive of 2012 was one that did not even result in a touchdown - it was the 16-play, 7:18 minute drive in Miami to take half of the 4th quarter off the clock. It was a dominant ground drive to take the heat off of Brady and force the Dolphins - who played very well that day - to mount a fast-paced comeback which they could not do.

    In these playoffs, every opponent has to reckon with the running game and the Patriots ability to wear down the defense with a smashmouth drive, or a hurry-up furious passing/running game.

    Against the Giants in February 2012, the Patriots didn't have the ability or confidence to look across the line and hammer the Giants defensive line to slow down the pass rush. This team, with the committee of runners and the big tight end sets, can do that.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  15. ForThoseAboutToRock

    ForThoseAboutToRock Rookie

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    Let's hope our boys hold that ball tight. The worst thing would be to get a good running game going, and then lose the ball. Basically, what happened against SF.
  16. stcjones

    stcjones Rookie

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    Agree with some of what you are saying here....as far as vertical threat...WHO do we have that can provide that? Only Lloyd really right?....and he has had the dropsies alot this year. I just don't think the pats O is going to NEED to be vertical when you have the TE setup we have with Welk running slants underneath....We have rarely had a game (ESPECIALLY in the Playoffs) where we have had BOTH Gronk and Hernandez...AND EVEN welker too....healthy all at the same time!!!! If they can ALL stay healthy...AND hang on to the *$(%ing BALL!!! We should have great success on the O side of things. OL play has got to be solid throughout of course...and that is where I am a bit nervous. They also have to continue to block successfully to KEEP The running game going! Don't ABANDON it Josh just because we get stuffed once in awhile....With Bolden, Vereen, Woody, and Ridley in there...we should be VERY successful in the running game. But again, a bit nervous about the OL ability to protect Brady and give him time to make the throws. We will see.

  17. robertweathers

    robertweathers Rookie

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    Kind of in my view. I think it has to do more with the defense's inability to make stops when they HAD to.

    The 01-04 running games were comitted to because the defense was effective at keeping opposing offenses controlled and didn't need to have Brady make every single play to have a chance to win.

    We've seen good defenses shut down this Pats offense time and time again in the playoffs. It's gonna happen again too. Running game or no running game. The key to this team going all the way is the defense holding the other team down so Brady isn't forced to win games by himself AND allow the running game to make plays and keep defenses honest.
  18. mayoclinic

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    It should be noted that the Patriots executed that drive without Gronk. With even a hobbled Gronk back, they rushed for over 160 yards against a defense that had previously averaged less than 100 YPG rushing. With Gronk in the lineup the Pats averaged 145 YPG rushing. Without him, they averaged 117.6 YPF rushing (falling behind against San Fran didn't help that number).

    No one has yet played the Patriots this season with a healthy Gronk, Hernandez, Welker, Lloyd, Ridley and a reasonably healthy OL. No one.
  19. patsfan13

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    Last year the D wasn't the problem in the Play Offs.



  20. robertweathers

    robertweathers Rookie

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    In the Super Bowl it was.
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