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We played not to lose the game tonight

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by condon84, Nov 3, 2008.

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  1. condon84

    condon84 In the Starting Line-Up

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    We played not to lose the game tonight and I think that's the reason why we ended up losing.

    I thought this game was a good opportunity to give Cassel a chance to throw the ball because the Colts were down to their 3rd and 4th CB starting the game. We had Moss who we all knew would receive deep help, Welker who cannot be covered 1 on 1 so I figured McDaniels could exploit the matchup between Gaffney and essentially their 5th CB. Instead, we chose to pound the ball against the smaller, quicker Indy defense. I had no problem with this especially since we were having good success running in-between the tackles. We were running successfully out of the "I" formation effectively taking out Gaffney. Indy's LBs were reacting aggressively when we ran and when the safety's weren't playing deep, they too were super aggressive because of the success we were having. Because of the success we were having running up the gut, there were a couple of times that the Colts were riped for a play-action for big gains. Not essentially to Moss, but maybe streak Thomas or Watson down the middle. It was there for us. Indy's LBs were coming up to fill whenever we ran. We should have been more aggressive in this regard. What was McDaniels scared off?

    Another issue I had was when we moved in the Red zone or close to it. Again, it would have been ideal to use play-action, but instead we went with the screen a couple of times that led to big losses and we ended up settling for FGs. My issue is that when you are in the Red zone, the defenders are closer to the line of scrimmage, and with Indy's defenders as fast and as aggressive as they are, screens would have to be perfect to be successful. Even then, chances are, because of Indy's speed and condensed space, it would only net a couple of yards. Meanwhile, a play-action would have taken advantage of Indy's speed and aggressiveness in reacting to the run and open someone up. The first two times we got into the Red zone, we ran screens as the 1st down play. Both of them lost yards and we ended up second and long. And from then, our playcalling really got conservative and we settled for FGs. Why not attack the defense and try to score a TD? We're not going to beat good teams if we settle for FGs.

    Another gaff was BBs challenge. The risk/reward was high/low. If we won the challenge, we get 5 yards. We lose the challenge, we lose one of our challenges and a TO. It was a weird challenge because it was not conclusive even after the replay. I think BB outsmarted himself in this instance.

    An even bigger gaff by BB was the TO he called on that 4th and 1. That was the first time I've seen BB hurt his team with indecision. We've been running on them all day so I had no issue going for the 4th and 1. I don't know if we got it when we ran it, but it looked like we did. That to me was the right call. Go try to win the game. I mean, we went for all those 4th and 1 last year right? I hate criticizing BB cause I think he's the best HC New England sports has had since we had Auerbach, but that was a pretty dumb sequence. Sending his offense out there only to call and waste your last time out in such a tight game. Very odd to see BB indesisive and make dumb moves.

    Lastly, that Thomas penalty was atrocious. WTF was he thinking?

    Back to our offense. I thought after our first drive in the second half, we finally started to open up our offense and we moved down the field pretty quickly. Why we didn't go to that type of offense sooner? Seems really odd to watch our offense this year. No really ebb & flow to what we do.

    Anyways, our players played their butts off. Props to them. Our pass rush was none existent from the DL, but their job tonight was containing the run and they did that extremely well. On third and long situations, Vrabel is now a non-factor as a rusher. AD is a better rusher, but we used him for pass coverage. We need to get better and a more consistant production from whoever is rushing form the edges. Woods has not showed up. But I don't know if he's been given any significant PT at all.

    As for our young players, I thought Wheatley played well before he got hurt. Merriweather was asked to play deep help so he couldn't be more of a factor. He did blast a couple of recievers. Mayo I thought played his best game. He was lost on a couple of pass coverages in the first half, but improved on it in the second half. His overall run defense was great. Guyton was also pretty impressive. This kid is the other future ILB in our defense. Whenever he is on the field, good things happen.

    We are 5-3 and have 3 division games coming up. I feel good about our chances, but tonight was pretty disappointing.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
  2. nashvillepatsfan

    nashvillepatsfan In the Starting Line-Up

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    BB made the same call in the SB, and nobody questioned him. Mainly because it worked.

    How do we know that Thomas heard the whistle? just sayin
     
  3. condon84

    condon84 In the Starting Line-Up

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    Even if Thomas didn't hear the whistle, seeing the Colts defenders stop playing should have told him to slow down. I mean, that wasn't even close. If his hit was closer to the end of the play, I would have given him the benefit of the doubt, but it wasn't. He was looking for a cheap shot at a guy not looking his way who was just standing up. I'm sure he'll learn his lesson, but you can really say that that was the biggest play of the game. We were in FG range and that would have been 3rd and inches.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
  4. Bonzo

    Bonzo On the Game Day Roster

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    Right. If you think you are owed yardage, then fight for it. I'm okay with the challenge. (And I furthermore suspect that given the weirdness of the situation, he fully expected to win.)
     
  5. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    I skimmed this post and liked what I saw. The Pats' gameplan was clearly to play keepaway from Manning, control the clock as much as possible and win a game played close to the vest. It almost worked, but the reason it failed is inherent in the strategy: Mistakes will loom large. Execution mistakes like Gaffney dropping the lone deep shot TD are killers. Boneheaded mistakes like Thomas' personal foul are killers.

    In a ball-control game like last night, on the road where the defense was doing just enough to keep the game within striking distance (especially on Indy's ground game...kudos to the Pats for that), the offense needed to be perfect. Close wasn't going to be good enough and proved not to be.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  6. Rob0729

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    The Patriots CLEARLY played to win last night. Would have it been better to get into a shootout with the Colts?

    I am starting to believe people would have been far happier if the Pats lost 40-27 with Cassel being sacked six times and picked 3 times. The Pats would have had no chance of winning, but at least they didn't "play not to lose".
     
  7. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    No. The redzone offense was Herm-like. They took no deep shots just to keep the defense honest. They used little play action when it looked like the Colts were ripe for biting on it. Of course you don't want to get into a shootout with the Colts, but you can't go completely the other way. Banking on repeated 15-play drives is nice if you can pull it off, but expecting to pull it off on the road against a team like Indy was wishful thinking.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  8. oldskool138

    oldskool138 In the Starting Line-Up

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    It mainly worked because there were actually 12 men on the field.
     
  9. BlitzFritz

    BlitzFritz Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I had the same feeling as the OP
    PS I had the same feeling as the SB v the Giants

    not just conservative O but ULTRA conservative
     
  10. Deus Irae

    Deus Irae PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club PatsFans.com Supporter

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    You people really need to get a grasp on strategy and tactics. Last season in the second half, teams played the Patriots the same way that the Patriots played the Colts last night. People were talking about how the Patriots didn't play as well in the second half of the year, when what had really happened was that teams had changed the way they approached the explosive firepower Brady and company had.

    Analysts like to talk about teams who can't "trade score for score" with their opponents. Well, that was what was in place last night. The Cassel-led Patriots are not currently equipped to trade score for score with the Manning-led Colts. Therefore, you change the game to one were you limit the number of possessions. That's not playing not to lose, it's playing the only way you can realistically expect to win.
     
  11. Rob0729

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    LOL! The Colts played two safeties deep all night to stop the deep pass even if they had to sacrifice the run defense and short passes and now they were ripe for biting on the play action pass. What game were you watching? Because you were clearly not watching the Pats/Colts game.

    BTW, I think Madden is useless and would never use what he says to make my judgements.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
  12. chris_in_sunnyvale

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    This is a straw man. Nobody is claiming the Pats should have been in a shootout, trading score-for-score. The complaint is that the Pats were way too conservative last night, especially in the red zone. The limiting of possessions (and execution thereof) was brilliant, but the Pats were way too content to settle for 3 with plays that had really no chance of scoring once inside the 20. That's playing not to lose. It's as if the coaching staff was afraid Cassel would throw a pick in the endzone and thus would call a safe play to ensure they come away with some points.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  13. tombonneau

    tombonneau In the Starting Line-Up

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    I was going to say the same thing. Madden was routinely showing how deep the safeties were playing which was begging the Pats to run which they did to great success.

    If anything, criticize the Colts defensive coaching staff for a employing a strategy which SHOULD have lost them the game. The Colts might have won, but it certainly wasn't because of their defensive game plan, which was terrible and easily exploited.

    You can say the the Pats got conservative in the red zone, I don't know, maybe they did, but really the only RZ play that pissed me off was running the gimmick wild cat play. To me, that was their worst play, and it was far from conservative.

    The Pats lost the game because they couldn't convert TDs in the red zone, but more importantly because they allowed the Colts to march down the field on a few drives, notably the Colts last two key scoring drives.
     
  14. Deus Irae

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    It's not a strawman at all. A bunch of people on this board either don't know football or aren't applying their knowledge. For crying out loud, Vinatieri had to hit from 50+ in order for the Colts to win this game. The game plan worked brilliantly. The Colts only had 50 plays in that game, and the Patriots absolutely dominated the time of possession. It was the things that happened outside the game plan that cost the team the game:

    Gaffney dropped a deep ball (NOT a conservative call, by the way) that cost the team 4 points.

    Thomas got called for the personal foul.

    Vinatieri hit from a distance he hadn't made in about 7 seasons.

    If any of those 3 things that had absolutely nothing to do with the game plan had not occurred, the Patriots are 6-2. The notion that somehow that's "playing not to lose" is just silly.

    P.S. That !#@$ wildcat crap wasn't 'conservative', either. I'd have much preferred they go conservative than run that nonsense because of the personnel involved.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
  15. KontradictioN

    KontradictioN Do you even lift? PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Not to mention, the Colts needed all that to beat a team without Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison, our top three RBs, and a secondary full of untested rookies. This game was pure robbery one way or another. Only difference is we robbed ourselves this time around.
     
  16. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    The Pats game I watched showed the 4 DL-men backed immediately by 4 more LBs/safeties. The Colts were loading the box all night. Bob Sanders spent a lot of the night playing close to the LOS waiting to snuff out the WR screen the Pats run all the time. The TV shows a few replays of plays with deep safeties, John Madden makes a comment that the safeties have been playing deep all night and suddenly the Colts were playing back all night? Please.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
  17. TheGodInAGreyHoodie

    TheGodInAGreyHoodie Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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  18. Rob0729

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    Huh?!? The Colts were most certainly not loading 8 in the box all night. They almost always kept at least one safety over the top to keep Moss in check. If the Colts played as close to the line as you state, the Pats most certainly would not have been as successful running the ball or with the short passing game.
     
  19. mac

    mac On the Game Day Roster

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    Yes. The overall strategy is sound: limit the other teams number of possessions. The corollary is that, since your own O's number of possessions is also limited, when you have the ball in the red zone, you have to think 4 downs and touchdown. You are not going to get many scoring chances, so to kick on 4th and 1 from the seven is not tactically sound. Also, if you are trying to shorten the game, using the no-huddle on offense makes no sense whatsoever. His bit of trickery did not work, so it semed to me BB was trying to justify the going no huddle by challenging. One other tactical point: with 4:40 left and 4th and 16, you have to punt.
     
  20. chris_in_sunnyvale

    chris_in_sunnyvale In the Starting Line-Up

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    Since the camera focuses on the ball at all times, it was easy to count how many defenders were in the box on every snap and there were 8 on a huge amount of snaps. Now the Pats have put together a nice little pseudo-option offense to mitigate this by faking the draw to Faulk and then throwing the screen to Welker (or Moss on occasion); This causes the LBs to pause to react to either the screen or an actual handoff to Faulk. Faulk did very well on his draws because of this and this was key in the running game. When the Pats tried more conventional running plays, they did struggle as BJGE was held to less than 4yds/carry since the Colts were loading up the box.

    In the first half, the short passing game wasn't as sharp as it was in the second half, although it was effective at times since the Pats often only needed to convert short yardage. What changed in the 2nd half? Cassel threw some darts to Moss on quick outs, designed to pick on the CB playing off him and get the ball away from the crowd in near the LOS. Cassel had a big throw to Thomas where the LBs were playing run. Cassel took a lone deep shot at Gaffney in 1-on-1 since the safety was occupied by Moss in the slot. Cassel hit Moss on a slant against a 3rd-down blitz. The team made 2nd half adjustments to start exploiting the holes in the D Indy was playing, but didn't do enough of that.

    Regards,
    Chris
     
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